October 18 2011

037 – Christopher Yost (Killer of Demons, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes)

This week we hear from another animation writer / story editor. Christopher Yost has been working on animated TV series, comics, and features for almost 10 years, for well-known Marvel and D.C. franchises.

After a number of years as an advertising producer in Detroit, Michigan, Christopher Yost decided he needed to make the jump to Hollywood. He attended the Peter Stark Producing program at USC, but realized while there that writing was really his passion.

An internship at Marvel Studios led to his first break, writing a script for Marvel’s animated property X-Men: Evolution. Soon he was writing such well-known titles as D.C.’s The Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and eventually became head writer and story editor on Fantastic Four, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, and The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

During this time he also wrote two animated DVD features, Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow, and Hulk vs. Wolverine.

Yost also works in comic books, writing for Marvel’s X-Men and Spider-Man franchises, DC’s Batman franchise, and the adaptation of the sci-fi classic Ender’s Game. His first creator-owned original graphic novel Killer of Demons debuted in March of 2009 to critical acclaim.

Yost is currently working in the Marvel Writers Program, helping develop potential live-action feature properties for Marvel Studios as well as handling additional writing and reshoot scenes for the Marvel Studios film Thor.

Follow Christopher on Twitter: @Yost

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for several hundred TV writers. Find previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com.

Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Script magazine and Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information in print and on the web; and by Final Draft scriptwriting software, the entertainment industry standard for scriptwriting worldwide.

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October 5 2011

Podcast: Grant Heslov on The Ides of March

Known for his strong political views, actor George Clooney had been looking for a political thriller to write with screenwriter Grant Heslov since their collaboration on Good Night, and Good Luck. When they stumbled upon a play of presidential ambition, Farragut North, by Beau Willimon, they knew they found their project. The play became the basis for the film, The Ides of March, about an idealistic young political staffer who discovers just how corrupt the system can be.

The all-star cast includes Clooney, who also directs, Ryan Gosling as the idealist, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei, and Paul Giamatti.

Script sat down with Heslov to find out what it's like to churn out pages with one of Hollywood's biggest stars.

Podcast highlights:

  • "We wrote one of the final scenes first ..."
  • "You need to know if your main character starts here, you need to know where he ends ..."
  • "Our formula is to explain the minimal amount that the audience needs ..."
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October 3 2011

Real Steel Screenwriter John Gatins

Screenwriter John Gatins calls himself a "failed actor." He came to Hollywood, like many young actors, hoping to make it big. He stared in several independent horror movies, including Witchboard 2: The Devil's Doorway and Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, to name a few. He was doing alright, but not great. That is, until he got a call from Steven Spielberg. The famed writer/director/producer was looking for the perfect guy to write his passion project about robot boxing. Gatins was that guy.

The idea -- which would become the movie Real Steel staring Hugh Jackman -- was based on the short story, "Steel," by Richard Matheson. Spielberg buffs will recognize Matheson as the author who wrote the source material for Spielberg's first film, Duel.

A passion project it was, and Gatins took the reigns. The film is set in a futuristic world where human boxing is illegal. Robot boxing, via remote control, has become the new sport of choice. Script sat down with Gatins to hear about this extraordinary journey from B-movie horror star to A-class screenwriter for Steven Spielberg.

Podcast highlights:

  • "Everyone has a good movie in them, you just have to do it ..."
  • "Write what you know ..."
  • "Go for it! When I started, I didn't even know how to type ..."
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September 29 2011

TV Writer Podcast 033: Koo (The West Side, NoFilmSchool.com)

Want to shoot a showcase film? Web series? Crowd fund a project? This week Gray talks to Koo -- a Webby Award winner, DIY filmmaker, and the creator of NoFilmSchool.com and its excellent free DSLR Cinematography Guide.

Koo co-wrote, directed, shot, and edited the "urban western" web series The West Side, which won the Webby Award for Best Drama Series. Filmmaker Magazine heralded the series as "ingenious low-budget independent filmmaking that just happens to be viewable only on the web," and named him one of their 25 New Faces of Film.

Koo has shot for Focus Features, The Workbook Project, and Ralph Lauren; he has written for Filmmaker Magazine and Weblogs, Inc.; and he has served as Senior Designer for Rhapsody and MTV. His films have been official selections at several film festivals nationwide, and he was the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

His website NoFilmSchool.com focuses on DIY filmmaking and independent creativity, and won Total Film's Best Creative Blog award. He is in pre-pre-production on his first feature film, Man-Child, which is being funded through a crowd funding Kickstarter campaign.

Follow Koo on Twitter: @ryanbkoo

Visit Koo's web site: NoFilmSchool.com

Didn't get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for several hundred TV writers. Find previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com.

Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Script magazine and Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information in print and on the web; and by Final Draft scriptwriting software, the entertainment industry standard for scriptwriting worldwide.

Subscribe: iTunes (Video)iTunes (Audio)PodBean (Audio)

Koo PR photo by Mario Torres.

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TV Writer Podcast 035 - Mike Alber (Death Valley, Ultradome)

Ever heard of someone who didn't live in L.A. or New York landing a staff TV writing gig? How about sight unseen, hired from a phone interview? Meet Mike Alber, who sold many pitches to a major network, wrote on a web series, and even landed a staff writing gig while not even living in the same state!

Mike & writing partner Gabe Snyder met in high school, and clicked right away. Despite going to different colleges in different cities, they wrote together constantly. Mike was on track to be a doctor, but after starting med school he realized that writing was his passion, so he switched his masters studies to creative writing.

Gabe moved to L.A. in 2006, but Mike continued his studies in Ohio. They placed in several screenplay competitions, but it was through an honorable mention at a trackingb.com contest that they got their first option. They were on the map! One relationship led to another, and soon they sold several pitches to Spike TV, worked on the web series Ultradome, signed for management and representation, and were taking meetings all over town.

Mike tells the amazing story of how his newborn daughter kept him away from L.A., yet he was able to land his first TV staff gig, on MTV's Death Valley, with a phone call from the hospital waiting room! Mike finally did move to L.A. this year, and does advise that everyone else should move to L.A. first -- his luck is not easy to repeat!

Mike and Gabe are idea machines, and Mike has great advice on how you can be one too!

Follow Mike on Twitter: @malber

Didn't get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for several hundred TV writers. Find previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com.

Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Script magazine and Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information in print and on the web; and by Final Draft scriptwriting software, the entertainment industry standard for scriptwriting worldwide.

Subscribe: iTunes (Video)iTunes (Audio)PodBean (Audio)

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TV Writer Podcast 034 - Sheri Elwood (Call Me Fitz, Defying Gravity)

Within seven years of graduating from film school, Sheri Elwood had not only created her own successful TV series, but had written and directed a feature film starring Kirsten Dunst and Lynn Redgrave. Fast forward to the present: her current series, Call Me Fitz, which was inspired by her own family, has just won seven Gemini Awards.

After graduating from Ryerson University’s Film Program in Toronto, Sheri Elwood was awarded the National Apprenticeship Award from the Academy of Canadian Film and Television. This launched her to many seasons of comedy writing for networks such as Disney, Fox, The Family Channel, and YTV. By 1999, she had created her own series for tweens, I Was a Sixth Grade Alien, which went two seasons.

In the off season, Sheri wrote and directed a Gemini nominated short film, Eb and Flo, and her first feature film, the romantic teen drama, Deeply, starring Lynn Redgrave, Kirsten Dunst and Brent Carver. Deeply premiered to a four-star review at the Toronto International Film Festival, and was also nominated for four Genie Awards.

Elwood teamed with Lionsgate TV to create the comedy series Beta Males for the CW Network, and also wrote for the 1-hr ABC/CTV drama Defying Gravity for Fox Television Studios with creator James Parriott (Grey’s Anatomy).

Fulfilling a dream to capture the spirit of her loving and unique family on TV, Elwood created the edgy cable series Call Me Fitz, starring Jason Priestly, for TMN/Movie Central. They have just begun shooting season three, with Elwood writing, directing, and showrunning. You can catch Call Me Fitz on HBO Canada, or in the U.S. on Netflix or DirecTV.

Elwood has just signed a blind development deal with Jerry Bruckheimer Television.

Sheri splits her time between Los Angeles and Nova Scotia, where she and her family spend time at their century-old schoolhouse and love to ring the bell.

Follow Sheri on Twitter: @elwoodink

Didn't get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for several hundred TV writers. Find previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com.

Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Script magazine and Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information in print and on the web; and by Final Draft scriptwriting software, the entertainment industry standard for scriptwriting worldwide.

Subscribe: iTunes (Video)

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TV Writer Podcast 032 - Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars, Party Down)

Do spec pilot scripts sell? What about pilots shot on spec? This week Gray talks to successful author-writer-producer Rob Thomas, creator of Cupid, Veronica Mars, and most recently, Party Down.

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Rob Thomas has a fascinating story. He went from basketball and football player to rock band bassist, then graduated from college with a history degree and taught high school … all by his early twenties!

He moved to L.A. in the early 1990s to work at Channel One News, an L.A.-based TV news show aimed at teenagers. He then got a book deal, and published four young adult novels and a collection of short stories.

One of his novels led him to his break in Hollywood, and he got on the staff of Dawson’s Creek in its first season. Fourteen months after starting Dawson’s Creek, Rob wrote and sold the pilot Cupid, which was picked up! Halfway through its first season he became the showrunner.

