Suzanne Gundersenis Founder of ScreenwriteNOW and Inner Story Consultant who mentors & teaches screenwriters and industry creatives how to clear the path that lets their story flow.
Since 2015, she has skillfully helped screenwriters overcome fears, worries & blocks on demand, get focused and sharpen creativity, build tremendous confidence, and deepen their emotional worldview into wisdom & truth, to hook audiences into wanting more.She uses natural tools & techniques that relieve tension & stress, so her clients become more authentic and embodied in their work.
She expertly shares a technique she calls Neuro-Energy Tapping, a self-use acupressure technique that calms the mind and relaxes the body; combined with her 3RP Method, creates powerful shifts towards experiencing the 5C’s; centered calm, clarity, creativity and confidence!
Her programs “Just Write Now” and “Get Pitch Ready” have helped thousands of screenwriters get focused into their creative rhythm & flow, effortlessly finish scripts and pitch with confidence. “My Worldview” is a program that helps writers transform their personal hero’s journey, so they can express their authentic value and emotional truth in their writing & presenting their work.
Her work supports individuals and groups, she speaks & leads online workshops and programs. Visit www.screenwritenow.com to download her free e-book and schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your needs & goals.
What was the last thing you read/watched you thought was incredibly well-written?
So many things! But the one I’ve been watching recently has been QUEEN OF THE SOUTH. I particularly enjoyed the first two seasons because of the subplots. There were some exciting and integrated subplots that threw the main plot into a lot of twisting. I always feel like really good writing and really good shows have a lot of integrated storylines at lots of different levels; at the surface level, at the deeper level, sideways. I’ve watched other seasons since then, but the writing for those has been a little bit flatter, more one-dimensional.
How did you get started in the industry?
I’ve been working in natural stress management for over fifteen years, and about five years ago, I was approached by a writer who asked if I could help her with her writer’s block. She led me to another published author who was working on a series of books who asked if I could help her with her writer’s block. She then referred me to a good friend of hers who was a showrunner on a network show, and asked if I could come in and help her writers room. I had no idea what that meant. I just knew I could help people clear their blocks.
I got into the writers room and found out that there was a writer who was getting divorced, a writer whose child was diagnosed with autism, and there was another one who had dealt with the recent death of her mother. All of these distractions were coming into play as to why they weren’t cohesive in the writers room. I worked with them as a group to help them get back in the zone together, and I worked individually with those three to help them process what was really going on in their lives and distracting them from being creatively on focus and on point.
From there it’s been a lot of word of mouth. I’ve done podcasts, had my services offered as a prize at festivals, I get to speak and teach classes at different screenwriting schools, including through Zoom during COVID. It’s all been a lot of fun.
You focus more on helping a writer utilize their emotions as part of their writing process, which includes a spot-on accurate description as the writer’s own “hero’s journey”. Why is it important for a writer to focus on their own emotions as much as on what they’re writing?
What else are we writing if not about our own emotional wisdom? We are energy as a person. We’re energy in motion, which is emotion. We’re learning through lots of different experiences that we go through in life. The hero’s journey just seemed to be a really great way to analogize between the story that’s being written in our own lives and what we’re writing about is really our own lives. I take people on their own hero’s journey by looking at the top two or three unresolved life experiences that don’t sit with them very well. When we don’t process things, we put a closed door to it, which keeps us from being able to access the emotional wisdom. I help the writer go on their own hero’s journey to go and resolve those life experiences, so they’re not afraid to write from the places they’re trying to avoid.
When writers are writing, they’re really writing about different parts of themselves. If the writing is flat, it’s often because they haven’t done the work to transform their own hero’s journey and the unresolved life issues keeping the rich emotionally deep parts of themselves at bay. For them to be able to focus on their emotions and writing, and do it from a place of peace and wisdom, it’s very empowering and helps them to be able to write those deeply connected storylines that are really going to grab their audience.
Another common experience for writers is the dreaded writer’s block, which can be quite an obstacle. How does your Just Write NOW! program help a writer towards overcoming it?
We are either allowing or blocking, and that can be creatively, professionally, or personally. Just Write NOW is a program I developed which shows how to use one simple effortless technique to help the writer get back into focus. And not just mental focus, but into that creative rhythm and flow; that writing zone where they sit down and go “Oh my gosh, I just wrote for hours!”, or “I can’t believe I just made it through the whole first act!”, or “Those ten pages just flowed out of me!” Often that comes from being able to clear whatever is in the path that’s keeping you from your natural creative rhythm and flow.
Just Write NOW is a program that gives the fundamentals of a technique I call Neuro Energy Tapping, and a process I call 3RP, which stands for Resolve, Release, Reframe and Project. Neuro Energy Tapping is a self-use acupressure technique that helps to calm the mind and relax the body, and help the writer get into their rhythm and flow. It’s good for anybody dealing with all kinds of personal or professional obstacles, or experiencing “blank page syndrome”, or feels backed into a corner they can’t write their way out of.
The program lays out using this tapping technique to clear those distractions, and then using the 3RP method to help them transform that stress to get to a place of broader perspective about those distractions and back to the task at hand of that creative rhythm and flow. Once they’re back in there, I ask them to write down what their formula is for that. What do they tell themselves? What do they believe about themselves? What does it feel like to write? What are the best conditions to be able to write in? Is it the temperature? Is it an environment? Is it your favorite sweatshirt? Just Write NOW helps them to clear the distractions and dip into that creative rhythm and flow and really anchor it by identifying all the characteristics that keep them in that zone. That way they can get into it fairly quickly when they’re not there.
