All posts filed under “screenwriting

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Western Genre Mashup Movies Revisited

If you haven’t read the blog post Birth Of A Genre: Cowboys and Aliens, read it now.

Since that posting, we’ve seen Jonah Hex:

jonah hexThe U.S. military makes a scarred bounty hunter with warrants on his own head an offer he cannot refuse: in exchange for his freedom, he must stop a terrorist who is ready to unleash Hell on Earth.

Followed by Priest:

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My Script Magazine Mention Thanks To King Is A Fink and JeanneVB

Chip Street gets small (but very much appreciated) mention in Script Magazine

Script MagazineJeanne Veillette Bowerman wrote an article on the Script Magazine website, profiling two of my very favorite Twitter buddies, Julie Keck and Jessica King, a writing team collectively known as King is a Fink.

King Is A Fink FilmmakersJulie and Jessica have been incredibly successful building a social media presence, and it’s led to some real successes that otherwise may never have been available to them.

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BlueCat Screenplay Competition Newsletter Highlights This Blog

Color me incredibly appreciative. The BlueCat Screenplay Competition Newsletter featured a synopsis and link to my 10 Things To Think About When You Option Your Screenplay blog posting. Can’t thank BlueCat enough … for the extra traffic, and for the…

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Did this producer steal this screenplay?

On one of the many screenwriting forums I frequent, a screenwriter posed the question “Did this producer steal my screenplay?”

Good question. Here’s the story.

Did the producer steal the screenplay?Making the sale

It seems the writer was approached by a producer who was interested in one of her screenplays. They swapped a series of emails, exchanged several versions of a sales contract, and arrived at a purchase agreement. Yay for her.

The screenwright delivered her screenplay via email, the producer delivered the agreed upon sum. Again, Yay for her.

But the final contract didn’t arrive with the payment. In fact, neither the screenwriter or the producer signed a hard copy.

Time passed.

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What bad science fiction can teach us about writing screenplay description

Why too much detail destroys screenplay description – and pisses readers off

I just finished slogging my way through another script as a judge for a screenplay competition.

Yes, slogging. It was painful. It was boring. Frankly, I couldn’t finish it. I gave it a “pass”.

Because the writer gave me too much description.

Exactly how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop

too much hyper-specific screenplay descriptionThe screenwriter told us just how many steps a character took to cross a room (11), whether the couch was on the right or the left of the doorway (left), how many seconds a dog barked (5), and precisely how much space is between the lights in an alleyway (30 meters). I learned that the kitchen table is rectangular, and how big it is (approximately 33 inches by 60 inches).

I wanted to shoot myself in the head. For the record, this is not how you want to make your reader feel.

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How the crazy lady at CVS can help write character and dialogue

People watching may be the best way to hone those sub-textual writing skills.

on subtext and dialogueSo I was standing in CVS looking for a father’s day card for my son (note to self: There are no father’s day cards from dad to son-who-is-a-dad) and of course I wasn’t the only person who’d put it off perilously late.

To my right, a woman and her teen daughter scanning the rows of leftovers.

Enter screen right: A third woman, tension radiating from her clenched up little form like heat waves on a hot tarmac.

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What Screenplay Readers Really Want: The Interview

If you want to sell a screenplay, or win a screenwriting contest, you have to get past the gatekeepers: The Readers.

49th Films screenwriting and filmmaking blogThe Readers hold the keys to the kingdom … The Readers are the ones tasked with slogging through the “slush pile”, that unfiltered stack of screenplay submissions, and decide if any of them are good enough to pass up the food chain to the people who sign the checks. It’s The Readers who decide if the screenplay gets a “consider” (rare), a “recommend” (essentially a unicorn), or simply tossed out after failing to keep them engaged past page 15 (the fate of 99.9% of submissions).

The Readers are charged with reading stacks of scripts … dozens, hundreds of scripts … and they are, mostly, terrible scripts. Sad, but true. Anyone can press keys on a keyboard. Few can turn it into art. So The Readers get jaded, maybe discouraged, maybe even angry.

So how do you get your brilliant new screenplay past The Readers?

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Writing screenplay description with personal style

Finding your descriptive voice in screenwriting

Screenplays aren’t Literature.

screenplays aren't literatureIf there’s one core screenwriting truth you’re supposed to learn as soon as possible, that’s it. All the stuff that made your fiction writing awesome, all the flowery language, the detailed descriptions, and lengthy internal dialogues are anathema to the script. That two page treatise on your protagonists 1970’s wardrobe and its roots in a painful high school career fraught with bullying and inattentive parents? Fuggedaboudit. What got you gold stars in creative writing will get you tossed at page one by an intern at insertprodcohere.

In screenwriting, the industry tells us, your descriptive passages must remain simple, clear, minimalist. Describe ONLY what the viewer might see (with a few exceptions) and eschew Literary flourish (as well as directorial specifics – but that’s another discussion).

Play a little telephone

I often tell people: Imagine you’re watching an awesome movie (your movie is awesome, right?), and you’re on the phone with a friend. You’re describing to them what’s happening, while it happens. In fact, try it. Turn on the TV, call a friend, and see how it feels to really try to keep the story moving real time… 1 minute per page, 90 pages for 90 minutes.

Here’s what happens when you insist on being Literary on the phone:

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Faeries – the horror script – full release

Slowly publishing the Faeries feature horror script a section at a time online.

FAERIES – the full release

faeries feature horror moie script

FaeriesMovie.info

Become a fan on FACEBOOK

Faeries was an experiment in process, a personal challenge to complete a feature script from concept to completion in 12 weeks, and prove that we deserved the opportunity to deliver on a writing assignment. Did we make it? Read the writing blog – each day of the writing process was meticulously recorded. (Remember that the blog posts sort in reverse – so start at the bottom and work your way through ’em)

We finished the play, submitted it to 2009 Shriekfest, and were chosen as Finalists.

We’ve since had a half-dozen production companies request it… but we’ve also got a number of writer friends who wanted a peek. So we decided to release it a section at a time right here.

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11 more things to think about when negotiating your screenplay option

Got an offer to option your screenplay? Here are eleven terms you should know when talking to your attorney.

[See PART I – 10 things to think about when optioning your screenplay]

Okay, so you’ve gotten an option offer, you’ve thought about the 10 things, and you still want to do it. Now it’s time to talk to your attorney, and make some decisions about the negotiation points. Your attorney is going to toss some notes back to you for consideration, and chances are these things are going to be included. (There’ll be lots more than this… from simple typos to wholesale rewrites. But these are the top contenders for “things I think you should know”.)

Ask your attorney to spend some time with you to explain what they mean in the context of your deal… but here’s my take, based on my experience.

DISCLAIMER: I shouldn’t have to say this, but: I Am Not A Lawyer, I am not offering legal advice, and none of the numbers used as examples here should be considered recommendations or as examples of my personal previous contracts (which are none of your beeswax 😉 ). They are provided as  hypothetical examples only. Talk to your own attorney about your particular deal.