Columbia Filmmakers Spotlighted in New Book, ‘Alternative Scriptwriting’

Angeline Dimambro
March 06, 2023

The sixth and latest edition of Alternative Scriptwriting: Contemporary Storytelling for the Screen (Routledge, 2023) features contributions from several Columbia filmmakers, including Cyril Aris ’17, Ellie Foumbi ’17, Missy Hernandez ’17, Jimmy Keyrouz ’16, Chloe Lenihan ’16, Adjunct Assistant Professor Valerie Castillo Martinez ’16, George Sikharulidze ’17, and Isold Uggadottir ’11.

The book, written by Ken Dancyger, Jessie Keyt, and Jeff Rush, dives into all the key aspects of scriptwriting, including structure, genre, character, form, and tone. The book also presents alternatives to the traditional three-act story structure, going beyond teaching “how to tell a story” by teaching its readers how to write against conventional formulas to produce original, exciting material. The updated edition also includes new examples from contemporary and classic cinema and episodic series, as well as additional content on strategies for plot, character, and genre. 

Martinez originally met Keyt, who had previously taught at Columbia University, through the Cine Qua Non Lab, which was co-founded in 2010 by a group of independent filmmakers, including alumnus Jesús Pimentel Melo ’11, now Executive Director, as well as alumna Sarita Khurana ’11 and Assistant Professor and Screenwriting Concentration Head Christina Lazaridi ’98, both of whom serve on the lab’s executive board.

“I worked closely with Keyt as well as Lenihan and Hernandez on developing our scripts, and she is very familiar with our ideas, some of our past film work, and our writing process,” Martinez said. “It was quite surprising and flattering to hear back from her about contributing a quote to the book and to be considered an ‘emerging contemporary storyteller.’ She wanted to hear from new and diverse voices and I really appreciate her valuing our input and getting a wide variety of responses from writers, directors, and producers. I appreciated being represented as a writer and producer. I was able to share how I approach my process into contemporary storytelling, as well as the unique challenges I face as a writer and producer.”

Read more about the book and purchase a copy here.