The New Storytellers with Katie Ford

Screenwriter and playwright Katie Ford (Miss Congeniality, Desperate Housewives, Prayers for Bobby) explores the contemporary storytelling landscape in this unique interview series. Three-act structures and the Hero's Quest have become relics, replaced by fast-moving, inclusive, myth-based narratives that are more diverse and more interactive. It's an exciting time to be a creator and a storyteller, and these conversations will show you why.

Katie's four-part series will include game-changing Hollywood industry professionals like Carolyn Strauss—who ushered in new paradigms with shows like The Sopranos and Game of Thrones as an executive at HBO—and other TV and film creators who are working at the cutting edge of new storytelling forms.

Part essay, part interview, and part audience participation, for four Thursdays in October, this speaker series will not only make you think, it will let you know that the new storyteller is... you.



The Beginning of the New: HBO in the Late ’90s

Guest: Carolyn Strauss, former President of HBO Entertainment, now an independent producer (Executive Producer, Game of Thrones, Deadwood: The Movie, Chernobyl). Click to hear the conversation.

The premieres of Sex and the City in 1998 and The Sopranos in 1999 sparked a tectonic shift in both storytelling techniques and audience viewing habits. As blasé network fare gave way to new and dynamic forms of storytelling on premium cable, these shows made HBO the place to be for audiences and creators alike.

As President of HBO Entertainment, Carolyn Strauss played a major role in that shift. An executive ahead of her time, it has taken the rest of the business 20 years to catch up to where she started in the late '90s. Katie will talk to Carolyn about her vision for new modes of storytelling then and now, and her hands-off approach to working with creators, a revolutionary technique in itself that has since proven a great gift to audiences.


headshot of Steven Canals

Telling the Stories You're Meant to Tell

Guest: Steven Canals, Creator and Co-Executive Producer of the Emmy Award- and Golden Globe Award-Nominated PoseClick to hear the conversation.

Steven Canals took a look around the contemporary television landscape during his time as a Screenwriting MFA student at UCLA and noticed a huge gap in the representation of LGBTQ people of in, there wasn't any to speak of. So he decided to do something about it and created Pose in an attempt to start filling that representational space. But making change is never easy...

After pitching the show to 150 executives—none of whom wanted to buy or develop it—an Executive Producer from the History Channel named Sherry Marsh told Steven not to change a thing. She got it in front of Ryan Murphy, who saw Steven's vision and came on board as Executive Producer in 45 minutes. Steven is a study in the heart of being a writer, he and Katie will discuss his passion, his determination, and the powerful drive it takes to make a difference in storytelling.



Girls Girls Girls: The New Feminine Narrative

headshot of Jane Anderson

Guest: Jane Anderson, Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and playwright (Writer, Olive Kitteridge, The Wife). Click to hear the conversation.

Ever wonder what it is about contemporary narrative structure that makes shows ripe for a Netflix binge? It owes more to All My Children and Dallas than you may realize. What was once used to literally sell soap—writing about relationships, creating suspense, and fostering an audience's deep caring about characters—has become the stuff of Emmy nominations, and keeps audiences coming back for more.

In this conversation, Katie and Jane will discuss the feminine narrative and its journey from being a maligned women's genre (from radio to daytime soap operas and through to primetime soaps) to becoming the key ingredient in creating binge-worthy TV.



Creating a Black List Script

headshot of Megan Halpern

Guest: Megan Halpern, Director of Events at The Black List. Click to hear the conversation.

Every year, The Black List releases its prestigious list of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. Since its founding in 2005, four hundred Black List scripts have been produced, grossing over $26 billion in box office revenue worldwide. Black List movies have won 53 Academy Awards from 262 nominations, including four of the last ten Best Picture winners and ten of the last 22 best screenplay Oscars.

To close out the series, Katie will talk to Megan about what makes a Black List script, about where authenticity and heart meet box office, and about how to create work that resonates for a worldwide audience. It will be essential info for not only screenwriters, but directors and producers as well.