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BPS 109: RAW and HONEST Screenwriting with Bo Burnham & James V. Hart

This is Part 3 in a 3-Part Limited Series of conversations I’ll be releasing between the legendary screenwriter James V. Hart, the writer of Hook, Contact, Bram Stroker’s Dracula, and Tomb Raider and some of the top screenwriters in the game.

Today on the show we have Bo Burnham, the director and screenwriter of Eighth Grade. It is a RAW and HONEST look at growing up as a young person today. The film was a run away hit and distributed by A24.

Thirteen-year-old Kayla endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school—the end of her thus far disastrous eighth grade year—before she begins high school.

James and Bo discuss how he wrote and structured Eighth Grade, his life as a YouTuber/Stand Up comedian and much more. Enjoy this conversation between James V. Hart and Bo Burnham.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 2:07
Well guys, today is part three of the James Hart interview series. And today's guest is going to be Bo Burnham, who is the writer of the critically and box office hit eighth grade. Now eighth grade came out in 2018, released by age 24, and was produced by Scott Rudin. And it was kind of a runaway hit when it came out. And James and Bo sit down to discuss how he broke down his own anxieties and issues that he had himself. And he put those into his script that made it come alive, and and about what it was like to be premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, what the bidding war was like to get bought by a 24, which is essentially the Sundance of independent film distribution. And James also helps break down the emotional journey of all the characters and structure of eighth grade. So without any further ado, please enjoy this rare conversation between James V. Hart and Bo Burnham.

Bo Burnham 3:18
Hello, everybody.

James V. Hart 3:19
I watched the film again last night and today, and I was gonna make some joke and comment about it being autobiographical. But it is, according to some of the readings. So could you talk a little bit about about where this came from me personally?

Bo Burnham 3:38
Yeah, I mean, truthfully. I was at the time in my life I was doing stand up, I was a stand up comedian for 10 years, I've been sort of secretly had a passion for screenwriting the entire time, and sort of came to the end of the road of doing stand up because I was having panic attacks on stage and just felt like I couldn't perform any longer. And I would try to talk about my anxiety on stage about my own personal experience with my anxiety, which was tied up with being onstage presenting myself having an audience performing. And then the only people that seem to really understand that were like 14 year old girls that would come up to me after the show and go like, because I assume that only like 27 year old male comedians would understand what I was going through. But the men my age didn't understand it. But the young women would come up to me and say, that's exactly how I live. And I was like, What are you talking about? And I realized that just sort of specific pressures that made me anxious, which were tied to sort of performance and how I was seeing had been sort of democratized and given to an entire generation. So I sort of felt like, okay, we've told our story with my circumstance. Now let's tell our story with your circumstance. So a truthfully it was autobiographical, but it but it took a connection with people like Kayla to show me just how similar I was to them. It was it was people like Kayla seeing themselves in me before I sort of saw myself and her.

James V. Hart 5:21
So bad question. But what were the 14 year old girls doing in a comedy club?

Bo Burnham 5:26
Oh, well, well, I I tend to be it's like, it was in theaters, and it's a little bit more of a theater show. So it's like a musical theater show that's a little more akin to young people than I didn't feel comfortable in comedy clubs, like the brick walls and the chicken fingers. And I don't know, I've just never I never vibe with it. But I mean, that's that's sort of the maybe, I mean, that explanation for the inspiration is sort of like, the thing I figured out after the fact, you know, I wasn't consciously thinking that. But really going into it, it was just, I felt like I was from the internet, I grew up on the internet. And in some way, I'm sort of the oldest person that's grown up on the internet. And I just felt like it wasn't being portrayed correctly. I felt like kids weren't being portrayed correctly. And I felt like it was a whole generation that was being talked about culturally, as self obsessed when I thought it's, they're actually anxious and self conscious. So

James V. Hart 6:26
yeah. Can you recall? You were a stand up comedian, you had to still have a career you're out there with crowds. But deep Can you recall the moment or the the circumstances in which you decided to sit down and you were going to you were going to write the screenplay, and you were going to direct it, but that that incubation process was for you?

