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Playing catch-up

It’s been a busy few months, full of work and projects. My tenure files were due last month so I have been rather hidden away getting all of those chores squared away instead of keeping up the blog. Sorry about that, but it’s been a big year.

Amongst the highlights my most recent spec script, Cutterjunk, won awards for best science fiction screenplay in the New York, Hollywood and World Series of Screenwriting competitions. So three wins and nine finalist / placings in the cycle. I’m very pleased as the script was something of an experiment and not immediately commercial. I have been hard at work adapting Cutterjunk into a novel and now have a working first draft.

In other news, I am now co-editing the forthcoming volume on the history of Screenwriting in the new Behind the Silver Screen series from Rutgers University Press (published next summer). A mock-up of the cover, minus the series logo is linked to below and will, I am told, also be the cover image for the forthcoming Rutgers catalogue (out in December) which is a nice surprise. The book, for which I wrote the introduction and a chapter on screenwriting in the 1980s and 1990s, will be published at the same time as the volume on cinematography.

Meanwhile work progresses steadily on the second screenwriting manual, The Pleasures of Structure: Learning Screenwriting Through Case Studies, forthcoming from Bloomsbury Academic. This one is a relatively short volume, about 60,000 words, and I hope to have a draft finished in the first half of next year. More information as I get nearer completion.



The final title of my second screenwriting book is: The Pleasures of Structure: Learning Screenwriting Through Case Studies. My deadline is 2014, although I’m hoping to beat that by a good distance, so it won’t be out for a good while yet.

In other news, I’ve submitted my big history chapter on Screenwriting in Another ‘New Hollywood’ 1980-1999. This is for a volume in the new Behind the Silver Screen series from Rutgers University Press and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The series deals with film history through process more than product, writing the hidden histories of the crafts and departments that go into movie making. My chapter will be in the Screen Writing & Story Telling volume, edited by the wonderful Andy Horton, The Jeanne H. Smith Professor of Film Studies at The University of Oklahoma (Norman). 

As you will have seen, if you are an habitué de la blog, the first draft of Cutterjunk a spec screenplay I wrote as an experiment (my first attempt at science fiction) and a teaching tool, has been getting shortlisted in a number of screenwriting competitions. One of the next projects on my list is a comprehensive re-write. The new book, of which I already have a rough draft of 25,000 words or so, is after that!

Sequel volume to Write What You Don’t Know!

Dear interested reader(s), I just had some very welcome news from my publisher, Continuum Books in New York. After a successful peer review process they have accepted my proposal for a sequel volume to Write What You Don’t Know. We are in discussion over the title, but right now it is: Structure is Pleasure, learning screenwriting through case studies. I have a number of other writing projects on my plate at the moment, including a spec screenplay and a big chapter on screenwriting history for a forthcoming book from Rutgers UP, so the new book won’t appear for a while yet. I’ll keep you posted on this site of course.

Happy day!

Story Development with Julian Hoxter


I am pleased to announce that I am now able to take on limited additional private story consultation and script development work for screenplays and feature films. I regularly consult on independent feature films in development and in post production, and I offer a full range of services from a single script meeting through full story consulting on all stages of your project. If you are interested, please contact me for details and prices:

Recent testimonials:

“Julian was an invaluable story consultant on my more recent film, pushing me to ask essential questions. Always three steps ahead, with elegant solutions to what sometimes felt like insurmountable obstacles, he approached the material with a discerning eye.”

“He has story consulted on two of my films. His focus on story and structure all through a character’s needs really opened my eyes. For the first time I felt confident in my writing.”

“Your notes are right on and giving me a lot of clarity around what needs to be done.”

I have consulted on a wide range of feature projects at all stages of writing and production. I work with writers on story and script development; and I work with directors, polishing their stories in post production. In 2012, movies on which I consulted have been screened internationally at film festivals. I also consulted on a screenplay that was one of five selected for the prestigious Outfest Screenwriting Lab in LA.

Write What You Don’t Know photo competition

OK here’s a bit of fun for everyone. People have begun to tag and send me pictures of themselves with the book, or the book in strange company (see below), so I thought: why not have a little competition?

There will be a prize for the most imaginative use of Write What You Don’t Know in a photograph.

Go generate lots of creative energy – exactly the kind of thing the book is meant to encourage. There is no deadline right now. Let’s see if anyone actually enters and then I’ll work something out. I don’t know what the prize will be yet. The obvious choice of a copy of the book doesn’t really apply as the book will be in the picture… hmm. I’ll give it some thought. Remember to send your contact details with your photograph if I don’t know you to:

When Michael Bay attacks

Bryan's ceiling

What readers are saying

Please excuse the self promotion here, but part of the purpose of this blog is to get word out about my book Write What You Don’t Know: An Accessible Manual For Screenwriters. To that end I will post occasional extracts from reader reviews and comments about my teaching and story consulting – you know, just to lure the unwary into a purchase!

