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Bulletproof Screenwriting™ Podcast with Alex Ferrari
69 minutes | Jun 16, 2021
BPS 125: The Art of Story, Dialog and Character with Robert McKee
Our guest today is the well-regarded screenwriting lecturer, story consultant, and eminent author, Robert McKee. Reputable for his globally-renowned ‘Story Seminars’ that cover the principles and styles of storytelling.McKee’s work has shaped the way Hollywood movies have been written for years. Particularly, Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting, written in 1997. A very resourceful guide for screenwriters. In Story, he expands on the concepts he teaches in his $450 seminars (considered a must by industry insiders), providing readers with the most comprehensive, integrated explanation of the craft of writing for the screen. More than 100 big-name screenwriters have benefitted from his seminars at one point or another. Many of you might have been introduced to McKee's work in the film Adaptation, where the great Brian Cox portrayed him. This is how I began my journey into McKee's game-changing book Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting.Nicolas Cage is Charlie Kaufman, a confused L.A. screenwriter overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy, sexual frustration, self-loathing, and by the screenwriting ambitions of his freeloading twin brother Donald (Nicolas Cage). While struggling to adapt "The Orchid Thief," by Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep), Kaufman's life spins from pathetic to bizarre. The lives of Kaufman, Orlean's book, become strangely intertwined as each one's search for passion collides with the others'.My interview covered discussion on McKee’s latest book which is linked below, Character: The Art of Role and Cast Design for Page, Stage, and Screen. And a combination of his other books Dialogue: the Art of Verbal Action for Stage, Page, and Screen, and Storynomics: Story-Driven Marketing in the Post-Advertising World, which are both linked in the show notes. This interview felt like a free pass to one of McKee's sold out seminars --- packed with knowledge bombs.Enjoy this conversation with Robert McKee.
79 minutes | Jun 9, 2021
BSP 124: Screenwriting Rules You Need to Learn Then Break with Julian Hoxter
9 minutes | Jun 3, 2021
ANNOUNCEMENT: Filmmaker Process - Need Help Getting Your Screenplay Funded, Finished and Produced?
After working in the IFH labs for the first part of 2021 I can finally announce what it is. May I introduce Indie Film Hustle's FILMMAKER PROCESS?Filmmaker Process offers comprehensive professional services for hire to help filmmakers and screenwriters, working at any budget level, get their film project to the finish line. I wanted to put the much-needed services filmmakers need but rarely have access to all under one roof.Filmmakers and screenwriters usually could only get access to these services if they "knew someone." Here are the services and products Filmmaker Process gives you access to:- Pitch Decks- Budget and Scheduling- Domestic and International Sales Estimates- Legal Contracts and Form Templates- Indie Film Investor Package- Consulting and Coaching- Script Coverage- Post Production Services- Trailer Editing- Poster, VOD, and DVD/Blu-Ray Artwork- Film Deliverables (Both Physical and Legal)- Production PayrollIn this episode, I go over what each service is and how you can use it to get your film project to the finish line.For more info go to: www.filmmakerprocess.com
53 minutes | Jun 2, 2021
BPS 123: Billy Crystal - The Art of Comedy Screenwriting
There are performers that impact your life without you even knowing it and today's guest fits that bill. On the show we have comedic genius, multi-award-winning actor, writer, producer, director, and television host, Billy Crystal. We’ve seen Billy’s versatile work across all areas in the entertainment world, stand-up, improv, Broadway, behind and in front of the camera, feature films, television, live stages like SNL, and animated movies. It's fascinating how much the man has done over the span of his career---and his lengthy IMDB page is only the tip of the iceberg.Billy’s career took off for his role in the 70's sitcom SOAP, where he played a gay character, Jodie Dallas. This launched him into box office hits such as When Harry Met Sally, City Slickers, Analyze This and the kids favorite, Mike Wazowski in Monsters, Inc. just to name a few. Aside from hosting the Oscars® a record nine times and being only one step away from an EGOT, he’s a philanthropist. Billy, along with Whoopi Goldberg and the late Robin Williams created the annual fundraiser stand-up comedy show, Comic Relief, in 1986 that has over the years, raised over $60 million to support the homeless. The late 80s and early 90s were a really magical time for Billy's career. He had the box office hits Running Scared and Throw Momma from the Train. He had scene stealing parts in the classics This is Spinal Tap and The Princess Bride. There’s the 1989 box office smash hit When Harry Met Sally, starring Billy alongside Meg Ryan and Carrie Fisher. The story follows Harry and Sally who had known each other for years, and are very good friends, but they fear sex would ruin the friendship.You can’t talk about Billy Crystal classics without mentioning City Slickers for which he won a Golden Globes award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical/Comedy. On the verge of turning 40, an unhappy Manhattan yuppie is roped into joining his two friends on a cattle drive in the southwest.Billy's interest in entertainment started way before college. But