'Milk' Writer Dustin Lance Black Explains How to Write a Screenplay

July 15, 2014
Source: Academy Originals

Dustin Lance Black

We've featured some cool shorts from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that have gone behind the scenes of the special effects behind Jurassic Park and also showed comedian Patton Oswalt unleashed on their film archives so he could choose a movie to watch at the New Beverly in Los Angeles. The latest Academy Original is a little more informative though, and it's a must-see for anyone who is aspiring to write motion pictures, or anyone who has a great interest in filmmaking in general. Milk and J. Edgar screenwriter Dustin Lance Black explains his process of writing a screenplay, and it's fascinating. Watch!

Here's the Creative Spark featuring Dustin Lance Black from Academy Originals:

Black definitely knows what he's doing, especially since he won as Oscar for writing Milk. And if you're not already aware, the screenplay is the most important part of the filmmaking process. You can make a bad movie with a great screenplay, but it's impossible to make a good movie without an amazing screenplay. This is one of the more in-depth and extensive looks into the writing process, from the massive collection of notecards to arrange scenes to the long hours spent rewriting the script that already took forever to complete a first draft. It's a painstaking process, but it's absolutely integral to truly great filmmaking. Cool?

Find more posts: Cool Stuff, To Watch



This is amazing. everyone interested in storytelling could benefit from learning from this guy!

jay on Jul 15, 2014


I've always loved watching people and their personal process. Everyone has something different they do. This one is unique.

Quanah on Jul 15, 2014


I agree with you. Everyone is different. For me I could not see myself using this process then again I have yet to write a feature length script nor am I even close to his talent yet. I have a lot of respect for him and his process though.

Franklin Carpio on Jul 15, 2014


Well, if you are working towards being a serious writer, I'm going to pass on some advice that was given to me by my father a long time ago, who has written several articles, short stories, and a few books. He said: "In order to excel at anything, and this includes writing, you must hoard the time needed to accomplish that excellence." DL Black obviously hoards that time. Just like Michael Jordan hoarded his practice time, Mother Teresa hoarded her humanitarian time, Neil Armstrong hoarded his preparation time for the moon landing, etc. I vote you hoard that time needed for your writing Franklin. Protect it. Coddle it. Savor it. It's yours and you need it to finish your screenplay. Best wishes. 🙂

Quanah on Jul 15, 2014


Thank you very much! The support in the writing community is incredible. I write as much as I can, but i believe I would be more of the Mike White approach that I recently watched on an article titled "Tips on Impregnating your Brain Ideas". I'm still finding my niche, I just have to keep writing. Thanks for your words. Hopefully you'll read or see one of my shorts soon!

Franklin Carpio on Jul 16, 2014


Hi all, could some kind person point me in the right direction? Mr. Black says "this will be a 3,5 hour sort of tutorial on..." I have been looking high and low for the full length tutorial with no avail. Could someone please tell me where I can find/purchase it? Thank you so much for all your amazing content! This video is truly inspiring.

Jordan Jacques Aboutboul on Mar 20, 2015

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