Ted Griffin, Callie Khouri and Jim Uhls Reveal their Screenwriting Processes and Inspirations

Ted Griffin had no idea his script for Ocean's Eleven was really about a guy using an elaborate heist just to show his ex-wife he still loved her until he reached page 100 in his writing process.  Callie Khouri actually would have killed a dirty old man who shouted obscenities at her from a car if she only had a gun at that moment, so instead she used it as inspiration for Thelma and LouiseJim Uhls breaks the first rule of Fight Club: he talks about Fight Club.  To hear each of these writers talk about their writing process in their own words, check out their videos from The Dialogue Series below:

I found Ted Griffin's self-deprecating revelation about when he felt he was a real screenwriter to be most enlightening:

[Ravenous] was the first [script] I felt like, this actually feels like I’m a real writer now because I’m not paying attention to any of the rules you learn about screenwriting…where I threw away the conventional wisdom and wrote something that I thought would be really interesting.  And then derived a lot of things from other movies, and made it less interesting.

Callie Khouri's experience working her way up from reception to producer at a music video production house in the 80's gave her an unique perspective on how to become a screenwriter:

I learned so much about how to get an image on film and how to tell a story in a frame from doing that.  And it was weird because it was almost like learning narrative by the opposite example because music video is so abstract.

Jim Uhls' strategy for pitching his take on Fight Club was to not pitch his take:

I never actually pitched anything.  I just made everybody [at lunch] continue to talk…and I made sure I was sitting next to [David] Fincher at the lunch.  And we keep talking about it and talking about it.  And then we all get up.  Laura [Ziskin] says, ‘We’ll be starting your deal today,’ and [one of Ziskin’s executives] Kevin McCormack says, ‘We never actually heard your take on it.’  And I say, ‘I think we’re all sort of getting the idea.’

Although the series is a few years old, the stories and advice endure.  And in case you didn't know, the interviewer is Mike De Luca aka Michael De Luca (Producer, Moneyball, The Social Network, former President of Production at DreamWorks and New Line Cinema) .

To rent or purchase a download the full length interviews from Amazon, click on the links below:

Link: The Dialogue Series at Veoh.com

Your Comment


Thanks for the great post. I've shared the link with a friend of mine who's an aspiring screenwriter. It's great to hear and think about how intimate and very personal each writer's approach and method is. Makes you realize there's no set way or process to arrive at a great script.

Keep the good posts coming!

May 21, 2012 at 1:22PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Great post. Thanks for sharing. Every filmmaker should watch this to expand their knowledge base. Before resolution, sliders, shoulder mounts, cinema lens and HMI's...comes the story.

May 22, 2012 at 1:40AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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