his decision to go to NYU put some goals into place for him. He was a member of an improv/comedy group at college and soon he started to host solo standup shows. By 1978, he landed his first starring feature film role in Rabbit Test in which he starred with Joan Rivers. Towards the end of the 90s, Billy joined iconic Robert De Niro and Lisa Kudrow in the box blockbuster hit Analyze This and its sequel to the Analyze That.Billy’s work transcend generations and Gen Z is his newest fandom; distinctively for his role in Monster Inc. and Monsters University, Mike Wazowski. Monsters University revisits the relationship between Mike Wazowski and James P. "Sully" Sullivan during their days at Monsters University, when they weren't necessarily the best of friends.Billy will reprise his role as Mike Wazowski in the Monsters at Work Disney+ series that is set for release later this year.One defining element of Billy’s work, be it writing, acting or directing is that the pulls from real-life experiences and balances funny and hard conversations effortlessly. Having started out in the business since he was 20 years old, it is absolutely thrilling to watch how he’s knitted together diverse platforms and filed into a accomplished career. This Friday, May 7th, Billy’s newest film, in which he wrote and directed, Here Today, stars himself and the incredibly funny, Tiffany Haddish, will be released only in theaters. These two make a seamless pairing and their chemistry is oh so charming. The intergenerational teaming of Billy and Tiffany tells a love story that is of friendship, support, and empathy. I absolutely LOVED the film. Do yourself a favor and go out and catch this gem of a film. When veteran comedy writer Charlie Burnz meets New York street singer Emma Payge, they form an unlikely yet hilarious and touching friendship that kicks the generation gap aside and redefines the meaning of love and trust.Billy has always been there to make me laugh, in good times and bad. I can not tell you what and honor and thrill it was getting to sit-down and speak to a filmmaker, writer and actor that has meant so much to me in my life.Enjoy my entertaining conversation with Billy Crystal.
75 minutes | May 26, 2021
BPS 122: Oscar® Winner Eric Roth: From Forrest Gump to Dune - Adventures in Hollywood Screenwriting
This week, I sat down with one of the most legendary and successful screenwriters/producers in Hollywood, Oscar® Winner Eric Roth. Over a 50+ years career, he's well-known for writing or producing films like Forrest Gump, A Star is Born, Mank, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Munich, Ali, and the list goes on. The critically and commercially acclaimed American drama, Forrest Gump is an adaptation of Winston Groom's 1986 novel of the same title, adapted by Eric Roth in 1994. The story depicts several decades in the life of Forrest Gump, played by the incomparable, Tom Hanks, a slow-witted but kind-hearted man from Alabama who witnesses and unwittingly influences several defining historical events in the 20th century the United States. The $55 million budget film grossed $683.1 million at the Box Office and won the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, and three Golden Globes awards. With a dream to pursue writing, he got his start working crew on a bunch of independent movies being made by some experimental filmmakers at a local studio (the Millennium will film workshop) while studying at Columbia University and later transferred to UCLA Film School. While on the climb up, Roth got the opportunity through his good friend Stuart Rosenberg, to rewrite the script for the Paul Newman movie, The Drowning Pool, at the tender age of 20 years old.Last year, Roth co-produced the multi-award nomination biographical drama, Mank. mank earned ten Oscar® nominations and six Golden Globe Awards nominations.1940. Film studio RKO hires 24-year-old wunderkind Orson Welles under a contract that gives him full creative control of his movies. For his first film, he calls in washed-up alcoholic Herman J Mankiewicz to write the screenplay. That film is "Citizen Kane," and this is the story of how it was written.A Star is Born, co-written by Roth became a 2018 phenomenon. Director, co-writer and lead actor, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga brought steaming chemistry to our screens in a way that had been lacking. The film grossed twelve times its $36 million budget which is more than any of the other three versions of the musical romantic drama film.Seasoned musician Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) discovers, and falls in love with struggling artist Ally (Gaga). She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer - until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally's career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.A must mention amongst Roth’s screenplays is the 2008 screenplay adaptation of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Academy winner Mahershala Ali and Taraji P. Henson. The film tells the story of Benjamin Button, a man who starts aging backward with consequences. I could go on and on, through the extensive list of incredible writing Eric Roth has given the world, but you can listen to our conversation to hear all about them. Even his Television writing and producing on shows like House of Cards, The Alienist, and the upcoming remake of the science fiction classic Dune, directed by Denis Villeneuve.I've been a fan of Eric's work since my days working at a video store. It was truly an honor to sit down and talk shop with a master of the craft. Enjoy my conversation with Eric Roth.
