160 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 • 235 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

    How to Sell Your Screenplay Pt. 1

    How to Sell Your Screenplay Pt. 1

    How to Sell Your Screenplay Pt. 1



    There’s a really important question that we have not explored deeply enough on this podcast.

    How do you sell a screenplay? 

    How do you sell a TV pilot? 

    How do you actually break into this crazy industry?

    We’re going to start exploring that today, and we’re going to continue over a multi-part series of podcasts where we try to build some of the skills that you need to succeed in the film industry. 

    I want to start with a warning: Anytime someone promises you a fool-proof method for selling your screenplay, that person is lying to you.

    Anytime someone tells you, “Here’s how you sell your script in 30 days,” or, “here’s a simple 10 step plan to sell your screenplay,” or even worse, “if you give me money, I will introduce you to someone and sell your script, guaranteed…”

    Anytime someone makes you a promise like that, run!

    Run, run, run as quickly as you can. 

    Please know that there are no easy answers or fool-proof methods when it comes to selling screenplays in the movie business. 

    There are a lot of sharks in these waters. There are a lot of people preying on the desperation of screenwriters who want so desperately to break into the film industry. 

    No one should be charging you for an introduction. No one should be charging you for representation (agents and managers get paid when they sell your script). No one should be charging you, saying, “Hey, if you give me your money, I will get your script to this person.” That’s an unsustainable business model.

    Even if such a person really has that connection– and there’s a good chance that they don’t– if they start sending scripts to that connection because they’re getting paid by desperate screenwriters to do so, well, guess what’s gonna happen. Pretty soon that connection’s going to stop reading scripts submitted by that person, whether those scripts are good or not. 

    The screenwriting business is a relationship business. Nobody is going to help you sell your script without knowing your work intimately. And if they do know your work intimately, and like it, they will want to help you, and they will not expect to get paid until you do.

    If it seems a little too good to be true, if it seems a little too easy, if it seems like a one-size-fits-all set of rules that’s going to work for everybody, then run. You’re being lied to.

    What we’re going to try to do in this series of podcasts is answer a question that, quite frankly, is really hard: how do you sell a screenplay?

    One of the reasons why it’s so hard is because it’s a question that doesn’t have a definitive answer.

    But we’re going to try to give you some skills that you can use to break into the film industry once your screenplay is ready.

    The first thing you want to know is that nearly every story about how someone broke into the film industry and sold their screenplay, represents an exception to the norm.

    Almost everyone who has actually succeeded in the film industry has some crazy story about how it happened. Often, you’re going to hear that story and realize the truth.

    Wow, they had a lot of luck. 

    I had a lot of luck. The teachers who work for me had a lot of luck.

    Now, if you don’t do the writing work, quite frankly, it doesn’t matter how much luck you have. If your script isn’t actually ready to go, it doesn’t matter how many wonderful breaks happen in your favor. 

    If you are not really ready in both your art and your craft to be a screenwriter, it is probably not going to happen for you. You’re going to have to build your writing skills and your library of screenplays up to a point where you’re really ready to do this.

    There is a hard truth that we have to accept about the film and TV industry: sell...

    • 26 min
    Writing Resolutions That Actually Work

    Writing Resolutions That Actually Work

    Writing Resolutions That Actually Work



    We set out with such good intentions for our writing every New Year. 

    We make writing resolutions that we truly do intend to follow through on. 

    We make commitments to change our lives, to realize the full potential of our artistic selves and to emerge into the role that we want to play in the world. 

    We make these writing resolutions with total seriousness. We’re not joking around when we make a New Year’s resolution. 

    But for most writers, it’s easy to start the year off really strong with your writing, and then a couple months down the road, find yourself back where you started. 

    Why does this happen? 

    We fail to keep our New Year’s writing resolutions for a couple of reasons, but the biggest reason is what I call the Flash Flood Principle. 

    Here’s the Flash Flood Principle: If you go to a barren desert, and suddenly there’s a giant rainstorm, you don’t end up with a beautiful river that’s going to feed the fields and transform that desert into a lush garden. 

