Screenplays: FREE Download 2021-2022 Oscar Contenders UPDATED

UPDATED January 2022: If you want to be a screenwriter you need to read a lot of screenplays. And if you are going to read film scripts might as well read some of this year’s best. Below is an active running list of 2021-2022 Oscar Contending Screenplays. I’ll be adding new screenplays as they become available so check back often.

PLEASE NOTE: These Screenplays Are FREE And LEGAL To Download For Educational Purposes. The Studios Will Only Keep Them Online Throughout The Awards Season So The Clock Is Ticking. Enjoy. 

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple’s #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast, with guests like Oscar Winner Eric Roth, James V. HartDavid ChaseJohn AugustOliver Stone and more.

2021-2022 Oscar Contending Screenplays


2020-2021 Oscar Contending Screenplays

The Father – (Sony Classics) – OSCAR WINNER (Best Original Screenplay)
Promising Young Woman – (Focus Features) – OSCAR WINNER (Best Adapted Screenplay)

2020-2021 Oscar Contending Screenplays

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2020 Oscar-Winning Screenplays

Parasite – (NEON) – OSCAR WINNER (Best Original Screenplay)
Jo Jo Rabbit – (Fox Searchlight) – OSCAR WINNER (Best Adapted Screenplay)

2020 Oscar Contending Screenplays

2019 Oscar Contending Screenplays

Netflix has removed its scripts, though some of the links work. I will keep you updated…

2018 Oscar Contending Screenplays

SHORTCODE - SCREENPLAYS

Want to read more screenplays by the best screenwriters working in Hollywod today?

The Bulletproof Screenwriting collection of screenplays are organized by screenwriter's & filmmaker's career for easy access.

Screenwriter’s Screenplay Collections

We started a new weekly series where we highlight a screenwriter and post a collection of most if not all of their work in one online resource. Sign up for our weekly newsletter above to get weekly updates sent to your inbox. Here are a few recent screenwriter collections:

I also decided to include a bonus area where you can download some of the best screenplays of the last few years. Over 175 screenplays in all. Happy reading!

Best of 2016 Screenplays

Best of 2015 Screenplays

Best of 2014 Screenplays

Best of 2013 Screenplays


BONUS: Oscar Nominated and Winning Screenplays

Screenwriting Books You Need to Read – Top Ten List

1) Screenplay by Syd Field

The first book I ever read about screenwriting. Syd Field is the forefather of the how-to for screenwriting. He cracked the code of the three-act structure and paved the way for all other screenwriting gurus that would follow. As far as I know, he created the terms like “turning points,” and “pinch”, and much of the language that screenwriters use to describe elements and devices used in their scripts(FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

2) Story: by Robert McKee

Immortalized by the film Adaptation, McKee delves deeply into the components necessary for making a great script. I find his principles of “controlling idea” (which closely resembles Lagos Egri’s concept of “premise” in The Art of Dramatic Writing) and “gap between expectation and result” incredibly useful. I always turn to McKee’s teachings for guidance. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

3) The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

Vogler takes the workings of Joseph Campbell about myth and archetypes and breaks it down into easy to chew, bite-size portions. What makes Campbell so special? His writings about the universal appeal of mythological tales have inspired many other storytellers to create great pieces of work with timeless resonance — does George Lucas ring a bell? (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)


4) Making a Good Script Great by Linda Seger

Seger’s book I found as a great companion piece to Syd Field’s Screenplay. What I particularly like from this book is her method of ramping up conflict by the use of “obstacles,” “compilations,” and “reversals.”

Also, check out Linda’s amazing podcast interview here: Making a Good Script Great with Linda Seger (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

5) Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

You can see echoes of all the other aforementioned writers in this book. What I like about Save The Cat is that it’s a stripped-down, fun read with a lot of helpful information. I especially appreciate Snyder’s Beat Sheet which shows with almost page number accuracy where to place those particular plot moments that help keep your story moving. Some might find it formulaic, but I think it functions very well and points to exactly the kind of scripts Hollywood has come to expect from writers. One of the best screenwriting books. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

6) How Not to Write a Screenplay by Denny Martin Flynn

Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out on how to write a screenplay along comes this book to point out where you may have gotten it wrong. Despite the length of the title, it’s a quick read and VERY illuminating. As I skimmed through the examples of what not to do, I discovered what I was doing right, and most importantly what I was getting wrong. They say you learn from your mistakes, and reading this book sure helped to show how. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

7) The Complete Guide to Standard Script Formats by Cole Haag

This book was a required textbook back when I was at film school. Some of the formatting suggestions may be a little outdated, especially if you have Final Draft or Movie Magic screenwriting software, but there’s still a ton of knowledge to be gained about proper formatting. The quickest way to spot a novice writer is by how unprofessional their script is formatted — this book shines a light on the Hollywood standard. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

8) The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier

Not only do I dig this guy’s first name, but I found his book to be more current as far as the conventions of formatting. It covers a lot of ground with how to write a screenplay and everything else that goes with being a screenwriter and Filmtrepreneur, like how to register your script and how to write a query letter to literary agents. It’s a broad overview, but one of the most informative screenwriting books. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

9) The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri

This is actually a book for the aspiring playwright, but most if not all the principles can apply to screenwriting. Egri gives examples of poorly constructed scenes and explains why they don’t work — then compares and contrasts against scenes that do. This is one of my favorite books, and one I strongly recommend. One of the best screenwriting books out there. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

10) The 101 Habits Of Successful Screenwriters by Karl Iglesias

(FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE) Have you ever wondered how successful writers do it? If you’ve reached this point on my top ten, I would say, “of course you do!” There are good work regimens and not so constructive methods. This book gives us a glimpse into how the top Hollywood writers work, how they fight writer’s block, as well as deal with the daily grind of writing. I found it very insightful and definitely worthwhile. 


BONUS: Pulp Fiction – The Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino

A must-read for any screenwriter. Tarantino…nuff said! These are our Top Ten Screenwriting Books You Need to Read. We hope they help you on your journey as a screenwriter. Remember just keep writing! 


David R. Flores is a writer and artist (aka Sic Monkie) based in Los Angeles. He is the creator of the comic book series Dead Future King published by Alterna Comics and Golden Apple Books. Website: www.davidrflores.com & www.deadfutureking.com

Transcript for Robert McKee Interview:

Alex Ferrari 0:04
I'd like to welcome to the show, Robert McKee. How are you doing, Robert?

Robert McKee 0:08
Very well, very well. Thank you.

Alex Ferrari 0:10
Thank you so much for coming on the show. I am have been a fan of your work for quite some time. I've read your first two books, and I'm looking forward to reading your new one, which we'll talk about later character. But I was first introduced to your work in the film adaptation like so many. So many screenwriters and filmmakers were how, by the way, how, how was that whole process? I mean, it was a very odd request, I'm sure that you got when you got that call?

Robert McKee 0:40
Well, it certainly was, my phone rang one day and producer named Ed Saxon calling from New York and, and he said I am mightily embarrassed. This is a phone call I've dreaded. We've got this crazy screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and, and he has made you a character in his screenplay, and he has freely cribbed from your book and from your lectures, and he has no permission to do either. And, but we don't know what to do. So I said, well, send me a script, you know, I'll you know, see what's going on. So they sent me a script, and I read it. And I saw immediately that he really needed my character as a central to the film, because he wants me to, he wanted my character to represent the the imperatives of Hollywood. And that you have to do certain things certain ways, blah, blah, blah. And, you know, which is on one level nonsense. Such rules, they their principles, and there's genre convention, but anyway, but so I was a typical kind of need to slander Hollywood in favor of the artist. And, and they wanted me to do the slandering. So, but I realized that without my character there to provide some source of conflict. The story didn't work at all. So I said, and so I tell you what, I made two phone calls. I called William Goldman. And I said, Good, he was, you know, a student of mine. And I said, Bill, they there's a film and they want to use me as a character in it. What do you think? And he said, Don't do it. Don't do it. He said, it's Hollywood. And he said, they're out to get you don't do it. I said, Yeah, but I'm okay. But suppose I had casting rights. And he says, Okay, okay, who do you want? I said, Well, let's say Gene Hackman, is it? Okay. Okay. It'll be Gene Hackman, with a big pink bow around his neck. If they want to get you, Bob, they're gonna get you don't do it. So then I called my son. And I said, Paul, you know, and he said, do it. I said, Why isn't because Dad, it's a Hollywood film, you're gonna be a character in the Hollywood film. And he said, it'll be great. Do it. So I talked to Ed Sachs, and I said, Kenny, three things. One, I need a redeeming scene. I said, you know, you want to slander me fine. But then you can't leave it at that. You got he got to give me a redeeming scene. Right? To I have to have the controller the casting, I won't tell you exactly who to cast. But you got to give me a list because I ended need to know their philosophy. I mean, for all I knew this was the Danny DeVito Dan Ackroyd School of casting,

Alex Ferrari 4:28
you know, fair enough.

Robert McKee 4:31
I said, and very importantly, the third act sucks. And I cannot be a character in a bad movie. So we need meetings, they're going to have to be willing to rewrite. And, and those are my three conditions. And, and they agreed to them. And, and so they sent me a casting they gave me my redeeming scene and then they they they sent a list. Have the 10 best middle aged British actors alive? You know, everybody from Christopher Plummer to Alan Bates and I, and and I looked at the list. And I said, I want Brian Cox. And they said, Who's Brian Cox? And I said, He's the best British actor you don't know. Because Brian had been a student of mine up in Glasgow, and I'd seen him on stage in the West End of London and, and what I didn't want, see all those actors. They're all wonderful. But there's always actors have this Love me Love me thing, no matter what they want to be loved. And there's always this subtext like my heart's in the right place. And I really, you know, and I don't want to be loved. I really don't want to be respected, I want to be understood. And I want to inspire people and educate, but I do not want a bunch of people following me around like a guru. Right, loving me, right? And I knew that Brian would not do that. And, and then we had meetings and about the Act Three, and eventually got to a never got to a perfect accuracy. But it got to a point where I could sign off on so and it was, so they took my son to a screening at so at Sony and I said, you know, we think ball, and he said, Dad, he said, Brian Cox nailed you. Which I thought was great. So you know, and it was, it was, but that's not the, you know, I was I put myself in a funny date. So it's not just, but yeah, it was, um, it was a difficult choice. But I think William Goldman was wrong, that, you know, there was a way to you have your cake and eat it too. And I think an adaptation is loved. Oh, and millions and millions of people. So, so it certainly didn't hurt my brand.