75 minutes | May 19, 2021
BPS 121: Save the Cat! Writing for Netflix & Television with Jamie Nash
This week, I invited author, writer, and director, Jamie Nash on the show to discuss his ‘Save The Cats Writes for TV’ formula in his new book, Save the Cat!® Writes for TV: The Last Book on Creating Binge-Worthy Content You'll Ever Need.Jamie is a horror and children’s film screenwriter with fifteen years of experience writing projects for Nickelodeon, Liongate, Discovery, Amazon Prime, Netflix, etc, and also teaches screenwriting to college students.Some of his most notable horror credits include V/H/S/2, Lovely Molly, and Seventh Moon, A Comedy of Horrors, and Two Front Teeth. And others like Adventures of a Teenage Dragon Slayer, Tiny Christmas, etc.Screenwriting, for Jamie, was a side project he pursued at leisure when he wasn’t working his Computer gaming/programming job. It wasn’t until early 2004 that he sold his first script, a horror feature titled, Altered, to Haxan Films that was later directed in 2006 by one of the Blair Witch Project directors, Eduardo Sánchez. The story premised on a group of men whose lives were forever changed by a strange occurrence who, fifteen years later Now, will spend a night together ... in terror.With some financial success and notoriety from Altered, Jamie quit his computer consultant job with Citigroup and went full-time on screenwriting in 2008.Jamie is one of those writers who stay busy. He writes about five to six scripts a year for pilots, TV shows, podcasts, novels, etc. This justifies why he has a Writers Guild. It takes a lot of brainpower to create multiple plots that are so different in many ways within a short period of time. An example is his 2017 screenplays, The Night Watchman and Tiny Christmas. Two very distinct writing and audiences. He co-wrote The Night Watchman with Ken Arnold and Dan DeLuca. It is basically a story of three inept night watchmen, aided by a young rookie and a fearless tabloid journalist, fight an epic battle for their lives against a horde of hungry vampires.Tiny Christmas on the other hand is about a girl and her quirky cousin who are accidentally zapped by a shrinking ray at the hands of one of Santa’s inept elves on Christmas Eve and they must learn to trust and appreciate each other and work as a team to get back home before Christmas, or risk staying tiny forever.On March 30th, 2021, he released his third book, Save the Cat!® Writes for TV in which he shares the essence of writing pilots as pitches for screenwriters considering television because more than 80% of jobs in the Writers Guild of America are skewed towards the television.Nash takes up Snyder's torch to lay out a step-by-step approach using Blake's principles for both new and experienced writers, including:-How to write and structure a compelling TV pilot that can launch both your series and your TV writing career-All the nuances, tricks, and techniques of pilot-writing: the Opening Pitch, the Guided Tour, the Whiff of Change, and more-The 8 Save the Cat! TV Franchise Types that will improve your story and your pitch-The not-so-secret TV Pitch Template that turns your TV series into the necessary read-over-lunch industry document-a how-to in creating layered characters who are driven by complex internal struggles-Beat sheets of the pilots of Barry, Ozark, Grey's Anatomy, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, What We Do in the Shadows, Black-ish, The Mandalorian, This Is Us, Law, and Order: SVU, and more to help you crack your storyCreate your binge-worthy TV series with Save the Cat! Writes for TV We talked some more about his own indie film hustle journey--working overtime to get a headstart in the industry, we also talked about his networking technique that keeps him booked and busy. I could talk another hour more with Jamie. He is so candid about his process and the drive behind it.Enjoy this conversation with Jamie Nash.
125 minutes | May 12, 2021
BPS 120: The Essentials of Screenwriting with Richard Walter
74 minutes | May 5, 2021
BPS 119: Screenwriting Inside the Studio System with Joe Cornish
You guys better get ready for a hell of a ride because our guest today brought a great conversation. We have accomplished screenwriter and director Joe Cornish on the show today. The English comedian and filmmaker burst onto the scene in 2011 with his very successful film directorial debut, Attack The Block, starring John Boyega, who played Moses, a low-level crook, teenage gang leader, an orphan looking for respect around the block. The British sci-fi comedy horror film centers on a teenage street gang who have to defend themselves and their block from predatory alien invaders on Guy Fawkes Night. Commercially, the film did not perform as it was acclaimed critically. It is rated at 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, won the Audience Award for Best Film (Midnights) at SXSW 2011, and many other awards from all major film festivals that year.Cornish and his comedy partner, Adam Buxton form the successful duo, Adam & Joe an ironic pop culture sketch show which gained a lot of success in the UK alongside Cornish’s long-term work in the UK TV entertainment industry. In 2011 he joined iconic directors, Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg as a writer for the screenplay and story for the 3D animated action-adventure film, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn --- co-written alongside Edgar Wright and Steven Moffat.Intrepid reporter Tintin and Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock's ancestor.This $135 million budget film grossed $374 million at the box office and received a plethora of nominations including Oscars for Best Original Score, a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film, two BAFTA nominations for Best Animated Film and Best Special Visual Effects.Cornish co-wrote the screenplay for the Marvel Comic character, Ant-Man, along with Wright, Adam McKay, and Paul Rudd in 2015. Rudd, starring as Ant-Man is armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world. Similar to most Marvel Studio movies, the film carried a big budget of $169.3 million and grossed $519.3 million.His latest film, The Kid Who Would Be King (2019), which I highly recommend everybody to watch, joins a band of kids who embarks on an epic quest to thwart a medieval menace.Joe honestly, was extremely forthcoming and transparent about a lot of things; like what happened behind the scenes of Ant-Man and what it's like to write inside the Marvel machine. And we also discuss his craft, how he is as a director, how he likes to approach his writing and many more.Enjoy this conversation with Joe Cornish.
