Wed, 16 May 2018
Ahead of Memorial Day this month, we look at writing for war films with screenwriters David Broyles, Bill Broyles, Randall Wallace and Bruce C. McKenna.
David Broyles grew up in California, New York, and on a dude ranch in Bandera, Texas. He attended the University of Texas and Columbia University, and served as a Pararescueman (PJ) in Iraq and Afghanistan. Following his enlistment, he was recognized by the Governor of Texas for exceptional volunteer work and advocacy for disabled veterans. He has sold several screenplays and most recently co-created Six, an upcoming dramatic series for the History Channel. David has been involved with the Austin Film Festival for many years as a writer, director, and volunteer. I spoke with David about Six last September.
Bruce C. McKenna is an award-winning screenwriter and producer. He wrote on four of the ten episodes of HBO’s Emmy Award-winning mini-series Band of Brothers, for which he garnered a WGA Award, a Christopher Award and was a finalist for the Humanitas Prize for his episode, Bastogne. He created, co-wrote and co-executive produced The Pacific, the Emmy Award-winning Miniseries for HBO, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks on the Pacific Theater of the Second World War. In addition to winning a producing Emmy, McKenna was nominated for his second writing Emmy, was again a finalist for the Humanitas Prize, and garnered a Producer’s Guild Award, a Critic’s Choice Award, as well as the Marine Corp Heritage Foundation Bill Broyles Image Award.
He is currently developing a miniseries on Peter The Great for Bold Television, is adapting Hampton Side’s epic Blood and Thunder for Ridley Scott, and is adapting All Things Possible, the Kurt Warner story, for Fox Studios.
Bill Broyles grew up in Baytown, Texas, attended Rice University and Oxford University, worked in the civil rights movement, and finished out the Sixties as a Marine infantry lieutenant in Vietnam. As a journalist he was the founding editor of Texas Monthly and from 1982 to 1984 was editor-in-chief of Newsweek. He was the co-creator of the Emmy-Award -winning television series China Beach. He wrote the original screenplay for the movie Cast Away and the screenplay for Jarhead. He co-authored six other screenplays, including Apollo 13, Unfaithful, The Polar Express and Flags of Our Fathers. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay for Apollo 13, which won the Writers Guild award for best screenplay. He has been involved with the Austin Film Festival from the beginning.
Randall Wallace is the Oscar®-nominated creative force behind the epic storytelling of such critical and box-office hits as Braveheart, We Were Soldiers, Pearl Harbor, Secretariat, and Heaven is for Real.
Thu, 10 May 2018
This week, we’ll hear from two of the writers behind The Shape of Water, which was developed simultaneously as a novel and film. First up, New York Times bestselling author, Daniel Kraus who originally approached Guillermo del Toro with the story about a sea creature locked in a laboratory based on an idea he had when he was 15 years old. And later we’ll hear from screenwriter Vanessa Taylor who co-wrote the film version of The Shape of Writer and was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Original Screenplay.
Daniel Kraus is a New York Times bestselling author who started his career as a documentary filmmaker. In 2015 he collaborated with genre director Guillermo del Toro on the novel Trollhunters. Del Toro is best known for his dark fantasy films Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak and the Hellboy series. In March of 2018 the pair reteamed to release a novelized version of The Shape of Water, which was based on an original idea that Kraus had when he was 15 years old. The novel was developed at the same time as the Academy Award winning film. I caught up with Daniel Kraus over the phone earlier this year.
Clips of The Shape of Water courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation & TSG Entertainment Finance LLC.
While Daniel Kraus was working on The Shape of Water novel Guillermo del Toro was writing a screenplay for the film version with Vanessa Taylor. Taylor has an extensive background in television; having written for Alias, Jack & Bobby and Game of Thrones. I spoke with Vanessa Taylor at the premiere party for the 8th season of On Story at the beautiful KLRU Studios in Austin, Texas.
Wed, 2 May 2018
This week on On Story we’ll hear Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright on his new book God Save Texas and the Hulu mini-series he adapted from his 2006 book The Looming Tower. And later, we’ll hear from Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost on the cult television series return to air after 25 years.
In 2006 Wright released the Pultizer Prize-winning novel, The Looming Tower - which explored the events that led to the September 11th terrorist attacks. Earlier this year Wright teamed with his frequent documentarian collaborator Alex Gibney and filmmaker Dan Futterman to adapt the novel into a Hulu miniseries of the same name. The show stars Jeff Daniels, Peter Sarsgaard, and Michael Stulhbarg.
