Based on a True Story: Keeping It Real…Or Not

with Ellin Stein

Based on a True Story: Keeping It Real…Or Not image

Producers and audiences are hungrier than ever for stories with their roots in reality, whether ‘based on’ real events or just ‘inspired by’ them.

Encompassing stories of true crimes, financial and political scandals, historical injustices, space exploration, and biopics of everyone from Elton John to Colette to Harriet Tubman to Laurel and Hardy to Roger Ailes, the ‘based on real events’ script is having a moment.

How do screenwriters stay faithful to the ‘truth’ of a true story while tweaking the facts to make the narrative work dramatically? How many liberties can you take before you’ve left reality behind altogether? In this panel, some of the form’s best practitioners will grapple with these and other questions to help guide you while writing your own biopic.

Appearing in this session

Ellin Stein

Ellin Stein – Script Editor, Educator

Author of That's Not Funny, That's Sick

Ellin teaches screenwriting on the MA Script Writing programme at Goldsmiths and has worked in development for numerous production companies in the US and UK.
Ellin Stein

Screenwriting Practical Help

Beginner's Guide to Your FIRST Trip to LA and Hollywood

Beginner's Guide to Your FIRST Trip to LA and Hollywood

If your writing is even slightly leaning toward the international or American sensibility, needs greater scale with a stellar cast and associated distribution (and even if it doesn’t), every writer SHOULD make a trip to LA… And sooner rather than later.

Every Payoff Needs a Setup

Every Payoff Needs a Setup

If you have a problem with your end, you really have a problem with the beginning. Every payoff needs a setup. The more satisfying the payoff, and we all love a good ending, the more work the writers have done in the first thirty pages of the script.

First Impressions Matter… Delivering the Killer Opening Pages

First Impressions Matter… Delivering the Killer Opening Pages

In this session, we will be confronting many of the immediate reasons a producer, reader or exec might put down your script within ten minutes and reach for the next one on the pile.

How to Write Characters that Change Authentically and Satisfy Audiences

How to Write Characters that Change Authentically and Satisfy Audiences

Character transformation is at the heart of most screenplays, but why is it so important? Is character transformation just a tried and tested Hollywood formula based on outdated hero myths?

Mining for Meaning

Mining for Meaning

How exploring the innate yet immutable web of connections between genre, subject matter and theme can help you tell more engaging and profound stories.

PitchFest Bootcamp with Bob

PitchFest Bootcamp with Bob

Great American Pitchfest Guru Bob Schultz will start every day with a short 30-minute PitchFest bootcamp to get you ready for your pitch!

Science(ish): Science Goes to the Movies

Science(ish): Science Goes to the Movies

Hollywood’s take on technology is more important than you think. William Goldman famously said that, in Hollywood, nobody knows anything. But it’s not true. Many of Hollywood’s directors, producers and screenwriters know a lot about science.

Small Canvas, Big Picture

Small Canvas, Big Picture

How to use stakes, scope and scale to tell BIG stories in small settings. Writing to get produced, even on lower budgets, will significantly improve your chances of getting your script to set. And everyone loves a high-stakes story in a smaller setting and reduced scale…

The DIY Script Doctor – How to Find and Fix the Flaws in Your Script

The DIY Script Doctor – How to Find and Fix the Flaws in Your Script

It’s not always easy to see them, but 90% of the flaws in your screenplay can be self-diagnosed, providing you know how to analyse a script.

What Makes a GREAT Adaptation?

What Makes a GREAT Adaptation?

How to identify the elements that lead to getting sold and produced. Adaptations are so ubiquitous: about half of Hollywood movies are adaptations, which also includes movies based on real people. An interesting novel doesn’t always become an interesting movie, nor does an interesting life.