83 minutes | Apr 28, 2021
BPS 118: From Short Film Script to Spielberg with Sacha Gervasi
103 minutes | Apr 21, 2021
BPS 117: How to Be a Screenwriter in Hollywood with Marshall Herskovitz
Our guest today is the former president of the producers Guild of America, established producer, writer, and director, Marshall Herskovitz. Much of his production projects have been in partnership with his long-time filmmaking friend, Edward Zwick whose films, he’s produced and written half of. Their decades-long filmmaking partnership was launched as co-creators of the 1987 TV show, ThirtySomething. Now, Marshall had already written for the TV show, Family, in 1976. So his understanding of TV was pivotal in the success of 30 Something. Other projects he’s credited for executive producing or creating include Traffic (2000), The Last Samurai (2003), Nashville (TV show 2016), Blood Diamond, and Women Walks Ahead(2017), starring the incomparable, Jessica Chastain.Marshall show, ThirtySomething, which only ran for four-season was quite successful. Co-created with Zwick, the follows the stories and journeys of seven thirtysomethings living in Philadelphia who struggle with everyday adult angst.The show's success earned over a dozen Primetime Emmy and Golden Globe awards, and personal honors for Marshall from the Writers Guild and a Directors Guild.Herskovitz's filmography is pretty adventurous. We discussed as many as we could in this interview and he was totally down for the ride. But if we are to highlight some must-mentions, Traffic will get the spot. Herskovitz co-produced Traffic in 2000 alongside esteem producer, Laura Bickford and directed by Zwick. The film holds a constant 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and won numerous Oscars BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild, and Golden Globes awards in 2001. It followed through grossing a total of $207.5 million on its $46 million budgetThe President appoints a conservative judge to spearhead America's escalating war against drugs, only to discover that his teenage daughter is a crack addict. Two DEA agents protect an informant. A jailed drug baron's wife attempts to carry on the family business.Another classic of his is the 1999 TV show, Once and Again. A divorced father and a soon-to-be-divorced mother meet and begin a romantic courtship which is always complicated by their respective children and their own life problems.Marshall was the absolute best and an excellent guest. You have to listen to the episode to hear all those extra deets he shared with us about the attempts at rebooting ThirtySomething and many more.Enjoy this conversation with Marshall Herskovitz.
127 minutes | Apr 20, 2021
BONUS EPISODE: Richard Linklater - Slacker, Indie Cinema & How to Become a Writer
Well I put out an episode back in 2019 putting my dream list of guests out into the universe and in the past four months I've been humbled to have some amazing filmmakers and screenwriters on the show. Incredibly one of those dream guests has made his way on the show today. We are joined by indie film icon and Oscar® nominated writer/director Richard Linklater. Richard was one of the filmmakers who helped to launch the independent film movement that we know today with his classic 1991 indie film Slacker. So today, we will not only dive into the extraordinary career of Richard Linklater but also that of collaborator and longtime friend writer/director Katie Cokinos.If this is your introduction to Linklater and his work, here are a few highlights you must know; Linklater helped launch the 90s indie film renaissance with his film Slacker.The producer, director has juggled the TV, film, short-film, and documentary genres seamlessly over his career - typically focusing in fine detail on generational rites and mores with rare compassion and understanding while definitively capturing the 20-something culture of his era through a series of nuanced, illuminating ensemble pieces which introduced any number of talented young actors into the Hollywood eco-system.One of the talents to emerge from this era is the Texas native, Matthew McConaughey in Linklater’s third movie and VHS smash hit, Dazed and Confused. Based on Linklater’s years at Huntsville High School and the people he encountered there, the film shadows the adventures of high school and junior high students on the last day of school in May 1976.Throughout his career Richard has chosen to tell stories about the human condition, while many times making us laugh and cry at the same time. I found an immense philosophical under current to most of his life's work. From The Before Trilogy to Boyhood, his films tackle topics in an honest, raw and deeper way that is not normally seen in filmmaking.Many of the actors who work with Richard call him the "Zen Director" on set. His philosophy can be felt throughout his work. He often tells long and transformative coming of age stories over years, if not decades, something that is unique to him.His Oscar® nominated film Boyhood is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason's parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, BOYHOOD charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before.Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay's Yellow to Arcade Fire's Deep Blue. BOYHOOD is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting. It's impossible to watch Mason and his family without thinking about our own journey.Now the other remarkable filmmaker in this conversation is Katie Cokinos. She has made over ten short films and in 2000 wrote, directed, and acted in the feature film, Portrait of a Girl as a Young Catwhich premiered at SXSW. Katie produced Eagle Pennell’s film, Heart Full of Soul (1990); was a publicist for Richard Linklater’s Slacker, (1990). She was the Managing Director of the Austin Film Society, 1990-95.Her latest film is the coming of age story I Dream Too Much, co-produced by Richard. Here's a bit about the film:Presents a day in the life in Austin, Texas among its social outcasts and misfits, predominantly the twenty-something set, using a series of linear vignettes. These characters, who in some manner just don't fit into the establishment norms, move seamlessly from one scene to the next, randomly coming and going into one another's lives. Highlights include a UFO buff who adamantly insists that the U.S. has been on the moon since the 1950s, a woman who produces a glass slide purportedly of Madonna's pap smear, and an old anarchist who sympathetically shares his philosophy of life with a robber.So much was covered in this EPIC 2 hours conversation. I need to stop here and let you dive in.Enjoy my conversation with Richard Linklater and Katie Cokinos.
