5 Things Screenwriters Can Learn From Boston Strangler Writer Matt Ruskin

I think running right at the thing you want to do is smart. I wish I did more of that earlier.

Brock Swinson


Photo Courtesy of Coxinha Nerd

Matt Ruskin is a highly regarded filmmaker celebrated for his poignant narratives and social commentary.

He gained widespread recognition for Crown Heights, a critically acclaimed film based on a true story, which earned him the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

Here are a few things writers can learn from Matt Ruskin


Be humble. “If you tell people what you want to do, but you know you need to start at the lowest level, they’re willing to give you that opportunity to be around and try and earn that experience.”


No one is going to help you. “I realized no one was going to help me and I needed to figure out how to self-generate material and push it up the hill. It’s sort of cliché. I got my hands on every screenwriting book I could, took a writer’s boot camp, and just did everything I could to educate myself.”


Reach out to people and make them your mentors. “It’s invaluable for me to talk to people who have learned the lessons ten times over. To be able to call them and talk to them about a decision that needs to be made or a challenge that we’re facing.”


Read screenplays. “I don’t have fantastic advice, but one of the things that helped me more than anything was getting my hands on good screenplays and reading them. See how great writers approach the craft. Anything from the way in which they describe scenes to the structure. I really recommend people do that. It’s easy. Everything is online and it’s available to everyone who wants it.”


Be concise. “Sometimes you can just tell by looking at how the words look on the page. Do they know what they’re doing? That’s a gross generalization, but experienced screenwriters, you’ll see less dense descriptions. It’s concise. It’s a good read. It has an energy to it. They all tend to kind of look similar to each other. Good screenplays have a momentum to them. If you have a story you need to tell, or a great idea, that’s going to break through.”




Bonus: Here’s a video we created on How to Write a Journalism Movie with Boston Strangler Writer Matt Ruskin: