Television episodes

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Norman Lear- A Retrospective

January 7, 2017

Perhaps one of the most influential contributors to the landscape of situational comedies and progressive writing in Hollywood, Norman Lear transformed a genre known for play-it-safe humor into a platform for how Americans experience social issues. In this week’s On Story, Lear remembers a few of his favorite episodes and how he created some of the most beloved characters in the history of television.


DECEMBER 31, 2016

In this second On Story® installation featuring Paul Thomas Anderson and Jonathan Demme, the duo look back on the vision, style, influences, and creative passion for Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs, Stop Making Sense, Rachel Getting Married and Something Wild.


DECEMBER 24, 2016

Breaking Bad drove into television like a dump truck filled with nitroglycerine. Chained to a hyper growth curve and vociferous viewership, Vince Gilligan oversaw a monstrous hit turned cultural phenomenon with this serialized masterpiece. Casual fans to fervent fanatics will find something to chew on in this personal reflection.


DECEMBER 17, 2016

The road to screen can be a punishing, rigorous trek. In this episode, a storied collection of creators, behind some legendary films (Braveheart, Empire Strikes Back, and Lethal Weapon) relive some of their most memorable journeys, marked by each step along the way. Featuring Lawrence Kasdan, Shane Black, and Randall Wallace. Film: Northeast Front, an Austin Film Festival 2010 Official Selection, by Angela Torres Camerena



DECEMBER 10, 2016

Callie Khouri reflects upon her experience working with Ridley Scott and writing the classic female-driven-buddy film, Thelma and Louise. Followed by Avram Dodson’s short film, Pistachio Milk, a coming of age tale about a young suitor using only his wits and a bottle of pistachio milk to pursue his love interest.

Chris Cooper: A CONVERSATION on ACTing

December 3, 2016

Chris Cooper, the Academy Award® winning Best Supporting Actor, for his role in the comedy-drama Adaptation, discusses his acting career in both film and television. Cooper looks back on how he managed to navigate through his roles in iconic films such as Lone Star, Adaptation, American Beauty, Seabiscuit, and August: Osage County among many others.



NOVEMBER 26, 2016

Comedy titan Carl Reiner looks back on creating The Dick Van Dyke Show, how the show evolved over the course of its five seasons, and the collaborative efforts of the writers and actors involved. Reiner recalls special moments from behind the scenes and, ultimately, how the creative vision was translated to the screen.


November 18, 2016

How to tether a rocketship; or how to keep your high-flying creations grounded and accessible. In this week's fascinating discussion, the brilliant tacticians behind such classics as Edward Scissorhands, Toy Story, and Up wade deep in the underlying mechanics of structure and where to find resonant truth in its rigid formalities.

Re-imagining The Classics

November 12, 2016

The writers of re-imagined classics and popular franchises such as Ghost, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, Twins and Snow White and the Huntsman deliberate how to keep stories fresh while remaining faithful to the original version. Accompanied by Spencer and Lloyd Harvey’s short film Jack & Jill, a fresh take on the classic nursery rhyme that follows a young Australian girl who finds an inventive way to contact her father, a soldier stationed in New Guinea during WWII.




NOVEMBER 5, 2016

Beau Willimon (creator House of Cards) and Eli Attie (writer The West Wing) debate politically-driven narratives, power struggles, and dramatizing the truths and fictions that comprise ideologically-charged stories. Accompanied by Topher Field’s short film, The Hustle, offering a glimpse inside a swindler’s artful technique and deception.


the elements of horror

OCTOBER 29, 2016

Professional horror writers explore how great drama lies at the core of the most frightening films, and discuss the style and techniques used to invoke fear, suspense and thrills that linger long after the credits roll.  Followed by Lynne Vincent McCarthy’s STRANGEFACE, a haunting and suspenseful short film about a peculiar and defiant young girl who unexpectedly finds companionship.


heroes and anti-heroes: Loving the villain

OCTOBER 22, 2016

The voices behind THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, BRIDESMAIDS, and RACHEL GETTING MARRIED deliberate how the most impressionable characters – both good and evil - are compelling because of their flaws, complexities, and personal truths. Accompanied by the short film, MENTIROSO by writer/director Will Shipley about trailing a young boy whose incessant lies are almost as far-fetched as an astonishing encounter with the most beautiful girl in town.


zombies and groot - bringing comics to life

OCTOBER 8, 2016

Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Angela Kang (The Walking Dead) explore navigating a male-dominated industry as female genre writers. The women discuss tackling comic book adaptations, the importance of character development, and the fine line between staying true to the spirit of the source material while also breathing new life into preexisting storylines.



