The 21st Rewrite

The 21st Rewrite header image 1

The Village - Writers’ Workshop

Writers' Workshop - How do you write a film with a twist ending?

This week, William takes a look at M. Night Shyamalan's 'The Village', a film that was released with high audience expectations from a writer-director who had notoriously become so associated with the 'twist ending' that the anticipation and predictions possibly undermined the story he was trying to tell. This episode covers the allegory at the heart of this story, thoughts about how to build terror and suspense in writing, and an insight into a critical element of twist endings that might help you write a great one yourself!

Bonus: Hear how the original screenplay 'The Woods' ends.

***

Want to comment, get news and join episode discussions? Join the community on Reason: https://reason.fm/podcast/the-21st-rewrite. Instagram: @the21strewrite. Website contact page: https://www.the21strewrite.com/contact

***

Episode navigation:

Introduction and podcast update (0:00)

Audience expectations (8:50)

This week's big question (10:57)

How an ensemble of characters makes a village (14:08)

On distractions and red herrings (20:56)

What you cannot see or describe is scarier (23:36)

The midpoint and Shyamalan's statement (26:41)

What really makes a twist work (29:26)

The best character moment in the screenplay (31:45)

Truth(s) revealed, the power of nightmares (35:55)

Who is affected by the final 'twist' (39:29)

Sully (2016) — with Todd Komarnicki

'Insightful Interview' episode with Todd Komarnicki: a writer, director and producer best known for writing ‘Elf’, ‘Sully’ and ‘The Professor and the Madman’. We talk about Todd’s path into becoming a writer, getting feedback, and screenwriting as a craft. The second half of our conversation focuses on the modern-day classic 'Sully', turning a real-life event into a compelling narrative, the responsibilities a writer has towards the real person who the story is based on, and the themes of everyday heroism, man versus bureaucracy and the impact that Clint Eastwood had on the film.

***

Want to comment, get news and join episode discussions? Join the community on Syncify: https://syncify.fm/podcast/the-21st-rewrite. Instagram: @the21strewrite. Website contact page: https://www.the21strewrite.com/contact

***

Episode navigation:

Introduction - Todd's early life (1:54)

Sports and narrative (6:35)

Learning to write (8:05)

Screenwriting as a craft (13:57)

Advice to new writers (16:45)

Going beyond describing just sight and sound (18:55)

Brevity and limited page count (20:11)

Feedback and who to trust (22:23)

Rewrites and long-term career thinking (27:04)

How did 'Sully' come about? (33:22)

What stood out about Todd's pitch for 'Sully'? (38:48)

Theme of being treated as a hero when you don't feel you are one (41:03)

Sacred trust in portraying a real person (42:45)

Handing over your writing and trust (45:30)

What did Clint Eastwood contribute to the story? (48:27)

Influence of data-driven society on 'Sully' (52:04)

Legacy of 9/11 in 'Sully' (57:55)

1917 - Writers’ Workshop

Writers' Workshop - Why write a film designed to be made in the 'one-shot style? What can '1917' teach us about the storytelling benefits that can result from this approach?

This week's intro contains some thoughts on joining a writers' group. The main topic is a screenplay breakdown of Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns' '1917', exploring how the narrative rules work in a real-time sequential story, the themes of remembrance and the metaphor of the unknown soldier, and plenty of observations and writing tips along the way.

Bonus: Hear the epigraphs included on the first page of the screenplay!

