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Not-So-Famous Writers Of Famous Movie Scripts

Not-So-Famous Writers Of Famous Movie Scripts

By a new guest author…

Katie Porter is an aspiring writer, movie lover, and part of the team at Seatup.
The screenwriter is the often overlooked creator of the world we experience when we take our seat in the movie theater; ready to be dragged into the adventure, intrigue, comedy, and tragedy. The anonymity of the screenwriter is part of the attraction for many – living in the spotlight, under the scrutiny of the swarming Twitterati and critics isn’t that appealing to everyone.

There are lots of incredibly famous screenwriters whose work goes beyond the typewriter to other, more glamorous and more famous roles – Quentin Tarantino, Billy Wilder, Woody Allen, the Coen Bros, Francis Ford Coppola.

But there are just as many guys and gals who create the expansive world of our favorite movies – sending us to the extremities of the universe or the stories of friendships and achievements – who are just getting on with their normal lives: putting out their trash, cleaning their windows, and simply enjoying the luxury of being anonymous.

So buckle up, for this is quite an unexpected ride – our list of not-so-famous writers of movies that had big impacts at the box office.

Melissa Mathison

Melissa Mathison wrote the screenplay for one of the all-time favorite family movies – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), in which she also played Elliot’s school nurse. She also wrote the screenplays for The BFG, and The Twilight Zone: The Movie, but lived a relatively anonymous life, out of the spotlight – despite being married to Harrison Ford. Unfortunately, she died at the age of 65 in 2015, but her stories continue to spread joy across the homes of millions of families all around the world.

Ted Tally

Ted Tally is responsible for the screenplay adaptation of one of the most notorious thrillers of the 1990s – The Silence of the Lambs (1991), rated number 23 in the IMDB Top 100. Based on the novel by the more widely known, Thomas Harris, Tally managed to extract every possible tension, bringing this classic monster movie to a climactic forte on the screen.

The real skill of the screenwriter is to give us enough to maintain our interest and hold off the climax until we can’t bear it – and The Silence of the Lambs is a perfect example of a man in control of the page. Ted Tally is also known for All The Pretty Horses (2000), Mission to Mars (2000), and Red Dragon (2002). After a sixteen year hiatus, he’s back with 12 Strong (2018).

Robert Rodat

Robert Rodat wrote the screenplay for Saving Private Ryan (1998) – currently rated number 28 in the IMDB Top 100. Very much the action writer, he’s also created the screenplays for Thor: The Dark World (2013) and The Patriot (2000). Away from the typewriter, Rodat has been the Executive Producer and writer responsible for the TV series, Falling Skies (2011-2015).

Michael Blake

Michael Blake’s finest movie hour was Dances With Wolves (1990). The screenplay was based on his own novel, and the movie is currently ranked at the number 59 spot in the IMDB Top 100. However, his movie zenith fizzled out almost as quickly as it began – but when one movie wins 7 Oscars, including Best Writing (Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium), and 36 other recognized industry awards, I guess it’s fine to pull out at the top.

Calder Willingham

Calder Willingham was one of two writers responsible for the screenplay to the Hoffman / Bancroft classic, The Graduate (1967). His other screenwriting exploits didn’t really shake the world; unlike his writing partner for the movie, Buck Henry. Henry went on to pen the screenplays for Catch-22 (1970), Grumpy Old Men (1993), and Get Smart (2008).

Larry McMurtry

Larry McMurtry is probably better known as a TV writer, having created many TV movies, and mini-series – none of which are particularly notable. However, he wrote the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain (2005) and the novel, Terms Of Endearment – which was brought to the screen in 1983, starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, and Jack Nicholson, and won 5 Oscars.

David Franzoni

David Franzoni wrote the screenplay for Gladiator (2000). His writing credits since have been few and far between, with a single screenplay for the rather mediocre King Arthur (2004). However, his mantelpiece is adorned with an Oscar for Best Picture, and a nomination for Best Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen), so you could say that he quit while he was ahead. More recently Franzoni has been the Executive Producer for Black and White Stripes: The Juventus Story (2016) – a documentary series.

