Today on the show we have returning champion Karl Iglesias. His last episode is one of the most popular shows ever in the history of the podcast. I wanted to bring him back to dig deeper into his thoughts on writing for emotional impact and breakdown the essential elements of every good story.
Karl Iglesias has been a writer for over 20 years now with varying degrees of success — an option here, a couple of contest finalists and winners there, an indie development deal, many writing and script-doctoring assignments, a TV spot for a Coca-Cola campaign — and of course, his first published book, The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters, which ignited my unplanned teaching and consulting career, and my second book, Writing for Emotional Impact. Since then, he has contributed to two other books on the craft, Now Write! Screenwriting and Cut to the Chase.
In between teaching and consulting, Karl keeps busy script doctoring for other writers, directors, and producers when the work comes his way, while developing his own scripts, having about ten projects in various stages of development.
Enjoy my conversation with Karl Iglesias.
- Karl Iglesias – Official
- Karl Iglesias – Consulting
- BPS 007: How to Create an Emotional Impact in Your Screenplay with Karl Iglesias
- Writing for Emotional Impact (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSION HERE)
- Cut to the Chase
- The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters
- Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
- Audible – Get a Free Screenwriting Audiobook
Alex Ferrari 0:06
Today on the show we have returning champion Karl Iglesias, who's a screenwriter, author, script doctor and all around screenwriting guru and his last episode, which was I think Episode Seven, here on the bps podcast is one of the most downloaded episodes in the history of the show. So of course, I had to bring him back at one point or another, to dig in deeper to his methods and discuss the essential parts of what all good stories have the power of adding emotional impact to your writing. And we even talk a little bit about the Joker. So without any further ado, guys, please enjoy my conversation with Carl Yglesias. I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion Carlin glass. Yes. How are you, sir?
Karl Iglesias 2:45
I'm doing great. Thanks. Pleasure to be here.
Alex Ferrari 2:47
So you have a distinct honor of being one of my very first guest ever on the indie film hustle podcast. You were number episode number eight. Wow. And you were kind enough to give a fledgling podcast, they're an opportunity to interview you, sir, all those years ago. And that interview is done. I mean, I think that that's interviews downloaded 10s of 1000s of times over the course of the last four years. It's It's been one of the most popular ones. And we've always like, Oh, we gotta get you back on the show. We got to get you back on the show. We got to finally we'd like let's, let's do this.
Karl Iglesias 3:22
After so yeah, glad I finally found the time.
Alex Ferrari 3:28
No, but I appreciate it. It was such a wonderful interview talking about the craft. And I told him and like I said before, you know you were one of the first people I reached out to you because your book, creating emotional impact was one of those really pivotal books that I read. It was actually it was a producer that I was working with on a movie. And they said you should read this book after they read my screenplay. They're like you should read his book, it's probably going to help you. And I was blown away by not only the emotional impact, but I remember just those little segments, there was a segment in that book that like, if you have this word in your screenplay, too many times just go in and do a find and replace this word. or replace this with like this, those like lazy words that you use for writing. It's like, when people read this, it's like those little things I had just blew my mind when I was writing the first time. Yeah, because the whole thing
Karl Iglesias 4:16
was from the readers. My whole concentration is the readers emotional experience. So you got to remember that when you're writing a script, your very first audience and only audience will be a reader reading that script. Right? And if they pass on it, that's it. You're done. So you're really writing for one reader.
Alex Ferrari 4:33
And if you can get and if
Karl Iglesias 4:34
you can make everything the reading experience the description, let alone of course the craft of storytelling, right but it doesn't actually experience of reading a script is so important.
Alex Ferrari 4:43
But what I wanted before I even get into the questions I want the audience to understand in regards to writing a screenplay because I've written screenplays, I've written books. I much rather write books. There's so much more freedom theorizing Oh my god. It's Writing seems so easy, because it's like less words. It's less words. It's less pages. It's like, Oh, it's easy. You know, my first book was a movie.
Karl Iglesias 5:07
And we go there movies all the time. My
Alex Ferrari 5:09
first book was like, I think, almost 60,000 words, and my second books, almost 60,000 words. And I wrote them like water, it was just like, Oh, this is easy. I can, in the first book was was a narrative story. So it was kind of like, Oh, I could do this, I can do that. There's no economy at all. We're in a screenplay, you have to be so economical. And I want you to just explain to the audience that when you're reading a page, you need to look out into a sea of white. That is the goal is a sea of
Karl Iglesias 5:39
white space. Yeah. As much more as
Alex Ferrari 5:44
Yes, as much as much white space as you can get. And, you know, descriptions, how long should descriptions be all this kind of stuff? So please just explain the whole sea of white. Well, I
Karl Iglesias 5:54
mean, it's obviously there's also an art to it. There's a you know, a lot of producers and development executives that I talked to they look for voice right, it's the voice of the writer. And it's the same with fiction, but with screenwriting it's even better. So there's, there's a sense of, of weariness, of rhythm of visual imagery, vividness. But the key is, the best analogy I find with screenwriting is that it's called it's visual poetry. Right? So you know how poetry is very, very high because exactly Haiku is even is even more intense and short. Right? But, but if you think of poetry as opposed to prose, one of the one of the mistakes that I see a lot with beginning writers screenwriters is that they write as if they're writing prose. So it's like we call it a very novelistic voice in the script that describe too much, when you really should think about how to describe the same thing with the least amount of words. So it's really more about poetry and visual poetry than prose.
Alex Ferrari 6:54
Yeah. Like I've read screenplays where like, the man walked into the bar, the bar was you could smell in the air. The stale cigarettes, as he walked is the floor stuck to the bottom of his shoe?
Karl Iglesias 7:06
Like that's what he was thinking about what he had for breakfast, and he
Alex Ferrari 7:09
was thinking and then and by the way, here's what he had for breakfast, he had bacon, eggs, but the eggs were running out of money,
Karl Iglesias 7:17
like in this town is like 200 pages,
Alex Ferrari 7:19
right? And that's and that's how it's written. And you like, I look, don't get me wrong. I was when I wrote my first screenplay. I was not far off from that. It was like, it's something that you have to learn it is. Because when you when you write in school, you know, when you write, even if you're writing in a creative writing it they don't teach you the economy of, of words, and to make that impact so much and, and using dashes. And there's like little tricks and techniques to kind of just move things along. And yeah, but when you read out, you'll know, by the way, right page one, you'll know page one, right? page one, you'll go know,
Karl Iglesias 7:53
yeah, most executives can tell by page one if it's going to be a good reading experience. And I'll even most readers, and I sell remember an anecdote by Jerry Bruckheimer, the famous, you know, parts producer, who's who's known to pick any script at random and open anywhere, and he reads one page. And if he's not wowed by that one page, he throws it off. The challenge, you know, and I do talk about, you know, in my book, we talked about this, when I talk about describing, and writing, it's not just page one that counts, it's not the first 10 pages that counts, not the first deck that counts. It's every single page. And the challenge you should have as a screenwriter is that you should be able to pick any script, open it anywhere, and you should be completely engrossed and engaged by that one page. And if it makes you turn the second page, and so on, and so on. That's the key. That's the that's the secret, the
Alex Ferrari 8:44
thing that I feel that screenwriters have been dealing with for years and now even more so than ever is what filmmakers are starting to deal with now in today's marketplace. So before and also in screenwriting in the early days, there wasn't a lot of competition there weren't a lot of people screenwriting that concept of you could be a screenwriter didn't come in until arguably the 70s and the 80s is when it really started to come up
Karl Iglesias 9:05
early. May correct you on that, please tell me when that goes all the way up to the 1910s when what is actually the very first
photoplay these because it used to be there used to be an how to industry for screenwriters all the way back to 1910.
But how much how much repetition but how much competition? Like how many
books already printed? I guess. Everybody wanted to write screenplays right then. So it's amazing.
Yeah, I agree with you. 100%. There was some competition without question
right in the 70s. I think Syd field is the one that kind of turned it around and blew up a dream. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 9:43
yeah. Linda came out afterwards. And they really were the the catalysts of like now everybody in the technology was, you know, much more affordable and it was a big thing. So there was a lot less competition back in the days now there's a just ridiculous amount of competition for screenwriters, filmmakers. For two had less competition in the marketplace, you could if you just made a movie in the 80s it was sold. Good, bad, Toxic Avenger was sold internationally. It was it, there was less competition. So I think what we're talking about the reason I'm bringing that up is because when you're a screenwriter, now you've got to use every trick in the book to cut through all the competition and formatting and having that creative whitespace. I'm assuming you are a genius storyteller. This is beyond the storytelling. That's an assumption.
