You should all know this by now. I love bringing on different perspectives on the craft because you never know what might click for someone. At the end of the day, we are all trying to tell a and compelling story.
I invited to the show this week Julian Hoxter to talk about his book, The Creative Screenwriter: 12 Rules to Follow and Break to Unlock Your Screenwriting Potential.
Julian is a published writer, lecturer, and screenwriting story consultant with extensive experience in scholarly writing.
After film school at UCLA, Hoxter returned to his homeland, England, where he served as a senior lecturer at Solent University for some years before starting up at San Francisco State University, where he currently is an associate professor of cinema.
Hoxter’s latest textbook, The Creative Screenwriter: 12 Rules to Follow―and Break―to Unlock Your Screenwriting Potential, distills the craft of screenwriting into 12 key elements, from developing your story to revising and rewriting, plus plenty of inspiration to create your screenplay with confidence. It encourages readers to look behind the scenes at iconic films using a classic screenwriting structure, along with experimental films from innovative writers that have transcended the rules and paved their way to the silver screen.
Apart from academia, Hoxter has been producing his independent features, documentaries and doing rewrites collaborations with other filmmakers. One of his most known productions is the award-winning documentary feature, Imagine a School… Summerhill, produced in 2009.
Other must-read textbooks or scholarly papers written by Hoxter include, Off The Page: Screenwriting in the Era of Media Convergence, The Pleasures of Structure: Learning Screenwriting Through Case Studies, and Theorizing Stupid Media: De-Naturalizing Story Structures in the Cinematic, Televisual, and Video Games.
Keep an eye out for Hoxter’s sci-fi novels that will be out soon, The Ballad of Coopy Meakes.
I collected a lot of knowledge bombs from chatting with Julian. Enjoy this conversation with Julian Hoxter.
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- Julian Hoxter – IMDB
- Julian Hoxter – Website
- Book: The Creative Screenwriter: 12 Rules to Follow―and Break―to Unlock Your Screenwriting Potential
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- Audible – Get a Free Screenwriting Audiobook
Alex Ferrari 0:11
I'd like to welcome to the show Julian Hoxter, how you doing?
Julian Hoxter 0:14
Hey, I'm good. Thanks. Nice to be here.
Alex Ferrari 0:16
Thank you so much for being on the show. I wanted to have you on the show to talk about your book, the creative screenwriter 12 rules to follow and break to unlock your screenwriting potential. And like I I've said so many times before, I love bringing on different perspectives on the craft, because at the end of the day, we're all going towards the same place a good story. And how you get there could be one person's way could be another person's way could be a million different ways. And I always like to expose the audience to as many different ideas because you never know, what will click with the right, or what the right right, would you agree?
Julian Hoxter 0:51
Completely. I'm nothing. You know, I teach screenwriting at San Francisco State, we have a number of people that teach screenwriting, and they're all really good. But you know, if you're a student, you want the person not only who knows what they're talking about, but who you kind of click with. And sometimes that's me, sometimes it's very much, not me. And that's fair. You know, there'll be people who don't like my accent, don't like my beer don't like the fact that I'm an old fat white guy, all these good things. And yet, hopefully, there'll be others who will find that I have something of value to offer. So,
Alex Ferrari 1:20
I mean, to be fair, I think the accent really adds credibility to your teaching. As an American.
Julian Hoxter 1:27
I have a nine o'clock lecture start, I reckon it gives me 20 minutes, just sort of wake up into the coffee to begin to percolate inside me before. You know, they really listening to what I'm saying. And they're kind of in that, Oh, my God is actually set up but in America. So yeah, I count that as an advantage. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 1:46
No question. So how did you get into the business?
Julian Hoxter 1:49
Well, I went to film school, went to UCLA many, many years ago. And, and then I really discovered a love of teaching. And I went back to England and got a job part time teaching at a university. And then that became full time within it began to run department and on it went, and so I've really been education for a very long time. And in that time, I've been working as an independent filmmaker. I've made some documentary features, done some rewrites, on, you know, indie features, and so on, and so on. And but also, I've been writing and working on more scholarly work. So the history of screenwriting, and the state of the industry, and so on, and so on. So I kind of straddle two camps. I'm partly a screenwriter, partly, you know, story consultant. But I also research write and teach it income status.
Alex Ferrari 2:45
I have a curiosity, you talked about the history of screenwriting, I actually have never had that conversation with anybody. What is the history of screen? Right? Like, I know, like, when, when Edison started with his camera, you know, they were just kind of like doing short little bits. But like, at what point was there a screen? what we, what we considered any sort of guidance, as far as a story is, and then what we would know, as a screenplay today.
Julian Hoxter 3:10
Well, I mean, I think very early, there were what you would call scenario writers. And indeed, even before 1920 there are people who are writing books, like like what we're talking about today, you know, how to write a screenplay or, or a scenario. There are people who are pitching ideas for short comedy movies, and, you know, concepts as opposed to fully drafted scripts. And that comes a bit later that comes more in the as we're approaching the classical Hollywood period, perhaps. But you know, Griffith was making features in the in the teens, you know, when we, whenever we say about them, that they're very, very important. And people were writing some form of a screenplay, some form of a scenario from almost from the word go.
Alex Ferrari 3:52
It's also went so in the teens, you know, did what was that big, epic film that he did not Birth of a Nation, but the other one onwards, intolerance? Did intolerance have a screenplay? Well, I
Julian Hoxter 4:03
don't know. I'm sorry. Yeah. Did they don't have a specific answer to that? I don't recall. But I think what you have to kind of understand is that, you know, this is a period where everyone is kind of learning what it means to make films, right. And there are different versions of story that are going around that, you know, we don't come to the the sort of modern screenplay, you know, fully formed. Even in the heart, even in the classical period, you have a range of different formats. And of course, you know, until really into the 40s and 50s. The screenplays were a list of shots with they weren't, they weren't all very, they weren't typically broken by scene, they were broken by shot and scene. So, you know, these formats have developed over time and the formats also have developed according to the role of the screenwriter in the process. So in the 50s when you move After the Paramount consent decree after the the studios had to divest some of their divisions, and after they basically sort of said goodbye to having buildings full of in house screenwriters with screenwriters became independent or semi independent, and freelance, you know, one of the things that changes is the way that you tell a story on the page, a screen story on the page. And, you know, you begin to tell a screen story to be read, because the reading is part of the gatekeeping as to whether or not you're going to get your, your, your story sold. Before or, you know, you'd go and you'd pitch to the producer, you'd pitch to the studio, as a writer, you know, within the the writing department, after, after we get into the freelance paradigm, well, you have to tell a story a different way, you can't just be be having been given a pitch and you're writing out a list of shots, it doesn't quite work that way. I'm simplifying the course.
Alex Ferrari 5:54
Right. So it's a basically a, you know, when they were in the studio system, it was more of like a mechanical document of like, shot, shot, shot, shot shot, where afterwards, you have to become a little bit more of a crafts, artistic crafts, man or woman to kind of sell the idea a little bit better, I
Julian Hoxter 6:11
think so that sense of wonder, entrepreneurial ism entrepreneurship, which is the way a way? You know, that's something that I think has always been part of a brighter shake, they have to be able to sell their ideas, but it becomes more and more important, I think. I'm sure, yeah, but, you know, and I think Yeah, you know, writers learn that their style is the sales pitch as much as whether you can do a, you know, an elevator pitch in 20 seconds and get get the producer to know, you know, like, what you're what you're selling, because the whole relationship between writers, the studios changes, and the whole way in which writers interface with studios, or writers agents interface with studios, and the idea of kind of, you know, story readers who who sit as the gatekeepers, you know, between the writer and and the studio, you know, that becomes more and more important for writers to deal with and engage with, you know, from the 50s 60s 70s onwards, you know, and that sense of the development of coverage and how coverage is incredibly important, not only for the scripting hand, but for your reputation within an organization and so on, you know, we'll look back and see, well, what what coverage Did you get last time you submitted to ask them something?