Alex Ferrari 7:20
It didn't hurt your brand or business, I'd imagine. It's the term irony comes to play where you would be working with Charlie Kaufman, on a script, where your character is the establishment that he's trying to get away from and to give art but yet you are working with him to put the script together and finish the third act, which is amazing. Charlie,

Robert McKee 7:42
Charlie's one of those guys. He's got, you know, a great talent. But he's a bit delusional. What he wants to achieve is the commercial art movie. He wants it both ways. He wants to be known for making art movies, but they have to make money too. And a lot of it because he knows that, you know, his career. If he loses money, it's over. And so and, and so he wants to he wants to create the commercial art movie and a salsa dance understood, you know, things, the notion of the commercial art movie, you know, the, the, the English Patient and films like that. And I you know, in the meetings with a spike and and, and, Charlie, I, you know, I pointed out to Charlie, so you can't have it both ways. It's a you, you know, you if it's a true art movies have a very limited audience period. And art filmmakers understand this. And they budget accordingly. You want 30 million

Alex Ferrari 8:59
for an art film?

Robert McKee 9:03
Was 5 million we could, but Okay, so anyway, but it was. Yeah, the irony of it is wonderful.

Alex Ferrari 9:10
So, so you've worked with so many screenwriters and filmmakers over the course of your career, what is the biggest mistakes you see screenwriters, new screenwriters to the craft make?

Robert McKee 9:24
Well, it's not mistake so much. Yeah, I guess it is a mistake. But, uh, there's two problems. One is cliches. And they think that it that they want to be, you know, like an artist, they want to be original, but at the same time, they want. They want to be sure that it works. And so they recycle the things that everybody's always done. And they've tried to recycle them with it. difference and which is absolutely necessary, I mean, that's I get it, you're not going to reinvent the wheel, you have to just spin it yet another way. And, but then they get very easy once they sell their soul. It's hard to get it back. And, you know, you can pour on your soul for a while, but you've got to get the cash to get back. And, and so that's the war on cliches is not some, you know, it's not a fault, it's just a problem everybody faces. And, but there's a greater problem. And it's the willingness to lie. In an effort to tell their story to get it out, somehow they get it together. And they will write characters and scenes, and whatever that that lack credibility that they know perfectly well, in their heart of hearts is pure corn of some kind. And it's a it's, they're bending the truth. It's not it's, there's something false to some. And, and, and to, to, to get to something that is really profoundly honest. And it doesn't matter what the genre is, from action, to comedy. to, to a you know, as an education plan, something very interior doesn't matter what the genre is, there's truth, and then there's lie. And somehow they think that because it's fiction, that gives them a license to lie. But but they don't have that license, they have a an obligation to express the truth of what it is to be a human being and in whatever genre, they're they're writing, they have a, they have a an obligation, if they're writing comedy, to really stick a knife in some sacred cow and expose the bullshit of society. I mean, they, you know, it's not enough to be amusing. comedy is a is an angry art, that savages, all those things that, that that that are false in life, and starting with politics. Right. And, and so there's they, there's a willingness to, to fit and lie and in order to please that, okay, let me take a step back. I bulldozing cliches and truthfulness are all the byproduct of the young writer, especially the young writers desire to please they want to be loved, they want people to love what they do they want to please people. And so they write what they think, is pleasing for people, whether it's all the cards in fast and furious. Right, or the sentimentality or whatever they want to please people and and which is fine, but you can't please everybody and so you're going to write for a certain mind a certain audience a certain mentality and an educational level and taste and whatnot in a certain group of people that you know, are out there, they're like you pay and and you can't please everybody. And and so, a film like for example, Nomad land is certainly not trying to please there's an audience for it, that will get it and enjoy it and and recognize this as a deep truth about our society and about human nature.

But it's, it's not going to have a mass audience. And because it will turn off more people than it will turn out. And, but it's, it's a excellent film is an honest film. So that's the I think it's fishing around here. Because when you open the door and say, you know whether

Alex Ferrari 14:53
you're wrong, there's 1000s of things

Robert McKee 14:57
to bring up, but if I can do it down, it's that it's that the willingness to please results in recycling cliches, and basically not telling the the, the, the dark truth of things. And so you have to be it's tough, you have to be disciplined not to copy other people's success, but to, to write what you honestly believe to be the

errors in the central new genre.

And, and be rigorous about that.

Alex Ferrari 15:36
Now, one of the the hallmarks of a good story is conflict. How do you create conflict in a story?

Robert McKee 15:46
Well, depends on where you start. If you start with a choice of genre, let's say you're going to write a thriller. Right? You know, the source of conflict immediately by that choice. I need some kind of psychopathic villain. Right? I need Russell Crowe, in unhinged. Why? And so that's done for you. So that the genre sort of automatically tells you, right, on the other hand, if you're telling a family story, and that will be called domestic. Until the characters are a family and it's a family with problems, wow. The conflict could come from any direction. Who's with? Is it the mother? Is it the father? Is that rebellious children? Is it Whose is it? Some some, you know, older grandfather grandmother figure that's pulling people strings, and you know, whatever, given a family what's wrong with this family? And so you have to figure out what is it and is it social, or psychological? Is it instinctive is a deliberate you have to think your way through all that. And so you, you you start with a family and you create a little you know, a cast? And then and then you ask the question or what's wrong with this family. And a million different things can be wrong in human nature inside of a family. And that requires knowledge, you have to understand people, you have to understand that you know, the mother, daughter, mother, son, Father, daughter, Father, Son relationships, and, and you need to dig into your own experience. And ask yourself, you know, what was wrong in my family? What What do I believe, to be the truth about families? And, and, and that the genre doesn't give you that answer. And so, you have the answer will come from your depth of understanding of human nature, human relationships of a certain personal kind in this case. And, or if you're writing comedy, so as mentioned, the starting place of writing a comedy is to ask yourself what is pissing me off? What in this world is pissing me off? Is that relationships? Is it men women? Always it? Is that the is that the the the the social networks? Is it is it politics? Is it the military? Is it the church? Why what what is what what do I hate? What's pissing me off? Because the root of comedy is is anger. The comic mind is an angry idealist comic comics are idealists who want the world to be perfect or at least and when they look around the world they see where sorry, sick one place it is. And, and they realize that they're complicit, they're part of it too. And so what spacing me off then it points them in a direction to an institution or behavior in society. me like I think that great comedy series. Curb Your Enthusiasm. You know, and, and, and yes, you know, what is pissing me off and he will finds really egregious fault in, in, in people's lack of propriety. Or, or logic or clarity of thought, you know, why should there be a handicapped stall in toilets? Right that no one can use except the two times a year that a handicapped person comes into this particular toilet. Okay. Right. That is

Larry David, that is an egregious absurdity and it infuriates him. And so he goes into the handicap stall, and sure shit, this is the day

a guy in a wheelchair. So, um, so that, you know, that that's, those are the various things, you know, you, you look at yourself, as a writer, and you you have to understand your vision of life, you have to understand the genres. When you make a choice, there's certain conventions. And, and a, you can bend those conventions, what breaker if you want, but not without an awareness of what the audience expects. And so somehow, it'll between picking the setting and the cast, the genre, and then looking inside of yourself, like your comic wouldn't ask you what's pissing me off? You find your way. If I if you're in conflict, and the the most importantly, you know, it has it that you know that that conflict has to be something you deeply believe in. Now, or, or you will do what we were talking about earlier, you will fall prey to cliches because you'll you'll create false conflict, false antagonist empty, a cliched antagonisms. And like that. So it's a very important question. Now.

Alex Ferrari 22:28
So as far as one thing a lot of a lot of screenwriters try to get away from is structure, saying that structure and trying to fall into side of a structure is, it's like holding me back as an artist and I need to be free and I need to run free like a wild stallion, I personally find structure to be very freeing, because it gives me a place to go. How do you approach structure?

Robert McKee 22:55
Well, in this day, people have a course accused me of imposing structural rules in my teaching, and it's nonsense. When

I am opposed to structure, it's inhibiting my creativity do not know what the hell they're talking. They just don't they use the word structure. But they wouldn't understand or know story structure, if it fell from a height under their foot, okay, they just don't know what they're talking about. structure in every scene, ideally, is a turning point of some magnitude, the character's life, they go into a situation wanting something. And something in that moment, kind of prevents them from getting it. They struggle with that. And they either get what they want, or they don't get what they want. Or they get it at a price or they don't get it but learn something. Change takes place. And it's in a simple scene is minor. And then these changes per scene build sequences in which moderate deeper change wider change happens, these sequences build x in it. And then that climax is a major turning point that has greater depth or greater breadth or both have impact on a character's life. And so minor moderate major changes are building a story progressively to an absolute irreversible change at climax. Now, why would anyone object to what I just said? Why would anyone think that you can change Do concrete scenes in which nothing changes. And do that three scenes in a row and people will not be walking up. They come there, they come to the writer, they read a novel, kind of trying to have insight into life as to what forces in life positive and negative, bring about change outwardly or inwardly in characters lives. I mean, that's why we go to the storyteller. And so and so why would you not want change? Or why would you want repetitious change? Because the same change degree of change, that happens three times in a row, you know, we're bored. So because it's not giving us what we want, it's not giving us the insight that into character that we want. And so people who say they're opposed to structure don't understand what structure is it they don't understand, it's a dynamic and a progression of minor moderate major changes. And so I have no patience with that kind of ignorance. Hear the people who say that are the very naive, ignorant, really, people who think that if they just open up their imagination, emotion, picture will flow out of it.

