BPS 94: The Emotional Pulse of Your Screenplay w/ James V Hart

Alex Ferrari • January 11, 2021

I’m so excited to bring this episode to the BPS Tribe. Today we have legendary screenwriter James V. Hart. James is the screenwriter behind some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters like HOOK, directed by Steven Spielberg based on an idea by Hart’s then 6-year-old son, Jake, BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND, directed by Brian Henson, and CONTACT, directed by Robert Zemeckis. MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN, TUCK EVERLASTING, AUGUST RUSH, SAHARA, LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE, AUGUST RUSH and many more.

“No one has a job in our business until you type ‘the end’.” — James V. Hart

Dracula has a special place in my heart as it is one of the major influences that made me become a filmmaker.

James has served on the faculty of the Columbia University Graduate Film program. Served as mentor and advisor at the Austin Writer’s Ranch, Sundance Film Labs, and the Equinoxe-Europe Writing Workshops for over 20 years in 11 countries. Hart has also conducted the Puglia Experience for writers and producers held in the Puglia region in Italy.

During the making of Dracula Francis Ford Coppola called James up and told him he hated everything about the story and the movie they had shot. James sat down with Francis and beat up the film and story. Frustrated that this happened, James set out to develop a tool that could help him map out the screenplay’s emotion before they ever start shooting.  The HART CHART was born.

Originally launched online at the 2015 Austin Film Festival, James has developed a proven story mapping tool for serious writers working in television, film, novels, plays, and other literary forms, with a guarantee you will never face a blank page again.

James and I discuss THE HARTCHART, his journeys in Hollywood, how he became a 20-year overnight success, what it was like working with master filmmakers like Coppola, Speilberg, and Zemeckis, and how he breakdowns a blockbuster story idea.

This is one episode for the record books. Enjoy my conversation with James V. Hart.