Script brings you behind the scenes to get to know our family of contributors on a more personal level. Meet Corey Mandell, author of Reel Story.
Corey Mandell is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter who has written projects for Ridley Scott, Wolfgang Petersen, Harrison Ford, John Travolta, Warner Bros., Universal, 20th Century Fox, Fox 2000, Fox Family, Working Title, Paramount, Live Planet, Beacon Films, Touchstone, Trilogy, Radiant, and Walt Disney Pictures. Corey teaches screenwriting at UCLA and offers private online classes using real-time video conferencing.
What was the first movie you ever remember seeing or the one that made the most impact on you as a child?
Star Wars! I saw that movie and so wanted to grow up and be a Jedi, or at least have friends who were Jedi’s. Or maybe hang out with people who knew people who were friends with Jedi’s. And if that couldn’t pan out, I at least wanted a Wookie.
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
That’s simply an impossible question for a writer to answer and I won’t fall for it.
What word or scenario do you never want to see in a screenplay again?
If I were king, I would decree that nobody be allowed to have a character suddenly stricken by some terrible disease as a way of escalating the story. I would also hang out with Jedi’s if I were king.
What profession did your parents want you to have?
My dad just wanted me to be happy. My mom wanted me to be a writer. She would read all my stories when I was a kid and pretend they made sense and were good.
What profession, other than your current one, would you like to try if you could have a do-over?
I’d so be a magician. But not the big stage illusion kind. No way. I’d be the sleight of hand kind.
What drew you to the entertainment industry and specifically, why did you want to help writers?
I was so fortunate to have some really key people help me when I was first starting out. Without their advice and mentorship, I probably never would have made it. So I’m really drawn to trying to help other writers.
Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I once worked as a cowboy… at an amusement park. But I wore a real cowboy hat and rode a real horse. Those were the days!
What do you wish you knew about the industry before you jumped in?
Not to take everything so damn personally. And to relax and have more fun with it. I put way too much pressure on myself.
If you could impart only one piece of knowledge onto writers, what would it be?
There’s a reason why there’s such a huge failure rate among writers trying to break into the business. Some writers can come up with big concepts and a solid enough story, but are forever told their characters are flat and one-dimensional. Others can nail characters and dialogue, but always come up lacking in the structure department. Almost nobody can do both.
Most writers know which part they excel at and which part is holding them back. But they don’t know what to do about it. They read the books and take the seminars, but it never seems to help. In fact, it often ends up hurting their writing because a bunch of rules and formulas is never the answer.
The real solution comes from understanding how to identify your weaknesses and turn them into strengths through a process known as creative integration. For most of the writers I’ve worked with, creative integration is the key that springboards them into a career. For more information, please visit my blog article on Turning Weaknesses into Strengths at coreymandell.net.
If you could go back in time and talk to your 18-year-old self, what advice would you give?
Stop worrying so much! It’s going to work out. Not the way you think it will, but in even better ways.
If you have any other fun tidbits you want to add, go for it!
I’m currently having way too much fun watching Mr. Robot.
- Read Corey's Reel Story Column
- Website: Coreymandell.net
- Sign up for Corey’s Newsletter
- Follow Corey on twitter: @coreymandell
- Follow Corey on Facebook
- Learn How to Creatively Integrate