The Bulletproof Screenwriting® Podcast shows you how to make your screenplays bulletproof by interviewing the top screenwriters, story consultants & authors in the film industry. They discuss the craft and business of screenwriting. This is the screenwriting podcast for the rest of us. No fluff. No BS. Just straight talk that will help you on your screenwriting journey.
Some of the past guests include 3X Oscar® Winning Writer/Director Oliver Stone, James V. Hart (Dracula, Hook), John August (Big Fish, Aladdin), Jim Uhls ( Fight Club), Peter Rader (Waterworld), Diane Drake (What Women Want), Daniel Knauf (Carnival, Blacklist), Derek Kolstad (John Wick) and Pen Densham (Robin Hood, Backdraft) to name a few.
BPS 143: How To Become a Professional Screenwriter with Brooke Elms
Brooks Elms has written more than 25 scripts over the term of his career for companies like Gold Circle Films, Base FX, and Broken Road.
We connected through a mutual friend and I couldn’t wait to have him on the Bulletproof Screenwriting podcast.
Elms is a member of the Writers Guild Of America and a part-time screenwriting instructor at UCLA Extension where he's shared his filmmaking and plot structuring skills with his students since 2016 through two classes he currently teaches; Story Analysis for Film & TV, and Story Development.
You may have seen films and television series he's directed such as The Ultimate Fighter, Snapshots from a .500 Season, Montauk Highway, Drew, Trip and Zoey and So Happy Together.
Elms have consulted with all levels of creatives across Hollywood, including studio directors, rewrites for the oscar-winning writer while also writing and directing his own indie feature films.
In his free time, Elms loves to coach other writers who have a burning ambition to deeply serve their audiences. We both should be working on a project of mine in the near future, so stay tuned.
I’m always down for a good screenwriting 101 conversation and my interview with Brooks will not disappoint
Enjoy my conversation on how to become a professional screenwriter with Brooke Elms.
BPS 142: Changing Television Forever with David Chase
The legacy of the crime drama television series, The Sopranos remains a defining art of storytelling for mob TV shows. We have the genius behind this hit TV series, David Chase as our guest today.
As expected, Chase is a twenty-five-time Emmy Awards-winner, seven times Golden Globes winner, and highly acclaimed producer, writer, and director. His forty-year career in Hollywood has contributed immensely to the experience of quality TV.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of Chase, let’s do a brief of the HBO 1999 hit show, The Sopranos: Produced by HBO, Chase Films, and Brad Grey Television, the story ran for six seasons, revolving around Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini, a New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster, portraying the difficulties that he faces as he tries to balance his family life with his role as the leader of a criminal organization.
The series has been the subject of critical analysis, controversy, and parody, and has spawned books, a video game, soundtrack albums, podcasts, and assorted merchandise. During its run, the film earned multiple awards, including the Peabody, Primetime Emmy, and the Golden Globe Awards.
Even though David has continued to dominate his craft, with other works like The Rockford Files, I'll Fly Away, Not Fade Away, Northern Exposure, Almost Grown, Switch, etc, he is still most known for his television directorial debut, The Sopranos.
The genius is back with the Sopranos prequel, The Many Saints of Newark, which stars Alessandro Nivola and James Gandolfini’s son Michael Gandolfini as a young Tony Soprano. It has been in theaters and on HBO Max since October 1, 2021.
The plot explores the life of Young Anthony Soprano. Before Tony Soprano, there was Dickie Moltisanti, Tony’s uncle. Young Anthony Soprano is growing up in one of the most tumultuous eras in Newark's history, becoming a man just as rival gangsters begin to rise up and challenge the all-powerful DiMeo crime family's hold over the increasingly race-torn city.
Caught up in the changing times is the uncle he idolizes, Dickie Moltisanti, who struggles to manage both his professional and personal responsibilities-and whose influence over his nephew will help make the impressionable teenager into the all-powerful mob boss we'll later come to know: Tony Soprano.
We also talk a bit about David’s five-year, first-look deal to create shows for HBO parent WarnerMedia. More culture moments, please!
