ERIC EDSON INTERVIEWED BY FILM COURAGE

Eric Edson’s Screenwriting Book Now Available in Chinese

What Is A Typical Career For A Working Screenwriter In Hollywood? by Professor Eric Edson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 03, 2017, Los Angeles:  Eric Edson, author of The Story Solution, a how-to book on screenwriting and storytelling, was recently interviewed by Film Courage.

In his recent interview with Film Courage, Professor Eric Edson recalls the early days of his career and offers sage words of advice to new and aspiring screenwriters.  Eric recounts the sale of his first screenplay and how the reality of being a working screenwriter does not always meet lofty expectations.

Edson, Professor of Screenwriting and Director Emeritus of the MFA Program in Screenwriting at California State University, Northridge, describes how the sale of his first screenplay at the age of 24 changed his direction in life, and led him to enroll in the MFA program at the American Film Institute.

When asked by Film Courage whether he had expected to “capture lightning in a bottle” again in the years immediately following that first sale, he explained that his optimism was definitely tempered with realism. It would be another eight years before Edson sold his next screenplay. He warns that a career as a professional writer is not for the faint of heart, explaining that “you are going to get kicked in the teeth.” His advice is to “toughen your skin,” persevere, and above all else, “learn from everything.” He credits his own eventual success to making himself inevitable by “continuing to crank out original material.” By writing and rewriting and reading many books on screenwriting, he perfected his craft and created a drawer full of good scripts.

Edson cautions those entering the field to have realistic expectations. Much of the work screenwriters sell might not actually be filmed.  In order to achieve even a small amount of success you must be prepared to pay your dues. Overnight sensations are not what the industry is comprised of.  It takes hard work, dedication, the ability to accept defeat without being defeated, and a willingness to “buckle down for the long haul” to make a name and a living for yourself in screenwriting.

Eric Edson’s The Story Solution provides screenwriting tips for those interested in screenplay writing. Seen as one of the best books on screenwriting and currently #1 in its category on China Amazon, Edson outlines 23 actions used to create three dimensional heroes. Visit the website at http://www.thestorysolution.com to learn about writing a movie script. “Like” the Facebook page to receive tips on scriptwriting.

follow this link for the 2nd interview

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YOU DON’T NEED LUCK TO BE A SUCCESSFUL SCREENWRITER…

Hello everyone!  This time of year is all about 4-leaf clover luck and tradition – people wearing green and throwing parties. You may find yourself getting pinched if you don’t wear your green!

March is also known for “March Madness,” the college basketball tournament. Do you have a favorite team? At the Story Solution website and Facebook Page we’re always on your team, offering tips and instructional videos and free sample script analyses to help cheer you on toward screenwriting success with the proven Hero Goal Sequences method of creating dynamic stories and exciting, character-driven screenplays.

(And just let me mention… to simplify things, I use one word, “Hero,” to mean any man, woman, child, animated flower, one-eyed one-horn flying purple people eater – or any other character who has the lead role in any story.)

Truth is, I have analyzed hundreds of films and taught hundreds of screenwriting graduate students how to identify the story sequences and elements of character needed to write award-winning scripts. And I put it all in my book, The Story Solution, which outlines the 23 Actions All Heroes Must Take to keep audiences captivated.

What makes The Story Solution stand out from the rest? Most books on screenwriting – and there are many good ones – offer advice or story-building systems based on abstract ideas. It’s frequently overlooked out there that successful visual storytelling requires you to master one overriding physical, practical concept: CHANGE. Change must flow in constant visual MOTION to drive a story forward – the same way a shark must keep moving to stay alive. And the amount of change required in any feature film story can actually be physically measured.

I have discovered that there’s a universal number of “change units” required for audiences to be drawn into any film story and really feel it.  Each of these specifically timed short sequences contain common plot developing events. Not just the this-is-where-the-hero-beats-up-all-the-bad-guys kind of advice, but a series of actions in a specific order, appearing at predictable moments in a story.

