How Does A Screenwriter Know They Have What It Takes To Be A Working Writer? by Corey Mandell
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(Watch the video interview on Youtube here)

Film Courage:  Let’s talk about this hypothetical class of 20 people, 2 excellent students that you think have potential for writing careers and the 18 that don’t.  Do you think those 18 people want to hear the truth?  Knowing that they improve, it’s malleable, you can mold them to write better but do they really want to hear it?  We talk about this growth mindset versus whatever the other side of that coin might be.

Corey Mandell: The fixed-mindset.

Film Courage:  Okay.  So how do you know you’re experiencing a student with the fixed-mindset and they don’t want to hear it?

Corey Mandell: That is such a smart question.  So the fixed-mindset first of all believes that if you want to be a writer you either have this talent or you don’t.  So then you constantly have this voice in your head that says ‘Do I have what it takes?  Do I have talent? Am I wasting my time?  Am I going to get a career or is it never going to happen for me?’ That constant fear-based chatter is that fixed-mindset.  And because of that the fixed-mindset (and you asked such a smart question), it desires an outcome.  So if I have a script and I go “Hey, will you guys read my script and just give me your feed back.  I want to know what you think?”  There is the fixed-mindset and the growth-mindset and they’re both there.  I don’t think it’s one or another.  They both exist, it’s just sort of a ratio.  Are you 90 percent growth mindset and 10-percent fixed?  When I give you guys a script and say “Tell me what you think,” my fixed-mindset wants an outcome.  It wants you two to say “Well, now I know why you had a career.  Now I know why you teach others. This may be the best script I’ve ever read. I’m literally in awe to be in the same room with you.  I didn’t know a human being could write this well?  This is the most amazing script ever!”  Like that’s what my fixed mindset wants to hear.  And when it doesn’t hear it, it’s going to throw a temper tantrum.  And at that point it has two choices and only two choices.  Which is “What’s wrong with you guys?” or “What’s wrong with me?”  So you always hear writers out there say “Yeah, my manager said that the characters weren’t strong enough.  You know, I’ve got to change managers. I mean, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” Or they’ll say “Yeah, my manager said that the characters weren’t good enough.  I don’t know…I don’t know why I’m no good at characters?”  There is something wrong with you or there is something wrong with me.  It’s the only choices that it has.  The growth mindset does not crave or desire an outcome.  It desires the truth.  So the growth mindset wants to know what did you honestly think and why did you think it?

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“There is something wrong with you or there is something wrong with me.  It’s the only choices that it [the fixed mindset] has.  The growth mindset does not crave or desire an outcome.  It desires the truth.  So the growth mindset wants to know what did you honestly think and why did you think it?”

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Let’s say that there are parts of my script that you really loved and there was a section of the script that you just didn’t care for.  Why? And not in a defensive way.  And not in an attacking way.  But why?  Because it’s like a detective.  It’s like “Hhmmm? What plays in my head is amazing.  It’s not amazing for you.  I want to know why.  Where is that disconnect.” Maybe there is a piece of information, a context, that I knew that you didn’t.  I didn’t get out well enough.  And if I could just rewrite it so that becomes more viscerally clear to people, maybe you’ll then have the experience I want.  Maybe that section I like for very personal reasons but it actually disconnects from this…there are a whole million reasons.  But if I…and maybe…the reason you didn’t love my script, the honest truth is, the characters just weren’t compelling enough for you.  They fell kind of flat.  They felt like they kind of all spoke the same way.  That’s not now a rewrite (which is the mistake most people make).  That is ‘Okay, I’m not yet strong enough at characters…the story…the characters are great but it kind of wandered around and it just didn’t seem like it had a forward thrust and maybe I’m just not good at that forward thrust.’  Great!  The fixed-mindset (of course) is freaking out. But the growth-mindset is celebrating because it’s like ‘Okay, now I know what I can do moving forward to get better as a writer. and I’ve got to figure out how do I train myself to get better at forward thrust or better at characters.’