You mentioned “the 3RP Method”, which is a big part of your approach. What is that, and how does it work?
Resolve, Release, Reframe and Project, which is a sequence of how you’re processing distractions so you can get focused.
The first R is resolving. “How do we know our distraction?” What’s our evidence or proof? Is it a blank page? Did you get a lot of feedback from a manager or agent, and you’re resistant to doing it? Or maybe you’re feeling stuck. Whatever the symptom is, we’re looking to resolve it. We use the tapping technique to help them loosen the grip on that stress.
The second R is releasing it. When we’re doing this tapping technique, we’re sending a message to the part of the brain called the amygdala, as well as to the central nervous system to say “it’s okay to calm down now”. It’s easier to release something when we’re no longer feeling threatened, so that helps our stressed-out brain start to calm down too.
Once we’ve resolved and released it, we can move on to the third R of reframing it, which means once you’ve stepped out of a metaphorical tornado of blocks in your life and you’re feeling a little bit easier about things, how can you now think about that thing that was blocking you? What new ideas can you bring, whether it’s a new inspiration to write or a new way to look at the thing that was creating the distraction that’s not as big of a deal as it was before. And this happens in a way that’s truly unique and organic to the individual.
When that happens, I guide them towards the P portion, which is to project; to really look forward into their writing and be in that zone, where we can start to identify the formula for what it’s like to be in that creative rhythm and flow, and be able to go there when they need to.
You also mentioned Neuro Energy Tapping. What is that, and what are its benefits? Not just for writers, but for everybody.
I’m kind of a neuroscience geek. I call it Neuro Energy Tapping, but you may know it out in the mainstream world as “emotional freedom technique” or “the tapping solution”. The benefits are that it helps stop and slow the momentum of thoughts, feelings, the body’s reaction experience in the moment. It also helps to be able to open up new pathways for people to feel more at ease and get a result, and start building momentum in the direction they want. It’s a self-use acupressure technique where you literally use your fingertips to tap on energy points, and when you do that, you can shift and experience how you’re feeling your body, your emotions and your mind.
And it’s not just for writers. I just happen to apply it to help writers because it’s really a great technique to help clear distractions and get people focused; specifically for creative people to help them get into their rhythm and flow. Everyone can use it. It’s a wonderful, natural stress relief technique that can be used anytime, anywhere, to break the connection between the mind and body that might be causing stress or struggle.
It goes without saying that writing a screenplay can be exceptionally stressful. Was this part of the inspiration for your “reprogramming your stress” method? Is this something anybody can do?
Yes! Writers have so many great ideas, and that’s the fun part of writing. The real work of writing isn’t just the skill of putting it together, but being able to write from those places of emotional depth and wisdom. The process I take you through for reprogramming your stress is to be able to go to those distractions and processing them with the 3RP method. You can have those experiences and thoughts sit within you with that much more peace.
Once you’re at a place of peace, you can actually write more confidently, and really be able to put all the intricate parts of a script together. This involves a lot of thinking and emotion, so all that tapping helps to reprogram the stress to help spread it out into “bite-size pieces”. Take whatever’s causing the triggers and neutralize them to be able to allow that kind of organic refrain about how to go about doing the real work of putting the story together in a meaningful way.
You also offer a “Get Pitch Ready” package, which involves building confidence as part of pitching a project. Why do you think the idea of pitching is so intimidating to writers, and what are some potential solutions to dealing with it?
Get Pitch Ready is a program I teach that shares how to be able to really connect with your inner authentic value, and that’s what sells stories: you and your willingness to be seen and be authentic. Whatever story you’re writing, it’s probably been written a hundred times, but the way you tell it and your own willingness to be vulnerable to be sharing your own wounds, to expose yourself emotionally, is really what’s going to make you and your story stand out.
I’ve listened to a lot of pitches, and people just write it all out. It sounds great while they’re writing it, but it doesn’t bring that authentic voice to when they share it. I help people connect with their confidence, or what I call “their inner lion/lioness”, so when they stand up onstage like a lion, this commanding presence. That way they can deliver their authenticity in their pitch.
We’ve got to clear whatever references that we have that are keeping us in the way from feeling safe to be seen, whether we’ve been rejected in the past, or seen other people get rejected. I truly believe there’s no such thing as rejection. It’s either you’re being redirected to deeper levels of self-connection, which the more safe you feel within, the more you can authentically express that value to other people, and that’s what’s going to get people hooked onto your story.
People reading this may say, “That’s not how it was in the past.” And that’s true. It was a lot about what people thought others wanted to hear, or what they wanted them to be, but I think the value system of the future is authenticity, and the more you know your own value and can clear any worries or fears of rejection from the past, that’s what’s going to help you stand out and pitch with success.
In your series of YouTube interviews with experienced professional creatives, you ask each person for “the one golden nugget of advice” they’d pass along. Have there been any common themes, and have any really stood out for you?
