199 episodes

Rather than looking at movies in terms of "two thumbs up" or "two thumbs down" Award Winning Screenwriter Jacob Krueger discusses what you can learn from them as a screenwriter. He looks at good movies, bad movies, movies we love, and movies we hate, exploring how they were built, and how you can apply those lessons to your own writing. More information and full archives at WriteYourScreenplay.com

Write Your Screenplay Podcast Jacob Krueger

    • TV & Film
    • 4.8 • 285 Ratings

Rather than looking at movies in terms of "two thumbs up" or "two thumbs down" Award Winning Screenwriter Jacob Krueger discusses what you can learn from them as a screenwriter. He looks at good movies, bad movies, movies we love, and movies we hate, exploring how they were built, and how you can apply those lessons to your own writing. More information and full archives at WriteYourScreenplay.com

    Lessons From Sundance 2024 Part II

    Lessons From Sundance 2024 Part II

    If you’ve watched the first episode of the Lessons from Sundance podcast, you know that JKS faculty member Christian Lybrook and I recently recorded a series of short form videos for our social media (@thejkstudio) about what you can learn as screenwriters from the films, lectures and documentaries we saw at Sundance. We’ve now compiled them into this two part podcast series, which we think is going to be tremendously valuable for all of you.In this second installment, we’re going to have a treat for you documentary filmmakers, looking at four vastly different documentaries, Nocturnes, (which won Sundance’s World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Craft), Every Little Thing, Black Box Diaries and Eno.If you’re not a documentarian, don’t worry, we’ll be gleaning lessons from the structure of these films that will be valuable for screenwriters and TV writers of any genre.We’ll also sharing some insights from lectures by Jonathan Nolan and Steven Soderbergh on the art of storytelling, the importance of theme, and the use of research in scriptwriting, as well as script analysis of two very unusual action comedy features, Thelma and Kidnapping, Inc, with a really cool discussion about the use of humor to tackle serious issues in your screenwriting.We’re going to learn about alternative forms of structure, how to build through big and small choices, how to use obstacle and threat in your writing, how to write believable antagonists, how to listen to your characters, how to find a balance between the subconscious and the conscious mind, how to find your voice as a writer, how to find your hook and your take on source material, how to develop hot relationships in screenwriting, form as function in screenwriting, how to use theme, and much much more.There will be some minimal spoilers, but we’ll keep you posted between each analysis so you can skip ahead if you want no spoilers at all.And if you’re listening instead of watching and the sound is a bit different than normal, know that’s because each video was recorded live from a unique location at Sundance to give you a feeling of the festival.We talk a lot in our classes about character driven structure. But how do you find structure when writing movies that aren’t driven by traditional characters, or by characters at all? Let’s jump in and find out with our discussion of Nocturnes, by Anirban Dutta and Anupama Srinivasan and Every Little Thing by Sally Aitkin.

    Nocturnes and Every Little Thing: Approaches To Structure

    Jacob Krueger:   We're going to talk about two different documentaries in a way that will be valuable for you, whether you're a documentarian or writing a feature film or TV show. The two documentaries are Nocturnes, which is a beautiful meditation about moths shot in the Eastern Himalayas, and Every Little Thing, which is a story about a woman in Los Angeles who is rescuing thousands of hummingbirds. 

    These two documentaries are fascinating, because they're built in the exact opposite way. And we’re going to be exploring how much your take and your premise matters in building a script.

    Every Little Thing, even though it's actually about hummingbirds, is built around a traditional character journey. There is a particular hummingbird named Cactus. 

    Christian Lybrook: Oh, poor Cactus. Cactus was found with barbs sticking out of her chest. A tiny, baby bird. And Terry, the hummingbird whisperer, it is her goal to get Cactus back out into the world.

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Lessons From Sundance 2024 Part 1

    Lessons From Sundance 2024 Part 1

    Jacob Krueger Studio faculty member Christian Lybrook and I attended Sundance 2024 together, leading to this new series of short videos about the films we saw there, and what screenwriters could learn from them. These videos were first released on our social media during the festival (follow @thejkstudio for future updates). The response was so strong, and the lessons so valuable that we’ve compiled them into a two part podcast series, built around common themes. Whether you’ve seen these films or not, there are so many lessons you can benefit from through these discussions, including how to lean into the emotional logic of your structure, how to control tone, how to surprise genre expectations, how to get the most out of your first image, how to build central metaphors and image systems, how to build mirrors for your main characters, how to write movies about profound socio-political issues, how to build structure through emotional needs and much more…In this episode, we’ll be looking at feature films Your Monster, Layla, A Different Man, and Reinas, as well as Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize winning documentary Porcelain War. 