OCTOBER 1, 2016

Ray McKinnon, creator of the Sundance Channel's breakout hit, Rectify, details how to capture the personality of a culture through establishing strong characters, tone, and atmosphere. The short film Spanola Pepper Sauce Company follows, directed by McKinnon and written by Graham Gordy, suggesting there's more brewing in Spanola, AK than just its fine pepper sauce cooking.


america ferrera on the storyteller's responsibility

SEPTEMBER 24, 2016

Producer/Emmy®-award winning actress, America Ferrera talks about her early roles in film and television including the hit show Ugly Betty, Real Women Have Curves, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and working with Ryan Piers Williams on the independent film The Dry Land.


a conversation with Oliver stone and john milius

SEPTEMBER 17, 2016

One of the oldest genres has long been obsessed with the pain, patriotism and catastrophic honesty of battle. In this episode, two stalwarts, behind such classics as Red Dawn, Born on the 4th of July, and Apocalypse Now, deconstruct the life and death realities of working in the war machine. Featuring Oliver Stone and John Milius. Film: Veterans by Miguel Alvarez.


comedy that resonates

SEPTEMBER 10, 2016

Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld writer/producer Alec Berg and Bridesmaids director and Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig pull back the curtain to show how they create comedy that resonates with us all. Followed by the hilarious short film Spit by writer/director Benjamin Hayes. Paul will never have his first kiss until he overcomes his fear of saliva.


Alien, DECONSTRUCTING a Sci-fi classic

september 3, 2016

An iconic example of its genre, Alien’s tension, pacing, and craftsmanship are deconstructed by veteran screenwriters John August and Ashley Miller.  Accompanied by Jason Mann and Frieda Luk’s mystical short film, Delicacy, following a culinary connoisseur and his loyal chef as they dangerously navigate into the unknown with hopes to obtain a rare treat.

*In this episode: John August, Ashley Miller



AUGUST 27, 2016

Frank Pierson's Academy Award® winning Dog Day Afternoon elevates the classic crime genre through its exploration of textured characters and rationale. Screenwriters Robin Swicord (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Peter Craig (The Town) examine the story's masterful reveal of information and its surprising, but inevitable and honest conclusion.


A conversation with John Ridley

August 20,2016

John Ridley reflects on his beginnings and the inspirations that have shaped his approach to screenwriting, with a special look into his journey adapting the Academy Award®-winning script for 12 Years a Slave. Accompanied by Alex Clark's short film, Siren, about two ambulance paramedics faced with an emergency that's out of this world.


Deconstructing the fly

AUGUST 13, 2016

Mick Garris (Masters of Horror) and Alvaro Rodriguez (Machete) deconstruct the shock, suspense, and subtleties of David Cronenberg’s The Fly and how his execution has contributed to the legitimacy and intellect of the horror genre. 


Saving mr. Banks: script to screen

august 6, 2016

Director John Lee Hancock and writer Kelly Marcel discuss how the script for Saving Mr. Banks was successfully transformed onto the screen using heavily stylized elements, and musical cues from the classic film Mary Poppins to depict the life of author PL Travers during the 1960’s.


Time Travel and the Filmmaker's Trek

July 30, 2016

Rian Johnson (Looper), Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko), and Roberto Orci (Star Trek), masters of weaving time travel into film, dissect the elements that make for a believable "operating system" when writing a comprehensible screenplay timeline.


A Conversation with Jason Reitman

July 23, 2016

Writer/director Jason Reitman, whose credits include Thank You for Smoking, Up in the Air, Juno, and most recently, the TV series Casual, discusses his journey from novice filmmaker to indie stalwart.


Saving Mr. Banks: Script to Screen

July 16, 2016

Director John Lee Hancock and writer Kelly Marcel discuss how the script for Saving Mr. Banks was successfully transformed onto the screen using heavily stylized elements and musical cues from the classic film Mary Poppins to depict the life of author PL Travers during the 1960s.


Charles Burnett: Film as a Means of Social Change

July 9, 2016

Writer/Director/Producer Charles Burnett shares his career development process in narrative and documentary filmmaking with Killer of Sheep (1978), his seminal film, which was definitive in highlighting African American cultural experience. Burnett's films Killer of Sheep and To Sleep with Anger were both added to the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress for being culturally significant.


America Ferrera on the Storyteller's Responsibility

July 2, 2016

Producer/Emmy®-award winning actress, America Ferrera talks about her early roles in film and television including the hit show Ugly Betty, Real Women Have Curves, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and working with Ryan Piers Williams on the independent film The Dry Land.


Gary Ross on Drive and Inspiration

June 25, 2016

Writer/Director Gary Ross discusses his film trajectory from co-writing the iconic film Big to approaching and adapting Seabiscuit on screen as well as working on historically depicting his new film Free State of Jones starring Matthew McConaughey.


JUNE 18, 2016

Screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker dissects his bleak thriller masterpiece, Se7en and working with director David Fincher to create the cult classic film.