There’ve been so many! I’ve done so many interviews, so everybody has their own unique story as to why they have that particular “golden nugget”. I don’t want to share anything specifically, because something might resonate for one person, but not for somebody else. All the incredible people I’ve interviewed have had some experience that’s led them to share what they learned from it in their own unique way. That’s what I love about the industry wisdom in the series I’ve been doing.
How can people find out more about you and the services you provide?
Check out my website – screenwritenow.com, which also includes my online classes, a list of my appearances on podcasts, and if you want to find out about private or group consulting work to help writers process what might be getting in their way of being able to be the best writer they can. I’m also on Twitter – @screenwritenow1
Readers of this blog are more than familiar with my love/appreciation of pie. What’s your favorite kind?
Pecan, and I love dark chocolate in it, because why not? With some nice whipped cream on top.
With all the writing-related stuff I already have going on, I’ve decided to add more one more item to my jam-packed plate.
Every once in a while, the idea for a short film will just pop into existence. Maybe just a concept, or a line of dialogue, or an image around which a story could be built. A few have been percolating in my noggin for a while, so why not start putting them down on paper – on a weekly basis.
I’m not going to say “one a week for a year!” or any nonsense like that. More like “one a week for as long as I can do it.” If it’s just a few months, great. If for some inexplicable reason it somehow actually does end up being a year, that would be amazing, plus I’d have 52 short scripts to show for it.
Nothing too big or overly ambitious. Most likely 5-10 minutes in length, and spanning a range of genres. But knowing me, there’ll probably be a joke or two thrown in.
Why would I want to do this? A few reasons. Like I said, sometimes I just come up with an idea and want to write it. Of the ones I’ve written so far, I think it would be pretty cool to produce at least a few of them (as well as quite the learning experience regarding filmmaking). The others I would make available to filmmakers interested in adding to their repertoire. Always seeing listings for that sort of thing, so why not give it a go?
I’d never really thought about writing shorts before, but after having done it a few times, I find it to be a great way to keep those writing muscles in good shape. All the same elements of a feature-length screenplay, but in a much more condensed version.
I go into this with no goals or expectations. It’s just something I’d like to try.
Hudson Phillips is a writer and producer from Atlanta, GA. He’s also the founder of ScriptBlast, an online community to help screenwriters navigate the emotional ups and downs of the writing journey, and host of the ScriptBlast Screenwriting Podcast.
What was the last thing you read or watched you considered exceptionally well-written?
The short story collection STORIES OF YOUR LIFE AND OTHERS by Ted Chiang is jaw-droppingly good. I don’t think I’ve ever read a short story collection where every single story is perfect. Each one is weird and memorable and moving and smart and tackles some big gigantic idea. I’ve also really enjoyed the Zoey Ashe series (FUTURISTIC VIOLENCE AND FANCY SUITS and ZOEY PUNCHES THE FUTURE IN THE DICK) by David Wong. Both are laugh-out loud funny with incredibly memorable characters in one of my favorite grounded science fiction worlds.
Movie-wise, NOBODY was a surprisingly fresh take on the action hero. I could use the same line to describe SHADOW IN THE CLOUD, another film that shook up traditional action films.
TV-wise, the first season ofKILLING EVE really blew me away. I can’t think of a TV show that surprised me as much as that.
How’d you get your start in the industry?
It is a very long, very winding road that has taken me here, where I still feel like I’m just getting started! I’d always been writing, but in my mid-20s I started taking it more seriously after a music career fizzled out. I ended up writing comedy scripts with two buddies of mine and the second script we wrote together (a sports comedy about church league softball) ended up getting optioned by Lionsgate films (thanks to a friend of a friend of a friend).
For a split-second we were “local celebrities” on radio and in the newspaper and then everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The writers strike happened, pushing it back a few years. Lionsgate changed out leadership and dropped the film. A local production company picked it up and made it, but completely threw our script out. I don’t think a single word of ours ended up on screen (I still haven’t seen it). So a quick high and low right out the gate. My two writing partners both gave up after a couple new scripts went nowhere, so I broke out on my own.
The problem with having writing partners is when you start writing on your own it’s like starting fresh all over again. So I leaned into the movies I loved the most – crazy sci-fi fantasy action adventure stuff – and started to write that. I’d write a script, send it out to connections in Hollywood, no one would be interested, and I’d write another one. I’d get occasional bites from a contest or the Black List, but nothing ever gained traction. I think in large part because I was a single dad to a young kid, so I couldn’t move out to L.A.
Pro tip: it’s SO much harder to make it in this industry if you’re not in the city where it all goes down. It was during this time of rejection after rejection that I started ScriptBlast as an online haven for writers to connect, talk about their struggles in a safe space, and find encouragement and inspiration.
Being stuck in Atlanta, I leaned into what the city had to offer, which was great filmmaking talent and started making short films. This was a great way to get to know local actors and crew, and we started pulling together our little “collective” of talent until eventually, in 2017, we shot our first feature film, THIS WORLD ALONE. It’s a post-apocalyptic drama / thriller about three women attempting to survive in a world without technology or power. And after a very long 4-year journey (with a year-long pause for COVID), the film was finally released in May and is now available wherever you rent or buy movies online.
THIS WORLD ALONE helped get my name out there enough and allowed me to make enough connections that I’ve since been hired to write a few other indie features. So while I’m not yet making a living at it, writing is bringing in a good second income right now. And I believe all these little seeds will eventually build momentum and add up to a career. Fingers crossed that 2021 is the year that it happens!
