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Austin Film Festival’s 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2017, Presented by MovieMaker

Austin Film Festival’s 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2017, Presented by MovieMaker


Ben Snyder and Ari Issler

(L-R) Ben Snyder and Ari Issler

Who: Writing-producing-directing partners whose first feature, 11:55, will play in theaters this summer. Currently working on a miniseries for Lionsgate and a feature film based on the solo shows of John Leguizamo.

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?

Ben Snyder: If a scene is extra-hard, that’s usually a red flag for a larger problem. Do you really know your characters? Do you know the world? Should this scene exist at all? Try and listen closely to what’s causing the block.

Ari Issler: There was a time when if I was writing something I didn’t believe in, I would procrastinate until 2 a.m. and then turn to Adderall. I’ve replaced this with belief and green tea. I do miss the sunrises, though.

What are you working on right now?

AI: We have been developing a miniseries with Channel 4 in London and Lionsgate; writing a pilot for BET executive-produced by T.I.; and finishing up a draft of Birthright, our next film.

What’s been your favorite experience at Austin Film Festival?

BS: Going to hear Michael Arndt give a talk titled “Endings: The Good, The Bad and The Insanely Great.” That talk, which is not to be missed, was a huge “aha” moment for me about storytelling and skillful filmmaking. There are so many snake-oil screenwriting gurus out there, so to get the chance to listen to someone like Michael, a true master of his craft, break down his process and insights, was incredible.


1. Jono Matt and Glen Powell 2. Ryan Piers Williams 3. Etta Devine and Gabriel Diani 4. Lena Khan 5. Trey Selman 6. Tracy Oliver 7. Justin Lader and Charlie McDowell 8. Clint Bentley and Greg Kwedar 9. Damir Konjicija and Dario Konjicija 10. Juanjo Moscardó Rius 11. Ben Snyder and Ari Issler 12. Kyle Bugg 13. Jimmy Mosqueda 14. Michael Noonan 15. Geeta Malik 16. Josh Barkey 17. Nicholas Verso 18. Minhal Baig 19. Henry Jones 20. Kevin Arbouet 21. Megan Park 22. Wes Brown 23. Louisiana Kreutz 24. Kate Nowlin 25. Elizabeth Guest

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  1. Conspicuous by their absence are such stellar screenplay writers as Buck Henry (“The Graduate”), Robert Downey, Sr. (“Putney Swope”), Penny Lane (Nuts”)and Ben and Dan Barnz.

  2. Congratulations to all these writers! Knowing Ben Synder, who has worked with me on a scripts, I want to particularly congratulate him and Ari Lssler for achieving this endeavor in the ‘Storyworld’ of Cinema!

    Spiderwood Productions / Tommy G Warren, Writer, Producer.

  3. James Mayfield says:

    Very inspiring stuff. Loved to learn how these guys and gals got their big breaks, especially those who had little to no contact in LA. Sort of inspiring, and it kind of makes you forget, if only for a moment, that many screenwriters work less than minimum wage. There’s hope!

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