Karl Iglesias 10:32
I'll correct you on that one as well.
Surely Go for it. Tell
me tell me please. As much as much as the the there's an importance in, you know, the formatting and the description, right? Sure. Sure. Sure. Like a professional. The number one thing above and beyond anything, is the craft of storytelling. Yeah. If if you if you don't know the craft of storytelling, which I find a lot of people don't they think they do. But they don't. They could have the most perfectly formatted script and the best written description wise, but you're still not gonna have a good experience after reading that script. Right? Right. Right. Oh, it's like there's that joke about you know, that William Goldman. You know, when he was writing screenplays, he could write or Joe Esther has, he could write a script in a napkin, and it would sell for $3 million. Right? Because it's not about the napkin. It's about the the craft of storytelling. So at least for me, I mean, obviously, I'm biased because I'm all about the craft of storytelling,
right which is which is important thing, which is without question, I do not disagree with you in the least. But with that said, you know, when your job is or house when you're Shane Black when you're Tarantino when you're Aaron Sorkin, you really don't have to deal with any of the rules that we're talking about detail, because people are going to read it because of who you are. But that first, but that first script. Yeah, that very first one, you can't have misspellings. You can't have grammatical issues. You can't like, good,
you have to take first impressions count. You know, you've got to remember when I used to be a reader, that was my first my first entry level in the industry right? via a script reader for Edward James Olmos. And you know, we have all these tricks we can we look at the last the last page, we go, oh my god, it's 200 pages, we know the guy's an amateur, we look at formatting. So there's all these little things that you can do right away to kind of like already get the flags out of the way, right. So you see all these red flags to go, Okay, that's gonna be that's an amateur. And then you read the script. So you don't want that. So you're right. And those are very fixable. You want to you know, checking for typos. Make sure it's formatted correctly, and all the staff make sure it looks professional. That is, that's obviously the first step.
Alex Ferrari 12:28
It's tightening. It's tightening up the craft of just the presentation. Exactly. With the storytelling involved. And that's it. That's what you need to cut through all of this competition, because look at look at look at Bruckheimer, you're like he'll just grab I mean, how many scripts that Jerry Bruckheimer have in his office? I'm sure piles literally pile. Alright, pile pile up. So if you're lucky enough to like, if the gods are with you on the day that he picks up yours and goes, pirates we call the Caribbean?
Karl Iglesias 12:57
Yeah. What do you mean, fighter pilots?
Alex Ferrari 13:00
No, that's not gonna work. So it's so important. So I wanted it. So we I haven't even asked you the first question yet. So the first question this is gonna settle and guys, we're gonna be here for a minute. So explain to the audience what is the concept of emotional impact within screenwriting? It's something that is basically your bread and butter and your angle on the craft, which is what I get when I have reasons I'd love to have different points of view on the same problem, which is the craft of screenwriting. Right?
Karl Iglesias 13:31
well, that's a really good question. Um, and, and it's funny because I, I don't know, if I look at it from a point of view of an angle, or a niche, even though this is really my niche, because I feel that that's a need every, every, it is the core of storytelling, right?
You need to create emotion. You need to create emotions, and you're
talking about the emotions of the characters, right? We're talking about the emotions of the audience, we talked about the emotions of the reader reading your script, right? So whether an actor read your script, he they gotta be emotionally moved by it. If a director read your script, they have to be impacted by it, a producer needs to be impacted by it. The film needs to impact an audience. It's everything and now not only in screenwriting, but in music and fashion in everything. It's all it's like life, right? Everything is an emotional impact on the reader, and it's what makes you like something or not like something, right? You go to a movie, you say I like this movie, or it's my favorite movie of all time. The reason it is is because it was it emotionally impacted you more than the movie you forgot about that you saw Netflix or whatever, right? So, so for some reason, I feel like I'm kind of surprised that, you know, everybody kind of talks about it, but not really, right. They tend to focus more on, on on structure and plot and characters and stuff. So This actually brings up an interesting point about when beginners learn the craft. And they write a script, they usually go in disorder, there's three things, right? They start with plot, they try to figure out how you know, how to develop their plot, then they think of their characters, right? They put the characters in their plot. And maybe they're thinking about theme, which is what their whole story is about, right? Whether it's trying to say with their story. And so plot character theme is like the the process that most writers as they start go through, when you're an intimate intermediary writer, right? When you know a little more, you have a little more tools and craft under your belt, you start with character, right? So you think of character, then they think about the plot, because the characters what they do and what they want, create the plot, that's smart. And maybe then they think of theme. theme is always the last thing. It's also the least thought subject, but the most important, and people don't think about this. So theme is something that I've really kind of like dug deep the last, you know, five or six years, because it's the most important thing in terms of its its what it's at what starts at all, in a sense is what do you want to say with your story? Now, I remember one of my favorite writers, Rod Serling with the Twilight Zone, you know, of course, the genius screenwriter. And he said, A overall theme. So his process was theme number one, leads to character, which leads to plot. So the process and that's the process of most professional writers, right, who write great stories is theme character plot in that order, not plot character, and maybe theme, right. So for me, when I see when I read scripts, when I consult or teach, and, you know, you may have a good plot, you may have some good characters, but a lot of the times we have a breakdown in theme. In other words, they may some maybe realize that they're trying to say something with their script, but it's not what I call successfully argued through the script, there's no thematic argument to the script. And so it doesn't work. This doesn't work. Even though you may have great characters, great dialogue, maybe a good plot, some twist surprises. Okay, that may work. But there's something missing. And to me theme is what takes a script from good to great. So it's like, to me is the most important thing. It starts with theme, which gives you characters which gives you plot, but I'm getting a little ahead of myself.
Alex Ferrari 17:30
Can you give us an example of a movie that really started with theme, character and plot? Do you have any ideas?
Karl Iglesias 17:37
Well, I don't know. Now, most great movies. I don't know how they started.
Yeah, you're right. Yeah, I
don't know. I can probably talk about the Little Miss Sunshine. Because there is a there is a clip of Michael Arndt the writer who's at a bookstore, and he talks he answered a an audience question. And he talked about how he came up with the idea for Little Miss Sunshine. And for him, it started with theme. And the the way he started with him is because he had heard a quote, I had heard that Arnold Schwarzenegger talk about whatever at an interview, and Arnold Schwarzenegger said, the thing that I despise most is losers. I don't like losers, right. So life is about winners and losers. And he thought that was such a despicable thing to say. And beings that he had this idea formula, Miss Sanchez, now let me sunshine. So he started with theme, because every single thing a Little Miss Sunshine is on point with theme. And I was this is one of the best. And that's the reason why such a simple movie is so loved because it was so thematically rich, it was on point, everything fits together. The characters, the way the characters want their emotions, their arcs, the dialogue, the plot, everything is in service of that theme. Right? Which is, what's the best way to live? Like, is winning a sign of success? Or is it just you know, being a human being and loving your family and just enjoying it? Right? So the the grandfather in that movie who says, you know, it's not about winning, it's about trying and enjoying what you're doing right? As we think about every scene in the movie fits that right especially the last one. Yeah, exactly. And even even simple scenes, like the diner scene where they're at with their desk, ice cream. It's such a simple scene, but it's like everything about that about the theme of winning and losing and it's everything with the Father says which is all about being a winner, and everybody around him is rolling their eyes. Oh, come on and trying. You know. So when you think about it, a story is really an argument between two sides. Right? And you're trying to tell the audience which side is the best way to live, that's what theme does. You know, it's a how to manual for life when you think about it,
Alex Ferrari 19:48
right? Exactly. There was a last year's best picture winner Green Book. You know, I remember watching you know, I had a had a screener for it. And my wife and I were white and we started it late. We started leaving Even though like oh, we'll watch a little while and then we'll go and it we we wouldn't turn it off until I hit like midnight and we were like we got to keep watching this and and the
Karl Iglesias 20:09
emotional impact for you moved you engaged you you wanted to see the end of it there was it was exactly right. That you're good,
Alex Ferrari 20:19
right and the thing that I found so amazing about that movie which it's not a movie that I'm gonna watch 1000 times it's just not one of those films like Star Wars is one of those films or you know, you know, for me Shawshank Redemption is great and radically, exactly, it's Shawshank Redemption, which is everybody in the show knows my love for that film. But there's there's some that I'll watch 1000 times, but that movie, The theme of it and it was just two guys in a car essentially, the entire movie was two guys in a car. You know, for the most part, it was just like the banter between these amazing actors that dialogue was remarkable right in and you're just sitting there I said why was the
Karl Iglesias 20:54
movie about for you? Like you say what was the movie about?