Is recognizing good writing something you think can be taught or learned?
It’s interesting that you say “recognizing good writing” and not “becoming a good writer.” I don’t think recognizing good writing is something that can be taught or learned. But I don’t look at good writing that way. Good writing is a feeling. Good writing is being whisked away to another world and laughing and crying and cheering and getting done and immediately wanting to go back. A technically excellent screenplay that checks all the screenwriting boxes is not necessarily “good writing.”
But I also think most people can be taught to become good writers (some just might take more time than others). I’d put writers into three categories:
Writers who can recognize good writing and turn around and immediately write an excellent story.
Writers who can recognize good writing but struggle to write an excellent story.
Writers who can’t recognize good writing and will therefore never write an excellent story.
The ones who can be taught are in that middle level but I think 90% of us are in that middle level. We know what a great story looks like but it takes a lot of time and work and practice and patience to create one ourselves.
What do you consider the components of a good script?
Such a great question. there’ s probably an infinite list, but here’s the first three that popped in my head:
Set-up and payoff. This is the easiest way to make your script look smart. Just set up everything you payoff and payoff everything you set up. Need a great line for your finale? Go back to your first act and find one that’s applicable. Have an item that represents something in the beginning? Make sure you bring it back in the end. My first rewrite is always looking for these things.
Emotional honesty. We’ve all seen the movies (usually starring Adam Sandler) where you get this pat life lesson at the end like “spend more time with family.” These kinds of lessons are ultimately forgettable because they aren’t honest. They are themes we’ve seen a million times before. The real honest emotions aren’t pat answers, they are deep questions. Mark Duplass decries this as “you know when you’re up at 2am with your best friend and you’ve had too much to drink and you talk about your biggest fears? That’s what you should write your movie about.” Give the audience an answer, and they’ll forget it right after they leave the theater. Present the audience with an honest and brave question, and they’ll keep thinking about it long after they’re done.
Tension & release. If a screenplay is a wavelength, it should go up and down. It’s all about pacing. A script should rise and fall and feel natural. I think this is one of the toughest things to teach because it’s a “feeling”. Lean into whatever genre you have, if it’s a horror movie it should be a little scary, medium scary, really scary, and then give us a break. If it’s a comedy, it should be a little funny, medium funny, really funny, and then give us a break.
What are some of the most common screenwriting mistakes you see?
Telling someone else’s story and not telling your own. So many writers just regurgitate their favorite movies and don’t have anything unique to say about the world. Audience members don’t care about the “what” of your story, they care about the “why.” If you’re just writing something because “it’s cool” or “it’ll sell”, the audience can see right through that. It goes back to the “emotional honesty’ thing above. It’s the old saying “write what you know” but that doesn’t mean write about your day job or your current boyfriend, it really means “write what you feel.” If you’re emotionally connected to your story, your audience will be too.
What story tropes are you just tired of seeing?
Usually the things that make me roll my eyes have to do with masculinity on film. I get so bored with cold, stoic, masculine action heroes. I’m equally tired of female action heroes who feel like someone went into the script and just did a search to change “him” to “her.” And don’t get me started on shallow descriptions of women in scripts “nerdy but beautiful” or whatever. Like the two films I mentioned earlier – NOBODY and SHADOW IN THE CLOUD, these are films with warm, broken, interesting, action heroes who lean into their vulnerabilities as much as their strengths.
What are some key rules/guidelines every writer should know?
Here’s kind of a checklist I try to run through for every scene I write:
GOAL: What does your protagonist want in this scene and how are they going to get it?
CONFLICT: What obstacles make it difficult for your protagonist to reach that goal?
CHOICE: What difficult choice will the character have to make as a result of the conflict?
STAKES: What is hanging in the balance with each choice?
TWIST: What does this choice tell us about the character that we didn’t already know?
THEME: How does this choice push the character’s emotional journey forward?
CONNECTIVITY: Can the elements of this scene be set-up in a previous scene or lay the ground-work for future scenes?
VISUALIZE: Is there a visual or item that can replace obvious dialogue or action?
LESS: Is there a “perfect line” or action that could say it better than a long drawn-out scene?
VOICE: How can you rewrite it to be more “you”?
Have you ever read a script where you thought “This writer really gets it”? If so, what were the reasons why?
The screenplays that I love all make me feel something. They get an emotional response out of me, whether that be fear or laughing or crying or warm-heartedness. They are masters of set-up and payoff. They surprise me at every turn and never make the obvious choice, I can’t predict where the story will go. They ask big questions about the world.
How do you feel about screenwriting contests? Worth it or not?
On their own, I think they’re worthless. I don’t know if I’d go as far as calling them scams. I think a lot of contests are well-intentioned, but it’s a model built on 99% of writers who enter paying money and getting nothing in return. That industry has created a lie that writers can write one screenplay, enter a contest, win, get an agent, and go write Hollywood films. This lie is why so many writers give up after their first script. It’s heart-breaking to me.
Having said all that, I still enter them. Why? Because I think they do have merit when combined with other things. It’s all about stacking the deck. If you google the winners of these contests, you’ll usually find that they’ve written multiple screenplays, have already made some indie films or short films, maybe published in a different medium, might even already have representation. A contest on its own means nothing, but when you put a win on your writing resume alongside a dozen other things, it helps stack the deck.
