The Oscar-Nominated Screenwriters generate buzz as they talk about their difficulties and triumphs while writing this year’s films.

Jeff Goldsmith and The Los Angeles Film School hosted our 9th Annual Oscar-Nominated Screenwriters Panel, featuring eleven of this year’s Oscar-Nominated screenwriters.

Panelists Charles Randolph(The Big Short), Matt Charman(Bridge of Spies), Phyllis Nagy (Carol), Meg LeFauve & Josh Cooley (Inside Out), Drew Goddard (The Martian), Emma Donoghue (Room), Jonathan Herman Andrea Berloff (Straight Outta Compton), Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) answered Goldsmith’s questions about the beginnings of their careers, their biggest professional challenges, and their recent creative triumphs leading into the awards ceremony.

What is a difficult moment you have experienced while working on a project?

Meg LeFauve: “My hardest moment happened while working on Inside Out while working on act one. The process was tremendously demanding, but in the end so rewarding.”

Drew Goddard: “My most difficult moment was seeing initial test audience reactions from my film, The Cabin In The Woods. The film’s visual effects were unfinished, and let’s just say my confidence took a blow.”

Matt Charman

Matt Charman, writer of ‘Bridge of Spies’

Matt Charman: “Before getting into writing for films, I was an actor. In that position, I was used to getting rejected from the time I got started in the business.”

On researching for the films, and the driving force behind characters and their motivations.

Jonathan Herman: “The driving personalities of these guys really helped make the story ring true. Their stories, and Ice Cube’s dedication to getting Straight Outta Compton made, and helped propel the story from idea to fruition”

Josh Singer: “For every one question we lobbied while conducting research for Spotlight, they came back with 10. Digging through the rabbit hole discovering more helped drive us to make this movie.”

Phyllis Nagy: “I spent over 18 years working on this film. Piece by piece, Carol came together into the picture it is today.”

Drew Goddard: “My father was a scientist and my mother worked as an educator. I also lived near the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a kid, and was around scientists all of my life. Because I wanted to keep the story cohesive, I decided not to fall too hard on scientific details.”

Meg LeFauve: “The challenge was making Riley likable from the beginning while using the information we learned about the brain and communicating character traits visually at the same time. In the end, Joy’s goal is wrong. She initially sets out to protect Riley from Sadness. It takes the entire film to address that.”

What are some ways that you procrastinate while writing a film?

Jonathan Herman: “Facebook browsing, leading into a long lunch and a nap.”


Andrea Berloff, writer of ‘Straight Outta Compton’

Andrea Berloff: “I don’t procrastinate. I can’t. My motivation is my mortgage. I write from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm every day.

What are some things you were surprised by when you watched the final cut of your movie for the first time?

Meg LeFauve: “Working in animation as a writer is a constant surprise. So many elements on screen added depth beyond my wildest imagination.”

Emma Donoghue”They improvised many moments in Room, and I loved every second of it.”

“Neil Brown’s performance as DJ Yella blew us away. His role was originally going to be much smaller, but he filled the screen with so much humor, we couldn’t get enough of him.”

Describe your beginnings as storytellers. What led you to get involved on your project?

Andrea Berloff: “I grew up in a house where civil rights were a daily conversation. Writing a story around the race riots in Compton and the rise of rap music culture naturally spoke to me when I had the opportunity to work on Straight Outta Compton.”


Tom McCarthy, writer/director of ‘Spotlight’

Tom McCarthy: “I grew up in an Irish Catholic family, and was fueled by some of my anger while writing Spotlight. The reception that this film has had has been tremendous, but these problems still exist today.”

Drew Goddard: “I grew up around scientists and teachers. I brought my belief never to leave anyone behind.”

Read more our Oscar-Nominated Screenwriters Panel in Variety

The full podcast of the night will be available for free on iTunes. Be sure to subscribe to Jeff Goldsmith’s podcast, The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith.