5 Award-Winning Screenwriters Discuss How They Approach Their Craft

A few months ago, Justin posted a series of videos of 10 renowned directors offering their advice on filmmaking. While this list isn't quite as extensive, today I present to you five award-winning screenwriters discussing their approach to the craft of screenwriting. You may want to get a snack or even a small meal because some of these videos are long, but all of them offer unique insights into how each of these writers (or writing teams) approach a story, and then break the story down into screenplay format. Hopefully, these videos will educate and inspire you as you work on your own screenwriting craft.

First, we start with Michael Arndt, Oscar winner for his original screenplay Little Miss Sunshine. Arndt also wrote Toy Story 3 (also Oscar-nominated), arguably taking Pixar's original feature-length franchise to new heights, and the Interwebs seem to be atwitter about him continuing a saga from a long, long time ago in a galaxy in Marin County. In this clip, Arndt discusses how he writes the climax of a story, followed by the climactic sequence of Little Miss Sunshine. The video also includes a link to Arndt's complete talk and Q&A, which is an hour long.

Next, we move to Lisa Cholodenko, Independent Spirit Award winner along with co-writer Stuart Blumberg for The Kids Are All Right. Cholodenko is also the writer/director of the films High Art and Laurel Canyon. In this clip, Cholodenko discusses the differences in approaching her work as a writer and then as a director.

David Seidler, Oscar winner for his original screenplay The King's Speech, explains how his own stutter led him to learn about and look up to King George VI, eventually leading to the inspiration for his script. Of particular note, Seidler talks about how he manufactured the scenes between the king and his speech therapist, Lionel Logue, with a basis in fact from his research.

In the next video, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber share the backstory and unique writing process for one of my favorite original screenplays in recent years, (500) Days of Summer - an Independent Spirit Award winner. Oh, and if you're keeping track of the number of screenwriters in this post, I'm counting the team of Neustadter and Weber as one screenwriter to save you the time of correcting me in the Comments.

Finally, we conclude this series of videos with one of the master wordsmiths, Aaron Sorkin, talking about his Oscar-winning screenplay, The Social Network.

What lessons do you find to be the most valuable from these screenwriters when it comes to your own craft? Share with us in the Comments.


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Your Comment


Thank you Christopher, always appreciate the posts . . .

March 14, 2013 at 12:31PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


And let's not forget Charlie Kaufman's BAFTA talk! One of the most enlightening lectures I've heard.

March 14, 2013 at 2:13PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

You voted '-1'.

Loved that talk. So helpful.

March 14, 2013 at 3:24PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


That was a great one

March 19, 2013 at 7:46AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Leonard Veillon

The best was the very last quote during the last video by Mr. Sorkin...

We all never get beyond "The same Schmuck our friends grew up with".

Great interviews all around.


March 14, 2013 at 4:46PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Glenn Dicus

Thanks great post.
Another great quote from Sorkin's vid "I don't write to be read. I write for performances."

March 15, 2013 at 9:33AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


It's difficult to find knowledgeable people in this particular topic,
however, you seem like you know what you're talking about!

March 6, 2014 at 11:11AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Fine way of telling, and good piece of writing to get facts about my presentation subject matter, which i am
going to present in institution of higher education.

June 10, 2014 at 10:58AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Oh... Man... Michael Ardnt... He got way too much clarity and understanding for his age.... His thoughts were provoking and inspiring all young screen writers around the world definitely me as a film school student... Thanks a lot Christopher for sharing...

August 16, 2014 at 12:02AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Pradeep Kumar