And so if you follow a growth mindset (when you get feedback) if you love my script from top to bottom.  And I know the process that I use to create it and I can replicate that process, that is great news for me.  If you didn’t love my script, top to bottom and I can talk to you in the right way to figure out why you didn’t, where the disconnects were and I could realize where I have a weakness.  Where I need to get better at a skill set.  Where I need to create a new talent or get better at a talent and I can figure out how to do it, that’s amazing.  So the growth mindset is not looking for an outcome, it’s looking for the truth.  So your question was really profound, those 18 people, did they want to know that they are the 18 people?  If you ask them, they will all say yes.  The reality is, if you were to tell them (and I never did)…for right or wrong reasons, that was a line I never crossed.  I would never tell someone if I thought they had what it took or they didn’t.  Because I felt like that is just my opinion.  What is my opinion worth at the end of the day?  And I don’t want to inflict that on someone, positively or negatively.

So, I don’t know.  I’m not saying this was the right decision but as a teacher (to this day) if someone says ‘Do you think I have what it takes or not?’ Well first of all, I’ll say go read the book MINDSET [by author and Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.] because that is a fixed-mindset question.  But even if I actually have an opinion, I’ll never tell someone.  But if someone were to tell those people and they would say “I want to know the truth.” and that is true for their growth mindset but their fixed mindset does not want to know the truth, it wants an answer.  It wants a specific answer, it wants a yes…(watch the video interview on Youtube here).


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Two Inspiring Lessons For Screenwriters by Elaine Zicree and Marc Zicree
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(Watch the video interview on Youtube here)

Film Courage:  Thinking back to something a mentor said to the two of you individually, maybe even before you met one another, what was it?  Or what statement or mantra never left you?  It could be Ray Bradbury or someone else.

Marc Zicree: Sure.

Elaine Zicree:  It’s a funny thing but what most affected me was a script doctor, a very good script doctor I had.  And it was a script I’d written and it was one of my favorite scripts ultimately but she said “This is brilliant.  I absolutely love it!  Now here’s the notes….”  but the fact that she said that I was brilliant and that she loved it I thought “Well the heck with a few notes.  I’m brilliant and I love it!” So I think crazy flattery…I realize the weight of allowing somebody to feel special and be special, it was crazy flattering that all of those notes seemed like nothing.  So one of the biggest pieces of advice was ‘Hey, what you’re doing has super value.  Now here’s the work.’  And just going on that thing where I was allowed to have super value at the top of the journey really got me through it as if it was nothing (those notes).

Marc Zicree: In terms of me (the mentors) what they’ve told me…you know…it’s funny because the mentors who’ve really guided me have been Rod Serling, Ray Bradbury, Guillermo del toro and what really inspired me was the fact that these are guys that come from enormous enthusiasm, creative enthusiasm.  And one thing Ray said to me was don’t look outside yourself, look within.  And it’s funny there was one time when he and I was sitting together and I said “I just figured out what business you’re in.”  I said “It’s not writer, you’re in the Ray Bradbury business.”  And he said “Yes!  That’s exactly right.”

And so what he was doing was creating something that no one else could create.  And he told me that he wrote every day for 10 years before he wrote a single line, a single word that was uniquely his.  And then one day he sat down and he wrote the words THE LAKE and he wrote a short story based on the time when he was a little boy.  When he was eight years old he and a little girl friend who was seven went swimming in Lake Michigan and he came out and she never did (she drowned).  And it was a story of her coming back as a ghost and they told me that when he finished the story, tears were streaming down his face and he knew that he’d written something that no one else could have written and it came specifically from his experience and his soul.  And it took another two years of writing everyday before he could write something again that was uniquely his.  And then he got to where he could do it again and again and again and he became Ray Bradbury because he was determined to do that.

