Point of View

John and Craig discuss the power of point of view in scripts and how the choice of which characters have storytelling power changes how we experience a movie. Point of view has a meaningful role in creating mystery, expanding scale, elevating characters, and energizing a story. We also answer listener questions about “Jackman shots,” renaming […]

This Title is an Example of Exposition

John and Craig debate and defend one of the most-maligned elements of screenwriting: Exposition. How do you tell an audience what they need to know without being labeled a hack? We offer tips for getting viewers up to speed without them realizing they’re getting fed exposition. We also follow up on screenplay competitions, the psychology […]

Mostly Terrible People

John and Craig evaluate another set of exceptional news stories for their fitness for the big screen in this week’s How Would This Be a Movie? We consider stories about counterfeit debt collectors, the worst roommate ever (beside’s Craig college roommate), the girl who posed as a grown man online and began exhibiting genuine symptoms […]

Diary of a First-Time Director

John and Craig sit down with Marielle Heller, the writer and director of the acclaimed feature Diary of a Teenage Girl, to talk about the journey of getting her movie made, from optioning the novel to the Sundance Labs through production.

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.

Moving past micro-budget

Director Michael Mohan writes about the process of making Save the Date, his bigger-budget follow-up to One Too Many Mornings.

Raising movie funds on Kickstarter

Matt reports from a special Sundance session in which Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler talks about how indie filmmakers can best use the site.

Story is free

If you’re making a movie on a limited budget, it may put real constraints on your locations, schedule and cast size. But that frugality doesn’t need to limit your story. Story is free.

Don’t make the feature version of your short

Having worked with many emerging filmmakers through the Sundance Institute and other programs, I’m convinced it’s usually the wrong choice.

One Too Many Mornings

An indie at this year’s Sundance Film Festival will let you download the movie the day after it premieres.

The labs, day four

Two meetings, a good hike and a chocolate shake made for a good day at the Sundance lab, my last full day before flying home tomorrow afternoon.

A hard time to be an indie

As a counterpoint to the utopian bliss of the Sundance Filmmakers Lab, I’ll direct your attention a speech given by James D. Stern] last week on the present and future of indie film.

Notes from Sundance

The projects change, but the work is largely the same — helping writers (mostly writer/directors) get their scripts into their best shape before shooting.

10 Sundance shorts on iTunes

Ten of the 80 short films featured this week at the Sundance Film Festival are available free on iTunes until January 25th. It’s a great way to see some work you’d almost certainly never catch. Visit to check out trailers and download. (Link opens in iTunes store.) I’m happy to see shorts featured this […]

Why no one is buying your indie film

Anne Thompson’s Variety article on the challenging market at Sundance this year is worth a read for anyone considering the indie route. I’ve written several times about my festival experience with The Nines, and how the classic paradigm of how indie films get bought and distributed is almost a myth. Most Sundance movies don’t sell, […]

USC at Sundance/Slamdance

Connect with your Trojan brethren.

Indie film, cont’d

How some are navigating distribution of indie fare.

What do you do when the buzz fades?

You made a movie. Get the most you can out of it, then get cracking on doing the next project.

Self-distributing an indie feature

Todd Sklar, who I know from his work up at the Sundance Labs, wrote in to agree with a lot of the points I raised in my post-mortem of The Nines. His experience with the indie film he made and self-released is alternately inspiring and exhausting, but worth careful attention for anyone considering making a […]

I never told Robert Redford to suck it

I want to expand, redirect and challenge some of the discussion on my earlier post about Sundance, The Nines, and the death of independent film. For starters, many in the P2P world were all too happy to declare victory over, well, logic. (The Nines Director: Forget Sundance, Use P2P Instead). That’s incorrect on a lot […]

Sundance, The Nines, and the death of independent film

A long hard look at distributing independent films.

A good time, despite the dead children

I’m back from Utah, where I was working as an advisor at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. I had five projects in three days, which made for a lot of reading and meeting, picking-apart and putting-back-together. The scripts this year were as emotionally challenging as ever — of the projects I covered, three involved the rape […]

Mysteries of Pittsburgh

The story behind former assistant Rawson Thurber’s second feature.

The Nines on BitTorrent

Since well before our Sundance debut last year, I’ve been curious-slash-paranoid about when The Nines would start showing up on the BitTorrent trackers, the online repository of pirated movies and a few legitimate wares. It was inevitable that the movie would get bootlegged at some point. The timing was the delicate issue. If it showed […]

Sundance Advice

The folks at Sundance asked what advice I’d offer people whose films are chosen for the 2008 festival. In case they don’t use my quote, I thought I’d share: Remember that the reason you’re in the festival is because you made a terrific movie. Once the lights come up after the first screening, there’s no […]