Alex Ferrari 7:25
And then in then, so when you hear of a of a studio or an agency signing a writer based on their voice, even though that script that they might have submitted will never in a million years get produced, but they look at it as a voice that is their style? That is their signature in the marketplace?
Julian Hoxter 7:43
Yeah, during misquote the cones, you know, that that's their button thing feeling, right. I mean, that's exactly what you want, or what what you just said, Right, yeah. We can discuss the realities, but, you know, is is somebody who has a unique voice, and you know, that we've got we've moved beyond in the in the, the tentpole era, such as you know, we can call it that. We sort of move beyond the time in which writers write specs with the expectation of selling the spec. And now, it's the expectation of selling themselves, as you as you indicated, or these rights aspects are still being bought, but the market is way down from where it was in the 80s and 90s.
Alex Ferrari 8:23
Oh, god yeah, I mean, I love talking to sometimes I get the pleasure of speaking to some of those those screenwriters when they were like getting $3 million a script $2 million. If you're finding out what Astor house I mean, Jesus. I mean, he, I mean, he, I think he made I think, what was the I think 20 or 25 million on scripts that never got produced? Yeah. Like the other obvious examples? Yeah. It was an insane time and but a lot of screener I still think today that that's a thing where it does happen, but it's rare. It's much rare.
Julian Hoxter 8:55
I mean, it's, it's, I was researching a book a couple of years ago, and I try to remember who actually, was it john August, I can't remember. I can't remember who it was. Someone may made a really good comment. But now it's a less than you guys. That the there really isn't a kind of market for the journeyman screen black screen. Right? What you have, I mean, again, I'm simplifying course sure. But what what you have now is you have a list guys who are going to have their own relationships and are going to you know, maybe have a you know, first looks or whatever but, but are basically going to typically be asked to do rewrites. And then you have the new guys who are cheap and get the one step deal and then get fired so that you can, you know, afford the, the writer to come in for a lower rate or rewrite rate and then rewrite the new guys script. That's more of a pattern, though, the idea that there are screenwriters who are, you know, able to get to maintain a living in the way that was the case two decades ago. It's a lot
Alex Ferrari 9:57
it's a lot tougher to become not only become a great But to make a living as a screenwriter because that the studios are not making as many movies as they used to all the movies that they are making are based off of IP, or or, or existing comic books or whatever that they're dealing with. So the the market for independent ideas are basically regulated to the independence or the many majors. And even then, they're looking for IP as well. No one's dumping 100 million into a, into a spec script, unless there's a massive actor massive director, Master producers attached. Right.
Julian Hoxter 10:33
And this is one of the reasons I mean, you're absolutely right. And this is one of the reasons why when I'm teaching screenwriting, you know, at my college, that we're developing classes, and we're developing competencies in asking students to think beyond the screenplay, and to think about, you know, what do you need to do in this convergent world? In order to become visible to Hollywood, and it's partly, you know, you'd like to screen then you can show to agents and you can win competitions, and you can do all the all the all these things. But even so, Hollywood is not interested unless there's an IP with some track record, typically behind it. Yeah, how do you go about getting that track record? Well, maybe you write a novel, maybe you do something online with, you know, online comic? Who knows? Maybe you do your own independent comic book, maybe, maybe you? Maybe you, maybe you, maybe you Maybe so, you know, one of the things that I think that we have to do as educators, and here I'm talking as an educator, is to think about how do you prepare students to be what I loosely call screenwriter? 2.0, right? Because if you think of screenwriter 1.0, that's, you know, the the person who I mean, there may also have been journalist or novelist or something else in that time, but basically, the person who, you know, wrote movies, that was their career, they did as well as they did. But that was kind of what they did every now and again, maybe they did something else. Whereas nowadays, I think that the young writers coming up, the screenwriter 2.0 model is the screenwriter, who is also thinking about all these other media, all these other convergent media, all these other ways of beginning to get an idea out there, particularly if they want to work in, you know, in Hollywood as we might still define Hollywood. And it's the twin track, right? If it's my IP I want, I need to get some kind of audience. If it's my spec, well, my spec no longer is what I'm selling. I'm selling myself, as you say, because you know, what we want? If we're a studio is someone who can, you know, write the next IP based movie for us?
Alex Ferrari 12:36
Exactly. And, and I've seen I've seen a lot of success with podcasts, like, you know, different podcasts that people are writing story based podcasts narrative, podcast that turned get that get picked up, gets, they get optioned, and, and obviously, calm, independent comic books, novels, I've seen a lot of screenwriters, create novels off of their screenplays, and sell them and then get optioned the book, when when their screenplay was rejected, they'll option the book because it becomes a bestseller, or even if it doesn't become a bestseller, even it has some sort of success. For the for the for the studios, a lot of times, they just feel more comfortable, because it covers their ass a bit more.
Julian Hoxter 13:14
But as you know, this I mean, it's precisely it's a theater of media, right, particularly when you're an executive at a big studio. And because there aren't the development budgets anymore, I mean, it's, you know, the upside, I guess, is that if you're if you do some spec, it's much more likely to actually get produced now than it was in the 80s. Right? Where it's like one in 20. Now, it's like one in three or four or five, maybe out of date, numbers, but you're much less likely to actually sell that script in the first place. I mean, so is that a trade off? You want? I don't know.
Alex Ferrari 13:47
Yeah, it's it's it's it's a new world for writers as well as filmmakers, you Oh, we have to be thinking of multiple revenue streams, other ways to make money other ways to, to maintain your, your, your craft that your career, and I've seen film, I've seen screenwriters who write those novels, and they generate money automatically from self to self publishing their own stuff. Every month, there's money coming in, keeping the lights on while they're chasing the screenwriting dreams and getting assignments or selling a script or something like that. But it's those writers who are like making a living and that could be blogging that could be that could be podcasting. That could be teaching, it could be a million different revenue streams that you can create as a screenwriter.
Julian Hoxter 14:28
You're absolutely right. I mean, this is why I developed a class for SF State in Greene storyworlds, right, which is about developing an IP and thinking about how that IP might work. Yes, by all means is a feature film, but also you know, as a anything from a TV show to a comic book to a blog. Yeah. But this is exactly correct. I'm think we're on the same page with them.
Alex Ferrari 14:50
Absolutely. Now, you've been working with screenwriters for a long time. What is the biggest mistake you see first time screenwriters make
Julian Hoxter 14:58
Oh, Good question. There are many. You know, I mean, I'm lucky that I work with very inexperienced screenwriters, people often don't have the the confidence that they can actually do that thing, literally functionally, let alone sell anything. And yeah, my number one job, I think, I think I'm coming around to answering your question. My number one job, I think is to actually give them the confidence that they can do it. Now, maybe that comes from, you know, the people who I'm seeing, you know, who I think, you know, need that sense that somebody is taking their their work seriously, is going to engage with it seriously is going to give them you know, hard but fair feedback, but on the basis of encouraged them to move forward and finish the first draft, I think one of the things that people get wrong, is the idea that it's fine to, you know, quit halfway through and start another project. And, you know, I think that one of the most important things if you're a young screenwriter or or Sweden just starting out is finished your draft. And the the screenplay itself might be garbage, right. And I, you know, hold my own hand up here, of course, I've written bad screenplays, and some of them are on the shelf over there, and I will never look at them again. But no one else will ever either. But that sense in which once you've done it once, however bad, you think the outcome is, and you know, you might come back to it in five years and actually find something that's, that's interesting, and you want to develop further. But how bad the outcome is, you know, you can do it. And then the second one is easier. It's not easy, but it's easier. Because you don't extraordinary difficult thing. And then when I think about you know what I do, as an educator, you know, I'm asking 18 1920 year olds, to write a feature, a feature screenplay, that's an incredibly difficult thing to do. at any age, and obviously, there are some writers who come to us and they're wonderfully prepared, advanced and they want to breeze through, you know, they, they, they find it less, less difficult. But there are a lot of kids who come, you know, with very little competence in their own abilities. And with lots of, you know, good reasons why, you know, writing is something that doesn't come naturally. And, you know, the more they do it, and the more they engage with the process, the better they get.
