Award-winning writer Andrea Berloff breaks down her writing process (no outlines!) and how she constructed the genre-period world of THE KITCHEN. Then she explains how she transitioned her script into directing, including shooting action scenes and letting Melissa McCarthy improvise with her script. 

Key Insights

  • Although The Kitchen is adapted from a comic book, it's more grounded and real because it's based on true historical elements.
  • Feature films have a finite period of time in which you can tell a story. This means you need to be concise in delivering information and know why each scene is a building block of your narrative. 
  • Before you start writing, know the big moments and turning points for the key characters. 
  • To achieve economy in your writing, incorporate character development within essential plot and action.  
  • Violence doesn’t have to be shown to have an emotional impact on the audience. Explore your options for depicting violence in the way that works best for your story and actors. 
  • Your production team uses the final draft of your script as the basis for critical decisions in planning the schedule and what's essential for production and budgeting. 
  • An actor can take what's on the page and find a more robust version of the scene. As an example, Melissa McCarthy took a simple line of exposition and made it into a very dramatic moment that delivered plot and character. It takes time and trust to find these moments with your actor.  
  • Whether on set or in the edit, don’t be afraid to cut dialogue or a scene that isn’t working and doesn't earn its place in the film. 
  • As an approach to the writing process, it's important to experiment and find out what works best for you. Andrea's approach: she writes five new pages a day and starts by reading from the top of the script, incorporating any new changes before continuing the work. Using this process, her first draft is a more complete draft, ready for feedback from trusted friends.

Academy Award nominee ANDREA BERLOFF marks her directorial debut this year with her film THE KITCHEN, a crime drama starring Tiffany Haddish, Melissa McCarthy and Elizabeth Moss. The story follows three 1978 Hell's Kitchen housewives whose mobster husbands are sent to prison by the FBI. The film, which Berloff also wrote, is based off the Vertigo comic book miniseries by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle, and showcases edgy, raw, and emotional performances from the lead actresses, who are primarily known for comedy. more...

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