Bo Burnham 6:48
Yeah, I mean, I had been writing sort of secretly and just been sort of very tired of myself as a subject. So. But I had written another script. Earlier, there was a high school script that I had tried to get made. That was way bigger, inherently sort of a bigger budget, and I had tried to direct it myself and it like, didn't work at all. And hold on, let me answer again, because I thought, coming back to the house,

James V. Hart 7:19
We might have lightning

Bo Burnham 7:30
Im settled, a decision to decide to write directed? Yeah. Um, so I had written another script previously, oh, my god, these other great. This is like, this is like, I've written another script. Previously, there was a high school script that was a sort of a bigger budget movie was maybe going to probably in the studio space, and I had shot the opening scene of it to try to direct it. And I was sort of shot down. But I think for the right reasons, I shouldn't have directed that script. And I didn't really write it with the thought that I would direct it. But But with this one, I definitely sat down, specifically going, I want to write something that I think plays to what I think my strengths might be as a writer, as a director, which I just guessed where I thought where I feel like I can write kids the way they talk. And I feel like I can get them to act in the way they actually are, and not have to be too over processed and you know, hopefully, just make something natural and realistic.

James V. Hart 8:37
Anybody try to talk you out of writing it yourself? Or did you beat you were, you

Bo Burnham 8:41
No, I never really told anyone to have them talk me out of it, you know, and, and the truth was it the process of writing, it was so enjoyable that I got to the end of writing, and it felt like, if this is it, I kind of at least partly got what I needed out of it, which is, I was just in a really, really bad place. And I felt like it's that sort of opposite thing, where I finally sat down to write something, just to enjoy the process of writing to actually have the process of writing be something that was fulfilling and an end in and of itself. And then that actually became the thing that was made. But I just felt like I was at a point where I feel like everything feels like a chore, it feels like work. And I need to get back to doing something that I enjoy. So the impetus for the script was what would I just enjoy writing? Not even what's a feasible movie? Cuz you know, I don't know. R rated eighth grade film doesn't sound like a slam dunk. You

James V. Hart 9:40
know, there's no superheroes, there's no explosions. And that's kind of what that was. The next question was that you just said something as I it's interesting for writers to hear the most these people are writers they want to know about your process. You sat down to write something that mate was going to make you happy and then you would enjoy writing. Not an assignment. Are I'm going to try to do the next superhero. I'm trying to do the next Wonder Woman, you sat down and wrote something for yourself. So that's a very liberating thing for writers to hear. Maybe there, maybe you can talk about your process a bit about once that happened, what your process was,

Bo Burnham 10:15
yeah. And truthfully, I wish I could, at any point, conjure the ability to just sit down and write something I enjoy. It's I have long, long dry spells between the inspiration that that gets me to a place where I'm, you know, writing very fervently and feeling very excited. But yeah, I mean, it really was. I mean, I think this this might be partly an answer. Part of my process is I just can't really out start without I have to, I have to have the thing, I have to sort of just jump in and just start writing people talking to each other write a scene that it has to sort of prove to me that it is that the heart is beating right away before I even try to structure it. And it might not even be like the and I don't even think that's a tactical decision. I think it's just because I need to prove that I enjoy doing this that like writing this thing, writing these people feel alive. And it feels enjoyable to me. Because I think of myself as a writer, I mean, first, second and third, like and it's actually what I get the most enjoyment out of so my barometer for the core of what I work on, is is to how does it make me feel when I write it? I mean, that's more than like, what does it sound like? Or what do people think when they read it? It really is the thing I'm pursuing is just because you know, I haven't worked that long but I've just found that the things that I enjoy writing the most are the things that I have the best chance of connecting with people and it's I feel like I can tell that when I when I watch someone else's work or read someone else's work that if there's just a sort of passion enjoying the writing itself it's just like totally infectious and and you can fail with either way so you might as well you know like what's the point of other than you know making money which um, you know, it's it's it's definitely not easy to like passionately make money. I haven't figured that out yet. But yeah,

James V. Hart 12:28
You can mechanically make money and be passionate about it.

Bo Burnham 12:31
Yeah, you can be passionate about the money yeah.

James V. Hart 12:33
So you started with a voice you started with the characters voices your your entry your entry into this into eighth grade was finding the character voices he is that how you you created characters, you would put them in situations and just have them start talking like LCS? I mean, Kayla's LCS incredible and instantly they all are performances are absolutely totally believable as if you're shooting a documentary.

