Published on November 10th, 2016 | by Biz Books

The Biz Interview: Eric Heisserer

As the screenwriter of the new sci-fi film, Arrival – in theatres on November 11th – Eric Heisserer can speak with authority about what it takes to create a story that will translate well on both a visual and intellectual level for film audiences. We caught up with him to find out more about his craft and the film.


What was your writing process like for Arrival?

It was akin to time in a laboratory. Lots of experimenting and research. Trying to find the right balance, the right alchemy in the story that made it all work.

What was the biggest challenge for you in writing this screenplay and how did you overcome it?

For a story with a core theme about the need for communication, I found it immensely difficult to communicate the ideas in the story in a way that didn’t talk down to the audience but also didn’t talk over their heads.

Where do you get your creative inspiration from?

Everywhere and anywhere. It’s an app always running in the background.

How did you get started in screenwriting?

I was working in the games industry and submitted a project that got rejected because it was “too linear, like a movie.” I took that rejection as a dare, and wrote the screenplay. It was a terrible mess, but my burning desire to become a screenwriter was forged in that experience.

What advice would you have for aspiring screenwriters?

Focus on craft first. Read a lot, write a lot. Then network. If you’re a woman or a POC you will likely have to work twice as hard to get half as far, so connect with as many peers and working professionals as you can. Stay visible. Then return to the craft.

What film-related books and authors have been influential in your career?

None. I steered clear of how-to and theory books.

From a screenwriting perspective, how would you describe the current state of the sci-fi genre and where will it go from here?

Science fiction in film is currently enjoying a bit of a comeback, and it’s not just pulpy action-heavy Philip K. Dick adaptations, either. I have no idea what the next phase will be, but I hope it won’t fade away again for some time.

What’s the most rewarding element of writing for you?

Having written.

What other projects are you working on right now?

I’m completing a spec, working on an original project at Sony, and writing a comic book.

Where can we find out more information about you and Arrival?

Oh man, good question. I tend to signal boost interviews and articles about the movie on my Twitter feed, so find me at @HIGHzurrer.


Thanks to Eric Heisserer for speaking with us!

Arrival is in theatres November 11th.

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