Today on the show we have the legendary Linda Segar. Linda was one of my first ever interviews back when I launched Indie Film Hustle and her episode is by far one of the most popular ever. Here’s some info on our lovely guest.
In 1981, Linda Seger created and defined the career of Script Consultant. She based her business on a method for analyzing scripts that she had developed for her doctoral dissertation project. Since then, she has consulted on over 2,000 scripts including over 50 produced feature films and over 35 produced television projects. Linda was the consultant for Peter Jackson’s breakthrough film, Brain Dead, and for Roland Emmerich’s breakthrough film, Universal Soldier.
She was the script consultant on Pasttime and Picture Bride–both winners of the Audience Favorite Award at the Sundance Film Festival–as well as for the films TheLong Walk Home, The Neverending Story II, Luther, Romero, and television movies and mini-series including The Bridge, the Danish-Swedish mini-series (now playing in the US).
Other clients include Ray Bradbury who said,
“Linda’s technique is a light to see by,”
William Kelley, Linda Lavin, and production companies, film studios, producers, directors, and writers from over 33 countries.
Having authored nine books on scriptwriting, including the best-selling Making A Good Script Great, Linda is one of the most prolific writers in her field.
Here new book The Collaborative Art of Filmmaking: From Script to Screen explores what goes into the making of Hollywood’s greatest motion pictures. Join veteran script consultant Linda Seger as she examines contemporary and classic screenplays on their perilous journey from script to screen. This fully revised and updated edition includes interviews with over 80 well-known artists in their fields including writers, producers, directors, actors, editors, composers, and production designers.
Their discussions about the art and craft of filmmaking – including how and why they make their decisions – provides filmmaking and screenwriting students and professionals with the ultimate guide to creating the best possible “blueprint” for a film and to also fully understand the artistic and technical decisions being made by all those involved in the process.
“A very thorough and fascinating look at the whole filmmaking process – the art and the craft. Highly readable and interesting for filmmakers or beginners with a special emphasis on the power of collaboration. A well researched insider’s guide – like taking the hand of accomplished filmmakers and learning from the best.”
– Ron Howard, Oscar-Winning Director and Co-Founder of Imagine Entertainment
Enjoy my knowledge bomb filled conversation with Linda Seger.
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Alex Ferrari 0:38
I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion, Linda Seger, thank you so much for being on the show, Linda
Linda Seger 4:17
Oh, thank you.
Alex Ferrari 4:18
You have been you were one of my early one of my early episodes, one of my early interviews and your how to make a good script. Great. And you honestly were one of the most popular podcasts I had on both of my podcasts. And for everyone that everyone who's listening who doesn't know who Linda is or her work. She is a legend. She has been she was like one of the first if not the first.
Linda Seger 4:42
I was the first Yes.
Alex Ferrari 4:44
So you actually started the whole consulting helping screenwriters writing.
Linda Seger 4:51
I started the script consulting business and I started it is I was the first one to think of it is an entrepreneurial business as opposed to somebody teaching a class and helping people with their scripts, so
Alex Ferrari 5:06
So tell us a little bit about tell everybody a little bit about your background, they don't know who you are.
Linda Seger 5:10
Well, I have a big background in drama, I have a Master's, I have a doctorate in a very unusual field of drama and theology, if you can figure that out. And I've taught college, I've directed plays, and I did a thesis for my doctoral degree on what makes a script work or what makes a great script. And when I entered the film industry, in 1980, I found a whole lot of scripts that didn't work. And I took my thesis and I applied it to those scripts to figure out what's missing. And it was very workable, I started out very slowly went to a career consultant said, this is really what I want to do. So I've been doing this since 1981, I really still enjoy doing it. I work with a whole huge breadth of writers, I work with people who say I have an idea. And I work with Academy Award winners, and just about everybody in between.
Alex Ferrari 6:14
Now, I want to, I want to, I've always been curious about this, because I've had like your friend Michael Hagen, and Chris Vogler and a lot of these guys who are in the space with you. And they also work with like, you know, starting out, and then they also work with these big Oscar winning. How was the conversation like when you have an Oscar winning screenwriter, who's obviously very capable and very seasoned? What is the conversation like that you're like, when they call you for help? Where's their block? What's What's stopping me from writing something?
Linda Seger 6:46
Sometimes the problem is that it's simply not selling. And they're wondering if there's something wrong that they are not seeing. Because no one is very objective about their own work, you need a professional outside eye. But what I noticed with the experience writers, very, I'm very respectful. And I'm very careful. And I don't have to say as much. So I might just say, Okay, let's look at this first turning point. It's a little muddy, could it be just a little cleaner to really get that narrative track? And the second act going in the nod? And I, I don't have to say more, because I don't have to explain it. They know exactly what I'm saying. So there's a shortcut. And there's a kind of a trust that is there that, okay, I say those three sentences and next point. And in most of the time, experienced people are also very respectful of me. And there is that mutual sense of you're both doing a professional job. Now, I do have experienced writers who say, never tell anyone who worked with me that I call you in on my scripts, because I'm a professor now. All right. And I think other people really don't mind. Like I worked with William Kelly, who wrote witness after witness. And I think we actually worked on two scripts. So they they didn't get made. And I think the producers had an idea that was kind of unworkable, no matter what you did with that. But that was great to work with him and to know him.
Alex Ferrari 8:30
That's, that's amazing. Yeah, cuz I know a lot of times, screenwriters, especially when they get up, up and up at the upper echelons of the business, where their names are now famous or known in the industry, at least, they don't want to know that they don't want to let anyone know that like I have a secret weapon like Linda.For, for advice.
Linda Seger 8:52
Yeah. And other people are actually very pleased about them say, oh, that's, that's fine. And in fact, when I started out in 1980, and 81, I was a secret from everyone and nobody would admit it. No, what happens is a lot of people consider it sort of a badge of honor and professionalism. Like of course, I go to a script consultant to make get that last five or 10 or 20% Out of my scripts, like no problem.
Alex Ferrari 9:21
That's amazing. Because I mean, because a lot of times screenwriters, especially young screenwriters, they just they don't they don't think square consultants can bring a lot of value to them, because they're like, Oh, if, if they can do it, like if they if they're that good, why haven't they won 10 Oscars and things like that? And it's, it's kind of, I have always looked at as like, you're looking at it, you're like a technician, you're going to come in and do things and see things that they just are not gonna see, no matter how talented they might be. Michael Jordan had a coach. I mean, he was one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
Linda Seger 9:56
Well, the other thing is consulting was a totally different town. than screenwriting, and you have to be diplomatic, you have to be very good at explaining concepts. So, you know, when people say, Well, you don't write, say, No, I'm not interested in writing, I'm into some consulting, because that's where my ability, and that's where my background is. And consulting is a combination of analytical and creative, because I have to get inside that other person's story in their style. And when I give notes, I have to if it's a comedy, I have to give calm comedy notes, not just, you know, notes. And, and I'm there to help them work and nurture their own talent and their particular abilities. So it's, it suits me very, very well. And there's just a lot people will say, I just don't want to do that I really want to write and so that's great. You should need writers. Now your new book? Well, one of the many, I mean, you've written like 13 or 5000 books. Well, I didn't know for 15 and, but nine on screenwriting, and I'm writing my 10th on screenwriting right now.