Bo Burnham 13:02
Well, that was that was, again that the the writing was written to hopefully be that messy, and that natural that decision to director was only to deliver on the writing. I always feel like that as a director, I'm just directing it because I I want the writing to be delivered correctly. But really, in creating Kayla, it was it was like her ice, isolated voice that was the first thing to be captured. So the first thing I wrote was just monologues of her just with a topic in her head just talking about herself. Because when I would watch videos on YouTube of young kids speaking to camera, like I'm speaking right now, the way in which they spoke was it. It was it existed in such sharp contrast to the way I saw kids speaking in movies, and not only kids speaking in movies, but kids speaking in movies, on webcams looking to camera, like identical scenes and movies had kids that were perfectly articulate their little like poet laureates that are, you know, looking ready to camera and saying, Okay, so I'm going to tell you the story, how about how I went from being the queen of the school to the bottom of that, and then what's in this and it's all Poppy and snappy and performative and presentable. And I'm, what I would watch these kids online, speaking the layers of their speech and the performance of their speech, which is just the reality of one being a human being, but especially being a kid, which is like, I have an idea of what I want to sound like I have a process of delivering what I want to sound like, I have my own reaction to the way I'm sounding. I'm adjusting myself in front of this unseen mirror that you can't see, which is I see myself as I'm talking. It's very, very complex to me, and as I was watching it, watching these kids stumbled through a video just talking about how to be cool. I was like, This is what it means to be alive right now to make this weird rhetorical performative. But these kids are doing his spiel so true to me. And so that was the initial writing was was just writing that opening monologue of her being herself, which is like, being yourself sounds so trite, but it's also like, be yourself. I mean, that's is, you know, to be or not to be or it's, I mean, there's a that's like, all these, all these sort of stupid little, like, cliches and bromides of you know, the kids latch on to and these videos are actually, I think, very deep Anyway, I'm getting away off track.

James V. Hart 15:37
No its very telling.

Bo Burnham 15:39
Point is I, I just, yeah, I, I at least in with eighth grade, for sure. What I was trying to do was capture a way of speaking, I'm a failure of speech. And that's especially with kids. And that's the mistake that for me that movies about young people often miss make mistakes with, and it's across production. It's, you know, you're you're, you're portraying, how do you you're writing people that don't yet know how to speak you're dressing people that don't know how to dress themselves, you're sitting, I think, I think probably be human experiences. But certainly childhood is just failure, everything is a failure. And even your, even your, your thoughts or even a failure to yourself, in your own mind. You're even doing a performance to yourself and whatever. It's,

James V. Hart 16:33
there's a there's a wonderful moment, and we talk a lot about how we build character. That's kind of my method and processes that take some of the mystery out of this for writers. And one of the things we always ask them, What is my What does my character want? What does my character need? What are the differences? And you do a brilliant thing with LC and she's so good in the scene. She's actually sitting down there writing what she wants. I get it right there in blue and white. It over here how to get it. Yeah, exactly. It's perfect to be and she and she is smiling. She's writing this, she will be happy.

Bo Burnham 17:13
Yeah. Well, that was the funny thing about part of this is that I realized that, and especially if you're writing a film that takes place now, people are aware of movies, and not even that people try to people try to conjure movies into their own life, you know, so I was getting to the point, the script where I was going, alright, well, this is the point where we need to know her goals. And we need to know how she's going to get them and I'm going well, she could just literally do it. Like it's a it's definitely, me, it's kind of like it's almost an inside joke for writers of that point in the story. It's, you know, the beginning of the second act, or whatever, she's actually like, she's got a plan, she's moving forward, and she's writing this stuff down. But, um, yeah, I mean, I think that stuff can be, I think it's interesting to maybe think about the fact that you don't have to be the only one aware of plot, I mean, you can see plot as something that your characters are also aware of, you know, that, that your characters are desperate to structure their own arcs. And it might not be in perfect union, it shouldn't be with what you're ultimately going to tell in your story. But to be aware of, I mean, a lot of the writing that works for me, and again, I've written, you know, one script that's got made, I don't really know anything, but when it works best for me, it's, it feels like listening, and the sort of the big turns in my script that felt like turns were actually me just jumping into a scene writing it, and doing the thing where it's almost like you're playing chess with yourself, and you're going from one side to the other, if you're writing dialogue or doing stuff between, and you really are every time you walk to that other side of the table trying to beat the other person, honestly. Um, and yeah, it really is. For me, it's just about listening, let the best form of writing to me feels like I'm listening to the characters, and I'm meeting them. And they're surprising me, rather than I'm like going like, Alright, what should they be? And what would make them interesting because I've also fallen into that thing. And that's just like, death, and then I get my own head, but the best stuff. The best character stuff feels revealed, because I don't feel I certainly don't feel good enough of a writer to sit down and create human beings. I mean, but I can maybe set up situations where I can just stumble into things where I'm where they're talking to me a little bit and I can start to hear them and understand them as I as I write them.