Rob shares some great stories about how he came up with the idea for the critically acclaimed Veronica Mars, which he wrote on spec, and also how he not only wrote Party Down on spec, but shot the pilot with his own money at his own house!

Follow Rob on Twitter: @slaverat1

Visit Rob’s web site: www.slaverats.com

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for several hundred TV writers. Find previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com.

Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Script magazine and Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information in print and on the web; and by Final Draft scriptwriting software, the entertainment industry standard for scriptwriting worldwide.

Subscribe: iTunes (Video)iTunes (Audio)PodBean (Audio)

TV Writer Podcast 031 - Dan Goor (Parks and Recreation, Late Night with Conan O’Brien)

We have another Harvard grad this week … comedy writer Dan Goor, currently supervising producer of the hit sitcom Parks and Recreation.

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Though Dan actually studied biochemistry at Harvard, he spent his free time doing improv and theatre. He was accepted to med school, but deferred his admission, as he got an amazing travel grant for a one-year trip around the world.

When he returned, his friend Charlie Grandy was applying for writing jobs, and Dan asked if they could apply together. Their application was approved at The Daily Show, and the rest was history!

After writing for several years on The Daily Show, Dan & Charlie decided to break up their writing partnership, and Dan went on to write for Last Call with Carson Daily, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Office, and now Parks and Recreation.

In this long interview, Dan goes into great detail about the process of writing Parks and Recreation, with very helpful tidbits from behind the scenes, including how to build a story, how to get the most out of the various departments, and the role of improv in the performances. He also gives very practical advice on writing your own pilots and spec scripts. You don't want to miss this one!

Make sure you check out the TV Writer Podcast Summer Contest, with some amazing prizes! Find out more at tvwriterpodcast.com.

Didn't get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for several hundred TV writers. Find previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com.

Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Script magazine and Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information in print and on the web; and by Final Draft scriptwriting software, the entertainment industry standard for scriptwriting worldwide.

Subscribe: iTunes (Video)iTunes (Audio)PodBean (Audio)

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TV Writer Podcast 030 - Ari Posner (Reba, Popular, Call Me Fitz)

Writer-producer Ari Posner delivered a humorous valedictorian speech to his Harvard class in 1986, and has been making us laugh ever since!

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After graduating from Harvard, Ari worked as a reporter for numerous publications such as the Miami Herald, The Boston Phoenix, and The New Republic. However, he found himself continually drawn toward writing comedy.

Awarded a full scholarship to study at USC, Ari moved to L.A., and soon after graduating was on his first sitcom staff, Fox's Partners. Since then he has worked on numerous multi-camera sitcoms, hour-long dramas, and single camera comedies, including such titles as Popular, Reba, Mental, and Call Me Fitz, which was recently nominated for 16 Gemini Awards.

He has also written and developed many pilots, for such companies as Sony Pictures Television, Happy Madison Productions, Gary Sanchez Productions, CBS, and Disney Channel.

In this interview, Ari takes us on an entertaining look at his journey through the industry, and gives incredibly helpful tips on writing pilots and other original material, and how to use that material to break in.

Make sure you check out the TV Writer Podcast Summer Contest, with some amazing prizes! Find out more at tvwriterpodcast.com.

Didn't get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for several hundred TV writers. Find previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com.

Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Script magazine and Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information in print and on the web; and by Final Draft scriptwriting software, the entertainment industry standard for scriptwriting worldwide.

Subscribe: iTunes (Video)iTunes (Audio)PodBean (Audio)

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TV Writer Podcast 029 - Sheldon Bull (author, Elephant Bucks)

Writer-producer-author Sheldon Bull was challenged by friend and co-writer Blake Snyder to write a Save the Cat for sitcom writing. Thus was born Elephant Bucks: An Inside Guide to Writing for TV Sitcoms.

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Sheldon Bull has earned Elephant Bucks as a highly successful TV writer and producer for 30 years.

He has held positions from story editor to executive producer on 11 different primetime network situation comedies, working with and writing for stars like Bill Cosby, Alan Alda, Danny DeVito, Bob Newhart, Henry Winkler, Craig T. Nelson, Loni Anderson, Betty White, and Melissa Joan Hart.

Sheldon has produced a string of hit series including Newhart, A Different World, Coach, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

He lives in the Los Angeles area … You can visit his website at www.sheldonbull.com.

Make sure you check out the TV Writer Podcast Summer Contest, with some amazing prizes! Find out more at tvwriterpodcast.com.

Didn't get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for several hundred TV writers. Find previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com.

Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Script magazine and Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information in print and on the web; and by Final Draft scriptwriting software, the entertainment industry standard for scriptwriting worldwide.

Subscribe: iTunes (Video)iTunes (Audio)PodBean (Audio)

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