Alex Ferrari 11:13
Right. And you've and you've written, you're very prolific as a writer. I don't know what you're saying you don't like to write, but you do write, you write you write. Write these books, you write a lot of books. But your latest book is The collaborative of art of filmmaking, the art of filmmaking from script to screen, yes. Push the book out there. Absolutely. So I wanted to ask you, what are some of the necessary elements that make a successful creative kind of collaboration?
Linda Seger 11:42
Well, the first thing is that film used to be think thought of as the directors, the true artists, so it was called the otter theory. And somewhere in the 80s, maybe even into the 90s, people began to think differently about making a film. So this is a collaboration between the greatest artists in each of their areas. I mean, imagine working with the greatest composers, the greatest makeup artists, the greatest actors, the greatest directors, and what a thrill that is when you think of how much they bring, because they are masters at what they do. So the collaborative art of filmmaking follows the script from the script stage, through every artist to look at what does each artist do along the way to create the film. And the script is really sometimes thought of as a guide or a blueprint. It's, it's one of the few art forms that is not complete when you do it. It's not complete, until all these different artists come in and do this great work with that. Now, what we did the first, the first two editions were done with I had a co author Ed Wetmore, who actually died in 2016. But gave me permission before that, to do the third edition by myself. When we first did this, we interviewed 70 different artists. And then we've added interviews. And in this one, the third edition, I've added some more and also did a lot of Google of research as well. And now it isn't really exactly an interview. But what it is, is that all these different artists, talk about ideas, so that so I will discuss an idea, let's let's just talk about what a composer does. And then there might be a series of quotes from famous composers that expand the idea that I have introduced. So and then there's a case study, and we decided to keep the same case study as the second edition, which is a beautiful mind.
Just because it's it's a great film. And it's really, really difficult to talk to every artists on a film. And that was the whole idea of a case study. So the first edition, the case study was Dead Poets Society, and some of those quotes are integrated into this book. And then the second edition was a beautiful mind with the help of Ron Howard at getting to all these people, except for the actors. And Ron said, it doesn't matter what I do. Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly are not going to talk to you so there was so much read Nightline, so I got great material in there for them. And it is interesting, because it's not easy to get these interviews. And but I mean, literally, we did 70 We sat down with me I had lunch with Ron Howard. I went to Hans Zimmer's student music studio, who's the composer and was on actually I sat with Bill Conti, the composer, when he was recording the music, he invited us to come in, listen to a recording session. So and we were in Leonard Nimoy boy's home sipping cappuccino and Lawrence chasms home. And I mean, it was, it was just, you know, it's tough, it's a tough game, it's really tough to get these people. And so there were, there are some additions to those. And just lots of lots of wonderful information in here. That's really important to every artists, because the actors should know what the editor is doing, and the editors should know what the composer is going to do. But for the screenwriter, it's really important to know what people are going to do with your script. And when what they're doing is fine. And when what they're doing is you just cringe over that because you you want great people working with it.
Alex Ferrari 16:03
Now, I mean, if you can imagine Steven Spielberg's work without John Williams, or out or without Janice Kandinsky as his cinematographer, I mean, look,
Linda Seger 16:12
Kathleen Kennedy, Catholic,
Alex Ferrari 16:14
I mean, you know, his amazing collaborators he has, and everyone thinks of Steven Spielberg as one of the greatest directors of all time, which he is, but without this group of people around him, he doesn't have that magic, you have to, it is such a collaborative art. And people always forget about that, because of this theory, the autour theory, which, you know, like the Kubrick's of the world, and you know, Billy Wilder and Orson Welles and these kind of older filmmakers, Alfred Hitchcock, but all of these guys had such a cult. I mean, they had collaborators for years. I know Ron Howard, he won't even move on a movie unless his first ad is available. And he's worth his first ad, like, they will stop. We can't even that can't go until the first ad is.
Linda Seger 17:02
Yes. And people like Spielberg, or a lot of a lot of these other people. Clint Eastwood uses a lot of the same people Spike Lee, they say we have such a shorthand, it's just so relaxing is so much easier, because you know, where everybody is, you know, that you can trust them. And so more and more people have this group around them, that as you say, goes as far as the assistant director, and I mean, Lauren's cast and did so many movies with Carol, little tin as the editor. Do so you, you just say yeah, when you work well with people, you want to keep working with them.
Alex Ferrari 17:43
It's hard. It's hard to even find people you can work with in this business. And when you find them, you hold on tight.
Linda Seger 17:49
Yes, yes. That's, that's the best.
Alex Ferrari 17:52
Yeah. And you also mentioned something earlier that, you know, screenwriters should actually know what the editor and the DP and everyone else is doing. And I'm such a proponent of educating yourself as much as humanly possible about the process. And so many times, specifically, screenwriters, they'll just stay in their little screenwriting bubble and they just like, well, like, I don't even know what a DP does, or I don't even know what the editors doing. Like, if you don't have to be an expert on any of those areas. But do you agree that you should, at every every person should know everything as much as they can about this process?
Linda Seger 18:24
Yes, and one of the reasons to know so much is that you want the best people in each area to be attracted to your script. And if you know how to write that script, where the editor says, I just love the way these scenes move one to the other, I love how clear the narrative wine is. VS, I want to be part of that, or the director loves the images, or the producer says, you know, I think I can sell this, I think this is really commercial, it's got all the elements that we look for in a great film. So the more you can know about that, the better and there is a saying, you can't use it if you don't know it. And so said you never block out law knowledge you never limit yourself. And maybe on technical things, I say I don't want to look, I don't want to learn that. But but you know, when it comes to film or something like that, you really want to be open, because it's amazing how many tools you will use that are in your toolbox.
Alex Ferrari 19:32
Now if you're able to write if you're able to write something like you're saying that, you know can addressed an editor going, Oh, I just love the way this is that or this or that or the DP goes, Oh, I love the images and what you could do with that. A lot of times those secondary and third layer of people like the director will be maybe on the fence and they'll hand it to the editor. I'm like What do you think? And that's the thing that puts it puts it over the top is that or the producer will do the same thing.
Linda Seger 19:57
Plus, these areas are so fascinating. Before we did the first edition of this book, I did a class in every area at UCLA. And so I took editing, I audited composing. I did and I actually have had a background acting so but I took an acting weekend. And I took actually three film directing classes. And people said, are you interested in directing film? I said, No, I just want to understand that folk that focus on that perception of the director. And I totally enjoyed all of these classes are just so fascinating to learn how all these different pieces fit together. And then talking to people who just, you know, really knew how to be interviewed and knew all this amazing information. You know, acting How do you prepare for the acting part or makeup. Another thing I found so interesting was the different personalities. Because the Brian Howard said, the director gets to play with everybody. And so the director has to be kind of extroverted, but to think of the editor in the dark room editing, and you think of the writer in the room, by him, by him or herself very solitary. So that's a different personality, or the actor that has to relate so well to so many people. The makeup, people told me, one of the things that they had to do is they said, We have to be able to move with all these different personalities, because we are the first person the actor sees. And we have to help set the tone, if they want to talk before they start shooting while having their makeup on. We will talk and if they want to be quiet, we will be quiet and we better be in a good mood. Because that's part of our job is to get that attitude going before he go on the set and have to do that hard work.
Alex Ferrari 22:05
That is what we like to call being professional. Yes, professional, which is, unfortunately, lacking in many ways in the business.
Linda Seger 22:15
In this business, there is a tendency to think that everyone can do everything. Everyone thinks they can, right and they can act and they can direct. And the composer said we are the first artists where people will actually admit they can't do our work. And they say in a lot of times that they will say to the composer something like I want a motet here. And the composer will say, believe me, you do not want to motet here. Let me play you what that actually is. And one of the quotes in this book, which is so cute, as they said, so many people don't know how to talk to the composer. And someone says, you know, this, this is a little too much like yellow sunshine, could you make it more like a blue cloud? Like the composers, I guess so I guess we can't do that.
Alex Ferrari 23:12
No, it's kind of like, because I've worked with many composers in my career. And it is like I've once or twice tried to talk in their talk. And I've been in both times, they just like, You need to stop that. That is not your job. It is my job to do that. And all you got to tell me and this is a great piece of advice for people working with a composer is speak emotion, speak emotion, what do you want to feel? I'll get that's my, um, the translator, from your emotion to the music. That's why you have me here. I think that was a great, great way of looking at it.
Linda Seger 23:43
Yes. And in that moment, when composers say, I got it, you know, or I I'm they play a little tune. They said that's it. They play a little tune to say, No, not even close.
Alex Ferrari 23:58
Like, like I would love to sit in a room with John Williams and Steven Spielberg just for like 15 minutes and be a fly on that wall during any any of their sessions just to see what that after so many decades and decades of making iconic things together. Like, what's that conversation like at this point?
Linda Seger 24:15
One of the interesting things that I have in here is that when John Williams compose that five note sequence in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, he said, I sat down and I came up with 350 combinations of these five notes. And then Spielberg ask a mathematician how many possible combinations are there and I think it was something like 34,000 and John Williams that I think maybe a my 350 I can find something you know the right kind of sound that I'm looking for. But isn't that amazing? And see, I think that's another great thing about professionals is that sometimes people think professionals it's easier said no proof. The difference between a professional and an amateur is the professional works harder.
Alex Ferrari 25:08
You'll make good.
Linda Seger 25:10
Yeah, they will they keep working to get it right. And they have they have trained themselves to sort of know that A ha moment says yes. Okay, this is what I'm looking for. But you know screen professional screenwriters write a scene 22 times, and amateurs after the third time they think it's there and say no, is that that's the difference between the two is you? You learn? Okay, let me look at this again. I have a saying with the books I write if I haven't written that sentence 10 times is probably not good enough.
Alex Ferrari 25:46
That's, that's great.
Linda Seger 25:48
Yeah, is in you just and you work on the wording and you work on the rhythm and you reverse the sentences. And then you decide, let's not do that here. Let's do this here. And I'm in just because I, I'm a nonfiction writer, because I do the screenwriting books, and I do some books on spirituality. And so in doing though, is I'm, you know, I'm doing the creative process of a writer, I'm just doing it in the form of nonfiction, as opposed to screenwriting. And it is interesting. I love working with ideas. I love writing books. And I have never had a desire to write screenplays. I love consulting on screenplays, I just just love the different subject matter I get and the different problems I encountered. So we all have that place where we have to figure out where we fit. And what's nice what the collaborative art of filmmaking that if you want to be in the film industry, but you're not sure where you want to be. You read about all these hours and say, Oh, I'm fascinated with editing. I never knew that when I never done so. So it was the book will help you figure out where you fit in. If you're a new filmmaker doing low budget, the book will help you through those low budget films where you don't necessarily have all the people around you that the expensive studio films might have.
Alex Ferrari 27:16
Now, real quickly, you were you were talking about professionals and amateurs and I know amateurs a lot of times are people starting out when they're writing screenwriter and when they're writing screenplays really get caught up so much in the in the the minutiae of the period has to be here that has to be there all these rules in the formatting, not even the structure or story, just the formatting. And it is important to format and like I always tell people like when you're Shane Black, they're gonna let a spelling error go by they're gonna let some grammatical stuff go by because you're Shane Black, or you're Aaron Sorkin, and that's going to fly and you have to be so much more perfect when you're starting out. But I think they get caught up so much. I'm excited. When I started writing my screenplays, I did the same thing. I was just like, literally periods and this and that. What's your opinion on that?
Linda Seger 28:05
Well, there's so many good formatting programs to help you. But if you're writing the first group, first script, it doesn't matter. And then you'll after you write it, you'll go in, you'll reformat it, what you want to do is to start getting it down and have the experience of writing 100 pages. It's scary. The first time I I wrote my first book, making a good script, great. I was terrified until the last chapter. And what I learned was you can type when you are terrified, your your hands might be shaking, but you can still type. And pretty soon you take a deep breath. And it's like, okay, and on many of my books, I've reached those points of sheer terror, said, Oh, my gosh, I have to do this chapter or what am I talking about? And is this good enough? And then you go back into it, and you get feedback. That's extremely important in writing. And you go through the process, and, you know, somewhere around my sixth book, it occurred to me I was an author. I used to say, I write books, and someone said, you're an author said, Oh, yes, I guess I'm an author. And, and as you write, I mean, I feel like I have a handle on writing now. And it goes more easily in many ways because I don't get frustrated, I don't get upset if I'm running into problems. I go for help. I go for feedback. I can hire a researcher I mean, I do whatever is needed in order to do it. But terror is part of that and especially at the beginning, and and knowing that you're having trouble with something, say I don't know how to do this. I had a literary consultant for my first seven books, and sometimes I I needed him for the whole book. And so the first couple of books he did, he worked on the whole book, and my editor at the publisher say, why are you having that? That's what I do. And I said, Well, you actually do something somewhat different. And he helps me present to you a good draft. So you don't have to do as much. But people have different talents. And then, as I got more, you know, farther along, when I ran into problems, I would go back to him. And sometimes I go back to him with a page, though on my one of my books is, he said, you know, what your your actually first chapter actually starts on page two, move that paragraph up with these three paragraphs over here. Oh, oh, it works really? Well, like couldn't see it.
Alex Ferrari 30:53
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Linda Seger 31:03
So we need we need those people.
Alex Ferrari 31:06
Yeah, I understand your point of after six books, you think of yourself as an author, I, it took me a long time before I consider myself a director or I consider myself a writer of any sort. After after, or even a podcaster at this point. I guess I guess I'm like, I'd literally turn people like, oh, you're a podcaster. I'm like, I guess after three 400 episodes, I think I guess I am. I don't? Yeah,
Linda Seger 31:29
I don't know. Interesting how long it takes for us to acknowledge. Yeah, on the other hand, some people acknowledge it so fast, that they say I'm a writer, director, producer, and you say what have you done. So I have a couple ideas. No, and the business card and a business card helps that quite yet.
