It’s Oscar time! Thanks, Matt Lohr, co-author of Dan O’Bannon’s Guide to Screenplay Structure, for joining us for the February Write On Meeting on Blog Talk Radio. (Note there was a bit of a glitch 2/3 through the show, so sorry about that.) We talked about this year’s nominated screenplays, what makes a screenplay Oscar-worthy, and tips for screenwriters.

For your reference …

Original Screenplay Nominees are American Hustle, written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell; Blue Jasmine, written by Woody Allen; Dallas Buyers Club, written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack; Her, written by Spike Jonze; and Nebraska, written by Bob Nelson.

Adapted Screenplay Nominees are Before Midnight, written by Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke; Captain Phillips, screenplay by Billy Ray; Philomena, screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope; 12 Years a Slave, screenplay by John Ridley; and The Wolf of Wall Street, screenplay by Terence Winter.

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Here are three of Matt’s tips from this show:

1. Don’t be afraid of pursuing that great true story. Six of the ten nominated films this year are inspired by real-life events. If you can track down a compelling true tale for which rights may exist, see if you can obtain an option or life rights and see what you can do with the story. You might find a fascinating new way to reflect people’s worlds.

2. The Best Original Screenplay category seems to be a place for the Academy to award films that they can’t think of any other way to deal with. It happened with The Crying Game and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And I think it’s going to happen again this year with Her. So don’t be afraid to pursue an unconventional or “uncommercial” idea. You just might win a best screenplay Oscar (just don’t bank on winning anything else…).

3. If you’re gonna make a romcom work, you need to find a fresh new take on it. The grosses and reviews for many recent mainstream romcoms reveal that it’s a form that many may feel has run its course or run out of gas. But then along comes Her, basically a romantic comedy, but one that finds a take on the genre that no one else has ever attempted before, and pulls it off nicely, and we end up with a front-runner for Best Original Screenplay. It’s a worthy genre. You just have to use it in a worthy way.

Listen to our entire conversation:

Listen to internet radio with WriteOnOnline on Blog Talk Radio

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Post your March Goals on Write On Online or Facebook and be entered in a drawing to win a book from Michael Wiese Productions.

March 1: 2014 Pre-Oscar Panel, moderated by Matt Lohr, with Michael Wiese Productions authors: Steve Kaplan(The Hidden Tools of Comedy), JM Evenson (Shakespeare for Screenwriters), Eric Edson (The Story Solution), and Carole Kirschner (Hollywood Game Plan) at The Writers Store in Burbank. Details here.


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  1. […] screenplays, what makes a screenplay Oscar-worthy, and tips for screenwriters. Read the recap and and listen to the replay. (Note there was a bit of a glitch 2/3 through the show, so sorry […]

  2. […] Talk Radio.Lohr is co-author of Dan O’Bannon’s Guide to Screenplay Structure. Read the recap and and listen to […]


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