Here are a few to get us going:

“Julian was an invaluable story consultant on my more recent film, pushing me to ask… essential questions. Always 3 steps ahead with elegant solutions to what sometimes felt like insurmountable obstacles, he approached the material with a discerning eye and refreshing wit.”

“He has story consulted on two of my films. His focus on story and structure all through a character’s needs really opened my eyes. For the first time I felt confident in my writing.”

Write What You Don’t Know is Julian Hoxter’s amazing classes in a book. Witty, informative, and engaging. I love this book because he doesn’t talk at you. He talks to you. You feel like you’re in a conversation with the author. His British witticisms create a fun atmosphere where you enjoy reading and look forward to each page.”

“What I’m happy about is how much content there is, how dense the material; there’s so much rapid-fire delivery of so much to say, and all of it rewarding. On a scale, it makes many other screenwriting manuals feel a bit light.”

“This book is accessible but not dumbed down, with helpful illustrations on how to not only structure a screenplay but also how to create interesting characters and dialogue. Last year I read Save the Cat for my screenwriting class and was utterly annoyed by the writing. Seriously. But I read it, since there were some good tips in there. Write What You Don’t Know does what Save the Cat was trying to do: make a screenwriting book that is fun to read but has instrumental instructions on writing a script. And even though the book is aimed at a younger reader, I could completely relate with Hoxter’s ‘implied you’.”

“This book is a must read for anyone trying to write their own screenplay. I take that back, this book is a must read for anyone wanting to write a GOOD screenplay. I have read my fair share of screenwriting books, all claiming to be the bees knees, but this one put the rest to shame.”

This is a wonderful, funny, helpful, entertaining book. It is clearly aimed more at the new film student than the middle aged wannabe screenwriter (finally, a book that does this – thank you!). It takes care to create a friendly space for younger readers who, like me, are kind of daunted by the prospect of writing their first scripts. It is honest however and doesn’t pretend you are going to make millions of dollars and be instantly famous and all that rubbish.”

“He takes you through the process of getting ideas and developing your story by focusing on how his students develop their stories. That makes the first few chapters seem at first like a strange, windy road but as you are working through them you realize that he’s right. This is how I struggle through to clarify my thinking. He keeps up a funny, cynical dialogue with a pretend reader which is funny but also clarifies a lot of what he’s writing about. This is a really good device.”

“Finally I appreciated that Hoxter doesn’t force his ‘W’ model of screenplay structure down your throat as the only way of doing things. He often reminds you (too often maybe, we get it!) that it is just one way of thinking about stories but that it can be a helpful reference if you get stuck. I liked the model anyway, it seems logical and I’m sure works for most mainstream movies. He also links it in to some really interesting discussions about why we human beings enjoy stories and how movies are linked through history to the earliest kinds of storytelling, way before the Greeks.”

Some people read this blog – Shock!

Dear friends, regulars, casual readers and people searching for creepy stuff who just got here by mistake (I’m looking at you, yes you – you know who you are),

This is a quick note to thank you for taking a look at Write What You Don’t We have been going for about three months now and I’m pleased to report that our readership has more than doubled each month. Of course we are still a teeny, tiny, micro, compact and bijoux site but our monthly readership now ranks in the thousands. Yes that’s thousand with an ‘s’. Not many thousands to be sure, but more than one.

This blog was never intended to be a mass appeal kind of deal. Its purpose was always to help my students, big up their achievements, allow me to rant occasionally and to publicize my book and other doings. In other words a fairly normal blog. I don’t anticipate we will grow all that much further in terms of readership. Even if the readership levels out, the enterprise feels worthwhile. I am very happy that people are finding valuable content and links here.

So spread the word and feel free to comment and contribute.

And once again, thanks all and keep writing what you don’t know!


Julian xx



Contribute to Write What You Don’t Know

I am open to pitches for posts on screenwriting, Baby Steps stories, screenwriting events and movie reviews – especially for little indie gems I may have missed and sucky mainstream crap I won’t go and see!

In the first instance send me a brief proposal for what you want to write or information about a new screenwriting product, service or event to, no spam please it’s just not cool.

Baby Steps

Helping your foot meet their door

Welcome everyone to Baby Steps, a new feature on the blog aimed at film students looking for help and advice about making the leap from college to the professional world. Baby Steps is all about taking those first… baby steps into a new world. It is about how those who have gone before you jammed their feet in the doors of the media and, more importantly, kept them there.

One of the hardest things to do as a film school professor is to answer the question that every graduating student asks: “how do I get my start?” The problem is that there are as many answers as there are students asking. We can give general advice but we know that those people who succeed tend to hack their own routes out of the jungle, machete in hand. With that in mind, Baby Steps will offer short interviews with recent film school graduates and established filmmakers who can still remember how they made their first moves.

My hope is that this feature will offer a wide range of examples, advice and support as well as introducing you to an inspiring and eclectic group of filmmakers who have at least one thing in common, they were all just like you once!