Alex Ferrari 26:30
Very true.

Robert McKee 26:32
And, and they are childish in that way. I mean, you open up your imagination and see what flows out, then you have to go to work on it. And you have to step back from every, every time you you know, or let me put you this way. What in truth is it to write? What is writing actually, like, as an experience, you open up your imagination, and you have an idea for a character or two or three, and you write a page, things happen? Action reaction dialog, that when you write a page, that takes 20 minutes, then what do you do? You read that page? And you could take it does this work? would he say that? Would she act like that? would this happen with it? Is there a better way to do this? And is this repetitious? Is there a hole does it make sense, you constantly critique what you've written, and you go back, and you rewrite it. And then you read it, again, you critique it again. And this goes on all day long. And so you go inside to create, you go outside to critique, you create, your critique you curate, and the quality of your critique that guides your rewriting is absolutely dependent on your understanding to make judgments, when you ask the question, does this work? You have to know what works and what doesn't work. And, and so that on one level, everything you do is structure. Its structured to have a character say x and another character respond with y that structure action reaction, that the person who said x did not expect to hear why

Alex Ferrari 28:36
right exit Exactly.

Robert McKee 28:39
And that structure that beat of act reaction and human behavior, that structure. So is I said, People say this, say it out of out of emit amateur understanding of what the creativity, what the act of writing really is.

Alex Ferrari 29:07
And I, whenever I've come up against that, when I say no, every you know, every movie has some sort of structure. Most movies, especially popular movies have structure. And your definition of structure is wonderful. They always throw out Pulp Fiction, and I'm like, no Pulp Fiction is an extremely structured film. Do you agree?

Robert McKee 29:28
Yeah. I've when I was we were talking about when I was when they were doing adaptation, and I was working with Charlie Kaufman. Charlie had exactly that attitude. I said, the third act doesn't work. We have to restructure it. And in the end is his face went into a panic mode. He didn't want you know, scared the hell out. He said, I know. I know that. It needs some, you know, just it'll come to me it was a clo and whatnot. And it's as easy as I don't write with structure. He said that I don't write with structure. I said, Charlie, would you like me to lay out the three act design of being john malkovich as because it's a three act, play, want to hear them, act 123. And, and he almost ran out of the room. He didn't want to hear it. He wants to live in the delusion that it somehow flows, and there is no structure. And when in fact, subconsciously, at least being john malkovich is a three activist

Alex Ferrari 30:48
is a great, it's

Robert McKee 30:50
a model, it's a model, BJ Mack is a model three act design. But it's but to the romantic like, Charlie, he doesn't want to hear it. Because he thinks that that's going to constipate his creativity. And I have to agree with it. If he wants to write out of this notion that it's all a flow. And if he is aware that there's a, that there's a design happening, it would, it would inhibit him. So it's because he's a good writer, he's very talented. So it would be better for him to live in that delusion, and let it all pour out. And then he goes back, and his taste guides the rewriting and so forth. And, and, and so if you're talented, like Charlie and, and the idea of structure is frightening, then you should listen to those feelings. And not think about structure and just, you know, do what you do, and hope it works.

But

that's rare.

Alex Ferrari 32:10
Very, very, very rare. But yeah, but and so for everyone listening, you have to understand that someone like Jeff Hoffman is writing. And as he's writing, he's subconsciously working within the three act structure, honestly, on a subconscious level. And even the great writers is like, Oh, I never even think about outlining or plotting, is because they have such a grasp of the craft, that it's already pre wired in them. It's like me building a house, I wouldn't even think twice about how to pour a foundation, or how to how to how to lay out the walls, because I've done it a million times. I don't have to sit there and think about it, it's just done. But that is rare, and it takes sometimes years to get to that place or you're a prodigy, which happens once in a generation or twice in a generation.

Robert McKee 32:57
And and you're absolutely right. That's very, very well put and, and in fact, it goes beyond that you have been watching the stories on screen you have been reading them in novels, you've been to the theater, that form form is a better word than structure that form of action, contradictory reaction and reaction to that and a giant dynamic of action reaction building to change that is so built into you as a as a reader as an audience member from I don't know two three years old. Mother read your little you know, bunny rabbit stories, right? Your bunny rabbit goes out and something happens that not happy for the bunny rabbit and then you know of bunny rabbits mother comes along and pictures things whatever it takes, I mean that that form is ingrained in you from from the earliest. And so you do know it?

Alex Ferrari 34:08
Without question. Now you do more dialogue is something that is you've wrote an entire book dedicated to dialogue. Obviously, your first book is story. But your second book is dialogue. What are the three functions of dialogue in your opinion?

Robert McKee 34:25
Well, there's many of them and certainly one of them is is the obvious one of exposition by various means. So for examples simple in writing dialogue, a character has a certain vocabulary so for example, you you've done construction on houses, right? Some sure I And so how many different kinds of nails Do you know? From spiked to tact of,

let's say 10? Yeah. Okay. Now most people may know, to me one nail on a screw, basically, that's all they know.

Okay. So if if in there, if a character in their dialogue uses the, the carpenters terminology. And even metaphorically, you know, call something a five, many nail, right? The fact that he knows the difference between a temporary nail and pipe and whatever it is, his exposition is it tells us something about the life of this character, by the very word, the names of things that that this character uses in their vocabulary helps us understand the whole life of this character. So if somebody grew up, you know, around boats, and they use nautical terminology, right? And so that they the language inside of the dialogue, all that just the vocabulary alone gives us exposition, it tells us who is this character? What's their life been like? Etc. Okay, then, at the same time, the characters talking about things that are happening, or have happened. And when somebody says, you know, you're not going to leave me again, we are to instantly know, that's it, she's already left them once, at least before

Alex Ferrari 36:46
it says it says volumes with one word.

Robert McKee 36:49
Yeah, there's no word again. But so we have an insight into what their life has been like, in this relationship. And so that's number one is is, is exposition. And number two is action. When people speak, what they say, is an action they take in order to get what they need and want in the moment, but underneath that is what they're really doing. And it's what in the subtext, the action they take in the subtext is what's driving the scene? So when somebody says, Well, I didn't expect that. Right? What they're really doing, perhaps, depending, right, is attacking, criticizing the other person for doing something that's completely inappropriate. What they say is, well, I didn't expect you to say that I didn't expect you to do that. I didn't expect that. But what that is, is a way of attacking another person for inappropriate behavior. And so it's right. And so and so the dialogue is the text by which people carry out actions. But underneath the dialog, is the true action. And it that's based on a common sense, understanding that people do not say out loud and do out what they're really thinking and feeling. They cannot, no matter how they try, if they're when they're, when they're pouring their heart out and confessing to the worst things they've ever done. There's still another layer, where they're actually begging for forgiveness, let's say, right? So by confessing, actually, you're begging for forgiveness or whatever it is. And so dialogue is the outer vehicle for interaction. And, and the great mistaken dialogue is writing the the interaction into the dialogue. stead of having somebody confess, did they beg Please forgive me, please forgive me, forgive me, forgive me. Right. And, and if somebody is actually begging, there's got to be another level of what they're really doing underneath the baking. And, and so you have to, you know, the writer has to think to that by begging. What that dialogue is actually a mask for manipulating that person. Do what you have to do, right. And so, exposition, action. Okay. And then, you know, just beauty. Just Just wonderful dialogue, in character, and all that, but but a way of creating a surface that is that it draws us. Because, you know, we just love to see scenes where characters speak really well. in there. And even though even if we're using just gangster talk, good gangs, your dog, it's right to talk to each other and that kind of rap and that kind of unite. Right? That's, that's a form of beauty. It's wonderful, you know, it's pleasurable, right. The dialogue ultimately ought to be pleasing, and in his sense of kind of verbal spectacle. And so that's just, you know, that just three off the top of my head functions, but there's is there's much more right and I, I like I'm sure like you, we all love. Wonderful, memorable quotable dialogue.

Alex Ferrari 41:24
Yeah, very much like it's so obviously Tarantino and Sorkin and Shane Black and these kind of screenwriters, their dialogue is just, it's poetic in the way that they write something, certainly is, certainly, and the genius of them is they're able to do the first two things you said, within that poetry, as opposed to just poetry for poetry sake,

Robert McKee 41:46
which is, you know, that is that just decorative. They all happens all at once. You know, you're getting exposition, see who these characters are, whatever actions or reactions are driving the scene, and it's a pleasure to listen to.

Alex Ferrari 42:03
Now, one thing I've noticed in years and even in my own writing descriptions, in a screenplay, a lot of screenwriters, when they starting out, they feel like it's a novel. So, they will write a very detailed description about a scene or about something, where from my understanding, over the years, less is more and it becomes more of a of an exercise in Haiku is than it is in the novel writing. Can you kind of talk a little bit about the importance of of compacting your description?

Robert McKee 42:37
Well, it does need to be economical. Of course. On the other hand, it has to be vivid,

Alex Ferrari 42:44
right?