It's about friendship, it's about friendship. It's about friendship. It's about it's about the Battle of of societal norms
friendship overcoming racism,
yeah. Friendship overcoming societal
issues that the driver takes right right
Alex Ferrari 21:12
societal norms and then on both sides on both sides because he was a he was an elitist the the I forgot his name is his he won the Best Actor I forgot there's a beagle Borges and and the other guy. The other guy was an elitist because he was a very well educated man and Vigo was in
Karl Iglesias 21:29
the streets, and alone and disconnected
Alex Ferrari 21:32
completely. While this guy was ignorant. A street thug had a heart of goal. Exactly. And he had a moral compass. Yeah. And as rough as it was just but it was so simple. It was like a good meal. And a well
Karl Iglesias 21:49
executed Amelie. Right? That's not my kind of Maxim's that I always tell students and clients, which is like, always aim for a simple story with complex characters, not the other way around. Right? A lot of people think of complex stories with twists and surprises on stuff. And then they come up with simple characters, which is not good. Right? So think Simple Stories, complex characters, without question, man.
Alex Ferrari 22:11
Now, what are what are some key elements that you need for a very impactful scene, which are the scenes are the building blocks of our of our story in this in this platform?
Karl Iglesias 22:23
Well, that's another that's a big topic. So scenes is something that I find that a lot of writers don't know how to do, even though they think they do, right. So they think of, you know, they think of a scene with two people talking. And what they mostly do is basically, it's just exposition, right? They're talking about what they need to the audience needs to know for to advance the the story. And so you have two people, basically, most of their dialogue is exposition. So the first thing that I tell people about screenwriting is look at it as a mini story, right? So if you think of a story, you think about three acts, right? You think of a beginning, middle and end, you think of a character who wants something, right? You think of conflict, what's standing in their way? And what do they do about it? Right? That's your whole script? Well think about the same thing in a scene. In a good scene, you have a character who wants something, is having difficulty getting it, right. And you watch how they get how they go about getting it. And sometimes they get it, sometimes they don't. And then you move on to the next scene. Right. So that's why I call dramatic scenes so dramatic, not in the sense of, you know, melodramatic, like, you know, steric people yelling at each other, I'm talking about dramatic in the true sense of the meaning of drama, which is a character not getting what they want. That is the essence of
Unknown Speaker 23:38
drama. And then it's also
Karl Iglesias 23:40
on something and not getting it,
Alex Ferrari 23:42
right. And if you do see, if you if you're able to construct scenes like that, you keep the audience engaged the entire
Karl Iglesias 23:48
time that creates tension, they wonder if they're going to get it or not, right. And especially if you have stakes, which is another part of the equation, right? high stakes, low stakes, it's got to be important for the character to get in the scene. So if we don't care, we're not going to care. Right? So it's got its kind of, you got to have high stakes in the scene, right? A strong reason for a character wanting something and a desperation for them to get it. And then we you have tension. And to me tension is this kind of interplay between, you know, US worrying that they're not going to get it or something bad's going to happen, and hope that things are going to work out for that character.
Alex Ferrari 24:28
So a scene like in a Hitchcock movie, Hitchcock is the bomb underneath a desk about the bomb under the coffee table. That whole concept of you know, we're because that that scene to me and there's a lot of Hitchcock, Hitchcock. Arguably he was very there were characters and some of his best movies were character driven like psycho North by Northwest. Some of his other ones were much more structural and plot
Karl Iglesias 24:54
but he was the master of suspense. He right well cared about the Bible suspense. That's cared about great tension, he really cared about leading the audience's emotions. Right? Right. Right. And he even said, that is actually a great anecdote that was shared by Ernest Lehman, who wrote North by Northwest. And he said that you remember when it used to be on set in between takes. And Hitchcock said, you know, it's amazing how how the movies, you know, we do this, and the audience feels this, and then we do this, and the audience feels that it's almost like we're playing an organ at a church and and each key is a specific emotion. And, and, and, ah, gotcha, yeah, pretty, pretty soon we will need, we will need that we will need the movies anymore, we'll just kind of like put him to electrodes or something like that, and, you know, play play all the different keys, but he was a master at that. And that example, about the bum on the table was really, to explain the difference between surprise and dramatic irony. So there might guarantee is also known as reader superior position, or audience superior position, which is putting the audience in a superior position than the characters that they
Alex Ferrari 26:07
know something that nobody
Karl Iglesias 26:08
know that the characters you know, something the characters don't know. So his his take, which he was right about is that you could have two characters talking in a scene at a restaurant talking about the weather, right? And suddenly, the bomb goes off, because it was a bomber. But we didn't know this, right? So you have five seconds of shock and surprise, okay. Another way of doing that scene is to actually have the two people talking in the scene and then put the camera down. So you see the bomb ticking, and it's got 15 minutes to go. And then you go back again to there to the people talking about the weather. Now you have 15 minutes of tension and suspense. So he said you're fit 15 minutes of suspense is a lot better than five seconds of surprise and shock. Yeah, right. All right, so. So audience superior position is probably one of the most often used techniques very effective for creating that engagement and creating the suspense and that tension.
Alex Ferrari 27:01
And then the concepts that you were just talking about before work away, our character in the scene needs to get something and something stopping them in that conversation at that table. It could be all of that. But then you add into the mix. There's a bomb underneath the table. Right? Right. And but the Hitchcock said, One very important thing that you left out that you cannot, once the audience knows the bomb is there, you cannot blow the table up, you can't blow the place up. Because they will be very upset with you, if you kill them, and they didn't know about it. Okay, but if you let them in on it, and you torture them for 15 minutes, and you still kill them, they'll never forgive you.
Karl Iglesias 27:36
I know. Exactly right. All right. Yeah. So
Alex Ferrari 27:40
So now you also have gone deep into Pixar. And the magic of what Pixar is able been able to do
Karl Iglesias 27:45
because they're the master storytellers. I mean, they are this my favorite stories of all time are Pixar. I'm a big fan of Pixar. I study their techniques and they all fit with what I'm talking so
Alex Ferrari 27:57
it's so it's so fun. It's so fascinating their process with the creative like kind of roundtable they're the mind the mind. What is it? Oh, the brain trust your interest? Yeah. So the brain trust me, they have like, you know, seven amazing storytellers that like literally rip apart stories and they put it together. And Pixar, you know, they haven't hit it out of the park every time they have a hell of a good batting average. But they have it you know, there's cars too. But, but, but there's also you know, up, you know, they're, you know, and there's so many amazing stories, and they, they let's say there's like an eight out of 10, nine out of 10 from Pixar
Karl Iglesias 28:32
without question, they still know how to tell a good story.
Alex Ferrari 28:34
They still don't know how to tell a good story. What, um, what do they do? What is it about them that that makes them able to pull those emotions because like, I just watched Toy Story for and I'm with my daughter and I was just like at the like, I mean, Pixar. I'm a grown ass man. And I'm like crying at a
Karl Iglesias 28:56
cartoon. If they do make you cry. I
Alex Ferrari 28:58
mean, three Toy Story to that song in Toy Story, Julie.