And here’s how I know I’m right.  There once lived a playwright named Sophocles who wrote a smash hit play called “Oedipus Rex”… about 2500 years ago. I took a very close look at that play (and hundreds of others) and found that the storytelling is physically structured exactly like all major hit movies are today. The human mind has ALWAYS processed and enjoyed stories in the same way. It’s how our brains are built. It’s physically how we absorb – and feel – a story.

So if you master these specific steps of change, every screenplay you write with them will have the potential to become a winner with audiences.

Hey, it may sound to you like I’m full of hot air, and well, okay, at times there might be some truth to that idea. But in this case, I’M NOT WRONG about the power of Hero Goal Sequences.

As a tenured full-professor at California State University, Northridge, I have proven it to my graduate students many hundreds of times over. Every semester, I turn Hero Goal Sequence doubters into Hero Goal Sequence believers.

But some of you may still be thinking this all sounds way too clinical and soulless. Just 23 predictable sequences? Heck no! Where’s the creativity in 23 pieces of anything?!  What about ART?

Well, may I point out that there are only 26 letters in the English language? Just 26. And people have been creating great literature with those same 26 letters for centuries.  There are only 12 keys on a piano, and those same 12 keys are merely repeated on the keyboard at an ever higher octave pitch to constitute a piano. During the last few centuries, has “the problem” of only having 12 repeating keys ever limited creativity in music?

In The Story Solution you will learn:

  • The Secrets of Story Structure. How to put together your story the way professional screenwriters do. Instead of floundering and suffering over “oh what will my hero do next???” you will KNOW what they need to do next. By identifying the 23 Actions All Heroes Must Take, building your story will become a clear and specifically coached process for creating every two to seven page sequence in your script – and you’ll be constructing the right actions in your story to shape full, memorable heroes and heroines that audiences will love to follow.
  • How to Create Dynamic Characters. Having an engaging story is essential. But what’s a story without vivid characters bringing it to life? Learn to write dynamic characters that hook your viewers and make them burn to know what those characters will do next.

  • Rewriting skills. learn how to shape and test every scene and sequence to make sure they all move your story and characters forward to a fulfilling climax. The Story Solution is filled with tips and methods to make your rewriting process far less painful and much more rewarding.

Other key tools revealed:

  • How to write Powerful Dialogue

  • How to choose the best Character Categories to use in your story

  • How to Spot and Fix Story Problems before they become baked in

  • The secret to writing Powerful Character Growth.

And oh so much more.

BY THE WAY – The Story Solution HAS ONCE AGAIN HIT #1 BEST SELLER IN THREE BOOK CATEGORIES on CHINA AMAZON: Film and TV – Animation – Graphic Novels

So deeply pleased and excited. Thanks, China!

All Very Best Wishes,


About The Story Solution: Eric Edson’s The Story Solution provides screenwriting tips for those interested in screenplay writing. Seen as one of the best books on screenwriting and currently #1 in its category on China Amazon, Edson outlines 23 actions used to create three dimensional heroes. Visit the website at  http://www.thestorysolution.com to learn about writing a movie script. “Like” the Facebook page to receive tips on scriptwriting. Call (818) 677-7808 for information about writing a movie script.

FINAL DRAFT® NOW PARTNERS WITH “THE STORY SOLUTION”

FINAL DRAFT® Now Partners With "The Story Solution"

Dear Writers All,

As you know, I’m ever on the lookout for ways to help you become more adept at the art and craft of writing a movie script or novel. In addition to utilizing the writing tips available in my book, The Story Solution, I encourage all writers to take advantage of every tool at their disposal to help make their screenwriting and novel writing efforts more successful. That is why I am so pleased to announce that The Story Solution has now partnered with FINAL DRAFT® 10 – the world’s most popular screenwriting software!

