Why I Love Cold Callers

I know it’s a cold call, designed to sell me some product or cause, even before the caller speaks. Indeed, more often than not the caller doesn’t speak at all. The equipment in telephone boiler rooms dials multiple phone numbers simultaneously. The software connects with the first one that answers, hanging up on the others. […]

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Screenwriting and The Dreadful Weight of Truth

Art, Picasso tells us, is the lie that tells the greater truth. Screenwriters need to learn how to lie through their teeth. As a screenwriting educator and script doctor I have seen more scripts brought down by a writer’s wrongheaded devotion to some idealized, romanticized, self-conscious, narcissistic, pie-in-the-sky notion of The Truth. In script consultation […]

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On the Oscars & American Hustle

The LA Times recently rounded up the annual Oscar nominees with their predictions. On deserving films for this year’s Academy Awards, here’s my view: I loathed American Hustle. O’Russell is hugely, vastly over-appreciated in my never-humble view. Like his similarly over-praised Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle is a lot of yelling and screaming and repetition. […]

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WGA Vs. The Studios: Why I Blame the Studios

In more than forty years of WGA membership, it seems there’s a strike threat with the expiration of every contract as talks between the studios and the WGA went into a two week recess in mid-February. Nobody ought to be surprised that I blame the studios. An ancient movie executive characterized writers as “schmucks with […]

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The Average Versus the Mean or It’s Not Called Screen Talking

The graduate screenwriting program at UCLA enjoys an embarrassment of riches. We receive fifteen times as many qualified applications as we have available slots for new writers. The ‘take rate’ for students admitted is virtually one hundred percent. That is, among applicants admitted, almost everyone enrolls. Continue reading…  

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Richard Walter Commentary in LA Times: “Losing Brad Pitt’s Plan B puts focus on Paramount Pictures’ strategy”

In the December 12, 2013 issue of the LA Times’ story, “Losing Brad Pitt’s Plan B puts focus on Paramount Pictures’ strategy”, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television professor Richard Walter commented: “Paramount’s paradigm is a different model. It’s a business organization run by MBAs, and I am not saying that in a pejorative way.” To […]

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Do Audiences Want Tent Pole Movies or Story?

In an article on The Lone Ranger, Gilbert Cruz discusses how the movie represents what’s truly wrong with Hollywood blockbusters. Cruz starts by reporting how “George Lucas and Steven Spielberg recently took part in a symposium in which they predicted an imminent ‘implosion’ in the system as a result of the industry’s current obsession with […]

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USA TODAY Op-Ed — Movie audiences seek emotion, not data

USA TODAY Op-Ed from UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television screenwriting chair, Richard Walter, on the type of truth movie audiences seek: not mere data but emotion. “Art is the first part of ‘artifice’ and ‘artificial.’ To fully and faithfully serve audiences, film artists ought to take every liberty they can to make a […]

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The Writer – Not Director – Is the First Artist in Film

Michael Cieply, the main New York Times reporter covering Hollywood, had a recent piece wondering why mainstream directors of mainstream movies had not been snubbed by the Academy in favor of international directors of quirky, indie, (relatively) low budget movies. I don’t like to answer a question with a question, but, Who cares? I love […]

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Richard Walter on “The Scandal in My Life”

The scandal in my life is that I don’t go out to the movies that often, and watch precious little TV. Hey, I already have tenure. I shouldn’t have to endure any more boring movies and meretricious (look it up) TV fare. During the awards season, however, the studios send me oodles of screeners. At […]

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