Robert McKee 42:46
And that's, you know, where does that balance strike you that the ambition is to project a film into the readers head. So that when they read their screenplay, they see a motion picture without camera directions without you know smash CUT TO for transitions and, you know, Dolly on and you know, and you know, pull focus, whatever nonsense, you got to use the language and description to create the effect of a motion picture, then you only use ideally, you only use the master shots, it you you only the the the shots, the angles, the setups, camera setups that are absolutely necessary. And no more you do not try to direct the film. And, and instead, you project a motion picture into the readers head. And, and, and so you need to it over, often in overriding and when, in fact, was not only overwritten, but it's not vivid. It's because writers rely on adjectives and adverbs. And what they need is to know the names of things. You know, he, he, he picks up what we're talking about before a big nail. Well, you know, big is an adjective. And so, put an image in the readers head, he picks up a spike. Spike is a vivid image. A he, he walks slowly across the room, will slowly is an adverb. Right? Right. And so you name the action of verb is the name of an action. He pads across the room he ambles, he strolls he saunters. He you know, Waltz's is an active verb without an adjective, adverb, concrete nouns without adjectives. And we see things and we see actions. And it becomes vivid. It reduces the word count. And, and here's here's something a good it's a good note for writers take your screenplay. And, and search the verb is or our urge is an are throughout your descriptions and eliminate every single one of them. know things are nothing is in a screenplay. Everything in a film is alive. And action. So you know, a name the thing. So a line like a big house, there, there is a big house on a hill.

Okay.

And what's a big house a mansion or a state? a villa? What's a, you know, a hill, a mountain. At add and add and turn it into a villa sits just that verb sits is more active than is a big house sits with a spectacular with this spectacular view. And so easy, a big house up high with a great view. And it's an image and it's active, it sits sprawls across, whatever. And so active verbs concrete nouns, and and make us see a movie. And every writer finds every good writer finds their own personal way to do that. And Paddy Chayefsky wrote elaborate descriptions. Harold Pentre described, nothing, nothing. He would just go interior kitchen dialogue, dialogue, dialogue, dialogue, describe nothing. And because his attitude was, we all know what a kitchen looks like. And they'll probably play it in the garage anyway. But if they mess if they mess with my beats of action reaction and you know, in dialogue, then they're in trouble. Okay, so every writer has to find their own way to accomplish the task of a vividly projecting emotion picture in the imagination, as you turn pages who make them see a movie.

Alex Ferrari 48:23
Now, your new book is called character. And I wanted to ask you a couple questions in regards to character because, arguably, I always like to ask the question, do you start with plot or you start with character I always say to people, you don't like Indiana Jones, his plots aren't nearly as memorable as Indiana Jones James Bond's plots aren't as memorable as James Bond. Like I don't you throw me the plot of thunder ball. I don't remember. I remember scenes, but I do remember James Bond. And that's what draws me back to his stories. So, can you talk a little bit about the difference between roles and character?

Robert McKee 48:58
Well, a role is a generic term. And so hero is a role villain is a role victim is a role. You know, sidekick is a roll. goon is a roll. shopkeeper his role in the role is as a position in a in a cast. as defined by its relationship to other characters, and or a profession. Like waiter, asked driver. And, and they're generic, they wrote something waiting to be filled by a character. And as a character comes into a story to fulfill a certain role but it's a it's a You know, it's it's a, it's a generic to that to that genre. And so if you have a family, the roles are mother, father, children guide, they're okay, those are roles, characters are our unique human beings, we inhabit those roles. And and there's a design of a cast, such that the protagonist, and the central character at role is the most complex character role. And they are they, they're, depending on the genre, they are the most dimensional character of all. And they are ideally, they, they are the center of good, there's a, there's a positive human quality, not every way certainly, but there's, there's some quality, within the complexity of that character, with which we recognize we empathize, we recognize a shared humanity, the character is then in orbit around that character that protagonists are less dimensional, but they can be dimensional as as well, then you go all the way out to the second third circles, where you have people only playing a role. cashier, restaurant cashier, okay. Now, even when you're writing a scene where your character goes up to the cashier in a restaurant, to pay a bill, and discovers that his credit card is cancelled, right, you have a clerk standing there, at the at the take, who takes the credit card and finds that it's, it's been rejected that clerk character, he be very useful to imagine that role, very specifically, what kind of human being, you know, is she or he, it because it does the, the way in which that clerk that roll says responds to your card is canceled. Your card didn't go through the, the, the way you write the words and gesture for that character gives her a trait. And so roles have traits and, and to make, even that moment, when there's a human being behind that, that trait. And so if she's sarcastic, if she's fed up with with the job itself or with with people whose cards never work, or she's sympathetic because her cards don't work.

Alex Ferrari 53:19
So,

Robert McKee 53:21
so, even in a in a simple role like that, you try to write it with a as a specific trait in the way in which he deals with that moment. And it creates a character for an actor. And so the actor come in there and realize, Oh, this is an antagonistic clerk or this is a sympathetic cleric, or an indifferent or bored or falling asleep, or glancing at her watch constantly, she just wants to get out of here, whatever it is, you give her a trait. And that makes her a character, she sends the GM to life and it gives the actor something to hang their performance on. And so dimensions the protagonists, the most dimensional of all dimensions are contradictions within the nature of the girl. And so you populate that with in my book on character, I look at characters everybody from from Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey has an eight dimensional character, all the way up to Tony Soprano, as a 12 dimensional character Walter White, as a 16 dimensional character. And so and so the complexity of character today given long form television, especially, is at is becoming your astronomical And then you have to give all the, that every one of these dimensions if a character is, is kind and cruel, okay? Sometimes they're crying, sometimes they're cruel. Therefore, you're going to need a cast of characters where the protagonist, when they meet character a, they treat them kindly character B, they treat with, with a slap with cruelty and, and so you need to design a cast around each other characters. So that when, whenever any two characters meet, they bring out sides of their dimensionality or traits of behavior that no one else brings out of them. And so, every single character is designed that whenever they encounter any other character, they bring out each other's qualities in ways that no other character does. And, and when you have a, you know, when you have that kind of cast, where every single character services, every other character, and no redundancies every relationship is unique. every relationship develops a different aspect or a different dimension. Then you have a fascinating group of people that creates a world that the audience can really

Alex Ferrari 56:38
dive into,

Robert McKee 56:39
dive into now, you know, when characters when and carrot one characters behave toward each other in the same way, no matter who it is. That, you know, that's it's a boring and do it's false. People do not treat other people, different people the same. Everybody behaves in a uniquely subtly but uniquely different way, depending upon the relationship. And it takes a lot of concentration and imagination in the writer to realize that every relationship brings out different sides of the character's nature.

Alex Ferrari 57:21
Now, I'm gonna ask you a few questions. Ask all my guests. Robert, what are three screenplays every screenwriter should read? You see? I don't answer that question. Okay. For this reason, I don't want people to copy anybody. Okay, fair enough.

Robert McKee 57:46
And so if I say, you know, if I named my, you know, my favorites, like, say, trying to tell people you know, then run to study Chinatown and emulate it. And that's a mistake. The really important question to ask people is, what's your favorite genre? Because they should be writing the kind of films they love.

Alex Ferrari 58:15
It's a good point, what

Robert McKee 58:16
I love, what are my favorites may have nothing to do with their favorites. And so the first question is, you know, what do you love? What kind of movies do you go to see what kind of things do you read? What do you love? And then seek out those? And the second thing is that if I name favorites, and, and that they, you know, they're in their pieces of perfection. Okay. What does that teach the writer? They got a model of perfection. Great. Okay, that's important, you should understand you should have an ideal, what you're trying to achieve. But one of the ways to achieve it, is to study bad movies. break them down and ask yourself, why is this film so boring? Why can't I believe a word of it? Why does this fail? and break it down and study it? To answer what this What does it lack what went wrong, etc. Okay, and then rewrite it.

Alex Ferrari 59:37
Just thing,

Robert McKee 59:39
rewrite it. fix that broken film. Because that's what you're going to do as a writer. Your first draft is going to suck. And you're going to go in and try to fix your broken script. Try to bring it to life. Try to cut edited shape and rewrite it reinvented, you're going to read it over and over again, right? Having fixed broken films, not just one, but many, many, many take bad movies, studying them and make them make them work is practice for what you're going to have to do with your own screenplay. Because it's not going to work in the beginning, it's going to need a lot of work to work. And so having rewritten bad films to make them work is, is a real learning experience. And so I say, study good films are of your genre, so that you have a an ideal that you achieve, rewrite the bad ones to teach yourself how to fix broken work. And so, and that's a personal choice. I can't say what that should be for those people. For every one of them, loves whatever they love, which may or may not be what I love.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:00
Now, where can people find out more about you? And where can they purchase your new book character? Amazon? It's pretty much it is pretty much it nowadays, isn't it? It's pretty much it nowadays, isn't it? Amazon.

Robert McKee 1:01:17
bookstores, I'm sure are opening up. And if you know if you love bookstores, as I do, you know, you can go to a bookstore and get it. But the most direct way that will be there in your budget for the next morning. It's incredible what they do, what Amazon does, and bash, you know that the other other Barnes and Noble stew or whatever it is, but yeah, it's very simple. You just go to amazon.com. Right? Just write the word McKee. And comes story, dialogue, character, in hardcover, in an audio and in Kindle,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:05
and everything else? And then how can people read it? And how can people learn more about you what you offer?

Robert McKee 1:02:13
Ah, the go to make peace story.com. The key story.com will take you to our website. And we have a upcoming. We've been doing webinars now for a year and a half since the plague hit us. And they've been very successful, very, very pleased with it. And in July, we're doing a series on action. Nice on the action genre. And so these, these are every Tuesday, three Tuesday's in a row. And they're two hour events, hour and a half worth of lecture and a half hour of q&a. Then on Thursday, I I give an additional two hours of q&a.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:01
Fantastic.

Robert McKee 1:03:03
And because I realized how important it is for people to get answers to things they're working on. So So Tuesdays and Thursdays for three weeks in a row. And there's you know, four hours of material each week. So and we will we will look at the action genre in depth with lots of illustrations and examples of an adage and I love giving these acts. webinars. And it's a favorite of mine. Actually,

Alex Ferrari 1:03:38
I love a good action movie is it's hard to come by nowadays. So I appreciate it. Robert, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to to my audience and I appreciate all the work that you have done over the years and help so many screenwriters as well. So thank you so much for everything you do.