I thought that was a great lesson to say ‘Okay, what are you creating?  What can you create that isn’t something of what others are doing, but that is unique to you, that no one else could have created, that you create something fresh in the world that’s truthful and meaningful and then you know you’ve done something worth doing.  So that’s been a great inspiration to me (watch the video on Youtube here).



How Does A Screenwriter With No Connections Get A Pitch Meeting? by Scott Kirkpatrick
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(Watch the video interview on Youtube here)



Film Courage:  A lot of our [screenwriter] viewers ask about pitch meetings and how to acquire one.  How does someone get a pitch meeting at your company?

Scott Kirkpatrick: Well DRG is a bit different where we are mostly co-producing with major networks or major production companies.  So there is already an established relationship there.  And I guess that’s sort of the key point in terms of how do you begin that process (how does one open the door to get that kind of open communication with an acquisitions team or development team).  So not just at DRG, but any company you kind of have to understand what that company wants, what they work with, what they like, what genres of content they like to work with, getting a sense of who their key clients.

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“If you’re going into a company and attempting to build that initial ‘let’s see if some of my ideas are going to work well and we can get something going.’  You have to first understand what the company does, what it is they like to work with, what media they’re actually in need of, and then the best way to get a pitch meeting is to poise your kind of introduction as a way of being able to serve their needs to help them accomplish their content goals.”

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For instance at DRG we work a great deal at Netflix, RLJ Acorn where there are specific networks that we have great relationships with.  When I was at MarVista Entertainment, we had great relationships with Lifetime (LMN), Disney, Nickelodeon.  So at MarVista we were producing content that was kind of catered toward those audiences (Ion Networks and a few others) and at DRG we have a different set of companies that we work closely with that we just have a library of media that works well with those.  So our acquisitions team has a different mandate than what the acquisitions teams at MarVista had.  So if you’re going to go into a company and attempt to build that kind of that initial ‘let’s see if some of my ideas are going to work well and we can get something going.’  You have to first understand what the company does, what it is they like to work with, what media they’re actually in need of, and then the best way to get a pitch meeting is to poise your kind of introduction as a way of being able to serve their needs to help them accomplish their content goals.

So if they’re looking for women-in-peril films, if they’re looking for action films, going into those companies, pitching those two scripts are going to be great.  If you go in pitching stuff that has nothing to do with their core values of the company in terms of what they’re identified with in the marketplace, you’re not going to get a warm reception.  It’s just they’re looking for ways to satisfy finding the content that they need.  So if you can position yourself where you’re kind of answering to that need, it’s the best way to get it.

Film Courage:  I know with MarVista [and your 2015 interview series with us there] we talked about the ‘Goldmine Genre’ and it was Women-in-Peril or Tween Comedies or things like that (films that were lighter in content).  It sounds like with DRG some of the darker topics/films such as the Norwegian noir is more acceptable.  So it’s finding out what a company a writer would potentially like to pitch to and what they represent.  So maybe a Tween Comedy wouldn’t work for DRG?

Scott Kirkpatrick: For DRG a teen comedy wouldn’t work at all.  Two years ago when I was at MarVista I would have jumped up and down if you gave me an opportunity.  It’s because the mandate of the company is different.  There’s just a different need.  And in addition to dark, Nordic noirs and other deep serious scripted content we also have a great deal of one-off factual films.  This is stuff that at MarVista would never work but we have a massive library of one-hour documentary type programs that do amazing in the digital space.  We have a great collection of game show formats.  We have a great collection of what we call lifestyle programming where it’s cooking and DIY type stuff.  It’s a totally different library.  Every company has a completely different package that they’re selling to the marketplace.  Distribution companies to be successful, they need to be kind of branded as one thing or another.  Because they are branded that way, it attracts certain types of buyers in the international marketplace.  There are only so many channels in the world, there are only so many media buyers in the world, and they all have limited budgets.  So distribution companies have to position themselves to be different in the marketplace and so they develop a kind of streamlined system of this content works really well because we’re able to transact on it easily.  Let’s get more of that.  That’s kind of how they think.  So to go in (not just a pitch meeting) but if you want to showcase your script, if you want to be a producer and produce content and get hired by a company to produce content for them, you have to be able to position yourself to that company to say “I already do stuff like that, therefore I can help you out.”  You know what I mean?