Alex Ferrari 17:17
It's like building, it's like building a table, like you build the first table you build, it's gonna be pretty bad, I'm sure. And then the second table get better, the third people get better, and so on and so forth. And that's some of the best advice I've ever heard from, from screenwriters that I've spoken to is like, right, right. Right, just keep right. I don't care if it's bad, just right. I mean,
Julian Hoxter 17:34
yeah, I mean, the kind of part two of that is right, every day, is something that that relates to writing every day, it can be actively thinking about stuff and taking notes, it can be, you know, going to a location and seeing if it inspires you, because you think it might be of interest in your script, it can be anything, but if you feel like you're doing something that relates to your writing every day, then it becomes part of your life. And it isn't the thing that sits there going, haha, you haven't done me today, you know, and then becomes kind of the, the the unspoken, you can't do it that sits behind you, you know, you find ways of engaging in the writing process, engaging in the creative story thinking process every day. And, you know, it's one of those, you know, take care of the pennies and the pounds or the dollars will take take care of this. Get my currency, right, get take care of the cents and the dollars will take care of themselves.
Alex Ferrari 18:27
Right, exactly. And it's like they say, you know, you tell the Muse that you're going to be here every day. She shows up every once in a while. But if you're not there, she might even you might miss her. Yeah, that's nice. I steal it. I stole it from somebody. So yes, please, what writers do right? Well, I've got and that's another thing. We let's just this dismiss all of this thing. Like, Oh, I can't, you can't steal from everyone steals from everybody. Every director steals from every director from the first person who made a two shot. It's been stolen by Martin Scorsese. And everybody has stolen from Martin everyone's to and Spielberg stole from Kurosawa and copalis. It's,
Julian Hoxter 19:03
and the good ones admitted, right? the good ones. Yes, of course, this was my influence, but I tried to do something with it, you know, right. You know, the bad writers steal good writers or influence, you know, I mean, this is no,
Alex Ferrari 19:16
no good. Good. Good. Writers borrow. Great writer steal. There you go. Exactly. And it's, but it's so true. But like, I remember when Tarantino showed up, everybody tried to be quittin. And you can't, like he is such a unique voice in the craft. There's literally he's a once in a generation writer. And level writer, period, let alone screenwriter, there's just so many things going on the complexities of what he's writing and how he's writing and how he's delivering it. You can't and they trust me if you remember the 90s when when Pulp Fiction came out how many Pulp Fiction ripoffs came out and none of them were anything close, but also
Julian Hoxter 19:59
he had no cyclopedic knowledge Oh, it's insanity, all kinds of cinema that you wouldn't even think about it, you know? Absolutely. And when I was in film school, it was shenbang. Right? It will be the weapon came out. Everyone was reading that screenplay, the Shane Black isms, you know, the kind of idiosyncratic way in which he wrote, everyone was copying that, and it was a, you know, yes. But you, there's no substitute for having your own voice.
Alex Ferrari 20:27
And that's the thing. And I think a lot of times people start as a writer, at least I've done it. I know, a lot of other writers who's told me the same thing as they'll start trying to copy someone else in their style. But then as you go through the process, your voice comes out through it. And they have I think that happens with all writers, I think every writer who ever read something is influenced by how many people have been influenced by Shakespeare. I mean, people have been destroyed by Hemingway, or Dickens. And then you start to start down their road, and then all of a sudden becomes your thing. But you got, you got to kind of like work out that thing. I think it was, I forgot who it was. It was a famous musician, who said that when you start writing songs, it's like turning the faucet of a bathtub. And the first stuff that comes out is sludge. It's just deep, muddy sludge. But as you keep letting it run, it starts to clear up and clear up and clear up until the point where it's crystal clear. And now I can start writing. So you got to get those bad drafts out as fast as possible.
Julian Hoxter 21:29
I couldn't agree more, I think, you know, the other way of looking at it, and this is with my sort of scholarly hat on is the idea that we are all media texts are into texts, right? They are a combination of things that you know, that you're being influenced by, and things that you had no idea, you know, so, you know, it's like the cliche write what you know, well, of course, you're gonna write what you know, what else can you do? And that's partly a conscious process. That's partly thing. Well, I want to be in the style of x. And that's partly, you know, you are the accretion of experience and and neuroses that you are. And so that's somehow going to manifest in how you write. Yeah, I mean, I, there's just no way of saying what you said. But
Alex Ferrari 22:11
I agree with you, 100%. Now, one thing that a lot of people, a lot of writers specifically, I've heard, say that structure is too formulaic, that it's going to make it No, I'm not going to just be a formula guy or gal and I need to be free and free flowing in my ideas. I can't be boxed in by structure. What would you have to say about that?
Julian Hoxter 22:31
It's a great question. And it's a huge topic. I mean, one extended thing, it depends on who you're writing for. Right? If you're making your own micro budget movie, you can do whatever they, whatever the hell, and I'm not sure what a profanity filter is, whatever the hell you want, right? Sure. But you know, if you're writing with a particular market in mind, then you have to be professional about it. And there are many different versions of it in between kind of, you know, formula and complete an artistic freedom. I think, for me, I look at it this way. That understanding how most movies stories with relatively mainstream movie stories are told, is a very, very powerful tool. Because that gives you a set of questions that you can ask yourself, when you're getting to a certain point, and you're not quite sure what to do, or how to do it, you can go well, alright, well, what are most movies do at this point, and then you can assess what you're trying to do. So for me, that's where I think, formula or or structural paradigms, structural models are useful, because they give you opinion, or they give you a way of disciplining, your thinking, and a way of cutting through and asking the real questions, as opposed to the what if generalized questions. But yeah, I mean, all all models. And really, frankly, most of most of the people who write about screenwriting, including myself, are basically saying the same thing with little tweaks. You know, and it's really about whose version of eloquence Do you do appreciate it? I think I think that understanding a model, I don't care whose it is, you know, a model is a very, very useful thing, because that gives you a basis for your own thinking. And that also makes you think, if I'm going too far away from this, am I actually really going to be talking to the people I need to talk to, but using it as a kind of crutches is not what you want.
Alex Ferrari 24:29
Yeah, I was talking to a screenwriter the other day and he told me that basically, all stories are either three 3x or or four at the most you can try to cut up a movie you can cut it up an 8x it's it's irrelevant, because but certain things that happened through into stories in popular films, it throughout history, without question hit these marks, all the time, even Pulp Fiction which is out of order in the conventional in the Have that story in the way he wrote it and shot it and edited it. Even though the stories are timelines off, the hits are happening at the points where they should be happening. So that's why it seems like an experimental film, but it's not. And it's so brilliant. That's what the brilliance of pulp fiction is.
