Hello! I’m Michael Koehler.
I like to imagine us having this conversation in a rock climbing gym… Over a pint… After an especially competitive round of Super Smash Bros. … Or better yet, while walking out of an IMAX screening of Christopher Nolan’s latest film. My best professional relationships have sprung from shared experiences, common interests, and genuine curiosity about each other’s lives. The magic’s not in trading business cards or talking shop; for me, personal connection is the spark that kindles a successful collaboration. That is where our story for the screen begins.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. I’m now an award-winning screenwriter orbiting NYC, LA, and The Netherlands, my current home-base. My work has been recognized by The Black List, The PAGE Awards, and Vimeo Staff Picks. Films I’ve written have featured at festivals worldwide, including the Oscar-Qualifying Cleveland Int’l FF and Palm Springs ShortFest, Nantucket, The Lower East Side FF, London Sci-Fi, and Sonoma, where my latest effort - existential AI thriller, WATCH ROOM - won the Jury Award for best dramatic short. It since has released to nearly 1 million views on DUST and Amazon.
I also ran Lights Film School for many years, training 1000s of students from 87+ countries in the art and craft of cinema, before closing to the public in 2021 so that I could dive deeper into select projects one-on-one. Through Lights Film School’s online curriculum, feedback and script coverage service, and popular indie filmmaking blog averaging 50,000 visitors/month, I had the privilege of building a diverse international community of ambitious storytellers for the screen. As a result, I’ve reviewed literally hundreds of movies and scripts at every stage of development, guiding them toward the fullest possible expressions of themselves.
More than 15 years of my life have been spent abroad, living and traveling across 5 continents, so I’m drawn to stories that span cultures and engage with global issues. As a writer, I specialize in “grounded genre”. As a consultant and creative partner, I help you unlock the full potential of your characters and develop the stories only you can tell. As both, I believe in the power of making the movie you uniquely want to see.
Currently*, I’m co-developing two feature film screenplays, an absurdist romance called The Dirty Oyster and a cross-cultural dramady called The Way Out. I limit the number of assignments I take on at any one time so that I can give each project the attention it deserves, but please feel free to reach out if you’re in need of a writer, story assistance, or even a committed collaborator. At the very least, we can compare movie notes! WTF are the philosophical implications of Tenant, anyway…?
*As of May 2021. I anticipate having more availability come July.
The script is extraordinarily clean. While nobody looks to specs to be 100% perfect, the higher the level of polish, the better the script serves as an example of craft. This one is definitely up to professional expectation. Great work.
The 2020 PAGE International Screenwriting Awards
WATCH ROOM | Short Film
THE OFFERING | Short Film
THEY CAME AT NIGHT | Short Film
A HISTORY OF GODS | Feature Film Screenplay | From a remote research station in the Chilean desert, a ragtag team of experts develops an AI to accelerate the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. When their creation detects a message from deep space, they must reply before another World War weaponizes their discovery and wipes out civilization. What the team brings to light tests their friendships - and what they think they know about themselves.
THE WAY OUT | Feature Film Screenplay, Cowriter | An ambitious student from Singapore prepares to honor his parents for financing his education abroad. When an unexpected disaster disrupts his plans for the future, Andy must improvise - and chooses to lie. As debts pile up and his visa time runs out, Andy struggles to “make it” in New York City, all while navigating his parents’ suspicions, his girlfriend’s frustrations, and his own expectations of himself.
LINEAGE | TV Pilot Teleplay, Cowriter | A homeless woman carves out a life on the streets of New York City. When a mysterious stranger saves her from an assassination attempt, Kensley discovers that she's heir to the throne in a transdimensional version of New York City embroiled in civil war. As the last remaining member of the royal family, she must unite a fracturing underground resistance and rescue her brother, who may have found the key to preventing a cataclysmic quantum event.
Over the years, I’ve come up with a very specific pre-writing process that unlocks the full potential of a screenplay’s characters while also informing story structure. It's not the only way to approach screenwriting, of course, but I find it helpful in ensuring an organic and compelling read that's anchored by characters who pop off the page.
I specialize in “grounded genre” but can adapt to almost any idea, assuming I find what I call my “way in”. I believe in writing from a place of authenticity and commit exclusively to projects I feel I can contribute to uniquely and meaningfully - which is why the first step in working together is a quick message from you about your project and what you need. This is an opportunity for you to share what you're working on, and for me to get a sense of whether or not I'm the right person to come alongside you and help.