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Script Apart

Script Apart

A podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. Hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek.

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Barbarian with Zach Cregger

Don?t go down to the basement. Rule number one of surviving a horror movie, right? One of the many miracles of Barbarian ? the debut feature from writer-director Zach Cregger that became one of the year?s biggest hits ? was how it took one of the most tried and tested tropes of the genre and managed to weave something so surprising and unpredictable out it. The film ? much like the basement-dwelling creature at the heart of the movie ? roared out of the shadows following a low budget production in Bulgaria to become a box office-topping behemoth admired by everyone from Stephen King and Jordan Peele. Driving its success was good old fashioned word-of-mouth, as moviegoers implored their friends to rush to the cinema to experience a story that needs to be seen to be believed; whose twists it?s near-impossible to be braced for.

It might not surprise you to learn that such an unusual film was written in an unusual way. As you?ll discover in this episode, the movie began as one scene. A woman, Tess, checks into an Airbnb, only to discover there?s someone else already inside. There, she must decode a situation fraught with potential danger. Is the man she?s marooned in the apartment with a friend or a threat? Cregger wrote the scene unsure where it was leading until eventually, his subconscious took over. The rest of the movie, as you?ll hear, spilled out of him intuitively as he asked himself: what?s the most surprising thing that could happen now?

If you haven?t seen the film, pause this episode until you?ve experienced Barbarian for yourself. If you?re up to speed, listen on for fascinating revelations about how Cregger?s own experience of an alcoholic father quietly informed the script, why it was important to leave no ambiguity around the true nature of Justin Long?s character AJ and what the film expresses about toxic masculinity, as well as his original ending for the movie.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Support for this episode comes from ScreenCraft, Arc Studio Pro and WeScreenplay.

To get ad-free episodes and exclusive content, join us on Patreon.

Support the show

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2022-11-23
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Ocean's Eleven with Ted Griffin

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? Well, not this week on Script Apart. Today we're joined by the wonderful Ted Griffin, the screenwriter behind a heist extravaganza that, for fans of dazzling set pieces, A-lister chemistry and Brad Pitt inexplicably eating snacks in every scene, was truly like hitting the jackpot. 

Ocean?s Eleven ? based loosely on the 1960 Rat Pack vehicle of the same name ? starred George Clooney,  Julia Roberts, Matt Damon and just about every other adored actor of that era, all operating with charisma and star wattage dialled up to the max. It told the story of Danny Ocean ? a fresh-outta-prison conman, played by Clooney, who?s plotting a robbery like no other. His plan is to raid the vaults of the three biggest casinos in Vegas. $150m is on the line, as well as something far more important to Danny ? the affections of Tess, his ex-wife, played by Roberts. 

The film was directed by the great Steven Sodebergh, who ? alongside Ted ? pulled off the kind of lucrative score Danny Ocean would be proud of. The movie grossed $450m worldwide, launching a franchise and wowing critics to this day. In the conversation you?re about to hear, Ted tells me how he approached its charming, clockwork-intricate screenplay. We talk about capturing the seedy, neon-splashed soul of Vegas on the page. He reveals why it was important to find an emotional heartbeat of the film, that meant it wasn?t just money motivating Danny. And you?ll also hear some wild stories from a rollercoaster six weeks on set, as the biggest stars on the planet at that time descended on Vegas en masse to bring this story to life.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Support for this episode comes from ScreenCraft, Arc Studio Pro and WeScreenplay.

To get ad-free episodes and exclusive content, join us on Patreon.

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2022-11-09
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Donnie Darko with Richard Kelly

?28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, 12 seconds. That is when the world will end.? In October 2001, a six-foot demonic rabbit named Frank materialised in front of a teenage Jake Gyllenhaal to issue that grave warning, setting in motion the plot of one of one of the great Halloween movies of all time. Donnie Darko was a time-twisting sci-fi curio about an emotionally troubled teen who after narrowly escaping a bizarre accident involving a falling jet plane engine, begins to experience strange visions. The result was an emotional, unknowable gem still inviting scrutiny and analysis today.

The film initially struggled to find an audience in the aftermath of 9/11, then gradually became a legit cult obsession. 21 years later, fans across the world continue to attempt to unravel its mysteries. But the thing about Donnie Darko is the more you attempt to unravel it, the more it ends up unravelling you ? that?s the level of emotion and existential that writer-director Richard Kelly was operating at when he wrote the film, aged just 24.

In the conversation you?re about to hear, we break down in detail the mysteries and meanings of all the most intriguing motifs and moments in Donnie Darko. Discover the origins of the unsettling rabbit Frank, who shares an unlikely connection with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Hear how Y2K concerns and election time anxiety influenced the film?s atmosphere. And find out why the true evil in Donnie Darko is the puritanical streak that ran rampant in suburban America in the film?s 1980s setting and still sadly exists today. 

You should probably also listen out for some intriguing details at the end about a bigger, even more ambitious sequel that Richard has been in contact with Jake Gyllenhaal about developing. Donnie?s story may not be over yet?

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Support for this episode comes from ScreenCraft, Arc Studio Pro and WeScreenplay.

To get ad-free episodes and exclusive content, join us on Patreon.

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2022-10-28
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Freaks & Geeks and Spy with Paul Feig

Our guest today is a storyteller who knows great comedy. As a director, Paul Feig has manned beloved movies like Bridesmaids, Ghostbuster and The Heat, not to mention memorable episodes of smash hit TV shows like Arrested Development and The Office. When it comes to writing, he more often than not passes the baton to brilliant collaborators, like Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig and Katie Dippold, concentrating on bringing their scripts to life from the director?s chair. On the occasions that he does write his own screenplays, however, it?s always an absolute laugh riot, full of warmth, affection, inclusivity and infectious positivity. 

In the late ?90s, Paul created Freaks and Geeks ? a deeply influential sitcom following the exploits of a band of high school misfits. The actors portraying those misfits would go on to dominate American comedy for decades to come: James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jason Segel all got their breaks in the show, which ran for just one season in 1999.

Its legacy has lived on, though, as has Paul?s reputation as a storyteller who aspires to bring people together in the movies and shows he creates. In this revealing conversation, he breaks down for us not only that show?s pilot, including the scene that he believes got the show cancelled, but also elements of his hilarious 2016 espionage comedy Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy,  for a sense of how writing comedy for TV  back in the '90s differs from writing comedy for the big screen today. It?s a fascinating conversation ? we hope you enjoy.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Support for this episode comes from ScreenCraft, Arc Studio Pro and WeScreenplay.

To get ad-free episodes and exclusive content, join us on Patreon.

Support the show
2022-08-30
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Hacks with Jen Statsky

We owe one of the most moving comedy-dramas in recent TV history to a monster truck rally. Jen Statsky was en route to Portland, Oregon to film a comedy sketch at the Monster Jam rally back in 2015 when she got chatting with her road trip accomplices, fellow comedy writers Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs. They spoke about the history of pushed-aside women in the entertainment industry ? female comedians like Singin' In The Rain star Debbie Reynolds, whose careers were derailed by misogynistic practices in Hollywood. On that day, Hacks was born ? a HBO series up for a number of awards at this year's Emmys and deservedly so.

The show ? starring Jean Smart as a comedian in the twilight of her career and Hannah Einbinder as the young comic sent to write new material for her ? is as funny as you'd expect from Jen, whose previous TV writing credits include The Good Place, Parks and Recreation and Broad City. But it's also tremendously emotive. She and fellow series creators Lucia and Paul have crafted a show that's both heartwarming and heartbreaking in its depiction of an unlikely female friendship that makes each party look at the world a little differently. 

In this episode, Jen talks about the thousands of titles explored for the show before they landed on Hacks, the evolutions in the streaming market that have allowed for shows like this and Barry to so ambitiously blend comedy with drama, and how some of the show's most memorable moments to date were written. This is a spoiler conversation so you might want to catch up on the series in its entirety before tuning in.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Support for this episode comes from ScreenCraft, Arc Studio Pro and WeScreenplay.

To get ad-free episodes and exclusive content, join us on Patreon.

Support the show
2022-08-19
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Westworld with Lisa Joy

Violent delights have violent ends, to quote one of the most daring TV shows of the last decade. And listeners, we are now officially approaching that end of that incredible series. Today on Script Apart, Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy reflects on the creation of the smash-hit HBO series, reveals the thinking behind some of the thrilling creative decisions within its gripping fourth season and confirms that next season will be the show's last, should HBO officially give it the greenlight.

With Westworld, writer-director Lisa and her husband Jonathan Nolan have delivered a dazzling, dystopian vision of a future in which AI has run amok. Originally centred on a theme park recreation of the Wild West, the show has since zoomed out significantly to depict a robot uprising that, by season four, is threatening to bring an end to the human race. Though the show's ambitious philosophising hasn't been to everyone's tastes, there arguably hasn?t been a show more packed with mystery and intrigue since Damon Lindelof?s Lost. The constant swings Westworld takes demand to be admired.

Lisa was born in New Jersey to immigrant parents, and grew up balancing a love of poetry and storytelling with a sense of obligation to her parents, who longed for her to follow a career path with plenty of job security. Which is how she became a lawyer, before deciding to risk it all to pursue her love of writing. In this episode, we talk about how that immigrant background influenced some of her storytelling sensibilities and how everything changed while pregnant with her first child, when she wrote a brilliant spec script titled Reminiscence, that announced to Hollywood that here was a writer capable of threading huge questions about nostalgia and the nature of human existence into captivating popcorn entertainment. 

We also delve into the shocking twists in Westworld that were originally going to happen in the show?s pilot, as she and Jonathan debated how to pace this series and the many secrets contained within. Also if you?re wondering what?s in store in season five, we have you covered. Lisa speaks eloquently in this episode about the parallels between the ending of Westworld season four and the predicaments that we as a species are staring down in real life right now.

This is a spoiler conversation so be sure to have caught up with the show before tuning in.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Support for this episode comes from ScreenCraft, Arc Studio Pro and WeScreenplay.

To get ad-free episodes and exclusive content, join us on Patreon.