James V. Hart 19:56
I have this is great because there's only One plot in your movie, everything else is character driven. And then the goal of what we try to do is to have character driven narrative as opposed to plot driven where there's only one plot. It's the last week of eighth grade. Yeah, that's it. That's the Y now that's the why it's happening now to her. That's your plot.

Bo Burnham 20:18
Yeah, like it's it. For me, it's that simple. Yeah, it's it's basically opening up the capsule and you want the What are you gonna do with your life? Yeah, but that is the plot the plot is, and I can it's funny because it some people, I definitely see a structure to the thing. I think there's like a total like, inciting incident, turn reversal midpoint, all that stuff. But just I guess it's um, it's a subjective structure. You know, the structure may not be seen by anyone but her in terms of the stakes. But if you're invested in the character that that was the hope of the film was to go, you know, a normal kid's life to them feels like life and death every day. So can we take a pretty normal stretch of days in this girl's life, where nothing quote unquote, like spectacular or movie worthy happens to her, but but portray it? But if we can somehow sing the audience's heart rate with hers and truly be subjective? Like? How can you make a movie that feels as dramatic as it does to her? Because that's the funny thing to think about, like Harry Potter and all these big fantastical kids movies is that i think i think kids see them as like observational and relatable and not escapist. You know that they really are. To a kid walking in talking to your crush feels like slaying a dragon. So that's why kids gravitate towards fantasy, because their life feels that high stakes. And I think that's why we all do but, um, yeah, I was just interested in in making, uh,

James V. Hart 22:06
Well, you've hit on my favorite subject, which is structure, I am a structure fascist and believe that structure is your friend. And it really capture lightning in a bottle. And instead of making you a formula, your film is very carefully structured. And you and you use terms that are familiar to the audience. I, we have a I use other terms, but you still got it. I was intrigued by the fact that you chose the something like curtain drops, like in a theater in a stage show where the the phone blogs, her little video blogs, and punctuation marks, and you chose them very carefully to place, which which dictated to me that you structure that you had carefully thought out in your head, whether it was instinctive, or you were conscious of what you were doing with those phone phone interviews. The choice of that is as a structure device.

Bo Burnham 23:02
Yeah, for me, like, for me, I heavily lean on the first act into the second act structure. I think there's a little more freedom after that. But in terms of launching ourselves into the story with a newfound purpose going forward, which for Kayla, that moment is right after the karaoke scene, and she, she's confronted this thing that she was, you know, she's been this sad girl opens her time capsule. We don't yet know what the inciting incident is, because we find it out later. But we we later know that looking at that she realizes, like, what is my life become, I need to change it. She's given this opportunity to go to the pool party. She like rejects the call when her dad asks her Do you want to go to this thing or not? She finally does go to it. It's an initial failure and a setback that she then overcomes with a big forward true commitment to it not a I rolls to Dad, I don't really want to go to this party, but really walking out and singing karaoke, it goes well enough for her to like fully commit to changing her life and and trying something else. And like, it might it might not play as as, you know, whiz bang plati as other things, but like, yeah, I need to feel oriented by that cost structure and all that is just, I mean, just making it so it's not like soup in your hands. I'm just giving you some it just Dramatic Structure moment to moment so that you know where you are, you know what, you know where you came from, you know where you're looking, and you just care about anything. Yeah, I mean, it just helpful for me to know where I'm oriented and that like you watch it. movie where you go like, oh, the scenes could just be jumbled around and it would mean the same thing or, and

James V. Hart 25:08
Yeah, no, your your your audience is the good. the good work that you've done here as your audience is not aware of the structure because they're emotionally being pulled through this BIOS, BIOS is character by Kayla. So in terms of that, there's three things that you did that come in, in my, my protocol with what we do here. Cinderella moments, your film is full of Cinderella moments where we give LC these little Pat's on the back and little hits of pixie dust a little moments where there were we're encouraged that she's going to make it she's going to get there. And there's two or three of them are just beautiful. And there is a moment in the very center of your narrative when and good narrative has this moment. And it's what I call the top of the mountain. It's like it's as good as you're going to get for her. And when she gets that invitation to the mall, from a woman, and she goes to the mall, and she's suddenly part of a group. Yeah, you know, it's and she's looking at what she's going to wear. I mean, that's Cinderella. Yeah. Give your audience those kinds of moments. And you have them in the third act, too.