    And for those of you listening rather than viewing… if you notice the sound is a little different in each of these podcasts, it’s because we’re trying to bring the Sundance Experience to you at home, by recording in lots of different locations– from the beloved Egyptian Theatre on main street to the Gondola at the Park City Mountain.The first film we’re going to be discussing is Your Monster, a sweet little Beauty and the Beast inspired– well let’s call it a “Romantic Comedy”-- with some other slightly less expected genre elements that we’re not going to give away. This is a film that moved, inspired, surprised and delighted us. And there’s so much you can learn from it as a screenwriter about leaning into the emotional (rather than the rational) logic of your screenplay, navigating toward the fun, establishing the tone of your screenplay, and squeezing out all the juice from a mash of different genre elements. It’s not yet in theatres, so we’re only going to talk about the opening sequence up to the inciting incident, so there will be minimal spoilers. 

    Your Monster written and directed by Caroline Lindy

    Jacob Krueger: Your Monster by Caroline Lindy is a relationship story about a girl and the monster who lives in her closet. One of the things that's really beautiful about this movie is it’s not just about her love story with a monster, it's really about a love story with herself.

    Christian Lybrook:  It's a “Beauty and the Beast” story. Caroline Lindy takes a story that we're all familiar with and she starts to spin it, looking at it from all different angles: You think it's going to go this way? I'm going to give you something else. And that's a great exercise for us to do as screenwriters. 

    Your Monster shows screenwriters the value of leaning into the emotional logic of the story, and navigating toward the fun, rather than getting caught up in the details.

    Jacob Krueger: The film primarily leans into the emotional logic of the relationship between the main character, Laura, and the monster in her closet, rather than getting caught up in the “logical logic.” It’s magical realism. There are a lot of elements in the film where, if you get into your logical brain, you could say, Well, hold on a second, how did she get into the theater? How did she get into the audition? How did these things happen? 

    And yet, as you're watching the film, you don't care at all. 

    Christian Lybrook: My analytical brain, it's loud in my head. And those moments, they did pop up. But the emotional storyline is so powerful that it just sort of dissipat...

    • 29 min
    Past Lives: Genre and Premise

    Past Lives: Genre and Premise

     Past Lives: Genre & Premise

    This week, we are going to be analyzing the screenplay for Past Lives, written and directed by Celine Song. We'll use Past Lives to explore the intersection of two key concepts: Premise and Genre. 

    We'll look at the places where premise and genre meet and how they come together. And we’ll use that intersection to help you understand how to develop ideas, how to develop premises, how to develop the thing that's going to differentiate your script from other movies within your genre. 

    Further on in this transcript, there will be some spoilers for Past Lives. If you've seen the movie, you know that the whole thing builds to the ending, and you cannot understand the screenplay for Past Lives without understanding the ending. So I will warn you before I spoil it, but I am going to eventually spoil the ending of this movie if you have not yet seen it.

    Let’s start our screenplay analysis of Past Lives by defining some terms: What is genre and what is premise? 

    We’ll start with genre. 

    If you're old enough to remember Blockbuster Video, then you know that genre is what you and your partner fight about when trying to pick a movie. 

    One of you is in the Drama aisle, looking for a beautiful little drama. The other is in the Action aisle, looking for a really exciting action movie.  

    “Let’s watch Die Hard,” you try to convince your partner, “it’s a… love story!”“How about Remains of the Day,” they try to convince you, “it’s a… war movie!”

    You're trying to convince each other that your emotional needs, the feelings that you're coming to the movie for, are going to be met. That's actually what genre is.

    Genre is a feeling.

    Even back in the Blockbuster era, genre was very hard to categorize. 

    It’s 1987. You’re looking for, say, First Blood. You look all through the Action shelves and you can’t find it. Finally, you ask at the desk and the dude says, “It’s in Drama.” 

    Even back in the day, when genres used to be really simple, it was still hard to categorize things. There's always crossover. A movie is not just one thing. So, it has always been hard to label movies as one single genre. 

    Today, Netflix has something like 270,000 tags that they use to try to define a movie’s genre. So we think we know what genre is, but we kindof… don’t. 

    We're going to a western, so we expect to see Cowboys… but Star Wars is a western, right? Or is it a sci-fi?

    We think we know what genre is, but it actually becomes really hard to define. As soon as you put a label on it, you realize you're not completely right

    And today, we have movies that are a mix of genres, really interesting mixes of genres– in ways they weren’t mashed up back in the Blockbuster days. So that means, in today’s market, it's even more complicated to ask, “What genre is this film?” 

    So I want to give you a way of thinking about genre that is going to simplify it for you. A way to get past the confusing labels. 

    Genre is a mixture of the feeling that the audience wants when they go to see your movie and the expectations they have of what's going to give them that feeling.  

    Those expectations are based on other movies that gave them that feeling. 