Eric Edson’s “The Story Solution” HERO GOAL SEQUENCES® Story Structure Paradigm is now a downloadable template included in FINAL DRAFT® 10.  

FINAL DRAFT® is a tremendous resource for all screenwriters. It is a fully dedicated screenwriting software application that automatically paginates and formats scripts to Hollywood’s stringent industry standards, allowing writers to do what they do best – write scripts. For the past 25 years, the name FINAL DRAFT® has been synonymous with Hollywood, and I am delighted to join in this partnership with FINAL DRAFT®. Their latest version, FINAL DRAFT® 10, offers new productivity-improving templates.

And the Story Solution’s Hero Goal Sequences® template is in some pretty good company! The FINAL DRAFT® 10 educational additions now include:

  • Eric Edson’s Hero Goal Sequences® Structure Template: As you write, this integrated template coaches you onward, action by action, helping to build your story and weave your characters through it, to create the strongest possible impact on readers and audiences. Based on Eric’s book “The Story Solution”.
  • Michael Hauge’s 6-Stage Structure Template: Top Hollywood script consultant and story expert Michael Hauge identifies six essential stages to any well structured story.  Michael’s approach is defined by five key turning points as used in successful Hollywood films.
  • Chris Vogler’s The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers Template:Chris’s mythological approach to story is based on his book, “The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition”, published by Michael Wiese Productions.
  • Jen Grisanti’s Story Worksheet For Writing A TV Pilot:  Script consultant, top studio executive, author, and internationally known instructor Jen Grisanti presents her template specifically for TV writing.
  • Richard Walter’s Template: Richard Walter is a movie industry consultant, author, and longtime chairman of UCLA’s graduate program in screenwriting.
  • Donna M. Anderson’s Screenplay 1-3-5 Story Structure Template: Former story analyst and development exec Donna Michelle Anderson is the author of three books.

If you are planning to submit your screenplay soon to an agent or contest, be aware that FINAL DRAFT® is the expected industry formatting standard, used by top studios and production companies worldwide including: NBC Universal, Paramount, ABC, Sony Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, Warner Brothers and many, many others.

Other FINAL DRAFT® 10 features that screenplay writers will appreciate include:

  • Story Map™: This tool offers you a high-level view of your story and allows you to easily preview and navigate to scenes.
  • Beat Board™: A brainstorming tool that gives you total freedom to organize your ideas as they come to you completely within your .fdx file.
  • Collaboration: Work on your script remotely in real time with your writing partner(s).
  • Alternate Dialogue: Store alternate lines of dialogue within the script for easy reference.

I am thrilled about this new partnership with FINAL DRAFT®, and look forward to finding even more ways to help you become a great screenwriter or novelist.

If you want to find out more about how you can write successful screenplays, check out my website and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy Writing!
Eric Edson


About The Story Solution: Eric Edson’s The Story Solution provides screenwriting tips for those interested in screenplay writing. Seen as one of the best books on screenwriting and currently #1 in its category on China Amazon, Edson outlines 23 actions used to create three dimensional heroes. Visit the website at  http://www.thestorysolution.com  to learn about writing a movie script. “Like” the Facebook page to receive tips on scriptwriting. Call (818) 677-7808 for information about writing a movie script.

Eric Edson To Provide Scriptwriting Tips At Story Expo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 27, 2014, Los Angeles CA: When writing screenplays, all aspiring screenwriters face a challenge in building their hero’s journey large enough to fill the big screen.  Authors who want to gain those skills necessary for mastering movie storytelling should attend Eric Edson’s classes on screenplay writing at the upcoming Story Expo.

Accomplished screenwriter, professor and author of the best-selling book, The Story Solution: 23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take, Edson advises authors to focus on “Hero Goal Sequences” when writing a movie script. They help transition the story from one scene to the next, build audience support for the story’s hero, and link together all parts of the story. Referencing it as one of the best books on screenwriting, author Jessica Davis Stein says The Story Solution “may well be the best cure for writer’s block ever written.”