Let’s get into the chat, shall we?
Enjoy my entertaining conversation with David Chase.
BPS 141: Selling Palm Springs for $17.5 Million at Sundance with Max Barbakow
I believe that most indie filmmakers have a dream of making a feature film, getting accepted to the Sundance Film Festival, and that film would be fought over in a massive bidding war that generates millions of dollars for the filmmakers. I’ve called this dream the lottery ticket mentally. I always say that someone wins the lottery every week somewhere.
Well, today’s guest is that lottery ticket winner. Today on the show we have director Max Barbakow, the filmmaker behind the largest sale at Sundance in history. His film Palm Springs sold for a record-breaking $17.5 million and .69¢. Those last cents are what broke the record.
The film stars Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, and J.K. Simmons and was acquired by NEON and Hulu at the festival.
When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honor Sarah have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated when they find themselves unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other.
I’ve always wanted to know what it was like to be a fly on the wall during a bidding war at Sundance. In today’s episode, I take you through the improbable journey of this first-time feature filmmaker and his adventures of getting his film Palms Springs from the page to the Sundance record books.
You can watch Palm Springs on Hulu.
Enjoy my conversation with Max Barbakow.
BPS 140: The NO Bullsh*t Guide to Making Your Indie Film with Jeff Leisawitz
The NO Bullsh*t Guide to Making Your Indie Film with Jeff Leisawitz
Have you ever been in a place where nothing is going right creatively? Do you ever feel like you are standing in your own way? Me too. Today's guest is author Jeff Leisawitz who wrote Not F*ing Around— the No Bullsh*t Guide for Getting Your Creative Dreams Off the Ground. This little pack is quite a punch.
I wanted to have Jeff on the show to drop some knowledge bombs to wake up the tribe a bit. To help you get out of your own way; to get you out of any creative rut.
This guidebook is a manual for creatives who can't quite get their creative juices flowing? The day job sucking your soul? Fizzled out before you put the finishing touches on your amazing creation? With relentless positivity, full-on authenticity, and a punk rock thunder spirit, author Jeff Leisawitz pulls back the curtain on the creative process and reminds us that we are all creative SuperStars.
It's time to get off the couch and get on the path. It's time to tap into the cosmic heartbeat that thumps in your chest and shines from your soul. It's time to get NFA!
About Jeff Leisawitz: Jeff is an award-winning musician/ producer, a critically acclaimed author, and an internationally distributed filmmaker who has devoted his life to creativity.
As the guy behind Electron Love Theory, Jeff fused interviews with Seattle’s WTO demonstrators into electronic music, garnering more than a quarter-million downloads worldwide. Jeff has released five studio albums and has landed thousands of music placements in film, TV, and multimedia for clients like HBO, MTV, Discovery, Microsoft, NBC, and many others.
As the founding writer for Seattle’s taste-making alternative rock station 107.7 The End, he chronicled the alternative grunge scene in the 90s.
After training as a Life Coach and practicing NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Re-Patterning) Jeff landed a gig as an adjunct faculty member at Pacific Lutheran University— teaching college students to rock. (Seriously)
When creative businesses, schools, and organizations like Brown Paper Tickets, Tacoma School of the Arts, Gage Academy of Art, Northwest Film Forum, and others need to amp up the creativity, Jeff leads workshops and events to fire up the creative spirit and empower people to tap into their true potential.
Enjoy my conversation with Jeff Leisawitz.
BPS 139: No Film School Needed - Direct & Sell Six Features in Two Years with Elizabeth Blake-Thomas
I have an inspirational treat for you today. On the show, we have writer/producer/director Elizabeth Blake-Thomas. She has recently financed, written, directed, and sold six feature films in the past two years, with no professional film school training. Elizabeth has been involved in the creative industries for over 30 years. Studying drama from a young age led her to run theatre schools, train other students and companies and work in various creative industries, culminating in where she is now, a director and writer.
When I heard her story I had to hunt her down and find out how she did it. BTW, she's not stopping, Elizabeth is currently in prep for three more feature films. Talk about hustle. She is the definition of the phrase "INDIE FILM HUSTLE."
