Jeff Goldsmith and The Los Angeles Film School hosted our 8th Annual Oscar-Nominated Screenwriters Panel, featuring seven of this year’s Oscar-Nominated screenwriters.

Panelists Damien Chazelle(Whiplash), Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)and Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything), E. Max Frye (Foxcatcher), Alex Dinelaris (Birdman), Graham Moore (The Imitation Game), and Jason Hall (American Sniper), answered Goldsmith’s questions about the beginnings of their careers, their biggest professional challenges, and their recent creative triumphs.

I have to write something that means something to me.

Jason Hall, writer of American Sniper, discussed how he chooses his projects.

I started working with Alejandro G. Inarritu on Biutiful.

Alex Dinelaris, co-writer of Birdman, explained how he and Inarritu began working together on feature films.

I was lucky enough to get an agent 3 months after graduating from film school.

Foxcatcher writer E. Max Frye described his beginnings in the industry.

We were able to make The Imitation Game completely outside the traditional system.

Writer Graham Moore shed light on the financing woes behind creating the biopic, and how his team was able to overcome them.

I once worked on a project, and received word back from a film professor, ‘this isn’t a script.’

Whiplash writer Damien Chazelle illustrated some of the struggles he faced before launching his career as a successful screenwriter. He added,

When I was writing Whiplash, I was going over problems I faced as a young musician.

Writer Anthony McCarten discussed the unique position he was in when working with Stephen Hawking on the film.

One of the attractions of The Theory of Everything was conveying a strong love story.

Dan Gilroy, writer of Nightcrawler, elaborated on how the main character was meant to resonate with the film-going audiences,

One of the most important aspects was making Jake Gyllenhaal’s character relatable.

Graham Moore discussed with Jeff Goldsmith how Alan Turing’s legacy is about more than his machines.

The heart of Benedict Cumberbatch’s character was living an imitation of his true self while creating remarkable machines.

Whenever the characters were in an emotional position, we placed them on a perch.

Alex Dinelaris Jr., co-writer of Birdman, shed light on the stylistic choices made during the production of the film.

Our goal was to explain the archetype of the warrior.

He added a note about the opening scene of the film,

The levitation scene was always the way Birdman opens.

We used (Mark Schultz’ teaching) to express the purity of his love for wrestling

Max Frye, writer of Foxcatcher, wanted to capture wrestler Mark Schultz as a teacher as well as a wrestler.

I don’t believe in character arcs.

Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler writer, discussed why he believes that character arcs don’t happen in real life the way they do in movies.

It was an exploration… is there an underlying order to the universe.

The Theory of Everything writer Anthony McCarten wanted to ask larger questions about the nature of reality while writing the movie.

The writers of the panel also discussed their choice of antogonist in each of their films. E. Max Frye answered first,

Mark Schultz ultimately becomes his own antagonist inFoxcatcher.

Alex Dinelaris Jr. joined in,

The central antagonist is Riggan in Birdman.

Jason Hall then revealed his answer,

War was the real antagonist for American Sniper.

I always saw Lou as a virus.

Dan Gilroy, talking about the central character in Nightcrawler.

Finally, each of the writers described some of the challenges they faced when writing their films.

Bennett Miller inspired the actors to have fun with their roles on set.

Max Frye explained how some great performances were given by actor Steve Carrell. Dan Gilroy jumped in,

We ran out of money, so I had to get creative.

Damien Chazelle capped off the panel by explaining how drawing out the conclusion of Whiplash helped him reverse-engineer the rest of the movie,

The entire film in my mind was justifying a 10 minute drum solo.

The full podcast of the night will be available for free on iTunes.

Special thanks to everyone who came to the event. Please check your emails regarding upcoming events and happenings at The Los Angeles Film School.

Previous post

Screening of The Voices

Next post

The Mix'R DTLA