***

Want to comment, get news and join episode discussions? Join the community on Syncify: https://syncify.fm/podcast/the-21st-rewrite. Instagram: @the21strewrite. Website contact page: https://www.the21strewrite.com/contact

***

Episode navigation:

Writers' groups (2:21)

Introduction to 1917 (9:56)

This week's big question (14:11)

Why is one-shot filmmaking considered a gimmick? (18:09)

One-shot is how we experience life (20:14)

Blake/Schofield as the Unknown Soldier and universal protagonist (22:59)

Hook the audience from the first page (25:29)

The narrative rules of sequential screenwriting (27:26)

How we interpret time in film (30:23)

1917's opening structure (32:53)

Entry into the unfamiliar world: No Man's Land (37:01)

Approaching the midpoint (41:23)

Telling two stories on-screen simultaneously (42:32)

Key points of learning from the midpoint (44:55)

How to continue after *that* midpoint (48:42)

Breaking the film's own 'one-shot' rule, and why (51:13)

The final sequences: resurrection (53:49)

Key points from the ending (57:37)

Conclusion (59:39)

Oscars 2021: The Father, Promising Young Woman and all of the Screenwriting Nominees

It's the 21st Rewrite's annual breakdown of the screenplays that the Academy considers the best of the year, and what a strange and difficult year it has been! William is joined by some great guests, Adam Azulay (Apple TV+), Ralph Leonard (UnHerd) and Eposi Litumbe (Mayflower) to talk to you all about ‘Promising Young Woman’, ‘The Father’ and the other nominees for the two screenwriting categories. 

***

Which was your favourite screenplay of the last year, did it make the list? Join the community on Syncify: https://syncify.fm/podcast/the-21st-rewrite. Instagram: @the21strewrite. Website contact page: https://www.the21strewrite.com/contact

Locke (2013) - Screenplay by Steven Knight

Why is writing a single location screenplay a good idea for new writers? How does 'Locke' illustrate how this can be done?

This is another solo writing analysis and writing workshop. The intro includes tips on how to beat writer's block! Today's main topic is a screenplay breakdown of Steven Knight's 'Locke', exploring its themes, its structure and is concluded with William's theory on single location screenplays - they need to be four dimensional. Follow up and 'What to do next' assignment.

Bonus: Hear the inspiration for Tom Hardy's accent in the film!

***

Want to comment, get news and join episode discussions? Join the community on Syncify: https://syncify.fm/podcast/the-21st-rewrite. Instagram: @the21strewrite. Website contact page: https://www.the21strewrite.com/contact

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) - Screenplay by Steven Spielberg

For the first time on the podcast, this is a solo episode, which is a brave experiment for a podcast that has, until now, been purely conversational! This week's screenplay topic is Steven Spielberg's 'A.I. Artificial Intelligence', a project that was largely developed by Stanley Kubrick until it was finally passed on to Spielberg and finally put into production shortly after Kubrick passed away. By testing out the solo podcast format, William tries to cover two major concepts for you: firstly, why does the act structure feel slightly different in 'A.I.', and secondly, how do the mythological underpinnings of the legend of Pinocchio inform, shape and find themselves reinvented in the story of David, the robotic child.

***

Want to comment, get news and join episode discussions? Join the community on Syncify: https://syncify.fm/podcast/the-21st-rewrite. Instagram: @the21strewrite. Website contact page: https://www.the21strewrite.com/contact

Ad Astra (2019) with Zosha Millman - Screenplay by James Gray and Ethan Gross

This week Zosha Millman, senior editor at Bright Wall/Dark Room, makes a guest appearance to discuss the recent, and largely overlooked, science-fiction film 'Ad Astra'. We talk about the the major differences between the earlier version of the screenplay and the final film, the power of pacing and when to use silence, and the parent-child relationship that is the heart of the story. 

***

Want to comment, get news and join episode discussions? Join the community on Syncify: https://syncify.fm/podcast/the-21st-rewrite. Instagram: @the21strewrite. Website contact page: https://www.the21strewrite.com/contact

The Rider (2017) with Kira-Anne Pelican - Screenplay by Chloé Zhao

You may have been told your characters are too 'flat', not 'rounded' or 'believable' - that's an important note, but how do you actually go about fixing that? Kira-Anne Pelican, the author of 'The Science of Writing Characters', has written extensively about this very question. Using the latest research from the major branches of psychology to explain how to make a character interesting, we combine this in typical '21st Rewrite style' to look at a screenplay through this lens, focusing this week on Chloé Zhao's majestic film 'The Rider'.