Bo Burnham 26:19
Yeah.

James V. Hart 26:20
Beautiful.

Bo Burnham 26:21
Really funny. It's like it could sound like and it's so funny, because on the surface, it's could sound like oh, Cinderella moment is meant to be like, sweet and or too saccharine or too easy, or like a fairy tale or whatever. But actually, like, if if you're setting out to make the most depressing, like, bleak thing in the world, it is, like imperative that you have those moments, because it's like it is that if you want to break an audience's heart, you just show them the alternate reality when it can be okay. So like, Yeah, I love that. I love that. And I really do love thinking about fairy tales and old stories. I mean, that really helps me too, when I just try to think about like, how to write my story. It's like what Vonnegut used to do you know, on the chalkboard with everything like, like plotting out the stuff in a line like that's, that's really helpful as much as movies I think about like, yeah, like what happened in Snow White, or I go like, or wait, what happened even like that story, my mom told me when I was a kid, and like, you kind of want to get back to like, the first the core of how narrative interacts with you before you were like a conscious writer who is in their head too much.

James V. Hart 27:42
Well, you invoke Vogler, and we both believe the same thing, and there are certain storytelling elements that are embedded in the universe. They're part of the ether of what of the universe that you can't fuck with. But they're always there. Like your thing. What was that thing My mom told me, it's instinctive. You also invoked my other deity Kurt Vonnegut, who I had the chance to work with before he died. Man, I didn't realize when I started doing my charts, that I went back and studied that I had been influenced by all of his charts, really can find that that where you're taking the audience have two last questions. What was how did you always know what the ending would be? Because you've chosen that frame with the time box and the and the phones? Or did you have endings that you had tried to find and couldn't or didn't work,

Bo Burnham 28:33
we actually shot another ending, it's not really another ending. It's just it just had another final shot instead of her walking down the street, which was her like, we haven't shot going into a dance and the like end of the year dance and dancing in the middle. And then like, a sort of surreal, like spotlight hits her. It just felt a little cutesy and felt like it had been done. And I also felt like, her triumph at the end is also lonely. And that was sort of important. It was interesting, though, it was the thing I got in my head the most about was the ending. Because I felt like, oh, does this need to be like, in order to be like art does, it needs to be like way more ambiguous and way more dark and way more unresolved. And then I realized that like, you know, this is her story. And this is her. And it's not it's the ending is not that it's going to be incredible. It's that she thinks it's going to maybe be okay. It's just staying in her experience and like, what is the ending she would want to give herself or not would want to but what is the ending she is capable of giving herself? Which Is that so? Yeah, it's hard, you know? But I felt like I try not to it's hard to not be really, really precious about the opening and the ending, and to think of them as so different than every other part of your movie.

James V. Hart 30:02
Well, the phrase phrases

Bo Burnham 30:04
Written multiple times and actually the the whole basically the whole ending monologue like her video got re recorded after the shoot. And it's like the easiest reshoot because she just comes over my house and we put a crappy backdrop behind her and shoot her on my laptop. But, um, yeah, yeah.

James V. Hart 30:21
I mean, were you informed? Were you informed because it's a beautiful ending, and it's a very mature ending. And she's very, she's very honest, her own even her face is different. It's more mature and more settled and more serene and satisfied. We I use the word I use the phrase satisfying ending, not happy, not sad, not good or bad, but satisfying. Is your audience. Have you taken your audience to a satisfying ending? And the fact that you shot it after the shoot? Did the footage inform you to the performances inform you?

