Designed to help you navigate the screenwriting industry, Final Draft, interviews working screenwriters, agents, managers, and producers to show you how successful executives and writers make a living writing and working with screenplays, and how you can use their knowledge to break into the industry. Subscribe today to catch every episode!
Write On: 'Bob Marley: One Love' Writers Terence Winter and Frank E. Flowers
“I think what's unique about this biopic and about Bob [Marley’s] story is that it really wasn't about his ego, it wasn't about him trying to be the biggest star in the world. It was about him connecting with God. I mean, he would smoke weed to kind of lower his ego and raise his consciousness so that he could read scripture, right? He would take these basic concepts: love thy neighbor, all people are equal, and try and channel that and inhabit that,” says Frank E. Flowers, co-writer of Bob Marley: One Love.
On today’s episode, I speak to Frank E. Flowers and Terence Winter about taking on reggae icon Bob Marley (Kingsley Ben-Adir) for their new biopic, Bob Marley: One Love, also written by Zach Baylin and Reinaldo Marcus Green. After an assassination attempt on Marley and his wife Rita (Lashana Lynch) in 1976, Marley went to London in self-exile. It’s there Bob Marley and the Wailers recorded Exodus, which some consider to be the best album of the 20th century. With scattered flashbacks, the film mostly takes place from 1976 to 1978.
“With the screenplay, we talked a great deal about how to tell the story. It's obviously a big life and a huge canvas and certainly, you could do the cradle-to-grave version where this happened, that happened, etc. But I'm always a fan of opening a movie as hot as possible, like start with an incident that just grabs you and is undeniably compelling and we both obviously arrived at the biggest incident in the movie in that sense is the shooting which is just horrific and feels like it kind of comes out of nowhere. It also lent itself to the classic structure of the Hero's Journey where our hero is shot, has this incident that happens in his home and then has to leave home and learn about himself before he comes back home again,” says Terence Winter.
I also talk to Winter about writing The Wolf of Wall Street, The Sopranos and one of my favorite shows, Xena: Warrior Princess. He also talks about the downside of writing for a dolphin when he worked on the show Flipper. “There were only 10 stories in the world that organically involve a dolphin. When you get to the eleventh one and then you look at each other like what do we do now?” says Winter.
To hear more, listen to the podcast.
Write On: 'Masters of the Air' Co-Executive Producer and Writer John Orloff
“I always go back to theme. Why are you writing this story? What is that final couple of minutes of the movie and what do you want the audience to feel? I kind of always build backward from that in some ways. In a movie, how do I make the 118 minutes preceding those two minutes build to those last two minutes? To me that’s a really good film. And anything that's not helping build to those last two minutes, throw it out!,” says John Orloff, writer/creator of Masters of the Air, the new nine-part series streaming on AppleTV+.
In this episode, Orloff talks about being an un-produced writer and the unusual way he landed the job writing for HBO’s Band of Brothers.
He learned a lot from Executive Producer Tom Hanks:
“One of the things [Tom Hanks] said to me is, ‘We're going to reveal character through procedure.’ That means how you get a plane ready to go, it means pushing buttons, how you do all that stuff. I will take you back to Apollo 13. That is about three guys in a room the size of a bathtub – just pushing buttons. And yet we know and care about them. And so, the procedures of getting an airplane in the air was an opportunity to remind the audience that okay, there's no magic buttons to push in 1943 to get an airplane in the air… Let's capture that and let's explain that to the audience early on in the first episode or two and then they'll know that that happens every time,” says John.
For a deeper dive into the show Masters of the Air, now streaming on AppleTV+, listen to the podcast.
Write On: 'Land of Bad' Director/Co-Writer William Eubank
"You want to write stuff you want to see, that's the key. Just write something new something fresh, something interesting," says director and co-writer William Eubank of Land of Bad, the new intense, action-packed movie about a Delta Force team that gets ambushed in enemy territory.
Final Draft sat down with Eubank to talk about his writing process, directing Liam Hemsworth, Russell Crowe and Luke Hemsworth in this unhinged survival story full of exciting set pieces and big action moments.
So, what's his advice to a young writer wanting to get in on the action movie game? "I write very short and sweet, so it's fast to read because that anxiety needs to be read quickly, in my opinion. You don't want to get the page so thick. I'll just buzz through it so there's a lot of white space and it's easy and it's punchy," says Eubank.