Film Courage:  Right.  So almost back engineer it where a filmmaker knows that their film fits into this category and then see who has distribution that is similar to their film?

Scott Kirkpatrick: Exactly.

Film Courage:  But then can they simply call up…you said that there are already established relationships.  I’m just curious.  It’s interesting if I was a filmmaker and had (let’s say) a noir thriller that I wanted to have considered, it sounds like that’s not the channel or the proper way to go about it in terms of this.

Scott Kirkpatrick: Reverse engineering is exactly the way to do it.  It’s just if you already have a script, if you already have a film, or if you just have an idea or a treatment or anything along those lines that you’re trying to get out into the marketplace.  First off, if you’re only at the treatment stage I would try to package it or get some other elements in there.  But going to a distributor that is in alignment with what other project you’re trying to pitch, that is how you begin that introduction of this is how we can start process of being in regular conversation about this topic and potentially future ones.  It’s walking in the door by reverse engineering it in the sense of “I know this company works in these two genres or three genres.  My project fits that very, very well.”  Focusing on the companies that fit that and then talking to them basically saying “Look, I know you produced this stuff (Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

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Fear Of Writing A Boring Story by Larry Wilson
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(Watch the video interview on Youtube here)



Film Courage:  Do you ever fear writing a boring story?

Larry Wilson:  No…No.  You mean fear how?

Film Courage:  Define fear?

Larry Wilson:  Define fear for me.

Film Courage:  I think…I think for some people they’re okay with not being perfect.  But I think for others this is their whole sort of persona.  Maybe they’ve been told this all of their life [i.e., “you’re our star”], maybe it’s a class thing, I don’t know?  But that’s their element.  That is who they are.  They live in that world of “I do everything right!”  So then they don’t want to attempt anything which may make them appear ‘wrong.’  But then if you’re willing to be free and make mistakes, then boring doesn’t really enter the picture?

Larry Wilson: Yes.  And that is it, I’m not afraid of being boring because I will jump off of creative cliffs and sometimes I’ll land really hard and break my neck.  And sometimes I’ll land exactly where I need to land.  But boring isn’t an issue for me and it’s interesting because I’ve been at this a long time now and I feel more unboring than ever! (Watch the video on Youtube here).


(Watch the video interview on Youtube here)Watch the video interview on Youtube here

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The 1 Writer Who Makes It And The 9 Who Don’t by Corey Mandell
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(Watch the video on Youtube here)


Film Courage: I know you said in another video that when you were teaching at UCLA (and forgive me if UCLA is on the quarter system or the semester system…but…) okay each quarter or semester you would see maybe two people in the class that you felt were like gems [i.e., especially talented writers) and the others ones (although with time and proper training they could become that)…I’m wondering…those two people…those hypothetical students…would they really know [that they were ultra-talented]? Could they see that they were different from other writers?

Corey Mandell: Usually.

Film Courage: Really? How did they know? How could you see it and they also see it in themselves?

Corey Mandell: So…I was talking about this with a manager the other day….(for more of this video with Corey, please visit Youtube here).

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12 Useful Tools To Help Beginning Screenwriters Write A Better Screenplay by CSUN Prof. Eric Edson
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(Watch the video interview on Youtube here)

Eric Edson: These comments that flow into things…actually I think it was on one of your clips [via Youtube] and somebody down there [commenting below the video] was saying “I Hate Plot!”…you know…”I Want Story!” and that poor person is obviously not educated about these things because plot and story are the same bloody thing.  The story is plot.  Plot is story.  Maybe we can get there in a minute or two.  But make those mistakes and that’s just ignorance. You can get educated. You can learn the tools and how to use them.