Robert McKee 1:03:54
It was a lovely chat. Great chat. Nice talking to you.

 

Top Ten Best Screenplays Ever Written

If you want to be a screenwriter you have to read screenplays. There’s no better place to start than reading the masters of the craft. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) published this list of the top ten best screenplays ever written and I would have to agree.

My personal favorites on this list are Casablanca, Chinatown, and Annie Hall. Click on the links below and start reading. Happy Reading…then get to writing.

1. CASABLANCA
Screenplay by Julius J. & Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch. Based on the play “Everybody Comes to Rick’s” by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison

2. THE GODFATHER
Screenplay by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola.

3. CHINATOWN
Written by Robert Towne

4. CITIZEN KANE
Written by Herman Mankiewicz and Orson Welles

5. ALL ABOUT EVE
Screenplay by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

6. ANNIE HALL
Written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman

7. SUNSET BLVD.
Written by Charles Brackett & Billy Wilder and D.M. Marshman, Jr.

8. NETWORK
Written by Paddy Chayefsky

9. SOME LIKE IT HOT
Screenplay by Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond.

10. THE GODFATHER II
Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo.

BONUS: SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
Screenplay by Frank Darabont. I had to add this remarkable screenplay to the list.

SHORTCODE - SCREENPLAYS

Want to read more screenplays by the best screenwriters working in Hollywod today?

The Bulletproof Screenwriting collection of screenplays are organized by screenwriter's & filmmaker's career for easy access.

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Aaron Sorkin Screenplays (Download)

Aaron Sorkin is a giant in the screenwriting world. You know you are reading a Sorkin script just by how the characters are speaking. His dialog is legendary. He created or perfected the “walk and talk.” Sorkin doesn’t just write screenplays, he has created some of the best-written shows in television history.

Aaron Sorkin also teaches an amazing Screenwriting MasterClass. To learn more about this game-changing course click here.

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast, with guest like Oscar Winner Eric Roth, James V. Hart, David Chase, John August, Oliver Stone and more.

(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).


A FEW GOOD MEN (1992)

Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the screenplay!

THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT (1995)

Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the screenplay!

SPORTS NIGHT (Television) (1998-2000)

Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin –TV Pilot and Episode

THE WEST WING (Television) (1999-2006)

Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the TV Pilot!

STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP (Television) (2006-2007)

Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the TV Pilot!

CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR (2007)

Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the screenplay!

THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010)

**Won the Oscar** Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the screenplay!

MONEYBALL (2011)

Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin –  Read the screenplay!

NEWSROOM (Television) (2012-2014)

Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the TV Pilot!

STEVE JOBS (2015)

Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the screenplay!

SHORTCODE - SCREENPLAYS

Want to read more screenplays by the best screenwriters working in Hollywod today?

The Bulletproof Screenwriting collection of screenplays are organized by screenwriter's & filmmaker's career for easy access.

SHORTCODE - TV SCRIPTS

Do you Want to read all the television pilots from the 2016-2021 seasons?

Learn from the best storytellers and television writers working in Hollywood today. Netflix, NBC, Hulu, HBOMax, Amazon, CBS and more.

IFH 049: How to Pitch Your Film Like a Pro with Stephanie Palmer

Right-click here to download the MP3

Ever wanted to learn the dark craft of being able to pitch your story idea successfully? Stephanie Palmer has made it her life’s mission to help people do just that. Stephanie Palmer is a former MGM Pictures executive and best-selling author of the book “Good in a Room: How To Sell Yourself (And Your Ideas) And Win Over Any Audience

Stephanie Palmer was the Director of Creative Affairs for MGM where she supervised the acquisition, development, and production of feature films. During my time at MGM, she was named by The Hollywood Reporter as one of the “Top 35 Executives Under 35.” Prior to MGM, she worked at Jerry Bruckheimer Films.

She has heard thousands of pitches. She knows how to and how not to pitch your screenplay or story idea. She worked on films like Legally BlondeArmageddonCon Air and was even on an intern on Titanic, there’s a very inserting story there.

Learn how to pitch your screenplay like a pro with Stephanie Palmer.

Alex Ferrari 0:51
Today guys, we have Stephanie Palmer on the show. She wrote an amazing book called good in her room, how to sell yourself and your ideas and win over any audience. She is a very, very cool lady. She's has a heck of a bunch of cool stories we talked about being an intern on the set of Titanic, which she was also a drug mule, or a mule, not a drug mule, but a mule of some sort. We'll go into that story later. She's also worked on amazing films like Legally Blonde one of my favorite Armageddon, Con Air and also work for Jerry Bruckheimer pictures where she got a lot of experience as well as being a director of creative affairs at MGM, where she listened to 1000s of pitches over the course of her career where she then decided that this was a space of, of the of the film industry that needed real help, because people really had no idea how to pitch themselves, how to pitch their stories, how to pitch their screenplays, how a director could pitch their their vision for a film, all of those things. So she put it all together in a book, and has now made it her lifelong mission to help people not only filmmakers, but people to help show them how to sell and pitch their ideas. Now one thing that went little bit wrong technically on this episode is I was barely able to get Stephanie on the phone. She's very, very busy. And I was only able to get her over the phone. So the audio quality is going to be a little bit less than you're used to, but still very acceptable. But the information on the show is remarkable. So sit back and enjoy my conversation with Stephanie Palmer.

Stephanie, thank you so much for being on the show. I really appreciate it. Can you tell me a little bit about how you got in the business?

Stephanie Palmer 2:36
Sure. I started as an unpaid intern on the movie Titanic when I was a senior in college. And then I moved from that job to being an assistant at Jerry Bruckheimer films. And I worked on movies like Armageddon and enemy of the state and conair. And I worked, I was Assistant to the President. So we were involved in all aspects of development and production. And then I moved to MGM as an assistant, and then got promoted to the story editor where I was in charge of supervising the staff of readers, and making sure that all the scripts that came into the studio were properly handled. And then after that, I got promoted to being the director of creative affairs, where my job was basically to help determine which projects we wanted to purchase, develop and produce. So I read lots and lots of screenplays and heard lots and lots of pitches.

Alex Ferrari 3:29
Okay, now, with now, you just dropped that little bit like you were an intern on Titanic, so I'm not gonna let that go. Please tell me a little bit about that experience.

Stephanie Palmer 3:44
Well, I can tell you that my first job on that was to drive boxes that I was not to open over the Mexican border. Because I look like a nice innocent girl from Iowa, which I am and I think the production staff thought, Well, she's not going to get stopped by Border Patrol. In retrospect, I never should have done that and I would not do that again. But as I was a college student and desperate like wow, I don't know anything. I'm going to be on this giant movie how exciting I'll do whatever they asked me. That was my first job.

Alex Ferrari 4:19
Wow, so you were meal basically?

Stephanie Palmer 4:22
Pretty much Yeah, I don't I truly don't know what was in the boxes. But it was very clear I was there you don't know what the No, I have no idea. Yeah, no.

Alex Ferrari 4:34
And I had a few friends of mine who worked on on Titanic too, and I and I've heard the legendary stories of Mr. Cameron and and you know how he was back then. I'm assuming you can concur.

Stephanie Palmer 4:48
Yes. I mean, the funny thing was is I one of my jobs was also to be in the production office and just be basically like a runner or anything that they needed and so I did my best to just disappear When I'd be there unless there was something that was needed, and it was pretty amazing to get to sponge in that information and see how decisions were made, to see who whose opinion was listened to, and who was ignored, just to be sort of in that pressure cooker of so many decisions happening. I mean, there was so much at stake. At that time. No one thought they were making a huge, financially successful movie, everyone thought that it was going to be the most expensive movie ever made. You know the bombs. Right.

Alex Ferrari 5:31
Right, right. Yeah, I've heard I've heard. I mean, we've all studied and know that story quite well. But yes, it's so interesting to hear. It's so interesting to hear from from somebody who was actually inside the belly of the beast. So Young like you just starting off like you were a seasoned pro in the belly of the beast, you were a innocent little lamb.

Stephanie Palmer 5:50
Yes, I was totally innocent. Don't misunderstand me that anyone was consulting my opinion on certain things? I mean, maybe what kind of cups we should have, you know, in the coffee machine or something. But was I physically there? And did I get to witness you know, get to be on the giant set, where on the water where one side looks like the Titanic. And the other side is a giant construction site with the big, you know, industrial cranes and elevators, and all of the extra speaking Spanish and they're beautiful, you know, Titanic gear, playing cards and drinking soda and whatever.

Alex Ferrari 6:32
So I mean, so you go right from Titanic, then I guess you go to another small company like Jerry Bruckheimer, which is, you become an assistant there. And you tell me what you learned while being at that company, which is obviously in its in its heyday. And he's still very big, obviously today. But there was a moment in time for about 20 years to serve more than Jerry was making some of the biggest movies going out in Hollywood. So how was it? How was it? What did you learn from that experience?

Stephanie Palmer 7:04
It was fascinating. The best part of my job was that I got to listen in on phone calls. And it was my first experience, realizing that it's a common Hollywood practice where executives would have an assistant and the assistant is listening in, you know, on both sides. So there'll be two people having a conversation, but there's actually for people listening in that that's standard practice. But it was fascinating to me that I got to really listen into all the negotiations and all the pitches and any, you know, rolling calls and placing calls for my boss, and just really getting to see how deals happen at that really high level. Because obviously, I mean, at that time, but still is definitely the case. People want to be in business with Jerry because he gets movies and TV shows made at a very high level at a very high level. People want to work with them.

Alex Ferrari 7:55
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I remember the first time I was on a call with an executive. And that happened to me, like the assistant just like, you know, hey, Tom, did you get that and just then I'm like, What the hell just happened was tying

Stephanie Palmer 8:10
in the charade, it's so silly. That's a charade that people pretend that the person isn't listening in but they both know that they are and it's so silly, but

Alex Ferrari 8:20
It is. Now while you were at a Jerry Bruckheimer his company, did you hear any pitches that actually that we that turned into a movie that we might know or have a TV show that might know?