    Feeling is the only reason anyone ever tunes into a TV show or goes to see a movie. We go to see movies because we want a specific feeling...

    • 28 min
    Dream Scenario: Passive Main Characters

    Dream Scenario: Passive Main Characters

    Dream Scenario: Passive Main Characters

    This week, we are going to be talking about the new Nicolas Cage movie, Dream Scenario, by writer and director Kristoffer Borgli. This will be a fascinating discussion, because we're going to talk about the strength of the screenplay, as well as the screenplay’s weaknesses. 

    We’ll use the strengths and weaknesses of Dream Scenario’s screenplay to understand one of the most important concepts in screenwriting: the difference between writing passive and active main characters. 

    Most screenwriters think their characters are active. But the truth is, we're often writing passive main characters without realizing why the character is coming out passive. So that's what we're going to be looking at here: how to recognize if your main character is a passive main character or an active one.

    We’ll look at the effects of a passive main character: what that does to your movie and to your audience. And we’ll look at some ways to transform passive main characters into active ones. 

    If you look at the Rotten Tomatoes TomatoMeter scores for Dream Scenario, you’ll see something that rarely happens – critics loved this film and audiences really didn’t. 

    It’s quite common to see critics dislike a film that audiences loved but here the exact opposite happened. Among critics, 91% loved this film but only 68% of the audience liked Dream Scenario. 

    Now, that is a really interesting phenomenon. So let’s look at why this might be happening. 

    If you look at the overall concept for Dream Scenario, it is totally fascinating. And this is part of the reason the critics love it. Sociologically, politically, this film is taking on some huge concepts and saying some really interesting things.

    And quite frankly, from a Hollywood perspective, this Dream Scenario also has a really interesting hook and a really clear execution of that hook. 

    Not only that, it has a really stellar cast in Nicholas Cage, Julianne Nicholson and Michael Cera. It's well directed. It’s well performed. And it's fascinating.

    So why aren't audiences connecting with Dream Scenario the way that critics are? 

    Simply put, critics look at movies differently than audiences. 

    If you're a screenwriter or you've studied screenwriting, in college or in grad school, or even if you've just read books about screenwriting, there's a really good chance that those books are written by professors. They're written by critics. And critics look at films in a different way than audiences (and producers) do. 

    The things that are actually important for the success of your film may be different than the things that are important for the critics to love it. That doesn't mean you can't do all the things that the critics love. Sure, if you want to make a really fascinating, critically acclaimed, complicated film that asks some really big questions about the world, yes, absolutely do that. 

    But you also have to make sure your craft is perfect. And there's a tiny little craft issue in Dream Scenario that's getting in the way. So let's talk a little bit about it. 

    Spoiler alert: There are going to be some major spoilers ahead as we discuss the structure of Dream Scenario.

    Dream Scenario is looking at one of the primary socio-political problems of our day: the desire for fame and the effects of that on our society. 

    To go even deeper, Dream Scenario is exploring the effects of the desire for fame for fame’s sake,

    • 38 min
    5 Steps To Keep Your New Year’s Writing Resolutions

    5 Steps To Keep Your New Year’s Writing Resolutions

    5 Simple Steps To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions as a Writer

    It’s January 1, which means it’s time to talk about how to keep your New Year's resolutions as a writer. New Year's resolutions are one of the places where writers most often go wrong. We set these huge goals for ourselves, and just like everybody setting New Year's resolutions, we usually fail to keep them.. 

    We believe the reason we're not keeping these New Year's resolutions, the reason that we're procrastinating, the reason why we're falling into the same patterns again and again… we believe it's a lack of willpower.

    We believe we're lazy. We believe maybe we just don't want it enough.

    We believe maybe there's something wrong with us. We believe that maybe we're just too scared. 

    We have all these stories for ourselves about why we're not changing.

    But really, most of the time, the reason that we're falling short of our New Year's resolutions, whether it's as a writer, or for any other resolution, is because we've set ourselves up to fail in the way that we've made the resolution in the first place.

    So we're going to talk today about 5 simple steps you can take to make resolutions that actually work, that will actually work for you, as a writer. 

    Step #1 For New Year’s Writing Resolutions That Work: Focus On The Small Steps, Not The Destination. 

    If you actually want to change your life, and you want those changes to last, the most effective way you can do that is often by making small changes frequently.

    It is much harder to make a huge change overnight than it is to take a small step overnight. 

    To be clear, I’m not saying that people can't make huge changes overnight. People do and can, but it's usually not the most effective way to get there. 

    For an example, think about your characters in a script. If you've taken my Write Your Screenplay class, if you’ve studied Seven Act Structure, you understand the concept that a movie is just a story of a character who changes. And that as we build that change, we need many steps to get the character there. And one of the big problems with the old three-act structure is that getting a character from A to Z in three steps is not very likely. 