Karl Iglesias 29:05
emo ya know,
Alex Ferrari 29:07
you you listen to that sad song that What's her name? The cow, the cow girl song. Yeah, yeah, that's the sad song about the toy. It's a three minutes and you're just like, Oh, yeah. What are the first four the first five minutes of the most? The most amazing way to tell a story of an entire life's love you just like,
Karl Iglesias 29:30
Oh, yeah, exactly how they do Oh, they're so they're very good at that. But again, you gotta you gotta understand, too. It's not just about that, right? I mean, they don't they don't take you to the movie and then show you just a sad scene. Oh, Ryan, you go home. That's right. No, no, that's a whole fleet experience. So that's the good thing about about, about Pixar is that because they're they write, they write for everybody. They write for kids, they write for adults, right every they got the four demographics right there. work we call it right young old men, women. But they tell what I what I call a complete story, right? A complete story is gap characters we care about. A good story, right? A thematic argument, right? So all of them are about something important. Character transformation. This got some funny scenes, it's got some sad scenes, it's got some tense scenes, right? It runs the gamut of emotion. So, you know, I talk about emotional impact. But a lot of people think when I'm talking about the character emotions, it's not a character emotion. It's about the audience emotion. So when you think about the emotions you like to go and pay money for, you go to the theater, or watch TV, or watch Netflix, to feel these emotions. So the emotions that you want to feel is laughter right? If you want to watch a comedy, you want to feel romance, you want to feel love, you want to feel connection between human beings, you want to feel anticipation, you want to feel hope, you want to feel curiosity, you want to feel surprise, you want to feel tension, we like tension, because this engages us, right? It creates, it keeps our brain locked in, right? So all these emotions is what I'm talking about in the book, and in my classes about how do you do that? How do you create curiosity? How do you create anticipation? How do you create suspense? Right? There's actually techniques, which is what the craft is about, right? So you can teach the techniques I can teach people what to write, I can't tell you what ideas to write or what story to write, or what characters to write. But I can tell you when something does not work, if I read a script, and I'm not engaged by it, I'm bored with it, I don't care. I want to tell you why I don't care. And I'm going to show you how to fix that. Because that's what I focus on. That's my specialty in terms of like the actual emotions of the reader and of the audience. they they they have, I mean,
Alex Ferrari 31:45
obviously, they have amazing batting average and the stories that Nick continues to tell again and again, you just sit there. Yeah. How do you do and it is one good thing about them. If 71 listening is writing stories for kids, you gotta throw those inside jokes for the adults because that's what's that's what's gonna make it better. It goes away from that there's a difference between Saturday morning I know an agent dating myself a Saturday morning cartoons, right, which are dedicated directly to kids, and then a Pixar movie, which an adult would watch again and again and again and again.
Karl Iglesias 32:20
All right, like local cartoons like my favorite cartoons, London cartoons was the Roadrunner cartoons right with Wally Wally God, favorite character. And those I mean, adults enjoyed those
out, you know, but that was there's some conflict. Okay, so let's Okay, let's break this down. And you brought this up, let's break down the road runner, and Wile E. Coyote, and why they endure to this day. And they also there's no language, so every every language in the world can get it. Every every culture in the world pretty much got everything in it. So it's about it. And we've talked about simplicity. So let's, let's let's break it down.
Okay, well, you got a character, right? Who wants something, and it wants something desperately. And what does he do about it? He's the most creative person in the world because he comes up with all these different ways. And we appreciate that we go Oh, that's very clever, right? And then we hope because he's been doing it because believe it or not, we care about wily coyote, right? We also care about the bird but the bird just keeps running away, right? And Bernie's actually smarter than most, there's no me. There's no, I would argue this route for Coyote.
Alex Ferrari 33:31
There's no emotional connection to the Road Runner. There's an emotional connection to the plight, the plight of the kayak,
Karl Iglesias 33:37
right, because we understand, right, and, and the thing with wily coyote is that it's the epitome of perseverance, epitome of perseverance, and we all that's the thematic argument, right? In all those cartoons, they talk about perseverance, how to be how to persevere, how to keep going, how to come up with new ideas, even if you fail, it's not about failing. It's about failing, and getting up and try again, a different way. And that is a life lesson. If I didn't hear what you know, that's what we love so much else. It's funny, you know, and it's how we want to see how the coyote just keeps failing all the time.
Alex Ferrari 34:13
And I've only seen a couple of I remember he only caught the Road Runner, like two or three, four times I think in the
Karl Iglesias 34:18
club. I got this reminds me there's actually a clip online. He could he could Google it. I think it was a I don't know if it was Seth MacFarlane or something. So like the Family Guy guy. Yeah. And he did a small cartoon of what happened the day that wily coyote actually killed the Roadrunner and his life afterwards. It was so fun. It's only four minutes long. And it's hilarious because it's like you get this guy the coyote is like so depressed because he has nothing to look forward to and he's drinking and he's like it's not yes no goals.
Alex Ferrari 34:51
And and it I know we're laughing but that is actually what happens in our business all the time. You see these people who win Oscars or Have a $200 million, big huge movie. And once they get to that success
Karl Iglesias 35:05
up, there's nothing else up. There's
Alex Ferrari 35:06
like they crash and their entire world comes crashing down around them. People who win the lottery, you see that happen all the time. But I am a good look up. By the way, this
Karl Iglesias 35:17
is one thing you have to understand about stories is that there's a reason why we love stories. There's a reason why stories are shaped the way they are in terms of characters with goals and transformation. Because it is we evolved with stories and stories kind of teach us how to live, right. So this, like we talked about the Road Runner, that's a lesson in perseverance and not giving up, right, that's something that they teach us in life, as well. So it matches. And so when I when I talk to writers about storytelling, and themes, specifically, because the theme addresses that is, you've got to make sure that what your story addresses is life. You know, like all the problems with life. So in terms of like perseverance or love, right, I mean, there's a reason why love stories are the most popular and Roman romances. You know, relationship stories?
Alex Ferrari 36:09
Yeah, no, of course, of course. And it was just it was those stories that kept us alive, because the you would tell the story about the tiger at the end of the river that killed the boy and all of a sudden that story would go like there was a tiger that killed by the river. And that story kept going and kept the tribe safe. Exactly. And in those stories
Karl Iglesias 36:26
around a survival mechanism is what made us evolve and survive up to know, right, for a long time. Yeah, there's never been, there's never been a culture without stories. Like every culture, in an entire civilization, from the very beginning has had stories from the moment we're able to communicate with each other. We've had stories. And I think it's also just another way for us to share our life experience.
Alex Ferrari 36:48
So we can feel that we're going through it with somebody.
Unknown Speaker 36:51
Karl Iglesias 36:54
bring up another very interesting point. Have you heard of mirror neurons? Yeah, I've heard of that. So the whole The reason we so connect to movies and to, you know, it's all about this, this concept of mirror neurons, which is we have we have neurons in our brain that that when we watch something, the brain thinks that we are doing it. And so when we, when we see a character doing something on screen, your brain is thinking the same thing that you're doing on screen. And so that's there's that connection, right? So you see things that look like life, and you see characters doing things and transforming, right? That, in a subtle way teaches you how to do it in a subtle way.
Alex Ferrari 37:33
Is that why the Joker has gotten such a visceral reaction from the public because there's a lot of people who walk out I was in the theater when I was watching and there was people walking out.
Karl Iglesias 37:44
You haven't seen it yet. Which
Alex Ferrari 37:46
I won't I won't ruin it for you. But it is you you understand that
Karl Iglesias 37:51
is really good.
Alex Ferrari 37:52
I loved it. I thought it was I thought it was a masterpiece. I think I think Joaquin Phoenix will win the Oscar. I mean, if he doesn't it's a it's an absolute travesty if he doesn't win the Oscar. But But I was fascinated. I walked in with, you know, to get me to go to the movie theaters nowadays with a family I think it's rough to get me and my wife to go and spend the money on a baby like it was it? Like, you know, you know, you know, it's really hit the mainstream when my wife turned to me and goes, have you heard about what's going on with the joker? And I'm like, how do you know about this, like, it's everywhere, we gotta go see this movie. So but it was fascinating to watch a character and same thing happened to taxi driver. That's why a taxi driver is because it was obviously the Joker his taxi driver pretty much in many ways. The taxi driver rubs people the wrong way, because you're going on a journey with Travis Brickell. And you were feeling what it's like to be insane, essentially, right. And not the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and said which was fun, like this kind of insane and I think that's why I think I mean, this really people are reacting. So interestingly to Joker, just an interesting thing in today's world
Karl Iglesias 38:59
war two seeing it when I when I have a minute. Yeah, it is definitely my number one movie on my list to see. Yeah, but man, those mirror neurons is something very, very, very powerful. If you feel for what the characters going through, exactly right. It's the whole the whole thing of empathy, right? It's like, and that's the thing, whenever, no matter what if the character is, is good or evil, or immoral, or moral or a good person, a bad person, the fact that you know, he's the main character. And there's also absolutely techniques and, and tricks to make you connect with to make you care, right. So it's important to make you care because you can care about a character you can not care about a character. If you don't care about a character doesn't matter what they do, your script is done. So you got to learn how to care about the character. And so I bet you even even though haven't seen the movie yet, I bet you that that the filmmakers take the time to make you care about Joaquin Phoenix's character before you see him do what he does, right which I'm assuming is a negative You kind of root for root for him, right? Because you care.
