Photo by Loren Kerns

It’s All in the Family

by Neil Landau

Defining Character by Familial Role Family dynamics are especially useful when assembling an ensemble cast. It’s not that you’ll need to cover every gender, age, or familial role. But it is helpful to determine how each character might relate to one another in both positive and negative ways. Police detective partners, even if both heterosexual…

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Pitching Guidelines for Original TV Series

by Neil Landau

Here are my guidelines for preparing and delivering a great pitch for an original series. Every pitch needs to be customized, so these guidelines are not rigid and do not have to be in this precise order. In fact, depending on genre and format, some of these rules may not apply. 1. Your pitch presentation…

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The Successful Showrunner Checklist

by Neil Landau

*Remarks quoted are excerpts from the showrunner roundtable discussions sponsored by Variety and Hollywood Reporter (2013). According to my informal showrunner poll, the following are the most essential qualities and skills for the successful management of a scripted, episodic TV series: Staying on time and on budget: According to veteran showrunner, Jeff Melvoin (Early Edition,…

Photo by Ewen Roberts

An Interview with Damon Lindelof

by Neil Landau

David Lindelof Credits Star Trek Into Darkness (feature) (Producer/Writer) 2013 Prometheus (feature) (Executive Producer/Writer) 2012 Cowboys & Aliens (feature) (Writer) 2011 Lost (Executive Producer/Writer/Co-Creator) 2004–2010 Emmy Award Winner (Outstanding Drama Series) 2005 Emmy Nominated (Outstanding Drama Series) 2008–2010 Emmy Nominated (Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series) 2005– 2007, 2009–2010 WGA Award Winner (Dramatic Series) 2006…

Photo by Simon Carrasco

Grabbing the Agent’s Attention

by Chad Gervich

So you don’t have enough qualities to score yourself an agent. You have talent, and you have some (presumably) terrific scripts, but you don’t live in L.A., or you have no Hollywood connections, or you’ve never had any writing published or produced. Does this mean you can’t attract representation? Not necessarily. There are two other…

Lined script from film Found In Time.

The Tune-Up Pass: How To Fix Your Script

by Arthur Vincie

Before you show the script to anyone (except your partner), you must fix the following things. It’s obvious but I’ll say it anyway: your script is the first real contact investors, agents, distributors – anyone who you want to get to – will have with you. Just as you wouldn’t show up to a business…

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Binary Character Psychology: Restorative Three-Act Structure

by Ken Dancyger and Jeff Rush

In order to be distinct, acts tend to inflict extreme choices. Bud is either with Gekko or he is not; Crash is either with Annie or he isn’t; there is no middle ground. As the strength of the restorative three-act structure is its use of progressive acts to chart a progression of character, we see…

Stephen Gaghan 1

FilmCraft Screenwriting: Interview with Stephen Gaghan

by Tim Grierson

Stephen Gaghan’s writing career started quite promisingly, publishing a short story in The Iowa Review before he was even 26. He also impressed the writing staff of The Simpsons with a spec episode entitled “Family Wheel of Jeopardy,” as well as producer and talent agent Bernie Brillstein with a collection of Saturday Night Live sketches…

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Building Character

by Nicholas Proferes

Paul Lucey, in his very fine book on screenwriting, Story Sense, states that one of the main tenets of his dramaturgy is, “Write simple stories and complex characters.” Although film takes place in the present, character is created in the past. Character is everything that has gone into the making of our characters before they…

John August 1

FilmCraft Screenwriting: Interview with John August

by Tim Grierson

John August wrote his first story, about a boy who gets trapped in a hole on Mars, at the age of seven on his mother’s typewriter. From there, he’s developed into one of Hollywood’s most in-demand screenwriters, notably working on several projects with director Tim Burton. Their partnership began with Big Fish (2003), which earned…

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about MasteringFilm

MasteringFilm, powered by bestselling Focal Press authors and industry experts, features tips, advice, articles, video tutorials, interviews, and other resources for aspiring and current filmmakers. No matter what your filmmaking interest is, including directing, screenwriting, postproduction, cinematography, producing, or the film business, MasteringFilm has you covered. You’ll learn from professionals at the forefront of filmmaking, allowing you to take your skills to the next level.