Romantically Hopeless is scheduled for season 3. Starring David Pinion. Created and Written by Jordan Imiola and Jarret Summers.
Can't get enough IT? Look what the old IT is up to on the season finale of "Monster Therapy." Starring our clients David Pinion and Ray Carsillo. Created by Jordan Imiola #MonsterTherapy
By Daniel Baig
Our friend, Ashley Scott Meyers offers some excellent advice and engaging interviews from successful screenwriters on his weekly podcast, The Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. To celebrate his upcoming milestone of 200 episodes, we put together a top 10 list of the best episodes so far. We'd also like to Congratulate Ashley on his upcoming film, "The Pinch."
#10 SYS Podcast Episode 094: Austin Film Festival Screenplay & Teleplay Competition Director, Matt Dy, Talks About The Competition
Matt Dy, Screenplay & Teleplay Competition Director at the Austin Film Festival talks about the film festival and its focus on writers. There are good tips and tidbits about putting your best foot-forward and what to avoid when submitting to a film festival. It might be old news, but it's always good to reminder that film festivals are great opportunities to network and get recognized—which begins with having an understanding of how festivals work from the people on the inside and what it takes to make the cut from people in the know.
#9 SYS Podcast Episode 082: Erik Bork (Band of Brothers) Talks About His Career As Screenwriter And Producer
Erik Bork's career path began working in a studio temp pool. By learning the inner-workings of a major studio and commitment, including going back into the temp pool to keep looking for the right fit, working in a writers room and eventually ends up working at Tom Hanks's new production company, where becomes involved with award-winning mini-series like "Moonshot" and "Band of Brothers", and was able to parlay that early success into a long-term career.
#8 SYS Podcast Episode 077: Screenwriter John Jarrell Gives Tough Love Screenwriting Advice
The final installment of a three part interview with John Jarrell. While the first two are worth a listen, this portion of the interview serves as a sobering reality check about pursuing a career in screenwriting. While not discouraging people from follow their passions, this piece is a gut-check for any writer in terms of whether they have the drive, savvy and (yes) talent to make it as a screenwriter.
#7 SYS Podcast Episode 102: Screenwriter Jared Frieder Talks About His Contest Wins, His Black List Table Read, And How He Got His First Professional Credit
Jason Frieder shares how he used his background and how he turned in a difficult period in his life into a contest-winning story, a scholarship at USC and a job as a writer’s assistant. His work continues to get him recognition, representation, and the motivation to keep moving forward in his career. It's a good example of knowing when your personal story is worth telling (which isn't always the case) that begins with find a story during hardship.
#6 SYS Podcast Episode 054: Tawnya Bhattacharya Talks About Her Career As A Television Writer
Tawnya Bhattacharya talks about getting her career started through diversity writing programs, and used that as a springboard to a successful career--most recently "Famous in Love". She provides insight to these fellowships and encouragement keep writing and submitting. While not everyone's going to make it on the first try, the important thing is persistence to continue refining your craft.
#5 SYS Podcast Episode 187: Michael Lucker Talks About How He Broke Into The Business As A Screenwriter
A transplant for the East Coast, Michael talks about getting his start by getting off of a friend's couch and sending a 100 letters to industry folks in search of a production job--one of them lands at Amblin Entertainment and as an assistant to Stephen Spielberg. Michael talks about putting in the work, time and effort as well as the protocols involved with approaching people with your script. Patience and a well-written script paid off with work on both the business-side of the industry and the creative-side as a screenwriter.
#4 SYS Podcast Episode 191: Writer W. Bruce Cameron Talks About His Transition From Writing A Newspaper Column To Screenwriter
An interesting story about how a newspaper column with smart title "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" can gain moment to launch a successful TV show and a career. It seems so simple, but there's definitely something to having the right "hook" for an idea that connects with people. Bruce goes on to talk about his process, which is detailed and structure, but I think the big takeaway comes down to finding a process that works for you and sticking to it.
#3 SYS Podcast Episode 120: Screenwriter Max Landis Talks About His Latest Film, "Mr. Right"
Max Landis talks about his process and how he developed idea that became the spec script for "Mr. Right", which got him noticed in the industry. Max's interview is funny and frank, and it’s easy to see why he can write unusual comedies in such a short amount of time. While his speed alone is admirable, he also talks about the importance of pitching and his enthusiasm for writing leaves little mystery as to why he's had a successful career.
#2 SYS Podcast Episode 145: Writer Edward Ricourt Talks About Now You See Me And Breaking Into The Business
Edward Ricourt talks about working as an assistant on day-time talk shows and later pursuing a writing career, which included his MFA and considering chances of actually making it as a screenwriter. However, he also stresses hard-work and making connections, including on the basketball court, that leads to successful collaboration on "Now You See Me" as well as making the most of out of working on Marvel's writing program, which later resulted in work on the series "Jessica Jones".
