Award-winning screenwriter, Zak Penn talks money, adversity, and success… in the life of a screenwriter. Learn how he found early success at age 23, continuously develops his craft, and what it was like working with with Stephen Spielberg on READY PLAYER ONE.

Guest Biography

Zak Penn’s career began as a screenwriter when he sold his first script, LAST ACTION HERO, at the age of twenty-three. Since then, Penn has become known for his work on numerous films based on Marvel comics, including X-MEN 2 and X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, ELEKTRA, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, and most recently, THE AVENGERS. He has also dabbled in other genres, writing scripts for disparate films such as P.C.U., BEHIND ENEMY LINES and SUSPECT ZERO.

Penn’s shift into independent cinema began when he collaborated with his idol, Werner Herzog, on the script for RESCUE DAWN. Penn directed and co-starred with Herzog in INCIDENT AT LOCH NESS, his award-winning “hoax” documentary about the legendary director’s attempts to make a film about the equally legendary monster. THE GRAND, Penn’s second completely improvised film, was his third film with Herzog, and featured an eclectic cast including Woody Harrelson, David Cross, Ray Romano, Cheryl Hines, Dennis Farina and Gabe Kaplan.

In addition, Penn co-wrote the original story for ANTZ and produced the animated film OSMOSIS JONES. He has also acted in a number of independent films, including STAR MAPS and CHUCK & BUCK. His first foray into television was the critically acclaimed original series ALPHAS starring David Strathairn. Penn directed the documentary ATARI: GAME OVER for Xbox Entertainment Studios.

Penn most recently adapted the New York Times bestselling novel READY PLAYER ONE for Warner Bros. Directed by Stephen Spielberg, the film will be released in March 2018.

Penn is currently working on a script for Warner Bros set in THE MATRIX universe.

Show notes:

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Why adversity can be helpful in your career.
  • How there are so many factors outside of one's control in the life of a screenwriter.
  • The importance of enjoying the process of your work or whatever it is that you do.

Find more from our guest:

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Special thanks to Jim Kimo West for the music.

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Do you believe that embracing process can lead to success and happiness? Please leave a comment.