Jenny Turner Hall
screenwriter to watch
Jenny Turner Hall is a Peabody Award recipient and an irrepressible storyteller with a DIY spirit. She writes, produces, and performs stories in almost every genre. She is executive producer, writer, and director of The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel, deemed “the Serial of children’s podcasts.” Mars Patel won the Peabody in 2017. Paramount has optioned the project for television. It will also be a serialized novel. Jenny recently started a punk band, and is writing fiction for young adults. Her characters are underdogs, misfits, and interplanetary travelers.
How did you break in?
When my plays started having special effects, action scenes, and montage sequences, it occurred to me I might be writing movies.
Co-Creator of Mars Patel, Film/TV Writer, Playwright, Podcast Creator
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
At some point, pulling an all-nighter to hit a deadline isn’t an option. I have face planted into a subway column before—I know of what I speak.
What has been your hardest scene to write?
I’m working on a podcast with an addiction storyline, and it hits close to home. I can feel myself writing around certain painful moments, or avoiding them entirely. It’s really useful having a partner on this project. She helps me go there.
What do you feel was your turning point?
Mars Patel won the Peabody Award, and that was a defining moment. The Peabody slogan is “stories that matter.” It’s humbling—and very encouraging—to think you’re making impact; especially on kids. Here’s what’s also humbling: getting notes from your twelve-year old about your podcast.
What are you working on right now?
Making music, being a working artist, being a mom, laundry, fighting the man… and using it all as fodder for a TV show. That’s one of things I’m doing. I’m also dreaming up the third season of Mars Patel, producing a serialized musical, and writing about big-hearted teens that resort to vigilantism.
What are your favorite movies?
The 400 Blows, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Winter’s Bone, Waiting for Guffman, All That Jazz, Badlands, Coal Miner’s Daughter
Who are your favorite screenwriters?
Elaine May, Ruth Gordon, Diablo Cody, Buck Henry, Jay Presson Allen, Nicole Holofcener
What is your most Memorable AFF Moment?
Meeting writer Shelli Wright at AFF (2015) led to a future collaboration, my first feature film option, and a treasured friendship. When’s it 2 AM, and I’m ready to quit the entertainment biz, and I’m googling “can women be monks,” Shelli’s