Story Expo takes place from September 5-7, 2014 at the Westin LAX Hotel in Los Angeles, CA.  The Expo is billed as the world’s biggest convention for writers from all mediums including screenplay writers, TV writers, novelists, and filmmakers. Attendees will learn the craft of storytelling, determine which medium is best for their story, and learn how to package and pitch ideas and scripts.

Edson is one of over 100 world-renowned speakers who will discuss all aspects of storytelling. His first class on Friday, September 5, from 3:45 to 5:15 p.m., covers “14 Character Types in All Screen Stories.” Understanding the fourteen character types available to a screenplay writer is crucial to writing powerful scripts. Edson breaks down all story characters into the 14 categories every screenwriter should know.

His second class, on Saturday, September 6, from 3:45 to 5:15 p.m., covers “10 Plot Forms In All Great Movies.” Scriptwriting involves many choices, and figuring out the right plot form is key, says Edson. These important plot forms offer powerful story-creating tools. He presents all ten plot forms in detail, and reveals the story advantages and differences of each.

Edson’s final class, on Sunday, September 7, from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m., covers “Building Great Stories – Hero Goal Sequences.” Mastering screen story structure is both a challenge and essential skill for screenplay writers.  Here the author details his powerful story-building concept of Hero Goal Sequences.

“I’m really looking forward to the Expo,” commented Edson. “I enjoy sharing my knowledge about writing screenplays with aspiring screenwriters. Story Expo is the ultimate environment for those who want to concentrate on the art and craft of telling a story.”

About The Story Solution:  The Story Solution, by accomplished screenwriter Eric Edson, is an in-depth handbook for authors who are writing a movie script. It reveals the 23 actions screenplay writers use to create dynamic, three dimensional heroes. Visit the website at http://www.thestorysolution.com/ to download a sample chapter of the book“Like” the Facebook page to receive screenwriting tips and insider insights on writing screenplays.

The Story Solution Hits 2000 LIKES on Facebook

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 15, 2014, Los Angeles, CA: Anyone who is interested in writing a movie script knows what it is like to struggle. They look for ideas, insights and inspiration everywhere, especially online. Based on its recent achievement of receiving over 2000 “likes,” one favorite information source is the Facebook page for screenwriting author Eric Edson’s book, The Story Solution: 23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take.

Eric Edson utilizes social media channels to educate and encourage aspiring screenplay writers. He sees the Facebook page as a natural extension of his teaching inclinations. To connect and engage site visitors, Edson includes a “Log Line Challenge” each month to pull out story ideas. Regular polls are used to help initiate discussion among members about the book-to-movie writing process. He also seeks to build a screenwriting community by asking participants to share stories of achievement in order to help motivate others to break through their barriers.

“Of course I am thrilled that my Facebook page has achieved this milestone,” commented Edson. “But I am even prouder of the online community we are building to help those who want to learn more about writing a screenplay. I think it is great to be a storyteller, and want to do whatever I can to present actionable career advice and provide meaningful assistance for those who share my passion for creating exciting characters and believable story lines.”

Edson has written seventeen feature screenplays for companies such as Sony, Warner Brothers, Disney, 20th Fox, ABC Motion Pictures, Lifetime, Showtime, NBC, and TNT. He is a Professor of Screenwriting and Director of the Graduate MFA Program in Screenwriting at California State University, Northridge, lectures through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, and was a featured speaker at Story Expo 2014. If you are seeking advice on writing a screenplay or looking for screenwriting tips, The Story Solution is one of the best books on screenwriting to consider for your library.

About The Story Solution: Eric Edson’s The Story Solution is an in-depth handbook for those who are interested in scriptwriting. It reveals the 23 actions used to create dynamic, three dimensional heroes as a screenplay writer. Visit the website at http://www.thestorysolution.com to download a sample chapter of the book about screenplay writing“Like” the Facebook page to receive insider insights on writing screenplays.