Julian Hoxter 25:21
You can say that doesn't make it not clever. But yeah, but we'd have to wonder what it is. Yeah. I totally agree. Yeah, yeah, it was something. momento or Yeah, I mean,
Alex Ferrari 25:30
some momentum is another one. I mean, look, I mean, anything Christopher Nolan, for God's sakes. I mean, he's always, you know, messing with time and everything in it, like inception, and Interstellar and all of those things. But they all hit those marks. I mean, you, you, you That's why you look at a movie like any David any David Lynch movie. Any David Lynch movie. They're not there. They're all over the place. And that's why his films, you know, I think, I think Blue Velvet was the closest, maybe, maybe Elephant Man, Eraserhead? Possibly. But blue velvets, probably his most mainstream story was also one of his most popular Mulholland Drive. Like it's all like, Can you can you not? Can you can you pin those things on monitor? I
Julian Hoxter 26:20
don't think you can not in terms of convention or means a loop. Right, literally. And as is. Yeah. I mean, I think I think you know, but then when he's trying to be semi conventional, like the blue velvet or like with the original Twin Peaks. Yeah, he's doing that to, to expose the conventionality as a as its own kind of artifacts, right? So I mean, he's not, he's not being conventional. He's, he's showing you that he's being conventional, if you know,
Alex Ferrari 26:47
exactly, but it's so so for everyone listening. So I just want you to kind of look like someone like Tarantino, who sometimes seems like he's unconventional. The genius of Tarantino is he's completely conventional within this unique structure that he's created and characters and things that are strictly his. But when you look at someone like David Lynch, who's like, I mean, pinpoint a movie that has a conventional, it's very rare to find, because he's making art films. And that's okay, that's okay. as a as a writer, as a director, you can do that. But if you're trying to sell to the studio system, you're trying to sell a conventional process, you need structure, you need to pin. And I personally, when I write I love structure, because it gives me a goalposts to write it makes me feel a lot more. It's like, this is the this is the lane that I'm in, and I can play within this lane as much as I want. But I can't go off roading.
Julian Hoxter 27:40
Right. I think that's a stimulant, but I feel basically exactly the same. I always want to know that I have some fallback, some fallback questions to ask myself, you know, and to begin to kind of judge what I'm doing against, unless I'm really, you know, going off into the wilds of micro budget funds. But having said that, one of the great things about the contemporary moment for screenwriters, and there are many not so great things, and we've kind of covered some of them already in the discussion, is the fact that micro budget is is is alive in a way that it never really was previously, and that, you know, you can be Shane Carruth and make primer for $7, or whatever, he made it for it. And you can be, you know, a queer filmmaker, or a woman or a person of color, you know, and be making stories that are deeply meaningful and radical, without having to, you know, deal with the system. In many ways.
Alex Ferrari 28:36
I feel that this I feel that the system is as we know it, because I mean, you and I both kind of grew up in this, I think we're similar vintage close enough to the vintages of our age. So we kind of grew up in the, in the, in the time when the system was the system. I remember when that, you know, Warner Brothers was putting out 15 to 20 movies a year, at some of them are $5 million, maybe $10 million movies, you know, and then occasionally would have these big budget things where now it's just like, everything's a big budget, everything but it's all very calculated based on IP and things like that. They were taking chances. I mean, can you imagine taxi driver today? Can you imagine raging? Raging Bull? Maybe we'll get made, but you can make a version of taxi driving for 10 bucks. And if you make Yeah, yeah, but within a studio system, I know exactly. No way in hell that anything in the 70s will become a Midnight Cowboy, LA.
Julian Hoxter 29:30
But also all the short movies that I grew up with, right. I mean, john carpenter and army, then name any genre Movie Maker of the 70s 80s 90s. You know, a lot of that's gone. I mean, yes, there certainly is new iterations of things like horror movie and blumhouse and, you know, and so on, and that's cool. But, but you know, where is this, the mid levels are a movie that they kind of don't exist, or at least they're very few of them that either really schlocky and kind of their budget or they To be $300 million, because, you know, one of the lessons that we learn, you know is that the B movies become the a movie and and so now there's genres are our tentpole genres as opposed to being, you know, knockoffs,
Alex Ferrari 30:12
right? And then specifically, like, you could make a $30 million genre piece with john Carpenter directing back in the day. And that was acceptable. Now, do you need Guillermo del Toro to make it and it becomes an art piece? And when's the Oscar? You know, it's,
Julian Hoxter 30:28
I mean, there's this horrible word niche, which which applies to like most of where India is gone, right? It's an indie there's like, niche or crossover or specialist. And then, you know, you're in this indie wood frame where you're kind of working in a very different notion of what independence is. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 30:46
Yeah, that's the Sundance $3 million independent film. That's Yeah. With with major stars attached. Well took pay cuts. Yeah, that's not indie to me. It's, and I'm glad that those films are getting made. Because they're, they're telling there's telling stories that might not get made. But when I see them at Sundance, sometimes I'm like, really? Do you? You got an Oscar winner in your movie? Yeah, sure. It cost you a million dollars to make and they, they're working for scale. But you know, where are the where the ED burns? The Spike Lee's that Robert Rodriguez is the Quentin Tarantino's the Kevin Smith's of the world, all that 90s crop of filmmakers, where are they? None of those guys would even make it today. If they were coming out and I and I've spoken to some of them. And they said the same thing. I'm like, would you would brothers MC Mullins show up today? He's like, never just what it wouldn't get the light of day. so much stuff going on in the today's world. So it's a very interesting place we are in history.
Julian Hoxter 31:40
You know, I couldn't agree more. And it's a place that sort of, weirdly, simultaneously, a place of more opportunities and way less opportunities. It's a strange, a strange, you know, scary mixture between the two. I think what I
Alex Ferrari 31:55
think today, though, I think that before the barrier to entry was creation. Now creation is not the barrier to entry. Now its marketing its eyeballs is getting to an audience is getting seen is that's that's the art now were the creation of it used to cost so much. But now, like I made my last two features were made for under 10,000. And I sold them to Hulu and internationally. Because you know, and they got sold. But that's that's the world we live in today. It's about that as well. And I think also for screenwriters, you know, the competition for screenwriters is I think there's more opportunity now for writers than ever in history of Hollywood. So many shows, so many things going on,
Julian Hoxter 32:35
streaming is fascinating is where it's gonna be in five years, I don't know. But right now, it's it's genre breaking, it said, there's a whole lot of really interesting things going on.
Alex Ferrari 32:44
That's where all the independent film makers went. That's all the independent writers went, because they can't go,
Julian Hoxter 32:49
which is one of the reasons why I mean, I'm not an expert on TV, but it's one of the reasons why what's so fascinating to me from the outside, about streaming is that all of these film, people have gone into television. And they're trying to renegotiate what a series is, what an episode is what, what it means to write, you know, sequential narratives, and the the breadth, the variety that we're getting all that works, of course, but you know, is is really fascinating. And I think that's something that is changing the model. And there's kind of a battle going on, it seems to me between, you know, those shows that are invested in the idea of the episode and the episode is actually a good thing. The episode is something that you want to, to kind of cherish you know, for its own purposes, and those who basically want to kill the episode dead and chop their long movie into, you know, random 30 minute 60 minute chapters, you know, and so, so that the war for sequential narratives is ongoing and I'm very interested to see where it ends up
Alex Ferrari 33:51
there basically is like, I want all the Harry Potter movie all the Harry Potter books out now as opposed to waiting little by little year after year waiting for them to all come out is like I want the whole story right now or I'm gonna value the episodes. And there's there's Netflix's and there's the hulu's of the world. Like I'm waiting for Handmaid's Tale and every week I'm like, right away. It is horrible. You know, I'm so used to just like bingeing everything. But it's a it's an interesting place we are without question. Now in your book, you also talk about mechanics, and some of the mechanics the screenwriters need to learn what are some of those mechanics?
Julian Hoxter 34:30
Well, I think there are many, but for me, one of the keys is format. And I think one of the things that certainly my experience of my students, one of the things that they often leave behind or feel a little bit frightened or is actually being creative with format, and realizing that format on the page is something that isn't simply a chore isn't simply a lesson to be learned, you know, slugline and the Scripture and character and dialogue. But once you get beyond that, it's something that you can be very literal. Memory with that you can be very stylistic that you own and that you can use as, you know, a creative tool. And I think that's something that often students take more time to come to terms with. Because, of course, you know, if you haven't written a screenplay before, and you're trying to think about story and character development, all the good things that you have to do structure falls down the, you know, the, the gap sometimes. So one of the things that I try and do in the book a little bit, but also, you know, my classes is really to show examples of format and different genres and different kind of styles, and get them excited by how to use that creatively, as opposed to just being, you know, the, the shorter learn, and then you do the basics, and then you move forward. And that's just one example.