Alex Ferrari 40:03
But and that's where I think the problem lies was that you're rooting for a crazy man you're rooting for a murderer and it's like look like Santa. At least with Silence of the Lambs. We love. I love Hannibal Lecter like Hannibal Lecter is such a charming. He's a cannibal. He eats people. But yeah, but that we have, but we had Jodie Foster as the but then later in the other movies like Hannibal and things like that he became
Karl Iglesias 40:26
the main character. Here's the thing, though. They may he may eat people right, but they were only eats the people that Well, maybe not that he did that deserve it right, the way the film ends, you know, we feel this point of justice, okay, eating out to children at the end. And it's the same with shows like Dexter, for example, right? Like Dexter is a serial killer, but it kills the wrong people. He kills the people who deserve it. And so that makes us feel good. And dilettante.
Alex Ferrari 40:51
And that's and that's the thing, that you're exactly right. Like anytime that, you know, the quickest way for you to hate somebody on a screen. It's one of those old tricks like kick have the villain, kick the dog, like,
Karl Iglesias 41:02
kill the dog? Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 41:03
you kill the dog, he'll eat the dog, whatever you want to do.
Karl Iglesias 41:06
Stephen King once say that of all the the hate letters he got was when he actually killed the dog in one of his novels like he could do. You could kill people in the most amazing ways. But if he kills the dog, he's gonna get the hate crowd.
Alex Ferrari 41:20
Right. And that's like, the easiest way. It's the easiest way for you to hate somebody right away. So
Karl Iglesias 41:25
have them hurt an animal, hurt a kid. And that's not really the end. It's not the only thing. There's a whole bundle of stuff. There's when I read scripts for clients, and I say, and I'm very aware of what connects us and what disconnects us. So there's gonna be times in this in the script where I go, okay, you know, this what he did? Or said, there is a disconnect, or it disconnects us. So do you want to keep it there? Is there a reason why you want it? Or is it accidental? Because a lot of times, the writers don't know what they're doing, right? They're just writing the script. And they don't realize that they just disconnected the audience from the character. And they don't know why they don't know why the scenes not working, didn't know why the script not working. And I could tell them, well, you just disconnected us here. It was intentional, but that we don't know, don't care about the character. So everything that happens after that we don't care about the character, you're done.
Alex Ferrari 42:11
So what are some of those elements and techniques that help you create a character that you have strong emotional ties to? Because that is also agreed? I mean, I watched I was watching a show the other day, and it was just like, like, I just like, the plot was, the plot was, plot was good. But like, if I get up and go to the bathroom, and I tell my wife just keep playing it, it's fine. You don't have to pause it. I'm, I'm disconnected. Right? But then you watch other shows or you watch other movies and just like,
Karl Iglesias 42:37
think about the classics, right? Think about the classic sitcoms, right? Like friends or you know, the Seinfeld office or Seinfeld, right? They're classics or Cheers. I mean, because you care about the characters, right? It's like you one you don't care even even if the jokes are not funny, or you know, I mean they are but if even if they weren't, you would still want to be with those characters. You just want to be in the same room with them. And that's why you keep tuning in Week after week after week, you know,
Alex Ferrari 43:03
so what are some of those elements that create those that emotional tie?
Karl Iglesias 43:06
Well, there's I mean, there's a whole bunch of them right I have a whole chapters in my book but um, but in terms of connecting emotionally right so there's these three things that I talked about and you can see that very well with Pixar as well. So when I teach my classes on that I show the the Pixar clips and show you how it's done and then show you the people that don't do it right. So there's so there's an element of what I call pity humanity and admiration, right so there's if you don't create pity in the character, meaning we care about something that happens to them right so something happens and it could be any character you mean any character you don't know anything about them. And if something happens to them that is that makes you feel sorry for them. Like let's say they're they're bullied by someone or they just got robbed or they're they lost their wife or they just lost their dog or whatever it is anything that makes us empathize and we feel sorry there's hundreds of those right? So empathy and pity is one of them right? You cannot you because of the way we're built as humans we cannot not care if you feel pity for someone and it could be a violent as well. That's what they do with Annabelle Lecter. Right the fact that Dr. Killed children abuses As Americans, we feel we feel sorry for him even though he's Adam is a cannibal, right? So So pity is one of them. Humanity is very important and that basically is show the character the characters humanity in a sense, make them make them care about something other than themselves. So if a character was not selfish, so a character cares about something whether it they care for a dog, they care for a pet they care for a plant. They do this in the Leon Do
Unknown Speaker 44:44
you read my mind?
Karl Iglesias 44:47
That's the killer, right? He's a hitman. But we care for him because we go home. He drinks milk, and he takes care for his pint. We know Oh, he's a good guy. You know, he
Alex Ferrari 44:56
just happens to kill bad guys.
Karl Iglesias 44:58
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So, so that's one of them. So show you man any show that you care about something, a cause, you know, you have a friend you care for you care for your parent to sick. I mean all this stuff, right? You talk somebody in bed, you bring him soup, there's there's 1000s of those. So humanity is a second one. And then the third one is the one that most people know about is admiration. Meaning that you give the character traits that we all admire in a human being. So think about like in your dating days, you had a list of the admiral admirable traits, admirable traits you wanted in your mate, because that's what most people admire. So somebody who's beautiful or handsome, somebody who's smart, somebody who's funny, somebody who's the best at what they do, right? So the best cop, the best agent, the best soldier, the best, whatever, right? Best surgeon. And it's, there's a whole bunch of stuff, somebody who's courageous as opposed to
Alex Ferrari 45:49
Indiana, like Indiana Jones, break the list
Karl Iglesias 45:52
the list of positive traits that are admirable in a person. So when you combine those, those three, and it's funny, because talking about Pixar, again, I showed the clip and Wally where we, when we meet in the beginning we meet while the end, he's doing the garbage thing. But there's the same way he finally goes to his house to his little home. And it's only a three minute, a three minute scene. But in those three minutes, you get about 20 plus little tips of all the stuff that I talked about, right? And those 20 things are kind of like designed to make us care about the character and he's a robot. he's a he's a garbage cleaner, right? But yet, you see you feel sorry for him. You see as humanity you see that he cares about things. They're showing us how human he is. Right? And there's a lot of admirable traits in there but although things of how he keeps his house and he collects things, and he likes romantic movies and and he thinks to himself, and there's all these little things that just add up those are called the little touches, character touches. And that's what you want in you know, in all your characters.
Alex Ferrari 46:52
Yeah, it's Yeah, I was thinking about that movie like there's no dialogue there's barely any dialogue and
Karl Iglesias 46:58
that yeah, it's my like my my my top five favorite movies of all time that was up and Finding Nemo. The Incredibles Toy Story, Toy Story, two Toy Story, three story 404 of them. It's amazing.
Alex Ferrari 47:11
All four of them are actually really good. They always hit it out of the park with the Toy Story without question. Now, there's another thing that I think a lot of screenwriters have a problem with is the dreaded dialogue and being able to write realistic and sharp dialogue and and and so one on one any any help you can give us to help dialogue in the world will be for but also the talk on the nose dialogue, which I when I wrote my first few screenplays It was horrible. It was I was just I would get that note back constantly be like, dialogues on the nose. And I'm like, What is this on the nose mean? Like, I don't understand. I didn't even I was so ignorant to the process. I don't even know what under. So please explain on the nose dialogue and then how to avoid on the nose. All right.
Karl Iglesias 47:59
Well, I'll take your first question, because I had a funny remark for that when you said how do I how do we become good dialogue writers? And I was gonna say well, there's a there's a very simple process, but it might it might require a little bit of surgery, which is go and take Aaron Sorkin's brain and put it inside your skull, and then you'll be it though.
Alex Ferrari 48:18
Or Tarantino Exactly.