Eric Edson's The Story Solution

Screenwriting Blog: 15 Noteworthy Art Professors in Los Angeles

TheArtCareerProject.com

We have spent a fair amount of time highlighting the work of artists and the impact they have made on the art world as a whole, but there is another type of art professional who is constantly leaving their mark on the art world as well – art professors. In many cases, these people are the behind-the-scenes contributors who not only influence the art world through their own work but also by helping groom the next generation of young artists. Of course to sit here and try to put together a list of all the art professors across the country worth highlighting would be nearly impossible, so we decided to break up geographically and start in one of the most culturally rich and artistically diverse cities in the entire country – Los Angeles.

Cathy Opie

1. Catherine Opie, Professor of Photography, UCLA

Many people can go an entire lifetime without realizing what they want to be when they grow up. Catherine Opie realized by the time she was nine that she wanted to be a social-documentary photographer. If it sounds a bit specific, that’s because it is, but to her credit, the Ohio native made her dream a reality and is now an internationally recognized documentary photographer and a tenured professor of photography at UCLA. Armed with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute and a Master’s in Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts, Opie has both the real-world experience and academic know-how to make an excellent professor and clearly, she is already well on her way. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/csopie

2. Meg Cranston, Chair of Fine Arts, Otis College Art and Design

A multi-discipline artist who can count sculpture, painting, and writing among her many artistic endeavors, Meg Cranston is an artist through and through. She also just so happens to be the Chair of Fine Arts at the prestigious Otis College of Art and Design. She originally started teaching just to support her work but soon realized the importance of art education in Los Angeles and has become one of the more well-recognized art educators in the City of Angels. Her experience and talent alone should justify her ability to teach, but her recognition of the importance of art education and her passion for teaching help set her apart in a city full of artists and art educators.

3. Ron Rizk, Professor of Fine Arts, USC

Rizk has a BFA in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and an MFA in Painting & Printmaking, from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He has had solo exhibition of his work displayed on both coasts and his work can still be seen at the Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego in Balboa Park. Did we mention he is also a respected and well-liked fine arts professors at one of the country’s foremost schools for the arts? Rizk has taught drawing and painting and more at USC and his students seem to find him fun, easy-going, and passionate about the subject. Some students credit him with helping them learn to love drawing and others talk about his patience and ability to engage even the non-art-centric students who take his class. Trust us that is easier said than done.

Credit: Mayte Delgado

4. Adele Bass, Graphic Design Professor, Art Center College of Design

Although she calls herself a “graphic design consultant” in her bio, “graphic design guru” is probably a more apt title. Bass is an award-winning and accomplished graphic designer who boasts previous clients such as the Los Angeles Zoo, USC, and the City of Pasadena. She is also something of a homegrown talent. After getting a Bachelor’s degree from SUNY-Binghamton, Bass went on to earn her BFA and MFA from Art Center College of Design and is still teaching there today. Bass has earned a reputation as a tough but fair teacher whose criticism is stern and helpful without being insulting. She is considered a first-class typographer with a real passion for the subject and is enthusiastic about helping her students learn.

5. Judith Royer, Theatre Professor, Loyola Marymount University

After being bestowed with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for her 40-year career as a theatre professor, you shouldn’t really need much else to understand that Judith Royer is an exceptional art educator. Royer has taught at LMU for more than 40 years and has directed more than 35 plays and 40 original scripts. She has also endeared herself to her students with her charming personality and passion and knowledge for the theatre. Teaching theatre is more difficult than teaching other, more technical and tangible art subjects, because it deals with the abstract more often and good theatre can often be a matter of personal opinion. That said, few professors are able to teach any subject for more than 20 years let alone 40 years. That she has been able to teach for this long is a testament to her skill and perseverance.