Stephanie Palmer 8:30
I'm sure. Remember the Titans was pitched while I was there. Coyote Ugly was pitched while I was there. Is it called down on under I'm thinking there was a Scott Rosenberg kangaroo project. From my head, whatever that one was,

Alex Ferrari 8:49
that was pitch Jerry was Jerry McDonald was in that right?

Stephanie Palmer 8:53
Yeah, that one. A lot of TV division was basically just starting at that time. So I mean, they just kind of exploded out of the gates. So a lot of TV shows were pitched during that time. And they just have a huge development slate. So there were there were always multiple projects that you know, from deep development, development, pre production, in production and post production basically all happening at the same time.

Alex Ferrari 9:22
So you know, I mean, you have exactly as I say, at an early part in your career, you had access to basically the upper echelon of Hollywood, essentially, whether you being an intern or an assistant, you were you were playing with the boys not maybe at their level yet, but at least you would there you were a fly on the wall, and that must have been invalidly.

Stephanie Palmer 9:41
So it was, it was an incredible experience.

Alex Ferrari 9:46
Now, let me ask you a question, you heard 1000s of pitches, I'm sure 1000s and 1000s of pitches over the years. Why do some pitches connect and others don't? Is there a secret sauce or some sort

Stephanie Palmer 9:59
I think There are some things that people do well when pitching that anyone can implement. And it doesn't matter the kind of project that you have, I mean, some pitches, some projects are naturally more easily pitched. You know, a lot of comedies are generally easier to pitch, or movies that are simpler in plot than character driven pieces or multiple storylines that are, you know, interwoven project like, a lot harder to give a verbal pitch for. But for any project, one of my simple the simplest piece of advice, but that so many people neglect to do is to lead with genre. So if you're going to give a verbal pitch, it's that genre that gives context to the listener. And without that crucial piece of information, it's easy for the person who's hearing the pitch to make incorrect assumptions about their story and get confused. So for example, the writer tells me that he's got a story that involves the CIA, I could assume it's a thriller, like Three Days of the Condor, when it's really a drama, like the Good Shepherd or a comedy, like Meet the Parents. So simply saying My project is a romantic comedy, or my project is an action thriller, is the first, my first tip, it's so simple, it's those it's something that anyone can do. But it's shocking how rare that is.

Alex Ferrari 11:32
Really, people just going into their story, and that tell you the context of their story, because they forget it. So

Stephanie Palmer 11:38
thriller, and spy is a spy, there's a spy, they start talking all about the spy, and then the spy start. So you either think it's a drama or a thriller, or a comedy, but then whatever you think the character starts acting in a really ridiculous way. You're like, What are they talking about? Why are these people dying? I thought it was a comedy, or vice versa. And so just simply describing the genre at the beginning is key.

Alex Ferrari 12:02
Okay, now, are there beats in a pitch? Like, is there a pace that you should follow? Is there some sort of code like, you know, obviously, there's a structure for screenplays? Is there a structure to a pitch?

Stephanie Palmer 12:13
There can be if it's not one size fits all, because obviously, projects are so different. I'm looking for a pitch to be memorable and repeatable. Because it's extremely rare that the first time you pitch a project, someone says, Yes, I want to buy it. The way that projects are purchased is that you pitch it to one person, maybe you pitch it to a producer, and the producer says, Oh, I'm really interested. Okay, now let me take it to a financier. Let me take it to a studio and they re pitch it. And then the studio executive, you know, Junior studio executive says, Okay, let me pitch it to my boss, who's the president of the studio. It's like, you need to have something that's repeatable, and memorable so that if someone's hearing it for the first time, they can say, Okay, I got it, I'm going to go re pitch this to someone else on my team or someone up the chain.

Alex Ferrari 13:00
What you just explained, sounds just torturous. All the bureaucracy that goes on to like, I gotta be this guy than this guy. And this guy, and this, you might have to be pitched this thing 1015 times

Stephanie Palmer 13:12
before if you're 110 50. I mean, 100. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 13:17
yeah, you're right, because you're constantly pitching to the actors you're taking pitching to different. Yeah, I guess you're right. Any actor

Stephanie Palmer 13:22
you know, you should be in it. Here's why other executives financier's, that's a huge process, the marketing department. I mean, all the way and, and at the end, a lot of times, if it's a really good pitch, it's that same pitch that's frequently used in the trailer to pitch the movie to a potential audience.

Alex Ferrari 13:43
So pitching is basically a skill set that most people don't have. And it's probably one of the most crucial in filmmaking in general,

Stephanie Palmer 13:52
I think it's the second most crucial, I think, one you have to be able to write if you're a writer, you have to be able to write without that. There's nothing. But if you have that skill, and that talent, the next most important as far as having a successful career is being able to pitch effectively. People who are good in a room, like if there's two people who have an equal equally, beautifully written script, the person who pitches it more effectively, their movie is going to get made, they're going to get hired.

Alex Ferrari 14:20
It's all about marketing. And this is just another form of marketing, marketing. The idea of is you're basically marketing the idea, exactly. pitches. So how long? How long do you have as a general statement, to grab someone with a pitch? Do you have 30 seconds? Do you have a minute or before they just start tuning out? Like how long do you really have to grab somebody or is it just varies per person, I guess.

Stephanie Palmer 14:48
I know that I don't have a specific number. I feel like it's under 90 seconds. I mean, it's amazing how long 90 seconds can be like for example I'm going to be leading the pitch conference at the American Film market this Saturday, and just this week have been reviewing, so anyone who wants to pitch from the stage submits a video. And to me, and then I review them with this other panel, and we decide who's going to pitch from the stage. And those pitches are limited to two minutes. But it is amazing how long two minutes is. I mean, it is so hard to pay attention for a two minute pitch.

Alex Ferrari 15:29
Yeah, absolutely. That's sad many, many, many film festivals watching the short films sometimes and you just features and use like, Oh, my God, just stop. With this is the longest 20 minutes longest five minutes of my life,

Stephanie Palmer 15:47
right? And you You want it? Yes, you want it to be great, but two minutes can be very, very long. So the goal for an effective pitch is really to pitch it as simply and as short as you can make it. That still conveys the idea clearly.

Alex Ferrari 16:05
Now, what's the what most turns you off about a pitch?

Stephanie Palmer 16:12
I mean, if there's nothing that makes you care about any of the characters or want to find out what's going to happen. I mean, I think the surprising thing about a lot of pitches is just how, when you that the people are so close to their project, they love it, they know it so well, that they have lost perspective on what someone who's hearing it for the first time needs to know to be able to understand. I mean, a lot of pitches are totally incomprehensible. They're all over the place. You really can't say I have no as someone will finish pitching, I'll be like, I have no idea what you're talking about. Who is the main character? What is the setting? What happens in the story? What happens in the beginning, middle and an end? There are a lot of in No idea.

Alex Ferrari 16:58
Because Because writers they just they just know the story so well that they assume certain things that they're pitching, and forget those little details.

Stephanie Palmer 17:08
And it's totally understandable. Yeah, completely, it's totally understandable. Because you're so close to the characters, you're so close into all the details. But you forget, you know the characters so well. But the audience or the person listening is hearing that for the very first time.

Alex Ferrari 17:24
Right, exactly. Now, this is something I know a lot of people don't do. And I'd love for to get some insight from you what they should do. What kind of research should a writer or filmmaker do on a company or an executive before they pitched the story?

Stephanie Palmer 17:40
Great question. This is so key. So key to having a successful pitch. It is figuring out basically, any individual company studio production company is looking to replicate their past success. So if they have had a movie or TV show that has done really well, the more that your project can be, if it's in a similar genre, that's great. If it has a similar main character, or millea, or budget range, even anything that's similar to what they have done in the past that has done well, it's just going to increase the odds that your project will sell. It doesn't mean that they're looking to make the identical movie again, although, frankly, sometimes people are, it's more like, it's more like it's more like, okay, they really figured out how to market this indie thriller, or they really figured out how to market this mainstream High School comedy. And so they know what that audience is looking for. They know the channels to get this out there. They know what it takes. And so they already are looking for Okay, we figured it out what this one now where some worth another project that we can, you know, release next year at the same time for the same audience that's going to deliver the same experience that this previous success did.

Alex Ferrari 19:08
So a lot of times people just go ahead. No, that's a lot of times a lot of people will, you know, some people I'm imagining would have at some point in time have pitched horror movies to Disney.

Stephanie Palmer 19:20
Oh, absolutely. Definitely. Definitely. And that's just lack of research. Yeah. And so it's figuring out what has, what has this company done in the past? What do they currently have in development? Anything that you can find out about the specific people that you're meeting? One of the questions that I like to ask in a meeting is what's something that you're excited about this year, or something, you know, a sort of open ended question that gives the executive or the producer that you're meeting, a chance to brag about something that they're working on, you know, like, Oh, we just made this big deal with this project. I'm really excited about it, but it also gives you an insight into what's working well, for that person.

Alex Ferrari 20:05
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Stephanie Palmer 20:15
So if there's a way for your project to have similar themes or similar budget or similar timeframe, or any of the aspects, you know, you can tell what's important to the person by asking them to brag about themselves, basically,

Alex Ferrari 20:32
that is a beautiful tip. It's a really, really beautiful tip because that is anytime you can have somebody that you're trying to pitch feel good about themselves and talk about

Stephanie Palmer 20:45
they're just gonna like you, you know, you're getting them like you because you're making them feel good about themselves.