#1 SYS Podcast Episode 154: Saw II Writer & Director Darren Lynn Bousman Talks About Breaking In And His Latest Film, Abattoir
Interesting story of making it from film school in Florida to Los Angeles. Back in the days of AOL dial-up, an instant message to a producer in Hollywood, leads to Darren getting a PA job on the X-Files, which opens doors--Particularly, helpful when he talks about working so much on his writing that an AD pulls him aside at tells him he's "the worst PA we've ever had--good luck with your script", because he goes on to sell that script, which leads a successful career, including work on several pictures in the "Saw" franchise.
Better Management and Funny Buffalo Films proudly present MONSTER THERAPY. Check out new episodes every Monday this October.
Better Management and Funny Buffalo Films present "Monster Therapy." Coming this October. Go behind the scenes to meet the cast and crew.
by Teva White
1. Leslie Knope – It’s no surprise this actual Queen of Sunshine is on this list but let’s learn why. First, she completely embodies progressive feminism. She is a strong-willed individual working her way up the ladder at her government job. She is fierce and can convince almost anyone to join her on whatever her current “save-the-day” mission is. Secondly, she isn’t just a tight-lipped working woman. Leslie has emotions, a lot of them. Women can be regarded as weak when they show any emotion so it is very empowering that Leslie has feelings to spare. She is a powerful woman in charge who also loves her friends and gets sad and angry sometimes. What do we call that, a fully fleshed out female character? Add her to the list, y’all.
2. Cersei Lannister – This pick is a little bit more mysterious. Cersei Lannister is the evil queen bitch on her way to claim the throne, so why would she be a strong female character? Well, she’s complex as hell. Cersei is straight up mean and ruthless, she does exactly whatever it takes to get what she wants. Crazy, right? But wait…don’t the men do the same thing? Cersei is a woman trying to make it to the top in a man’s world. In one episode, she vocalizes how from day one she wanted to be able to be with the men and discuss important affairs but was always dismissed on account of her gender. Constant belittling is annoying but maybe not reason enough to have executed some of her plans. However, she has goals and ambitions, reasons for her anger, and an unstoppable will to go on. All of these things maker her a well-written, strong character. She’s on the list!
3. Tina Belcher – While you could say every female character in the Belcher family is a strong woman, Tina is perhaps the best example. She is completely and unapologetically herself. Being a tween and going through puberty can be hard, but Tina does it exactly the way she wants. The show is not coy about her, showing her dealing with leg hair and obsessing about Jimmy Jr.’s butt, and even her mentioning her itchy crotch in episode 1. While her character was originally going to be a boy, they changed her to a girl to make her more interesting and boy did it work. Her outspokenness and awkward youth make her hilarious and definitely on this list.
4. Sophia Berset – Since I could not include literally every single woman on Orange is the New Black, I had to settle for the amazing and complex Sophia Berset. She is a Transgender, African American woman behind bars. Imagine a less written about character. Oh, you can’t? Exactly. She offers a new and extremely interesting perspective to millions of people. Her story is powerful and painful and offers something invaluable: representation. Her relationship to her child and snippets of her past make you love and root for her more with every episode. Not to mention, this character is played by the actually transgender and incredible actress Laverne Cox. This character is new, unique, and a must for this list.
5. Hannah Horvath – The show Girls has brought about much love and controversy over the years. However, there is something about it we cannot deny, it makes us talk about women. Hannah is the center of this female-centric show and is a very important one to recognize because she is extremely unlikable. She is self-centered and loud and has trouble staying within the confines of societies lines for womanhood. She is a human being. She makes mistakes, so many mistakes. But, she cares for her friends (sometimes), is comfortable in her body, and will not be cast aside. It is important for us to view woman as full people as well, and seeing some that is not our cup of tea is perfect for that. She has so many dimensions and never ceases to surprise, and for these reasons she is the final strong gal on this list.
By Teva Wite
Have you ever written something and wondered if the female representation was complex enough? Yes? Great job! No? Well you should. Here’s one way how. The Bechdel test was invented by the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel in her comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For” in 1985. The rules include this: your script must include two female characters, they must talk to each other, and it must be about something other than a man. The two females needing names is sometimes also added. While these requirements are pretty bare bones, you would be shocked at how many movies do not pass it. Here are a few for your dining enjoyment: The Social Network, Avatar, the Original Star Wars trilogy, the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, (500) Days of Summer, The Avengers, and Citizen Cane (just to mention a few).
Surprisingly, the genre of movie that passes this test the most is horror movies. This is probably due to the fact that they are too busy discussing survival or running for their lives for the screen-writer to even include sexism in their script. And while this test should be used by both men and women, women will probably need it less since they think about women and their issues more often. Men can leave half of the entire population out, and not even notice it. I watched Tropic Thunder with a man once and there was not one single female character in that entire movie. Not one line spoken by a woman. This was his favorite movie and he never noticed it until I mentioned it. So, it can be easy to get lost in your thoughts and not think in a larger sense.