Karl Iglesias 48:21
So, but all joking aside, the craft of dialogue is probably the most important thing. I'm not I mean, I've been theme and scenes and craft of it, whatever. Right? So I like this analogy that Ernest Hemingway shared with writers where he said that a great story is architecture, not interior design. Right? So architecture of a story is the structure. The theme, the plot, the characters is the foundation of a good story, right? So it's a solid story. Dialogue is interior design. Right? So it's like, it's all the little color of your walls and your posters. And I'm looking at your room, right? There's this very specific interior design going on. Right? That would be so you could have a solid house that that is standing on its own. But if the room has no good interior design, it's still gonna look kind of yucky, right? You're not gonna have a good feeling about it. Right? If your room was empty. So so that's what dialogue is, you could have a really good script, but with terrible dialogue, it's still not gonna create that emotional impact you want in the reader, right? And by the way, it doesn't mean you're not going to sell your script, it just means they're going to hire a script rewriter to do the script. As a matter of fact, I don't know if you know this, but in Hollywood dialogue, writers are hired at six figures for a couple of weeks work just to punch up the dialogue, because that's how important it is. Right?
Alex Ferrari 49:42
So can I stop you for a second because I want I want to make this really clear for people because it's a wonderful analogy. If you have the most beautiful home designed mansion, but the interior design is tacky and bad. The value of the entire house goes down. Yes. It's that simple and I think it's a great great analogy for screenwriting. I've never heard that before. I think it's so so important because it is the house is the foundation with the theme, the structure, the characters, but that dialogue is the painting What color is the paint? It is it is it is a neon green paint.
Karl Iglesias 50:18
You know, I mentioned that every single time with clients and students because when I give feedback and something is not working at the foundation level, right? That's okay. You know, thematically Oh character's story, something's not working. And they come back to me and say, oh, but what about that little scene with this character says this, and that is the next line. And I'm going Yes, it is. But I don't care. I just don't care. You're talking about your house is crumbling. And you're talking about what poster to put in your wall? I mean, come on. Right. That's exactly it. So that's a great analogy. I love that analogy. Thank you. No, thank you, Ernest Hemingway. But, but that's, that's the thing. And so writers sometimes do not understand that the foundation has to be solid before they think about the interior design. So but dialogue is one of this, the interior design and and on the nose dialogue to come back to your question is probably one of the biggest challenges with writers because there's, there's different levels of dialogue, right? So there's dialogue. And I break it down into these four categories in my book, which is emotional impact, which is the lines that that make you smile that make you laugh, witty line sarcasm, all the sudden, they create an instant reaction, right? So they they like, Ooh, that was a great line, right? That's an emotional impact. Then you have character, which is character voice, which is what the what the the character says. And the way they say it reveals their personality reveals their opinions, their their traits, etc, etc. So those are character, the so called individuality for dialogue. The third one is exposition. And unfortunately, most writers tend to focus on exposition. And that's where you get the on the nose. claim, right? feedback, because exposition is character saying information that you feel the audience needs to know, to figure out what's going on in the scene or in the story. Unfortunately, that's all they do, right. So all another feedback you get with dialogues, and all the dialogue sounds the same, all the characters sound the same, because it's really just your voice. And all you care about is giving exposition, you don't care about character, you don't care about emotional impact. The opposite of on the nose is subtext. And that's the fourth category. And that's probably the hardest thing to master. It's usually where you get to the professional level. And you're a master of dialogue, that's when you get subtext. And that and that's when the dot the line of dialogue kind of implies things you don't stay at it on the nose on the nose means you're stating exactly what the character is thinking, and what he's feeling. Right. So I'll give you an example. From top of my head, if you're a friend of yours, you know, who you don't really like, comes to visit you write. And and and you say, Oh, it's you write in effort, right? We we understand that subtext for I don't like you, right?
Alex Ferrari 53:11
But if it says, Oh, it's you, it's all about performance.
Karl Iglesias 53:14
But now, so that would be right. So that would be like the subtext right over to you, you know what he's thinking, you know, what he's feeling without saying it now and begin, a writer who's going to write on the nose dialogue would be, oh, I'm really unhappy to see you right now. Right, that's, you're stating exactly what he's feeling that's on the nose dialogue. So you may be not happy right now. Or I'm so happy to
Alex Ferrari 53:38
see you that's on the nose. So So you mean basically the room basically, time it was the room is basically the entire movie is on the on the nose dialogue, which makes it so beautiful and wonderful of that movie. I absolutely love my fight so bad that it's good. It's one of my favorite movies of all time purely because it's so bad. And when you said that, I'm like, wait a minute, that sounds familiar. That's like, Oh, hi, Tommy, I just walked in the door. Thank you. How was your day, it is here on the nose dialog. Also another thing and if I'm, if I may dissect the room here for a second when you're writing a scene, and I think writers should understand this is that you really need to pick the most important and interesting part of the scene. So what a perfect scene is is wonderful scene in in the room is the scene that they go into a cafe. And the scene starts with two people we've never seen before in our life ordering. I'm gonna have a coffee I'm gonna have this great and two other people should go right behind them in line. Order. We don't know who these people are. The third people are our characters, and they order Ah, so you sat there for a minute and a half watching someone else order for no reason. And that's the most interesting part we would have should have picked it up at our characters or happened
Karl Iglesias 54:58
on scene. Like, what do you cut a lot, because a lot of our brains just wants to set up the scene. Right? So the examples I usually give is like if you're going to show an interview scene, right? Somebody had a job interview, you're not going to show the guy driving there even like even before getting ready for his interview, driving, finding parking, getting up on the elevator, checking in with the receptionist, you know, waiting reading a magazine until he's called to the interview, you're going to cut right at the interview. Right? So that's, that's a, that's what it's about. Yeah, it's
Alex Ferrari 55:29
it's Yeah. And that seems specifically you might even have to have them ordering the coffee, they should just maybe just be sitting down at the coffee shop. Unless the ordering really is moving the story along. That's fat. That could be.
Karl Iglesias 55:41
Yeah, so actually, one of the first questions you should ask yourself with with screenwriting is what's, what's the point of that scene? What's the purpose of that scene? Right.
Alex Ferrari 55:50
Do you have any? Do you have any tips on how to create good subtext in dialogue?
Karl Iglesias 55:55
Ah, I do because I show a whole bunch of techniques as well in, in the book on subtext. I mean, there's, there's a whole bunch of them, I mean, the ones that come to mind is implying things. Right, or even not even saying a line, like think about how if the character can actually do something that implies something, as opposed to so it's all about implying things right subtext means the meaning behind the text. Right? So going back to our examples, your friend, if you say, Oh, it's you, right? Oh, it's you doesn't say anything. But we know in the context, if we know the way you said, or we know before that you hate the guy, right? We know that Oh, two means I hate you. And I'm not happy to see you. Right, right. Now an example of subtext so blank line,
Alex Ferrari 56:39
it says something
Karl Iglesias 56:41
physicalized in the line sometimes,
Alex Ferrari 56:42
so. So like something like if a woman, a woman, or a wife knows that her husband's cheating on him, and she hasn't told him yet. And he walks in, and he's like, Hi, honey, and she's washing the dishes. And she, she's like, Oh, I'm doing Oh, right. And the way she's washing the dishes, says everything about what that seems about physical
Karl Iglesias 57:02
icing, and then and then
Alex Ferrari 57:04
he's starting to pick up on it. And then it's like, and then but but no one's saying, You cheated on me why, but it's all done within. It's all done within the scene. Right? That's subtext basically.
Karl Iglesias 57:15
Exactly. Yeah. And there's a whole bunch of other style. There's,
Alex Ferrari 57:18
there's many ways, but subtext is an art form, though. That's
Karl Iglesias 57:21
it, it is it is an way in the craft as well, you know, his, like little budget techniques and give you examples of it shows you that there is a technique. So you can you can definitely apply that.
Alex Ferrari 57:33
So yeah, I mean, your script. Dr. Locke, you also you also consult a lot with screenwriters. What is the biggest thing you see like what what do you come in to fix the most? Like, what is the thing that you're like, the house that the house you come into, to to analyze the structure of the house? And the interior design? And what is the thing that you see like, man, if people could just get this right? It would be so much better?
Karl Iglesias 57:57
It depends, I there's so many so many different things. It depends on the student and I also teach at UCLA. So it's kind of like depends on on where the students level. So like I said, Sometimes a student can, or a client can write great characters and great dialogue, but the scenes are not working, or the story's not working a lot of the times its theme. That's the reason why I feel, you know, one of the things that I've come to realize is how important stories are for us humans and why that is and that's really theme. So if you really know how to write to theme, right? Because everything connects to it like the the the the characters in the character arc connects to theme, the dialogue will connect with him if you have a good thematic argument. And then of course, the plot so so that's the thing. And if theme is a foundational issue, remember Rod Serling say it's where it starts. So you have to know theme, you have to know what you're trying to say. Right? And then figuring out your character who's going to convey that and the plot and, you know, the ending of it. And then you had one up would be the answer.
Alex Ferrari 59:01
Okay, so do you also, you also wrote a book called 101 habits of highly successful right, as far as your very first book, what are some top habits that screenwriters should do to be a good screener? And I'm going to say what the first one will probably be just right. But yeah, what some other ones? That's basically it, that's just just right, just right,
Karl Iglesias 59:23
there's that there's 101 habits in there. And all the big big time writers talk about what they do in all those specific habits. So there's a lot to read. Um, but But yeah, pretty much it comes down to ask to the chair, right, like putting your butt on the chair and dedicating the time. So a good tip is to schedule the time you know, like, you know, when you have your calendar and you schedule your dentist appointment, you don't miss that. Right. So you you you show up for that right? So a good tip, a good technique is to actually put in writing time in your calendar with this with a start date, start time and an end time. So that you get those notifications on the Mac that says, you know, your meeting starts in 30 minutes, you know, and, and and so if you actually write down your writing sessions, at least you'll show up and hopefully dedicate yourself to writing. So that's a that's a habit right there.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:14
Well, how about for screenwriters who I've heard this 1000 times? I only write when I'm inspired. It's when I, when I get the inspiration. And these are the, these are the same guys who have the screenplay they've been working on for seven years, but the one screenplay, not the 20, the one screenplay, and every time you talk to me, like, how's that screenplay going? Almost there? Yeah, Almost. Almost just just a little bit, almost there. So
Karl Iglesias 1:00:39
the answer and this is actually came from actually who said that to me. I forget now, but one of the writers in the one one habits book, who said, you know, does a plumber have plumbers block? He has to go and he has to fix what he needs to fix. He shows up on time. That's his job, right? He doesn't have you don't go to your office job and say, I don't feel like it today. Right? You go, you do it, because there's a lot at stake. That's that's the problem with writers, they don't have a lot at stake, right? I mean, cuz nobody's forcing you to write, right? There's no deadline, there's no put somebody is not putting a gun on your head. So that's another another tip for you guys, is to make sure you give yourself stakes, like give yourself deadlines. Get yourself. Like one great trick is to tell people that you're going to write right that you're going to finish your script in by let's say, three months from now, right? So in February 1, right? You're gonna and you tell people, you're gonna, I'm gonna finish my script February 1. And if I don't finish my script by February 1, I'm gonna have to donate $1,000. Right? To the NRA, or to the Trump campaign, or to
Alex Ferrari 1:01:57
you know, not Yeah, not not, not not Nazi lovers or whatever. But
Karl Iglesias 1:02:01
basically, anything that you totally a bore hate, and you're gonna force yourself, and believe me, if somebody is going to hold down down to it. So actually, you're going to have to give the $1,000 to your friend, so that they're going to send it and they will send it if you don't give them the script by February 1. And I guarantee you, you will finish your script by February 1.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:21
There's actually there's actually websites dedicated to this. There's one called I think, stick calm, which is like the characteristic right, and you do a public Yeah, you put it you put up your thing, and it does exactly that they'll deposit if you don't, if you don't supply it, they will deposit it directly into the the opposite, you know,
Karl Iglesias 1:02:39
and believe me, and that suddenly now you have stakes, now you have motivation, you will you really need to finish that right you will
Alex Ferrari 1:02:45
write you will write,
Karl Iglesias 1:02:48
it may not be good, but at least you'll finish it. And that's step number one, you have to finish it. And then you can go back to it and fix what's not working.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:55
Can you can we talk about the rewriting process a little bit because that is such a, that is such a about oh my god, big but also, like I found myself when I'm writing a lot of times in this old, the old versions of me is I would I would rewrite as I write because it was an excuse to not continue. So you have the greatest first chapter, or the first the greatest first 20 pages ever. Yeah, but you It's useless because you haven't finished it.
Karl Iglesias 1:03:23
I'll meet you halfway on that one. There's a trick. And it's actually Eric Roth was the big time screenwriter or as GM. So Eric Ross technique, which I think is pretty, pretty effective, is that every day he rewrites from page one, but every day he adds to it. So that so he so let's say the first day that's the first scene, right is three pages or 10 pages, the next day is going to rewrite page 10 and continue to page 15. The next day is going to go page one to page 20. The next day is going to go to but he's always starting from scratch so that by the time to script is done, he's rewritten it like 30 or 40 times. Right. So I think that's a really good technique. It takes a little longer, but that's his technique and and you know, you can, you can tell, but that's
Alex Ferrari 1:04:05
but that's like Samurai level writing. Like you're talking about a master. He's talking about like to be a first time writer doing that. Like he says
Karl Iglesias 1:04:14
you cannot be a minister right off the gate.
Unknown Speaker 1:04:18
We talk Karl Karl, stop
Karl Iglesias 1:04:19
Alex, we're talking about techniques here. We're not talking about we're not talking about talent. Okay, darlin, right talent is that thing that you either have it or not, or you keep you keep getting feedback. Well, yeah, good idea. good story. That's fine. But we're talking about writing habits here. And these habits, right? You can line anybody can do the rewriting trick. There's another benefit is known for the break the chain. Have you heard of that one?
Alex Ferrari 1:04:44
No, no, I haven't which one.
Karl Iglesias 1:04:45
So this was to be Jerry Seinfeld's technique for making sure that he wrote jokes every single day. And so what he did is that he had his calendar, and every time you wrote he would put a big x, right, and then the next day, an X an X and another x And his job when he looked at his calendar was to not break the chain. Like he got yet to make sure he had an X every time because if he didn't do it one day, he would break the chain, you would see this whole of the chain of x's. So that's a really great trick, like you look at that chain, you go, Oh, my God, look at all those things in a row, I've been so productive, I don't want to break the chain. So you just keep doing it, you know, they're very, very powerful.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:25
And the longer the longer that chain is, the less likely you are gonna break you like I have my chain has been going for five years. And it's just like, it just keeps going. And that's very powerful. The Eric Eric Roth one I love and I think it's a wonderful way of you do that. That's so simple.
Karl Iglesias 1:05:42
We're not talking about we're not talking about some people rewriting the same chapter one or four scene right and never never writing anything new. But that's right, something new. But that's the
Alex Ferrari 1:05:51
thing. That's the discipline. That's the discipline that I'm pointing out is like, you have to have the discipline to keep going. Make sure you it's that's why it's like I think it's a little bit more Samurai in the sense of the just the discipline aspect of it. But in theory, I think it's a fantastic technique. It's a fantastic habit.
Karl Iglesias 1:06:09
Not everybody can be a samurai if they if they applied in practice.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:14
I I agree. I agree. Maybe I'm here. Maybe Maybe I'm a little too cynical. Maybe I just got to I got too much shrapnel. I got too much shrapnel in me. Right. I'm in the midst of this. I'm still you're away from Hollywood right now. Like I'm in it. I still am very cynical. I just seem too much.
Karl Iglesias 1:06:33
fresh air. Yes.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:34
Yes, exactly. You og. Exactly. The stench of Broken Dreams are out here, sir. And I can't go We're here to help. But we're here to help. And that's why I do the show. I want filmmakers to understand the realities of what the business is. But yet to continue to follow that dream. Because if we don't, what is the reason why we're here? I mean, if not, we can all be accountants somewhere making money, or we can be I'll be a lawyer somewhere doing stuff. We're here. We're crazy. We have to understand we're all nuts just for even being here. This is a crazy business. And to try to make money in this business is even more insane. We're carnies. We're Carnival folk. Especially. Alright, so I'm going to ask you a few questions asked all of my guests, sir. What are three? What are the three screenplays every screenwriter should read?