Alex Ferrari 20:52
It's it's, it's communication one on one, but it's something that a lot of people don't do. So can you talk a little bit about the business side of being a writer, a lot of writers just like, I just want to write, I just want to this, you know, I just want to tell my story. I don't want to get into the Hollywood business side of stuff, I'm like, well, then you're never ever going to make it as a as a writer or the filmmaker. So can you talk a little bit from your perspective of writers, because I know you work a lot with writers, what they should do, how to they structure their career, what house should they come out to the town? What kind of projects should it things like that.

Stephanie Palmer 21:30
I'm happy to talk anything business, I'm happy to talk money, any anything you want to talk about. I'm happy to talk about it. For me, for writers, the biggest mistake that I see many writers who want to break in do is that they have a number, they know that they need to have more than one project, or a lot of people know that. So which is the case, you definitely need to have, at minimum two to three really polished projects before you start marketing yourself and really try to break in. It's not a business where you're one, it's going to be a one hit wonder, like people always say to me, oh, I'm willing to be a one hit wonder, I want to be a one hit wonder. But that really isn't possible. It's too competitive, it's too competitive. And people need to know, agents are only interested in working with people who are going to have enough longevity and enough projects to be able to sell multiple projects. Because the first projects rarely sell for very much, the agent makes very little money at the beginning. So they want to know, oh, I'm going to be this with this person and representing them over a period of years and a number of deals to make it financially worth me investing in this person. So there really isn't the way to do it as a one hit wonder, in general. But as I was saying before, the biggest mistake that I see a lot of people make is that they write a bunch of different projects in different genres. And also different mediums like they might have a TV show, they might have a reality show. They also have a indie thriller, and they have a studio comedy. And they believe, or they think, Okay, this is really going to show that I have a lot of range, and I can write a bunch of different things. But unfortunately, how that is perceived is more like the jack of all trades, master of none. And that executive the decision makers who are hiring writers want to hire specialists, like they want to hire the person who knows everything that there is to know about comic book movies for their comic book movie, or they want to hire the person who has watched, every horror movie knows the ins and outs of everything that's coming out in the future has been done in the past, what are the classics and make sure that their horror movie really delivers for that, you know, the horror fanatic audience, they don't want someone who they're not looking to hire someone to write a bunch of different projects, it's really the way to break through is to be a specialist in one area. So I recommend that people develop multiple projects in a similar genre. They don't have to all be identical, but at least closely related so that they can show that they have a specialty. Then when they break in, and they've they've shown that they have the facility and expertise in one area. At that point, it is so much easier to branch out and do something else. But you can't try and break in with a wide variety of genres and mediums like it's it's different. It's a different business. It's a different career path to become a TV writer than it is to become a film screenwriter.

Alex Ferrari 24:37
Oh absolutely. It's two different worlds what TV writers are, guess I would imagine that well TV you work a lot more like you You have a steady paycheck. If you're if you're on a show as opposed to screenwriter. Maybe one year you get paid maybe the other year a

Stephanie Palmer 24:54
different model. Yeah, it's a different model, but also the TV writing is generally done in the US. First, like it is an office job where you go to the office and you work with a team of people, whereas screenwriters generally work by themselves at home or, you know, maybe they have an office space, but they're working solely on their own. And on a project that has a long timeframe, whereas TV is tight deadlines, working on a team in an office, extremely intensely.

Alex Ferrari 25:23
Right, exactly, exactly. Yeah, that's a good point. Because I think a lot of filmmakers and writers in general make that mistake, like I'm going to, as a filmmaker, you're like, I'm going to make a comedy. And I'm going to make a horror movie that I'm going to make an action movie and you send it out, and people are like, well, what are you like you? You can't do that just yet.

Stephanie Palmer 25:40
It's not Yeah, and that agents don't know how to sell people who have a bunch of different projects. So it makes them less interested. And something that a lot of people say to me also is like, well, but I don't want to be pigeonholed. And I found that. But I say, why wouldn't you want to be pigeonholed, that means that you are known for doing something really, really well. And likely you are paid extremely well. Like the people who are known for doing something very specific, like whether it's the Michael Bay or its David Mamet or any Guillermo del Toro anyone, anyone who you can who has an identifiable niche or brands you're like, Yeah, but people keep coming back to that person. They keep offering the movies, they keep offering them more and more money to do movies in that genre. It doesn't mean that you always have to say yes to those things. But wouldn't you so much rather be in that position where you're turning down work because you have this great reputation in a particular area? then having no one want to work with you and not having any jobs? Because you're worried about being pigeonholed?

Alex Ferrari 26:48
Right I'm still looking forward to the Quentin Tarantino comedy slap.

Stephanie Palmer 26:57
I will be doing that as well.

Alex Ferrari 27:00
I think I think people could argue that a lot of his movies are a little bit

Stephanie Palmer 27:05
comedy. Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 27:06
He's is he is a he's a wonderful comedic writer. But I want like a Naked Gun naked go. kwinter Geno's, Naked Gun that I would I would you know, Tarantino's airplane, you know, that's what I'm looking for.

Stephanie Palmer 27:23
Someone will make a short of that and put it on YouTube, I'm sure.

Alex Ferrari 27:27
I'm sure I'm gonna be a perfect example. You said Michael Bay, like, I mean, Michael Bay is Michael Bay. And he is he's, he's great. As well at what he does, he makes amazing pretty pictures if you like, and as a filmmaker, you don't like him as a filmmaker. At least he is known for doing that. You can argue that his images are just stunning. Like what he they are on the screen. They're stunning. And there's nobody there. Honestly, there is nobody else in the business who does what he does. Like they call it Bay ham. It's an actual term for it. You know, it's like it. You know, when anytime you get like a Terran Tino is, you know, when you get to that level of specialty. And you know, Woody Allen that it will it will the Allen asked Robert? Yes, yes. You know, then you have arrived at a certain level in your career where like, that's a niche. That's that's the specific thing they do. And now you know, I mean, look at Spielberg for God's sakes, we start off in a horror movie, basically a thriller with Jaws, and I blew him up. He did a couple before that, but, but duel was similar. And then he kind of branched off into other things. But it took him time to get out of that. And then we will talk about 1941. Because he doesn't want to talk about 1940. So let me ask you, what inspired you to create good in a room and give back to writers and filmmakers? Well, I

Stephanie Palmer 28:49
had been an executive for a number of years, and I felt I had gotten to work on all these different projects. And I really liked the production process. And I loved the development process. But the life of being a studio executive is very stressful. And there really are breaks. I mean, it's a it's a job where you have to be on call 24 hours a day, and I just sort of saw my future and thinking, How much longer do I want this to be my day to day existence? And I knew that the end was coming. It wasn't something where I said, Okay, now I want to move up and be, you know, work my way up to being a studio president or CEO, something like that. That was it just came to a point where that wasn't the lifestyle that I wanted to have. And so I was thinking, well, how can I take this experience that I've had, and take the best part of my job, which is working with writers, that's the part that I love and would do all the time anytime? How could I make that what I do on a day to day basis, and so I thought about it for a while and took some business classes and decided that I would start a consulting firm so when I left MGM, I started getting a room It's now been almost 10 years, which is hard to believe. And I

Alex Ferrari 30:05
You're 21, aren't you?

Stephanie Palmer 30:07
Yes, I am absolutely. I I'm aging backwards. I so I started working one on one, just coaching writers who were pitching projects. And out of that I was interviewed on some TV shows and got a book deal. And so I wrote my book, also called good in the room. And that was published by Random House. And then it continued to expand my consulting business and now have created some online courses. Just because I wanted I knew that one, I can't consult with everybody that wants to just because I'm one person and you know, it's not a scalable business to work one on one you can only I can only meet with so many people in a day. And then that I also wanted to make the information that I share in console's in helping people pitch more effectively and sell their scripts that I wanted that to be available to people wherever they were in the US, especially if they didn't live in Los Angeles. And for a lot of people. I know living in Los Angeles isn't possible, but they still want to get their work considered. And so I've created an online course, that is called How to be a professional writer. And it is a series of videos and ebooks that people can work through to really see how projects are sold, what they need to do to get their work considered.

Alex Ferrari 31:28
Very cool. Very cool. Not Can you tell me a little bit about because I saw, I saw online a video of yours that you were talking about your experience pitching good in a room to the publishers talk a little bit about that experience, which is ironic, but yet very entertaining.

Stephanie Palmer 31:46
Well, so I was interviewed on NPR, the business, which is awesome show that's still going on, it's still on the air, or on the radio. And after I was on the business, I got a phone call from an agent, actually one of the biggest book agents in the world, even though I didn't know him. And he said, You know, I think that what you have is worthy of being a book, I think you should write it, why don't you write a book proposal and then come to New York, and I think I can help you sell it. I was like, This never happens. But amazing, great. Okay, I'll do it. And so I ran out and got every book about how to write a book proposal and put together my proposal and went to New York, was all excited and got into the first meeting with publisher and they were asking me, you know, like, sat down on the couch in the meeting. And there's the executives, and they're like, you know, so tell me about your book. And I just totally froze, because I had not ever been in the position of being the writer actually pitching. I was always the person on the other side of the desk, asking him questions of the writer. And so even though I, obviously my book is called good in a room. In that first meeting, I absolutely wasn't, it was mortifying, and then I went back to my hotel room and got my act together and was like, Oh, my gosh, that's horrible. And thankfully, I had other meetings that week where I, you know, focused on, I got my materials together, and I then was able to deliver a good meeting. But it was kind of a shocking role reversal that you would think I would have known ahead of time, but it all happened so fast that I just, I was caught

Alex Ferrari 33:25
off guard. You were caught off guard. And then thank God your books around now to help people like

Stephanie Palmer 33:33
I can go back and read my own book The next time to make sure that I prepared. Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 33:41
So I'm at it when you were at MGM, you were basically the gatekeeper, right, the first level of getting movies made, right. Yep. So are there Can you tell me any funny stories of a pitch that you were just like, what is this?

Stephanie Palmer 33:58
Well, there were certainly people who would come in costume. There was one gentleman who came in wearing only a diaper and holding a large samurai sword. That standard out.

