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Archive for the Category "Interviews"

Tips from Screenwriter Rhett Reese (Zombieland) Jun 25

Rhett ReeseA few weeks back I went to the Great American PitchFest and had a blast. I posted my overall impressions here. And also discussed a couple of free classes I attended, here and here.

Today I’m writing about the third free class I attended — an interview with screenwriter Rhett Reese (Zombieland, Monsters, Inc., G.I. Joe: Retaliation). I found Rhett Reese to be an extremely affable and generous guy. He truly enjoys teaching and helping aspiring screenwriters.

Here are some random tips from his interview (along with my usual paraphrasing) that I found interesting.

Tip #1: On breaking out of one genre after you’ve found success there…

Hollywood straps you with the “golden handcuffs.” You tend to become associated with one genre. But it’s possible to “reinvent yourself by degrees.” For example, if you’ve had traction with an action movie, you could write an action comedy next. Then if that one hits, you could write a comedy, etc.

Tip #2: Before you send your script out to decision makers

… start on a new script. That way “it’s easier to take rejection, because you’re already invested in a new project.”

Tip #3: “Make your characters very entertainingly ONE THING.”

“Simplicity is your friend when it comes to character. Keep it simple.” Play up the one thing that makes your character stand out.

Tip #4: “Never write past your punchline.”

He gave the example of the following line:

“The last time I was in a woman was when I went to the Statue of Liberty.”

It’s less impactful if you were to say it as follows:

“The last time I was in a woman was when I went to the Statue of Liberty in New York City.”

End on the button.

Tip #5: To be successful as a writer…

… you need to be like the T-1000 Terminator. In your career you’ll be routinely shattered to a million pieces by criticism and rejection. The successful writers will be the ones who can “relentlessly and robotically let these pieces coalesce.”

Is Netflix the best resource for screenwriters? Aug 08

The DialogueNetflix. What is it good for?

Absolutely… something!

Netflix has received some (probably warranted) bad press recently, due to their significant price hike. But if you can afford to shell out the cash for at least one more month, you’ll be able to take advantage of one of the best resources for screenwriters anywhere.

I’m not talking about their movie selection (though that’s good too). I’m talking about one specific set of DVDs known as The Dialogue.

The Dialogue: Learning from the Masters

Hosted by Mike De Luca (Producer of dozens of diverse movies including: Boogie Nights, American History X, Austin Powers, The Social Network), the series consists of in depth interviews with some of Hollywood’s elite screenwriters.

Here are just a few of the 27 screenwriters interviewed:

- Simon Kinberg (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Sherlock Holmes)
- Scott Rosenberg (Gone in Sixty Seconds, Con Air)
- David S. Goyer (Blade, Batman Begins)
- Paul Haggis (Crash, Casino Royale)
- Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air, X-Men First Class)
- Peter and Bob Farrelly (Dumb & Dumber, There’s Something About Mary)
- Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci (Star Trek, Cowboys & Aliens)

The DVDs are only few years old, and will give you the best bang for your Netflix buck.

Not only are the interviews insightful as to the process of screenwriting, they will certainly open your eyes to the business of screenwriting as well.

I can’t recommend these DVDs enough. Each 80 minute interview is jam-packed with incredible tidbits of knowledge you can only learn straight from the pros. These are MUST SEE DVDs guys.

Note: The full set of DVDs are also for sale on Amazon.com.

Update: Apparently Amazon isn’t selling these interviews in DVD form, but they are streaming and making them available for download (for a small fee). Here’s a link to one of my favorite interviews, Nicholas Kazan (Matilda, Fallen).


Professional script critique, logline and page notes for $59.
(Yup, the rumors are true. It’s the best frikken deal on the web.)
Awards Watch Roundtable Video Nov 10

THR Writers RoundtableWouldn’t it be nice to eavesdrop on a conversation with some of the best screenwriters working today? Well The Hollywood Reporter has given us that opportunity.

Writers Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours), Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3), John Wells (The Company Men), Todd Phillips (Due Date) and David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole) sit down for an hour long Q & A.

If you just want a taste of the discussion, THR provides the following three quick snippets:

Awards Watch Roundtable: The Writers 1
How did the firing go down? For the first time, Todd Phillips reveals Mel Gibson’s reaction to being cut from “The Hangover II.”

Awards Watch Roundtable: The Writers 2
Aaron Sorkin, John Wells and Todd Phillips weigh in on wrangling with the legal department over their films. Plus, what title did “Old School” almost get slapped with?

Awards Watch Roundtable: The Writers 3
What is it about the WGA that makes “Due Date” writer Todd Phillips refer to it as “the whiner’s guild?” And why does Aaron Sorkin call the WGA “it’s own worst enemy?”

H/T to Benjamin R. for the link.

Category: Interviews  | 2 Comments
Interview With Aaron Sorkin Nov 02

Joshua Stecker, West Coast Editor of Script Magazine, interviews screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, A Few Good Men, Charlie Wilson’s War, The American President, The West Wing).

Here are some of the topics Sorkin talks about in this 20 minute interview:

  • Aaron Sorkin InterviewThe connection between his great teachers and his success
  • How he learned to write screenplays
  • The important lesson William Goldman taught him
  • What activity he does for inspiration
  • What medium he prefers to write in
  • His screenwriting “weakness”
  • The basic rules of drama
  • Advice for aspiring screenwriters

My favorite quote from the interview (especially in light of the recent controversy over whether screenwriting can be taught):

“I can trace so much of what I do every day, when I’m writing, to what I was taught back then by my teachers at Syracuse.”

SCRIPT Magazine Close Up with Aaron Sorkin from Alejandro Seri on Vimeo.

The Writing Show Podcast with Michele Wallerstein Oct 22

Michele WallersteinAs readers of Scriptwrecked should already know, Michele Wallerstein is a Screenplay and Career Consultant with years of experience as a Hollywood literary agent. She’s recently released, “MIND YOUR BUSINESS: A Hollywood Literary Agent’s Guide To Your Writing Career” — which I reviewed here.

Recently Michele was interviewed by Paula Berinstein of The Writing Show, and the half hour podcast of their chat offers some terrific, hard-to-come-by information for aspiring screenwriters about the business of Hollywood.

Some items covered in the podcast:

  • How the book came about
  • Following the rules of Hollywood
  • The need to keep proving and improving yourself
  • What happens in a meeting with a producer
  • Deciding what to write
  • Studio vs. Indie films
  • Why new writers shouldn’t team up on specs
  • How to avoid shooting yourself in the foot
  • The realities of executive notes
  • What a writer’s career is really all about
  • Step deals, pay or play
  • Reinventing your career
  • Breaking in as an older writer
  • When to approach Hollywood

It’s definitely time well spent.

Click here for the direct link to the podcast.

Click here for the original article.

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