James Mangold On Writing


I feel like the nominees for this year’s Academy Awards were very unique. It’s been really exciting and fun watching the movies, and it felt like a real competition this year. This week we’ll be discussing James Mangold, writer and director of “Logan.”

When you saw the first “X-Men” movie, did you think that you’d see Logan become such a big character? Hugh Jackman has done a wonderful job with his role, and it’s sad to see him go. I suppose they could always use him in the modern timeline if they work out some sort of deal to put him in “The Avengers.” Okay, enough geek talk. Let’s talk about the writer!

James Mangold was nominated for having written the Best Adapted Screenplay for “Logan,” and is most well-known otherwise for having written “Walk the Line,” “Heavy,” and “Girl, Interrupted.”

A few questions from the interview:

What’s been the reaction after working so hard to bring this film to life, to see the reviews the way they are? Because they’re pretty stunning, even on Rotten Tomatoes it’s like 96% with 71 reviews.

It’s interesting, Hugh delivers such a great performance in this, you got Angelina [Jolie] to deliver this great performance in Girl, Interrupted, and recently Joaquin [Phoenix] in Walk the Line. You manage to bring out these great performances, so I have to ask you, what is the secret or do you out something special on the water on set?”

One of my favorite scenes in the entire film is the dinner scene at the farm house, and it’s just this perfect, great moment for all the characters before everything goes wrong. Could you talk about writing that scene and what you wanted to accomplish with it?

And here’s the full interview: Colllider – ‘Logan’ Spoiler Interview: James Mangold on the Original Idea, That Ending, X-23’s Future and More


Friday Fun – Critiques


It’s hard enough to get people to read a script. It’s probably best to listen to them and really think about what the have to say before you tell them “You don’t know anything!”  and run for the hills. It’s like letting your child go to preschool on the first day, you just have to it go and see what it becomes.

Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber On Writing

Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber were the duo that were recently nominated for having written the Adapted Screenplay, “The Disaster Artist.” This movie is based on the book, which was written about the filming process of what’s known to be the worst movie of all time, “The Room.” If you need some inspiration, just know that even the worst movies can be major successes. Don’t aspire to be the worst though. Please don’t.

There’s a full article on why “The Room” became the major success that it is. It’s a fun read: Vox – The Room: how the worst movie ever became a Hollywood legend as bizarre as its creator

Scott and Michael are well known for writing together. Other movies they’re known for are “500 Days of Summer,” “The Spectacular Now,” and “The Fault in Our Stars.”

Here are a few questions from the interview this week:

First of all, how did you guys discover The Room? Did you see the film in its first theatrical run? Was it the infamous Los Angeles billboard?

That’s interesting. I was going to ask about this: Do you recommend someone see The Room before they see The Disaster Artist?

How did you guys get involved in the project? What was the hook that attracted you?

And here is the full interview:

ScreenCrush: The Screenwriters of ‘The Disaster Artist’ On How To Write Dialogue For Tommy Wiseau

Friday Fun – Do Something


The act of doing allows you to do the thing that you want to be doing… What am words?There has to be a better way to say that.

Have you ever heard of the “Do Something” Principle? Mark Manson, the wonderful writer of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” put it much better than I can. A lot of people think the best way to get work started is to get inspired (come here and look at my articles), which will lead to motivation (feel good about reading my articles), which will lead to the desired action (WRITING).

In reality, the best way might be a little different, at least according to Mark Manson. I totally agree with him, and it’s how I get everything I want or need to get done. It’s simple, but you won’t want to believe it. All we do is switch the order around a bit.

Start with your action (WRITING!!!), then you become inspired by the fact that you are writing (Wow! I’m writing? I can do this!), and then you become motivated to write more (I bet I can do a whole page today!). So in order to get inspired and motivated to write, you actually have to start writing. Sounds weird, but it works. Just take a seat at the keyboard and start typing. I guarantee your mind will start moving after a few minutes.

Here’s the full article if you’re interested:  MarkManson.Net: The “Do Something” Principle

Would you look at that? This one turned out to be fun AND informative. I tricked you. Also, despite this information, this blog can definitely inspire you. Enjoy :)

Plotting Away

If you’re having trouble writing, it’s likely you just don’t know the proper steps to take or might be lacking direction. While there is no magic formula to writing a good screenplay, I think there is a helpful order to doing things. Of course, some may just want to throw order out the window as it can be hindering to their thought process. I found a great 10-part series on “Go Into The Story,” and I’m going to be sharing them week by week. This week, we’ll be talking about plot, and how that may benefit you. You really should read their posts before diving into my commentary on them. I’m a big fan of these blog posts, and only hope to promote this blog in a friendly way. I’ll be commenting on the posts, and adding some thoughts of my own. I’m hoping to share them with you to help you with your writing.

Here’s a great article on plot that should help you a lot: Go Into The Story – How I Write A Script, Part 5: Plotting

On another note, look up top! I put a fancy picture up for you in the post today. I think this is a helpful way to look at the basic three-act structure. It’s the classic way, but it’s not the only way to write a story. For those of you looking for help with plot, I have another great post about it here: “Shakespeare’s Five Act Structure.” It’s all about “Breaking Bad,” and how the writers of that show approach plot using the Shakespearean Five Act Structure.

One thing you should keep in mind is that each format can be written differently. Television, for instance, has been written with more acts to keep you hooked and watch through the commercials, whereas movies are typically written with a three act structure.

A lot of professional writers I’ve seen like to have their plot visually displayed. It’s very helpful, especially if you’re in a Writer’s Room. If you’re writing on a collaborative project, a great way to work is to write on cards, like the article mentions. It’s very easy to point to a card and show another writer exactly what you’re talking about quickly. It’s also easier to avoid plot holes when you have everything in front of you. Another great option is to use Google Docs. I love it, and it has some great features for collaboration. If you can’t be in the same place at the same time you can jump on Skype and run through the doc and leave notes in specific spots. This is a bit of a different approach that I prefer to use. Both are great options, but I especially like using technology because you can access this doc from your smart phone or computer anywhere at any time and add to it. I just love the convenience.

Brainstorming, research, character development, and plot will all feed off of each other and go into the outline. This is how we organize all these thoughts. Remember to have fun and enjoy this process. Let your creative juices flow for now, and next week we’ll discuss the outline in more detail. For now, if you haven’t, you should check out the articles provided. They’re full of very helpful information.

Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon on Writing

Silicon Valley” is back! And this year has been a great year for Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon. This movie is a really interesting case, considering these two wrote about a shared traumatic story in their life. It’s part dramedy, and part love story about how the two met and came together. It’s kind of cool seeing a husband and wife write a true story that became an academy award nominee for best original screenplay. Together they wrote, “The Big Sick.” Kumail is a well-known comedian, actor, and writer, and Emily has been known for writing. Emily is known for having written “Super You” prior to this. Also, prior to this, Kumail is known for having written “The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail” and “Michael & Michael Have Issues.”

A few questions from the interview:

“So you both write comedy, but your life isn’t a comedy. So you’ve turned a difficult period of your life into comedy, the period when Emily was in a medically induced coma. So how did you go about trying to find the comedy there? You know, ’cause you still manage to keep it as a comedy even during the rough periods like that period of the film.”

“So you know, I’ve always wanted to ask this to someone. Emily, what’s it like when you come out of coma? Like what – what’s the first feeling that you have?”

“So how did this, like, medical nightmare affect your relationship? You were not yet engaged when this happened.”

You can find the full article here by NPR, one of my favorite sources for interviews. You can read or listen: NPR: How A Medically Induced Coma Led To Love, Marriage And ‘The Big Sick’