If you’re going to enter a contest, pick and choose carefully. First, only enter contests that actually give you something of value, whether that be notes or industry access. Secondly, don’t enter the big, giant contests where you’re competing against 10,000 other writers. Instead, find all the local film festivals that have screenwriting competitions, enter those and then attend those festivals! A strong connection with another filmmaker at a festival is worth a million times more than a laurel on your website.
I always tell writers “don’t put your career in the hands of someone else.” Contests are relying on someone else’s validation of your work. That’s a very unhealthy way to live. Go make a short film. Go make your own $1000 feature. Attend festivals and meet people. Seek out local producers and directors and pitch them ideas until you connect on something and go make it. Make a narrative podcast or YouTube series. There are a million options to advance your career and I suggest you do all of them.
How can people find out more about you and the services you provide?
I’ve been doing ScriptBlast as a free service for about 5 years cause I always struggled with charging for anything that wasn’t actually helpful for writers. So I just launched a new online community in 2020 where we have weekly Zoom calls, tons of free resources and courses, accountability worksheets, share notes on each other’s scripts, etc. It’s blown my own productivity through the roof just being a part of it, and multiple writers have finished their screenplays as a result of being in the group. And it’s only $10/month. You can try it free for a week at Members.ScriptBlast.com.
I also do a podcast and provide other free resources (like online courses or one-on-one consultations) you can find at ScriptBlast.com. And if you’re interested in checking out THIS WORLD ALONE, it’s available on all digital platforms. You can learn more at ThisWorldAlone.com
Readers of this blog are more than familiar with my love/appreciation of pie. What’s your favorite kind?
It’s hard to beat a slice of hot apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. But, if there is no heat source or ice cream, I might go with peanut butter pie.
Any screenwriter who’s done their homework can tell you there are plenty of platforms and websites out there offering up the opportunity to put scripts on display.
Granted, I know this little operation of mine isn’t the biggest or the most well-known, but I also know how frustrating it can be when you’ve got a script you’re really proud of and want to let the rest of the world know about it.
I’m a big believer in supporting the writing community, and wanted to do what I could to offer up that same opportunity to any and all interested parties.
“Send me the vital details for your script, and I’ll post ’em!” I announced.
And 167 of you did exactly that.
What you will find below is a virtual treasure trove of material.
Film and TV scripts covering a vast spectrum of genres, many with accompanying awards and accolades.
But the most important part is that each and every one is available for you to read – courtesy of the writer’s email being included.
Something grabs your attention, makes you think “I’d like to read that.”? All you have to do is contact the writer and ask. Maybe they’ll want to do a swap.
This is networking and establishing professional relationships at their finest.
So settle in and start perusing. Hope you find something you like.
(And as long as I’ve got your attention, feel free to hit the ‘like’ button, and even take it one step further and start following this blog.)
12 HOURS 2 STEAL
A struggling artist must navigate a series of instructions to steal a valuable treasure for an unknown puppetmaster after she downloads an audio tour podcast for a specific painting in a gallery.
Winner, Best Unproduced Feature Screenplay – UK Motion Picture Festival, Spring 2021
Finalist – PIMFF 2021
Finalist – European Cinematography Awards 2021
Official Selection – Amsterdam World International Film Festival 2021
Finalist – Best Script Award 2021
Official Selection – Rome Independent Prisma Awards 2021
An aspiring country singer willing to hustle, a broke bartender with a big heart, and a two strike criminal find their lives thrust together under the neon shadows of Music City after a robbery gone bad turns to revenge.
Quarterfinalist – 2019 Nicholl Fellowship
Winner – Best Screenplay, 2018 California Film Awards, Orson Welles Awards, Best Screenplay
Finalist – 2019 Los Angeles Crime and Horror Festival
Quarterfinalist – 2019 Roadmap/Road to New Republic
Selection – 2019 Sacramento International Film Festival Screenplay Contest
While stocking shelves in a retail store, a struggling, newly single dad gets caught in a diabolical game where he must follow the instructions in each box he opens, or his estranged children will be murdered.
A young man in recovery is recruited by his N.A. sponsor to join a cult-like group of thieves. Lured in with the prospect of helping his father’s shaky new sales career in the home-security sector, Ethan learns the hard way, there’s no honor among thieves.
A suicidal comic, trapped in an isolated cabin with a traumatized ten year old girl who hasn’t spoken in over a year, discovers that if he assumes the persona of her favorite cartoon character, she’ll respond. They put crazy on hold, have a hell of an adventure helping each other survive, and begin to heal their personal wounds.
In an isolated, small town, a squeamish, vegan, lesbian detective falls in love with a sadistic, serial-killer cannibal and battles her inner and outer demons in an intimate and twisted psychological cat and mouse battle for survival. With the help of a brave Deputy in a wheelchair, she learns she needs to become her fear to overcome it.
Lexi, a heavily tattooed woman in her mid-20’s, who was known to be an on-the rise young skateboarder during her childhood, gave up her talent as she approached her mid 20’s due to her the loss of her father and her mother in rehab. She lives with her disabled grandmother and likes spending time with her abusive boyfriend. However, with her finances hanging on by a thread each day, she decides to run back to the one thing she loves the most, skateboarding.
