Potter College News
Screenwriters Keith and Juliet Giglio on Writing for and Working in Hollywood
- Macy Kitchens
- Tuesday, November 7th, 2023
On Thursday, October 26, the WKU English department kicked off this semester’s Creative Writing Reading Series by hosting screenwriters and authors Juliet and Keith Giglio.
The husband-wife writing duo has an accomplished and wide-ranging career. They have written scripts for movies such as Tarzan, Return to Halloweentown, A Cinderella Story, A Very Nutty Christmas, and, most recently, Reba McEntire’s Christmas in Tune. They have also written several books, including books on how to write video games, comedies, and scripts. Most recently, Juliet and Keith have written two Christmas-themed rom-com novels: The Summer of Christmas and The Trouble with Tinsel. In addition to being successful writers (both for the screen and in print), they are also screenwriting professors —Juliet teaches at State University of New York at Oswego, and Keith teaches at Syracuse University.
Juliet and Keith joined via Zoom to give a “speed-dating” version of their career, from when they first met in an elevator during college to becoming a renowned and accomplished writing duo. However, despite their many accomplishments, they also recounted their many setbacks. Since their career began, the Giglios have made it through two Writers Guild strikes and a global pandemic. Many of their projects have fallen through throughout the years, including a movie with Bruce Willis that shut down four weeks into production. But instead of becoming discouraged, they learned to adapt. “We always try to have three projects kind of going at once—something that we’re just developing, something we’re actively working on, and then something that’s down the pike,” Juliet said.
After their career overview, Juliet and Kieth opened the floor for questions. Attendees got to learn more about how the Giglios balance the different areas they work in, how they have changed since grad school, and how they work as a team. Juliet and Keith explained that at the beginning of their career, they would often argue—mostly attributed to the fact that they had to share a keyboard and a laptop. But their writing process has gotten easier as technology has evolved; they are now both able to work on a screenplay at the same time. They also attribute their trust in each other to their success in writing as a pair. “If I have an idea and Keith’s like, ‘it doesn’t really work,’ I’ll be like, ‘Okay, you’re right, let’s think of something else,’” Juliet said.
Throughout their career, the Giglios have ventured into many different areas, from being assistants to writing for video games to writing Christmas movies —and much more in between. Creative Writing professor Jessica Folk hopes that students were able to see the value in opening themselves up to different opportunities and career paths. She also hopes that students were able to “get a sense of the range of things that they can do in their time as writers.”
Folk, who helped coordinate the event, believes that this is what is at the core of the Creative Writing Reading series. “Students can see this career-in-writing model—what that looks like, how different it is for different folks,” Folk said. Birhanu Gessese, a Creative Writing graduate student, shared the sentiment of the importance of the reading series. “It brings the creative writing learning home,” Gessese said. “We can ask questions and learn from those who have been on the same path for longer.”
Keith Giglio’s parting message showcases the type of advice creative writing students were able to learn by hearing from such successful writers: “At the end of the day, your job is to be a storyteller, and I always say: it’s not who you know, but who you are, and what you can put into your stories, and what lens you can look at the world through.”