25 – “Hail Hydra”

Whatever your opinion is on Captain America’s recent Face-Heel turn, you have to admit it’s a pretty interesting development, right?


If you haven’t heard about the recent comic book arc, or don’t quite understand it, I attempt to clear it up in this week’s episode. Have a listen:

(direct link)

Here’s some facts I’ve got for you this week:

  • Captain Phillips isn’t quite the hero he is in his film. According to statements from the crew of the Maersk Alabama during their lawsuit, Richard Phillips was a sullen, self-righteous man with wilful disregard for his crew’s safety. Phillips refused to follow anti-pirate protocol and lock himself and his crew below deck for safety.
  • In a 2014 article, Barkhad Abdi (who played the lead pirate in Captain Phillips) stated that he had found it hard to find work since his role in the film and his Bafta win and Oscar nom. Since then he has been in GrimsbyEye in the Sky and has been cast in the upcoming Blade Runner sequel.
  • Joel Cohen (not Coen) was the writer for the two Garfield movies. Cohen also wrote the screenplays for Toy Story, Cheaper by the Dozen and was a creative consultant on The Angry Birds Movie.
    • He is also an Executive Producer on the US remake of Norwegian found footage film, Trollhunter – at least I thought he was until I followed the link on IMDb. Turns out his version is a sequel to a Swedish animated film. You got me again, Cohen!
  • Back in 2012, former Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats tweeted a series of rules of storytelling that she picked up during her time there:

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?

#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?

#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.


  • Whiplash was originally released as a short film. The writer and director Damien Chazelle shot a few scenes from his feature script with another actor in Miles Teller’s eventual role.
  • A sequel to Wreck-It Ralph is in development, scheduled for release on March 9th, 2018. According to Rich Moore, director of the first film, the story will possibly include new elements such as the Internet and another version of Ralph from a Super Smash Bros.-style game.

That’s all I’ve got for this week. Next week, we’re trying a new genre.