Films

screenwriting for cinema

 William Brower

Research and Historical Accuracy in Screenwriting

Research and Historical Accuracy in Screenwriting

William Brower explores the fact and fiction behind the characters of James Cameron’s Titanic, and offers a historian’s perspective on research and character development in fact-based drama.

William Brower explores the fact and fiction behind the characters of James Cameron’s Titanic, and offers a historian’s perspective on research and character development in fact-based drama.

 Brock Swinson

Nothing Fake: Amanda Kernell on Sami Blood

Nothing Fake: Amanda Kernell on Sami Blood

Amanda Kernell discusses the importance of conveying how a situation feels, filming in a language only a few hundred people speak, and the extraordinary casting process for her film.

Amanda Kernell discusses the importance of conveying how a situation feels, filming in a language only a few hundred people speak, and the extraordinary casting process for her film.

 Christopher McKittrick

Cars 3: The Third Act

Cars 3: The Third Act

The screenwriters of Cars 3 discuss catalyst characters, giving your writing emotional weight, and why Pixar offer the best prenatal care for scripts.

The screenwriters of Cars 3 discuss catalyst characters, giving your writing emotional weight, and why Pixar offer the best prenatal care for scripts.

 Tom Stempel

Understanding Screenwriting #158

Understanding Screenwriting #158

Tom Stempel on The Fate of the Furious, Baywatch, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Free State of Jones, and Tales of Wells Fargo.

Tom Stempel on The Fate of the Furious, Baywatch, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Free State of Jones, and Tales of Wells Fargo.

 Brock Swinson

Inspired by Sam Elliott: Brett Haley on The Hero

Inspired by Sam Elliott: Brett Haley on The Hero

Brett Haley discusses the ideas behind his latest film, the use of dream sequences, and the importance of opening yourself up to criticism.

Brett Haley discusses the ideas behind his latest film, the use of dream sequences, and the importance of opening yourself up to criticism.

 Brock Swinson

“Writing is Free Therapy.” John Butler on Handsome Devil

“Writing is Free Therapy.” John Butler on Handsome Devil

John Butler discusses the personal origins of his latest film, the distinction between autobiography and emotional truth, and importance of exercise to writing.

John Butler discusses the personal origins of his latest film, the distinction between autobiography and emotional truth, and importance of exercise to writing.

 Ramona Zacharias

“Telling my story through someone else’s story.” Avi Nesher on Past Life

“Telling my story through someone else’s story.” Avi Nesher on Past Life

Avi Nesher discusses his latest film Past Life, mathematical versus poetic elements of structure, and the importance of a personal story to screenwriting success.

Avi Nesher discusses his latest film Past Life, mathematical versus poetic elements of structure, and the importance of a personal story to screenwriting success.

 Brock Swinson

Get the story in your DNA: David Michôd on War Machine

Get the story in your DNA: David Michôd on War Machine

David Michôd discusses developing fiction from non-fiction, use of narration, and why you should treat your brain like an oven.

David Michôd discusses developing fiction from non-fiction, use of narration, and why you should treat your brain like an oven.

 Brock Swinson

Text as pure thought and pure poetry: Julian Rosefeldt on Manifesto

Text as pure thought and pure poetry: Julian Rosefeldt on Manifesto

Julian Rosefeldt discusses the inspiration behind Manifesto, characters as messengers of thought, and finding what is original in yourself.

Julian Rosefeldt discusses the inspiration behind Manifesto, characters as messengers of thought, and finding what is original in yourself.

 Christopher McKittrick

Filmmaking is a Marathon: Robin Swicord on Wakefield

Filmmaking is a Marathon: Robin Swicord on Wakefield

Robin Swicord discusses adapting Doctorow’s short story Wakefield for the big screen, seeing the potential in a story, and why making a movie is like a marathon.

Robin Swicord discusses adapting Doctorow’s short story Wakefield for the big screen, seeing the potential in a story, and why making a movie is like a marathon.