Bo Burnham 30:52
Yeah. You know, there was there was a version it was it wasn't that different. The monologue was just a kind of it didn't it kind of retain the what's the word the sort of like, whatever, unself aware, and of course, he's still a kid. So it's sort of unsub aware, but the thing that was added was the sense of like, and if you're not okay, that's okay, too, because, like, I hope High School is right for you. But it might also not be great. And it's okay, because middle school wasn't great for me and I got through it. So you'll get through high school to as opposed because before it was just about, you'll get through high school and it's going to be our high school is going to be great, you're going to and realize that like she's been kicking this sort of like dishonest can of hope down the street, the entire movie. And she's finally now rather than because it's kind of what got her into the mess in the first place is that in sixth grade, she put all this pressure on her eighth grade self to be the best person ever. And now finally, it's ridiculous. I didn't realize this writing the script, but instead of just, you know, loading all of that stress onto our future self, she's actually forgiving your future self and saying, like, you actually don't have to deliver on my behalf. I just hope you're all right. And even if you're not all right, like we're going to continue the struggle, the eternal human struggle to be alright. Or whatever.

James V. Hart 32:24
It's an incredibly satisfying ending. It's been really as a very moving for me today when I watched it last night. It was a very funny thing. I'll say a very funny

Bo Burnham 32:31
there's just a mark of the movie. Sorry, the writing. But her initials are k l. d, for some I mean, I don't know why she chose L. But I have multiple people come up to me after screenings because at the very end, she's in her backpack and the initials KL D are in the back. And they thought like, it was code that she was killed right after. Like, no, no,

James V. Hart 32:55
That's the alternative ending on the DVD is yes. There's the oboe bit. Real quickly, your your stand up. And I asked Jordan Peele, the same thing last year. And I and I might, our dear friend Robin Williams, who we great years with a missing enormously your stand up. So you're aware of the audience, you know, the audience is always a factor in your performance. Yeah, where are you? Did you take the audience with you when you were writing? And when you were shooting? Did the audience have a presence with you at all in terms of that process?

Bo Burnham 33:32
A little bit? And not not totally I think the audience was most with me in the editing process. But I definitely do pig. And if this is anyone that just has any background in the live arts or theater or any sense, like I do think I am lucky to have a part of me that just is fluent in the way an audience experiences something not that I was going to be able to perfectly translated or perfectly No. But as I was making it in, and I was definitely editing, and I think writing to a collective experience in a theater, I definitely wasn't thinking of people watching this alone. Um, hopefully it works like that as well. But I was thinking of, I guess, said pieces that would that would that would be experienced as a group. And I think I think even if you end up if your thing ends up streaming or a loaner laptop, that that's still a good. It's still a good invisible thing that your story should aspire to, or, I mean, I actually hate speaking in the second person because I'm, I'm, what, what do I know? But I'm just saying this to myself. Like, that's what I like to because when you when you think about one person watching it, you get in your head because you're like, Who the fuck is this asshole, you know, but like, when you think of a group of people, it really is like, a crutch. It's a crutch. Section it's a it's what the audience actually is So, um, but yeah, yeah, I mean, and it's also what I like to do. I like my, my standard shows were very theatrical and went for big reactions. And I always felt like I was trying to do sort of a magic show. And even this movie's going for that, you know, I wanted to make a movie where people would be cringing or covering their eyes or stuff, just because I think like, that's just fun for me. You know, I aspire to just be like, the Blue Man Group. And that's my final. That's my real point. Just watch the Blue Man Group if you want to understand how to manipulate an audience,

James V. Hart 35:40
My son with my son was a blue band for five years in Boston.

Bo Burnham 35:43
Really, really the Charles Playhouse? Yeah. That's like the staple of Boston, the Boston cultural scene, which is,

James V. Hart 35:52
And we watch the show 100 times.

Bo Burnham 35:54
It's the best I went out. I went I probably When did he do it?

James V. Hart 35:59
He's been riding with me now for about 10 years, about 10 years ago to 2008.

Bo Burnham 36:05
I mean, I probably saw him in high school. It's incredible.

James V. Hart 36:10
I'm gonna ask you one last question that I'm asked you to stay with me when I say goodbye. Because I think a lot of people were I know, I asked it today, especially how moving her final sort of blessing is that she sends herself off into the future? Yeah. Is there going to be a freshman year?

Bo Burnham 36:30
Well, that's so funny. Well, I freshman year has already passed for her. She's a suck. She's a sophomore now. Um, you know, people ask if he was going to be a 12th grade, that probably be the thing. But, you know, part of it was like, part of the movie was going like, you know, kids have a lot of media and our culture is putting a lot of pressure on kids. And to have the success of that movie, then put an incredible amount of media and cultural pressure on the actress to then immediately deliver her life as a movie. All the time is too much for me. So I'm still in the process of like, just live your life kid and we'll chill out and maybe down the road. If we want to make something again, we'll make it but like, let's not get in that process of, of trying to just view our life is working towards the next film, especially when you're 15. Because that's, that's what the movie is trying to sort of rally against. But I would love to I mean, she's great. And she's amazing. But um, yeah, if there's like a seven and a half, seven up or like a Yeah, boyhood version of it, I'd be happy to

James V. Hart 37:38
Just don't want to see her as an opioid victim or anything like that.