Nearly all of these writers have been crowned with the glories that all writers strive for, but are happy to remain in the background. And sometimes, that’s for the best, isn’t it?

Being a screenplay writer might not necessarily get you a table in a restaurant, or spotted in the street, but who needs that anyway? For some, the satisfaction of having their work brought to life on the screen is all the recognition they need – as they can drift back into their blissfully anonymous lives.

Katie Porter is an aspiring writer, movie lover, and part of the team at Seatup. In her free time, she enjoys exploring her home state Colorado and plays in women’s amateur rugby league.



By guest author Calix Lewis Reneau, writer/director of and producer and creative of features, television, print, music, and new media.

“You’ve probably heard the writing advice to “murder your darlings.” This means to be ruthless in deleting clever writing that doesn’t serve the greater purpose of your work. I’ve learned that a writer must take this a step further. To get the best story on the page, we must be willing to kill the story in our minds.

If you’ve ever tried to explain a dream you’ve had after waking up, then you can understand this. In your dream everything was vivid, real, logical, connected – a complete story. But as it immediately fades, even the simplest narrative detail slips from your grasp. Worse, when you can remember the precise details, they sound pedestrian and disconnected in the telling.

The same is true of the story you have in your head which you’re so passionate to tell. For reasons too complex to relate in a short article, we humans don’t think in a simplistic, connected, linear fashion. On simple fact can help reveal to that complexity: there are more than one hundred trillion synapses (neural connections) in your brain, at a minimum. That’s a thousand times more than the number of stars in our galaxy. And your connections in your brain are unique in all of history to you alone. What you think, what you see, what you feel, what you dream – your story – has never been before, and will never be again.

The story you want to tell is meaningful to you for the same reasons you are so invested in your dream when you’re having it at night. It’s immediate. It’s real. It’s consists of more than what can be put in words on a page, or images on a screen. The story is made up of your unique emotional connection to the material which drives you. It finds meaning in your personal history. It finds context in your life and worldview.

In short, the story in your mind is your story alone. It can never be anything more than that.

As writers, we’re compelled to share that story, impossible though it might be to do so. That’s where the skill, the talent, the hard work come in. The job of the writer is not to tell the story in our heads. It’s to translate the unique inner experience into a tangible form which will hopefully lead others to a similar journey. To laugh, to cry, to learn, to grow, or just to be entertained.

This translation requires that we understand the connective elements that we share. Functional communication requires two parties: someone to say something, and someone to hear it. You have something you want to say, need to say. As a writer, the fundamental task at hand is to say it in a way which will clearly give your intended audience what you want them to have. It’s no use to complain that others can’t enjoy the dream you had last night in the same fashion as you did. The hard work that sets successful writers apart from all others is the learned ability based on innate talent to take that powerful inner experience and craft something that leads others to their own unique powerful inner experience that is reflective, that is connected through our common humanity.

To do this, we must be ruthless in “murdering our darlings” at the most fundamental level. This means recognizing from the start that the story in our heads can’t ever function as the story we want to tell. But that’s okay, because once we accept that, the story in our heads can become the powerful inspirational genesis for the stories we put out into the greater culture using our skill and talents of translation as writers. Your focus, passion, ability, and self-discipline is the refiner’s fire which will burn away the dross of self so you can change the world with the stories you have to tell.”

Calix is a full-time creative working in features, television, print, music, and new media. He has written professionally for just about every type of media imaginable, including a stint as a top-selling greeting card writer. These days he spends most of his time juggling projects at his own production company which are in various states of entropy, from nascent ponders to completed features winding their way through post production and into distribution. His job title at Calix8 Productions – “iconoclast gadfly” – pretty much explains his approach to work, life, and the mysteries of the universe.