Recent Articles



Just a reminder that Michael Grais (Poltergeist, Cool World) will be speaking tonight 5-8pm in te August Coppola Theater at San Francisco State University. Michael will be discussing his career, addressing the state of screenwriting and taking questions from the audience. It’s an opportunity not to be missed.


Transmedia Storytelling


Over the holidays I was asked to write the preface for a forthcoming book on transmedia, by Stavroula Kalogeras for Palgrave Macmillan. Very interesting stuff, both for media writers and educators as the book discusses the potential of transmedia storytelling for higher education. The hardback is due out in April, but I only hope the paperback price will come down a long way!


Spring Screenwriting Master Classes


I am organizing three master classes with professional screenwriters at SFSU this Spring. You can see details on the poster, but the Thursday evening event in Coppola Theater, for all three speakers, is open to everyone. (The Friday will be a workshop only for enrolled students.) These promise to be entertaining and enlightening as all three of our guests are opinionated, well informed and have stories to tell!


My post

I have just signed up to the site. You can follow my more erudite activities over there.


Michael Grais master class next semester


I’m delighted to announce that the producer and screenwriter Michael Grais (Poltergeist, Cool World etc.) will be offering a master class at SF State next February 13th-14th.

On the evening of the 13th, I will be hosting Michael in the August Coppola Theater for a discussion about his work and the state of screenwriting in Hollywood. On the 14th, Michael and I will work with a small group of students for a master class on screenwriting. The workshop is for students who sign up for my CINE 324 (01) Filmmaking Master Class only, but the event in Coppola is open.



Screenwriting book headlines the Rutgers University Press Catalogue

ProductImageHandler.ashxThe scholarly volume on the history of screenwriting that I am co-editing for Rutgers University Press will be published next August (2014). It is featured in the new catalogue from Rutgers, and artwork from its cover (temporarily an edited extract from my screenplay, Cutterjunk until we can find a more prestigious alternative) illustrates the cover of the catalogue. You can pre-order it now, so take a look.

Oh – and Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Happy chores

I just received the files for the Rutgers UP Screenwriting volume from the copy editor. The joys of checking text begin…

And, to make it much more fun, my landlord is noisily renovating the apartment above me. I think a rapid change of scene is in order to maintain sanity and preserve my murder virginity for another day. Onwards…


Longish Time No ‘See’

Dear esteemed reader, just a quick note to say that I know I’ve been off the blog for a while. There is a very good reason for this and I’ll be positing about it soon. Thanks for continuing to give us an eye and more will follow.






Raiders of the Lost Ark Story Conference.




Thanks to Chris Jones’ blog for this link to a fascinating document. A transcript of a story conference between Lucas, Spielberg and Kasdan during prep. for Raiders of the Lost Ark.



Academy Award Nominations by Capture Formats they used

Features Nominated for Best Picture and/or Outstanding Cinematography by the AMPAS and ASC along with the Directors, DPs, and formats they employed

– Amour, Director Michael Haneke, DP Darius Khondji Camera/Format: Arri Alexa, ARRIRAW, Cooke Spherical
– Argo, Director Ben Affleck, DP Rodrigo Prieto, Camera ARRI Alexa, ARRIRAW, with some 35mm, 16mm, and 8mm mixed in

– Beasts of the Southern Wild, Director Bhen Zeitlin, DP Ben Richardson
Camera: ARRI 16SR3, S16 Kodak Film, Zeiss Lenses, Spherical

– Django Unchained, Director Quentin Tarantino, DP Robert Richardson, ASC, Camera/Format Panavision on 35mm Kodak Film, Anamorphic

– Les Misérables, Director Tom Hooper, DP Danny Cohen Camera/Format, Arricam, S35mm Kodak Film, Spherical

– Life of Pi, Director Ang Lee, DP Claudio Miranda, ASC, Head of Stereography Graham D. Clark, (DCS Member), Stereographer, Brian Gardner, Camera/Format Arri Alexa, PACE Fusion 3-D

– Lincoln, Director Steven Spielberg., DP Janusz Kaminski, Camera/Format: Panavision on S35mm Kodak Film

– Silver Linings Playbook, Director David O. Russell, DP Masanobu Takayanagi, Camera/Format, Arricam, S35mm Kodak Film, Spherical

– Zero Dark Thirty, Director Kathryn Bigelow, DP Greig Fraser, Camera/Format: Arri Alexa, ARRIRAW, Cooke Spherical

– Anna Karenina, Director Joe Wright, DP Seamus McGarvey Camera/Format Panavision on 35mm Kodak Film, Anamorphic

– Skyfall, Director Sam Mendes, DP Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC, Camer/Format: ARRI Alexa, ARRIRAW, with some RED Epic REDcode RAW mixed in for 2nd Unit Action Shots.

Compiled by James Mathers with data collected from IMDBpro


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