Dan Berendsen on how he taps into the teen psyche

By Archana Ram
Updated August 27, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

Camp Rock 2 screenwriter Dan Berendsen, 46, has penned multiple Disney hits, including the film versions of Wizards of Waverly Place and Hannah Montana. Here, his tips for tapping into the teen psyche.

Never forget your first time(s)
”I wish I could say I go into an office [with] posters from my teenage years, [but] I have no secret teen lair,” he says. ”Everybody’s been a teen. I just sit down and remember that emotion — the first love, first heartbreak, first big adversity. It’s that raw emotional time.”

Use those family connections
Berendsen goes straight to the source — his two nieces, ages 10 and 13 — for feedback. ”We’ll go for a walk and I’ll pitch what a story might be,” he says. ”The minute I get that halfhearted response, I know I’ve wandered into the wrong territory.”

Rewrite history
Berendsen admits that his adolescent years were classically angst-ridden. ”Every day was a little bit of a roller coaster,” he says. ”I never got to go to camp, but [Camp Rock 2] is my impression of it. This is my wish fulfillment.”