Radical Approaches to Screenwriting

Steven Bernstein has a unique perspective on the filmmaking creative process, particularly screenwriting borne from his unique experiences working on feature films for over forty years. He has worked as a cinematographer, director and screenwriter.


His principle interest is the understanding of the encoding of ideas using cinematic language, that engages an audience emotionally, viscerally and intellectually. He is interested in concepts of story structure, but he feels that an understanding of an audience’s reaction to things like lighting, composition, camera movement, music, elements of performance, editing pacing, and sequence coverage, profoundly affects a viewer’s experience of a film.


He has both experienced and witnessed filmmakers' creative process; the evolution of ideas from inception to execution.


For example, in screenwriting, he advocates NOT starting with an outline or detailed plan. The thinking is that if a plan pre-exists characters will serve the narrative and not either evolve or present as complex, and not wholly predictable sentient human beings. He believes that character is discovered through writing and a first draft must be free of order or intention.


The concept is that film is a combination of planning but also discovery. Bernstein examines all the processes of discovery.



Steven Bernstein ASC, DGA, WGA’s new film is LAST CALL which he wrote and directed which stars John Malkovich and Rhys ifans.

Previously he directed the award winning Decoding Annie Parker, also from his script, which starred Samantha Morton and Helen Hunt.

He has been commissioned to write a TV series which will be shot in Greece next year, he wrote another feature which is being shot in Spain later this year, and has just written another series being shot in the UK, France and India. He is directing an independent film in the US that he also wrote.

He has a new book coming out in the new year called The Filmmaking Creative Process to be published by Routledge, who also published his earlier book. He writes for several magazines. Check it out here:


Before he was a screenwriter and director he was a cinematographer, shooting the Oscar winning Monster among many others. He was an ASC nominee for his work on Magic City and a Sloane Award winner for his directing. He has worked in motion pictures and television for over 30 years and worked on over 50 feature films. He has also directed for the stage and shot and directed many commercials.

Having worked as a screenwriter, director, producer, actor and cinematographer on feature films, he has evolved a unique perspective on the filmmaking creative process.


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