6. Craig Elliott, Figurative Art Professor, Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art

Apparently the Art Center College of Design has a prolific teaching tree because Elliott is the second instructor on this list to receive his education from the prestigious school. As an artist, Elliott is both experienced in the world of fine art and in animation where he has worked on animated films for Disney and Dreamworks. Did we mention that he also dabbles in landscape architecture, sculpting and jewelry design? Yeah, the guy is multi-talented. His teaching career includes stints as a visual arts teacher at the Art Center College of Design as well as the Pacific Institute of Art and Design and now the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art, Gnomon School of Visual Effects, and Motivarti.org. It’s one thing to learn from an instructor who is knowledgeable and passionate about the subject. It’s another thing entirely to learn from someone so accomplished and versatile in his own field, which is why Elliott deserves the shout out. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/craig_elliott

Todd Boyd

7. Todd Boyd, Critical Studies Professor, USC

At one of the country’s most famous film schools, it can be difficult to stand out, unless you’re Dr. Todd Boyd of course. The endowed chair for the Study of Race & Popular Culture and Critical Studies Professor, Boyd is an extremely well-known media commentator especially when it comes to the intersection of race and pop culture. He is a prolific writer and author with a number of well-known books published, he is a regular on ESPN and other news outlets, and he is also not coincidentally a well-liked teacher in his classes. He joined the faculty in 1992 and has been teaching ever since. His students rave about his charisma and his ability to make lectures interesting and he also has plenty of passion about the subjects he teaches. He was an easy inclusion on the list. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DrToddBoyd

8. Michael Zakian, Art History Professor, Pepperdine University

Although he is only listed as an adjunct art professor at Pepperdine, Zakian is a staple at the University where he is not only a well-liked teacher but also the Director of the University’s Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art. Making Art History fascinating can occasionally be a difficult task, but students rave about Zakian’s ability to transform his passion for the subject into interesting lectures and courses on the subject. He is also an accomplished artist who has been working at the Weisman Museum for the better part of two decades, helping him earn plenty of recognition in the Southern California art world. Pepperdine is an oft-forgotten art community in Los Angeles especially in the shadow of USC and UCLA, but Zakian has helped the university earn plenty of acclaim in the last 20 years and has managed to engage many young students in the world of Art History as well.

9. Mark Ruwedel, Professor of Photography, Cal-State Long Beach

Ruwedel has been a professor since 1984 and a talented photographer since long before then. He received his MFA from Concordia University in Montreal in 1983 and spent nearly the next two decades teaching there before moving to Long Beach and teaching at Cal-State Long Beach. He is an award-winning photographer whose work has been exhibited in some of the country’s most famous museums (the J. Paul Getty Museum and the San Francisco MOMA to name two) and he is also an excellent professor who was awarded the Outstanding Faculty Award from the University in 2010 and receives high marks from students for his dedication to helping them because better photographers and soft-spoken demeanor. Sometimes it is difficult for accomplished artists to transition into excellent professors, but given his experience in both fields, Ruwedel has clearly struck the ideal balance.

Dan Neuman

10. Daniel Neuman, Ethnomusicology Professor, UCLA

Technically Neuman counts as a music teacher, but he is as much an anthropologist as he is a music teacher. Oh and he also happens to be one of the university’s most popular music professors. Neuman got his Bachelor’s degree and his PhD from the University of Illinois in Anthropology but quickly blended his love for culture with music when he developed World Music Navigator, a computerized ethno-atlas. He is also an accomplished author with three books about music and culture (especially in India) to his name and has an impressive resume from academia as well. Neuman previously taught at the University of Washington, where he was the Director of the School of Music for a decade before moving to UCLA to serve as Dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture and as UCLA’s Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost. He gets high marks from his students for his knowledge and passion of the subjects and also for being helpful and approachable in class. That’s more than enough for us to give him some well-earned recognition.