A young burlesque dancer reeling from a breast cancer diagnosis forms an unlikely bond with the much older members of her support group, and must push past conservative mindsets and patriarchal, ageist ideas of beauty in order to run a burlesque workshop helping her fellow survivors reclaim ownership of their bodies.
When a superstar college quarterback suffers an injury that threatens to derail his pro career, a shrewd sports marketer offers him lifetime financial security if he can carry a team of talented misfits to the Olympic trials… in curling.
A young boy who’s always wanted to go on an adventure is dying of lung cancer. On the brink of losing all hope and youthful imagination, his friend’s teddy bear comes to life, bringing him on an adventure unlike any other.
Stereo podcast week 4 – $10,000 grand prize winner.
While the Vice President of a video game company tries to prevent her kidnapper from hacking into her company’s data, her coworker and best friend of over 40 years tries to escape the hacker’s accomplice.
Two colleagues who don’t like each other – and who are both in other relationships – fall in love and get married over one Passover. It’s a story about family, following your passion, and fish (gefilte, and otherwise).
Chloe Monet, desperate to prevent a predicted death, is introduced to two jet-setting brothers from Greece, exposing an International diamond scheme. Although diamonds are considered a girl’s best friend, in this case they are a source of contention and danger.
As the final battle between Good and Evil approaches, five desperate orcs plan to steal a magical shield from their Queen’s enormous fortress so they can pay for their escape from the inevitable slaughter.
A vengeful train robber and a female Samurai forge an unlikely partnership as they race across the Old West to rescue the Emperor’s daughter and stop a gang of thieves from stealing five mystical swords.
Finalist – 2021 Screencraft Fellowship
Top 100 – 2021 Table Read My Screenplay Genre Competition
After their conspiracy theorist buddy goes missing, two dumbass vets enter a seedy town with a seedy strip club that just happens to be full of seedy 80s clad stripper werewolves, and once again they need to save ‘Merica.
Coverfly – Overall Top 10%
Quarterfinalist – 2021 Richmond International Film Festival
Quarterfinalist – 2020 Big Break Script Competition
Tricked into babysitting their godchildren, a trio of egocentric dudes find themselves in the middle of a robbery turned kidnapping, leaving them one kid short. With the aid of a frenemy cop, they must defeat the bandits and save the kid before daddy returns.
As his people face constant persecution in 16th century Prague, Chief Rabbi Judah Loew suffers a crisis of faith and creates a Golem as a means of protection, only to lose control of his monster and be forced to stop it before it brings about an even greater threat.
The do-nothing son of a recently deceased business mogul is tasked to deliver his estranged father’s ashes cross country in order to inherit the family fortune. Along the way, he must evade 2 hit men hired by his father’s spurned business partner, with his unbeknownst secret agent girlfriend assisting him along the way.
A grieving man isolates himself on an island after the loss of his daughter and wife, but when his wife returns, his sanity and devotion are pushed to the brink as she shows increasingly violent, animalistic behaviours.
An inclusive dystopian sci-fi screenplay about a hot-headed woman, who after her mother is taken for missed organ payments, joins a small rebellion effort to save her, but when they uncover darker truths about the repossessed victims, she must save the people of the encased city, which seems impossible because the powerful CEO is standing in her way.
Upon accidentally gaining access to a sovereign fund containing billions of dollars, an awkward social-climber has to siphon as much money as he can, using brilliant and complicated financial structures, before the authorities close in. Based on the real-life fugitive Jho Low who was involved in the biggest financial scandal in history.
1st Place – Table Read My Screenplay (Genre: Historical / Biopic) 2021
DEA Special Agent John Fisk and Kayla, his detection dog, are a force to be reckoned, when a mission goes sideways, killing him. Waking up wounded and alone, it takes the unwitting help of a rookie agent for Kayla to exact justice.
Rooted in a gateway valley, a family of homesteaders and Indigenous band become targets of a railway tycoon intent on exploiting a recent gold discovery in the neighboring hills. Driven to defend their way of life the valley’s inhabitants must put aside their differences and join together if there’s any hope of preserving honor and justice in this brave ‘New World’.
Determined to attend senior prom, a teen born with a rare genetic disorder must also overcome social anxieties to secure a prom date, until a teacher he is smitten with provides him with a unique opportunity and arrangement.
Adaptation of my short script GENERATION CY, which placed in the semifinals in the 2020 Barnstorm Film & TV Fest
For transgender teen, Andy Cooper, finding love – much less a date to prom – is a pretty tall order. Things change when Andy rekindles his friendship with Valedictorian, Olivia McDonald. Together, the duo confront transphobic peers, family struggles, challenging friendships and life altering SCARS.
Official Selection – 2021 Script Summit
A biracial teen comes of age in inner city Miami, and resents her mother’s return home after serving a lengthy prison sentence.
The good news: Disgraced, down on his luck, dog-loving, former special-op, Mutt Hickock, finds his fortunes changing when he’s named the executor of a billion and a half dollar trust. The bad news: The massive fortune has been left to a pampered, Persian cat, which Mutt not only can’t tolerate, he’s allergic to as well. The worse news: There is a very badass group of people from Mutt’s past that want the cat dead so they can get their hands on the money. The worst news: Killing Mutt in the process would just be a bonus.
In an attempt to save his dying relationship, a socially inept slacker finds a way to adopt a literal monster baby, sparking a cross-country road trip to return it before someone dies or all their money runs dry.
