Brian Koppelman

Michael Clayton

In less than 300 days, writer/producer/director Brian Koppelman has delivered 300 screenwriting lessons, 6 seconds at a time. That’s a half hour of Vines that act as miniature cattle prods for anyone looking to have the creative section of their brain lit up. To celebrate the achievement, Brian joins me to explain what a beloved cookie has to do with the writing process, to describe the methods he uses to get unstuck, and to challenge a conventional way of thinking about “breaking into the business.” You should follow Brian (@briankoppelman), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. Please review us on iTunes Download Episode #64 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes



It’s unlikely that you’ll see Brian Koppelman plugging a screenwriting how-to book anytime soon. The writer/director behind Ocean’s Thirteen and Solitary Man publicly denounced the hoodwinkery birthed by the cat-saving industry and felt strongly enough about the seminar culture to make it the message of his first six-second screenwriting tip. Those tips come in the form of Vines (what else?) that he produces daily. Each comes with a kind of scorched earth sincerity that you don’t often get from working filmmakers, and by next week, he’ll have amassed one hundred of them. That’s a full ten minutes of helpful jabs where his face and nearly two decades of insight fill the frame. Typically with this space we focus on 6 filmmaking tips and offer further challenges and exploration, but for Koppelman’s unique delivery, we’re making a special exception — particularly because there’s so much here (and because digging deeper would be like analyzing a punch with the person who’s on the mat). These bursts of advice easily stand alone. So here are my favorite six minutes of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a true grinder.



Perhaps the news that Robert Downey Jr. would be taking on the role of Perry Mason in a big screen reboot should have clued us in, but the announcement that Vince Vaughn is taking a stab at his very own cinematic adaptation of a classic television series that continues to live on in syndication (and in your grandparents’ living room) is still a bit of a surprise. Are there really no original ideas left? Deadline Calabasas reports that Universal Pictures is currently developing a feature based on NBC’s 1974-80 series The Rockford Files that is shaped as a “star vehicle” for Vaughn, who will take on the role James Garner played in the original series. Screenwriters David Levien and Brian Koppelman will pen the feature, and there’s no word yet on possible directors. Koppelman and Levien are certainly having a great couple of days – their script Runner Runner got the green light from New Regency just last week, with Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake to star in the film about offshore gambling.


Affleck Timberlake Runner Runner

You know what’s hot right now? Poker. Pretend you’re reading this in 2006. You know what’s really hot right now? Asking about things that are hot right now. It’s true. That’s why all the celebrity magazines do it. At least two obvious answers to that ever-present question are Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake. According to Variety, the pair will be trying to pack a full house for Runner Runner, a movie focused on the world of illegal online gambling. Beyond the big names set to star, there’s more talent behind the typewriter and in the director’s chair. The script comes from Brian Koppelman and David Lieven (Rounders, Ocean’s Thirteen), and the production has snagged Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer) to direct. Jokes about relevancy aside, this sounds cool as hell. Rounders was sharp, and it’ll be fascinating to see Affleck follow in Matt Damon’s footsteps. Potential-wise, all the names look killer here. The subject could be straight out of the noir playbook, but making online poker seem invigorating will definitely be a challenge.


James Franco and Mystery

Oh, James Franco, you make the most fun decisions! According to THR, actor-author-writer-director-unsatisfied Oscar host-student-man about town-seeker-performance artist-soap star Franco is in negotiations to star in MGM’s adaptation of Neil Strauss‘s The Game, a “part memoir, part how-to guide” on how to land chicks. Not content to stay in any sort of performance box at all, Franco won’t be starring as the Strauss surrogate, but as Mystery. You know Mystery. Even if you don’t know Mystery, you know Mystery. Mystery is better known as “The Pick-Up Artist,” the self-declared title he uses to shill his lady-getting techniques, the very same that he taught Strauss on his mystical, magical journey to be a dude in demand. Mystery even had his own VH1 reality show! Called, you guessed it, The Pick-Up Artist! Oh, also, he’s not attractive in the least and looks as if he shops almost exclusively at Spencer’s Gifts. I know that men bemoan that they don’t know what women want, but I can clearly declare, as a woman, I don’t want Mystery. But what I may want is Franco in the role, because it sounds just a little bit too funny and too perfect.



Now that MGM has enough money to keep the coffeemaker on, they’re investing in some interesting properties. The latest on that list is an adaptation of “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists” which will, sadly, not be a sequel to David Fincher’s The Game. The falsely controversial book by Neil Strauss infiltrated a collective of bros who work constantly to perfect the art of treating women badly in bars so they’ll go home and get naked with them in a hot tub. The book garnered critical acclaim and spun Strauss’s teacher Mystery into a reality television star as the host and guru of his own show. No word yet on how much product placement Axe body spay will buy, but The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that MGM has already tapped Brian Koppelman and David Levien to rewrite the current script and direct. The team who wrote Rounders, Ocean’s Thirteen, and The Girlfriend Experience directed their first second feature in 2009 with Solitary Man starring Michael Douglas. Who also starred in The Game. Are we sure this isn’t a sequel?



You don’t see too many protagonist like Ben Kaleman in Brian Koppelman and David Levien’s latest film Solitary Man. For some, he’ll be considered a slimy and perhaps somewhat misogynistic creep getting what he deserves. For others, he’ll be a sympathetic and understandable man trying to figure out where everything went wrong. We sat down with writer/directors Brian Koppelman and David Levien and learned (literally) everything there is to know about their latest film in an epic interview about family, smooth-talkers and subtle redemption.



Ready to watch Leonardo DiCaprio sit at a computer and gamble away his online dollars to “RiverRat1928?” Paramount hopes you are.

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published: 01.26.2015
published: 01.26.2015
published: 01.25.2015

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