Bruce Claypool

11. Bruce Claypool, Design Professor, Art Center College of Design

The Art Center College of Design is one of the most prestigious design schools in California if not the entire country and so it’s only fitting that one of its most popular design professors makes our list of noteworthy professors. Students don’t just like Claypool – they love him. Almost everyone agrees that his classes are hard and that he expects a lot out of his students, but they also almost universally agree that you leave his classes as a better artist than when you came in. A graduate of the Art Center College of Design himself, Claypool was the former Art Director for NFL properties and his work has been featured in countless galleries in and out of the immediate area. It may not be easy to get an “A” grade in his class, but if you are going to school to become a great artist, Claypool is the kind of professor you want to cross paths with.

12. Theresa Hayes, Director of Instruction, American Academy of the Dramatic Arts

A star graduate of the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Arts at the ripe old age of 19, Hayes has been a performing arts staple in Los Angeles ever since. She starting teaching at the Academy in 1992 and is now the Director of Instruction and Managing Director of the Academy. She has founded her own production company, starred and appeared in countless theater performances, worked in television and film, and has been a guest instructor and choreographer for many more works of performance art. She has likely forgotten more about the theater than most will ever know. She is also known as a passionate teacher by her students who really tries hard to get the most out of their abilities and thus deserves a spot on our list as much as anyone.

Eric Edson

13. Eric Edson, Screenwriting Professor, Cal-State Northridge

A screenwriting veteran with 17 feature screenplays under his belt, Edson is really the perfect person to be the Director of the Graduate Program in Screenwriting at California State University, Northridge. He even moonlights as a lecturer through the UCLA Writers’ program and a number of the screenplays he has worked on have been produced by major companies such as Sony, Warner Brothers, and Disney. He is also the author of the popular screenwriting book called “The Story Solution: 23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take” and is a dedicated and knowledgeable professor who has helped churn out more than his fair share of accomplished screenwriting students. The graduate program at Northridge has received a lot of acclaim under his direction and his passion for the craft shines through in his teaching as well.

14. Marc Lowenstein, Theater Professor, California Institute of the Arts

An active conductor, singer, composer, and one of the most highly recommended teachers at Cal Arts by his students, Lowenstein is a no-brainer for this list. He has conducted on New York City Opera’s VOX showcase festival, the premiere of Anne LeBaron’s WETand was music director for a number of US premieres. He has sang in a number of performances as well and is an accomplished musician capable of playing a bunch of different instruments. At the California Institute of the Arts he teaches theory, skills, history, and composition and his students give him high marks for his attention to detail, willingness to help, and his innate ability to make lectures and class time more interesting. This kind of combination of experience and teaching savvy is hard to find, which is of course why Lowenstein is on the list in the first place.

Jack Epps

15. Jack Epps Jr., Associate Professor of Writing for Screen and Television, USC

We have to end the list strong and there is no better way to end it than highlighting the Chair of the Writing Department at one of the country’s most revered film schools. Epps studied screenwriting as an undergraduate at Michigan State University and not long afterwards he was writing episodes for shows like Hawaii Five-O and Kojak. He also has experience as a cinematographer and co-authored famous movies like Top Gun and Turner & Hooch. It’s clear that he is a talented and knowledgeable screenwriter and his students seem to agree. They give him rave reviews for his knowledge and admit that it doesn’t take long to become a markedly better screenwriter under Epps’ tutelage. Simply put, the man is a screenwriting legend and for him to still be passing his craft along to other students says a lot about his passion for teaching and helping the next generation of screenwriters.

All of the wonderful content and creativity on theartcareerproject.com is brought to you by+Leah Jachimowicz. Leah graduated from University of California at Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and has a Master of Fine Arts from Academy of Art. She has long wanted to enjoy a career in the arts and now has that luxury as the head art expert of TACP as well as being the owner of printmaking boutique Coffee n Cream Press in San Francisco, CA. Read more about Leah and her journey through her education to art business owner: On printmaking and how it’s a “labor of love”.