Kira-Anne's book 'The Science of Writing Characters' is available now in ebook and paperback.

***

Want to comment, get news and join episode discussions? Join the community on Syncify: https://syncify.fm/podcast/the-21st-rewrite. Instagram: @the21strewrite. Website contact page: https://www.the21strewrite.com/contact

The Sense of an Ending (2017) with Alistair Owen - Screenplay by Nick Payne

This week we're talking about adaptation again, in the context of how to bring a first-person, ruminating narrative about memory and loss into the detached and visual realm of film. Alistair Owen, who has published various books on screenwriting, calls in from England to talk about this interesting adaptation of Julian Barnes' novel 'The Sense of an Ending' which was directed by Ritesh Batra and written by Nick Payne. We use examples from the film to discuss the whether there is such as thing a 'unadaptable', how to show internal change in a character's actions, and how film as a narrative engine perhaps demands more in the way of story and character development than literary fiction. 

If you enjoy this episode, you can purchase and enjoy Alistair's book 'The Art of Screen Adaptation' from his website.

***

Want to comment, get news and join episode discussions? Join the community on Syncify: https://syncify.fm/podcast/the-21st-rewrite. Instagram: @the21strewrite. Website contact page: https://www.the21strewrite.com/contact

The Young Woman (2020) with Edward Drake - Screenplay by Edward Drake

This year’s Austin Film Festival may have been held virtually, but the screenwriting competition was a strong as ever and brought our attention to some great writers. Edward Drake, whose latest project ‘The Young Woman’ won the Dramatic Screenplay category, calls in to talk to William about how he first heard about the true story the script is based on, his approach to writing and filmmaking, and he thoughts on getting things made following all of the necessary adaptations the film industry has had to implement due to the pandemic.

***

Want to comment, get news and join episode discussions? Join the community on Syncify: https://syncify.fm/podcast/the-21st-rewrite. Instagram: @the21strewrite. Website contact page: https://www.the21strewrite.com/contact

Beats (2019) with Kieran Hurley - Screenplay by Kieran Hurley

Kieran Hurley calls in this week to discuss his first film, 'Beats', which was released to a good deal of acclaim in 2019. It's a fun and often hilarious story of two teenagers in Scotland in the mid-nineties figuring out who they are and what they want to be, all set to the backdrop of the then-popular rave subculture. Learn how Kieran adapted his original stage performance into a screenplay with director Brian Welsh, and listen to his thoughts on regional representation in British cinema, his personal approach to writing and what he learnt over the course of the journey from stage to screen.

You can purchase and enjoy the original version of Beats from Oberon Modern plays.

***

Want to comment, get news and join episode discussions? Join the community on Syncify: https://syncify.fm/podcast/the-21st-rewrite. Instagram: @the21strewrite. Website contact page: https://www.the21strewrite.com/contact

Alpha (2018) with Christine Schreyer and Dan Wiedenhaupt - Screenplay by Dan Wiedenhaupt

We have a history, language and screenwriting conversation like no other for you this week, as Dr. Christine Schreyer and writer Dan Wiedenhaupt talk about their work on the 2018 film ‘Alpha’. Dan is the screenwriter who wrote the script for the film’s director Albert Hughes, and he shares his experiences researching and writing a story set in the distant past. Christine has now worked on creating languages for three films, and she explains about how she got involved in this work, her background in anthropology and the joys of creating languages. If you are interested in world-building and imaginative storytelling, you’ll certainly gain a lot of insights as they share their expertise.

***

Want to comment, get news and join episode discussions? Join the community on Syncify: https://syncify.fm/podcast/the-21st-rewrite. Instagram: @the21strewrite. Website contact page: https://www.the21strewrite.com/contact

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App