    What you get instead is a flash flood. 

    You get all this rain pouring down with nowhere to go. It erupts over everything, it knocks a bunch of stuff out, and then the sand just reabsorbs the moisture. It disappears as if it had never been there. 

    It’s my belief that when a lot of writers make their New Year’s resolutions, they’re actually making flash flood resolutions. They’re trying to change everything about their writing at once in such a big way that it’s actually not sustainable. 

    In the desert of their creativity, they’ve brought a giant rainstorm of writing, but there’s nowhere to channel all that energy because the landscape has not been prepared for all the rain.

    For so many writers, creativity is like an out of control storm in the desert. It comes out of nowhere in a torrential downpour, and just as quickly disappears, having made no meaningful change upon the landscape.

    Whereas if you just turn on a little drop of water into a desert, and you just allow those drops to keep coming in a little concentrated place, eventually you get a little rivulet. 

    If you turn on a little bit more water, eventually that little rivulet is going to become a little stream. 

    If you turn on a little bit more water, eventually that stream is going to become a brook. 

    If you just keep that brook coming, it’s going to be a mighty river.

    At that point, if you send a giant thunderstorm, the water has somewhere to go. It all ends up channeling into that river, allowing that river to flow with even more force and power. 

    As you’re making your New Year’s resolutions this year for writing, I want you to ask yourself, Am I making a flash flood resolution? Or am I building a riverbed?

    Let’s talk about how you build that riverbed for your writing.

    The answer for most writers is not to lock yourself in a room for a weekend of non-stop writing.

    You might be able to sustain that kind of writing commitment for one weekend, but can you really write like that every weekend? The chances are, your life isn’t going to suddenly change overnight so that all your weekends become available just for writing, which means as wonderful as such a weekend could be, it’s not going to help you build the rhythm you need to create a new habit.

    Furthermore, you probably don’t have the skills or stamina as a writer yet to sustain that kind of intense weekend where all you do is write.

    You probably don’t have the support system you need to sustain that kind of writing. Your family, your partner, your kids, your friends: they’re not necessarily going to understand why you suddenly disappeared from the world and plan to disappear from the world every single weekend.

    • 27 min
    How to Win Pitch Contests: Pitching Tips For Pitch Festivus!

    How to Win Pitch Contests: Pitching Tips For Pitch Festivus!

    How to Win Pitch Contests: Pitching Tips For Pitch Festivus!



    Coming up on December 9 is our second annual FREE Pitch Festivus and Holiday Party.

    We’re going to have eight different members of the Jacob Krueger Studio faculty sharing some of their very best pitching tips. 

    There are going to be opportunities to connect with our community. 

    Most exciting of all, we’re having a little pitch contest where we are going to randomly pick volunteers and give them a chance to pitch their scripts, get some helpful feedback, and compete for a chance to win a one on one pitch consultation with me worth 1500 bucks. It’s gonna be awesome. And it’s totally FREE! 

    With that in mind, I thought it might be helpful to give you guys some information about how to do a quick pitch. 

    How do you create an elevator pitch? How do you pitch for a contest or festival?

    It’s important to understand that this is different from a professional pitch or from the kind of pitch that you do at a party, because in the real screenwriting business, there is no such thing as the elevator pitch.

    In the screenwriting world, the elevator pitch is a giant myth.

    If you haven’t heard the term, the elevator pitch imagines a scenario in which, if you were to bump into Martin Scorsese on the first floor of an elevator, and he hits the button for floor 14, you now have 14 floors to pitch in your project. This is your only opportunity to pitch your screenplay and if those doors open before you’ve finished, you’re screwed. 

    That’s not the way it works in the real world. 

    In the real world you want a nice quick pitch that you can share with anyone. But no one’s going to cut you off in the middle of your pitch. No one’s going to say, Sorry, that pitch was two minutes and three seconds, and that’s just too long.

