Tag Archive for: Screenwriter


Diane Bell is a screenwriter and director of several indie films. Her first feature, Obselidia, premiered in Dramatic Competition at Sundance in 2010 and won two awards. One award was the Alfred P. Sloan Prize. Her second film, Bleeding Heart, is a drama starring Jessica Biel and Zosia Mamet, which premiered in 2015. Her third feature, Of Dust and Bones, which tackles the aftermath of violence is currently playing the festival circuit. In addition to writing and directing films, Diane teaches workshops on how to make a standout indie film. Her step-by-step guide to successful indie filmmaking, SHOOT FROM THE HEART, will be avail in bookstores from Oct 1, and online course is coming soon. The most valuable thing she has learned and that she likes to pass on in her instruction is to always trust your heart and to never back down from what you love. You can contact Diane through her website, https://www.dianebell.com/.



Interview Show Notes

[01:43] Getting started

  • Becoming a cinefile in school.
  • Teaching yoga in Barcelona.
  • When you’re told you have a great writing sample, but that it will never be made.

[04:00] She decided to find Mickey Rourke to give him her script.

  • Carrying around copies of her script, trying to make connections, and meeting a producer who loved the idea.
  • Connections through the producer brought the script to Mickey Rourke.

[08:10] Going to Wyoming to read and discuss new scripts.

  • One of the best creative experiences of her life.

[14:40] Making the decision to become a filmmaker.

[15:21] Overnight three films to be produced completely collapsed.

  • Losing these films almost felt like having a miscarriage.

[17:01] Writing Obselidia on her own.

  • Maintaining humble and low aims for this film.
  • Frustration at screenplays not getting made initiated her directing career.
  • Her movie wasn’t finished when it was submitted to Sundance.

[22:52] Feeling like Obselidia was a disaster.

  • Sundance accepted the film the next day.
  • Programmers told her Obsolidia was “just pure love,” making it stand out.

[27:55] The experience of Sundance.

  • On getting thrown into the deep end.
  • Her first film review was brutal.

[35:27] Mark Ruffalo’s advice…

[36:10] Critics don’t respect filmmaking in a certain way.

  • You have no right to hate on the work of others until you’ve made your own.
  • Good reviewers help you learn a lot and provide intelligent criticism.
  • She was told that she needed to do something bigger.

[44:44] Making her second film, Bleeding Heart.

  • Having to give up a lot of creative freedom.
  • The most important thing she has learned…
  • Feeling fear that if she didn’t sign for Bleeding Heart, her career would be over.
  • The energy behind an action is more important than the action.

[54:21] Teaching the filmmaking process to others because of this experience.

  • She realized that she chose herself to do what she wanted and that no one could stop her.

[59:30] Of Dust and Bones came out of her creative depression.

  • Questioning if it’s possible to change the world by telling a story.
  • Wanting to jump into intuition and go with her instincts.
  • Of Dust and Bones requires some work from the audience because…
  • Respect for films that give you space to wander and think.
  • No significant dialogue until 40 minutes into the movie.
  • The aim of her new film is to get it across digital streaming and let it find its audience.

[1:16:36] To make a film that has any chance of standing out and making an impact, you do need a certain budget.

[1:20:07] The best way to fundraise…

[1:23:34] Her book, Shoot for the Heart, is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be out in October.

[1:26:55] Loving LA but moving to Denver to raise her son.

  • Feeling like she didn’t know any “real” people because everyone was making films.

[1:32:17] You don’t need incentives to make movies.

[1:35:10] Working with Alex Ferrari of Indie Film Hustle on Obselidia

[1:39:30] The biggest lie we tell ourselves about making films is that…

[1:43:09] Throwing money at everything does not make for good creativity.

[1:45:53] The potential for people to monetize their work is incredible with today’s technology.

[1:47:25] As an artist, you’ve got to hustle and diversify.

  • Find a job that pays your rent until you reach a certain level that makes you money from the creative things you do.

