004 – Curious About Filmmaking: Film Producer Barri Evins on Big Ideas, Zen Pitching, and Finger Puppets

Barri-Evins-

Producer Barri Evins

Barri Evins LOVES big ideas. She was molded early in her career by the likes of Ray Gideon and Bruce Evans. You may have heard of some of the movies they wrote and produced; Stand By Me, Assassins, and Mr. Brooks. During our conversation she made it a point to say that she is not a screenwriter and would never want to portray herself as such, she has too much respect for screenwriters and the difficulty they face when completing a script. She can however, shine the light of clarity and insight on writers and their screenplays  as a successful film producer. There is an oft-quoted maxim among those giving advice to would-be screenwriters, and that is. “Write what you know.” And its sister statement, “Don’t chase the market.” These old chestnuts have their truth, but you can’t have former port-o-potty delivery drivers breaking into the film business by following this advice unless you want to see more shitty movies. Barri goes in a different direction and the guidance she gives to writers in her workshops and one on one sessions cuts through the noise.

Barri’s approach is this… start with a BIG IDEA. That doesn’t mean follow in the footsteps of Michael Bay, rather it is a practical and real world truth of a film producer who has not only seen dozens of films packaged and sold, but has done the pitching, packaging, and selling herself. Its important to remember that there are a lot of paths to building a career in Hollywood as a writer, but one of the items you’ll want to check off your list sooner than later is to sell your work. The quickest way, according to Barri, to write and sell a script is to start with what she calls, a “hooky” idea. This is how Barri describes it in one of her blog posts:

A Hooky Idea immediately intrigues us.  It makes you want to know more; it gets you hooked and sticks with you.  In a few sentences, or even a few well-chosen words, a Hooky Idea floods our mind with images and emotions. When you hear a Hooky Idea, you know what the movie will FEEL LIKE.  Right off the bat, you know if this is a movie that you wanna see.

I shared with her the concept of the script by Derek Asaff titled, WHEELMAN to see if she thought it was “hooky.” The gist? A Drivers Ed teacher is forced to become the getaway driver for a group of bank robbers. Listen to the podcast to get her take on it. (And to learn about those finger puppets!)

Barri is a warm, energetic, and insightful person and I can understand why her students love working with her. Her pre-writing outlining methods have worked incredibly well for many of her students in conjunction with her ability to teach them how to break down story structure.

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003 – Curious About Filmmaking: Glenn Benest on How Working with Wes Craven Launched His Career

Glenn Benest

Glenn Benest

Making a living, not a killing, was ironically on writer and producer Glenn Benest’s mind when he decided to pursue screenwriting over being a playwright. His concern about being able to live well and pay the bills eventually led him to writing two high profile screenplays for horror filmmaker Wes Craven: “Deadly Blessing,” starring Sharon Stone and Ernest Borgnine and “A Stranger In Our House,” starring Linda Blair and Lee Purcell.

Having grown up near Los Angeles, Glenn saw the film industry for what it was and is, a business. That’s not to say that his desire to write came from a dispassionate place, rather it was ingrained in him at an early age that it would take dedication, hard work, and connections to start and build a career as a writer in Hollywood. His passion to help others succeed is evident in his private screenwriting workshops where small groups of determined writers meet over a period of weeks to hone their screenplays into work that is ready for the marketplace. Read on to learn more about Glenn’s workshops taken by people like Melissa Rosenberg, writer of the screenplays for the Twilight movies.

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001 – Curious About Filmmaking Podcast: Robert McKee on Writing Professionally, Screenplay Competitions, Guardians of the Galaxy and Much More

Robert McKee

Robert McKee

Robert McKee’s impact on the film industry is undeniable. Over 100,000 writers have have taken his STORY course (also a book)  which was partially re-enacted during the Oscar nominated film, ADAPTATION written by Charlie Kaufman based on the book ORCHID THIEF by Susan Orlean. Robert’s on screen persona was deftly acted by Brian Cox. His focus on being true to genres and teaching writers how to approach writing as a serious profession is sometimes overshadowed by his infamous reputation as a world-class curmudgeon. I found him to be nothing of the sort. He was gracious, knowledgeable, and funny during our approximately 60 minute conversation and Q&A with over 400 teleconference listeners.

My favorite part of the interview happened during his comments on the box office smash, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. His insights on that movie are alone worth listening to this podcast.

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