When Nazi Germany invades her Ukraine homeland, a 24-year-old University student enlists in the Rifle Division of the Soviet Red Army, over the objectionss of her family and the recruiter; she becomes her country’s most prolific sniper.
When a damaged Somali Soldier’s hidden past is uncovered, he faces his demons to shepherd an innocent family on the run to Europe. But blood ties to the vengeful military regime hunting them force him to make an impossible and deadly choice.
When an Army ranger is forced to pass an unconventional sobriety program or face a dishonorable discharge, she stumbles upon a dark plot within the facility capable of undoing her past while sabotaging her future.
Best Feature Screenplay – 2021 FunMill Film Fest, Cleveland, OH
When an orphan discovers that she has been adopted for the sole purpose of being an organ donor for her sickly new brother, she must fight her new family and escape their old mansion before her life is taken and her lungs are harvested.
In the days before Hurricane Katrina, a former investigative journalist is drawn back to New Orleans following the death of her sister, where one of the Crescent City’s oldest families is on the verge of summoning an ancient god of prehistory.
In 1970s Indianapolis, a 2nd-generation hot rodder finagles a way to stay out of the Army (and the County Jail) so he can keep doing what he loves – RACING – but a cop with a grudge is obsessed with wrecking his life, and making him pay for ALL his family’s crimes.
Finalist, Official Selection – 2021 Die Laughing Film Festival
When a revenge plot goes horribly wrong, a sickly priest finds himself caught up in the chaos. As violence unfolds around him, and doubt enters the fray, he must do what he can if he wants to get out alive.
Ruthless mercenaries, fanatical cultists, and celestial horrors won’t stand in the way of an all-girl urban explorer team hell bent on rescuing their young sister from the grip of a shadowy monster in a secretive lab.
Wanted for murder, a Navy SEAL must save his fiancé by plunging into the most desperate hunt of his life–a shattering search for a brilliant killer who has come back to finish a job he failed at several years before.
Loosely based on the twisted tale of America’s first serial killer family. Set in the absurd and abnormal town of Labette, a determined yet naive young woman strikes up an unlikely companionship with a gunslinger, teaching her that she must forge her own way in the world. But when you come from a family of murderers, heads are guaranteed to roll.
Berlin 1938. The Catholic Church makes a deal with the devil and a reluctant young priest must either comply with the church’s appeasement of Hitler’s government or rise up against two powerful forces to become the hero the world needs.
In the endless rain and crop failures of an apocalyptic volcanic winter, a mythic being – both man and monster – comes to the aid of a diverse blended family to bring back the sun. (MAGGIE meets THE SHAPE OF WATER)
Returning from Iraq, Jacob Diaz works as a social media monitor where he’s forced to constantly watch videos of cruelty, conspiracy, and hate. Fed up with the inaction of his supervisors and the authorities—plus the toll on his psyche—he hunts down the offending posters in search of peace. Finding that he has become a viral sensation himself, he must now escape a rabid fanbase that uses him as its inspiration.
A refined young woman must avenge her father’s death by becoming what she despises most, a pirate. Chasing her father’s nemesis across the high seas and through the Queen’s court to extract vengeance and save the kingdom.
A Katniss Everdine heroine in a Princess Bride world. A story for girls that want to be the hero and a princess.
In 1810 England, a bankrupt and disgraced London socialite has three days to uncover the truth about her ex-lover’s disappearance and make amends for her role in her sister’s death before she’s taken by a mythical entity that punishes wrongdoers.
When an overworked, underpaid college grad finds the promises of her higher education degrees aren’t paying off, she teams with two misfit friends to steal a prized sculpture from their alma mater in order to save her father’s house and finally make a difference.
When a vindictive bounty hunter transports a bank robber from New Mexico to Colorado to pay for his crimes, the outlaw tests his captor’s weakness and forces the bounty hunter to find out if he truly has the courage to dispense his own personal justice.
After a 17yo student at a pretentious New Orleans Catholic school digs into her Colombian heritage in search of a pretty, petty picture to paint to get back at her infuriating Religion teacher, her project on Santa Muerte leads to her lighting candles and murdering her lecherous uncle, but did she find Santa Muerte or did Santa Muerte find her? Maybe death is her destiny?
Chapter One: Evil Roots Run Deep. In the Montana Wilderness of 1845, a French-Canadian fur trapper with a dark past is captured by a Native American family. But after duplicitously talking his way out of their captivity, he faces a reckoning for his sins, stumbling into an even more harrowing nightmare that proves as haunting as it is deadly.
When a tenacious AAPI teen witnesses four corrupt policemen beat her dad to death, she must learn to convert her auditory PTSD into a newfound power to uncover the identities of the killers and seek revenge- even as it transforms her from a naive streetkid to gold-suited superhero, Aurem!
After accidentally waking King Arthur in the present day, a disillusioned businesswoman must sort fact from fantasy if they’re going to survive his enemies, both ancient and new – problem is, she may be one of them.
When a doctor from a family of cops is unfairly suspended from a prestigious hospital, he is thrown a lifeline by the Croatian Mafia in his old hood. Committing to help their ailing boss as an underground war erupts, he may discover his professional calling, if he can survive..