SOURCE: TheArtCareerProject.com/15-noteworthy-art-professors-los-angeles/9901/

Best Screenwriting Books: What I Learned From 6 Great Movie Villains

Movie Villains

When I teach about writing a movie script, I advise students that it takes real work to become a great screenplay writer who makes characters come alive. In my book, The Story Solution: 23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take, I discuss writing screenplays that use Hero Goal Sequences® to create dynamic heroes, but a screenplay can also become successful when memorable villains are created as well. Screenplay writers love to add a villain who serves as a counter-balance for their hero.

The best books on screenwriting reveal that movies work because of conflict – the better the conflict, the better the movie. When it comes to scriptwriting, a great villain can make a good movie terrific. Here is what I learned from six great movie villains:

  • Willem Dafoe in “Spider-Man”: The Green Goblin and Spider-Man are similar because they are both transformed. While Peter Parker turns to fighting evil, Norman Osborn taps into his psyche’s dark side. This echoed inner conflict reflects the struggle we all have when choosing between good and evil.
  • Tom Cruise in “Collateral”: Cruise plays Vincent, a hired killer who takes Jamie Foxx’s unsuspecting cab driver, Max, along as he eliminates people on a hit list. Vincent constantly thinks about what life means, even as he takes it. In an argument the driver calls Vincent a sociopath, while Vincent derides him for being so passive. After the car crashes and the hit man runs off, Max realizes the next person on the hit list was his recent passenger Annie – a woman he “hit on” himself. Max turns hero as he rushes off to save Annie. This villain was necessary for our hero to be confronted about his faults, and learn what he was capable of achieving.
  • Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”: Streep plays the villain who sparks a transformation in Anne Hathaway’s mousy character. Although she spends most of the film being unbearably demanding, the curtain is pulled back and we see her anguish over her personal life. The best screenwriting books provide advice on how to make an audience empathize with a villain, but here it is done to perfection.  Give your villain their own inner suffering.
  • Angela Lansbury in “The Manchurian Candidate”: Before becoming the dowager detective in TV’s Murder, She Wrote, Lansbury played the perfect villainess as Mrs. Iselin. Hailed by Time as one of the top 25 best villains, she twists the ideals of motherhood into evil while directing her son on a killing spree that will lead to her husband becoming president. This is the perfect example of screenplay writing that turns the notions of hero and villain upside-down when mothers are villains and assassins are heroes.
  • Stephen Lang in “Avatar”: Lang played the villainous Colonel Miles Quaritch in James Cameron’s original Avatar so well that he will be back for all three sequels. According to Hero Complex, Lang’s secret is that he was just playing a man doing his job. “He makes choices. Quaritch cauterized some aspects of his soul. Dirty wars numbed his psyche and spirit, but I did not go at him as a villain.”
  • Michael Douglas in “Wall Street”: Even after more than 25 years we remember Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good” advice. Douglas provides a great example of how a villain corrupts a young associate who is the hero of the story, Charlie Sheen, as Bud Fox. Bud is conflicted between following Gekko’s ideals or his own father’s. Our young hero eventually realizes there is more to life than money and turns against his former mentor.

 

I hope these thoughts on screenwriting help aspiring screenwriters learn how to define their onscreen heroes and villains. To learn more about writing a great story, attend Story Expo 2014, coming September 5-7 to Los Angeles. I’ll speak, along with many other great lecturers, on the art and craft of storytelling.

Good Luck and Good Writing!

Eric Edson

screenwriting book author eric edson Eric Edson

About The Story Solution:  The Story Solution was written by accomplished screenwriter Eric Edson. It reveals the 23 actions used to create dynamic, three dimensional heroes and link all parts of a captivating screenplay. He also covers screenwriting tips, screenwriting resources, and screenwriting books. Visit the website and Facebook page or call 818-677-3192 for more information.