Su-City Pictures East, LLC

Screenplay & Film Consulting By Susan Kouguell

Month: March 2016

Susan’s LIVE WEBINAR: Write and Sell Nonlinear Screenplays

LIVE WEBINAR: Write and Sell Nonlinear Screenplays: Nolan, Kaufman, Tarantino, and More — with Susan Kouguell

Monday, March 14, 2016 1:00 PM PT / 4:00 PM ET

At a Glance

  • A live webinar detailing the essential elements for writing a nonlinear narrative screenplay.
  • Reveals film executives’ evaluating process to determine if a nonlinear narrative script is successful.
  • Discover specific tools on strengthening and writing nonlinear narrative screenplays.

Please note: If you purchase any webinar, you will get a recorded version of the webinar sent to you after the presentation day. So if you can’t attend live, you will still get all the materials.


Writing a nonlinear narrative feature screenplay demands a comprehensive understanding of storytelling structure. This webinar will discuss nonlinear storytelling with an eye to the theory that screenwriters must understand the conventional rules of screenwriting in order to successfully break them. Anticipating and understanding what film industry folks require is essential to writing a screenplay that breaks the rules of the traditional three-act structure.

During this live webinar, Susan Kouguell will offer specific tips for creating nonlinear narrative scripts. Advice and discussion will include analyses of both traditional and nonlinear structures seen in various films, strengthening visual storytelling, developing and implementing character and plot conflicts, and genre consistency. Discussion will also cover understanding film executives’ expectations without compromising the writer’s vision and creativity.


A Conversation with Sheila Nevins President HBO Documentary Films

A Conversation with Sheila Nevins
President HBO Documentary Films

by Susan Kouguell

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A Conversation with Sheila Nevins President HBO Documentary Films by Susan Kouguell | Script Magazine #screenwriting

“Diversity is economically intelligent.  And it turns out that excellence is diverse.”
— Sheila Nevins

At the 2016 Athena Film Festival held at Barnard College in New York City, Sheila Nevins, President of HBO Documentary Films, presented a poignant and often funny Master Class to the audience of screenwriters and filmmakers, moderated by Athena Film Festival co-founder Melissa Silverstein.

Sheila Nevins is responsible for overseeing the development and production of all documentaries for HBO, HBO2, and Cinemax.  As an executive producer or producer, she has received 28 Primetime Emmy Awards, 32 News and Documentary Emmys, and 40 George Foster Peabody Awards. During her tenure, HBO’s critically acclaimed documentaries have gone on to win 23 Academy Awards.

What Nevins Looks For in a Project

“What makes a great documentary for me is something human.  It’s finding empathy for people you might never meet; it’s something in you that relates very closely to them. I sometimes look for the little stories, people you might not know. People you might forget. I’m interested in average, ordinary things. I’m not name or celebrity conscious. I’m people conscious. I’m particularly interested in original experiences. Ordinary people have extraordinary tales.”

An Unlikely Mentor

“I was constantly aware of ugliness and sadness. My mother was ill and had an arm amputation below her elbow.  Many years ago we were in Chock Full o’Nuts, and it was very hot. My mother had a knot tied at the end of her sleeve and I said, ‘Let’s pull up the sleeve.’ And we did.  And the woman next to us said, ‘I can’t eat if I have to look at that.’ That woman was my mentor.  I’m ashamed to say I tied that knot on my mother’s sleeve back on.  Maybe I’m making up for that. Nothing is too ugly or too true for me.”





Karyn Kusama
Karyn Kusama

By Susan Kouguell

At the 2016 Athena Film Festival held at Barnard College in New York City, writer and director Karyn Kusama presented a Master Class in directing. Offering honest and often humorous anecdotes about working and surviving in the film industry, (it took her ten years after graduating from NYU film school to find representation), Kusama shared insightful advice to the audience of screenwriters and filmmakers.


Kusama wrote and directed her first feature film, “Girlfight,” in 1999, which won the Director’s Prize and shared the Grand Jury Prize at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. In 2004, Karyn directed the science fiction love story “Aeon Flux” for Paramount Pictures and her third feature, comedy-horror film “Jennifer’s Body,” written by Diablo Cody, was released by Twentieth Century Fox. Her latest feature, “The Invitation,” won the Grand Prize at the Sitges Film Festival, among other awards, and will be released in March 2016 by Drafthouse Films. Kusama’s television directing credits include “Billions” and “The Man in High Castle.”

Emphasizing the importance of being authentic and bringing something different into the room (a meeting, on a film set), Kusama stated, “Know how to say no and be specific on what you need. All these things take practice. ”

About “Girlfight”



“I was open and willing to sit with studio heads. I kept hearing the words ‘NO’ and ‘WHY’? People couldn’t wrap themselves around the story. ‘Why does this Latina need to be a boxer? Can she be a grownup white girl?’ I was more interested in the girls I rode the subway with every day. I started boxing myself in a well-known gym called Gleason’s, and saw a lot of guys who found so much family and serenity in the ring, and I thought what an incredible opportunity it was giving them. What about their sisters and girlfriends? Boxing is almost its own trope. “

The Studio’s Genre Shift for “Jennifer’s Body”

“Jennifer’s Body”
“Jennifer’s Body”


“It was a horror film and a girl comedy. My pitch to the studio was: ‘It’s a horror movie about toxic female friendships and when they get too close it’s monstrous.’ As I was shooting the film, Screen Gems Studios released a remake of “Prom Night.”