[1:51:45] Colorado needs to make great indie films for the industry to boom.

  • The need to nurture the talent and support each other to make great work.
  • Diane would love to make a TV mini-series.

[1:56:28] Her best advice…

Links and Resources


Be sure to check out podcasts with other great guests in the film and media industry on our DMP Podcast Page!


Trai Cartwright is a 25-year industry veteran and a creative writing and business development specialist. She teaches, produces and writes screenplays and novels. While in Los Angeles, she was a screenwriter, independent film producer and story consultant, and development executive for HBO, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, and New Line Cinema.

She was the assistant director for Leonardo DiCaprio‘s online endeavors, and the manager for 20th Century Fox‘s Mobile Studios. Trai currently teaches creative writing, screenwriting, and producing for Western State Colorado University, Denver University, and CU Denver. Conferences, cons, and one-on-one as a development and story editor. She's the screenwriter of Secret Ellington, and the producer of a docu-webseries called Hidden Tigers, and a short film called Sundown Road.

Show Notes

[1:20] Trai’s background

[2:36] Growing up as a child writer and storyteller

[3:09] Trai's introduction to screenwriting, film, theatre, and community at NYU

[4:52] The discovery that crew work was not her calling

[6:17] Trai's first studio job at Orion Pictures, Sharon Bidal, and Wordperfect

[7:50] Lessons obtained (in hindsight) about education

[9:59] The film industry and the adventurous spirit

[11:50] Figuring out how you want to work

[12:48] The value of being a PA

[13:22] How Trai earned her money

[16:29] Decompressing in Fort Collins

[18:02] Doing time in Chicago, and a fortuitous encounter in a pool hall

[19:50] Gary Marshall, Northwestern University, and Avid editing systems

[21:38] The Honeymoon Period, and learning when to call the fire department

[25:43] Heading to LA with Dawn Wildsmith, Surf Nazis Must Die, and being a PA in LA

[32:19] How temping changed Trai's life

[33:54] Working in the industry, and The Irv Scheckter Company

[36:12] Adventures with Prelude Pictures

[38:24] Lost in Space in Marilyn Monroe's old dressing room at Paramount Pictures

[39:33] VP of Creative Services and Peter Saphier

[41:11] Side work with writers

[42:47] Working remotely as a viable option in the film industry

[44:25] Amassing skills as a crew person in Colorado

[45:24] The need to go where the opportunities are

[48:00] Filmmaking as a career vs. a hobby/project

[49:30] 10,000 hours to expertise, 5,000 hours to competence

[50:30] Ambition vs. heart – for writers, directors and producers

[51:47] Having the persistence and be willing to truly commit in the film industry

[53:15] Savoring the brilliant moments and learning to fall

[55:21] Living in Colorado while working in the industry

[56:55] Building businesses in Colorado vs. California

[59:40] Working in Colorado

[1:01:22] The coup at Creative Artists Agency

[1:04:57] Teaching the business of show business

[1:06:37] The value of education

[1:08:00] Never stop learning

[1:09:45] Vet your educators in order to build yourself a community

[1:12:27] Leaving LA

[1:17:36] Creativity defined

[1:18:37] Marriage and creative people

[1:20:20] Shifting perspectives in order to succeed and be happy

[1:23:03] Pulling back in order to move forward, and lift other people up

[1:27:20] Creating a Master's Program with Denver Media Professionals

[1:28:28] Women in Film and Media in Colorado (WIFMCO)

[1:32:00] Find an organization that resonates with you, and become a part of it

[1:34:25] All the cool things that WIFMCO does

[1:37:05] Giving back and investing within the Colorado film and media industry

[1:40:16] The lesson learned over the last year

[1:42:11] The biggest life lesson

[1:44:40] Advice for aspiring screenwriters

Links and resources


Be sure to check out podcasts with other great guests in the film and media industry on our DMP Podcast Page!