Alex Ferrari 31:47
And they have a business card Don't forget to have that has a business card. So that's all they need. Now, I wanted to also because there's so I mean, I could talk to you for hours. So I'm going to try to get a little bit more in because I wanted to also touch on a few of your other books and some of these concepts in your other books. I was fascinated about the concept of competitiveness being competitive against being collaborative. You know, there's so many so many not only filmmakers but screenwriters out there who have this kind of dog eat dog mentality when they're trying to just like I got an undercut that guy or that girl is gonna you know, I'm like, I mean come like me competition with with Aaron Sorkin. I'm like, No, you're not. So stop. You're not? What do you have to say about that? What advice? Can you give screenwriters and filmmakers? Who are this kind of Doggy Dog competition,
Linda Seger 32:35
This is an amazing collaborative business. And if you have that sense of competition, work at getting over it. Now, when I started, I had that sense. And anytime someone came along, or someone's a tree, they're just a great seminar leader. And I go, oh, oh, are they better than me for that was a great script consultant. And every time that happened to say, I don't want to do this, I do not want to spend my life feeling competitive with people. So I don't have competitors, I have colleagues. And we have worked really hard since I'd say the late 1980s. To come together. So most of my colleagues, I know them, I have good relationships with them. Some of them I'm very dear friends with. But the thing when you're collaborative is that you feed each other with simply opens up your business. So I endorse other people's books, they endorse my book, my certain colleagues get me jobs, I get them jobs. We, you know, we really, and we talk about things. Sometimes we have to talk about a contract. Sometimes we'll talk about maybe a problem we're having with a client and you call and you say how do I handle this? And, and I have, I have Well, one of my when you know if I ever get sort of caught up and that junky stuff, you know that chunky stuff that we sometimes get caught up in? And Pamela J Smith is a mythologise cook script and salt. And also she says, Honey, don't get none of that on Yeah. He's great. And sometimes, you know, she'll say leave this one alone. And other times she says, No, this has to be addressed. And let's work together on the email or how we're going to address this because it's it's important for the industry to address certain things. So I think that's another thing I have what I call my confidence. And when I'm not sure about something, I say okay, how do I handle this? I don't think I'm either I'm not handling it well or I have a feeling I'm not going to handle it well unless I talk to you. So we need We really need each other and that begins to feed everything out and ripple outwards. I wrote a book about this. It's an it's not a screenwriting book it is what is called the better way to win, the better way to win, connecting, not competing for success. And I did it is a master's degree in a I have an MA in feminist theology among other degrees. And so I was interested, how do you move from one model of thinking to another when you've grown up and thinking of other people in your field is competition and it took me a long time to get over that. But the My intention was I do not want to live my life this way. It just eats you away and you know, you can't appreciate other people and oil like who's number one in the world? Oh, forget it
Alex Ferrari 35:59
Don't you agree that I mean I always because it even in my world where I'm online being an online influencer, if you will, in the filmmaking and screenwriting space with indie film, hustle, and bulletproof screenplay, I get, I get colleagues of mine who are also in this space. Who think of me a lot of times this is competition. And I always tell people, I don't have competition because there is nobody that can compete with me, because it's like me, it's like me trying to compete with Chris Nolan. Like, Chris Nolan is Chris Nolan. i He has a flavor and his movies I have a flavor of mine. You know, maybe that's not good example because he's at a different level than I am. But no, but it just even colleagues is like, there's only one Linda Seeger like, you know, there's a Michael Haig, there's a Chris Vogler. There's a John Truby. You know, all these guys have very different flavors, and are presenting ideas just in their own through their own filter. And it's just you can't really compete at that point. And some people like you, good.
Linda Seger 36:55
Yep. Because you want to be authentic, not only as a human being, but in your work. And you say my work is an expression of me. And so there isn't anyone else that does things, the way that I do it. But I have teamed up I even do team Consulting at times where just recently, someone had a very mythic oriented script. And so I did my work. And then they went to Pamela Smith, and she did their midterm mythology work on it. And then Pamela and I had a phone conversation to just make sure we were in tune because we said we don't want to contradict each other. We want to expand on each other. And, and you know, it's so much fun to work with good colleagues. So we used to be part of a screenwriting summit where it was Syd field and Chris Vogler and John Truby, and Michael Hagen, me, and we went to Tel Aviv, we went to Mexico City together, we went to Toronto, you know, just various places. And we had such a good time together. And it was such a wonderful way to get to know each other in a much better way. And so we feel, I think we all felt very warmly toward each other, and we feel very supportive of each other. And what a joy. I mean, we're, we're supposed to have fun in our work, we're supposed to enjoy what we do and enjoy the people around us and who wants to go around everyday feeling miserable and competitive with a pit in your stomach. That's not a good way to live. I don't want to live that way. So we and there are people of course, that will be competitive. And that will not be as close to you and you think well, I just don't want to rile them up. I always want to be respectful and kind. And regardless of what they do, I don't one of the things I had was I don't want to give other people a reason to have trouble with me because I don't want to cause anyone trouble. I want people you know, I mean I want everyone to be happy and fulfilled that's my goal in life was
Alex Ferrari 39:14
Why not? Absolutely it makes life a lot easier. We're here for a short time on this on this rock I mean it should be it we should have some fun while we're here and and that kind of energy is excellent. One thing you also mentioned I want to touch upon is mindset I'm a very big proponent of mindset and and how it literally can crucify us and stop us from doing anything and also opens up doors and accelerates your your create not only creative process, but your life in general. Yes, what is your you've worked with probably 1000s of screenwriters now, close of your career. I'm assuming you've run into some interesting mindsets along the way, whether it's at the very high levels of Oscar winning screenwriters to the the amateur just starting out What are some of the biggest obstacles you see that screenwriters put in front of themselves? To stop them? And I'm sure you've met super talented screenwriters who were just like, why aren't you doing more? Why'd stop thinking that way? What are some of those things?
Linda Seger 40:14
Well, one thing is people who don't want to learn. And they really think that they know everything, in which case, there's no reason for them to come to me. But sometimes they do anyway, I think they hope I'm going to write 20 pages about how wonderful they are. And so you're getting no matter what you're going to get a critique. I mean, that's what I do. But I think that's the hardest thing is people who push things away that can help them and say, you know, AI, or people like me, are not there to tell them what to do. We're there to show them how they can get more out of their script. And we don't just say, Well, do the scene this way we see look, you want more movement in this scene? Or, you know, we talk conceptually. So I think there's this kind of the sense about everyone being open. Another thing and I say this in a lot of my seminars, say learn to say yes, instead of No. Now, have your characters say yes, because no stops the story. And yes, opens it up. So if the guy says to the girl, you want to go out with me Saturday night to dinner? And she says, No, we don't have a story. And when I'm invited to places I, I just generally say yes, a lot. Now, I don't say yes to dangerous situations. But I'm going to be going and teaching in nine countries this fall. So I've been saying yes to Kazakhstan, and to Kiev, and to Warsaw and Latvia and all this. But I also know in my case, I also check things out in terms of the safety side, and I did say no to Tehran, I said, No to Kurdistan, I said no to Nigeria,
Alex Ferrari 42:03
As you should, as you should.
Linda Seger 42:04
And I have a group of consultants, I actually they're made up of generals and colonels who know the world and I save his Latvia safe. They say, Yeah, but don't go to Russia right now, or don't go to Tehran right now. And so I I take them more seriously than the State Department. So but one of the things I found in my seminars last fall, so many people came up to me after and said, That is such a great concept for life, is to say yes. And what I see is screenwriters sabotaging their careers. So somebody says, you know, we'd like you to write the script, but we don't have much money. Is it all? No, I don't want to do it. It's the first opportunity said your first opportunity. You say, yes. I mean, you want to keep the ripple effect going? And if you don't say yes, you have no narrative line about you as a screenwriter. So, you know, later down the line, you're going to say no, to some stuff, and yes, to others, but even in my work now, I generally don't say no to things because I, I want things to keep opening up. And so, you know, I say I have the whole spectrum of writers. And sometimes people say, Well, do you only work with studio films? No, of course not. I work with people just have to contact me.
Alex Ferrari 43:31
Exactly. And I think there was a book by Shonda Rhimes, the year of saying yes. Where she literally says, yes, she literally said yes to everything. And she's like, I'm going to do an experiment and anything like I get asked, no one knew that she was doing this. But for a year, she said yes to everything. And she said her world changed. Oh, yeah. Because her opportunities just opened up. And she just started going to places and doing things that she would have never done, because of her own mindsets, or because of her own things. She said no to so.