Alex Ferrari 35:52
Now, can you talk us a little bit about the sea of white, that most producers, the sea of light, on the on the page, they want to see as much white space as possible, and that descriptions are not novels. And they have to make those concise?
Julian Hoxter 36:08
I mean, there are lots of reasons for this one that I've mentioned up front, I'll come back to exactly what you're talking about, is the the idea that, you know, when a producer or certainly a reader is engaging with your script, what is going to turn their blood cold, you know, particularly if your sample in turn, it's got 20 scripts through, you know, is is as walls of text it both in dialogue and in an inscription. But also, you know, the idea is that what you want to try and do is replicate the style of the movie on the will be on screen as much as you can in the way in which you set it up on the page. And sometimes that's about trying to anticipate things like kinesis, you know, movement, dynamism, action. So there are ways you can play fast and loose with with grammar and syntax, and you can carry a sentence over and we, we, your eyes move on moving us through, and we're kind of getting excited and reading fast. And that sometimes is exactly what you want. But anyway, what you want to do, you know, in my opinion, is to think away from, you know, the big descriptive paragraphs and to think more in what I call 40 images. So the sense that you aren't calling shots unless you have to, but what you're doing is implying shots by describing something succinctly, eloquently, and then line of wide, and then describing something else. And it's like, what you're doing is effectively calling the shots through, we're looking at this, we're looking at this, this happens as develops. And I think that's something that, you know, we just take a little bit of time to learn, but their instinct is to kind of you describe what's on screen, and you end up with, you know, the wall of text that we all want to avoid. But the idea of the 14 years, the idea that what you're doing is trying to inspire readers, directors, actors, and give them every opportunity to kind of launch from your disposable pages, you know, and and make them feel invested not only in the story in the abstract, but actually the style that you're implying that it will feel like once it's once it's on the screen, that I think is really important. And it's you know, the joke I was making, not much of a joke, but you know, is that when you have the director talking about their vision on late night talk show, you know, there's a there's the screenwriter, with his or her whiskey shouting on the screen saying that was my line, you know.
Alex Ferrari 38:30
But that's been going on since the beginning of I mean, what who was it was a jack Warner or something like that, that said that, you know, did this movie, this was great if we could just get rid of the writers or so. It's I can't remember the exact quote, but I know, it's one of those things. Now, one of the most difficult things I think to do as a writer is to develop a story out of an idea. How what what advice would you have for that?
Julian Hoxter 38:59
Again, you know, I guess I would backtrack a little bit. And I would say it depends what where the idea comes from? It depends to a certain extent, what what is the spark? Because sometimes the spark is a plot idea or a setting idea. Sometimes it's an image you get, and I wrote a novel I'm working on that just began with an image, an image came to me and I was interested in that image. And I began to ask questions about it and said, Well, why is that person doing what they're doing? What where is this What's going on? Sometimes it's you know, character. Sometimes it's a situation it's something political, with a small or large P. So the idea can come from anywhere. And I think that your first job is to give that idea space and begin to interrogate it and ask it logical questions. And those logical questions are really story by story telling questions. Because as soon as you ask, you know, here, here's my image. Well, okay, that's a character in that image. Who are they? What are they doing there? Why that Why are they feeling what they're feeling? What is the world around them? And so you begin to spider diagram and kind of expand beyond. So that is the kind of the organic development process, right, you begin with some Spark, and then you begin to kind of ask the questions. The other process is, you know, I guess to kind of think, cleverly about genres and hybridity. And, you know, loglines and think about well, okay, if I, if I take this, this kind of horror movie, but I add this kind of element, well, what does that become? And then I begin to expand it out. And I place a character in that world, and I see what goes on. So there, I guess there's top down and bottom up versions of story thinking, but this is really the only the beginning of it, then I think, you've got to decide, well, alright, who's my audience? Who is this for? Is this going to be a relatively conventional movie? Or am I kind of going somewhere way off on my own either, which is entirely fine, just deal with the consequences either way. And the consequences are relatively mainstream is you need now to talk the language of development in your own thinking. Because even if you don't conceive of the world, you made the point about free apps and forex a few minutes ago, and I agree with you completely. But even if that's not how you instinctively think you need to be able to articulate your idea in those terms, because that's how development things. Yeah, you know, and, and so I think it's, you know, another reason why it's a good idea to have some relatively coherent notion of conventional structure to fall back on, is because you're going to have to explain it that way to someone who doesn't have magical insight into your creative brain isn't an idiot, and does understand what they think story is and how it works. And you have to meet them halfway and be able to, to explain it. So this is a very good way of a reason to say no, you don't have to be formulaic, but you have to be able to talk to people who understand story in a certain way. And if you can do that, and if you can make your story work in that kind of frame, somebody will take the idea seriously, in principle, whether they like it or not, is another conversation in, then you begin to get into more. And then you begin to think about genres. And what kind of genre is this. And, you know, George has come with their own histories and joys, and also constraints, you know. And so all of these questions begin to put flesh on the bone on the bones. And I think that unless you're running up against the other, the one thing I would say on this is, unless you're running up against some really hard deadline, give yourself the luxury of time. Because I think, wherever your idea comes from, and however you begin to conceive it in terms of, you know, genre, and our audience and market and all these kind of pragmatic, professional questions, the more time you give it, as long as you'll be active with it, and thinking about it, the more chance there is that you're you'll develop it organically, rather than forcing it to a point comes where, you know, either you got to, you know, shut off the pot, right? I mean, you actually got to do something. But, you know, I think I've always got 234 story ideas that are somewhere in the, in the bubble of my cauldron mind, you know, different layers of levels of cooking, whatever I'm working on. And that's also a really great thing to have as a writer, because it means that, you know, you've got more than one idea, you know, you have things to move on to it, and you feel like you're part of an ongoing process of creative thought, and you aren't just I have this one idea. This is all I know, if it fails, my life is over, you know,
Alex Ferrari 43:28
there was, there was a movie I was watching the other day that which is gonna lead into the question I'm gonna ask you, I was watching a movie The other day, and I absolutely did not care in the least about the main character and what he was going through. And I was watching the movie. And I started to saying, you know what, I'm going to watch this to see where this goes. Because I'm curious on what the writers and the director, and the acting was good and had a nice cast to it. But no one I couldn't grab on to anything that the main character, I didn't care. The only moment at all, which I found interesting that I even remotely cared is when the main character was in some sort of real peril. Like they were going to go to prison because that they were wrongly accused or something like that. But throughout the entire movie, there's no stakes for this character other than emotional stakes that I really didn't care about. It wasn't enough and not enough to like hook on to. So what are some things that you like to see in main characters?
Julian Hoxter 44:26
Well, again, it comes down to this old writing cliche of needs, you know, but they need to need something. And, you know, I think the way I conceived the story is a lot of narratives is that you know, you have story and you have plot and and plot are things we see on screen surface action, and all the rest of it. And plot and story, you know, is this sort of motivational arc, right is why characters do what they do? Beyond the simply pragmatic, you know, someone shoots out in the dark, but I think, you know, understanding needs in relation to story and plot that will be the shorthand and theme. So if you don't have a coherent theme for your character, if they are trying to achieve something, trying to, you know, men some break, get some advantage. Find a woman man, the horse of their dreams. And I meant that in a golden pony kind of way.
