Producer and screenwriter; WGA member who, as an executive at Paramount Classics, oversaw Black Snake Moan and Mad Hot Ballroom. Mr. Barlow worked as vice president of production at various major studios, including Orion Pictures (No Way Out, House of Games, and Back to School). His writing credits include the miniseries Kidnapped and the ABC drama Family.
There’s a fascinating paradox at the heart of writing for movies and television: the best work starts off deeply private. It comes from some place that is yours alone. Yet the process of “getting it made” invariably involves conflict and collaboration, facing up to what others see in what you have to say. How do you open up your own heart and soul and also deliver on what will undoubtedly be someone else’s agenda? Whether telling stories or getting stories told in the marketplace, the core question is always the same: “What Happens Next?” Dealing with reversal and recognition, suspense and surprise is the lifeblood of a writer. In the course of a project—and a career—you will almost certainly encounter those same four elements. How to best handle these encounters is the challenge, the threat and the glory. My goal is to help writers use their creative imagination to stay as close as possible to the action—on the page and in real life.
Our Students Say it Best!
“Michael is an amazing teacher. I was expecting lectures on the traditional three act structure. Instead, he introduced us to so many exciting tools and different ways of looking at structure, that I felt a new world had opened up. The result is that I feel I am much better equipped to assess my own work, and have better resources to help me deal with problems. And he didn’t just lecture about structure, but also about the creative process, which is very important.” —Writers’ Program student