Linda Seger 44:00
And I think the other thing is look for places where you can be kind and generous. And that there's a lot of time. I mean, when if people email me, I do try to respond. I mean, I don't necessarily respond with a fork as email. But I do try to recognize, you know, people are reaching out for help. And I think sometimes you see people in this industry, who just are not generous. And then you see the people who are and one of the loveliest things I heard was I have a friend who's has produced and put together some very, very big film festivals and she says, you know, one of the nicest guys I ever met with Liam Neeson. He got off the plane. He says, What can I do to help you? She says, Oh my gosh, this is the nicest things versus someone getting off the plane with their entourage, and they're stuck up nose and, you know, do this do that. And so I think all of all of us, it doesn't matter where we are in the world is to say I, you know, I'm here I want to I want to do good things. And my sense is we, it's kind of like writing, if somebody says, Why do you write says, The only reason to write is to change the world as we know it?
Alex Ferrari 45:29
Without question, yeah, so do you believe also, I mean, I have to believe at this point that you, you would agree with what I'm about to say. But I've discovered it recently in the last few years is once you become of service to other people in whatever shape that might be, it might be something small, it might be something big. The world changes for you, and opportunities, open up the doors open. And I can't even tell you how many opportunities have presented me because of me being of service to a community of filmmakers and screenwriters out there, I get them, I literally get to sit down and have a conversation with a legend like yourself, and have this connection that, you know, if I would have called you, if I would just drop an email to you, I'm like, Hey, can I just talk to you for an hour and a half? Probably not going to happen. But But do you agree that just being of service really does open up a lot of opportunities with with people and in their lives and careers.
Linda Seger 46:21
And you have to believe that things ripple out in that even when they don't come back to you directly. They come back indirectly. And so you want to keep the ripple. You know, you want to keep that ripple going.
Alex Ferrari 46:37
Now, you also you also have written you know, many books on screenwriting, but you've also written books on spirituality. And I know when some sometimes when you say that word I know right now the second I said the word spirituality I know of at least 20 to 30% of the audience just said, Wait a minute, what's going on? Well, everyone calm down. My audience is a little used to me talking about little deeper subjects. I wanted to touch a touch upon not only spirituality, but you know, because obviously you have a very unique pedigree, with writing in theology, and where you come from, in regards to spirituality regards to your own journey in life as a creative, let's say, let's say with a creative and a screenwriting. Yes. How can that that concept of spirituality, whether you believe it or not, I always like I used the term universe a lot. It's like the universe does this and the energies of coming in and out? What is your advice to screenwriters, and filmmakers, for that matter? In regards to getting in touch with themselves? You know, I meditate a lot. And I teach meditations. And I wanted to kind of bring that to my audience as well. And it's done so much for me. What do you what do you feelings on this?
Linda Seger 47:48
Well, I wrote a book called spiritual steps on the road to success. And the subtitle is gaining the goal without losing your soul. And what interested me was the spiritual issues that go along with success. And I was mainly interested, because as I moved from failure, that things not working for years to becoming successful, I realized the issues become very different. And I think it's really easy. When you get successful you think you don't need to be spiritual anymore, because you have everything you're praying about before, of course, why and what I discovered was just a whole new set of issues. And so I got interested in those issues, although the book begins with chapter on what it means to feel called and all you know, or guided, or, say, the way you opened up, or I just found my way, and I love what I'm doing or, you know, however you define it. And so the first chapter is about that. But then as it moves on, and talks about some of the other issues. And then I think there is a commitment, what, when I started out, I kind of made a commitment that I would try to do my business with spiritual principles and with spirituality. And I figured that I sort of figured I would make it I didn't expect to do really well. But I said, you know, I don't think I'm going to fall through the cracks. Now, there were times I did think I was going to fall through the cracks, but and what I discovered instead what I mean, things have gone far bigger and better than I had expected when I started out. But I think I was willing when I started out to say, I just want to actualize myself, I want to use my talents. I want to nurture people's creativity. And so then things open up and then not saying no to how they open up because we often put those gates down like I saw myself. Oh, I bet all the studios are going to hire me. And Won't that be great and I'll get my names in there. Paper and maybe get thanked for an Academy Award. Well, that's not how my career went. I do work with experience writers, but the studio's don't hire people like me. And what I realized was where the path is evolving. That's the path, you walk down. And you don't just say, Oh, I'm sorry, you're fine. I have to put my nose in the air. And so there, there is a lot about moving down, and then realizing the issues, you have to deal with change. And I don't think in anything, we do things alone, I think our lives are collaborative. And that means if you need a therapist, go to a therapist. When I was starting my business, I went to the Young Center in Los Angeles, and they had a sliding scale, I was at the bottom of have no money. And but I worked with the union as Carl Jung, NOONIEN therapists for really several years. And it really helped because every time an issue came up in my business, I had someplace to go. I work with a spiritual director at times, and I'm going on this long trip for two months teaching in nine countries. And when I taught them was gone for two months, last fall, I worked with her throughout the summer, and I really think I'm going to go back, because I think I want to be ready for the opportunities, the challenges of that much travel, meeting lots of people you know, want to make sure I don't get too tired, it can't get sick. You know, there's because people say, Oh, they're so glamorous. He said, Yeah. I mean, it's, it's wonderful for people who love to travel, which I do. But there's a lot of challenges, and saying, I'm going to be in 10 countries in two months. And, you know, I I expect everything will be fine. But I don't know what causes tennis like
Alex Ferrari 52:05
This time of the year.
Linda Seger 52:08
So you know, you really try to cover everything and say, and the generals told me, they said, Don't go out in the countries in you know, any of these more neutral places, but the city will be safe, and it'll be fine. And when I went to Colombia, that's what they said, Do not go to the country, but stay in the city, and always have someone with you from that country. And so, you know, we will do that and follow safety procedures. But I was told no, is that you are fine in Kazakhstan, you should not have any trouble. And we approve your trip to Kansas that. So? No, so So there's kick, I think keeping in touch and I think the other thing is centering down, like when you're working on a screenplay or you're writing is there's times you just have to take a breath and kind of sit with something. And I when I write my books, there are times I will reread a chapter and I say it's not good enough. It's not deep enough. It's not saying anything new, it's not emotional, and I sit down. So let me get into my gut. What is it I want to say that maybe somebody hasn't said before? And how do I get in touch with that, and then have the courage to say it, and you know, to be upright. But there is another thing I have noticed, in my writing, I have been more willing to do personal stories, and also to be funny. And I will say this, even when we're writing a book on dialogue, and my assistant does some of my typing, and I do some of the dictating. And we'll just sit here will sit that is so funny. I hope my readers just burst out laughing when they read that paragraph. So letting all those different parts of you out and saying, yeah, sometimes you have to sit down and think about what what do I have to say that's fresh and new. NFL don't have anything to say, well, you know, there's other jobs you can get.
Alex Ferrari 54:21
Now, I mean, did you agree that a lot of a lot of screenwriters specifically will go into this business, first of all, thinking they're going to be rich and famous, which, yes, generally, generally speaking, not not the greatest business plan I've ever heard of in my life. But if you're going into it to screenwriting, and you're writing and you're putting all your energy in things, thinking of the market only, and only thinking of making money or getting out there, that generally doesn't work often. You know, it's a lottery ticket, if they're outliers that have that works, but anytime I've heard of anyone writing something that really came from inside really with something personal in touch with something else that know a story that no one else can tell, or a message that really resonates within a fictional story that comes from you. And you open yourself up in exposing your, your soft underbelly, if you will. Yeah, that is where that's where the magic is, isn't it? That's where the stuff is, right?