    It's not that sometimes people don't just change like that. But most people don't. 

    When most people try to change forever in a moment, what they actually end up doing is just proving to themselves that they can't change. 

    And, inadvertently,. they end up reinforcing the very beliefs that get in the way of the change, and that get in the way of their goals.  

    We know this as screenwriters. We know that if your character is at A and then in the next scene suddenly they’re at Z, that’s not believable. We get feedback like: I didn't feel the structure of this. I didn't believe the change. I didn't believe that the change would stick.  

    When we build Seven Act Structure: when we build a movie, a limited series, a pilot– we're actually figuring out the movements by which a character can believably and lastingly change.

    So the first mistake in making New Year’s Resolutions as writers is that we tend to think only about the endpoint, rather than thinking about the movements we will need to get there. 

    And it's exactly the same problem that most screenwriters make with structure. They think, Oh,

    • 35 min
    4th Annual Pitch Festivus!

    4th Annual Pitch Festivus!

    4th Annual Pitch Festivus!

    This week, instead of our normal programming, we’re going to be bringing you a replay from our 4th Annual Pitch Festivus! event. We’ll begin with a roundtable where you learn pitching and get answers to common questions from Jacob Krueger and top members of the Jacob Krueger Studio faculty, Steven Bagatourian, Jerome Perzigian and Christian Lybrook. Then you’ll hear a series of pitches from members of our community, and feedback from me and my faculty members, so you can learn how to make your own pitches better and succeed in this challenging industry.

    And before we get started, congratulations to our winners: 

    The Audience Choice Award went to  J.D. Elliby for “The Kingmaker.”

    The Faculty Choice Second Place Award went to Fred Mazyck for “The Pain Reliever.”

    The Faculty Choice Grand Prize Award went to J.D. Elliby for “The Kingmaker.”

    The Pitch Festivus! Pitching Panel

    Jacob Krueger:WGA Paul Selvin Award Winning Screenwriter of the Emmy Winning The Matthew Shepard Story

    Steven Bagatourian:Independent Spirit Award Winning Screenwriter of American Gun and All Eyez on Me.

    Christian Lybrook:Award Winning Indie Screenwriter, TV Writer and Producer, with work featured at Tribeca Film Festival and SeriesFest.

    Jerome Perzigian:Emmy Award Winning Showrunner of The Jeffersons, The Golden Girls and Married With Children.

    Q: Why does pitching terrify me? 

    JERRY PERZIGIAN (ProTrack, TV Comedy Writer’s Room) Everybody's afraid! Not only afraid to pitch but also afraid to face that first blank page. And no matter how much success you may or may not have had in the past, each new venture is intimidating. It’s scary. And everyone is insecure. It’s normal to have fear. That's why I strongly advise practice, practice, practice. 

    Just sit, practice it alone, practice it at Starbucks, practice it with your friends until they get sick of hearing it. You’ll see what lands and what doesn't work. And then little by little, you’ll gain confidence in your premise, in your delivery of that premise, in the places where you stop and wait for a laugh or a reaction and the places where you bring more energy –  and you'll get less afraid. 

    Just remember that we're all in the same boat. When you see an executive that's pompous and intimidating, that person is scared too. Being seen in that way is their protection. So we're all in the same boat. 

    JACOB KRUEGER: (Write Your Screenplay, a href="https://www.writeyourscreenplay.

    • 2 hr 16 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
285 Ratings

285 Ratings

Death Scrod ,

Incisive, no tangents, positive approach to the craft

I’m always searching iTunes for good screenwriting podcasts, and this is by far the most well thought out, clearest, and most helpful I have found.

Once I found this podcast, I quickly binged it very episode and attending his free, Thursday night writing workshop a few times, which I also recommend.

It seems like what a great lecture in film school would be like (never went but took some so-so courses online) and because Jacob Krueger does the podcast solo, it’s not about banter and gossip and tangents that often come with a two-person show.

This is pure education wrapped in an approachable, compassionate approach to fundamental aspects of both the craft itself, and explain the self-compassionate, constructive ways to approach both the business and art of screenwriting.

I also really enjoy the use of current films and TV series as examples of what works and what doesn’t work in context of various aspects of filmmaking and storytelling, without the sometimes cutting take downs that earn clicks for film critics.

I’m not trying to sell you classes at his film school, but I just started his “Write your TV series” course online and by the end of the first class, I *really* “got” the fundamentals of storytelling for the first time and was surprised the price was half of typical course.

Laurie Kirk ,


Tremendous podcast. Entertaining and informative. Jake has a wonderful knowledge base and his delivery is the best.

SpongeBobbyHil589 ,



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