Yeah, yes. Yes. That in a in a weird way. Yeah. And, you know, I think I think that's what gives stakes because then what you've done in your first act is you've established that this is a real person who has real flaws wants needs in the world. And you know, they make a decision to go out and trying to achieve that. And that's something that we want to see. That's what the basis of the story is. It doesn't matter how plot driven your story is. I mean, you can think about some movie like 2012 that's the the Mayan history. Yeah, the big the big world crushing it, then
we go to that movie, because you want to we want to see California fall into the sea, right? It's a spectacle. specter. Exactly. But But what holds the movie together is it's a story about, you know, some failing writer who can't keep his family together. So the story of the movie is about the john Cusack character, you know, trying to prove that he's not a deadbeat dad, and he can get into that video. Do we care about that? No. Is that how the movie sold to us? No. But it's coherent. And it's there. And that's the underlying narrative that holds the whole thing together, and allows us to forget about it and enjoy California falling into the sea. So even in very, very plot driven movies, you need that sense of character coherence behind the plotting. Otherwise, it's simply an exercise in stylistics.
Alex Ferrari 46:50
Right, so, so a character like Indiana Jones, who could have who could have been a very one dimensional character, I mean, because and the question asked me, because after Indiana Jones came out, a lot of one dimensional copies of him showed up and other in other films. But the thing that the theme, and that the I don't know if there's a theme, but the need behind Indiana Jones is that he wants to protect archeology, archaeological treasures, and they because they belong in a museum, they belong in a museum, and he fights for that if he was just a treasure hunter, or if he was just a grave draw arriver which so many of his copies were, they fall flat, but because of that one little tweak in the character that there's a real earnest ness about why he's doing what he's doing. That's what drives his character.
Julian Hoxter 47:39
I could not agree more. And this is why you know, what wonderful as some of the Tomb Raider books are books of games are books. You know, that's why they don't work as movies because you don't have that kind of lesson. But the other thing of course, the Indiana Jones has, is a really engaging B store. Right? A really engaged antique stores. Yep, yeah, we see that he's basically an asshole. But, but also he you know, he will sacrifice himself to save Marian, Marian. And of course, not the Marian always the saving, right. I mean, this is one of the joys of the movie is the man you know, so so she can meet him on his own ground which is which is you know, cool all these you know, they they sell are out a little bit here and there
Alex Ferrari 48:24
but basically, and but the whole but the whole the whole list, but let me looking at Raiders, the whole thing has so many different layers, so many different things going on subplots, other storylines, you know, making Indiana Jones who is essentially a superhero of its of his day, his kryptonite of snakes and how hilarious that is, and giving him a weakness like that. Throughout the piece, and all of these things. It's great. And then like looking at Last Crusade, where the thing that brings him, like kind of like weakens him as his father and his relationship with his father join. Yeah, it's so brilliant. Yeah, yes. Please, please continue with your Sean Connery, sir.
Julian Hoxter 49:10
That's all Yeah. Well, I guess what, by the way, when I was growing up, you know, if you're a kid in England in the school in the 70s, you didn't have a bad Michael Caine or you've never bad Sean Connery, you and so on. So,
Alex Ferrari 49:20
obviously, I guess
Julian Hoxter 49:23
we'll always Indiana Jones. Yeah. I mean, and this is also the way in which, you know, its own intertext right, going back, this is how you land a bit or not, is only intertext as you know, an adventure movie, a kind of mash serials, you know, all all the other genres that can come in, you know, is so wonderful because every each one you do allows you to do a different thing allows you to add another element to it. And also, you know, but I think we were talking about you know, style and style of writing and how that you plays, you know on screen one of the things that, of course, makes Indiana Jones also so real is the fact that you don't have digital statistics. Yeah, facts don't you have people who actually getting dragged behind trucks and all the rest, and it may be somewhat less dynamic than, you know, the Avengers movie, which I admire in some way. But, you know, you feel that he's been through hell to get where he's going. So not only is he emotionally had to deal with things, and not only has he has to deal with his integrity, and the fact that you know, Nazis hate those guys. But also, you know, you can feel how he's been beaten up, all the way through the movie, and it feels like, it feels real. But it feels real in a way that most movies made the last 20 years never do.
Alex Ferrari 50:52
Right. And even when that showed up, it was something that really, people were just completely blown away by, because it was just something you've never seen before. One thing that I really love to hear your opinion on is mixing of genres. When you when you collide genres, that's where some really interesting things happen. So, you know, Star Wars, or let's let's deploy, by the way, that's what I have to do. So, so let's, let's combine something very contemporary Mandalorian, which is a spaghetti western, meets a sci fi film. That is, it's not a sci fi film by itself, it's not a spaghetti western by itself. It is a mixed genre. And because of it, it allows for so many different tropes and things that you couldn't do in its own if they was just to separate. There's things that you can't do in a spaghetti western that you can do a Mandalorian. And there's things in the Mandalorian you could do you can't do in a sci fi standards. ffl. Right.
Julian Hoxter 51:48
I mean, you know, thinking about the history of screenwriting, one of the great interventions that the first star was made is the idea of centering the assumptions around the potential hybridity, right? I mean, this is the thing that you know, Star wasn't a samurai movie, Star Wars was Western star was a science fiction, movie and cereal. And so and this is getting to the end compared to what we were talking about with Indiana Jones. So that sense in which hybridity has become increasingly Central, as opposed to occasional King is a really, really important idea and one that you know, if you're, if your pitch if your movie, if your spec has an interesting hybridity to it, it's actually much more likely to get read seriously. And
Alex Ferrari 52:36
a sci fi romance is more interesting than a romance, like, the great movie somewhere in time. When Machina Christopher Reeve you think it came out in like 80. But that was a a back in time romance sci fi film, but it took place in like, Victorian times, if I remember correctly, or the wet at something like that. But it was it was a romance sci fi, I mean, Back to the Future. Right. I love Ladyhawke.