She is proof that no film school is needed. Enjoy my conversation with Elizabeth Blake-Thomas.
BPS 138: From Sundance Sleeper Hit To Blockbuster Career with Chris Sparling
It’s always way fun to have a guest who is also a fan of the show. This week’s guest is definitely a member of the tribe. We chatted up pre-interview about some of his favorite IFH podcast episodes like Ed Burns and Joe Carnahan and I knew front hen on we were on for a treat. My guest today is award-winning writer, director, and producer, Chris Sparling.
Chris has written some of Hollywood's most original and fascinating screenplays like Buried, Greenland, Mercy, Down A Dark Hall, Reincarnate (featuring Leonardo DiCaprio), The Sea of Trees with Matthew McConaughey, etc.
One of his latest films, Greenland, which premiered in 2020 started streaming on Amazon prime this February.
The disaster thriller film starring Gerard Butler and Morena Baccarin follows a family who must fight for survival as planet-destroying comet races to Earth. Butler’s family struggles for survival in the face of a cataclysmic natural disaster as the planet-killing comet races to Earth. John Garrity (Gerard Butler), his estranged wife Allison (Morena Baccarin), and young son Nathan make a perilous journey to their only hope for sanctuary.
Amid terrifying news accounts of cities around the world being leveled by the comet's fragments, the Garrity's experience the best and worst in humanity while they battle the increasing panic and lawlessness surrounding them. As the countdown to global apocalypse approaches zero, their incredible trek culminates in a desperate and last-minute flight to a possible safe haven.
With its reception and regardless of the COVID 19 Pandemic, the film grossed $52.3 million at the Box Office and was announced that the sequel, Greenland: Migration is already in the works. The continuation of the story will center around the Garritys' journey across a frozen European wasteland to find a new home. STX has already acquired the worldwide distribution rights for the film at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival for the sequel with a $65 million budget.
Chris’s path to becoming a renowned Hollywood blockbuster writer begun on the actor’s path. He was inspired to take up writing after the 1997 hit psychological drama film, Goodwill Hunting which was directed by Gus Van Sant and starred Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and others.
He left Los Angeles on a home (Rhodes Island) bound to recalibrate and focus on completing college and writing because it was a challenge juggling that and acting auditions. After completing college, Sparling returned to Los Angeles. With no connections or leads, he returned to Rhodes Island with the plan to make a movie of one of the many scripts he had written by then. Though he had no formal film production experience at this point, Sparling wrote, directed, and produced An Uzi at the Alamo which is about a young writer in search of his identity, pledges to his dysfunctional family that he will commit suicide on his 25th birthday. As the fateful day approaches, he stumbles upon love and a new sense of self. Fearing family humiliation if he backs out of his pledge, he prepares for his last birthday with the feigned support of his family.
Of course, the film did not do well, but this is when things became interesting for Chris’s writing career. He dusted up and sent out about one hundred specs to studios, managers, producers, literally anyone he could contact. He received back, only three responses and one of which was from a manager who became his manager and still is till this day. That was his first open door.
When I saw the trailer for Chris’s 2010 film, Buried, and the success of it, as an independent filmmaker, I was in awe and slightly jealous of how easy (cost, and production-wise), revolutionary the film is. Buried is a brilliantly twisted suspense and original screenplay that is a nightmare for claustrophobes.
Sparling found mainstream success when his feature-length screenplay Buried was...
Fascinating range of interviews - well worth a listen
This screenwriting podcast has an impressive back catalogue of over 100 episodes, many of which have in-depth interview with great screenwriters, script consultants and authors. Well worth the time if you enjoy the craft of screenwriting
Wide spectrum view of the industry and insightful and penetrating interviews with the ‘story tellers’
Hitchhikers guide to Screenwriting
The most helpful thing you could add to you utility belt when it comes to screenwriting!!! Halfway through the first episode and I was hooked. Great guests that bring tons of wisdom and give you straight to the point information and advice.