    Basically, your pitch is simply a pitch of a short length that can hold a person’s attention.

    But when you’re competing in a screenplay pitch contest – and there are lots of pitch contests, pitch slams, or other pitch opportunities, including our Pitch Festivus event coming up on Dec 9 – there’s this kind of added pressure of a ticking clock. 

    I want to talk to you about how to deal with that pressure, how to prepare yourself for that pressure, and how to be really good with your pitch when you’re pitching for a writing contest or festival like ours.

    Here’s the first thing you should know about how to make a quick pitch: Do not rush your pitch.

    Take your time. Slow down.

    A minute and a half, two minutes, two and a half minutes, whatever the time, is actually a lot of time to pitch your story. 30 seconds is a lot of time to pitch, even 10 seconds.  Take ten seconds right now and just listen to how long ten seconds really is…

    No, actually do it.

    If you did it, I think you just realized that’s actually a lot of time. That’s more time than you would think when you actually listen to what that dead space sounds like. 

    Far too many well-intentioned screenwriters end up rocketing through their pitch so quickly that the person listening can’t even pick up what the pitch is. 

    The first thing you want to focus on is the purpose of your pitch. Why are you actually pitching this story?

    In the normal world, the only purpose of your pitch is to get somebody to say, Yes, I would like to read your screenplay.

    In the real world, unless your name is Sorkin, nobody is going to buy your idea off of a pitch. They want to see the execution on the page.

    The real purpose of the pitch is to open a door.

    You know what? I’d like to read your screenplay…

    You know what?

    • 40 min
    Why Every TV Series Is Like Thanksgiving

    Why Every TV Series Is Like Thanksgiving

    Why Every TV Series Is Like Thanksgiving



    This week, we’re going to talk about Thanksgiving. We’re not just going to talk about turkeys and football, though. We’re going to talk about television.

    Everything you need to know about how to write a TV series you can learn at Thanksgiving. 

    I’m going to encourage you just for a moment to think back to your very first Thanksgiving. Don’t think about the way it was supposed to be. Think about the way it was.

    Maybe your first Thanksgiving (or at least the first Thanksgiving you remember) was a wonderful experience filled with beauty and connection and laughter and love.

    Maybe the first Thanksgiving you remember was a terrifying experience filled with stress and anxiety and people misbehaving and family not getting along and tearing each other apart. 

    If you’re like most people, your first Thanksgiving was probably a really complicated mixture of beauty and drama and pressure and tension and joy and laughter and love and all the things that go into family.

    (If you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, you can substitute any holiday that mattered to you where your family gathered together.)

    You probably realize that there are certain rituals that tend to happen in this genre of holiday. 

    At Thanksgiving, you’re going to eat way too much food, you’re going to talk about tryptophan as if it was something that you just discovered for the first time. You’re probably going to retire to watch football (or if you’re not a football family, maybe you’re going to sit around and play board games or just chat). You’re going to eat dinner earlier than you’re used to. You’re going to cook more food than anybody should. You’re going to wake up at two in the morning and make a stuffing sandwich. 

    Just like there are certain elements that tend to be part of almost everybody’s Thanksgiving, there are certain elements that tend to be part of every genre of TV show.

    If you’re writing an action TV series, there are going to be a bunch of action sequences. It’s just gonna happen.

    If you’re writing a drama series, there are going to be tears, there’s going to be pressure, and there are going to be hard decisions. 

    If you’re writing a comedy series, there are going to be jokes.

    If you’re writing a thriller series, there are going to be thrills. 

    If you’re writing a horror series, there is going to be blood and gore.

    If you’re writing an elevated horror series, there is going to be a spiritual transcendent level to it.

    There are certain kinds of plot elements that tend to happen in every series, just like there are certain plot elements that happen in every holiday. 

    If you think back to your first Thanksgiving you’ll probably realize that in every Thanksgiving that followed, you either tried to replicate or change that first feeling that you had. That in some way you’ve either been chasing that feeling for every Thanksgiving of your life, or the longing for a different feeling… of what Thanksgiving could have been, or should have been, or one day could be.