85 minutes | Apr 14, 2021
BPS 116: From Horror Indies to The Revenant with Mark L. Smith
I've spoken to many people in the film business over the years but today's guest is one of the hardest working craftman I've had the pleasure of sitting down with. Today on the show we have screenwriter, producer and director, Mark L. Smith. If you look at his IMDB you'll see a list of 15 projects at various stages of development. He's come a long way from entering the Hollywood scene some 15 years ago with his fear-striking horror screenwriting and directorial debut, Séance in 2006.Mark stumbled onto writing as a hobby during off-seasons at his family’s ranch where he worked after college. Self-taught, some workshops and an inventory of specs later, his path crossed Mel Gibson’s - who bought Smith’s first-ever script written in 2001.From then onwards, he’s been credited for successful writing and producing for hits like The Revenant (2015) and Overlord (2018) and The Midnight Sky which was just released in 2020, starring the incomparable, George Clooney.In Overload, a small group of American soldiers finds horror behind enemy lines on the eve of D-Day.While producing his directorial debut horror, film Séance, with friend of the show and veteran producer Suzanne Lyons, Smith was also a writer on Vacancy in 2006. You will hear more in the interview of his experience navigating the world of filmmaking on both sets, as a rookie, and the village of support he received.Vacancy follows the unfortunate adventure of a married couple who becomes stranded at an isolated motel and finds hidden video cameras in their room. They soon realize that unless they escape, they'll be the next victims of a snuff film.After Vacancy, many horror projects started to open up for Smith. He worked those for a while until it felt old and he had the urge to do something different. That's when he co-wrote the revisionist western script for The Revenant with legendary director, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu. The film was based in part on Michael Punke’s 2002 novel by the same title.Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, and Domhnall Gleeson, the story sets in the 1820s, where a frontiersman, Hugh Glass, sets out on a path of vengeance against those who left him for dead after a bear mauling.The twist and turns that caused delayed production of the film and its eventual success will pique your interest. The Revenant became was an instant commercial and artistic success. It grossed $533 million worldwide, earned 11 Oscar nominations, 3 Golden Globe awards, and 5 BAFTA awardsMark recently wrote The Midnight Sky that released last year, starring George Clooney. It is a screen adaptation of Lily Brooks-Dalton’s novel, ‘Goodmorning, Midnight’ which is a post-apocalyptic tale that follows a lonely scientist in the Arctic, as he races to stop Sully and her fellow astronauts from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.I had an absolute ball speak ing to Mark. He's one of the hardest working screenwriters in Hollywood. We discuss everything from The Revenant, genius-level tips on how to adapt a book to the screen to what it was like work with Quentin Tarantino on the Star Trek script that has yet to be made. If you pray, please pray to the Hollywood Gods that Mark and Quentin's Star Trek gangster film sees the light of day.Enjoy this conversation with Mark L. Smith.
