Posts tagged ‘screenwriter’

July 30, 2013

What It’s Really Like to Be a Screenwriter: An Interview with Joe Gazzam

Last week I got the opportunity to have a chat with screenwriter Joe Gazzam (@JOE_GAZZAM).

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Joe who?” If you look Joe up on IMDb, you won’t find much. He doesn’t have any credits listed, but he has actually been working on paid projects and selling specs within the studio system for the last ten years. A Black List writer, you may not know Joe’s name, but you’ve probably seen his work (he has been a writer on such films as 21 Jump Street and Step Up Revolution).

I was particularly interested to speak to Joe because he knows what this industry is really like — not what it’s like for the Aaron Sorkins and Shane Blacks of the world — but what it is like for 99.9% of screenwriters working in Hollywood.

In our interview,  Joe talks about how he got his break, his daily work routine, writing assignments, independent film financing, and why it’s so important to live in LA.

LA Screenwriter (LA): How did you get your start as a screenwriter?

Joe Gazzam (JG): I was sort of the cliché. After working a bunch of crappy jobs, I had this revelation. I wrote one screenplay, and realized it was the only thing I wanted to do. I was in Atlanta at the time — never been to California, didn’t know anyone — literally just packed everything in the car and headed out. Then I started hanging out with this guy who had a girlfriend who was repped.

Now, the only way you can get an agent for the most part — other than screenwriting contests and what have you — is to basically browbeat someone into forwarding your script along. So my friend and I browbeat her, and she gave my script to her agent, and that’s how I got my first representation.

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June 10, 2013

Screenwriter Profile: William Goldman

GoldmanWilliamThe Writer:

William Goldman gave a great interview in which he talks about how little talent he had as a young writer trying to sell short stories. He was rejected countless times and had to take other kinds of work along the way, but his persistence paid off when he started writing scripts and became one of Hollywood’s most successful screenwriters of all time. He is the creative force behind such films as The Princess Bride, Maverick, Heat, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

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May 16, 2013

Real Life as a Screenwriter

Justin Marks, a working writer in LA, has written an insightful article for The Hollywood Reporter on what it’s like to be a screenwriter working in Hollywood without Shane Black or Charlie Kaufman’s reputation. His words are a biting reality check, but also an inspiring reminder of why we do what we do. Here’s a snippet:

Here’s a day in the life of a writer that you don’t always get to hear about.

It was 5 p.m., and I was playing Call of Duty. Why? Because I wanted to. The phone rang; it was a producer with whom I’d just spent the past two years laboring over a cable pilot, a time-travelly science fiction thing. We’d delivered the final cut to the network, and we were awaiting The Call — the one where you hear that your show, which tested well, is being picked up, that your life is about to change.

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October 3, 2011

Quote of the Day: Eric Roth

I think part of being a good screenwriter is being as concise as possible.


April 25, 2011

Free Online Master Class: Charlie Kaufman

I know he’s not exactly everyone’s cup of tea, but I think Charlie Kaufman is an absolute genius. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation, Being John Malcovich — all brilliant.

Charlie Kaufman is also the reason why my first three screenplays totally sucked — I wanted to be cool like him and break all the rules. But like any great screenwriter, the reason Charlie is able to break the rules is because he knows what they are.

Check out this awesome 72-minute master class that Charlie gave at the Göteborg Film Festival:

Charlie Kaufman Master Class

April 6, 2011

How to Write Violent Scenes

This article from gives some insight into how to write a gruesome scene without alienating your audience. Here’s an excerpt:

If you want to write a scene that depicts the horror of violence and want us to identify with the victim’s suffering rather than with the villain’s sense of power and control, the best way to do this is not to make the violence all the more visible and graphic. The trick is to create empathy for the character before the violence occurs, and then depict “the act” in such a way that we are not compelled to emotionally disengage and detach.

There’s really no way around it. Put “blood and guts” on a movie screen, and you may end up making a movie that appears to be a cheerleader for violence, and your “message” about how bad violence is or how abused and exploited the victim is, can get entirely lost.

Remember that the violence we can see in our mind’s eye is far more graphic and powerful than anything you could ever show us. If you, as a screenwriter or filmmaker, can inspire our imagination, this will make us engage with your movie and its hero rather than turn away.

April 6, 2011

Close Up on Bob DeRosa, Writer of Killers

Great interview from myPDFscripts with Bob DeRosa, the screenwriter behind Killers and The Air I Breathe.

In the interview, Bob talks about the books that he found most helpful when getting started as a writer:

I read Syd Field’s stuff, which hammered home the three-act stuff, but that’s all I got from his books. I loved Michael Hauge’s Writing Screenplays that Sell. Understanding that every character or subplot had it’s own arc was vital information. But my fave book at the time was Cynthia Whitcomb’s Selling Your Screenplay. It was the only book that really showed what it was like to be a working writer. Her story is amazing and every writer should read her stuff. There’s no “seven-figure spec sale out of nowhere” story there. It’s all about hard work and dedication. Her story taught me that writing is not glamorous, it is a career and if you want to do it for a living, than you better be ready for the long haul.