Support the show
2022-08-15
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The Orphanage with Sergio G. Sánchez

Un, dos, tres, toca la pared. In 2007, there was no more chilling a sentence for moviegoers, as the gripping ghost story El Orfanato swept cinemas worldwide. The Orphanage, as it was known in the UK and America, was an instant classic tale of grief and obsession that remains a cherished piece of ?00s horror cinema. It followed a mother, Laura, who must grapple with the mystery of what happened to her adopted son, after he disappears at a party in the former orphanage she and her husband have bought and made home.

The film was directed by JA Bayona, produced by Guillermo Del Toro and written by our guest today, the talented Sergio G. Sánchez. Sergio, as you?ll discover in this episode, reached deep into his own childhood to write this moving tale, interweaving stories like Peter Pan, into a script that confronted his own experiences of severe illness as a child. He told us all about his fight to keep the movie a Gothic slow-burn, resisting studio pressure to turn the film into a carnival of jump-scares. We get into all of the hidden meanings and messages of the movie, including the mythology of the orphanage itself that formed a big part of his original script, and the movie?s many misdirects that craftily keep viewers guessing till its dying embers. Also broken down in detail is the film?s devastating final reveal and bittersweet closing moments, and the plans for an American remake that never came to fruition.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Support for this episode comes from ScreenCraft, Arc Studio Pro and WeScreenplay.

To get ad-free episodes and exclusive content, join us on Patreon.

Support the show
2022-08-02
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Dune with Eric Roth

Where to begin describing today?s guest and his lengthy list of accomplishments? Eric Roth is the Academy Award-winning writer responsible for films like Forrest Gump,  The Insider, Munich, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and 2018?s A Star Is Born. At 77-years-old, Eric is as potent a storytelling force as ever: last year, he delivered a sci-fi epic so huge, you?d have had to have buried your head pretty deep in the sand of a distant sand planet named Arrakis to have missed it. 

Dune, co-written with director Denis Villeneuve and previous Script Apart guest Jon Spaihts, achieved the impossible. It translated one of the densest, most complex and widely beloved science-fiction novels of all-time into a thrilling blockbuster spectacle that somehow remained true to its source material. Timothée Chalamet starred as Paul Atreides, young prince of the noble House Atreides, as an intergalactic battle erupts over control of the deadly, inhospitable desert planet. 

Author Frank Herbert wrote the book as a warning about society's tendencies to ?give over every decision-making capacity? to a charismatic leader. Eric, Jon and Denis did a terrific job threading that insight into a ?chosen one? story that challenges and interrogates that narrative template. For many, the film felt like the moment that theatrical cinema felt ?back? after the closures of the pandemic. In a captivating conversation recorded earlier this year, Eric told us all about how the film?s towering sense of scale was achieved, how the opening he originally envisioned for the movie would have bankrupted the entire production and what keeps him hungry after all these years. Next on the docket for Eric is a collaboration with Martin Scorsese, penning the upcoming Killers of the Flower Moon. There?s no slowing down for this veritable titan of the screenwriting universe.

This episode contains spoilers for Dune.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Support for this episode comes from ScreenCraft, Arc Studio Pro and WeScreenplay.

To get ad-free episodes and exclusive content, join us on Patreon.

Support the show
2022-07-19
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Mission: Impossible with David Koepp

Greetings, Script Apart listeners. Your mission today, should you choose to accept it ? listen to the one and only David Koepp regale us with fascinating stories and insights from an astonishing three-decade career in Hollywood. Having written movies totalling over $9bn at the box office, David is a giant of the screenwriting world. Jurassic Park, Spider-Man, Carlito?s Way, Panic Room and War of the Worlds are just a few of the iconic films that David has penned over the years, making the decision of which movie of his to cover today a tricky one. We threw the question over to him to decide, and his pick of the bunch was 1996?s masterful Mission: Impossible ? a Tom Cruise espionage epic that spawned five blockbuster sequels, with two more now on the way.

David?s Mission: Impossible was markedly different to the most recent instalments in the series. His adaptation of the 1960s TV series was a lean, patient spy slow-burn that had action and excitement, but thrived on tension and paranoia. It followed Ethan Hunt, a secret agent framed for the murder of his friends and colleagues following a botched mission in Prague. It?s full of the sort of storytelling smarts that is commonplace in David?s work, evident in everything from his 1989 debut Apartment Zero to last year?s collaboration with Steven Soderbergh, the Covid thriller KIMI. 

In this wide-ranging conversation, David tells me about the chaos that submerged Mission: Impossible at multiple points in its development, the explosive prison break scene that was cut from his screenplay for budgetary reasons, the artful exposition that?s a regular feature in his storytelling (seriously, study the Mr. DNA sequence in Jurassic Park if you don?t believe me) and how he approaches screenwriting versus his work as a novelist. Last month, he released Aurora, his second novel, about a solar flare that knocks the Earth?s electrical grid out and sends society into disarray. It?s soon to be made into a movie, with Katheryn Bigelow.

This episode will not self-destruct in five seconds ? but you should still hurry to listen to it, because you don?t want to miss David?s incredible stories and advice for emerging writers. This was a one fun. Enjoy.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Support for this episode comes from ScreenCraft, Arc Studio Pro and WeScreenplay.

To get ad-free episodes and exclusive content, join us on Patreon.

Support the show
2022-07-05
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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with Michael Waldron

Script Apart listeners, fortify your minds ? this week, we?re joined by Michael Waldron, the screenwriting sorcerer supreme behind Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Directed by Sam Raimi, this latest Marvel blockbuster is superhero storytelling with the handbrake off. A cosmic adventure packed with inter-dimensional chases,  one-eyed squid monsters and motivational talks from zombie corpses, this 28th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe well and truly lived up to the ?madness? of its title.

The film follows surgeon-turned-superhero Stephen Strange as he attempts to protect a young hero, America Chavez, with the power to open portals between locations in the multiverse. It?s a journey that sends the wizard on a horror movie-descent into darkness and violence, as familiar characters from the MCU make shocking lurches into villainy.

Wrestling all of that into some kind of coherent story would be challenging for any writer. Luckily, Michael was pretty well-prepared for such a task, despite having been roped into the project at the last minute following the departures of original writers Scott Derickson and C. Robert Cargill. Michael had prior experience bringing complex sci-fi concepts to life with a lightness of touch, having written for the hit animated series Rick and Morty. He was also on the Black List a few years ago for a genius spec script called The Worst Guy Of All Time, And The Girl Who Came To Kill Him. That screenplay contained a lot of the unrelenting momentum and time-hopping shenanigans that we see in Strange 2. It also helped, of course, that he was the head writer on Loki, the Marvel series that introduced the multiverse concept in the first place.

Michael told us how the darkness of the Covid-19 pandemic helped him craft that second act surprise. We also discuss how hard it was to balance the terror and tragedy of a certain witchy character in this movie, and address the meaning of the question ?are you happy?? that Doctor Strange is faced with again and again in Michael's screenplay. Even superheroes, it seems, experience dissatisfaction and feelings of ?what now? Is that it?? The film is out today on Disney+ so be sure to watch it before you dive into this spoiler special.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Support for this episode comes from ScreenCraft, Arc Studio Pro and WeScreenplay.

To get ad-free episodes and exclusive content, join us on Patreon.

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2022-06-21
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Turning Red with Julia Cho

This week on the show ? an animated tale that puts the ?panda? in ?pandemonium.? Julia Cho is the co-writer of Pixar?s incredible Turning Red. The film follows a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl called Mei, who transforms into a giant red panda whenever she experiences strong emotion. What at first seems like a curse quickly becomes an opportunity for Mei and her friends, who are able to secretly raise money for tickets to see their favourite boy band, 4*Town, live in concert. That is, if the teenager can find a way to deal with her loving but protective mother, Ming.

Being a Pixar movie, it kinda goes without saying that Turning Red is packed with laughter, emotion, spectacle and sublime animation. But Julia and director/co-writer Domee Shi?s film broke new ground too, not just for Pixar but for Hollywood at large. It took a subject matter seldom addressed in mainstream movies ? female puberty ? and approached it with a cultural specificity that was utterly joyous to watch.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Julia about the difficulties and opportunities for change presented in the writing process on Turning Red. We talk about why the question ?what if?? is such a vital storytelling tool, the significance of the film?s early 2000s backdrop, and why Julia and Domee refused to hide behind metaphor when it came to talking about periods in the movie. 

This is a very spoiler-filled conversation covering every plot point in the film all the way up to its exciting ending so if you?re yet to watch Turning Red, it?s probably best to do so before listening on. 

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Support for this episode comes from ScreenCraft, Arc Studio Pro and WeScreenplay.

To get ad-free episodes and exclusive content, join us on Patreon.

Support the show
2022-06-07
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Drive with Hossein Amini

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Today on the show, we?re overjoyed to be joined by the talented Hossein Amini, writer of 2011's cult smash thriller Drive. Based on the 2004 James Sallis novel of the same name, and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive told the story of a stuntman by day and getaway driver by night, whose dual lives collide after he strikes up a friendship with his neighbour, Irene (Carey Mulligan). From there, Hossein?s screenplay submerged audiences in a dangerous, hyper-stylised LA criminal underworld, strapping viewers into the passenger seat next to a captivatingly unknowable protagonist, simply named the Driver (Ryan Gosling).

If you?ve read the novel, you?ll know that Hossein had quite a task taking the lyrical, very interior prose and plot of the book, and turning it into a movie. Luckily, the Iranian-born storyteller is a bit of a master when it comes to adaptation: from 1997?s The Wings of the Dove to his 2014 directorial debut The Two Faces of January, Hossein relishes the task of taking a story from page to screen, adding a subtle sprinkle of his personality and past to the recipe along the way.

Across an engrossing chat, Hossein explains why Drive is in fact a fairy tale. We talk about what the film expresses about our culture of violence, why an early draft of the film featured the death of Irene, and how his storytelling habits were shaped by a childhood in the shadow of his parent?s divorce and the Iranian revolution. We also get into the meaning of The Driver?s Scorpion jacket, how the film?s iconic elevator sequence came to be, and the writer?s dark, gritty vision for the upcoming Obi Wan Kenobi TV series that he worked on briefly before stepping away from the project.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Support for this episode comes from ScreenCraft, Arc Studio Pro and WeScreenplay.