 Christopher McKittrick

“We wanted to create a really frightening movie!” John Logan on Alien: Covenant

“We wanted to create a really frightening movie!”  John Logan on Alien: Covenant

John Logan discusses bringing fear back to the Alien franchise, tackling the big philosophical questions, and the importance of being told to do better.

John Logan discusses bringing fear back to the Alien franchise, tackling the big philosophical questions, and the importance of being told to do better.

 Brock Swinson

Go For The Throat: Amber Tamblyn on Paint It Black

Go For The Throat: Amber Tamblyn on Paint It Black

Amber Tamblyn discusses writing about grief, poetic language in film, and the importance of asking for advice.

Amber Tamblyn discusses writing about grief, poetic language in film, and the importance of asking for advice.

 Christopher McKittrick

James Ivory on Screenwriting

James Ivory on Screenwriting

As he celebrates the 30th anniversary of his landmark film Maurice, James Ivory discusses adaptations, collaboration, seeing with a documentarian’s eye, and his plans for filming Shakespeare in 3D.

As he celebrates the 30th anniversary of his landmark film Maurice, James Ivory discusses adaptations, collaboration, seeing with a documentarian’s eye, and his plans for filming Shakespeare in 3D.

 Christopher McKittrick

A Simple Conversation: Dwain Worrell on The Wall

A Simple Conversation: Dwain Worrell on The Wall

Dwain Worrell discusses writing naturally in the three-act structure, stripping your protagonist naked, and not worrying about formatting your script.

Dwain Worrell discusses writing naturally in the three-act structure, stripping your protagonist naked, and not worrying about formatting your script.

 Matthew Wade Reynolds

“Making a film is creating emotion.” Stéphane Brizé on A Woman’s Life

“Making a film is creating emotion.” Stéphane Brizé on A Woman’s Life

Stéphane Brizé discusses finding just the right time for a project, how to tell a costume designer that you’re going to throw mud on a vintage dress, and what to say to someone who insists films are for the intellect only

Stéphane Brizé discusses finding just the right time for a project, how to tell a costume designer that you’re going to throw mud on a vintage dress, and what to say to someone who insists films are for the intellect only

 Kelly Leow

Jeff Nichols on Screenwriting

Jeff Nichols on Screenwriting

Jeff Nichols reveals the source of his ideas, the benefit of leaping into the middle of the narrative, and the importance of making your audience play catch-up.

Jeff Nichols reveals the source of his ideas, the benefit of leaping into the middle of the narrative, and the importance of making your audience play catch-up.

 Brock Swinson

“Tell the Story Through Jokes.” Chris Spain & Jon Zack reveal How to Be a Latin Lover

“Tell the Story Through Jokes.” Chris Spain & Jon Zack reveal How to Be a Latin Lover

Chris Spain & Jon Zack on writing comedy, taking a joke to the next level, and gender-flipping.

Chris Spain & Jon Zack on writing comedy, taking a joke to the next level, and gender-flipping.

 Tom Stempel

Understanding Screenwriting #157

Understanding Screenwriting #157

Tom Stempel on Personal Shopper, Colossal, Five Came Back, Their Finest, The Intervention, The Son, and the season finale of Big Little Lies.

Tom Stempel on Personal Shopper, Colossal, Five Came Back, Their Finest, The Intervention, The Son, and the season finale of Big Little Lies.

 Brock Swinson

“Filmmaking is a disease.” Steven Shainberg on Rupture and Fur

“Filmmaking is a disease.” Steven Shainberg on Rupture and Fur

Steven Shainberg discusses writing female leads, portraying fear, and why movies are like splinters in the eye.

Steven Shainberg discusses writing female leads, portraying fear, and why movies are like splinters in the eye.

 Ramona Zacharias

“Good Screenwriters are Good Filmmakers.” T.S. Nowlin on Phoenix Forgotten

“Good Screenwriters are Good Filmmakers.” T.S. Nowlin on Phoenix Forgotten

T.S. Nowlin discusses writing found-footage film Phoenix Forgotten, allowing space for improvisation, and the importance for writers of getting into production.

