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Education

Long takes and realism

Last night, I had the pleasure of hosting a Q&A with Alfonso Cuarón for Film Independent. I looked at it as an opportunity to get all my questions answered from a longtime talent crush. In particular, I wanted to know about Cuarón’s lengthy, technically-sophisticated shots.

Time Travel with Richard Kelly

John and Craig wind back the clock with writer-director Richard Kelly to look at the origins of Donnie Darko, and how a recent film-school grad gets a movie made.

Anatomy of a script

Robin Schiff and Winnie Holzman’s great discussion series “Anatomy of a Script” is starting up again in March, and highly recommended for film and TV writers wanting to learn more about the craft.

From thesis script to feature film

Jamie Jensen recently wrote and co-directed her first feature with Nadia Munla. I asked her to talk about her experience taking a project from graduate school thesis script to finished film. In 2007, I moved from New York City to Los Angeles to pursue a screenwriting career. I did it by way of the Peter […]

The Good Boy Syndrome, and whether film school is worth it

John and Craig discuss why screenwriters want to please people — and how it often hurts them and the movie they’re writing — before a lengthy discussion of the pros and cons of going to film school.

From Greenlight back to page one

Today’s First Person demonstrates an important point: you can’t pick the single moment at which you’ve “made it.”

Transitioning from comics to TV

Jay Faerber is trying to transition from writing comics to writing TV, and is doing so with the help of the Warner Bros TV Writers Workshop.

Juggling paid work and specs

Allison Schroeder works in both features and television. She exemplifies something I’ve seen again and again: a career is shaped by talent, luck and extraordinarily hard work

Anatomy of a script series

Every year, the Writers Guild Foundation holds a series of discussions with film and television writers focusing on one of their past or current projects. This year, I’ll be a guest, talking about Big Fish.

A visit from the ghost of coverage past

A reader unearths coverage I wrote for both Quentin Tarantino’s NATURAL BORN KILLERS and Sam Hamm’s PULITZER PRIZE.

On film schools, and the business of education

In general, it’s a mistake to think of universities as businesses and students as consumers. But for certain specialized film training, for-profit programs can make sense.

Should a screenwriter pay for notes?

If you can’t find that one smart reader amid your circle, it’s possible that you’d benefit from paying someone. I don’t have any names to recommend, but if I were in your place, I’d look for a few things.

Are online film classes worth it?

Scott wonders if his online filmmaking classes are teaching him what he needs to know.

How to do college

New York Times writers offer suggestions for incoming college students.

What an undergrad degree is worth

When I was buying a house, the rule of thumb was that you could afford a home three to four times your annual income. It feels like there should be an equivalent rule of thumb for how much you can spend on your education versus average salary of your studied profession.

On rich plumbers and eggheads

It’s easy to pick numbers that show how a plumber who saves diligently will out-earn an egghead saddled with student debt.

Video from Rancho Mirage Q&A

Synthian Sharp taped my Q&A in Rancho Mirage, and has it available on Vimeo.

Spanish or Mandarin

At the gym yesterday, we were discussing which language would be the best foreign language for a native English speaker to learn. Specifically, can you make a compelling case for any language other than Spanish or Mandarin?

Be like MacGyver

My advice to recent film school grads. What did you do today to get closer to your goals?

USC at Sundance/Slamdance

Connect with your Trojan brethren.

The Nines, recut

An editing class will recut The Nines from scratch. Final film unseen.

When friends read your script

You need good readers. Here’s how to choose and keep them.

In other news

USC Film School getting a whole new set up. The spoiled bastards.

What does he want?

Often, the best answer is the simplest: something physical and achievable.

Advice for terrible writers

Confronted with a bad script, step back and ask the right questions.