Clips of The Looming Tower courtesy of Legendary Television & Hulu
Mark Frost started his career as a staff writer on the celebrated 80’s police procedural Hill Street Blues. In 1990, Frost partnered with filmmaker David Lynch to co-create the television series, Twin Peaks. The shows mix of melodrama, surrealism, offbeat humor and horror was quickly celebrated for being unlike anything else on network television. In 2017, the series returned to air 25 years after its initial run for an 18 episode limited series on the Showtime network. I spoke with Mark Frost about revisiting old creations at the 24th annual Austin Film Festival in 2017.
Clips of Twin Peaks (1990) & (2017) courtesy of Lynch/Frost Productions, Inc.
Tue, 1 May 2018
On this week’s podcast, we’ll hear from writer and director Susannah Grant. Grant is best known for writing Erin Brockovich, which earned her an Academy Award® nomination for best original screenplay in 2000. Grant also co-wrote the screenplays for Pocahontas, Ever After, 28 Days, In Her Shoes, and Charlotte’s Web. Grant spoke with Men in Black screenwriter Ed Solomon at the 21st Austin Film Festival in 2014.
Thu, 26 April 2018
On this week’s episode, we’ll hear from author, screenwriter, and television creator Noah Hawley. Hawley created FX’s award winning series Fargo, which is loosely based on the Coen brothers film, and Legion which is set in the Marvel universe. Later we’ll hear from legendary producer and The Terminator co-writer Gale Anne Hurd.
Noah Hawley is a Peabody Award winning novelist and an Emmy and Golden Globe award winning television creator. In 2014 he created the FX anthology Fargo which was inspired by the 1996 Coen brothers film of the same name. In 2017 he followed up Fargo with Legion, which is set in the Marvel universe and connected to the X-Men film series. Hawley spoke with On Story producer Maya Perez at the 24th Austin Film Festival in 2017.
Clips of Fargo and Legion courtesy of MGM Television, FX Productions, 26 Keys Production & Twentieth Century Fox Television
Gale Anne Hurd is one of the industry’s most respected film and television producers. In 1984 she produced and co-wrote her first feature film, the seminal genre classic The Terminator. She followed that film by producing Aliens, The Abyss, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Most recently Hurd has served as an Executive Producer on AMC’s The Walking Dead. I spoke with Hurd at the 24th annual Austin Film Festival in 2017.
Clips of The Terminator courtesy of Cinema ’84
Fri, 20 April 2018
In partnership with the Academy Education and Nicholl Fellowships Programs, AFF presented Finding Representation on Saturday, March 17th, 2018 at the Academy’s beautiful Linwood Dunn Theatre in Hollywood. This podcast includes highlights from the first panel discussion called How to Find Representation featuring agents and managers who discussed how to start the process of finding representation, what agencies look for in a new writer, the most common problems they’ve encountered, and what a writer should expect from the relationship. Panelists included Jelani Johnson, Motion Picture Agent at CAA; Kendrick Tan, Manager at Madhouse Entertainment; and Ryan Saul, Vice President of Motion Picture Literary at APA. The panel was moderated by Matt Dy, AFF Director of Script Competitions.
Ready to Break In?
AFF’s Script Competitions are currently accepting submissions for 2018. April 20 is the Regular Deadline and May 15 is the Late Deadline. All entrants receive free reader comments and advancing writers will be afforded exclusive panels, workshops, and networking opportunities at the Writers Conference this October 25th through the 28th. For more information and to submit, click here.
Thu, 19 April 2018
On this week’s episode, the creative team behind the new film Chappaquiddick which tells the true story of Ted Kennedy’s 1969 car accident which resulted in the death of campaign staff member, Mary Jo Kopechne. We'll also hear from New Girl creator Elizabeth Merriwether and Academy award® winning filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan on their process writing between mediums.
The new film Chappaquiddick depicts the events following Ted Kennedy’s 1969 late night single car accident that resulted in the death of one of his campaign staff members. I spoke with writers Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan and director John Curran about the research required to write a true story and the responsibility they felt depicting the victim Mary Jo Kopechne. The following discussion was recorded at the 24th Annual Austin Film Festival after a screening of Chappaquiddick at the Historic Paramount Theater in 2017.
Clips of Chappaquiddick courtesy Apex Entertainment and Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures
Next up we’ll hear from New Girl creator Elizabeth Meriwether. The Fox comedy series starring Zooey Deschanel is currently in its seventh and final season. The show has been nominated for five Golden Globes and five Emmy awards. Before working in television, Meriwether started her career as a New York playwright. She spoke with House of Cards creator Beau Willimon at the 23rd annual Austin Film Festival in 2016.