To get ad-free episodes and exclusive content, join us on Patreon.

Support the show
2022-05-24
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Everything Everywhere All At Once with Daniels

It?s not often you encounter a movie as staggeringly original as Everything Everywhere All at Once. The latest film from our guests this week, writer-director duo the Daniels, is surreal, hilarious, heartbreaking  and full of mind-blowing action ? occasionally involving characters with hot dogs for fingers. We mentioned it?s original, right?

The film follows Chinese-American laundromat owner Evelyn, played by Michelle Yeoh, whose business, marriage and relationship with her daughter are simultaneously crumbling. As if that wasn?t enough chaos for the character, one day she?s thrown by the revelation that she?s not the only Evelyn that exists. It's revealed that an infinite array of Evelyns exist, occupying different parallel universes. One is a movie star, another is a Kung-fu master, so on and so forth. What happens from that moment on, is too manic and complex to describe here. Just trust us when we say it's one of the most joyously inventive sci-fis in memory.

For this spoiler conversation, we met up with Daniels in person ? that?s right, the first ever IRL Script Apart! ? to talk about their wildly different original opening to the movie, and early plans to use a narrator, quite possibly to be voiced by Susan Surandon. We go  deep into the meaning of the ?Everything Bagel? at the heart of this movie, the scientific theory that fed into the film's plot and the conditions under which they'd consider making a Marvel movie.

Do be sure to watch Everything Everywhere All At Once before listening in ? this is a spoiler conversation covering all of the film's major plot points in detail. Don't let us ruin it for you. Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Support for this episode comes from ScreenCraft, Arc Studio Pro and WeScreenplay.

To get ad-free episodes and exclusive content, join us on Patreon.

Support the show
2022-05-12
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Prometheus with Jon Spaihts

A decade before his recent Oscar nomination for his work on Denis Villeneuve's Dune,  Jon Spaihts co-wrote Prometheus ? a bold prequel to the Alien franchise that celebrates its tenth anniversary this month.  It was a philosophical sci-fi horror odyssey like no other, that upended expectations and made the New Yorker one of Hollywood's go-to names for science fiction drama that both provokes and thrills.

You might know Jon as the man who co-wrote the first Doctor Strange movie along Scott Derrickson and past Script Apart guest C. Robert Cargill. He?s also shepherded his own sci-fi worlds to the screen, such as Passengers ? a Jennifer Lawrence-starring romance among the stars that hit cinemas in 2016. Prometheus was his introduction to the world, however. He?d written a couple of impressive spec scripts that got him into rooms with high-powered Hollywood directors. Ridley Scott was one of them. As you?ll discover in this episode, the idea of an Alien prequel was kind of sprung on him. In an instant, he blurted out an idea for an epic that took the franchise and its mythology in a bold new direction, switching up the series? visceral frights for grand existential contemplation and freaky robots. 

In this fascinating conversation, Jon delves into about his original draft for the film, titled Alien: Engineers. It followed roughly the same beats as Prometheus but with a few notable exceptions. For starters, Engineers made the bold move of suggesting that Jesus Christ was an alien, and therefore related to the Xenomorph of the first movie. It also had a different ending that set up a planned trilogy of movies with these characters, which Jon explains in detail.  You might also want to listen out for Jon?s pitch for a Star Wars series ? one of the few sci-fi sandboxes he?s not had a chance to play in yet?

This is a spoiler-filled conversation ? in space, no can you hear you scream that we ruined the plot for you. Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Support for this episode comes from ScreenCraft, Arc Studio Pro and WeScreenplay.

To get ad-free episodes and exclusive content, join us on Patreon.

Support the show
2022-05-10
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The Good Place with Michael Schur

We're back ? and this season, we're covering TV shows as well as movies! Joining us today to kick off Script Apart season three in style is none other than Michael Schur ? co-creator of shows like Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Rutherford Falls, and  a key creative force on The Office during its early seasons. 

Michael's most personal work, however, is undoubtedly The Good Place: a hilarious, philosophical probing of what it means to be a good person that ran for four seasons between 2016 and 2020. It starred Kristen Bell as Eleanor, a self-described ?Arizona trash bag? with an insatiable crush on the wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin, who dies and finds herself in an afterlife that may not be all that it seems.

It?s the kind of show that could only have been created with the freedom afforded by Michael's  earlier small-screen successes ? you hardly notice it while you?re watching because its jokes are so sharp and its plot so pacy, but The Good Place really did say ?fork you? to a tonne of TV conventions. 

In this in-depth exploration of The Good Place's creation, we dig into into the screenwriter's vision for the show, how he crafted the jaw-dropping twist in its season one finale, why his original pilot screenplay doomed The Beatles to the Bad Place (sorry if you?re listening, Paul and Ringo) and what recently compelled Mike to write How To Be Perfect, a New York Times best-selling book that built on the themes of The Good Place. It?s a riveting and revealing chat with plenty of laughs along the way, as you might expect of someone with Mike?s resume. 

This is a spoiler-filled conversation that touches on plot points from all four seasons of The Good Place, so be sure to have watched the show before tuning in ? we don't want to be sent to the Bad Place for ruining the series for you.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Support for this episode comes from ScreenCraft, Arc Studio Pro and WeScreenplay.

To get ad-free episodes and exclusive content, join us on Patreon.

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2022-04-27
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Back To The Future with Bob Gale

Great Scott, it?s the end of season two so we're going out with a 88mph, 1.21 gigawatt bang. Joining us before we make like a tree and get out of here, as Biff Tannen might say, is none other than Bob Gale ?writer of the iconic Back To The Future. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, this 1985 time travel adventure needs no introduction ? but trust us when we say it was almost a very, very different movie. In this special season finale, Bob delves into his radically different first draft of the film: one that included a time-travelling fridge (that's right, no Delorean) and Marty McFly and Doc Brown running a VHS film piracy operation out of the back of a rundown cinema. They have a pet chimp and there's even a shootout with the US military. The script climaxes with our heroes driving into the mushroom cloud of an atom bomb explosion, rather than using a lightning storm to get back home, as they do in the finished film.

You'll also hear about the elements of Bob's original screenplay that Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg borrowed for Forrest Gump and Indiana Jones 4 respectively. Bob also shares what it's been like working on the musical retelling of the film that recently hit London's West End, and exactly a film this outlandish ? in which a teenager goes back in time and almost gets together with his own mother ? took over the world. 

As for us? Well, we'll be taking a break while we work on some of our filmmaking projects, and generally try to catch a breather. Don?t worry though ? we'll be back with season three and some surprises in the near future so don't go anywhere ? we are your density, to quote George McFly. 

Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen.

Support for this episode comes from Screencraft and WeScreenplay.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Get a free digital copy of the Script Apart Magazine by supporting us on Patreon! 50 pages of interviews with screenwriters, including exclusive conversations you won't find anywhere else. You can also now support the show on Ko-Fi.

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2021-12-21
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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with Shane Black

As the writer of movies like Lethal Weapon, The Nice Guys, The Long Kiss Goodnight and Iron Man 3, Shane Black is a true screenwriting auteur, known for his scripts' pulse-racing action, quippy dialogue and genre-skewing surprises. At the heart of his stories are usually two odd-couple characters, who must overcome their differences to solve a problem or often a police case. And did we mention all of this is often happening against a Christmassy backdrop? 

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang ? Shane?s 2005 festive film noir ? ticked all the above boxes, and plenty more. As Christmas movies go, it's a cult classic renowned for its sharp satire and creative meta commentary on Tinseltown past and present. Robert Downey plays Harry ? a petty thief who lands a Hollywood screen test after accidentally crashing an acting audition while running from cops after a botched toy story burglary. Adrift in LA over the holiday season, a string of strange events finds him reunited with his old childhood crush, Harmony (Michelle Monoghan) and entangled in a murder mystery with a gay private investigator named Perry (Val Kilmer).

Shane wrote the movie after a nine-year layover between projects. His previous film, spy thriller The Long Kiss Goodnight, has a huge cult following now but struggled at the box office on release, sparking a period of soul-searching for the screenwriter. In the conversation you?re about to hear, Shane explains how Kiss Kiss Bang Bang revitalised his love for movie-making. We discuss what is about Christmas that he can?t stop himself coming back to as a storyteller, to what degree this movie provided a comic template for Iron Man and the MCU, and how his first draft of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was a romcom with intoxicating characters but no real plot. That is, until he planted a murder at the centre of it?

Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen.

Subscribe to our new spin-off show How I Write here.

Support for this episode comes from Screencraft and WeScreenplay.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Get a free digital copy of the Script Apart Magazine by supporting us on Patreon! 50 pages of interviews with screenwriters, including exclusive conversations you won't find anywhere else. You can also now support the show on Ko-Fi.

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2021-12-14
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Dead Poets Society with Tom Schulman

Today?s guest is none other than Tom Schulman, the Oscar-winning writer of timeless school drama Dead Poets Society. Released in 1989, Tom?s affecting and uplifting story of seven classmates who take a stand against the uniformity of the elite boarding school they attend is a valentine to never letting the world smoulder that flame in you that makes life worth living. Best remembered for an astonishing turn by Robin Williams as the kids? teacher, John Keating, the movie walked away with Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards and Best Film at the BAFTAs, and remains an ingrained part of our pop culture three decades later: the boys? emotive calls of ?oh captain, my captain? and Keating?s advice to ?carpe diem ? seize the day? deeply embedded in our collective consciousness today.

Writing the film involved deep soul-searching from Tom, whose life story overlaps with the characters in his screenplay. He went to an elite boarding school and was inspired by an iconoclastic teacher. Speaking from his home in Los Angeles, he told us about an abandoned sub-plot in which Keating has cancer in his first draft, about the improvisational magic that Robin Williams brought to the role, and what he thinks the movie?s legacy is today. No need to stand on your desk at home to listen along ? a sofa will do just fine.

