Why I Love Cold Callers

I know it’s a cold call, designed to sell me some product or cause, even before the caller speaks. Indeed, more often than not the caller doesn’t speak at all. The equipment in telephone boiler rooms dials multiple phone numbers simultaneously. The software connects with the first one that answers, hanging up on the others. […]

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Screenwriting and The Dreadful Weight of Truth

Art, Picasso tells us, is the lie that tells the greater truth. Screenwriters need to learn how to lie through their teeth. As a screenwriting educator and script doctor I have seen more scripts brought down by a writer’s wrongheaded devotion to some idealized, romanticized, self-conscious, narcissistic, pie-in-the-sky notion of The Truth. In script consultation […]

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THE QUALITY OF GENIUS or SNEAKING A CREW BACKSTAGE TO FILM THE ROLLING STONES

 Einstein told us there are two—and only two—constants in the universe: 1) the speed of light and 2) The Rolling Stones. They showed up in downtown Los Angeles last spring celebrating their fiftieth anniversary. The first time I saw them was October of 1965, in Syracuse, New York, when I was enrolled in a jackpot, […]

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The Average Versus the Mean or It’s Not Called Screen Talking

The graduate screenwriting program at UCLA enjoys an embarrassment of riches. We receive fifteen times as many qualified applications as we have available slots for new writers. The ‘take rate’ for students admitted is virtually one hundred percent. That is, among applicants admitted, almost everyone enrolls. Continue reading…  

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Behind the Screen: Getting to Know J.M. Evenson

J. M. Evenson received a Ph.D. in Renaissance literature from the University of Michigan and an M.F.A. from UCLA’s famed School of Theater, Film and Television. At UCLA, she was awarded the Harmony Gold Screenwriting Prize and the Women In Film Eleanor Perry Writing Award and won top honors at the UCLA Showcase Screenwriting Contest. […]

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THE PROFESSOR’S PET PEEVES

  Writing is language; language is words. It often seems to me these days that the English language is under assault. But then maybe I’m just an old professorial fuddy-duddy. Language evolves, doesn’t it? Isn’t the Oxford English Dictionary and, indeed, aren’t all dictionaries merely history books detailing the way particular words were used at […]

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Monthly Screenwriting Tips from Richard Walter: THREE TREATMENTS OF TALIBAN TERROR

On the feature article in this month’s newsletter, Richard Walter shares: “Last night at my house we watched Zero Dark Thirty. It’s not too bad. ‘Not too bad’ from me is really rather a compliment, as I’m notorious for hating all movies. I do not, in fact, hate all movies; I hate merely most movies. […]

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Monthly Screenwriting Tips from Richard Walter: NO LEARNING ALLOWED

The University of California is a research institution. Faculty’s second obligation is to teach. First is what traditional disciplines call “research.” (In The Arts it’s called “creative activity.”) From time to time I’m asked, “Does the University tolerate faculty, in addition to their professorships, engaging in off-campus careers?” They don’t merely tolerate it; they require […]

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Behind the Screen: Getting to Know Susan Hurwitz Arneson

Susan Hurwitz Arneson is a California based television and screenwriter who received her MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA. She has developed shows for several networks and producers and recently sold a pilot to Fox Television Animation. Susan has also pitched, written and developed feature scripts with numerous production companies and studios. Best known for her […]

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My Shower with the Supervisor

I am a compulsive, obsessive swimmer. I swim 1700 meters (just over a mile) seven days a week at UCLA’s incomparable Sunset Canyon Recreation Center. Since joining the film faculty in the ‘70s I have swum (literally) eleven thousands miles in the Donald K. Park Pool. That’s like swimming to New York and back, and […]

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