65 minutes | Apr 7, 2021
BPS 115: Writing the Netflix/TV Drama Series with Pamela Douglas
Our guest today is the award-winning screen and television writer, professor, visual artist, and author, Pamela Douglas. Pamela is a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America and a USC School of Cinematics Arts tenure professor for screenwriting. She is credited for her writing on shows/series such as Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987), The Ghostwriter (1992), CBS Schoolbreak Special (1984), Frank's Place (1987), and A Year in the Life (1987).Aside from her awesome career as a screenwriter, she’s an international writer with multi-lingual adaptations of her books (German, Mandarin, Italian, French, Korean, and Spanish). Pamela packed her expertise in her 2018 revised fourth edition of her 2008 book 'Writing the TV Drama Series: How to Succeed as a Professional Writer in TV', (revised) 'Writing the TV Drama Series: How to Succeed as a Professional Writer in TV'.The book is a complete resource for anyone who wants to write and produce for television drama series or create an original series, as well as for teachers in screenwriting classes and workshops. It leads the reader step-by-step through every stage of the development and writing process, offering practical industry information and artistic inspiration. The Fourth Edition leads readers into the future and engages provocative issues about the interface between traditional TV and emerging technologies. It’s also the single most comprehensive source on what is happening in original television drama around the world, with surveys of 15 countries.As you will learn in this episode, Pamela’s passion for writing goes back to her childhood. Even though she’s dabbed in screenwriting for movies, she’s discovered throughout her career that television carries a bigger pull in terms of communicating ideas, stories, characters, life, and experience. Its essence allows for vertical story-telling, expansion, and continuity to reveal newer plots and characters.Star Trek: the next generation is a classic sci-fi series set almost 100 years after Captain Kirk's five-year mission, a new generation of Starfleet officers set off in the U.S.S. Enterprise-D on its own mission to go where no one has gone before - the exploration of the Milky Way galaxy. The Ghostwriter is an American children's mystery television series that revolves around a circle of friends from Brooklyn who solve neighborhood crimes and mysteries as a team of young detectives with the help of a ghost named Ghostwriter who can only communicate through writing and words.Chatting with a seasoned screenwriter like Pamela, there is so much wealth of knowledge packed in every word. We talked about presentation reelers, the forex structure and her approach to it, and why she thinks the Wire is the best show of all time in terms of character, layering, and sterilized storytelling.Enjoy this conversation with Pamela Douglas.
85 minutes | Mar 31, 2021
BPS 114: The Craft of Screenwriting Tentpole Films with Boaz Yakin
We have for you on the show today screenwriter and director, Boaz Yakin, The writer behind The Punisher, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, The Rookie, & Safe and directing, The Fresh, Remember the Titans and the comedy-drama, Uptown Girl among others.Growing up in a talented theatrical family, it was only natural for Yakin to pursue a life in film or some sort of performing arts. His dad, who was a teacher at Juilliard and a theater director enrolled Boaz into the famous Stell Adler script analysis class when he was only 17 years old. Thereafter, he tried out film school at US City college, later transferred to NYU, before quitting school after his first script was auctioned and got him in the door at 19 years old.At age 22, Yakin wrote his first produced film, Marvel's The Punisher. When Frank Castle's family is murdered by criminals, he wages war on crime as a vigilante assassin known only as The Punisher.In 1990, Yakin co-wrote one of the action films of the times, The Rookie, starring star boy Charlie Sheen, and Clint Eastwood who also directed the film.But his big hit came right after, FRESH, Yakin’s directorial debut is an emotional coming of age story, that offers a realistic glimpse of the dangerous life in New York City's projects during the crack epidemic.Michael, nicknamed Fresh, a 12-year-old kid running drugs for gangsters, notably Esteban, inspired by the chess lessons of his father, an alcoholic speed-chess master played by Samuel L. Jackson. Fresh devises and executes a brilliant plan to extricate himself and his drug-addicted sister from their hopeless lives.Next up for Boaz was directing the box-office smash REMEMBER THE TITANS.Academy Award® winner Denzel Washington shines in REMEMBER THE TITANS. Based on real events, this remarkable story celebrates how a town torn apart by friction and mistrust comes together in triumphant harmony. After leading his team to fifteen winning seasons, beloved football coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton) is demoted and replaced by tough, opinionated Herman Boone (Washington).How these two men overcome their differences and turn a group of hostile young men into champions is a remarkable portrait of courage and perseverance. You and your family will never forget the Titans!His blockbuster smash, Now You See Me featured big industry names like Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Michael Caine, etc. The $75 million budget film grossed $351.7 dollars.The plot follows an FBI agent and an Interpol detective who track and attempt to bring to justice a team of magicians who pull off bank heists and robberies during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.Boaz continued his blockbuster ways by working on the $200 million tentpole film Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, starring Jake Gyllenhaal.A young fugitive Prince and Princess must stop a villain who unknowingly threatens to destroy the world with a special dagger that enables the magic sand inside to reverse time.Boaz and I chatted about his creative process, the business side and political side of screenwriting and directing in Hollywood during this conversation. He was extremely raw and honest about what it really is like working inside the Hollywood machine.Enjoy this conversation with Boaz Yakin.