T.S. Nowlin discusses writing found-footage film Phoenix Forgotten, allowing space for improvisation, and the importance for writers of getting into production.

 Alistair Owen

A Distinctive New Voice: Ben Wheatley on Free Fire

A Distinctive New Voice: Ben Wheatley on Free Fire

Ben Wheatley discusses genre, writing movies you can actually make, and how to avoid being given script notes

Ben Wheatley discusses genre, writing movies you can actually make, and how to avoid being given script notes

 Donna Marie Miller

Daniel Pyne on Screenwriting

Daniel Pyne on Screenwriting

Bosch showrunner Daniel Pyne discusses writing plot twists, research, and updating novels for the screen, and offers great advice for screenwriters.

Bosch showrunner Daniel Pyne discusses writing plot twists, research, and updating novels for the screen, and offers great advice for screenwriters.

 Brock Swinson

Time, Money and the Invisible Bullshit Line: Chris Morgan on The Fate of the Furious

Time, Money and the Invisible Bullshit Line: Chris Morgan on The Fate of the Furious

Chris Morgan discusses The Fate of the Furious, the three things that limit action, and and the heartbreak of losing franchise star, Paul Walker.

Chris Morgan discusses The Fate of the Furious, the three things that limit action, and and the heartbreak of losing franchise star, Paul Walker.

 Donna Marie Miller

Seeing what the film needs to be: Gareth Edwards on Rogue One

Seeing what the film needs to be: Gareth Edwards on Rogue One

Gareth Edwards discusses never giving up, not letting fear get in the way, and the importance of remaining fluid.

Gareth Edwards discusses never giving up, not letting fear get in the way, and the importance of remaining fluid.

 Christopher McKittrick

Birth of an Obsession: The Lost City of Z

Birth of an Obsession: The Lost City of Z

James Grey on personalising the material, why writing is like cooking, and the challenges of writing period pieces.

James Grey on personalising the material, why writing is like cooking, and the challenges of writing period pieces.

 Ramona Zacharias

Defying Genres: Nacho Vigalondo on Colossal

Defying Genres: Nacho Vigalondo on Colossal

Making a monster movie without a big budget, breaking screenwriting rules and tropes, and why a film should be a conversation with the audience.

Making a monster movie without a big budget, breaking screenwriting rules and tropes, and why a film should be a conversation with the audience.

 Tom Stempel

Understanding Screenwriting #156

Understanding Screenwriting #156

Tom Stempel on Hidden Figures, Fences, Get Out, Eye in the Sky, Deadpool, and Mid-season Television 2016-2017

Tom Stempel on Hidden Figures, Fences, Get Out, Eye in the Sky, Deadpool, and Mid-season Television 2016-2017

 Brock Swinson

For Here or to Go: Blog Post to Big Screen

For Here or to Go: Blog Post to Big Screen

Rishi Bhilawadikar on how he learned to write in order to tell this story, communicating through entertainment, and taking an idea from blog post to a finished film.

Rishi Bhilawadikar on how he learned to write in order to tell this story, communicating through entertainment, and taking an idea from blog post to a finished film.

 Brock Swinson

The Discovery: A Big Premise Character Piece

The Discovery: A Big Premise Character Piece

Charlie McDowell on making exposition interesting, the importance of regret, writing for your actors, and news of an upcoming adaptation of Don DeLillo’s novel Zero K.

Charlie McDowell on making exposition interesting, the importance of regret, writing for your actors, and news of an upcoming adaptation of Don DeLillo’s novel Zero K.

 Ramona Zacharias

Five Origin Stories: John Gatins on Power Rangers

Five Origin Stories: John Gatins on Power Rangers

John Gatins discusses writing for teenage characters, the importance of keeping the audience personally invested, and seeking inspiration.

John Gatins discusses writing for teenage characters, the importance of keeping the audience personally invested, and seeking inspiration.

