July 31, 2019

The Trajectory of Lives and How to Tell a Good Story, with Bettina Gilois

Episode 10:

Bettina Gilois is an award-winning screenwriter and author, whose awards and nominations include the Humanitas Prize, the Black Reelz Award, the Movieguide Award, an ESPY Award, and a nomination for an Emmy. After acquiring an art history degree from Columbia University and working at Andy Warhol’s Factory, she began her writing career with Joel Silver and Warner Brothers, and has since collaborated with such notable artists and producers as Jerry Bruckheimer, Joel Surnow, Norman Jewison, Michael Mann, Martin Campbell, William Friedkin, Richard and Lili Zanuck, Queen Latifah, James Coburn, Kevin Costner, Christian Bale, and many others. Her films include Jerry Bruckheimer’s GLORY ROAD for which she was nominated for the Humanitas Prize, MCFARLAND, USA starring Kevin Costner, as well as BESSIE for HBO, starring Queen Latifah, for which she was nominated for an Emmy for Best Screenwriting. She also wrote THE LOST WIFE OF ROBERT DURST for Lifetime Movies. Her other produced projects include uncredited work on THE HURRICANE for which Denzel Washington won the Golden Globe, and THE MISTS OF AVALON with Anjelica Huston. In addition to writing screenplays, Gilois has authored several books, MI VIDA LOCA: THE CRAZY LIFE OF JOHNNY TAPIA and BILLION DOLLAR PAINTER: THE TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY OF THOMAS KINKADE, both of which are being made into movies. She writes about Arts and Culture for the Huffington Post. Her current active projects include her writing and creating the series MUSCLE SHOALS with Johnny Depp producing at ABC, as well as the series LAST CLEAR CHANCE with Chelsea Handler, also at ABC, the television movie MAHALIA about the life of Mahalia Jackson for Lifetime Movies, as well as writing the movie A MILLION MILES AWAY for Netflix and Mark Ciardi, about the first Mexican American migrant worker to end up an astronaut on the international space station.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Bettina’s experience working in a variety of creative endeavors, including alongside the likes of Andy Warhol and other famous people
  • Bettina’s interesting perspective on stories, the life trajectories of humans, and the energy that ties it all together
  • Bettina’s tips to aspiring screenwriters and the story of how she broke into the industry
  • Bettina’s approach to storytelling and character development, supported by evidence from her own body of work
  • Important skills for all creatives to have if they want to ascend to the top of the field
  • Why you need to be thinking about your brand as a young writer
  • The risks and rewards of sticking to genres and how to carry your brand through your characters
  • How Bettina cooperates with the other members of film or TV production teams to construct coherent and meaningful stories

Additional resources:


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