Linda Seger 55:23
Yes, yes, is to pull it out and not be thinking about the market, down the road, you know, say your 10th or 15th, scrapped, you might develop that sense of more of a commercial sense is gonna go along, or you have an idea that someone doesn't think is commercial, and you say, how do I make this resonate with other people, and you work on it, and you get feedback from other people. And they say, I'm, I'm really bored the first 15 pages, but then you get into something really interesting, say, oh, that's where I need to go, I need to build up on that. And so you do think, you know, I mean, I get feedback. When I write a book, I usually have six or eight readers give me feedback. And then I ventually have the editor, of course, but I wouldn't, I can't imagine turning a book into some, even to a publisher, even after all these books, without having readers that are going to give me feedback and say, Yeah, this is fascinating, or I don't understand this part, or this is repetitive where and when you want to get the filters. So you know, I sometimes I just pour a lot of things out and have other people help me filter it through. So there's a balance on anything, you know, even a balance on the humor,
Alex Ferrari 56:52
Without question, and but even with those commercial projects, you know, some, a lot of times, the writer needs to dig deep to even make something like A Beautiful Mind. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I forgot who the writer was that had cubicles gave us was exactly. He, I'm sure when he was writing that story. There was something deep in him that he put on the paper through through that amazing story. And then Ron and Mr. Howard actually took it to another place and his team. But But, but he
Linda Seger 57:23
Akiva had to really work to get that job, because he was known to the Batman stuff and that kind of very entertaining thing. But he grew up in a house that brought in autistic children. And so his mother was a psychologist, and he knew he had something to offer. And he went after that he was not in the shortlist of possible writers. But he heard about this and he went and he just pitched his loot as hard out. Then he also took that chance of making that jump into more serious work, in the same way that Steven Spielberg did it with color purple. And I have so much respect for people who take that chance they think about Sally Field from The Flying Nun to Sybil, or Farrah Fawcett majors, you know, that made that jump in a number of
Alex Ferrari 58:18
Robert Robin Williams, Jim Carrey.
Linda Seger 58:21
Yeah,Poets Society, you said that it is so risky, and it's so easy to not do that. And it's very, it's very difficult because you have a built in audience on one area, and then you make a jump into another. So when I started doing some spiritual books, everyone thought, what you're nuts. But I mean, I've adopted and I have two master's degrees in theology, and in focusing mainly on religion, the arts, but I thought I really want to, I have some things to say in this subject. And I have the background, to be able to say things, but you know, making that leap, you don't have a built in audience and people say, Well, I know you one way, I don't want to know you the other way. And so your heart has to guide you and say, it's not an easy path,
Alex Ferrari 59:18
Either. Yeah, it's like, look, I'm going this direction as an artist and as as a soul and a human being in this world. If you guys want to come along with me, great, but I'm going down this path. And if you don't, that's fine, too. I'll come back and do something that you might like again, but this is where I have to go.
Linda Seger 59:34
That's why my, my website has the writing part. And then you can click on the spirituality part if you so choose, and you don't have to choose that.
Alex Ferrari 59:43
Exactly. Now, you also touched upon something earlier and this is another one of your great books about subtext.
Linda Seger 59:49
Yes, writing subtext
Alex Ferrari 59:53
Subtext is such an art form. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. And it's something that so many early or young screenwriters will just write on the nose dialogue and on the nose, like his scenes, and subtext is what makes honestly I think what makes a good script. Great. Yeah. So what are some advice or some tips you can give us about writing good subtext?
Linda Seger 1:00:25
Well, one of the things is you want to start tuning into the subtext in your life. And when this was an assignment, Michael Weezy, said, We'd really like to have a book on subtext, would you like to write it? And I thought, oh, that sounds interesting. But I don't, I haven't thought about this. And so I started by tuning in, where do I see subtext? Where have I seen it in my past? Where, where do people say things where I think I wonder what that really means? You know, when when the guy says, I'll call you, as you leave this man? I wonder what that means. Now, if he calls me tomorrow, I'll know what it means. But if he doesn't, is he dead? Did he go to prison? Did he get in an accident? Or wasn't he really interested in that was just a line. So you, you, you know, or when you say, how does this look on me? And person says, Fine, it looks fine. And it's like, no, you don't think I look too fat? No, it's okay. I don't think I'm going to buy this, because that's not there's something going on here that I don't quite interpret. And one of the things was subtext when you come across it, you usually don't know what it means. And so going into that. And then, when I found when I wrote that book, as I thought, what are the movies where I absolutely know, there's a lot of subtext. And one was ordinary people. And one was Hitchcock's shadow of doubt. And so I studied those, and I began to look for the patterns. Where am I seeing subtext? How is this similar to this? Oh, I see. subtext can be in words, it can be in gestures, it can be an action, it can even be in the genre. And so I began to see all the different layers of that. And I had to I kind of had to learn how to talk about this, because there wasn't another book on subtexts out there. i There were a few books that maybe had a section, I don't even think a chapter I think more like a mention. And since then, I think there's just been maybe three books since that. And then we're writing a book on dialogue. So there, I actually was working this morning on the chapter on subtext, which will go in and trying to make sure I didn't say the same thing I said, in the subtext. And so, so far, so far, I have
Alex Ferrari 1:02:58
So far, so good. But yeah, but on the nose dialog is one of the biggest notes I've ever seen coming back from from screenwriters is just like, I'm going to walk over there. Or, you know, or let's not even talk about putting in history of a character, like, you know, like, when you were beaten
Linda Seger 1:03:18
Back, is that they had a terrible child.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:21
You know, like, when you're when your dad beats you, like, no, look, look, don't be much more. And I always am very keen that when I watch a movie now, how they slip in that kind of, what's the word, it's, I'm completely losing, like a resonance,
Linda Seger 1:03:35
You know, it's the little comment of this thing. You say, Oh, that either means the opposite. Or it carries layers of meaning. And that means that the writer needs to really love words, and say, That's not the right word. It doesn't have the right resonance. It's like when you sing, there's a thing called the overtones. And, and you say, it's that extra ring, almost like you almost hear that octave above or the octave below and say, that's what we're looking for, or, you know, marine biology, the undertone, they were looking for the undertow that you see something and you sense that underneath, you know, what lies beneath. And so, and that takes a lot of work from a writer because usually the first or second draft is going to be more on the nose. And then you start working to say I want to get, it's just too flat. It's too obvious. So now what is it? Well, I was just gonna say one of the things that I love about the book, I'm co writing the dialogue book with John Winston Rainey. And the end we're having a case study where we take a little section of a client's script with their permission, and then we do know Senator John does a rewrite. And a lot of the notes are, okay, we want to resonance here we want to get get a little deeper with what we're doing. And so people can actually see how do you rewrite dialogue? How do you think through it? To make it richer?
Alex Ferrari 1:05:19
Now, what is a? If you I'm sure you have at least an example. Is there a scene in film history that just like, Oh, that's really great subtext just so that you see people really understand?
