60 Six-Second Screenwriting Tips From Brian Koppelman

By  · Published on December 4th, 2013

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.

Your Personal Guide

“Write What You Know” Has Limits

Just Do It

Just Do It Without Trying to Game the Studios

Consistency is the Only Real Rule

The Books Worth Reading

Ask the Passionate Question

Seeking Permission to Write

A Specific Script for Starting Out

More Required Reading (from Murakami)

What’s Within Your Grasp

Unsellable Today, Sellable Tomorrow

Advice From Your Heroes

Beating Writing’s Block With Morning Pages

Three Act Structure is a Snap

Formatting is a Snap, Too

Two Shots of Inspiration

The Flipside of Faith

The Robots Can’t Do It (Yet)

Your Favorite Movie Was Once a Dead End

A Reason to Move Swiftly

You Can Take a Break By Writing

Aim Higher

Be Bold Against the Realistic Odds

Likability Loses Out to Intrigue

Tap Into Your Own Storytelling Knowledge

The Crystal Ball is Bullshit

All Writers Start With These

Respect the Ritual

A Way to Maim Your Dream

More Required Reading About Dedication

And More Required Viewing About Speed and Dynamism

What You Earn When You Get It Done

When You Don’t Feel Creative

The Blank Slate Can Be Your Friend

And So Can Your Favorite Band

Struggling Through Like the Pros

Stamina is Key

In Every Single Scene

The Flipside of Success

Quality as Job Delineation

The Secret to Scoring an Agent?

The Question Beyond the Organizational Technique

The Right Idea

Take Pleasure in Good Cinema

The Productivity Killer

If You Keep Quitting

Indulge Your Excitement

The Small Part of the Day

Wunderkinds Are Rare

Making It Easy On Yourself


The Upside Of Your Full Time Job

More Required Reading (From Walter Murch)

The Side Benefit of Compartmentalizing Your Writing

Do I Have to Move to LA?

Plan Ahead for Localized Peer Pressure

Your Second First Draft

What You Owe Readers

But It’s So, So Hard

Find Tips From Your Favorite Filmmakers

Can’t Find Them? Email Us to Suggest a Director

Or Enjoy a Different Feature

Related Topics: ,

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.