76 minutes | Mar 25, 2021
BPS 113: How to Rewrite Your Screenplay Like a Hollywood Pro with Paul Chitlik
On the show today veteran screenwriter, director, producer, educator, author, Paul Chitlik. Paul has worked on 80's show classics like the Twilight Zone, Small Wonder, Who's the Boss, and Perfect Strangers, among others. He spends his free time as a clinical assistant professor teaching Screenwriting at the Loyola Marymount University in Los Angelos.Small Wonder follows the zany adventures of a suburban family, their next-door neighbors, and an innovative robot designed to look like a human child.Chitlik’s best-selling book, Rewrite 2nd Edition: A Step-by-Step Guide to Strengthen Structure, Characters, and Drama in your Screenplay, is a gold mine of expert guidance for every aspiring screenwriter.Veteran screenwriting instructor and award-winning writer Paul Chitlik presents an easy-to-read, step-by-step process to take your script from first draft to submission draft. He reveals the hidden structure of screenplays, sequences, and scenes, as he guides you through the process of examining your draft, restructuring it, and populating it with believable, complex, and compelling characters.Along the way he outlines how to make your action leap off the page and your dialogue crackle. While the first edition was widely used in film school rewriting classes, it was also recommended as an introduction to screenwriting craft by a number of professors and professionals. Paul Chitlik has included, for the second edition, more examples, exercises, and applications for television, the web, and other media, using a wide range of citations in film, television, and the Internet to underline his approach. Paul shared so much of his creative thought process during our conversation and how he approaches cutting his scene. You don’t want to miss it.Enjoy this conversation with Paul Chitlik.
93 minutes | Mar 17, 2021
BPS 112: The Craft of Epic Story Screenwriting with Edward Zwick
We have been on a major roll lately on the podcast and this episode keeps that going in a big way. Our guest on the show today is writer, producer, and director Edward Zwick. Edward made his big shift from his childhood passion for theater to filmmaking after working as a PA for Woody Allen in France on the set of Love and Death. He then moved to California in the summer of 1976 and has since forged a respected name for himself in Hollywood.You can read Edward Wick's Screenplay collection here. Edward Zwick is a multiple Academy Award, Golden Globes, and BAFTA award-winning director, writer, and producer.Faced with the fear of going to law school during his first five years in the industry if filmmaking didn't work, Zwick cards turned and launched him into projects that are now some of the most critically and commercially acclaimed in the business. His work spectrums the comedy-drama and epic historical genres.Edward has had a remarkable career so far and still has much more to give. Speaking to Edward was like sitting in my persona filmmaking masterclass. We discuss how he made the jump from a low-budget comedy to epic historical dramas, his creative process, navigating Hollywood, directing some of the biggest movie stars in the world, and much more.Prepare to take notes on this one tribe. Enjoy my conversation with Edward Zwick
117 minutes | Mar 10, 2021
BPS 111: The Art of Creative Showrunning with Steve DeKnight
Showrunning is a mysterious art form to many so I wanted to bringing he someone who can shine a light on what it takes to be one. Today on the show we have powerhouse show runner, writer, director, producer, and all-around good guy Steven Deknight. Best known for his work across the action, drama, and sci-fi genres on TV shows like Smallville, Spartacus, Daredevil, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Jupiter's Legacy.Realizing his strengths early on in his career, Steven is a jack-of-all-trades who studied acting at the onset of film school transitioned through to writing, playwright, and screenwriting. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was his big break - starting off as writer and story editor on the show, Deknight went on to produce 42 episodes of the Spin-off show, Angel.The vampire Angel, cursed with a soul, moves to Los Angeles and aids people with supernatural-related problems while questing for his own redemption.Steven went on to direct and co-executive produce 66 episodes of the 2001 comics show, Smallville which set a viewers rating record of 4.34 million viewers per episode and had a great 10 seasons run.The series goes along with Clark Kent through his struggles to find his place in the world as he learns to harness his alien powers for good and deals with the typical troubles of teenage life in Smallville, Kansas.In 2009, He briefly wrote, directed, and consulted on the short-lived Dollhouse series. Almost immediately after, Deknight got an offered to executive produce and write the hit sensation and everyone's guilty-pleasure, Spartacus. In this interview, he shares that as the creator of a hit show, it was a major career booster for him.A fictional historical drama series inspired by, Spartacus, the show focused on Spartacus's obscure early life leading up to the beginning of historical records.We do a deep dive on how Steve brought the Marvel universe's darker and grittier character Daredevil to Netflix that help launch The Defenders superhero on the streaming giant.Blinded as a young boy, Matt Murdock fights injustice by day as a Lawyer and as a street-level superhero by night, in Hell's Kitchen, New York City.Deknight finally ventured off into film in 2018 for the big budget. His feature-film directorial and writing debut Pacific Rim: Uprising. We go into the weeds on his experience bring a studio tentpole to the big screen while under extreme pressure and restraints.Steve was a blast to chat. Enjoy this conversation with Steve Deknight.