Karl Iglesias 1:07:25
Whoo. That's a great question. Um, it really depends on john. Why? Yeah, well, no, not just john rrah. But why would you read like, if you say, if you like, for example, for me, like, if you had a problem with dialogue, I would tell you which dialogue scripts territory, you know, like, I would say, Go read the Tarantino script or, you know, Aaron Sorkin or David Mamet, right? Or if it was for description, specifically, like I would say, read a Tony Gilroy, read the Shane Black scripts, right? I mean, so that's all very, very specific. You have craft elements that some scripts are better than others. But overall, for overall great storytelling. I don't say read any, any Pixar script if you can get your hands on it. But But you know, I would go for my favorite filmmakers, like, you know, a Billy Wilder so they read the read some like a hard read the apartment, which is one of my favorite movies of all time. Blade Runner. You know, inception. I mean, it's all you know, I can just name all my favorite movies and say, Go read that script. You know, now, what
Alex Ferrari 1:08:29
advice would you give a screenwriter trying to break into the business today?
Karl Iglesias 1:08:33
Write a great script. I know you've probably heard this a million times. But it's really telling you I mean, so many people are so worried about the marketing and the networking, pitching, pitching and all this thing. And they don't realize all they need is just one great script. I'm not saying only write one script, I'm saying just write a great script, because you can literally drop it anywhere or anybody you meet by accident, even if it's the accountant or, you know, I'll tell you a funny story. One of my clients recently, they're writing a script, and they're writing it for a specific actor in mind. And they've been, they've been working on it for a very long time. And out of the blue, he's a tennis player. And he tells me that a blue that one of his tennis partners that he plays on a regular basis is the head of accounting for Netflix. And I'm going okay, dude, because all this time has been waiting to send it to the actors. Production Company, right? I say, dude, just make sure you let you finish to make sure it's a great script, right? And then give it to the accounting guy on Netflix, because I guarantee you that if he loves that script, he's going to give it to the right people at Netflix, who then will show it to that actor. And the actor will say yes to Netflix and not to these two unknown writers. Right. So that was my advice to them, but that's the thing. So write a great script and you can show it to the you know, it in my, in my one to one habits book, I heard so many stories of how these writers broke in. And, and a lot of them were I gave it to I wrote this great script, and I gave it to the Secretary of this of the friend of a friend of a friend. And you hear so much of these stories of just somebody. I mean, think about it, if you saw a great movie, right? Once you die to tell your friends about it, right? And it's exactly that somebody reads a great script, no matter who it is, they're gonna, they're gonna chances are, especially if you're in LA chances are they're they know, somebody in the industry says, Hey, I read this great script. Could you want to read it? Of course, you know, it's all about word of mouth. You know, it was Oh,
Alex Ferrari 1:10:39
yeah, it was it was how Tarantino got in. Because Tarantino was trying to knock on doors for years. 10 years. And finally, someone said, someone read it. Like, I think it was Natural Born Killers, I think it was or to romance. And, and they handed it to somebody handed this out. Right. And he got it.
Karl Iglesias 1:10:56
Right. So I mean, you know, Michael Arndt wrote, ended up being hired by Pixar strictly on the strength of a Little Miss Sunshine, who, when they read the script, and hired him was before the movie came out. So strictly on the, on the strength of the script, that he got hired. So that's, that's why I keep saying write a great scripts learn, take the time to learn the craft, take the time to write and rewrite as many times as it takes to write a great script. And when you finally have a great script, then you can go ahead and try to network and try to tell people about it or enter it in in a reputable contest like Austin or dimichele. And just just have a great product, because right now, people are just jumping the gun. They're just trying to make connections and, and, and, and, you know, friendships and relationships within the business, right, which is important. But the first thing they care about is, if you tell them you're a screenwriter, the person who says, Okay, tell me about the script you wrote, tell me about your best script, because that's what they want to know, they want to read a great script, everybody's looking for a great script in this town. Nobody has a job in this town without a great script. Right? No, actors have nothing to say directors have nothing to direct agents. I mean, think about all the crew production. I mean, this, like 1000s, the entire town runs on a script, you got to have a script. And that's why it's such I mean, it's the, to me is the best profession, right? Because you It starts with you, the writer, right? You write a great script, and everything will go from there. But if you don't have that great script, if you if you like, you know, you're trying to market without or you're trying to sell a script that's not ready. You're just wasting your time. Because, you know, let's, let's say, let's say you have a great idea for a script, right? And you tell them executives that you just run into somebody at a launch place, right? and say, Hey, I wrote the script. And it's about, let's say, they pitch him like Blade Runner or something. Right. And let's say Blade Runner was never made. It's kind of like that movie yesterday with the Beatles.
Alex Ferrari 1:12:51
So I love that. Right, exactly.
Karl Iglesias 1:12:52
So imagine you were a screenplay screenwriter, in an age where nobody knew all the great movies that have ever made Chinatown, the Godfather, right? Oh, is that right? And they say you're the writer, you'll be the hottest writer in the world. Right? Right. That's only an idea for a movie man. Well, right now. So imagine you're that let's say you pitch a great idea. Right? And the executive Oh, wow. That's a great idea. Can I read the script? Yeah. Okay, you send them the script, the script is not is not good, not ready. The idea is good, the script is not ready, the reader is going to read it, they're gonna do coverage on it pass. That's it, you're done. And chances are you're running, you run into this other that same executives, again, with a second script, or with a with a better version of your script. And believe me, you already you, you got a bad taste in his mind right? about that. So they're not going to be that enthusiastic to to read your script again, or to read another script of yours. So don't break, you know, you only have one chance to impress and so make sure you have a solid script, make sure you learn the craft, take the time, take the classes, read the books, whatever it is, there's so much free information out there right now. Especially on your site, right. Kudos to you for that. And there's other big time. websites that have a lot of free information, like going to the story with my Yes, yeah, lay Right. Exactly. And so, you know, and then get get, you know, get coverage. If you want to see how your script is doing if it's ready, right, there's a lot of reading services, like yours went for, you know, less than $100, you can get a reader to say if your script is good or not. And you and then you don't lose that important first impression from a real executive, right? So get that out of the way or send it to a to a contest to see, you know, the contest take longer to get feedback. Yeah, Peter is I think the reading service is a good way to start. And then if, you know, you may, the reader will just tell you what's not working, that's okay. It's not working. And they may tell you why. But a lot of them they don't tell you and that's when you go to consultant because a consultant will be able to kind of like, go deeper and analyze why something is not working and tell you how to fix it. Right. So I consult as well. And and it really depends on the consultants knowledge of the craft, right. So the more they know about the craft and know, the more they know what works in a script and doesn't they'll be able to help you. So that's what I would suggest. But take the time to write a great script. That's probably the biggest mistake I see writers make that they they just mark it too soon. Right. So that's the
Alex Ferrari 1:15:30
tower. Yeah. And where can people find out about you and your work?
Karl Iglesias 1:15:35
Just go to my website, Carl iglesias.com. My books are the one to one habit of highly successful screenwriters and the big one, the writing for emotional impact, which is all the techniques that I talked about to create that emotional engagement in the audience. So I feel that is probably the key to the craft. That's also available on Amazon and on my website, and everywhere books are sold. But you can get all the information from my website. So Carl guy says calm
Alex Ferrari 1:16:01
Yeah, absolutely. And then we have some of your courses on indie film, hustle TV as well. Yeah, so we'll be able to and they're great. And I saw I want before I ever had the pleasure of meeting you, sir. I was taking that that DVD course and reading that book. So thank you so much, Carl, for all the work you've been doing to help the screenwriters out
Karl Iglesias 1:16:19
my manager. I was I was love to talk about the craft and it's a pleasure. Thank you.
Alex Ferrari 1:16:23
Thank you my friend. Thank you, Carl, again for coming back on the show and dropping the knowledge bombs on the bulletproof screenwriting tribe. I truly, truly appreciate it my friend. And I've partnered with Carl to bring you his screenwriting masterclass series on indie film hustle TV, which includes how to craft dialogue, how to create themes, how to dig into plot, how to use some of the best habits that the biggest screenwriters in the world have, and much much more. You can check all that out at indie film hustle.tv and if you want to get links to anything else, Carl has to offer his consulting his other high end courses his books, head over to the show notes at indie film hustle.com forward slash bps 061 Thank you guys so much for listening to the podcast. I truly appreciate it. If you haven't, please leave a review for the show, head over to screenwriting podcast.com and leave a good review for the show. It really really helps us out a lot. Thank you again so much for listening guys. As always, keep on writing no matter what. I'll talk to you soon. Thanks for listening to the bulletproof screenwriting podcast at bulletproof screenwriting.tv
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