Linda Seger 1:05:29
Yeah, well, there's, there's a scene and there's a scene and Well, I'll tell you what might be really famous. The photography scene in ordinary people. It's around Christmas, and the father is trying to take a picture of the mother and the son Conrad and the son in the mother, the son really is uncomfortable with the mother. And he keeps crossing his arms and turning his back and they're they want to get the two of them together, we'll show how you know get together and he doesn't want to and, and they're having all sorts of trouble getting the camera to work. I mean, it's just absolutely saturated with you say, oh my gosh, this family is so problematical. And all they want is everything to be normal and this this is not normal. This is they're struggling so hard to be normal and the therapist says you know normal is not all it's cracked up to be. But But I would look at and look at ordinary people it's just filled it's it was Gosh. Anyway, it's it's his was written by Alvin Sargent, and Elvin and I have a little email relationship. And we've occasionally met when we're in LA for breakfast. He's absolutely adorable. He's had one of the longest histories of a screenwriter way back paper, moon and all that up to Spider Man two. Wow. Just, he's, he's an amazing writer. And he's the most, I actually think he's the most adorable man I've ever met. It's like I did. And I write him when I tell him that, you know, and then he says on cue of beauty. Just the sweetest little emails at times back and forth.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:25
Now you also talk a lot about in your work, the rewriting process, and how how just insanely important is the rewriting process? Like you were saying earlier, a professional rewrites at 22 times the amateur will write it two or three times like, Oh, it's good. We're good. Yeah, what are some methods X screenwriters can do in the rewriting and rewriting process to make it more effective, and they're well,
Linda Seger 1:07:47
The first thing is you is that it's really good for you to get it out. So don't do too much evaluation too early in the process. You don't want the mother to come in and nag at you, when you've just written the, say that stuff. So you, there's times you just have to get it out. And what I do is when I'm not sure about a word or a phrase, I put brackets around it. And I might write it three different ways. And then I let it sit. And I might sit there for a month until I say, Oh, wait. Now now it's clear about how I do it. But the first rewrite is really, you going back to what you've rewritten, and I suggest you circle what is good. Don't Don't get upset with what's bad, you might only find three lines or three sections that are good, great. That's, that's your guide for the rest. And then you rewrite, and then you start getting feedback. And sometimes I think it's good to be in a writers group, if the writers group is positive, and to you know, you have your group of friends, other writers that to send it to listen to their feedback. But that doesn't mean you have to follow it. It just means listen. And then down the road, you might want to go to a script consultant, or if you don't have that group of friends who are writers who can give you initial feedback, then you can go to script consultant earlier. But But this idea of getting the help along the line, and training yourself to say I am willing to go back into this, this is flat. Now, I'm gonna have to think a bit about what I want to do about it. But nevertheless, I know this is where I want to approach it. And this is and in some ways, it's a little bit like practicing anything. I've gone back to piano in the last two years, is it I get up in the morning and there's three measures that are really really hard. I get up in the morning and I play him three times. Before I start my day in You know what, they sound a whole lot better now than two months ago. And it's the same thing as you get up in the morning. And you say, right now, I'm only going to work with these five sentences or the scene. And I'm not going to start with page one, I'm going to go in what are those places I have to tussle with, that I know aren't working. And you just, you know, break it up. And you said this is this is the process. It's the process of every single artist, is you get it down to its smaller parts, you go back to the bigger parts, you get to the smaller, you go to the bigger. And it's it's something, you know, you just learn a lot is this is the art process and don't resist it. Just recognize the sunset.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:48
And this is a tightening. It's just tightening everything up.
Linda Seger 1:10:52
Strengthening, tightening, broadening, deepening.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:55
Yeah, all those are great words. All those are great words. And, in your opinion, I think you were the best person to ask her this question. What makes a good writer Great?
Linda Seger 1:11:08
Well, they need to it's an it's a combination of art and craft. And so your art is your voice, that somebody should be this sometimes people say, I can look at a movie. And maybe I didn't see the credits, or maybe I didn't see who wrote it. I look at you know, it's a Woody Allen movie, Woody Allen has a very clear, artistic voice. Or you look at Oliver Stone, oh, that's gotta be all and Oliver Stone will be very much. And so whatever that voice is. And it might take a number of scripts to find your voice and affirm your voice. Because sometimes people are really comedic. And they're not taking advantage of that. And so you're saying what it what makes up my voice? And how do I accentuate that and balance that. And then you need to know the craft. So you're putting your voice and your specific ideas together with I know the three act structure, I know how to express my theme. I know what visuals mean, and how to create metaphors cinematically, and I know how to round up my characters. I know how to make my characters more dimensional. I know when I'm hitting a cliche, I'm going to fix that. So you just keep learning about all these elements. And you learn I learn a lot from other movies at this point. So sometimes I'll watch a movie and say, Oh, I hadn't thought of that. Like, crash, 14 plotlines all intersecting at the second turning point, like what's going on here. And I broke I wrote a book called and the best screenplay goes to and I analyze crash Shakespeare in Love and sideways. Three very different movies, I spent 70 pages on each of them, interviewed the directors and the writers of both of all of them. And you begin to you know, you say these are learning movies, these are so you find those movies where you say I can learn a lot from watching this movie a number of times. And you know, so I mean, I have favorite learning movies I love as good as it gets and Love movie, you know, you quoted from that one, and say, oh my gosh, you've just watched that movie over and over again and you keep understanding dialogue transformational arcs, relationships, character contrasts, every twist. They learn so much, and the willingness to do a line that leaves you breathless, that line when Jack Nicholson's character says, You make me want to be a better man. And you just go, Oh, my goodness is and what a deep line. Somebody had, you know, James Brooks and Mark Andrus had to go deep inside themselves, to find that ability for that kind of character to have made that kind of breakthrough to actually be kind and let some of that inner side out.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:30
Yeah, it's I was I was on a plane the other day and I had to watch Jerry Maguire again. I hadn't seen Oh, yes, what I just said when he's when he says, You complete me at the LA usually you have or you had me at hello. So cliche now, but even still, it still has that impact. And it's still so powerful. And that's one of those lines. In a movie. It's quoted slices, egg capitals, completely that one line says everything you need to know about the movie, yes, without
Linda Seger 1:14:58
The ability of the writer to write that line says you had to go to a good deep place to write that line.
Alex Ferrari 1:15:06
But you also psychologically as a screenwriter have to be willing to, to go that deep to kind of go maybe to places that you might not want to go to, to pull that out, because there are, if I may use Joseph Campbell, the treasure that you seek is in the in the cave that you are afraid to go into.
Linda Seger 1:15:28
Yes, yeah. And we'll say I have to keep, you know, moving in that in that direction.
Alex Ferrari 1:15:36
It's, it's Yeah, it is. It is. It is a it's a very fascinating, fascinating process, the screenwriting process in the filmmaking process in general. And I'm going to ask you,
Linda Seger 1:15:45
Okay, oh, I was just gonna say, and you need to know a lot of psychology to get into the different characters. And I think you need to be very careful in certain subject matters. Some people say, tread very carefully, if you decide you're going to deal with evil people. And, you know, and actors, I know, actors who have said, I'm not going to do those kinds of characters anymore, because they inhabit me, and I inhabit them in is hard to get rid of them after. And I have to go into that place. And do I really want to do that for the next year or four years of my life for whatever it is, I'm not talking about the perfect goody two shoes characters, but you do have to be careful about taking serious subjects too lightly.
