Script brings you behind the scenes to get to know our family of contributors on a more personal level. Meet Jen Grisanti, author of Story Structure.
Bio: International speaker Jen Grisanti is an acclaimed Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy, Inc. Grisanti is also a Writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC, a former twelve-year studio executive, a blogger for The Huffington Post and author of Story Line, TV Writing Tool Kit, and her upcoming book, Change Your Story, Change Your Life. Keep track of Jen’s upcoming events on her webiste, Facebook and Twitter, @jengrisanti, and listen to her Storywise Podcast for more tips.
What was the first movie you ever remember seeing or the one that made the most impact on you as a child?
Kramer vs. Kramer was the movie that I remember seeing that had the greatest impact on me. I still vividly remember the French toast scene. What resonated with me is how to move forward with life after trauma.
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
The Lives Of Others/The King’s Speech/Imitation Game.
I LOVED all three of these movies equally. So, it’s hard for me to narrow it down further. The structure and emotion in all three were balanced incredibly well. All three stories had a strong emotional impact on me and moments in each of these films have stayed in my heart. I love that I could really feel the stories and understand the message.
What word or scenario do you never want to see in a screenplay again?
I don’t know that there is a specific word or scenario per se. However, I do like when writers go way outside the box and the writing isn’t what we’ve seen over and over again, yet still serves the story. I like when a writer knows how to utilize their emotional truth and make us feel like even though we may have seen the concept before in some other form, we’ve never seen it told like they tell it. I hunger for these moments in story. They are moments that speak to my heart.
What profession did your parents want you to have?
I’d say that my parents at one point probably hoped that I’d be a doctor or lawyer since this is what they do. However, when they saw my passion for entertainment, they did support me. They told me that if I graduated college in 4 years, I could do whatever I wanted to do. They fueled my dream. I am forever grateful for this.
What profession, other than your current one, would you like to try if you could have a do-over?
If I weren’t doing what I am now, I’d love to be a psychologist. I am fascinated with mind, emotion, and behavior. A lot of what I do in terms of working with writers and looking at character touches on psychology. So, I feel blessed to be doing something that is in part fueled by another of my passions on a daily basis.
What drew you to the entertainment industry and specifically, why did you want to help writers?
I was drawn to the entertainment industry because of my love of story and the idea of transformation. I saw what story did for me as a child. It often stopped the isolation that I felt and it helped me feel connected to something greater.
Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I am a Zen junkie. I love things that bring peace. I appear to be very social and extroverted. Yet, as I get older, I find great comfort with my inner introvert. I love when I have time to just be, breathe in and meditate in all that is. I love absorbing all that is going on around me and figuring how to transfer it to the page with a message that comes from the heart when I write books, blogs and articles.
What do you wish you knew about the industry before you jumped in?
I wish that I had a stronger belief at the beginning that all of my hard work would pay off versus getting frustrated that the dream wasn’t happening fast enough. I spent a lot of time struggling while climbing the corporate ladder. I wish that I had been more present in the journey versus so attached to the destination. The journey is where the gold is. The destination will come due to persistence and the love of the work.
If you could impart only one piece of knowledge to writers, what would it be?
Do the internal emotional work and take time to heal through each life obstacle. Understand your truth. When you do this, your writing will open up in ways that you never imagined.
If you could go back in time and talk to your 18-year-old self, what advice would you give?
I would tell myself to breathe and meditate more, worry less, be playful, live life, and be present and connected to the moment.
If you have any other fun tidbits you want to add, go for it!
Stay focused on the goal. Visualize it. Meditate on it. Believe it. Take action. Make sure that your actions are in alignment with the desired outcome. Know that anything is possible if you go in with intention and clarity and if you do the work.
Don’t be afraid to fail forward.
The struggle will always be there. Find peace in the struggle.