Screenwriters You Need to Know: Part V

By Terris Ko · March 9, 2015

Not every writer has the opportunity to work in both film and television. Here are five that have, and have made their marks on both fronts.

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1. Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin’s first writing credit came with his script for A Few Good Men (based on his play, which he reportedly first wrote in pieces on cocktail napkins while bartending). Master of dialogue Sorkin went on to write The American President, but then spent much of the ‘90s and early 2000’s shaping the way TV was written, with shorter-lived shows like Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and also, of course, The West Wing. Sorkin turned his attention back to features with Charlie Wilson’s War, Moneyball, and The Social Network (but hasn’t left TV behind, also creating and writing HBO’s The Newsroom).

2. Joss Whedon

Today’s rise of the superhero action blockbuster hinged in large part on Marvel’s ability to realize its Marvel Cinematic Universe, which in turn, relied on the success of The Avengers, the first linchpin of the Marvel film series; if The Avengers failed, the future of the MCU could have been thrown into doubt. The success of all of the above owe a large debt to Joss Whedon, the “fanboy” who was able to weave together the several strings handed over to him into a satisfying tapestry of story, character development, action, adventure, geekdom, and pure fun (which critics of DC Comics’ approach to its films have. Looking at Whedon’s wide-ranging resume, with credits including Toy Story, Roseanne, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (both the film and the show), Firefly, and an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, no wonder Whedon was able to give us just enough of everything in The Avengers to keep us satisfied.

3. Damon Lindelof

Since his days on Lost, Damon Lindelof has gone on to become one of the most well-respected and sought-after writers in Hollywood. Famously brought on to help with some of the highest-profile rewrites in recent years, Lindelof is credited for saving World War Z by revamping the last act (but on the other hand, has received his fair share of criticism for his work on other projects, like Prometheus).

4. Frank Darabont

From early on in his career, Frank Darabont had leanings towards horror, with The Blob, The Fly II, and Nightmare on Elm Street 3 under his belt, and credits for episodes of Tales From the Crypt on HBO. Less of a surprise, then, that the first writing-directing credit for Darabont–the man who brought us indelible adaptations of Stephen King’s The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist–is Woman in the Room, a short film based on another King short story (one of King’s favorite Dollar Babies). More recently, Darabont has given us something to look forward to every week on TV, shepherding his vision of The Walking Dead through its seminal first season.

5. Paul Haggis

Long before he became an Oscar Award-winning screenwriter with Crash (NB: he also garnered Oscar noms for Million Dollar Baby and Letters from Iwo Jima), Paul Haggis had his start on TV, with credits on dramas like Walker, Texas Ranger, L.A. Law, and thirtysomething. Even before that, Haggis had written episodes of classic ‘80s sitcoms, including The Facts of Life, One Day at a Time, and Diff’rent Strokes. Since Crash, Haggis, with his special brand of character insight, has gone on to help reintroduce the world to 007 by having a hand in the scripts of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.