To be out there and say “I’m going to create this beautiful, big, intricate thing” and not know the pieces of it is like saying “I’m going to create this big, beautiful house and I know absolutely nothing about cement, electrical cabling, roofing shingles, glass”…you’ve got to know all of these things before you can build a house and I believe the same is true for really good screenwriting.

For instance…I’ll throw out some of the silly but useful stuff.  Did you know (for instance) that there are only 4 viable goals in all of narrative screenwriting?



(Watch the video on Youtube here)

Film Courage:  And those goals are?

Eric Edson: Win, stop, escape and retrieve! So okay…you’ve got an idea for a character, your hero or heroine.  Great!  You’ve got an idea and now what is it that you want?  They’ve got to have a goal to pursue.  Well it has to fall into the category of win, stop, escape or retrieve!  Now these are big categories and there are many versions of each one.  Many permutations of each one.  So it’s not like it’s that cut and dry.  But it will appear to a lot of people like “It’s too cut and dry for me!” (Watch the video here on Youtube here)

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Writing For Emotional Impact with Karl Iglesias
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(Watch the video on Youtube here)

#Writing For #Emotional #Impact - Karl Iglesias http:// #writingtips #writingchat #amwriting #screenwriting #screenplay

A Spiritual Guide To A Screenwriting Career - Full Interview with Cecilia Najar
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(Watch the video interview on Youtube here)

Screenwriting Plot Structure Masterclass - Michael Hauge on Screenwriting Plot Structure
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Screenwriting Plot Structure Masterclass - Michael Hauge [FULL INTERVIEW]  - Watch the video on Youtube here



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42 Ways To Avoid Writing A Boring Screenplay
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(Watch the video interview on Youtube here)


1) 0:45 – Write Something That Only You Can Write
2) 2:20 – The Primary Goal
3) 2:53 – A Mediocre Script
4) 6:01 – Not Enough Story
5) 6:23 – Burning Questions
6) 10:18 – No Curiosity
7) 10:53 – Not Hooking The Reader
8) 12:50 – People Can’t Read Your Script
9) 14:06 – Cliché Character Descriptions
10) 14:27 – Main Character Must Want Something
11) 16:42 – Boring Characters
12) 18:06 – Secrecy & Deception
13) 20:41 – The 4 Goal Rule
14) 22:20 – Know The Characters
15) 24:45 – Characters That Do Not Serve The Story
16) 25:20 – The Heart And Soul Of The Story
17) 27:34 – Skin Jump
18) 32:42 – What The Story Is Not
19) 36:07 – BMOC Tools
20) 38:44 – Small Ideas
21) 40:11 – How To Generate Original Ideas
22) 43:14 – Real Life
23) 51:58 – Writing Your Own Story
24) 52:52 – Four Emotions Of Cinema
25) 54:33 – Imagination & Psychology
26) 56:36 – The Comfort Zone
27) 58:46 – Normal World
28) 1:01:35 – Delaying Conflict
29) 1:04:27 – Compelling Conflict
30) 1:07:31 – Not Enough Conflict
31) 1:09:23 – Levels Of Conflict
32) 1:11:47 – Where Is The Adversary?
33) 1:12:48 – Idiot Plot
34) 1:14:41 – Making A Scene Better
35) 1:18:44 – A Movie Is Not A Lecture
36) 1:19:56 – Assuming It’s On The Page
37) 1:24:27 – Don’t Worry About Being Perfect
38) 1:28:18 – Spend Time With The Best Scripts
39) 1:29:57 – One Way To Test A Screenplay
40) 1:30:58 – Great Movies Change Lives
41) 1:36:28 – How To Know A Script Isn’t Boring
42) 1:40:07 – Final Words

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