Julian Hoxter 53:09
Oh, of course. Right. You know? Well, so Exactly. And I couldn't agree with you more, I think. But I think this is one of the great things about the current generation of potential writers is that they think I bring it in almost instinctively. Now. Because I grew up I have so much it's almost one of the things I don't have to teach in my classes on all the teaching Exactly. But you know, because my, my students are coming from video games, and they come from comic books, and they're coming from, you know, everything that's going on in YouTube in the media and tik tok, and who knows what stuff that I I wouldn't know, because I'm too old. You know, and I think that they're already doing half of that thinking. And that's very encouraging. But yes, I mean, I think that this is right. One way of thinking about it, though, is what is your lead genre? And what what is the hybrid your and how are they colliding. So an example of that I would take would be the first alien alien, which you know, opens as a science fiction, we're a science fiction, but we were on a spaceship, people are waking up, they're figuring out what the hell's going on. And then it becomes obviously an old dark house film, that becomes, you know, here's monster chasing us through the house, and the horror comes into it. But the lead is science fiction. And that I think, is important to understand, you know, what the, the hierarchy and the most important part of of alien is the horror is the the nature of the alien being and its stages and its abilities. But, you know, it's sold as a science fiction movie in which these other things happen. So thinking about what what genre leads and what genres, you know, infested, but also thinking also not just about hybridity, in terms of mixing two or more genres, upfront, but also the idea of mode. And the idea that there are times in a movie where another kind of genre can bleed in infested and then can go out again. So if you think of a movie like Silence of the Lambs, right, which is a procedural, right? And, but there are moments when it absolutely invests itself in horror, but those moments come and go. So, you know, for example, when lecture spoilers when Lecter escapes, and we think that he's injured some cop very badly, and they're in the back of the ambulance, and he sits up and takes off, so great, not only a CUDA, CUDA cinema, great moment, but also that's like, that's modal, right? That's the moment where another drone goes up, and then back down again, as opposed to being the constant. Right? You know,
Alex Ferrari 55:41
like alien, like, alien would be like, yeah, yeah. And then and then, of course, Cameron took aliens to another level where it took whore action, sci fi and war, right. And he jammed those all together. And I think Cameron specifically who, oddly enough camera doesn't get the credit that he deserves as a writer, because he's so well known as a director being one of the most prolific, you know, and, you know, most popular directors of all time, but his genres, the way he combines genre, and all it Titanic, True Lies. I mean, from the beginning from Terminator, he's combining genres and themes. That you know, the is is pretty remarkable, like in Terminator, I mean, I mean, there's a few things going on in Terminator between science fiction, action, the almost like the Immaculate Conception, idea, you know, like, he's got a lot of stuff going on. But he's been doing that throughout his career in almost every movie. And I, when I talked to when I talked to some, some very popular screenwriters, Cameron is one that always pops up when I talked to them. They go, yeah, just James man. Jim knows how to do this, or Jim does that. And like avatar, I mean, I just love to talk to you real quickly about avatar, because he gets so much crap. A lot of a lot of other writers. They're like, Oh, it's so visceral. So that, but yet, yet, he was able to combine, you know, it's basically Dances with Wolves, beats ferngully, and jammed in those two ideas, and then jammed in a bunch of other things as well. But the way he presented the story, it touched a chord in humanity, because it's still the biggest movie of all time. 12 years, however, long later, it's still holding strong in the era of Avengers, which it did beat of avatar for a minute, but that avatar got re released, and it took over again, you know, but it's, it's remarkable with Cameron and Avatar, like, What? How would you analyze that? Because it is it's, you know, it's I can't say it's paint by numbers, because it's not, it's it's this it deceives it's, you are deceived by its simplicity, but yet the complexity behind it? Well, I
Julian Hoxter 57:59
think, I guess where I come in, is, I think it's two thirds of a genius movie. And then the last one. In other words, it feels like all of the things that invested me and engaged me that cleverness growth, you know, I mean, again, as you say, it's not it's not most complex film well, but, but the cleverness Of The Avatar system, and other building relationships and all this kind of stuff, which, you know, half of me is going Yes, yes, yes, I get, I get where this is coming from and how this is working, but it works. And but, you know, that setup I found genuinely engaging and interesting, I like the world and IV and all this. But, but then it kind of defaults to an action movie. Yeah, then, you know, there are, you know, the humans has fallen to cliche, and it's so obvious that I have to hate them. And, you know, almost, I kind of lose interest. It's well done. I mean, it's amazingly, you know, as a piece of spectacle, it's very effective. You know, the flying around those those hobbit ships and more wrestling. But, but I kind of lose interest because it What happened, the hybridity, kind of the balance of the genres went away from me. And I began to feel that I that I was less interested towards the end.
Alex Ferrari 59:14
But when you see you see a film like avatar, or, you know, or like any of you go back to aliens. It's not a complex story. The stories are not like mine, Turner's they're not like a Nolan film, but they're executed to almost perfection. It's kind of like making a chocolate chip cookie. The recipe is not complex, most people could do it, but when you execute it perfectly, it's the best chocolate chip cookie ever.
Julian Hoxter 59:43
Right. And it's also a film that back in if you think back 20 years ago, it's a film that actually use 3d creatively and Well, no, no. So this is not in one sense. This has nothing to do with storytelling and I was in has everything to do with storytelling, you know, right. That you know, that there have been these You know, more recent experiments and with 3d and they were okay and whatever. And then I remember sitting in the cinema and watching avatar in 3d Oh, oh, okay, this is different. This is this is this is this is not like these other things
Alex Ferrari 1:00:14
was that when Hugo when when Scorsese to Hugo, he used 3d. Yeah, purposefully and with design and style and it's not just converted. It was designed that way and I saw I only saw avatar in the theater in 3d. Like I've never seen it in the theater without the 3d aspect. And it's arguably when the only movie I enjoyed in 3d, honestly.
Julian Hoxter 1:00:36
Well, exactly. This is what I'm saying that that I'm all for 3d when it actually becomes, you know, even radically part of the aesthetic. And I think people did it in avatar. You know what? Well, it simply becomes excuse to charge me 10 bucks more for my seat I'm not interested in.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:52
And I think the new avatars are going to be honestly the thing that brings people back to the theaters. It's going to be expected next time, next, next summer or next winter, I think it comes out 2022 it comes out. But then they're coming out every two years after that, where every year after that, because he's got all four of them in a row. But But I think that would be the film that brings people because I don't want to see that at home. Like there's certain films I don't want to see at home, I want to get that spectacle. Well, this,
Julian Hoxter 1:01:20
this brings us I couldn't agree with you more again. But this brings us back to the big unknown right now. What is the future of cinema as an institution as an opportunity to sell me popcorn? And I think obviously, the 3d was seen as being, you know, a life extender? And is it still you know, where are we going to be? I don't have an answer to that. Where are we going to be in 246 10 years time? Or are we going to have a few cinemas to show us specialist movies? Or are we really going to have a healthy exhibition sector? You know, I wonder?
Alex Ferrari 1:01:56
I think I personally my opinion is that it's going to go the way of Broadway. I mean, plays War The only thing for a while, but now, plays are expensive things that you go to in their spectacle in their high productions and things like that. And I think 30 or 40 years, seeing an independent film at a cinema, you know, or seeing a comedy or seeing, you know, is is going to be rare and rare and rare. Because it's just the way it is, but but I don't think it will die. I just think it will. It's gonna be spectacle. And there might be arthouse things like like there's like there's Off Broadway, or there's like, you know, plays somewhere else. There always be some form of it just like plays are still there's no reason to go see a play. But people do see it because it's enjoyable. It's a different form of art. Right? I mean, I
Julian Hoxter 1:02:41
guess I guess he I mean, my instinct, I think I think I'm I largely agree with what you said. On the other side of it is the question is, where does that where does that social interaction go? Where? Where do kids go on dates? Where does it where what becomes the replacement for cinema as a social activity?
Alex Ferrari 1:02:56
is a very, it's a Ready Player One. Is that what it is? No, but like is that you? And I can't conceive of it because we didn't grow up with it. But my daughters are coming up and they're playing Roblox or, or, you know, or World of Warcraft or things like that. Where Warcraft? Yeah, you're in the digital space. And then that gets into a whole conversation. It was like, why people buying NF T's? And why are people you know, it's it's a different mindset completely than what we're used to in the analog world.
Julian Hoxter 1:03:28
No, you're right. I mean, I mean, absolutely. And, you know, I'm, I'm in well, Walker, I'm in the guild and ready to do these things. So obviously, that social space is something I'm familiar with. And yet, you know, I think, I think the that sense of, of the virtual versus the real, you know, where where do a gender and gender be or both genders the same? You end up where they can where they can be 14 and touch each other and make out in the back row.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:54
I agree. I don't know where that's gonna be. It might be movies still. But it might be. It might be it might be something else. Oh, I
Julian Hoxter 1:04:02
mean, that's the interesting question. Right. So I guess all I'm saying is that's my that's my big unknown as far as the future of the future exhibition. I don't know.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:11
Yeah. Yeah. So let me ask you, what are three screenplays every screenwriter should read? Ah,
Julian Hoxter 1:04:20
this is one of the questions that if you said if you sent me this one before, I might have had a really interesting question. Um, okay. Let me try and find a quick answer. flicks in Sundance
Alex Ferrari 1:04:35
comes up often. Coleman Of course. Yeah.
Julian Hoxter 1:04:41
And the thing by Bergman I was in translation, but just anything by Bergman, Alex Cox's Repo Man,
Alex Ferrari 1:04:49
Repo Man, oh, under a certain definition of my favorite film, that's my favorite film. Oh man is one of those that deals with hybridity rapidly. Oh gee. uses does it? I mean, that's, I mean, look at they live. Oh, oh, god that just the fight scene alone is worth the price of admission. Well, you wouldn't back right? Yeah. Oh, rowdy right, s&p, sir. Now what? What advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to break into the business today?