Clips of New Girl courtesy 20th Century Fox Television, Elizabeth Meriwether Pictures and Chernin Entertainment.
Now we’ll hear from award-winning playwright and filmmaker, Kenneth Lonergan. Lonergan’s theatrical work includes This is Our Youth, Lobby Hero, and The Starry Messenger. As a filmmaker he wrote and directed You Can Count on Me, Margaret, and Manchester by the Sea, which he won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. I spoke with Kenneth Lonergan at the 24th Austin Film Festival where he received the 2017 Distinguished Screenwriter award.
Clips of You Can Count on Me courtesy of Paramount Classics. Clips of Manchester by the Sea courtesy of KFilms Manchester, LLC. and Roadside Attractions
Wed, 11 April 2018
On this week’s episode of On Story from Austin Film Festival and PRI, we bring you a look at independent releases including Rob Reiner’s, LBJ, Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, Lady Bird and we bring you a look at how the classic 1970’s action thriller, The Seven-Ups influenced HBO’s hit series, The Deuce.
We start this episode of On Story with a look at how the film, LBJ came to life with actor Woody Harrelson who portrays the president and director and producer, Rob Reiner.
We continue this episode of On Story with actress Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, Lady Bird. Director Greta Gerwig was in attendance for this year’s 24th Annual Austin Film Festival and discusses how the film came to life.
The directrial debut by actress Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha, Mistress America), Lady Bird stars Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a young woman who fights against but is exactly like her wildly loving, deeply opinionated and strong-willed mom (Laurie Metcalf), a nurse working tirelessly to keep her family afloat after Lady Bird's father (Tracy Letts) loses his job.
Director Greta Gerwig was in attendance for this year’s 24th Annual Austin Film Festival.
Clips in the following segment copyright: Lady Bird, InterActiveCorp Films, LLC and A24.
In this final segment we discuss some of the influences on the HBO series, The Deuce with author, writer, and co-creator of the hit series, George Pelecanos. I spoke with Pelecanos at a special retrospective screening of the detective thriller, The Seven-Ups and how the film influenced some of the parallels of his show, The Deuce.
George Pelecanos is an independent film producer, screenwriter, the recipient of numerous international writing awards, and was a producer and writer on the HBO series The Wire, Treme, The Pacific, and the upcoming The Deuce. He is the author of twenty novels set in and around Washington, D.C.
Thu, 5 April 2018
This week, we’ll hear from television creator Alec Berg. Berg’s television credits include writing and executive producing Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Silicon Valley, which is currently in its fifth season. Later, we’ll hear from three screenwriters who have tackled the difficult task of adaptation. Sarah Gubbins co-created the Amazon series I Love Dick which was based on the 1997 novel of the same name, Marc Haimes wrote the 2016 animated film Kubo and the Two Strings and is currently working on adapting the graphic novel Nimona and the bestselling novel The Girl Who Drank the Moon, and Eric Heisserer who adapted the novella The Story of Your Life into the 2016 Oscar Nominated film Arrival.
Alec Berg has written for some of television’s most acclaimed comedies including Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Silicon Valley. He co-created the new HBO show Barry with former SNL star Bill Hader. The series follows Barry, played by Hadder, who is a depressed, low-level hit man looking for a way out. I recently spoke with Berg over the phone to discuss using research to help develop a story, avoiding clichés, and the evolution television comedies.
Clips of Barry courtesy of HBO.
Next we’ll hear from three screenwriters who have tackled the difficult task of adaptation. Sarah Gubbins co-created the Amazon series I Love Dick which was based on the 1997 novel of the same name, Marc Haimes wrote the 2016 animated film Kubo and the Two Strings and is currently working on adapting the graphic novel Nimona and the best selling novel The Girl Who Drank the Moon, and Eric Heisserer who adapted the novella The Story of Your Life into the 2016 Oscar Nominated film Arrival. Gubbins, Haimes, and Heisserer spoke with me at the 24th Austin Film Festival to discuss translating themes and literary devices, collaborating with authors, and when to take creative liberties.
Clips of Arrival courtesy of Xenolinguistics, LLC. and Clips of I Love Dick courtesy of Amazon Studios and Topple Productions
Wed, 4 April 2018
We are very saddened to hear of the passing of legendary producer Steven Bochco. In his memory we invite you to hear from NYPD Blue co-creator David Milch, discussing writing on Hill Street Blues with Steven.