Maximum Z Summer ’22 Script Showcase

The word was given, and the writing community responded. In force.

114 members of it, to be exact.

I wanted to give writers the opportunity to promote their scripts in one convenient and easily accessible location. This is their chance to shine a spotlight on their work and tell the world “Hey, check it out!”

More than a few scripts strike your fancy? Each writer’s email is RIGHT THERE for you to get in touch with them and ask to take a look (and feel free to mention that you read about it here).

The following is a list of 70 screenplays and 44 television scripts covering a vast range of genres. There really is something in here for just about everybody.

A huge thanks to each and every one of you who sent in their script’s info. This list simply could not exist without your participation.

So peruse to your heart’s content and enjoy.

FILM

93% CHANCE OF HAPPINESS

Jeff Bower

Magical Realism Dramedy

After being cast as the lead in a controversial play, a reserved math major with a latent imagination must overcome death threats, a politician with a vendetta, and his crushing self-doubt to impress his brilliant co-star.

Based on the true story (loosely) of me receiving death threats for acting in a play.

Overall Top 2% on Coverfly

Top 1% in genre on Coverfly

Finalist – ScreenCraft Fellowship (pending)

Semifinalist – Emerging Screenwriter’s Drama Contest (pending)

Quarterfinalist – Outstanding Screenplay (pending)

jeffbower.la@gmail.com

BEVERLY HILLS BRATVA

Scott Sawitz

Crime Thriller, Dark Comedy, Action

After losing his medical license, a plastic surgeon with a criminal past winds up in deep with the Russian mob when his daughter’s medical bills threaten to bankrupt his family.

sjsawitz@yahoo.com

BLACK PETER

Ron Richman

Horror

After her actions lead to summoning the monster that took her brother as a child in Mexico, a Los Angeles immigration attorney must find a way to stop it before it destroys her loved ones and her own soul.

beingronrichman@gmail.com

BONEYARD

Phoenix Black

Coming-of-age, social thriller, horror

A stuntman’s son sabotages his father’s affair, a sex-addicted star falls in love and a grieving stagehand finally faces his demons – literally.

Three intertwining stories and genres explore masculinity amid anti-Asian racism, love, and loss, on the set of a martial arts horror show.

MY GIRL meets GET OUT meets THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE.

8 – The Black List

Second Rounder – Austin Film Festival 2021

Runner-up – Roadmap Writers Diversity Initiative 

Quarterfinalist – Screencraft Fellowship

phoenixblackthewriter@gmail.com

BREAST IN SHOW

Andrea Berting

Dramedy

A young breast cancer patient teaches her senior support group members to love their bodies again through the art of burlesque.

Winner – Best Comedy Screenplay, Richmond International Film Festival 2022

Finalist – Screencraft Screenwriting Fellowship 2022 (awaiting Winner announcement)

Top 50 – Launch Pad Feature Competition 2021

Second Rounder – Austin Film Festival 2021

Top 10% – Nicholl Fellowship 2021

andreaberting@gmail.com

BRUNCH WITH HITMEN

Nikki Larkins

Comedy, Short

A secret society of international hitmen gather for waffles, mimosas, and mayhem.

herdiggyness@yahoo.com

CHEAP ACTION

Mark Gunnion

Crime Thriller/Action

A bottoming-out Chicago bartender is the sole survivor of a botched gangland ripoff, and he skates with a cool two million. But his Florida beach-bum reboot is disrupted when the burned gangster’s “widow” shows up, looking for her piece of the action.

Finalist, Austin After Dark Film Festival

Finalist, Boobs and Blood International Film Festival (all-Female jury!)

Semi-Finalist, FADE-IN AWARDS Thriller Screenplay Contest

Semi-Finalist, Story Pros Awards Screenplay Contest

Official Selection, Vancouver Badass Film Festival

markgunnion@gmail.com

DEATH THREAT

Adam Miller

Horror

A female metal band called Death Threat gets kidnapped by some ruthless human traffickers.  Things go downhill from there.

charismatik909@gmail.com

DO NOT DIVIDE THE DEAD

Jonathan Concepcion

Drama, Period

After the Second World War, the USSR censored all knowledge of the Jewish genocide. A self-hating Soviet Jewish survivor confronts her identity when her last relative, her photojournalist half brother, goes missing while exposing the truth.

Final 50 – UK Film Festival 2018

Quarterfinalist – Shepperton Screenwriting Festival 2020

Quarterfinalist – FInal Draft Big Break 2021

concepcionjonathan3@gmail.com

DRAGONS OF THE GLOAMING

Joel McElvaney

Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Comedy

When a reluctant sister joins her twin brother’s mysterious role-playing game, she and the other players accidentally get transported into the game world and have three days to discover a mystical castle and defeat a deadly dragon or be trapped in the game forever.

Top 5 – Save The Cat! Screenplay Challenge 2021

Semfinalist – Script2Comic 2021

Quarterfinalist – Screencraft Sci-Fi and Fantasy 2021

jdmcelvaney@gmail.com

ELLA

Michael Dean

Crime/Thriller

When a Portland teen puts her trust into the wrong hands to escape a tumultuous home life, an estranged brother agrees to help her seek revenge against those who betrayed her.