    And you’ll start to realize that your first Thanksgiving is really just a pilot episode for every Thanksgiving that followed. That Thanksgiving is a series that keeps you coming back, year after year, for laughter, drama, tears, and connection.

    Thanksgiving is a series that keeps you coming back for a feeling— a feeling you either hope to one day experience or long to experience again.

    So what was it that gave you that feeling? That kept you coming back, no matter what happened, “episode” after “episode,” year after year?



    It was the same elements that make a successful engine of a TV Series…”

    If you think about it long enough,

    • 22 min
    Dune: Exposition Is Killing Your Screenplay

    Dune: Exposition Is Killing Your Screenplay

    Dune: Exposition Is Killing Your Screenplay



     

    Dune is a film adaptation that has brought some of the greatest filmmakers ever to their knees. So why is it so hard for screenwriters to transcend the challenges of Frank Herbert’s source material?

    The screenplay for Dune is nearly all exposition–the writers  narrate nearly every moment with some kind of voiceover telling the audience what’s happening– so why is everyone still so confused? 

    Why does the audience still not know what’s happening when the writers give them so much exposition? 

    Why does a film that is so incredible to look at feel so boring and hard to connect to? 

    Why does a film that is trying so hard to make a sci-fi for adults, to write about real-world issues, real characters, and real complexity rather than simplistic Hollywood solutions– why does a film that’s trying so hard, with such positive intentions, ultimately seem so predictable? 

    There are a lot of challenges for the writers in adapting Dune, challenges that you’re also going to experience if you’re working on an adaptation of a book into a screenplay.

    These writers are dealing with all kinds of challenges: complex world building, shifting point of view, a preponderance of characters. 

    But mostly, in adapting Dune into screenplay form, they are trying to take something very big and make it very small.

    Screenplays are small. A typical screenplay is 105 pages long. Even a two and a half hour movie like Dune is probably around  a 150-page screenplay. 

    How do you take a 900 page novel and crush it down into what should probably be no more than a 120-page screenplay or even maybe a 105 page screenplay?

    How do you take all that information and exposition and squash it down so the novel of Dune will actually work in a screenplay adaptation?

    How do you adapt a screenplay out of a novel that is sprawling and internal? 

    How do you take the things that novels do really well, which are different from the things that screenplays do really well, and translate them into a form that can work in a movie? 

    How do you stay true to the intentions of the author – whose novel has inspired generations of sci fi movies – when elements that weren’t cliché when the writer wrote them have now become cliché because they’ve inspired and been adapted and used by so many sci fi writers?How do you stay loyal to the intentions of a beloved book while also updating it and making it make sense for today’s audience? 

    How do you make Dune into a 2021 movie? 

    I wish I could say that these three very experienced, very talented writers on Dune had achieved that in their screenplay adaptation, but in my opinion, they did not. 

    Where the writers fell short in their adaptation of Dune, oddly, is not in the difficult elements of screenwriting. They fell short in the simple ones: the same elements you are likely to struggle with if you’re a new screenwriter…like exposition.



    We sometimes think that if you write 100 screenplays that you’re suddenly going to know how to write great exposition and adapt epic books into amazing scripts because you now have screenwriting experience.

    The truth is that every screenplay is like a new baby, especially when our writing goals get really lofty. When we set lofty writing goals, we’re not just trying to tell the truth or make an entertaining movie, we’re trying to make a great movie. 

    We’re not just trying to write the best screen adaptation of Dune we can, we’re also trying to do an homage to the 1984 David Lynch adaptation, and we’re also trying to correct all the mistakes made in that adaptation, and we’re also trying to take our adaptation to the next level, and we’re also trying to be the new Star Wars. 

    When our screenwriting goals get this big,

    • 32 min
    Dexter: How to Write Action In A Screenplay

    Dexter: How to Write Action In A Screenplay

    Dexter: How to Write Action In A Screenplay



     

    Season 9 of Dexter, New Blood, is premiering soon, so I think it’s about time we talked about Dexter on this podcast. 