78 minutes | Mar 3, 2021
BPS 110: What Talent Agencies Look for in a Screenplay with Christopher Lockhart
Today on the show we have award-winning producer, film executive, educator, and industry story analyst Christopher Lockhart. Christopher is renowned for his script editing acumen. He has read over 60,000 screenplays. He is also an award-winning filmmaker and member of the WGA, PGA, and the Television Academy.Chris got his start at International Creative Management (ICM), where he worked as script consultant to legendary talent agent Ed Limato, who represented industry giants such as Mel Gibson, Richard Gere, Michelle Pfeiffer, Liam Neeson, and Robert Downey, Jr.He later moved to the venerable William Morris Agency, which merged with Endeavor to form WME. At WME Chris has worked on award-winning projects for A-list clients like Denzel Washington, Russel Crowe, and Rachel McAdams among others.Chris branched off into film producing with the cult horror hit The Collector and its sequel The Collection, which opened in the top ten American box-office. He wrote and produced the award winning documentary Most Valuable Players, which was acquired by Oprah Winfrey for her network. Chris has set up several other projects, including A Rhinestone Alibi at Paramount, and Crooked Creek, a modern noir thriller.As an educator, Lockhart shares his talent and 30+ years of industry experience as an adjunct professor at Screenwriting program and at UCLA. His writing workshop The Inside Pitch was filmed for Los Angeles television and earned him an Emmy Award nomination.Chris and I also teamed up for a new webinar from IFH Academy called How to Become a Hollywood Script Reader from Industry InsidersHOW TO BE A HOLLYWOOD READER is a webinar focusing on the secrets of one of Hollywood’s most vital and mysterious jobs. A reader evaluates screenplays and stories, practicing quality control through “coverage” – a written report that judges creative success. The reader wields huge influence that empowers Hollywood chiefs to greenlight film, television, and new media.This webinar examines the core components of coverage, how to write it, and provides tools and pro tips to navigate the reading profession – led by two preeminent Hollywood readers. By pulling back the curtain on this creative process, the webinar also gives writers, directors, actors, and producers a rare look inside the mind of those who decide the fate of their material. Chris prioritizes emotionality and his client's character role and development ahead of the overall story solidity. He shared some tips for new writers, some lessons learned from bad scripts, what goes on behind the agency curtain and the blessing of untapping a story's best version from re-writes.Enjoy my conversation with Christopher Lockhart.
43 minutes | Feb 24, 2021
BPS 109: RAW and HONEST Screenwriting with Bo Burnham & James V. Hart
This is Part 3 in a 3-Part Limited Series of conversations I'll be releasing between the legendary screenwriter James V. Hart, the writer of Hook, Contact, Bram Stroker's Dracula, and Tomb Raider and some of the top screenwriters in the game.Today on the show we have Bo Burnham, the director and screenwriter of Eighth Grade. It is a RAW and HONEST look at growing up as a young person today. The film was a run away hit and distributed by A24.Thirteen-year-old Kayla endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school—the end of her thus far disastrous eighth grade year—before she begins high school.James and Bo discuss how he wrote and structured Eighth Grade, his life as a YouTuber/Stand Up comedian and much more. Enjoy this conversation between James V. Hart and Bo Burnham.
71 minutes | Feb 17, 2021
BPS 108: The Power of the Dark Side: Creating Great Villains with Pamela Jaye Smith
Today on the show we have author Pamela Jaye Smith. She is is a mythologist, international consultant-speaker, and award-winning writer-producer-director with 30+ years in features, TV, music videos, commercials, documentaries, web series, corporate and military films. She has worked at major studios and with wildly independent companies in Hollywood and around the world, always enjoying the process of bringing creative ideas to worldwide screens.Credits include Fox, Disney, Paramount, Microsoft, Universal, RAI-TV Rome, UCLA, USC Film School, American Film Institute, Women in Film, Natl. Film Institute of Denmark, LA and Marseille and Roma WebFests, Romance Writers of America, Children’s Book Writers LA, and many media festivals andPamela founded MYTHWORKS a consulting and information resource offering Applied Mythology for individuals, organizations, and the media arts. She teaches and consults on fiction and non-fiction, writes for others, coaches writers and actors, and helps individuals discover and use their personal archetypes.Smith authored "SHOW ME THE LOVE: All Kinds of Love for All Kinds of Stories", "INNER DRIVES: How to Write and Create Characters Using the [chakras] 8 Classic Centers of Motivation", "SYMBOLS.IMAGES.CODES: The Secret Language of Meaning in Media", and "BEYOND THE HERO'S JOURNEY: Other Powerful Mythic Themes".She was the mythologist interviewed on Fox's ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT Special Features and has appeared on national TV and radio programs as a mythology expert, including the "Forbidden Secrets" TV series. She was on-camera spokesperson for Microsoft's "Age of Mythology" on-line computer game and designed their "Which God Are You?" quiz.Her book The Power of the Dark Side: Creating Great Villains, Dangerous Situations, & Dramatic Conflict is why I wanted her on the show. I wanted to go deep into what makes a good multidimensional villain. Conflict is the very heart and soul of drama, and Pamela's latest work explores character conflict and the various ways to portray it both in scripts and on the stage.Enjoy my conversation with Pamela Jaye Smith.
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