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How one writer wrote about the fake novelist JT LeRoy in an emotional bio-pic

If you were a fan of edgy, youth-driven literature in the 1990s, you may remember books like Sarah or The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things by an author named JT LeRoy. Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy quickly became a literary sensation. But his story, like many stories that make it to film, is lovingly filled with both fantasy and fraud.

Writer/director Madeleine Olnek Explores Poet Emily Dickinson’s Secret Love Affair in Wild Nights with Emily

When you think of poet Emily Dickinson, it’s likely you think of a hysterical Victorian recluse who locked herself in her bedroom and went to the grave without sharing her trove of poetry. The new film Wild Nights with Emily, however, paints a very different portrait of America’s favorite poetess. I sat down with the film’s writer/director Madeleine Olnek to find out how history got Dickinson’s story so very wrong.

Writer/director Daniel Farrands on The Haunting of Sharon Tate

In 1993, I was invited to a party in Beverly Hills at 10050 Cielo Drive, a dead-end street roughly half way up Benedict Canyon. I knew full well it was the so-called  “Sharon Tate Mansion,” where the Charles Manson “family” brutally murdered Sharon Tate and three other unfortunate souls.

4 Things To Know Before Writing A Horror Movie

Horror movies and televisions shows are a perennial favorite among audiences. The storylines tap into our single most primal animal desire—to survive—and give us space to imagine how we would react if we were put into the same situation. But there’s more to horror than jump scares and music. It’s a complicated beast, as any director will tell you—and it’s not as easy as it may look.

5 Old School Ways To Write A Cult Classic

Everyone in Hollywood wants to write a cult classic. Who doesn’t want a crazed fandom going berserk over your movie and watching it obsessively while memorizing every single line and getting permanent tattoos on their arms in the shape of your main character’s face? That’s the dream, folks. Cult classics aren’t always the ones that garnered critical acclaim when they hit the theatres, but they’ve all found an extraordinary afterlife in the imagination of their viewers. If you’re one of those writers who dreams of writing a cult classic, let’s take a look at some of our favorites and see what makes them tick.

ScreenwritingU Alum Adapts Stephen King and So Can You

Did you know aspiring filmmakers can option a short Stephen King story for just $1? It’s called the Stephen King Dollar Baby program and that’s exactly what writer/director Nicole Jones-Dion is doing. I spoke with Jones-Dion about her project and her challenging career goals.

Write What You Know: Good Advice or Bad?

One of the oldest bits of writing advice is: Write what you know. I remember being told this as a young writer and thinking 'But I’m too young to know anything.' Indeed, taken at its most literal there would be many fewer plays by Shakespeare ...

For ScreenwritingU alum writer/director Linda Palmer, making movies is all about community

When you’re a creative person, it’s important to find a community that supports your efforts, especially when it comes to filmmaking. By definition, there is no more collaborative venture than making a film because it truly takes a village to act in, produce and finance. For filmmaker Linda Palmer, she’s found that supportive village right here in the ScreenwritingU community. 

5 Reasons Why Screenwriters Need to Think Like Producers

My entire life I always wanted to be a writer. So, when I graduated with an MFA in screenwriting from the UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television in 2008, I felt like I’d achieved “the dream.” I soon realized however in running my first entrepreneurial endeavor as a video content marketer that the real success stories go beyond the proverbial dream and have an objective-minded strategy and clear plan of action. 

Our 2019 Oscar Predictions for Best Original & Best Adapted Screenplay

It’s that time of year when all film lovers are waiting with bated breath to see which of our favorite films will be awarded with Hollywood’s greatest honor, the Oscar. For screenwriters, our eyes are focused on the Best Original Screenplay and ...

Veep star Matt Walsh on writing and becoming an unlikely romantic lead in Under the Eiffel Tower

The new romantic comedy Under the Eiffel Tower is an indie romance that explores the rom com tropes you’re familiar with, but is part of a new wave of rom coms that look a lot different than the typical genre offerings. And honestly it’s a ...

Do You Overwrite? Here’s How to Stop.

One of the biggest mistakes screenwriters can make is overwriting their screenplay.  Unless you’re Aaron Sorkin, whose screenplay for The Social Network was a whopping 164 pages with scenes lasting eight pages, you need to keep the dialogue, scene descriptions and page count as short and tight as possible. It’s worth repeating that film is a visual form of storytelling and we want to support the images with our screenplay, not the other way around. Here are a few guidelines to keep you from writing too much.
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