    We’ll explore not only the engine of the Dexter series, but also do a deep script analysis of a very specific scene of Dexter to teach you how to create unforgettable images when writing action in a screenplay.

    I have to admit, when Dexter first came out, I was resistant to watching it. I thought, A serial killer who only kills bad people? Talk about taking the easy way out!

    Fortunately, I made the mistake of letting that perspective slip to my fiancé, who promptly sat me down and forced me to watch every single season. It turns out I was completely wrong. 

    This is a show that takes what could be a glossed over, super-palatable Hollywood take on serial killing, and turns it into a really deep exploration of something much more interesting: not what it means to be a serial killer, but what it means to be a human being. 

    It takes a deeply disconnected character, who desperately wants to feel human connection despite being biologically unable to do so, and takes him on a journey where, season after season, he becomes a little bit more human. 

    Along the way, Dexter shows how we all become disconnected as people and as writers.

    It shows how we all keep secrets that cut us off from other human beings, how we all hide ourselves from the people we love most, and how we can all be a little sociopathic at times.

    But Dexter also shows us how we all strive to feel connected. It shows both the beauty and the cost of longing for, and coming closer to, and missing out on opportunities for vulnerability and empathy.

    How this will play out in the new ninth season of Dexter: New Blood remains to be seen. But for the first three seasons, Dexter slices its way through those treacherous waters with a simple but really elegant series engine.

    And though Dexter may stumble a bit in its middle seasons, it finds its way back to what makes it great in a way that is valuable for anybody who wants to really understand how to write for television.

    Usually, when we’re looking at a television series on this podcast, we talk about big complicated things like engine and structure and how they’re put together. And we’re going to cover these concepts in Dexter today as well.  

    But then we’re going to get really deep by looking at Dexter from a different angle, analyzing the way one very specific scene in Dexter was put together and what you can learn from it when it comes to writing action in a screenplay. 

    Through some deep script analysis of Dexter, you’ll  learn not only how to write better action in your screenplay, but also find that idiosyncratic, personal voice in your writing. 



     

    It’s a complicated thing to find your voice in screenwriting, especially when you’re writing a scene in a familiar genre that we’ve seen a million times before, when you’re writing within parameters that maybe seem a little too familiar.

    We’re going to dive deep into one very specific scene, a scene that in other hands could have been extremely boring. It’s the kind of scene that we’ve seen many times before not only in Dexter, but in any show in the cop genre: The scene where the latest murder victim is found. 

    The scene we’re going to look at is at the very beginning of the Season 3 finale, Episode 12: “Do You Take Dexter Morgan.”

    To catch you up on what’s happening up to this point in Dexter I’m going to talk a little bit about the engine of the Dexter series.

    Dexter is a serial killer. The engine of the show is that all Dexter wants is somebody who understands him because for his entire life he has had to keep a terrible secret: He is a sociopath who doesn’t feel anything and carries a “dark passenger” t...

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
235 Ratings

235 Ratings

RoadHouse Rod ,

Character Building

I’ve enjoyed listening to your podcast because it’s gave me new appreciation for character building. Talking about how important the character needs are and what their role is and opening me to see where some films failed and some did it perfectly, thank you.

Arual Zemog ,

Makes me wanna write!

Jake’s approach to screenplays is incredibly introspective and fun. More than a podcast, this feels like a writing class. Nothing is as hard as sitting in front of a blank page, and yet when I’m done hearing an episode, I feel like there’s nothing I wanna do more than write. Jake’s podcast honestly makes it all so tangible. Love love love it!

monarobinson ,

Jacob Krueger is an writing angel to me 😇

I never knew I could be in love with a podcast, but I fell for this one hard. I have been devouring episodes and have had continual a-ha moments. I have had seminars with Jake in the past and it was great to still have access to his helpful insight via this podcast🙌🏽

The WandaVision episode ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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