Three Things We Learned From Screenwriter/Producer Michael H. Weber ‘00
By Marlena Ahearn, senior magazine major
Michael H. Weber is a screenwriter and producer of various films including “500 Days of Summer,” the adaptation of “The Fault in Our Stars,” and the critically acclaimed independent film “The Spectacular Now.” With his writing partner, Scott Neustadter, he has worked as a writer since graduating from Newhouse in 2001. When he started out, he moved to New York and was fortunate to get a job that allowed him to be in the industry and have plenty of time to write. He notes that it took many years and perhaps a stroke of luck for success to come. Many years and many scripts later, Weber joined us for a discussion — moderated by Professor Evan Smith at the Fisher Center in New York City— to speak about his career, his successes, and how he got to where he is today. Here are three incredible pieces of advice he shared with the Newhouse NYC class and invited guests.
Never Stop Writing
Writing as a job is hard — it takes dedication and commitment. In the beginning, Weber noted he “wasn’t the funniest, and didn’t have the most connections, but I was the one who didn’t stop doing it.” That drive to be a writer was key to his success. He didn’t get sidetracked by a time-consuming job doing something he didn’t love, he committed to writing and ultimately, he attributes that drive to his success.
Having a Presence in LA is Key
Weber moved to New York City when he graduated, whereas most of his colleagues moved to Los Angeles. As a screenwriter, he still lived in New York City — the key is having a presence in LA. His writing partner, Scott Neustadter lives in LA and takes meetings and Weber does the same in New York. Whether you choose to move to LA, be bi-coastal, or stay in New York, you should commit to having a presence in LA.
Work Fast, Stay Passionate
Weber reiterated throughout the night how he and his partner outline extensively, including transitions, character arcs, and as many details as possible. With those incredibly specific outlines, the writing process goes quickly. The screenplay for “The Fault in Our Stars” took the duo only six days to write. Weber said that working quickly is crucial, because he doesn’t want to lose passion for the project. In getting it done quickly, the excitement and investment in the story and the characters doesn’t wane.
Thank you again to Michael for sharing your story and advice with us. We loved meeting you!