Bo Burnham 37:41
Yeah, one. Yeah, I would probably be more interested in catching up with her like 30 or something. Yeah. I think is like, you know, obviously 12th grade would start with her dating up the capsule, which is like, you know, so that's like the right way

James V. Hart 37:54
I want to thank you. There's a lot of people that you can't hear right now that are applauding and saying so and, and hopefully we can get you to Austin for another another visit.

Bo Burnham 38:11
Appreciate the time and I feel vastly unqualified. So take everything I say with a giant boulder of salt and I don't know what I'm talking about. But I appreciate all of your time and attention. And thank you for the time.

James V. Hart 38:26
Thank you sir. Okay, we're signed off now but I want to just go a couple things. I will edit this video too though. What I try to do is use pieces of it as we talk about your film and chart. Got it? Awesome. I'll I'll send it to you if you want to see it. I normally included in the talk you know we're in pieces. Hey guys. And then I do like to put it up on my website once the festival taking place and all that stuff is going on and you're gonna look at the at the website and see what Jamie and chisel did it Jordan Peele did it I you know, there's, there's a number of done it. So I just want to make sure that it's okay with you. If not, we'll restrict it to the

Bo Burnham 39:11
Okay, you don't have to wait for my approval or anything. I mean, I don't you know, I'm not

James V. Hart 39:16
Oh, this is a real treat. And I've got to tell you, I was really impressed with how how seamless the unit it's a really powerful structure and really does you have no idea I could I teach structure and everything later, but not if it's character driven. And if your character Yeah, pulls you in touch with your heart through the structure. They're not aware of it. It's the writers who push you.

Bo Burnham 39:38
I know it was so funny because it's like you can just take the most apparently structureless character driven esoteric stuff from it. Kids are obsessed with it. It's like the master or something. You mean it's like what are you talking about like Freddie's in trouble. He's walking around. He has got nothing to do. We stumbled on this guy. He goes in there. Like, like you Yeah, I mean, yeah, I realize so. So religiously on Instructure. You know, it's like isn't the most helpful thing?

James V. Hart 40:11
Well, I always tell people, the best structures I ever met was Robert Williams.

Bo Burnham 40:15
Yeah.

James V. Hart 40:16
They just came out of the blue in the ether. Yes, I would watch him after a performance and he would make notes and shift things around and say, do you think this work? You know, and he could tell the joke about the history of golf with a drunk Scotsman? Yes, yes. For that joke. 100 times? Yes. And it's the same punchline every time. Yeah. And it kills you. And that that's you guys know structure.

Bo Burnham 40:42
Yeah. Well, yeah, exactly.

James V. Hart 40:45
Telling a good joke. Knowing when to land a line. You know, that structure?

Bo Burnham 40:48
Yes. No setup payoff. Yeah.

James V. Hart 40:51
I really appreciate this. I'm going to let you go. I'm thrilled to be able to, to have you be part of this. And hopefully when I do the chart, I'll show you the chart you go. Wow.

Bo Burnham 41:02
Amazing.

James V. Hart 41:05
Oh, yeah, there. Yeah. There's a Cinderella moment. There's a top of madness.

Bo Burnham 41:09
Yeah, I would love that. And hopefully lepsy at the festival and just I appreciate the time. Thank you.

James V. Hart 41:15
Thank you, sir. great pleasure.

Alex Ferrari 41:18
I want to thank James and bow for being guests on the show today. If you want to get links to anything they spoke about in this episode, please head over to the show notes at bulletproofscreenwriting.tv/109. And if you want to have James v heart, guide you through structuring your film, your screenplay, and just helping you with not only character but the emotional journey of your character using his remarkable system, the heart chart, head over to bulletproof screenwriting.tv/hartchart that's hart chart. I promise you, you will not be disappointed. It is an amazing masterclass, as well as a ton of other bonuses you'll get if you take the course. Thank you so much for listening, guys. As always, keep on writing no matter what. I'll talk to you soon.


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