Working from notes I’m going to use for a panel at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, during this podcast I talk about how I learned to write, how I try to teach writing, and how a person might be able to get something going when it comes to the business of writing, screenplays, and film.
In the podcast, I expand on the following notes.
First, how did I learn to write?
- I learned to read like a writer in an MFA program focusing on fiction. Texts can be your best teachers.
- I read and write a lot.
- I finish stuff and I send it out.
- The lessons in the stack. For example, I’ve read a lot of literary journal submissions, lit agency submissions, and stacks of student writing. The stacks show me what’s being done and what I might do that’s interesting with those stacks of ideas. The opening films of the festival are another kind of stack.
How do I try to help students write?
- by creating writing territories
- through experiencing an audience of each other
- by providing examples of many writers have a different process for how they finish their work
Some Favorite scripts:
- Diablo Cody’s Juno: her transitions
- Tarantino’s InGlorious Basterds: there is the fact that he is writing for himself, but I could see that you can just do it like you want. I can envision something on the screen and just write it so that it makes sense to the reader. Doesn’t matter if it’s unconventional. That, in fact, might be a strength.
What was the result of winning the festival prize?
- a bit of credibility at the festival, lots of little bits can add up to something substantial
- the lesson of the films I wouldn’t have seen (back to the lessons of the stack)
- the impulse to make my own short film which then accidentally became a feature documentary that will screen at the Phenom Film Festival in Louisiana
- Good talks with Elfar Adalsteins who did the short film Sailcloth
- That I won the film festival and was trying to make a film meant that I met more “like” minded people who may eventually be a part of future projects that we do together.
- Last week I met William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg from Moonbot. Their Lessmore won an Academy Award. Their company is in Shreveport. I first became acquainted with their film because I was in Rhode Island connected to the prize. So my script Love on the Big Screen isn’t a film, but a lot else has happened that’s been fun and intellectually stimulating.
Some Books that helped me write or think about filmmaking:
- Lew Hunter’s Screenwriting 434 (practical how to that got me started)
- How Not to Make a Short Film: Secrets of a Sundance Programmer by Roberta Munroe
- The Hollywood Economist by Edward Epstein
- The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide: A Down & Dirty DV Production, by Anthony Artis
- Stephen King’s On Writing
- Donald Murray’s Write to Learn
Two Podcasts I like:
- KCRW, The Business. Filmmakers are common guests and they explain how they get their work done.
- “Here’s the Thing” with Alec Baldwin. Guests include Lorne Michaels, Michael Douglass, and Jon Luvitz
- The Creative Penn: just got turned on to this one. Some interesting stories from writers and how they’ve marketed their books.