You can learn more about Calix at his poorly-maintained personal website – – and see the trailer to his most-recent completed feature film (as writer/director) at

FIRST LOOK: Molly’s Game Review (2017)

FIRST LOOK: Molly’s Game Review (2017)

FIRST LOOK: Molly’s Game Review (2017)

View the Molly’s Game film trailer from the  FRESH Movie Trailers YouTube channel here.

Article by guest author Jonathan Wiggins.

Prolific writer Aaron Sorkin has built his career on finding intensely creative ways to explore the fascinating and complicated stories of real-life contemporary figures. He’s done this with The Social NetworkCharlie Wilson’s War, and Steve Jobs. But this year, Sorkin has taken on his first female heroine in Molly’s Game, which explores the life and times of the phenomenally savvy woman who went from competing as a skier for the US National Team to running an exclusive high stakes illegal poker den for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by the FBI.

Sorkin’s overdue directorial debut is an electrifying adaptation of the titular Molly Bloom’s 2013 memoir of the same name, starring an equally exhilarating Jessica Chastain as Bloom and a compelling Idris Elba as her lawyer. The film has already won a handful of awards in the international circuit ahead of its mainstream premiere on Christmas Day, and is expected to fascinate and intrigue audiences for years to come.

A thrilling hand

The film revolves around the titular Molly Bloom, who suffers a career-stopping accident at a national skiing contest at the beginning of the film. The Hollywood Reporter explains that this life-derailing incident sends her down a drastically different path – which starts with law school ambitions and ultimately ends in pleading guilty to running a high-end illegal gambling ring.

Overloaded with lines and monologues of razor sharp wit (a testament, of course, to Sorkin’s love of the written word), Molly’s Game shows Bloom teaching herself about poker and the vices of rich men, first as an assistant to an arrogant real estate agent and gambling host Dean (Jeremy Strong), and later on by herself, after having cut Dean loose. She saunters through her exclusive gambling den full of the biggest names in Hollywood, riveting and unimpressed, before moving on to higher stakes and clients in New York.

Over there, the buy-in is at $250,000, and the games are twice a day, six days a week. On top of Hollywood A-Listers, her clients included rich Russians and mobsters from the criminal underworld, and as her fortune increased, so did the attentions of the authorities. An illegal gambling den as grand and as lucrative as hers couldn’t be kept a secret for long, Bloom business implodes and she is forced to face the legal consequences of her actions. The storytelling is fast-paced and tight, never failing to entertain, even at two hours long.

Poker onscreen

As Sorkin’s first-time directorial effort, Molly’s Game is well executed, thrilling, and visually intense. Fluid camera movement, clever cuts, and excellent visualization worked to add nail-biting excitement to what many consider an un-filmable sport, arguably putting Molly’s Game a step ahead of the likes of Rounders (1998) and The Cincinnati Kid (1965), which have been listed by PartyPoker as some of the greatest gambling films of all time. In fact, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich has gone on to suggest that Molly’s Game is “the first great poker movie,” commending Sorkin’s direction, which he finds is much like his writing – crisp, fast, and just a tiny bit too blunt. Chastain’s cool, cynical voiceover makes the film great as a poker procedural. However, it is Bloom’s understanding of her clients, as well as the ebb and flow of the game itself, that makes the film luxuriously entertaining, regardless of whether or not you are a poker fan.

Chastain powers her way through rapid-fire dialogue and monologues, and is a force majeure in a world full of men. She bulldozes through the role with a confidence and energy that is intoxicating to watch. The real-life Molly Bloom told the BBC that she loved Chastain’s extraordinary performance, making the entire experience of watching the film a cathartic and emotional one for Bloom.

Filmmaking, like poker, is a game that all boils down to stakes. In Molly’s Game, Sorkin is finally cashing in his chips, and we’re all excited to see his next thrilling hand.


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