Our Screenwriters Discuss Movies
Did you catch the 95th Academy Awards ceremony on March 12th? There were some amazing moments! Who wasn’t crying during Ke Huy Quan’s acceptance speech? Whether or not you got to watch the Oscars or even got to see any of the movies nominated, all the buzz gets us excited about movies. Do you know who really gets excited about movies? The PWN Screen Academy.
Project Write Now’s Screen Academy is dedicated to growing a creative community and supporting screenwriters in their pursuit of artistic excellence and commercial success.
Who better to ask what about movies than our dedicated Screenwriting Incubator students? Here’s what they said …
Jennifer Chauhan said:
I am relatively new to screenwriting and learning all of the intricacies of crafting a story that pulls you into a world that feels both familiar and completely fresh and engaging. As I’ve been exploring the “beats,” I find myself paying close attention to which movies not only hit them but do so in a way that it’s not blatantly obvious. The storytelling is so good that I am all in, emotionally invested in the characters and the journey they are on. For me, a movie that I’m still thinking about today is last year’s Academy Award Winner for Best Picture, CODA, written and directed by Sian Heder, about Ruby, the only hearing member of her deaf family, who has discovered a passion for singing. I love Indie character-driven films, and this one has become my go-to mentor text.
Jillian Donadio said:
When thinking of a movie that captivates me, I think of one that connects with my mind and soul—a film that stays with me throughout my everyday life and pops into my brain during exciting and banal moments alike. Since its release in 2016, the film that lurks in my subconscious is Manchester by the Sea. Bolstered by excellent acting performances, Kenneth Lonnergan’s script and execution of it to the screen serve as an unnerving and scarily accurate portrayal of the devastation that tragedy and trauma leave behind with its survivors. Lonnergan’s dialogue and scene work are subtle; even in an innocuous scene where the characters talk about ordering pizza for dinner, the underlying subtext is rife with the grief and uncertainty that surrounds them. Ultimately, this story remains with me because it is a cautionary tale of resisting our difficult and painful feelings and the ways in which this reluctance can stifle us from healing and moving forward in life.
Michael Etra said:
My friend and fellow Screenwriting Incubator classmate John Leary who knows my love of comedy, gave me a book, Caddyshack, The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story. It gives a portrait of an era in the evolution of comedy just following the release of Animal House, (perhaps the most successful raunchy college movie ever made, when John Belushi became the leading first man of comedy.)
How three Harvard students with deranged minds managed to convince a major studio to produce this movie about a miscreant golf caddy at a blue-blooded country club is a story in itself. It wasn’t until the test screening, where the laughter never stopped, that the studio heads realized they had tapped into something different. In their wildest dreams, who knew it would go on to make over $150 million and bring names like Billy Murray, Chevy Chase into the forefront of comedy? A new generation of comedy was born, call it stupid, immature or gross, I dare you not to laugh. And I can’t wait to show both movies to my seven-year-old son.
Our PWN Screen Academy director, Lizzie Finn said:
I spend most of my time analyzing movies when I watch them because I’m not just a screenwriting instructor and script consultant, I’m also a perennial student. I’m always paying attention to craft and structure. I can’t help but deconstruct what works and what doesn’t. However, even while analyzing with a critical, logical mind, I primarily watch films with an open and curious heart. More than anything I respond best to movies that MOVE me. As a viewer, I’m not looking for an intellectual experience. I’m looking to laugh, cry, or hide my eyes in terror. I want to get on a roller coaster and enjoy every twist and turn until the end. While I watch dozens of films each year, there are probably only half a dozen that truly get under my skin and resonate deeply within me. These are the ones that stay with me long after the movie is over. In the past year, the films that moved me? Elvis, The Banshees of Inisherin, She Said, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, The Black Phone, and Everything, Everywhere All At Once.
John Leary said:
I am always drawn back to the 1968 American independent horror film Night of the Living Dead. George A. Romero ferocious film rewrote all of the horror movie rules. Romero and his co-screenwriter John Russo, crafted a film that was a dark mirror of the times. Uncompromising. Unapologetic. Shocking. And while there have been filmmakers who have paid homage to Romero’s vision, few have given us something so original. I have watched the film at midnight revival screenings and on every home video format, VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, Bluray, and now 4K and I will purchase whatever form it comes in next because I will always revisit this brilliant, waking nightmare.