For more tips like this and to hear the whole episode, click below.
Write On: 'Lawmen: Bass Reeves' Showrunner Chad Feehan
“I grew up as a huge fan of Westerns but the reality of the landscape at the time was that it was incredibly diverse. And we've rarely seen that diversity on screen. I feel incredibly fortunate and humbled by the opportunity to show what life was really like in Indian territory in 1875. That it was a melting pot of cultures and races. It speaks to the beauty of Reconstruction,” says Chad Feehan, showrunner for Lawmen: Bass Reeves on Paramount+. The show is part of the highly successful Taylor Sheridan television landscape, that includes shows like Yellowstone and 1883.
On today’s episode, I speak to Chad about taking on the historical figure of Bass Reeves (played by David Oyelowo), who lived during America’s Reconstruction period that is rarely depicted in film or TV. Though Chad and Bass come from very different backgrounds, Chad says he was able to write the character of Bass by focusing on the big emotions the two men shared. He gives this advice about writing people different than yourself:
“Tap into your deepest emotions and find a way to relate them to what the character is going through. I think a lot of times when, you start writing, you try to imagine emotions, right? But the range of emotions that we all feel is relatively universal. They just take different shapes and sizes, right? We all know what heartbreak is, we all know what joy is. Tap into that and then transpose it into a situation that the character is also experiencing, if that makes sense. I learned about sudden loss with my mom. I've learned about deep-seated overwhelming love through my children and that emotion is universal,” he says.
To hear more about Chad Feehan’s background, working on the FX show, Ray Donovan, and his overall writing process, listen to the podcast.
Write On: 'Miller's Girl' Writer/director Jade Halley Bartlett
“Personally, I think writing is bleeding. It's blood magic. It's very hard to do,” says writer/director Jade Halley Bartlett of the new Southern gothic romance, Miller’s Girl.
Bartlett started her career as an actress, but it was an unexpected journey that led her to Los Angeles and magically landed her in the world of studio screenwriting. After spending a year at Marvel Studios, writing a draft of Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – only to be replaced on the job – Jade’s first feature film is now in theaters.
In the podcast, Bartlett talks about dealing with rejection, getting hired to rewrite scripts and making the shift to directing. But at the end of the day, she says writing is really about overcoming your fear to get your big ideas onto the page – even if the first draft sucks.
“You’ve got to give up the perfectionism. It is not going to come out perfect. I think a lot of writers are editing in our head while we're doing it as opposed to just like letting it flow out. I would say let yourself write the 170-page draft. There's going be so much magic that will come from it,” says Jade.
To hear more, listen to the podcast.
Write On: 'American Fiction' Writer/Director Cord Jefferson
“I think that approaching the grand things through the smallest entryways possible is the best way to go about taking on these massive issues… So yes, this movie is about race and racism and art and who's allowed to make certain kinds of art - these are really big, unwieldy issues. But the reason that I think people can relate to them –and it doesn't feel so top heavy or clumsy – is because you see it through a character that was deeply personal to me,” says Cord Jefferson, writer/director of American Fiction.
Based on the book Erasure by Percival Everett, American Fiction is a powerful and often poignantly funny exploration of race in literature, film, family and the marketplace. It toes the line between being relatable and absurd.
“I wanted to make a movie that felt satirical but never farcical. I wanted the movie to feel like life and life is neither one thing or another, it’s neither comedy nor tragedy,” says Jefferson who made the decision to use humor in the film but he never let the comedy get too broad.
Jefferson also talks about his journey from journalist – an editor at Gawker – to writing for TV shows like The Watchmenand Succession.
“If you can write an interesting article, you can probably write a novel. If you can write a novel, you can write a screenplay. I think that it's the same basic idea, which is you need to keep somebody interested in what you're saying from the beginning to the end and what is the best way to keep somebody interested in what you're saying for this long?” says Jefferson.
Take a listen to the podcast for a deep dive into the screenplay for American Fiction.
Great insight into some excellent film and tv scripts. Highly recommended.
I love how many writers you get to interview - super helpful Thanks
Such a delightful and entertaining podcast!
As a writer, I love hearing from other writers and this podcast has such a beautiful insight into the industry. If you’re into film and tv, this podcast is for you!
This is the perfect inspiring podcast to listen to on the road too. Shanee asks the right questions and is an amazing host! She’s so personable and entertaining. I’m excited to listen to more future episodes.