This episode is sponsored by ScreenCraft and WeScreenplay.

Subscribe to our new spin-off show How I Write by clicking here.

Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. 

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Get a free digital copy of the Script Apart Magazine by supporting us on Patreon! 50 pages of interviews with screenwriters, including exclusive conversations you won't find anywhere else. You can also now support the show on Ko-Fi.

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2021-12-01
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Point Break with W. Peter Iliff

Surfing into the Script Apart hot seat this week is W. Peter Iliff ? writer of the astonishing Point Break. Peter was waiting tables in restaurants around LA when he began work on this dazzling adrenaline-hit of a movie, about a FBI cop who goes undercover with a bank-robbing surfer gang. The idea came to him while hanging out with the filmmaker Rick King who helped him flesh out the story, before Peter turned it into the blueprint for one of the great movies of the 1990s. The resulting film, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, was both an electrifying action thriller and something that transcended the genre entirely, with plenty to say about America, adventure and the bonds forged between men. 

In this fascinating conversation, Peter explores the connection between his own struggles with alcohol and the film?s life-on-the-edge characters, always chasing their next buzz. He also details how the film's most stunning sequences came together on the page, and how the iconic climatic fight between Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze?s characters drew inspiration from samurai movies. You may also want to listen out for a tantalising breakdown of a Point Break TV show that Peter?s currently writing. You?ve met Johnny Utah. Now get ready to meet Joanny Utah, in a climate change-inspired sequel series that Peter?s been hard at work on.

Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen.

Subscribe to our new spin-off show How I Write here.

Support for this episode comes from Screencraft and WeScreenplay.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Get a free digital copy of the Script Apart Magazine by supporting us on Patreon! 50 pages of interviews with screenwriters, including exclusive conversations you won't find anywhere else. You can also now support the show on Ko-Fi.

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2021-11-16
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Last Night In Soho with Edgar Wright and Krysty Wilson-Cairns

Today we?re joined by none other than Edgar Wright and Krysty Wilson-Cairns. Krysty you?ll remember from our recent episode on the fantastic 1917. Edgar, meanwhile, is one of British cinema?s best-loved blockbuster auteurs ? the writer-director behind movies like Baby Driver, Scott Pilgrim and of course, his Three Colours Cornetto trilogy with Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End). We could spend the next few minutes giving you our glowing appraisal of the pair?s latest film, Last Night In Soho, but Stephen King probably said it best when he tweeted:  "This one is special. Time travel with a twist.? As reviews go for your first real horror movie, Krysty and Edgar couldn?t ask for much better than that.

Yes, Last Night In Soho is a horror movie. But it?s also a time-travel movie, an ode to ?60s Soho and a brutal dismantling of British pining for ?the good old glory days? that politicians and cultural commentators love to invoke. It follows Eloise, an aspiring fashion designer played by Thomasin McKenzie, who moves to London for uni and forms a seductive, supernatural connection to a girl in ?60s Soho ? Sandy, played by Anya Taylor-Joy. Full of intrigue and surprises, the film packs all the directorial flair and storytelling invention we?ve come to expect from Edgar, and all the powerful characterisation and dramatic tension that are becoming Krysty's calling cards

We spoke to the pair to hear how Edgar pulled on his mother?s own experience of supernatural phenomenon to help craft the story, how Krysty approached the infuriatingly relevant issue of exploited women in the script and the subtle condemnation of Brexit that this movie may or may not have simmering under its surface. The pair asked to not delve too deep into the movie?s ending as they want to allow people to form their own conclusions for now, but otherwise this is a spoiler-filled conversation, so be sure to check out the movie before tuning in.

Oh and one last thing ? stay tuned to the end of the episode for an exclusive sneak peek at a brand-new podcast from the Script Apart team! How I Write is a show in which great screenwriters reveal their step-by-step creative process, from outline to the finish line on incredible TV shows and movies.

** Click here to subscribe to our new show How I Write! **

Support for this episode comes from Screencraft and WeScreenplay.

Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. The show is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Get a free digital copy of the Script Apart Magazine by supporting us on Patreon! 51 pages of interviews with great screenwriters, including exclusive conversations you won't find anywhere else. You can also now support the show on Ko-Fi.

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2021-11-03
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The Mitchells Vs The Machines with Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe

Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe are the creative minds behind one of the most riotously funny and inventive movies of this year. In The Mitchells Vs The Machines, two terrible things happen to young filmmaker Katie Mitchell. First, her dad decides to surprise her by taking the entire family on a cross-country road trip on the eve of her going to college. And second, the tech apocalypse strikes, enslaving pretty much all mankind. It?s neck and neck as to which one is worse for Katie, voiced by Abbi Jacobson. Together, it?s up to the Mitchells to stop the robot uprising and save the world.

Featuring groundbreaking animation, hilarious movie references and Olivia Colman as an evil Alexa, The Mitchells vs The Machines had it all. But, as you?ll discover in today?s episode, the film almost went in a very different direction. Originally titled Control Alt Escape, their first draft found the Mitchells on a mission with the President of the United States. It had a drastically different ending and a reduced role for two of the movie?s standout characters: glitching robots Eric and Deborahbot 5000. In the conversation you?re about to hear, we dig into all of those changes, as well as the film?s graceful LGBTQ+ representation, its chances of a sequel and yes, that scene with the demonic Furby.

This is a spoiler conversation, so be sure to watch The Mitchells Vs The Machines on Netflix before listening.

Support for this episode comes from Screencraft, Caveday and Coverfly.

Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. The show is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Get a free digital copy of the Script Apart Magazine by supporting us on Patreon! 51 pages of interviews with great screenwriters, including exclusive conversations you won't find anywhere else. You can also now support the show on Ko-Fi.

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2021-10-19
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Brokeback Mountain with Diana Ossana

Today?s episode was an emotional one to record. Earlier this year, celebrated author and screenwriter Diana Ossana lost her long-term collaborator, and the man she won an impressive haul of Oscars, BAFTAs and Golden Globes with ? Larry McMurtry. She and Larry enjoyed a creative partnership that spanned multiple decades and many acclaimed projects prior to his death in March 2021. None were more important or culturally impactful, however, than the incredible Brokeback Mountain. Their screenplay for Ang Lee?s 2005 drama drastically moved the needle in terms of same-sex representation in mainstream cinema. 

Adapted from a short story by Annie Proulx, and starring Jake Gyllehaal opposite the late, great Heath Ledger, the film was broadly acclaimed for its astonishing performances and alternating moments of life-affirming passion and impossible-to-stomach heartache. It was derided by some in Hollywood as ?the gay cowboy movie? upon release. But the sheer storytelling power and emotional weight of this tale of two sheep farmers ? who fall for each other in a 1960s America where men are meant to be macho ? saw Diana and Larry get the last laugh. Today, the film is regarded as one of the defining love stories in modern movie history.

We spoke to Diana about the tricky process of building out Annie?s short story into a fully realised film. We discuss all the ways the screenplay evolved from its original outline, how the film was almost directed by Pedro Almodovar, and why it was so important to Diana and Larry that their script attended to the emotions of the wives and girlfriends caught up in the debris of Ennis and Jack?s infatuation for each other. Diana was also kind enough to share a number of incredibly touching stories about her close connection to Heath Ledger, who reminded her of her own son, who had tragically passed away. As we mentioned ? this was an emotional one to record. 

Support for this episode comes from Screencraft, Caveday and Coverfly.

Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. The show is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Get a free digital copy of the Script Apart Magazine by supporting us on Patreon! 51 pages of interviews with great screenwriters, including exclusive conversations you won't find anywhere else. You can also now support the show on Ko-Fi.

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2021-10-05
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Mogul Mowgli with Riz Ahmed

Today we?re joined by the multi-talented Riz Ahmed. Riz is not only an award-winning actor known for roles in films like Four Lions, Nightcrawler, Sound of Metal and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ? he?s also a gifted musician, and a prominent voice for change in the film industry, frequently advocating for a more diverse range of stories and storytellers. Last year, he added screenwriter to his lengthy list of talents with the mesmerising Mogul Mowgli ? a dark drama about a British-Pakistani rapper who suffers the sudden onset of a debilitating autoimmune disease. Zed ? played by Ahmed ? is a talented MC hungry for fame but growing disconnected from his roots, when illness sends him spiralling into a string of dangerous hallucinations, stalked every step of the way by a mysterious masked figure with links to Pakistan?s past.

Co-written by director Bassam Tariq, the film won huge critical acclaim for its intimacy, imagination and ambition, innovatively weaving in songs from an accompanying concept album that Riz released roughly in tandem with Mogul Mowgli. In this episode, he tells us about his relationship with writing and the parts of his own life he brought to the screen in this deeply personal movie. We also talk about the film?s prescient echoes of the Covid-19 pandemic and why ?our scars can be a road map to our creativity? as Riz so beautifully puts it. Do make sure you?ve seen Mogul Mowgli before listening in, as this is a spoiler-filled conversation exploring all of the movie?s major plot points. Once you have, come back and brace yourself for a fascinating insight into what for my money is one of the best movies of the past 12 months.

Support for this episode comes from Screencraft, Caveday and WeScreenplay.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Get a free digital copy of the Script Apart Magazine by supporting us on Patreon! 51 pages of interviews with great screenwriters, including exclusive conversations you won't find anywhere else. You can also now support the show on Ko-Fi.

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2021-09-24
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1917 with Krysty Wilson-Cairns

This week we?re joined by Krysty Wilson-Cairns, co-writer of one of the year?s most hotly anticipated thrillers: Edgar Wright?s Last Night In Soho. Audiences are in for a seriously gripping white-knuckle ride if that movie turns out to be anything like Krysty?s first-produced feature film, the incredible 1917. Co-written with director Sam Mendes, 1917 followed two British soldiers as they embarked on a nail-biting mission across No Man?s Land in the first World War. With communication lines down, the lives of 1,600 men rest on this duo delivering a message to a stubborn battalion captain that his soldiers are about to walk into an ambush. 

