With our upcoming ScreenCraft Summit now open for registration, we did a deep dive on some of our most notable past ScreenCraft Summit Speakers and found some of the best tips they had to offer. From Spike Jonze and J.J. Abrams to Sofia Coppola and Emily V. Gordon, here are some motivational reminders to keep connected to your craft. Make sure to check out this year’s ScreenCraft Summit for a live event where you can get insight from industry experts and connect with other writers who have the same passion as you.

5 Lessons You Can Learn From Past ScreenCraft Summit Speakers

5 Lessons You Can Learn From Past ScreenCraft Summit Speakers

Her (2013)

Write because you HAVE to. | Spike Jonze

“I write for the same reason that I make anything. It’s like I have a feeling inside me. And it could be like a story, an idea, kind of almost a dream in the same way a dream is impossible to explain. You have to write it, you have to make it into a movie, you have to make a photograph. You have to like try to get this feeling out in a way that communicates the feeling to someone else, because it’s that satisfaction of writing a paragraph that has the feeling of like every word, as you said, every sentence has a flow that that it’s bigger than just the idea.” – Spike Jonze

Spike Jonze’s tip highlights a fundamental aspect of screenwriting: the desire to express oneself. As a screenwriter, it is essential to write with a clear intention of what you want to communicate to your audience. Writing from a place of authenticity and emotional connection can help you create characters and stories that resonate with your viewers.

When you feel the need to express yourself, it is often because you have something to say or a story to tell that comes from a deep place within you. Therefore, it’s crucial to trust your instincts and write what feels true to you. By doing so, you can create compelling stories that have the power to move, entertain and inspire your audience.

So, don’t hold back, let your emotions guide you and write with your heart on your sleeve. 

Read More: 5 Trademarks of Spike Jonze’s Films, TV Series, & Music Videos

5 Lessons You Can Learn From Past ScreenCraft Summit Speakers

Marie Antoinette (2006)

Trust your instincts. | Sofia Coppola

“The best advice I can give is really to trust your instinct of what you want to see. Make something that you want to see and feel – and feel like it’s not out there.” – Sofia Coppola

Sofia Coppola’s tip highlights the importance of trusting your instincts as a screenwriter. It’s easy to get bogged down in doubts and second-guessing when writing a screenplay, but it’s crucial to remember that your instincts are what brought you to this point in the first place.

When you’re working on a script, it’s important to listen to that inner voice that tells you what feels right and what doesn’t. This means trusting your creative impulses, even when they seem unconventional or risky. It also means having the courage to take risks and try new things, even if it means going against the traditional rules of screenwriting. By trusting your instincts, you can create a unique and original screenplay that speaks to your individual voice as a writer.

So, the next time you find yourself second-guessing your creative choices, remember to trust your instincts and have faith in your ability to tell a great story.

Read More: 5 Trademarks of Sofia Coppola’s Films

5 Lessons You Can Learn From Past ScreenCraft Summit Speakers

The Office (2005–2013)

Be ruthless with your material. | Michael Schur

“Be ruthless with your own material.” – Michael Schur

Michael Schur’s advice to be ruthless with your material is a critical aspect of successful screenwriting. It’s easy to become attached to particular scenes, characters, or dialogue that may not serve the story’s greater purpose. Being ruthless means identifying those parts of the script that aren’t working and being willing to cut them, no matter how much you like them.

This may mean sacrificing some of your favorite lines or scenes to make the story stronger overall. It also means being willing to go back to the drawing board if something isn’t working and trying different approaches until you find the right fit. As a screenwriter, it’s crucial to remain open to constructive criticism and be willing to rework your script as many times as necessary to make it the best it can be.

Ultimately, being ruthless with your material means putting the story first and being willing to make tough decisions to ensure its success.

Read More: 5 Trademarks of Michael Schur’s Hilarious TV Sitcoms

The Big Sick (2017)

The Big Sick (2017)

Think about the audience’s emotions first. | Emily V. Gordon

“I write because I want to feel. I want to make other people feel. And I want to make other people feel less alone. And I want to make them laugh. I don’t want to make them cry. I want to make them feel.” – Emily V. Gordon

Emily V. Gordon’s advice to think about the audience’s emotions first is a valuable insight for screenwriters. It’s easy to become overly focused on the technical aspects of writing, such as structure, dialogue, and character development, but ultimately, the goal of screenwriting is to create an emotional connection with the audience. By prioritizing the audience’s emotions, you can ensure that your story resonates with viewers and evokes the intended response. This means considering the audience’s emotional journey throughout the story and how each scene contributes to that journey. It also means being mindful of the emotions you want to elicit, whether it’s laughter, tears, fear, or excitement and using storytelling techniques to achieve those emotions. By focusing on the audience’s emotions, you can create a screenplay that not only entertains but also moves and inspires viewers, leaving a lasting impression long after the credits roll.

Read More: 7 Ways to Prepare for the ScreenCraft Writers Summit

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)

Focus on the process. Not the outcome. | J.J. Abrams

“I think the more delicious the stuff is, and the more exciting it is, when you finally sit down to do the work because you feel like you’ve got the world’s greatest secret that only you know this and you don’t feel like you’ve sort of done the work with someone else. I’m not saying if you have a problem, don’t talk to someone you trust and try to work it out. But for the most part, I find you know, focusing on the work and keeping your mouth shut is very helpful.” – JJ Abrams

J.J. Abrams’ advice to focus on the process, not the outcome, is an essential perspective for screenwriters. It’s easy to get caught up in the desire for success, recognition, and box office revenue, but ultimately, the only thing that a writer can control is the process of creating a script. Focusing on the process means being present in each moment of writing, from the initial idea to the final draft, and doing the best work possible in each step of the way.

This means setting aside expectations and allowing yourself to experiment, make mistakes, and take risks. By focusing on the process, you can enjoy the journey of writing, rather than being overwhelmed by the pressure of the end result. It also means being open to feedback, being willing to revise and rework, and never giving up on the project until you are satisfied with the final outcome.

By adopting a process-oriented approach to screenwriting, you can improve your skills, grow as a writer, and ultimately produce your best work.

Read More: 10 Takeaways From the 2022 Screencraft Summit


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Author: Kole Lyndon Lee