A staffing service clerical error reclassifies a hopeful henchman as a supervillain, forcing him to reluctantly fulfill his new managerial obligations instead of what he really wants: to win back his estranged girlfriend and find a decent benefits package.
Found footage, Rock-Mockumentary, Dark Comedy, Thriller, Music
Decades after the underground rock scene of the 1970s ended, a son discovers his father’s lost interview tapes with some of rock’s lesser known “legends,” and discovers that rock ‘n’ roll may never die, but it sure can kill.
A preteen girl’s life becomes increasingly complicated when she unleashes an adolescent, hard-to-manage genie, who can’t leave until he grants her three wishes and realizes he may not want to leave at all.
A cheap private eye has to step up his game after he unwittingly uncovers a cold case involving murder, smuggling, and police corruption to become the unlikely hero and survive his deadliest adversary yet.
When a New York City medical intern of Navajo descent suddenly manifests supernatural healing powers, she must learn to control her abilities with the help of her long-lost medicine-man grandfather, and discover how a shadowy genetics corporation was responsible for her father’s mysterious death.
After her husband’s mysterious death and the disappearance of her 9-year-old son, a teacher discovers a dark secret in her home that catapults her out of suburban London into the heart of Mumbai’s underworld.
A freak accident offers the director of a failing funeral home the solution to her family’s money problems: murdering the men responsible for her husband’s death and reaping the financial windfall of their funerals.
Based on a true story. Two newly recruited female Resistance members risk their lives to rescue downed soldiers and translate Nazi secrets as part of a civilian spy ring, only to face betrayal and capture.
At a hybrid state-run boarding school, the boys’ soccer coach must merge his team with the girls’ and win a tournament to stay funded, but can’t get his own daughter to play ball let alone the rest of the team.
Placed on Coverfly’s 2020 Red List – Top-rated Family Televsion (one hour)
#2 – Coverfly’s Red List – Dec 2020 – Top-rated Family Television (one hour)
When Hurricane Katrina blows the film industry up from New Orleans to Shreveport, a displaced eccentric talent agent, a rebellious preacher’s wife, and a diverse group of local actors form unlikely bonds at a weekly acting class, all hoping to get their big break in the other LA.
After being framed for a massive senior prank he didn’t commit, ex-serial prankster Freddie Slifko is forced to repeat his entire senior year at his Catholic boarding school where he vows to pull off the biggest senior prank of all time.
Surrounded by cornfields and casual racism, the town of Standard, Nebraska is anything but— When a blatantly racist statue of the town’s founder is defaced, a high school journalist and his best friend discover that their hometown is at the center of a story that threatens to tear apart not only their community but a society that has yet to come to terms with race in America.
A “What If” comedy where the U.S. builds The Wall and it successfully eliminates all drugs and violence in America, leading to unintended consequences and a looming threat from the one place they forgot to take into account… Canada.
When a teen witch accepts a cemetery restoration apprenticeship, her ability to interact with spirits is reawakened. Unfortunately, so is her evil father’s desire to steal her power and use it to unleash the damned souls that he controls on the living world.
Second rounder – Austin Film Festival
Finalist – Fresh Voices
Quarterfinalist – Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards
Facing eviction, three pot-smoking, golf cart-crashing, fun-loving retirement village ladies embark upon a black market scheme in order to save their homes and continue to live life on their own terms.
After she unexpectedly kicks the bucket and finds her recently-deceased boyfriend did not make it into Heaven, a saintly medical student escapes back to Earth and uses her second chance at life to stumble her way into Hell.
After an alien device catapults the Moon through hyperspace to the farthest edge of the galaxy, the citizens of Tranquility Base must survive an interstellar odyssey in their attempt to return the Moon back to Earth.
Have you been productive, writing-wise, during lockdown? Got a script you’ve rewritten, tweaked, and polished? And now you’re just bursting at the seams to show the world, but don’t know where to put it on display?
Well, fret no more because your chance to do exactly that has arrived!
As done twice on this blog last year with thrilling results, it’s time once again for the Maximum Z Script Showcase!
Here’s how it works.
Email the following info here under the subject “Maximum Z Script Showcase”:
Film or TV
Awards (if applicable)
Your email (in case somebody would like to contact you about reading your script)
That’s it. Simple, no?
Two very important details to keep in mind:
ONE SCRIPT PER PERSON. No exceptions.
DO NOT SEND THE SCRIPT!
The post will go up on Friday, 4 June, so you have until Wednesday, 2 June to send in your details. Anything after that will NOT be included.
So don’t delay, and send it today! Or at least reasonably soon.
A few people have asked/wondered why I’m doing this. Do I get anything out of it? Am I picking the one I like best and giving that writer an award? Is there some kind of sinister secret agenda at play?
Nope. I just like helping out other writers, and giving them the chance to put their wares on display, so to speak. You never know who’s going to be looking at the list, so why not offer up your strongest script?
And for those visiting here for the first time – welcome! Feel free to take a look around, as well as like any posts that tickle your fancy, and subscribe because you think it’s such a gosh-darned amazing source of information.
-And speaking of deadlines, the fine folks at the Page Turner Awards have asked me to pass along that the deadline to enter their competition is 31 May. They’re offering some amazing publishing prizes, ranging from mentorship to audiobook production, film rights options, and film producers looking for adapted and original material. All the details at https://pageturnerawards.com/