On release, the film garnered more attention for how it told its story, rather than the story itself. 1917 used long, intricately-choreographed takes to give the impression of a story told across just two uninterrupted shots. It was heralded as an unrelenting real-time glimpse into the horrors of war unlike anything before it. But the movie?s technical accomplishments would have felt empty were there not an emotive plot powering it forward. In the conversation you?re about to hear, Krysty pulls the curtain back on every element of that plot, detailing the painstaking research that went into forming the film?s characters. We also talk about discarded plans for a mustard gas attack sequence, why a certain central character simply had to die, and why we as a society continue to tell World War I stories a century on.

Support for today's episode comes from Screencraft, WeScreenplay and Caveday.

Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. 

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Get a free digital copy of the Script Apart Magazine by supporting us on Patreon! 50 pages of interviews with screenwriters, including exclusive conversations you won't find anywhere else. You can also now support the show on Ko-Fi.



Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2021-09-22
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Sinister with C. Robert Cargill

Today on the show, we?re joined by screenwriter and novelist C. Robert Cargill. In 2012, Cargill and frequent collaborator Scott Derrickson put a chill down the spines of audiences with a supernatural horror that was low in budget but sky-high in imagination. Sinister saw Ethan Hawke star as Ellison Oswalt, a washed-up true crime writer who goes to extreme lengths to reignite his career. After moving his wife and kids into the small-town home of a recently murdered family, whose gruesome killing remains unsolved, he discovers in the attic a box. In it are a collection of unsettling home videos that hint at a demonic conspiracy at play. As Ellison closes in on the truth, a terrifying entity closes in on him. 

The film put Cargill and Derickson on a path towards bigger projects ? a Marvel movie, 2016?s trippy Doctor Strange soon followed. It?s easy to see why they were suddenly in demand. Sinister is a brutally effective masterclass in horror filmmaking that shows the power of a screenwriting philosophy Cargill swears by. The key to telling an engaging horror tale is to write a gripping grounded drama that?s then gatecrashed by a supernatural other, he explains in this episode, also delving into the origins of the film?s Bablyonian deity antagonist, Bagul the eater of Children, and all the ways Sinister evolved en route to the big screen. For example, did you know Sinister was originally titled Super 8 and presented Bagul as a ?fucked up Willy Wonka? as Cargill puts it?

Support for today's episode comes from Screencraft, WeScreenplay and Caveday.

Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. 

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Get a free digital copy of the Script Apart Magazine by supporting us on Patreon! 50 pages of interviews with screenwriters, including exclusive conversations you won't find anywhere else. You can also now support the show on Ko-Fi.

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2021-09-08
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Contact with James V. Hart

Our guest this week is James V. Hart, whose screenwriting talents have seen him enlisted to pen scripts for everyone from Steven Spielberg to Francis Ford Coppola. There's one movie in his extensive filmography that he looks back on with particular pride and emotion, however. Contact ? the Robert Zemeckis-directed story of a scientist played by Jodie Foster, who discovers proof of extraterrestrial life ? was a novel before James adapted it into one of the most celebrated sci-fi dramas of all time. The book was written by renowned astronomer Carl Sagan ? a close personal friend of James'. Carl sadly didn't live to see the film's completion, passing away after a long illness just months before Contact's release.

James looks back on the movie today as a tribute to his friend and the astronomer's brilliant partner, author Ann Druyan, both of whom he worked with closely while adapting Contact. It was a tricky screenplay to get right. As you'll discover in this episode, the book was a dense meditation on what would happen if contact were made with life from another planet ? the ripples it would send through politics, through religion, and everything in between. It was a book rooted, as anyone who knows Carl's work might expect, in scientific fact. Translating the novel into a piece of blockbuster entertainment without losing any of the book's authority and spirit of scientific discovery, in a time dominated by the explosions and spectacle of alien movies like Independence Day, was a daunting task.

This is the story of how James pulled it off. Over an engrossing sixty minutes, we reflect on the movies that Contact helped inspire, a version of the script that included the Pope as a major character, and why James is not satisfied with the film's ending. Truly, they should have sent a poet to interview James. Instead, you guys have Al. Sorry about that.

Support for this episode comes from MUBI, Screencraft and Launchpad.

Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. 

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Get a free digital copy of the Script Apart Magazine by supporting us on Patreon! 50 pages of interviews with screenwriters, including exclusive conversations you won't find anywhere else. You can also now support the show on Ko-Fi.

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2021-08-24
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Black Widow with Eric Pearson

Today on the show ? a deep dive into Marvel's latest superhero adventure, Black Widow with Eric Pearson! Eric is the screenwriter responsible for giving Natasha Romanoff ? the Avengers? super-spy with a dark past and powerful fighting skills ?  the solo movie she?s always deserved. His account of writing the film is a fascinating glimpse inside the Marvel machine: how their movies are written, the relentless pace at which that machine moves, and how each film is made to fit into a much bigger interconnected story at script-level. We?ll warn you now, though ? you may well feel stressed just hearing about the challenges in front of him as he came onboard the project.

Eric had inherited an outline mapped out by Ned Benson and Wandavision showrunner Jac Shaefer. Within that outline was a bunch of puzzle pieces, and not much time to make them fit ? production was looming and sets for the movie were already being constructed for Black Widow. In this episode, Eric shares how he navigated that intense pressure, what guided him towards the theme of family at the heart of this movie and all the different avenues the movie explored ? including the truth behind rumours of a planned cameo from Tony Stark.

This is a spoiler-filled conversation so if you?re yet to see Black Widow, hit pause now, get yourself to a cinema then come back as we jump into all of this movie?s twists and turns.

Support for this episode comes from Screencraft, MUBI and WeScreenplay.

Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected] 

Get a free digital copy of the Script Apart Magazine by supporting us on Patreon! Featuring 51 pages of interviews with great screenwriters, including exclusive conversations you won't find anywhere else. You can also now support the show on Ko-Fi.

Support the show
2021-08-19
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Speed with Graham Yost

Pop quiz, hot shots ? which pedal-to-the-metal Keanu Reeves blockbuster set a breakneck new pace for action cinema in 1994? The answer is, of course, Speed ? directed by Jan de Bont and written by our guest today, the fantastic Graham Yost. Graham had the idea for the film after a conversation with his father about Akira Kurusawa?s unproduced script, Runaway Train. Taking the Japanese auteur?s loose idea and throwing a bomb into the mix, as well as a maniacal bomber played by Dennis Hopper, the film saw Keanu star as Jack Traven, an LAPD officer tasked with saving a bus full of people from a device that will explode if the vehicle slows below 50mph. Full of nerve-shredding tension and death-defying set pieces, it?s regularly voted among the best action movies of all time, and rightly so if you ask us.

We caught up with Graham, who you might also know for his work on Justified and From The Earth To The Moon, to hear about how he wrote Speed. We talk about his shockingly different original villain for the movie, the alternate way his first draft ended, the lines from the film that Joss Whedon punched up and his pitches for two further Speed movies that sadly never got off the ground. You don?t have to listen to this episode on a runaway bus tearing through traffic, but it might heighten the experience.

Support for this episode comes from Screencraft, MUBI and Launchpad.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected]

Get a free digital copy of the Script Apart Magazine by supporting us on Patreon! 51 pages of interviews with great screenwriters, including exclusive conversations you won't find anywhere else. You can also now support the show on Ko-Fi.

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2021-08-17
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The Suicide Squad with James Gunn

And we?re back! Welcome to season two of Script Apart ? a podcast about the first draft secrets of great movies. Each episode, a brilliant screenwriter revisits their initial screenplay for what became a beloved movie, discussing what changed, what didn?t and why ? from first draft to the big screen. 

Because we?ve missed you, we?re kicking off the season with not one, not two, but three episodes over the coming week. Joining us for the first is a writer-director who needs very little introduction. James Gunn?s hyper-bright, ludicrously funny adventure comedies have made him a blockbuster cinema household name, known for ripping up the rulebook on superhero storytelling. Having made two acclaimed Guardians of The Galaxy movies for Marvel, James recently turned his attention to another comic book stable of characters ? DC. The Suicide Squad, his latest movie, starring Idris Elba and Margot Robbie, sees a group of incarcerated villains from the world of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman blackmailed into taking on a dangerous mission for the US government.

Part reboot, part sequel to 2016?s Suicide Squad, The Suicide Squad features, among other things, a talking shark, a grumpy sharpshooter, a homicidal cheerleader and a man made up almost entirely of polka dots. Together, they visit a remote South American island, where they do battle with a giant starfish from outer space, as you do. On today?s episode, we hear how the film?s hilariously sharp screenplay came together. Get ready to discover why James originally toyed with pitting his ragtag team of misfits up against Superman in the movie, why the American government is the real villain of the film, why he loves rooting outlandish characters in a humanising sadness and how he originally planned to kill a beloved character in The Suicide Squad ? only to decide that it would be just too heartless. 

This film famously coincided with a tumultuous time in James? life: in 2018, he was fired by Marvel over historic tweets that were deemed offensive by his Guardians Of The Galaxy bosses. This was the project that, in his own words, saved him. He?s since been rehired by Marvel, and is back working on Guardians Of The Galaxy 3, but at that time, James feared for his career. Listen out for the philosophy about storytelling that got him through that difficult time, and ensured he came out of it a better writer and filmmaker. Also in the episode, James?s guide to writing great action and how to get yourself out of a corner when you kill a character in your script who ? uh oh ? it transpires DC aren?t done with yet.

This is a spoiler-filled conversation so if you?re yet to see The Suicide Squad, hit pause now, get yourself to a cinema then come back as we dive into this film?s major plot points like a javelin-wielding Harley Quinn into the eyeball of a giant alien starfish.

Support for this episode comes from Screencraft, MUBI and WeScreenplay.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or email us on [email protected] Get a free digital copy of the Script Apart Magazine by supporting us on Patreon! 51 pages of interviews with great screenwriters, including exclusive conversations you won't find anywhere else. You can also now support the show on Ko-Fi.

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2021-08-12
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The Last Of Us Part II with Neil Druckmann and Halley Gross

Script Apart is a podcast about the first drafts of great movies. Or at least, it usually is. Today, in the final episode of our 2021 awards season mini-series, we?re delving deep into this year?s BAFTA Game Awards? Game of The Year ? The Last of Us Part II, with director Neil Druckmann and co-writer Halley Gross.