Alex Ferrari 34:10
I love that. I love that movie. By the way, that's my favorite for samurai sword movie.

Stephanie Palmer 34:19
There also was a couple brothers sister writing team who were pitching a romantic comedy and they were acting out the main characters until the point that they were leaning in for a kiss. Oh, um, they didn't kiss but it was extremely uncomfortable. There also was someone of this poor gentleman who was so nervous and I think he'd been drinking. But he left he was so nervous and sweaty that he left a writer shaped sweat stain on my couch.

Alex Ferrari 34:57
Brilliant Yeah. room the second edition.

Stephanie Palmer 35:04
It would be called Bad in a room. Yeah, bad in a room? Yes, it's

Alex Ferrari 35:08
a sequel bad in a room. Wow. So I'm assuming that people that come in and costume, that's not a good sign, or is that have you have you guys gotten the job?

Stephanie Palmer 35:18
I mean, it's funny. I generally don't like gimmicks like that. I mean, I think because really you're especially at the studio level, you're going to, if you hire this person, it's going to be for, you know, a minimum of about $100,000, you're going to be working with them over a year, it's not like you just buy their project, and then say, Sayonara never talked to them again, you're going to be developing the project with this person. And so you want them to be a professional. So in general, I'm not a fan of gimmicks. But there are times and there certainly are stories of people who have brought in some sort of Prop or video reel or something that really tells the story in a unique way. So it's not that I'm so I can't say no visual aids ever. But in general, things that are gimmicky don't really, in my opinion, don't really help the the story you want, you want to be able to tell the story in a really compelling way that the executive can see the movie and then say, yes, this is a movie I want to see.

Alex Ferrari 36:20
Now, you brought a good point up when you said video reel, Are there times where people come in and use video as a pitch tool. Like they literally just play a DVD of a story either. How would we send proof of concept? Is it done talking? Is it animatics, what

Stephanie Palmer 36:38
all of the above is visual aids, if they have any sort of animation, or there's some sort of creature or they want to show visual, a sense of, especially if they want to direct certainly that's even more common. But but but people are doing more and more demos to prove the concept that they're pitching. This is also kind of a slippery slope. Because especially at the studio level, people have such high expectations for production value that even though it may be amazing, and it is amazing the things that filmmakers can do you know, from their home computer, it may not live up to what a studio can do, because their budget is just so obscenely high for creating, you know, a trailer or proof of concept reel or something. But there definitely have been people who, who can create something that's really compelling. And they they need to show it in video for a movie to get made. And that does happen with some frequency certainly.

Alex Ferrari 37:39
So I, I don't know if you knew this, but I come from a post production background. And I've been a VFX supervisor and post supervisor and all sorts everything in posts I've done at one point or another. And in any filmmakers many times will, you were saying the high level of production value. They a lot of independent film that tried to do visual effects, they'll do them and they'll try to be so ambitious with it. And I keep telling them like, you know, sometimes I get this conversation of like, Alright, so I have this shot. Did you see that shot in Avengers? I'm like, you need to stop right there. You can't afford craft services or the coffee budget Avengers. Okay? Let it go. You need to do something that's within the realm of doing what you can do very, very well, as a beautiful mind to be so ambitious, you know, I would rather be able to hit a nail on a hammer really, really well and try to build the house by myself beautifully

Stephanie Palmer 38:35
said, totally support that. Yes. Second.

Alex Ferrari 38:40
So, um, are there any final advice you would give on delivering an amazing pitch?

Stephanie Palmer 38:48
Um, let's see. I will say that. Um, well, one thing that is super common, that is also easy for people not to do is don't give a positive opinion of your own work. So for example, this is a great story, and you're gonna love it. I mean, how many times have you heard that right? Or this is gonna be amazing, right? So just like every parent, including me thinks their child is brilliant. And every dog owner thinks that their pet is adorable. It's expected that you are a fan of your own work. But some other things to say. Besides not to say Besides, you're going to love this or like don't say this will be number one at the box office. This is going to win the Oscar for Best Picture. This has great international appeal. It's really really funny. It's commercial, any of that sort of stuff. Instead let the listener form their own opinion.

Alex Ferrari 39:44
That's excellent. Excellent advice. Now when you when you're talking you brought you brought a question to mind. I've always heard that. A lot of times when you pitching, you should. You should try to be like it's Pulp Fiction. kangaroo jack?

Stephanie Palmer 40:02
kangaroo jack by the movie you thought of it? Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 40:04
I know. Obviously, like people combined, it's like the matrix meats, you know, you know, unnecessary roughness? I don't know, right? Yeah, those people do that good. Is that that? Is that good or bad?

Stephanie Palmer 40:21
I'm anti. This means that phenomenon, a lot of people promoted. But those are not the people who are buying projects, it is important for you to have an answer. When someone asks you, what project is yours? Most likely? Because that is a very common question. So you do want to have an answer for that. And a lot of times what people are asking is really about tone. Like, how broad is the comedy? Or how severe is the violence? Or the you know, how serious is the sex? Is it just light handed? Are you really seeing, you know, penetration, or whatever it is. They're really asking about tone then. But people often misconstrue this to think that it's about plot or about characters. And so if people lead with this meets that, what often happens is that the person who's listening is going to be going along sort of ticking in their mind. How is this most like Pulp Fiction? How is this like kangaroo jack, where's the kangaroo? Where's the whatever, instead of thinking instead of listening to the story as an original idea, they're just like listening to it as a hack of these two things. And I don't think that's the best way to present a project. And so often the way that people choose this means that I mean, they're totally bizarre and totally off so that you're sitting there listening, you're like, this is like kangaroo jack, or whatever it is. And so that's, that's not so do have an answer for what your project is most like particularly regarding the tone. But don't lead with this means that

Alex Ferrari 41:58
and if you do have that title, or that movie in your in your back pocket, try not to choose a movie that's bombed. Oh, really? It's really like

Stephanie Palmer 42:13
I mean, in my first studio meeting, when I was an executive, and I had found a project that was really like election you remember the Reese Witherspoon? I mean, elections, a great movie. So I was like, This is gonna be the next election and my boss looks across the table at me. And he was like, never say that movie again. Like, okay,

Alex Ferrari 42:34
because they might

Stephanie Palmer 42:34
have like, it was a box office bomb. Yeah, it bombed right. Even though it's a terrific movie, I think. So yeah. only keep your references to things that have been financially successful. If you're, if you're talking to anyone who's a potential buyer or investor financier. That's the they're looking for

Alex Ferrari 42:53
that simple tip. Because I've had people pitch me things, and they're like, it's kinda like Howard the Duck. I'm like, stop. Why are you Why? Why would I want to do that? Right? Yeah. How were the duck is a genius movie. It's very under appreciated. I'm just saying. Okay, so so my last two questions are the most hard hitting and tough so prepare yourself. I'm ready. What are your top What are your top three favorite films of all time? And what is the most one of the most underrated films that you've seen?

Stephanie Palmer 43:27
Oh my gosh, these are hard hitting for me because I really terrible at this kind of question because it's constantly changing. And every time another actor I hang up and I'm like, Oh, I didn't get the right answer. I will say at one of my favorites et at the moment Father of the Bride I know it's no you know, wow we ever made but it's just it's just a classic that's playing around in my house at this moment. And God, I really am totally drawing a blank. I mean, I'll watch Pulp Fiction any day. I mean, there's never enough time to watch that bazillion times and under appreciated let's think I'm trying to think of their election sure. I mean, I think that's totally under appreciated. I love that movie. And I would watch it again right now it's been years since I've seen it. So actually, I wonder if it still holds up but I bet it does.

Alex Ferrari 44:33
Right. And I think we could both agree that Pulp Fiction would have been better with a kangaroo and obviously I'm just saying I'm just say Jerry, Jerry miss out. I'm just saying.

Stephanie Palmer 44:49
Really.

Alex Ferrari 44:51
So where where can people find you?

Stephanie Palmer 44:55
I am easily finable on the web. My website is good in a room calm, and I have Lots of free resources available for filmmakers, lots of screenplays, people can read and also articles for people to help who are going to be pitching a project to give them advice about what they should and shouldn't do. So good in the room COMM And I'm also on Twitter at good in the room and have a Facebook page, also called Getting a rim.

Alex Ferrari 45:20
Great brandy,

Stephanie Palmer 45:21
Thank you. It's consistent, if nothing else,

Alex Ferrari 45:26
Exactly. Stephanie Thank you so much for for being on the show. I really do appreciate it.

Stephanie Palmer 45:32
It is my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 45:35
I don't know about you guys. But I'm going to be working on my pitches going forward after reading her book, Stephanie's book, good in a room, I really realized a lot of the things I was doing wrong in doing my pitches. And pitching is such an important part of filmmaking. As a director, as a screenwriter, as a costume designer, you're always pitching your ideas, you're always selling your ideas in one way, shape, or form. So being as it's basically you're marketing yourself, you're selling yourself but you're selling your ideas, and how to be able to do that with very short amount of time and have in very tight quarters, sometimes like an elevator to be able to express your ideas will give you definitely a leg up on the competition, if you will, moving forward and getting projects made getting screenplay sold, getting movie gigs, and so on. And I think it's definitely a skill that everybody in the world can use in one way shape or form. You're always selling your ideas you're always pitching. Even if it's to your wife on where you want to go to dinner that night or what movie you want to watch. It's a pitch it's a sales pitch of one way shape or form so I've really thanks Stephanie for being on the show. She was awesome. And definitely check her book out good in a room I'll leave all of her links and a link to her book in the show notes which you can get at indiefilmhustle.com/049 and please guys, don't forget to head over to filmmaking podcast calm and leave us an honest review of the show. It really helps us out a lot. Thanks again for all the support guys. We really appreciate it. Hope you got a lot out of this one. Keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you guys soon.

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