 Donna Marie Miller

“Polarizing, inspiring, strong and difficult.” The Most Hated Woman in America

“Polarizing, inspiring, strong and difficult.” The Most Hated Woman in America

Tommy O’Haver and Irene Turner on portraying the essence of the truth, flashbacks, and getting the death right.

Tommy O’Haver and Irene Turner on portraying the essence of the truth, flashbacks, and getting the death right.

 Christopher McKittrick

Wilson: A Walking Id

Wilson: A Walking Id

Daniel Clowes on writing a gag in five minutes, adapting comics into screenplays, and catching Scarlett Johansson in a bad mood.

Daniel Clowes on writing a gag in five minutes, adapting comics into screenplays, and catching Scarlett Johansson in a bad mood.

 Ramona Zacharias

Love the Process: Jeff Stockwell on The Ottoman Lieutenant

Love the Process: Jeff Stockwell on The Ottoman Lieutenant

Jeff Stockwell discusses using research to shape your project, not critiquing your first draft, avoiding the internet, and the importance of enjoying the process.

Jeff Stockwell on using research to shape your project, not critiquing your first draft, avoiding the internet, and the importance of enjoying the process.

 Christopher McKittrick

Seven Decades of Cinematic Storytelling: Roger Corman on Screenwriting

Seven Decades of Cinematic Storytelling: Roger Corman on Screenwriting

Roger Corman on what he looks for in a script, telling stories for teenagers, and how to plan a low budget shoot.

In the early 1950s, Roger Corman began his creative career in the film industry as a story reader for 20th Century Fox, but left in order to create his own independent studio with its own distribution. Within only a few years he became the undisputed king of the low-budget movie. In his seven-decade career he […]

 Matt Mulcahey

“When I write by myself there are no rules.” Martin Koolhoven on Brimstone

“When I write by myself there are no rules.” Martin Koolhoven on Brimstone

Martin Koolhoven discusses writing a Western from the female perspective, the evolution of Brimstone’s non-linear structure, and how his film is spiritually connected to Tarantino’s Django Unchained.

Martin Koolhoven discusses writing a Western from the female perspective, the evolution of Brimstone’s non-linear structure, and how his film is spiritually connected to Tarantino’s Django Unchained.

 Christopher McKittrick

“Every movie is its own beast.” Max Borenstein on Kong: Skull Island

“Every movie is its own beast.” Max Borenstein on Kong: Skull Island

Max Borenstein on bringing giant-scale movies down to earth, how great actors elevate a screenplay, and making the audience care about your monsters.

Max Borenstein on bringing giant-scale movies down to earth, how great actors elevate a screenplay, and making the audience care about your monsters.

 Brock Swinson

The script doesn’t exist on its own: Ed Gass-Donnelly on Lavender

The script doesn’t exist on its own: Ed Gass-Donnelly on Lavender

Ed Gass-Donnelly on what two things a scene has to accomplish, figuring out the ‘why now’ of your story, and the importance of working on many scripts at once.

Ed Gass-Donnelly on what two things a scene has to accomplish, figuring out the ‘why now’ of your story, and the importance of working on many scripts at once.

 Christopher McKittrick

Myth vs. Man: James Mangold and Scott Frank on Logan

Myth vs. Man: James Mangold and Scott Frank on Logan

Writing an intimate superhero film, the summer blockbuster arms race, writing for children, and dialogue as a delivery system of lies.

Writing an intimate superhero film, the summer blockbuster arms race, writing for children, and dialogue as a delivery system of lies.

 Tom Stempel

Understanding Screenwriting #155

Understanding Screenwriting #155

Tom Stempel on Manchester by the Sea, Things to Come, 20th Century Women, La La Land, Sophie and the Rising Sun, Julieta, and Railroad Tigers.

Tom Stempel on Manchester by the Sea, Things to Come, 20th Century Women, La La Land, Sophie and the Rising Sun, Julieta, and Railroad Tigers.

 Brock Swinson

Bitter Harvest: More Than Just a Movie

Bitter Harvest: More Than Just a Movie

George Mendeluk on pruning your script, why going to film school is a waste of time, and why writers don’t make good directors.