If you?ve played this emotionally devastating survival thriller, you?ll know exactly why we wanted to cover it on this show. Set in a post-apocalyptic America brought to its knees by a parasitic infection, the game caught up with teenage survivor Ellie, five years after the events of the first Last Of Us. What begins as a tale of revenge eventually gives way to a profound meditation on the futility of violence, split into an ambitious two-part structure that forces players to empathise with the so-called enemy. There?s a reason why it sold over four million copies in its first weekend alone: The Last of Us Part II is a masterpiece in storytelling, full of brilliantly realised characters and sharp observations on who we are and who we could be as a society.

We caught up with Neil and Halley to hear about how they wrote the game, turning back the clock to an early, open-world iteration of the Last of Us Part II that had a very different ending. Across a fascinating conversation, covering as much about this 20-hour game in forty minutes as humanly possible, we discuss the parts of their own lives they drew on to tell this story, the theme-building advice of author Robert McKee that helped shape The Last Of Us, and how a single detail in their first draft of the game?s final scene almost cast the future of the franchise in a totally different light.

Speaking of the future ? you may want to stick around till the end for some tantalising updates on a potential Last Of Us Part III, as well as the upcoming HBO TV series based on the first game. This is of course a spoiler-filled conversation so if you?re yet to play this astonishing game, hit pause, grab a copy on PlayStation today, then come back as we delve into every detail of this phenomenal game.

Support for this episode comes from Arc Studio ? the beautifully-designed screenwriting programme whose intuitive interface and host of innovative features helps you get the most out of your writing time ? and Coverfly, who curate the best screenwriting talent-discovery programs into one place and connect emerging screenwriters with industry professionals who can bring their ideas to screen.

Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.

Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected]


Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2021-04-27
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Sound Of Metal with Darius Marder

In our latest awards season mini-series special, we chat with Darius Marder ? director and co-writer of the astounding Sound of Metal. Nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, the film?s an intimate look into the life of a punk drummer with a history of substance abuse, whose world is thrown into disarray when he suffers hearing loss. Desperate to avoid relapsing into drug dependency again, our hero Ruben joins a community of deaf recovered addicts on a remote farm, where he begins on a path towards relearning who he is and reconstructing his life. Riz Ahmed is sensational as the wiry, introverted Ruben, working from a script that treats its characters not as conduits to tell a story, but living breathing people with depth and flaws.
Achieving that depth on the page required an intense amount of work for Darius and his brother/writing partner Abraham. On top of the countless hours spent writing out hundreds of pages of back story for their characters, the pair put a massive amount of emotional labour into Sound of Metal to make their story as grounded as possible. As you?ll hear in this episode, Darius drew on his own experience of a crumbling relationship while writing scenes between Ruben and his partner Lou, while Abraham let his own history of debilitating medical problems inform the feeling of freefall that Ruben finds himself in when his hearing begins to falter.
We spoke to Darius about the many meanings of the film?s title, the punishing process of writing the film and why it was important to him not to present deafness as a problem to be fixed. Darius also shared with me how Sound Of Metal was originally envisioned as not just one film but two ? with another movie delving into what happens to Lou intended to be released simultaneously. This is a spoiler-filled conversation, so if you haven?t yet seen Sound Of Metal, you know the drill by now ? hit pause, head to Amazon Prime Video to watch it, then come back as we dive into every detail of this great movie.
Support for this episode comes from Arc Studio ? the beautifully-designed screenwriting programme whose intuitive interface and host of innovative features helps you get the most out of your writing time ? and Coverfly, who curate the best screenwriting talent-discovery programs into one place and connect emerging screenwriters with industry professionals who can bring their ideas to screen.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected]


Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2021-04-14
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The Trial Of The Chicago 7 with Aaron Sorkin

Our guest this week is one of the most celebrated screenwriters in film and TV today. Aaron Sorkin is the storytelling titan behind The Social Network, Steve Jobs, The West Wing, Moneyball, A Few Good Men and Charlie Wilson?s War? the list goes on. Across a glittering three-decade career, his screenplays ? full of snappy dialogue, rousing speeches and engrossing drama ? have imagined an America in which principled heroes stand tall against Goliath-like institutions. His latest film, The Trial Of The Chicago 7, which Aaron also directed, is no different.
When a group of eight anti-war activists are charged with inciting a riot outside the 1968 Democratic Convention, the future of free speech seems to hinge on the ensuing court case. It?s a timely true-life tale that was this week nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.
Aaron took time out of pre-production on his next movie to tell me about how it took fourteen years and multiple rewrites to bring Chicago 7 to the screen. We also delve into the troubling Trump-era political developments that gave the story new urgency, his own process when it comes to writing first drafts, the importance of writing dialogue as though your characters are yelling at God, and what happened when he took a meeting about writing movies for Marvel.
Since we started this show, our DMs have been full with listener requests for incredible screenwriters they?d love to hear on the show. Aaron is as you might expect among the most requested so we?re delighted to bring you this episode, the latest in our awards season mini-series talking to writers behind this year?s Oscar and BAFTA contenders.
This is a spoiler-filled conversation so if you haven?t seen The Trial Of The Chicago 7, hit pause now, go check it out on Netflix and then come back as we delve into every detail of this great movie.
Support for this episode comes from Arc Studio ? the beautifully-designed screenwriting programme whose intuitive interface and host of innovative features helps you get the most out of your writing time ? and Coverfly, who curate the best screenwriting talent-discovery programs into one place and connect emerging screenwriters with industry professionals who can bring their ideas to screen.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected]

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2021-03-24
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Wolfwalkers with Will Collins

Next up in our awards season mini-series is an insight into the creation of one of the most enchanting animations in recent memory. Wolfwalkers is the latest gorgeously-drawn and beautifully-told adventure from Irish studio Cartoon Saloon. It follows a young named Robyn, living in 17th century Kilkenny. One day while exploring forbidden woodland, she meets Mebh: a free-spirited girl by day with the ability to transform into a wolf. The pair join forces to search for Mebh?s missing mother, uncovering secrets along the way that park a tense standoff between the townsfolk, Robyn?s father, the sinister Lord Protector and Mebh?s tribe of wolves.
Inspired by Irish folklore, screenwriter Will Collins wrote the film based on a story by the film?s directors Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart. On the surface it?s a children?s fairytale, full of adorable animal sidekicks and flourishing forests where there?s adventure to be had and magic at every turn. Look deeper into this densely layered drama, however, and you?ll also find environmental worry, coming-of-age excitement, exploration of society?s fear of the ?other? and empowering messages about choosing your own path in life.
Wolfwalkers almost was a very different movie. As Will reveals in this episode, the film?s creative team originally flirted with a much darker story, in which Mebh?s mother is discovered dead and Robyn is shot by her own father. We get into all of those abandoned plot threads in this episode, as well as the real-life historical darkness underpinning this magical tale.
As you may have already guessed, this is a spoiler-filled discussion, so we highly recommend watching Wolfwalkers before listening.
Support for this episode comes from Arc Studio ? the beautifully-designed screenwriting programme whose intuitive interface and host of innovative features helps you get the most out of your writing time ? and Coverfly, who curate the best screenwriting talent-discovery programs into one place and connect emerging screenwriters with industry professionals who can bring their ideas to screen.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on thescriptapartpo[email protected]

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2021-03-09
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Ma Rainey's Black Bottom with Ruben Santiago-Hudson

Today we?re launching a very special Script Apart awards season mini-series! Yes, it?s that time of year again: the Oscars and Baftas are around the corner, and to celebrate, over the next couple of weeks, we?ll be chatting to writers behind some of the most astounding movies of the last 12 months ? all of which would make worthy winners if you ask us.
First up we have Ruben Santiago-Hudson ? writer of the superb Netflix drama, Ma Rainey?s Black Bottom. Adapted from a play by the legendary August Wilson, Ruben?s screenplay transported audiences to a swelteringly hot 1920s Chicago, where across one eventful afternoon, blues pioneer Ma Rainey is scheduled to record new material. Things don?t go quite to plan, however, and as the temperature rises, so do tensions between Ma ? played by Viola Davis ? and ambitious but emotionally wounded young trumpet player, Levee (the late, great Chadwick Boseman in his final performance).
We spoke to Ruben to hear how he brought these two beautifully complex characters to life, delving into his close friendship with August Wilson, some curious differences between his early drafts and the final film, and the importance of acknowledging onscreen that the real-life Ma was a woman whose sexuality was fluid and whose generosity of spirit was strong. This is a spoiler discussion as you might have guessed, so if you haven?t already, you may want to check out Ma Rainey?s Black Bottom, available now on Netflix, before listening.
Support for this episode comes from Arc Studio ? the beautifully-designed screenwriting programme whose intuitive interface and host of innovative features helps you get the most out of your writing time ? and Coverfly, who curate the best screenwriting talent-discovery programs into one place and connect emerging screenwriters with industry professionals who can bring their ideas to screen.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected]

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2021-02-24
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Terminator 2: Judgement Day with William Wisher

It?s the final episode of Script Apart season one, and here to help us say ?hasta la vista? is William "Bill" Wisher, co-writer of the timeless Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Released thirty years ago this summer, the film was the most expensive blockbuster in Hollywood history upon release. The 1984 original had been a sleeper hit. Written and directed by James Cameron, The Terminator was a lean sci-fi slasher movie, in which the unstoppable killer was not a Freddy or Jason monster, but a machine, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in a role that catapulted the Austrian to superstardom. Writing a sequel was a daunting task for James: how could he unleash on audiences a follow-up that retained the surprise and innovation of the first movie?
To help answer this question, James turned to an old friend. Bill used to make DIY movies with James back home in the small town of Brea, California. He was an emerging screenwriter at the time, with some Hollywood experience but nothing of this scale and magnitude. The pair had a lot of big ideas and not a lot of time to come up with a function screenplay for T2. They knew they had to bring back Arnie, despite the exoskeletal assassin he played in the first film dying in that movie?s final moments. The challenge of bringing back the character in an organic, meaningful way was one problem. Getting Arnie to agree to the daring creative solution they came up with, they feared, might be another.
T2 was frenzied, intense work for James and Bill, but worth it. The movie took no time at all to become regarded an action classic, grossing over $520m and introducing the world to more than one iconic catchphrase. Key to its success was the way Judgement Day added heart to the horror of the first movie, turning the 1984 original on its head by making the T-800 a good guy and giving him a tender relationship with future leader of the resistance John Connor, played by Edward Furlong.
We spoke to Bill over Zoom from his home in California to hear how the foundations for Terminator 2 were laid out across six years? worth of racquetball games with James Cameron. We also delve into the creation of the villainous T-1000, his own blink-and-you?ll-miss-it cameo in T2, and why Judgement Day is deep down a film about family.
We?re already hard at work on season two of Script Apart, which we?re excited to bring you very soon. As Arnie might say: we?ll be back.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected]