Julian Hoxter 1:05:21
Again, great question, tricky one, I think it well. Part One, it depends on what you mean by business. If you mean Hollywood, if you mean big, big budget movies, then you know, it's about having enough experience that you can, you can really write a screenplay, you haven't just managed to struggle through one you've got, you've written 234, you actually have that set of skills as a writer and you're flexible. Second is that you are an entrepreneur, you need to be an entrepreneur, you need to be able to talk to people, you need to be the cliche, good in a room, you need to be someone who has the guts, and the you know, the arrogance without being a dick. Ideally, to be able just to go and talk to someone, you have to be able to make connections, you have to be able to, to build relationships, because it's still a relationship driven business. Which kind of means that you can be a writer, you can be successful and not live in LA. But to be to start as a writer. Yes, I think that's trickier not to be in LA.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:25
I'm from Southern Indiana know, from someone who lived outside of LA for a long time, and I've been here for 13 years now. I get that I understand it. Is it possible to do it outside of La? Yes, no question. There's other places that have a lot of production in the United States. And if you're outside of the United States, you know, London and other other places within each country has but but la does something as its as of this recording, because there's an exodus right now, as of this record, there's an exodus out of California, that you learn here at a quicker pace, because you're working with people at a higher level than you would outside this market. And it's not because they're better or worse, it's just because they just do it so often, that you just get that experience much faster. Like I learned more in the first year, I was here that in five years of living in Florida doing the business, it's just, it's just that kind of thing. And the connections are here, the connections or hear you,
Julian Hoxter 1:07:26
and even if even if you take the route of you know, starting as a PA and wherever else, and just and just getting the experience of being on sets and meeting people, you know, you're gonna meet people, you're going to meet producers, you're going to meet people who are at a level that when they want to help you, they can help you. Oh, by the way, the worst thing, of course, you can do is turn up the first day I was on a on a shoot and talk to the producer and handling the screenplay.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:46
But don't, don't
Julian Hoxter 1:07:48
don't. But you know, we have a relationship. And then the point will come where they will say what have you got?
Alex Ferrari 1:07:56
That's the only the way I always tell young filmmakers and writers about making connections and stuff is, and I'm sure you have this experience as well, we can smell desperation coming from a mile away. It is a very bad scent. And you can smell it. If you're a professional. I've been in this business for a while. So when somebody just wants to meet from you, I need from you, I need from you, I need you, I need this and you need to do something for me that energy, you can smell it in a heartbeat. Whereas the opposite is where you go, how can I be of service to you? How can I help you? And it could be something super simple, could be more complex, and you start building relationships that way, because that's how friendships are built.
Julian Hoxter 1:08:35
Exactly. I mean, listen, I mean, I think again, I think you've hit the nail on the head. And what I would say is that the to some people who listen to this, that might sound like he's being cynical, he's not being cynical. Because, you know, it's about building a human relationship, which is based on trust and respect. And that, you know, frankly, if you meet somebody higher up in the industry, there's nothing they really want from you.
Alex Ferrari 1:09:00
What do you have to offer Steven Spielberg? Right, other than your willingness to be human helpful? And yeah, I mean, I've been of service and I promise you, that is very valuable. Because at when you meet people at that level, when you can connect with them at a human level authentically, that is rare in their world, because everybody's always trying to imagine being Steven Spielberg. Imagine walking into the last 30 years to every room, you walk into every eyeballs on you because you know you're you're kingmaker, you can literally just go you, you now shall direct you You shall write and with one touch of his hand, it's your your your The door opens Can you stay there is up to you. But the door opens opportunities open. And I've and I've had the pleasure of speaking to people who've, and by the way, Spielberg has touched so many careers, so many careers. It's he's one of the most giving people in this business. But can you imagine being him walking around with that
Julian Hoxter 1:09:59
I won't Exactly. But I mean, it's like this, that everyone in Hollywood or the industry knows that every relationship is, in some sense, contingent is some, in some sense in some way. So, you know, given that you need to try as hard as you can to be as human as possible, you know, so that that's not what you're thinking about when you're engaging with someone. Well, that's all they're thinking about. Right? And if you know if people like you, and they want to help you, they'll help you.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:28
Yeah, and also Time, time, right? I'm sorry, yeah. And it takes time. And it's not gonna happen in six months. I've had, I had relationships with people for three or four years, before I even asked them for anything, or before they even offered anything, because I learned that along the way, whereas when I was younger, I would walk on the set script, or the idea. I'm like, Hey, can I have your card? I got this thing. It's going to be worth me. I.
Julian Hoxter 1:10:54
Of course, you did. Because it's the law. Right. And I say this, you know, when you're young, and you're an asshole, you don't know. I mean, it's just, you know, I mean, with all due respect, but yeah, sure. Yeah. I mean, this is exactly the exactly the thing.
Alex Ferrari 1:11:07
Yeah, without question.
Julian Hoxter 1:11:09
I'm just saying, This is definitely something I'm going to show all my all my students because what you said there is, is so important.
Alex Ferrari 1:11:17
Yeah. And I and it's, I appreciate that because I I talked to filmmakers and screenwriters on a daily basis. And I talked to the most experienced and I've talked to the most that, you know, naive and delusional it of our species, and, and it's there's nothing worse than a delusional filmmaker who thinks that they're, I always go like, I always pretend to be this delusional filmmaker. And I'll say, when Why hasn't Hollywood knocked on my door? Why haven't they recognized my genius? I don't they understand that I am the next Tarantino or the next Nolan or the next Fincher, don't they get it that why haven't they just seen my short film and just automatically just given me a check? Why hasn't Sundance allowed me into their their little festival when they should be recognizing my talent? These are? These are serious conversations I've had with filmmakers who are and screenwriters to, who are they just think because they wrote something that they're owed someone to read it? That's not the way the game works, guys at all. And I'm sure you deal with it on a daily basis. I have nothing to add to that. That is that is. that's it in a nutshell. No, I mean that. Yes. And finally, last question, three of your favorite films of all time, I know Repo Man is on the top of that list. Now the Wicker Man original, the original. You mean the Nicolas Cage? Obviously the genius Nicolas Cage. The bees the bees? No, no, not No. The boy. originalism work of Jesus. Okay, we mentioned bourbon diversion spring. Okay. Great, great choices. And can we all agree that Nicolas Cage is a national treasure and should be it should be treated as such? I'm sure before Mount Rushmore or wherever, where, wow. But what I'm dying to have. I'm dying to have him on my show one day, or at least just get to speak to him one day, right? Because he is. I just love him and everything. with you. I think he's terrific. He's awesome. And you know what I love about him. And this now we're going on the side on a side side thing here. But what I love about guys like Nick, it like I know him, Mr. cage, is that they take swings at the bat. Where they get on Bay, the when they get up to the to the bottom of the batter's box, they take big monstrous swings. And you need artists to take swings like Nolan Nolan takes massive swings when he shows up to bat, you know, there's the safe bunkers and the first base hits and but then there's these guys that just show up and if a swing and they strike out, they take the hits, you know, and that's the kind of artists
Julian Hoxter 1:13:55
which is why you keep them on the roster, because you know that next time they're gonna
Alex Ferrari 1:13:59
they're the they're the big giant guys that just like they catch one. I'm trying to make a segue to cricket here, but I just done it. This is I don't know, what is it? Exactly. Yeah, it's best I can with baseball. I've had a few. I've had a few Brits who just like, I'm with you. If it was soccer, excuse me football. It would be. It'd be one thing it'd be cricket. But you get the idea. I totally get the idea. Julian has been an absolute pleasure talking to you. I know. We could probably talk for another hour. Where can people find out more about you can look up your books? Well,
Julian Hoxter 1:14:33
they exist on Amazon. I don't have a functional website right now. But hopefully that will emerge soon. But I'm on faculty at San Francisco State University in the School of cinema. And that's where I do my teaching. And you can find out
Alex Ferrari 1:14:47
more about it. I'll put links to all of that in the show notes. Julian, thank you so much for for sharing your knowledge bombs with the tribe today, sir.
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