George Mendeluk on pruning your script, why going to film school is a waste of time, and why writers don’t make good directors.

 Brock Swinson

The Moment of Leaning Forwards: Matthew Newton on From Nowhere

The Moment of Leaning Forwards: Matthew Newton on From Nowhere

Matthew Newton discusses going home with your characters, the importance of the “leaning forwards” moment, and the constant process of revelation in childhood.

Matthew Newton discusses going home with your characters, the importance of the “leaning forwards” moment, and the constant process of revelation in childhood.

 Christopher McKittrick

“The star of the movie is the screenplay.” August Wilson’s Fences

“The star of the movie is the screenplay.” August Wilson’s Fences

Producer Todd Black discusses bringing Wilson’s adaptation to the big screen, letting the screenplay inform every decision, and working with platinum.

Producer Todd Black discusses bringing Wilson’s adaptation to the big screen, letting the screenplay inform every decision, and working with platinum.

 Ramona Zacharias

Damien Chazelle on La La Land

Damien Chazelle on La La Land

Damien Chazelle discusses writing two movies in one, the underlying sadness of musicals, and challenging yourself to make it personal.

Damien Chazelle on writing two movies in one, the underlying sadness of musicals, giving your script feeling, and challenging yourself to make it personal.

 Ramona Zacharias

Barry Jenkins on Moonlight

Barry Jenkins on Moonlight

Barry Jenkins discusses making the audience walk a mile in the character’s shoes, the use of waypoints in adaptations, and the importance of poor first drafts.

Barry Jenkins discusses making the audience walk a mile in the character’s shoes, the use of waypoints in adaptations, and the importance of poor first drafts.

 Brock Swinson

Finding Your Creative Value: Jamal Joseph on Chapter & Verse

Finding Your Creative Value: Jamal Joseph on Chapter & Verse

Jamal Joseph on writing a film based on your own experience, the importance of comedy in drama, and not waiting for that big studio movie.

Jamal Joseph on writing a film based on your own experience, the importance of comedy in drama, and not waiting for that big studio movie.

 Tom Stempel

Understanding Screenwriting #154

Understanding Screenwriting #154

Tom Stempel on The Edge of Seventeen, Moonlight, Elle, Loving, Allied, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Tom Stempel on The Edge of Seventeen, Moonlight, Elle, Loving, Allied, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

 Brianne Hogan

Building a tapestry: Kenneth Lonergan on Manchester by the Sea

Building a tapestry: Kenneth Lonergan on Manchester by the Sea

Kenneth Lonergan discusses making the story your own, the use of flashbacks, and rooting your script in realism.

Kenneth Lonergan discusses making the story your own, the use of flashbacks, and rooting your script in realism.

 Christopher McKittrick

Hidden Figures: “A Mathematical Juggling Act”

Hidden Figures: “A Mathematical Juggling Act”

Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi on the importance of repetition, ensuring balance in an ensemble piece, and not getting attached to your first draft.

Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi on the importance of repetition, ensuring balance in an ensemble piece, and not getting attached to your first draft.

 Brock Swinson

“Dive Deep and Flush Out Your Craft.” Patrick Massett and John Zinman on Gold

“Dive Deep and Flush Out Your Craft.” Patrick Massett and John Zinman on Gold

Watching movies with the script in your lap, the rhythm of a scene, and why you should not send out your first script.

Patrick Massett and John Zinman on watching movies with the script in your lap, the rhythm of a scene, not sending out your first script, and why working in Hollywood is like prospecting for gold.

 Brock Swinson

Making Your Protagonist the Antagonist: Robert Siegel on The Founder

Making Your Protagonist the Antagonist: Robert Siegel on The Founder

Robert Siegel discusses his fascination for outsiders, using research to get into your characters’ heads, and writing what you love.

Robert Siegel discusses his fascination for outsiders, using research to get into your characters’ heads, and writing what you love.

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Joss Whedon on Screenwriting

MFA in Screenwriting