Alex Ferrari 1:16:34
Well, I mean, well, perfect, perfect example. Just to follow up on that. I always tell people, when I see someone who's quote unquote, evil or bad, is it his perspective? Because from the perspective of Hannibal Lecter, he's good. He's the hero. He's the hero of his own journey. You know, he doesn't go like, you know, twisting the mustache going, aha, you know, and that's where all bad people are evil people. It is all about perspective. And I think the best villains in it all have this kind of, in their perspective, they're doing good if there's multilayered, like I'm doing something bad according to other places, but I'm doing it for a good reason. Like you have it just perfect example is Fanus in Avengers, this last this last Avengers movies, he wants to destroy half of the universe, but his perspective is it's like, look, we're overpopulated. This is just what I'm gonna do. So there I mean, it's weird, but it's a it's a way of his it's a perspective, would you agree?
Linda Seger 1:17:34
Yeah. And there's also a lot of times insecurity behind it. Really bad backstory? I mean, a lot of things to explore about what's really going on inside that person? What are they grappling with? What are their temptations that they have to give into? What are their obsessions? Because they don't have the good and the light, to illuminate the way or to you know, help them take another path? And so, you are you are in the grass of evil, too.
Alex Ferrari 1:18:10
Yeah, without question. And I'm gonna ask you the last few questions, ask all of my guests and I could talk to you for at least another four or five hours, but I want to respect your time. Now, what advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to break into the business today?
Linda Seger 1:18:23
Well, the thing is, you have to eventually know marketing. And you have to eventually look for opportunities to be able to either sell your script or to get an assignment to, to do with script. But I think know a lot and then get into organizations may depending where you live, if you have women in film near you, and men come join Women in Film now or you have a cinema arts organization or any kind of, you know, screenwriting groups or whatever, get involved because it has been proven that people who are in a community of some sort or collaborative, in some sort, do better. You have those people who say to you, I'm let me you know, yes, I have an agent or let me refer you to whatever that might be. So get in, get involved and learn and try to get inside the business to some extent, if somebody says, you want to come to the set, say yes, because the experience of being on a set and seeing what happens and all the waiting and all the cables that get moved around. But just to see what that is like, is a really terrific experience to have. So you're trying to broaden your experience to understand this and you're trying to build relationships. You want to be very careful about using people that you meet But on the other hand, you know, if you have an opportunity, have your 22nd elevator pitch ready. You get in the elevator with Steven Spielberg for some reason, he's going in the 12th floor, you better push the 12th floor button to say I have 12 floors to say, I'm writing a story about a joint strike that threatens the fourth of sound and the Fourth of July weekend. And it Oh, the elevator with me, I want to talk to you. So then be prepared. That was the other thing be prepared. So when somebody says I love your idea, do you have a script? It's a good idea to have the script? Or if you have a new idea, can I see some of your writing, have some writing that you've really gotten as good as it can get? Because you don't want to be caught? When you finally have an opportunity? In you're not ready to take it?
Alex Ferrari 1:20:54
Would you? Would you believe that Steven Spielberg must be terrified of going into elevators by himself at this point in his career,
Linda Seger 1:21:00
Especially after I said that if he hears the podcast? No, you're not the second floor.
Alex Ferrari 1:21:07
You're honestly I've had so many different, you know, people on the show talking about pitching and that they always use Steven Spielberg in an elevator as an example of
Linda Seger 1:21:20
The urban myth or something like that.
Alex Ferrari 1:21:21
I mean, it's insane. And okay, so can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?
Linda Seger 1:21:30
You mean somebody else's work? Yes. Oh, probably the power positive thinking, by the way, Norman Vincent Peale. Way back. You know, I was ready to go to college I had read. I had read that. Great. And maybe it had an influence, because one of the questions on the application was, what books have you read in the last six months outside of classes, and I probably had one of the best book lists like the making of the President 1968, East of Eden, lack of the power of positive thinking I had just a lot of great books and what I had been reading, so maybe it kept me into college.
Alex Ferrari 1:22:11
That's right. It's a great book, by the way. Yeah. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?
Linda Seger 1:22:19
Oh, I think the biggest lesson was learning that this that life is collaborative. I entered this business thinking yourself made, and just, you know, you do it yourself. You never asked questions, you pretend to know everything. And it became clear that was not a good idea. And I literally spent about a year learning to change my thinking. And it and what was interesting was, I had spent years probably 14 years of living on the edge. And once I changed my thinking, I found success within a year. So that change of thinking is really important is your mindset. Mindset matters later when collecting that competing for success.
Alex Ferrari 1:23:06
And the toughest question of all three of your favorite films of all time.
Linda Seger 1:23:11
Um, Amadeus is is undoubtedly one, I call it the big jam. People always know I'm going to mention witness. And one of the reasons I'm a Quaker, and although we're not Amish people, sometimes mistake commerce and Quaker, and my husband proposed to me during the barn ways raising scene of witness. It was not an exact proposal, but it was, it was a sort of proposal. And then the real one came a little later. So of course, it's very special. And then I knew I knew Bill Kelly. And Pamela Wallace. BILL KELLY has died. I talked to Earl Wallace once, but I didn't know him. But Bill and I occasionally had lunch together. Pamela and I had PEF team taught together and she's endorsed a few of my books, so that's special. But now you want a third one I guess probably Tootsie
Alex Ferrari 1:24:10
Oh, great. Oh, what's this an amazing three bar movies. Yeah, I'd love to see it's such a
Linda Seger 1:24:16
Yeah. And see these in these films. When you find a favorite film it really stands up. So you watch it over and over and over and you say you know I don't get tired of this film. I even when I know the dial even when I like to say is just you keep getting the nuances and say What a brilliant piece of filmmaking is
Alex Ferrari 1:24:38
My mind's is always go I hope and everyone listen to this show knows what I'm about to say Shawshank Redemption, which I think is well yeah, that her fairy films ever, ever, ever written, put together everything. It's fantastic. And finally, where can people find you your work your books? Everything that Linda has to offer?
Linda Seger 1:24:56
Yes. Well if you know my name, Linda Sager and think of sacre like Bob Seger s Eg er, my website is Linda sager.com. My email is Linda Linda Sager calm, you're gonna going to easily easily find me and I'm on YouTube. And I mean just a lot of things. And you could find some really interesting things on YouTube of me that are unexpected like me horseback riding to music.
Alex Ferrari 1:25:28
Linda, honestly, you are a national treasure in the world of screenwriting. So thank you so, so much. Like I said, I can literally talk to you for at least another four or five hours comfortably. And I think everybody would be entertained listening.
Linda Seger 1:25:41
I love talking to you. So you know, we can do this. Again, this has been great.
Alex Ferrari 1:25:46
Thank you so much again, and I again, thank you for dropping some amazing knowledge bombs on the on the tribe today. So I truly appreciate it. Good. Thank you. I want to thank Linda so much for her time and coming by the show and dropping major, major, major knowledge bombs on the tribe today. So Linda, thank you. Thank you so much. If you want to get links to any of Linda's work, her consulting, her website, anything just head over to indiefilmhustle.com/315. And it will be links to everything and anything that Linda does. So thanks again, Linda. And guys, today is the day my screening at the Chinese Theatre of my new film on the corner of ego and desire plus a talk and book signing of my new book shooting for the mob is happening today. For tickets, just head over to indiefilmhustle.com/screening. And I hope to see you guys there. Thank you again so so much for the support. And that's the end of another episode of the indie film hustle podcast and the bulletproof screenplay podcast. As always keep on writing no matter what. I'll talk to you soon.
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