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2021-01-26
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Inside Out with Meg LeFauve

Pixar movies are always emotional journeys ? quite literally in the case of Inside Out. Having sent audiences into the cosmos with Wall-E and into the clouds with Up, the revered animation studio went for a more introspective approach in 2015 with this heartwarming story set entirely in the mind of an adolescent girl. Riley is eleven when her family relocates to San Francisco, forcing her to leave behind her friends and classmates in the Midwest. Inside her head, as she attempts to navigate her daunting new life, are five emotions controlling her actions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger. When catastrophe strikes, Joy ? voiced by Amy Poehler ? is sent on a mission across Riley?s mind with Sadness. Along the way, Joy learns that sorrow isn?t something to be stamped out or fixed ? it?s an emotion to be embraced.
Our guest this week, Meg LeFauve, co-wrote the film with Josh Cooley and director Pete Docter, who came up with the idea for Inside Out after observing his own daughter?s changing emotions as she dealt with adolescence around 2009. It was a hard story to crack, as you?ll hear in this episode. Meg came onboard with Inside Out at an impasse: Pete, co-director Ronnie del Carmen and their collaborators had the concept of these emotions as characters, battling it out within Riley?s head, but had yet to figure out a way of translating that idea into a transformative feature film adventure.
We caught up with Meg ? who you might also know for work on Captain Marvel and The Good Dinosaur ? to hear how she, Pete and Josh overcame this hurdle to craft one of the best-loved and most unique Pixar movies yet. We get into how the tragic loss of a colleague at Pixar helped inform the film, the importance of accepting sadness and what the chances are of a sequel ever seeing the light of day.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected]

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2021-01-13
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Soul with Kemp Powers

In this bonus mini episode, we?re delighted to be joined by Kemp Powers - co-writer and co-director of the latest Pixar masterclass in joyous, heartfelt storytelling, Soul. Released yesterday on Disney+, it's a movie that feels made for these times: co-written by Mike Jones and revered Pixar veteran Pete Docter, it?s an eye-popping, existentialist comedy that packs a tender, timely punch plenty of people will be able to relate to after a year of lockdowns and uncertainty. Jamie Foxx stars as Joe ? a music teacher who aspires to be a New York jazz piano great. On the day of his big break, Joe suffers a fatal accident. What follows is an emotional, cosmic trip that invites you to think about mortality, our purpose in life and the characteristics that define us.
Kemp whisked us through the development and creation of Soul, discussing the wildly different versions of the movie that almost were. In some, Joe was an animator instead of a jazz pianist. In other versions of the script, there was no Joe at all. We also chat about the dark fate that almost awaited the character, before faring badly with test audiences, and get into the genesis of that crazy second act left turn. This is a spoiler-filled chat, so if you haven?t seen this wonderful cosmic adventure, we highly recommend you find it on Disney+ first.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected]
Support for this episode comes from Caveday, providing focused group work sessions to a worldwide community of writers and creatives via Zoom,

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2020-12-26
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Die Hard with Steven E de Souza

Welcome to the party, listeners. On this very special festive episode, we?re celebrating the holidays the only way we possibly could: with a deep dive into the writing of Die Hard, courtesy of none other than the film?s co-writer, Steven E De Souza. Yes, it?s a Christmas film. In fact, for countless fans, Die Hard is the ultimate Christmas movie: a touching yuletide tale of family reconciliation, that just so happens to feature a tonne of explosions.
What?s there to say about Die Hard that you don?t already know? Bruce Willis became a megastar thanks to his performance as John McClane, a no-nonsense New York City cop who becomes embroiled in a terrorist takeover of the Nakatomi Tower in Los Angeles. McClane ventures to LA for the holidays, intent on winning back his estranged wife, Holly. He?s not the only uninvited guest who turns up at Holly?s company?s Christmas party, though. Enter Hans Gruber, one of the greatest action villains in movie history, played by Alan Rickman.
Steven came on board the project after screenwriter Jeb Stuart originated the project, adapting the 1978 novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp. In the conversation you?re about to hear, we discuss the development of Die Hard, charting how it went from an gun-toting B-movie pitched to studio 20th Century Fox as ?Rambo in an office block?, to something grander: an action movie that broke almost every action movie roles, hiding a sentimental heart and redefining American movie masculinity in the process.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected]

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2020-12-22
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Carol with Phyllis Nagy

Carol is a modern Christmas classic. American director, screenwriter and playwright Phyllis Nagy fought for decades to bring this heart-wrenching tale to the screen. The film is a story of forbidden love between two women: Therese, an aspiring female photographer played by Rooney Mara, and Carol, a glamorous older woman played by Cate Blanchett. Set in 1960s New York, the film?s a raw, romantic drama set against a snowy festive backdrop that accentuates the emotion of Carol and Therese?s longing to be together, in a society that won?t allow it.
Phyllis adapted the story from an acclaimed 1952 novel by Phyllis?s friend, the late, great Patricia Highsmith. Bringing The Price of Salt, as the novel was originally titled, to screen involved overcoming several hurdles, not least a film industry that was then reluctant to give a voice to LGBTQ stories. Eventually made for release in 2015 with Todd Haynes in the director?s chair, the movie became an instant cult smash, beloved by LGBTQ audiences and celebrated all over again every December since.
Here?s what Phyllis had to say about her 20-year struggle to get Carol made, the subtle screenwriting details that decorate Carol and Therese's relationship, why there'll never be a sequel and more.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected]
Support for this episode comes from Caveday, providing focused group work sessions to a worldwide community of writers and creatives via Zoom, and Script Sirens, a collective of female and non-binary writers from the West Midlands, UK whose new six-part audio horror anthology Siren Screams is available now on Spotify.

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2020-12-15
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Edward Scissorhands with Caroline Thompson

This week we?re welcoming back the wonderful Caroline Thompson, who joined us a few weeks ago to discuss her script for The Nightmare Before Christmas. Today, we?re celebrating the 30th anniversary of her much beloved debut ? Edward Scissorhands. Directed by Tim Burton, this fantastical, gothic fairytale saw Johnny Depp play a Frankensteinian man with metallic hands, who falls in love with the daughter of makeup saleswoman. Three decades on, this fish-out-of-water story is still cherished by fans worldwide, who continue to find heartbreak and hilarity in its surreal depiction of suburbia.
Caroline shared with us some fascinating secrets from the creation of the movie, including how it was initially conceived as a musical, the message about disability and difference she wanted the film to convey, and the jaw-dropping reason why Tom Cruise walked away from the part, having come close to playing Edward instead of Depp.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity
Support for this episode comes from Caveday, providing focused group work sessions to a worldwide community of writers and creatives via Zoom, and Script Sirens, a collective of female and non-binary writers from the West Midlands, UK whose new six-part audio horror anthology Siren Screams is available now on Spotify.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected]

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2020-12-01
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Zodiac with James Vanderbilt

This week we?re joined by the excellent James Vanderbilt, screenwriter of the 2007 David Fincher thriller, Zodiac. James has had an impressively eclectic Hollywood career: on top of writing action adventures like White House Down, detective comedies like Murder Mystery, sci-fi sequels like Independence Day 2 and the odd Spider-Man blockbuster or two, he?s also produced horror hits (Slender Man, Ready Or Not) and stepped behind the camera to direct his own gripping historical drama (2015?s Truth). Before all that, though, came this cult smash: a slow-burn dramatisation of the hunt for the most notorious serial killer in American history.
Zodiac was a labour of love. Vanderbilt obsessed over the mysterious murderer?s identity for decades before writing the film, based on the 1986 non-fiction book of the same name by Robert Graysmith. Graysmith was a cartoonist working at the San Francisco Chronicle when a string of gruesome killings across the Bay Area, by one unknown assailant, left the region in a state of panic and paranoia. The killer, known as the Zodiac, wrote cryptic letters to Graysmith?s paper that perplexed police, and sent Graysmith on a personal mission to uncover the killer?s identity. The Zodiac was never caught. Vanderbilt?s film tells the story of Graysmith?s ultimately unsuccessful search for the truth.
If you?re wondering how you write a satisfying thriller in which the killer gets away, don?t worry: James did too. I chatted to James from his home in LA to hear about the conventions he had to break to make this incredible movie, the dizzying amount of research that he and Fincher undertook to make sure they were telling the victims? stories responsibly, and whether or not he?d ever consider making of sequel of sorts, about the notorious 1970s killer the Son of Sam.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected]

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2020-11-18
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10 Things I Hate About You with Karen McCullah and Kirsten ?Kiwi? Smith

Kirsten ?Kiwi? Smith and Karen McCullah are the writers behind the timeless high school comedy 10 Things I Hate About You. Released in 1999, their Gil Junger-directed teen reworking of Shakespeare?s Taming of the Shrew had it all: big laughs, blossoming romance, coming-of-age emotion and a ridiculously fun soundtrack. The film told the tale of two sisters: a smart but abrasive outcast called Kat (Julia Stiles) and her younger sibling Bianca (Larisa Oleynik), who?s banned from dating until her sister does. When new kid Cam (Joseph Gordon Levitt) falls for Bianca, a plan is hatched to set Kat up with mysterious bad boy Patrick, played by the late, great Heath Ledger.
Karen and Kiwi told us all about the rebellious fun of turning a classic literary tale into a high school romp, the ahead-of-its-time feminist message they wanted the film to have, and the erotic fiction-loving character they cut out of the movie to cast the story in a whole new light. There?s also revelations about a secret, swear-word-related CGI shot you?ve probably noticed before, and what they?d do differently if they were writing the film today.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected] 

