Valerie Kalfrin

Portfolio

All Features Film/Entertainment Final Draft Essays Signature Reads/Word and Film Film Racket Reviews Interviews The Script Lab Film Journals

Writing For Ensemble Casts

Writing a story with an ensemble cast is like serving a pie with equal slices. You might start with an idea delicious enough for five or more characters, but if…

Waiting for Ripley

If in space no one can hear you scream, torment is doubly painful. Inside her cocoon aboard a starship, the woman looks peaceful, but she’s forced to sleep, unable to…

“Moana” and Writing Realistic Female Adventurers

Heroic women in adventure stories have navigated a tricky path for years thanks to the idea that the target audience for such films was young men. But Disney's new Polynesian…

“Westworld” and the Power of Repetition

Westworld, HBO’s new series inspired by the 1973 Michael Crichton movie about an adult theme park, has a down-the-rabbit-hole sense about it, and not just because of the Alice in…

Creating Setups and Payoffs That Stick

As storytellers and moviegoers, we crave connection – and these early touches that pay off later foster that feeling. Done well, they trust an audience to pay attention to details,…

Margaret Atwood Is Everywhere (and Likely Always Will Be)

Margaret Atwood is fearless. Intelligent and wildly imaginative, but fearless, too, for the way she twists a thought or an image not just into something gruesome but universal and biting…

Review: Arrival

Arrival, a cerebral wonder of a film, is as much about stories and how we view the ones in our lives as it is about making alien contact.

The Forever, Fantastical Influence of H.P. Lovecraft

Seventy-nine years after his death, penniless at forty-six years old, H.P. Lovecraft is still in style.

“Westworld” and the Ever-Living Legacy of Michael Crichton

Like dinosaur DNA preserved in amber, the works of late author Michael Crichton keep bringing new generations of provocative stories to life.

The Foresight of H.G. Wells in 10 Quotes

Visionary science fiction writer H.G. Wells, who would have been 150 September 21, imagined atomic bombs, aerial warfare, and the sexual revolution decades before they came to pass. His statements…

The Roald Dahl Must-See Cinematic Lineup

The inventive stories of Roald Dahl, who would have been 100 years old on September 13, have enticed filmmakers for decades – even though the celebrated author tended to regard…

When Narration Works

Bad narration is like watching a movie with someone chatting in the seat behind you, except you can’t turn around and tell him or her to be quiet. But narration…

“Run Lola Run” and Writing Elegant Action Sequences

Run Lola Run is one action film with a style as unique as its protagonist’s flame-colored hair. This 1998 German independent film offers audiences a Groundhog Day-style narrative peppered with…

The Art of Pacing: How to Improve Your Dialogue

Dialogue is not only what decision makers and filmmakers read – it’s what audiences and critics quote after the movie. It’s a great chance to let your voice be heard…

Spec Spotlight: Hayley Schore and Roshan Sethi on “Exposure”

Paths through development and medical school led Hayley Schore and Roshan Sethi to TV writing, where an executive producer thought they’d make a good team. The duo scored their first…

Spec Spotlight: Isaac Adamson Talks “Bubbles”

Isaac Adamson felt he had a toehold in the film industry when his first novel, Tokyo Suckerpunch,was optioned in 2000—but his spec script Bubbles launched him to a whole new…

Art of the Adaptation: The Jungle Book

Soon, he’s used the elephants’ strength and his rope to rescue a stuck elephant calf—something neither of them could do alone. It’s a magnificent moment that illustrates a theme in…

No Unauthorized Breeding: Jurassic Park and Female Control

The first female character in Jurassic Park arrives onscreen in a metal box atop a forklift that smashes through the jungle. She bides her time, silent. We’re with her as…