6 Tips From Paul Schrader on How to Turn Personal Agony into Award-Winning Scripts

Are you talking to him? Because he's talking to you.

Legendary screenwriter, director, and film critic Paul Schrader has penned some cinematic classics, most famously Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976). The collaboration went so well that Scorsese called his scribe back for three more films: Raging Bull (1980), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), and Bringing Out the Dead (1999). In addition—no small achievement!—he is a director in his own right.

In between writing scripts, Schrader has helmed 18 feature films including Light Sleeper (1992), Affliction (1997), and just this past year, the critically acclaimed drama First Reformed (2018). He’s known for engaging stories, masterful pacing, and palpably tortured characters.

Staring at a blank page? Perhaps you’re a future Paul Schrader—or at least a future screenwriter resorting to No Film School as a great way to procrastinate. No worries, we’re here to help: NFS was lucky enough to hear Schrader dish wisdom at the 2018 New York Film Festival. Here’s Screenwriting 101 from this singular wordsmith.

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