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2020-11-11
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The Nightmare Before Christmas with Caroline Thompson

In this very special Halloween episode of Script Apart, we step inside the ghoulish, gothic holiday musical that?s enchanted millions worldwide since its release in 1993. We?re talking of course about The Nightmare Before Christmas ? the timeless, twisted story of a pumpkin king named Jack Skellington and his ragdoll friend Sally. Our guest this week, Caroline Thompson, wrote the film?s screenplay, based on a poem by producer Tim Burton, with songs by composer Danny Elfman.
Caroline, who also wrote Edwards Scissorhands, came onboard the project at an eventful time. Things hadn?t worked out with another screenwriter. With production already underway, it was up to Caroline to turn a loose story into a living, breathing script, with a convincing love interest for Jack Skellington. The pressures facing Burton, Caroline and director Henry Selick led to a frenzied creative environment where, as you?ll discover in this episode, tempers often flared. It was worth it, though. Animated movies don?t come much more beloved than the deliriously imaginative Nightmare Before Christmas.
Here?s Caroline on her chaotic experience making the movie, why she?ll always a place in her heart for Frankensteinian sweetheart Sally, why she fought but failed to change the villainous Oogie Boogie, and the likelihood of a Nightmare Before Christmas sequel ever seeing the light of day.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected]
Support for this episode comes from virtual co-working hosts Caveday ? sign up for a free three-hour Cave using the promo code "SCRIPTAPART" at checkout.

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2020-10-30
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John Wick with Derek Kolstad

Derek Kolstad is the writer responsible for one of the biggest action franchises in cinema today. 2014?s John Wick was a gripping neo-noir revenge flick that saw Keanu Reeves play a retired assassin grieving the loss of his wife. When a chance encounter with a Russian gangster leads to the death of his beloved dog, the character embarks on a violent crusade for vengeance, drawn back into a murky criminal underworld he thought he?d left behind. The film was a frenzy of breathtaking fight sequences and emotional character beats, directed by Keanu?s former Matrix stunt-person Chad Stahelski. Two equally acclaimed sequels soon followed, with further sequels and spin-offs currently in development.
Derek wrote the movie after finding himself wondering one day what he would be capable of if someone ever hurt one of his two dogs. His original vision for the movie, however, was a little different to the film we know today. As you?ll discover in this episode, Wick was originally envisioned as a Rambo-esque former boxer in his ?60s. Scorn, as the film was originally titled, had a different backstory for the widowed assassin, a different ending and scenes that didn?t make the shooting script.
We spoke to Derek from his family home in Wisconsin to hear about the film?s evolution, the heartbreaking hidden tribute to his grandparents he snuck into John Wick, and the future of the character ? a future that he?s decided to step away from. If you?re a fan of Marvel and the MCU, by the way, you might wanna stick around till the end for an intriguing update on Derek?s next project ? The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected]
Support for this episode comes from virtual co-working hosts Caveday ? sign up for a free three-hour Cave using the promo code "SCRIPTAPART" at checkout.

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2020-10-21
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The Simpsons Movie with Al Jean

This week?s guest is Al Jean, long-time showrunner of The Simpsons and co-writer of 2007?s The Simpsons Movie. Homer, Lisa, Bart, Marge and Maggie?s big-screen debut was a long time in the making. By 2007, The Simpsons had been a global sensation for approaching 20 years. The show, about the escapades of an endearingly dysfunctional family, set in the fictional town of Springfield, had struck a cultural chord unlike any other. Its success, and the show?s constant references to cult classic movies, made the prospect of a Simpsons film seem a no-brainer.
Al and the Simpsons writing staff, however, were determined to wait for a Simpsons story that felt truly cinematic before bringing it to the big screen. In 2007 they found one. The Simpsons Movie took America?s favourite family on an adventure involving environmental catastrophe, epiphanies in the Alaskan wilderness and a giant glass dome being placed over Springfield. The film was as expected, a giant smash.
As season 31 of the show gets underway on TV, we caught up with Al to hear how creating the Simpsons Movie almost broke him, why he and the film?s writing team opted for a new villain instead of Hank Scorpio ? and whether or not its environmental message foreshadowed our current climate crisis.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected] 

Support the show
2020-10-07
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In The Loop with Armando Iannucci

Armando Iannucci is one of the defining voices in British contemporary comedy. You might know him as the creator of Veep, the co-creator of Alan Partridge or as the writer-director behind 2017?s superb The Death of Stalin. Maybe you know him as the man responsible for acclaimed new HBO sci-fi show Avenue 5, or as the filmmaker behind the excellent recent Personal History of David Copperfield.
Armando is probably best known, however, for one character: Malcolm Tucker, the terrifying spin doctor at the black heart of BBC comedy The Thick of It. In 2009, Tucker hit the big screen. In the Loop, a spin-off movie about politicians in the US and UK scrambling for power as both countries contemplate a military invasion, left a massive imprint: not only did the film receive an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, but 11 years later, the film's referenced often, whenever politics spills into the absurd or surreal.
Armando joined us to explain how he and his Thick of It collaborators went about outlining and scripting In The Loop, the anarchic joy of writing dialogue for Malcolm Tucker, and why The Thick of It couldn?t exist in today?s political landscape. Oh and look out for a great tale about the time he committed a spot of light international espionage at the US State Department.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected] 

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2020-09-23
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BlacKkKlansman with Charlie Wachtel and David Rabinowitz

This week, we?re joined by David Rabinowitz and Charlie Wachtel, writers of 2018?s incredible BlacKkKlansman. Directed by the one and only Spike Lee, the film told the true-life tale of Ron Stallworth ? a Black police detective working in 1970s Colorado, who attempted to infiltrate the white supremacist world of the KKK.
The movie walked away with Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2018 Oscars, and for good reason. BlacKkKlansman was tense, darkly comic and disturbingly relevant ? famously, the film ends with real-life footage of recent racist rallies in America, drawing a line between the events on screen and the times we?re living in today.
Co-written by Lee and frequent collaborator Kevin Wilmot, the film?s a stylish, powerful thriller that speaks to violence and division of both Trump?s America and America?s past. We caught up with Charlie and David to hear about the racial fault lines they wanted the film to expose, the tricky task of laughing at bigots on screen without minimising their monstrousness, and the compelling character within the film that Jordan Peele secretly helped shape.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, screenwriters behind beloved films share with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected] 

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2020-09-09
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A Quiet Place with Beck/Woods

Scott Beck and Bryan Woods are two childhood friends from Iowa who, in 2018, scored a box office smash with A Quiet Place ? a sensory horror movie unlike anything before. Directed by John Krasinski, the movie was a post-apocalyptic alien survival story with a twist: after the Earth is invaded by creatures who prey on sound, we?re introduced to a family living out their their lives in silence on a remote farm, aware that the slightest noise could doom them all.
With an emotional undercurrent to match the film?s high concept, A Quiet Place was an almost unbearably tense rollercoaster ride ? one that, between terrifying monster attacks, touched on topics of grief, loss and what it means to be a parent.
Beck and Woods told us all about how they wrote the hit movie, the car crash mystery they initially had propelling the movie, and the debt they owe to M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen.
All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected] 

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2020-08-26
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Moonlight with Barry Jenkins

Adapted from an unpublished play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, Barry Jenkins? Moonlight was a mesmerising three-part journey through the young adult life of Chiron, a boy grappling with his identity and sexuality, played by three different actors representing different stages of his adolescence. The movie was the first LGBTQ-themed film to win Best Picture, the first with an all-black cast to win Best Picture, and is regularly voted among the greatest films of the century so far.
Barry wrote Moonlight?s first-draft on a solo trip to Europe, after discovering echoes of his own life in Tarell?s story. Like the playwright, he had grown up in Liberty City, raised by a mother with drug dependency issues. As he explains in our fascinating and at times emotional chat, Barry didn?t know where his life and career were leading before this screenplay spilled out of him on that trip, putting him on a path to Oscars glory.
Here?s Barry ? and an incredibly well-behaved puppy he adopted before lockdown ? on the origins of Moonlight, the LGBTQ legacy of the film?s success, and why his original ending for the film might have resulted in the actor Alex R. Hibbert being eaten by sharks.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen.
All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected] 

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2020-08-11
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Saint Frances with Kelly O'Sullivan

Every now and again, we?re going to be spotlighting a new film or lesser-known gem that we love, chatting to the talented screenwriter behind it to uncover its first-draft secrets. This episode, we hear from Kelly O?Sullivan, writer/star of the affecting new indie-drama Saint Frances.
Saint Frances tells the story of 34-year-old Bridget, a reluctant nanny whose relationship with the smart, tough six-year-old in her care sends her on a moving journey of self-discovery. Kelly plays the lead role in the film as well as having written its fantastic screenplay. Funny, relatable and unflinchingly realistic, it?s rightly being championed as one of the year?s best movies.
Listen to find out what Kelly had to say about the film?s abandoned kidnapping plot twist, the sexist mainstream movie tropes she wanted Saint Frances to rebel against, and why imagining the life you might have had is a great exercise for storytellers. This is a spoiler-filled conversation so if you haven?t seen the film yet, you may want to do so first.
Script Apart is a podcast about the first-draft secrets behind great movies. Each episode, the screenwriter behind a beloved film shares with us their initial screenplay for that movie. We then talk through what changed, what didn?t and why on its journey to the big screen.
All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter UK, the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal and the Film and TV Charity.
Script Apart is hosted by Al Horner and produced by Kamil Dymek, with music from Stefan Bindley-Taylor. You can follow Script Apart on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email us on [email protected] 

Support the show (https://patreon.com/scriptapart)
2020-08-01
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