So, while you’re writing your piece you should start by thinking of this test. However, you shouldn’t stop there. This is perhaps the lowest bar to writing something gender inclusive. Your female characters should be three dimensional, complex, and definitely have names. They should not be immediately described by how pretty or hot or skinny or fat they are (just to use some words I have seen used time and time again). The women should be just like the men, whole and complete human beings.
Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel
by David Wingert
It’s a simple and often overlooked process of naming a character. Some look for hidden meanings in their names, others find inspiration from real life people while others still simply pick the first name that sounds interesting. There’s really no fixed strategy to this, which can cause a great deal of stress to a writer looking for direction. What better way to learn than from the iconic character names we already know and love? How did they get their names?
Scooby-Doo – In one of Frank Sinatra’s famous songs “Strangers in the Night,” he closes on some random sounds that go something like this: Doo-bee-doo-bee-doo. Sound familiar? That’s because this song inspired Scooby’s name as well as his famous catch phrase: Scooby-doo-bee-doo!
Winnie the Pooh – During WWI, a man in the Canadian Army Veterinary named Harry Colebourn took in a bear he found in the wilderness and affectionately named her Winnipeg. She was later placed in the London Zoo, where one of the frequent visitors liked her so much that he named his teddy bear after her. Can you guess who the boy’s name was?
Red – In Stephen King’s novella “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” Red was a white Irishman, who got his name because of the mop of red hair on top of his head.
Porky Pig – The credit here goes to Friz Freleng, best known for directing and producing over three hundred animated shorts including Daffy Duck and Pink Panther slapstick. Apparently he had two friends growing up nicknamed “Porky” and “Piggy”. Did they like the nicknames, or was Friz just mean to his childhood friends? Who could know for sure?
Indiana Jones – This is a popular one, and rightfully so. In the 1970’s, George Lucas owned an Alaskan malamute named Indiana. You may recognize this same breed of dog found in the Jones’ household in The Last Crusade—also named Indiana.
by Jared Carlson
To further mine the cliché; Film is a visual medium. When writing a script you become a visual storyteller, not a novelist or a playwright. Audiences want to see the world of the story and the events that drive character's actions. Unfortunately, we often need some exposition to ensure that those same audiences aren't completely confused, and that is where many people run into trouble. It's very easy to spoon feed information, but it's incredibly boring and insulting to your audience to do so. You need to keep them engaged, but how do you balance information and action?
If at all possible eliminate the need for exposition. Go back and tweak a few things, make it so that we see everything that we need to know occurring in the script. This is one of the benefits of coming in late and getting out early: We see the bare minimum that we need to understand what is happening and we hop forward, landing on key beats. There's no room for lollygagging.
Let's say that there is no way around having some exposition in there. That's fine, most scripts have it. You just have to write it well. Keep your exposition as short as possible. Give only the bare minimum amount of information that is needed for the audience to understand what is happening, and have that information propel your characters forward in their journey. It should go without saying that characters should not be discussing info that is incredibly obvious or known by all.
Don't give exposition right away if there is a way for you to deliver that information later on in the script. It's good for your audience to have questions as long as they can follow the story. It makes them engaged and they experience events along with your characters as they too search for answers. It's always satisfying when the answer to a question is found, and your audience will appreciate it.
Every Briefing Scene Ever
The easiest way I have found to deliver exposition is through an authority figure. It makes sense if a judge is explaining a case in a courtroom or if a federal agent is giving an intelligence briefing. We are spoon feeding information but it feels natural because of how those scenes are framed. It is important to keep people's interest, however. Don't just have your authority figure stare into the camera delivering information. Show how your protagonist and their compatriots are taking in the information, talking amongst themselves, or perhaps there is some debate in the room that causes tension.
Another method is to distract from the fact that information is being given. Have your exposition appear in scenes of great emotional conflict. Perhaps background information is used as ammunition in a heated fight, or a character is emotionally broken down and lets out the truth behind a past event. The audience will be so entranced with the drama unfolding before them that they won't even register that they have been given a bit of crafty exposition. If you're a comedy writer, hide exposition in a particularly funny scene for a similar effect. As long as the audience is engaged and entertained, they won't notice!
A Plea from the Author
This is more of a personal note from me: Please don't have a newscast or newspaper reveal exposition. You never want anything in your script to be incredibly convenient, and turning on a television at just the right time to hear a specific news segment that pertains to the story is one of the most convenient things that I have found in scripts. If there's a newspaper headline in your script and it doesn't say "The Dead Walk," I ain't interested.
\by Jordan Imiola
If you’ve ever taken an improv class at Second City, Upright Citizens Brigade, I.O., or The Groundlings then you've probably discovered that there’s several techniques in improvisation that can improve humor when writing comedy. If you're having trouble making a scene funny, try to apply some improvisation techniques. These are several Improvisation techniques that can be used for screenwriting comedy.