Semifinalist – WeScreenplay Feature 2022

Semifinalist – Emerging Screenwriting 2022

Quarterfinalist – Outstanding Screenplays 2022 (pending)

Quarterfinalist – Filmmatic Inroads Fellowship Season 2022

Coverfly Red List – March 2022

dirtydovecreative@gmail.com

GIRL DRINKS VALLEY

Dan Sinclair

Horror/Dramedy

Following her younger sister’s tragic death, a craft beer enthusiast seeks the help of a ghost-hunting social media influencer, to rid her San Fernando Valley apartment of an evil entity. 

seedanwrite@gmail.com

HOUSE DIVIDED

Jamie Bircoll

Horror

During the Civil War, a black Union POW abandons his unit when they rebel against their Confederate guards, only to be recaptured by his comrades. Now, he must work with his former Confederate captors to survive his deranged Union commander and the ancient evil trapped in the prison with them.

Top 9% of all projects on Coverfly

Semifinalist – Screencraft Horror Competition 2022

Quarterfinalist – Austin FIlm Festival 2020

jbircoll@gmail.com

HUSH

David Martin

Horror, Thriller

An emotionally stunted young man is consumed with finding his birth parents in order to help him uncover the truth behind the malevolent spirit he believes is haunting him.

Quarterfinalist – Screencraft Horror

d.martin2012@gmail.com

IGNITION

Steve Looker

Thriller

When a serial bomber targets a bomb disposal expert harbouring a dark secret. She must accept one of the greatest tests of her ability to stop the truth from being uncovered.

ste.shining@ntlworld.com

IT’S OK TO BE KIND

Tom I. Musinguzi

Crime, Drama

A kind, down-to-earth young female surgeon must outrun her arrogant husband and a tough police detective to rescue a13-year-old homeless boy after he is wrongfully accused of street robbery.

mustom321@gmail.com

JARS

Mike Cilano

Horror

An orphaned young woman encounters a mystical sociopath who vaporizes his victims and keeps them in jars.

Quarterfinalist – Screencraft Horror

mikecilano@gmail.com

JASMINE

Unawu Joseph

Drama

After a hospital building collapses from an explosion, an unemployed financial consultant in one continent, encourages a trapped pathologist in another continent through her scariest moments beneath the rubbles of the hospital.

juntishor@gmail.com

KHALID AND THE GREAT BEYOND

Tim Brennan

Comedy

When an atheistic physicist dies, he and the Goddess of Safe Returns must determine why the dead are going to the wrong afterlives and prevent the destruction of reality.

Quarterfinalist – Final Draft Big Break 2021

Semifinalist – Table Read My Screenplay Genre Screenplay Competition Spring 2022

tbrennan75@gmail.com

KINKY GRACE

Mitchell P. Ganem

LGBTQ Romantic Comedy

A lesbian couple engages the services of a sex guru to spice up their love life, with hysterically touching results.

Platinum Award – LGBTQ Unbordered Film Festival 2021

Gold Award – WRPN Women’s International Film Festival 2019

Semi-finalist – Toronto LGBT Film Festival

mitch@tigerwolfpictures.com

KRONOS

Frank Burmaster, Andi Parker, and Tian Theron

Sci-Fi, Action

A traumatised scientist must lead a rescue mission to 65 million BC to prevent a temporal disaster.

tian@tiantheron.com

LITTLE RED

Richard H. Moon

Adventure

A young girl in war-torn 17th century Germany heads out over the hills and through the woods on a mission to save her family, only to face off against a hungry wolf, a dangerous hunter, and family secrets she never suspected.

2nd Rounder – Austin 2020

Semifinalist – Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards 2022

Quarterfinalist – Filmmatic Inroads Fellowship Season 5

richard@moonhillproductions.com

LOLA

Mehul Shah

Historical

After being wrongly arrested, a black transgender prostitute rediscovers her faith in God and humanity after she forges a friendship with the police officer who arrested her, culminating into the riot at Gene Comptons in 1966 San Francisco.

Semifinalist – Final Draft Big Break

Quarterfinalist – WeScreenplay Diverse Voices

mshah972@gmail.com

LOVE IS NOT LIKE A MOVIE

Munsif Husami

Romance/Slice of Life, Short

A narrative take on what enduring love entails and involves, seen through the ebbs and flows of a couple’s daily lives.

munsif.husami@gmail.com

MANNY & FRANNY

Indra Dattagupta & Frances McCoy

Comedy/Drama

A nerdy Indian woman gets hired by the FBI for her hacking skills and goes rogue with a trigger-happy FBI agent to save a kidnapped non-English speaking Bollywood actress.

idattagupta@gmail.com

MATRYOSHKA MAN

Simon Grome

Sci-Fi, Action, Drama

A fearless Moscow journalist wakes up on a plane to Thailand with amnesia and extraordinary powers after a military experiment goes awry. Seeing his role in mitigating a global catastrophe, he gathers a motley tribe to execute a radical plan to save the planet, but first he must protect his newborn child from abduction.

simon@shootasia.com

NATTY LIGHT

Thomas Schrack

Coming-of-age Comedy

A rising high-schooler risks his life and sparks a national emergency trying to impress his older brother at a tie-up boat party before he leaves for college the next day.

A younger Superbad in a coastal town.

thomas.r.schrack@gmail.com

NO HEROES HERE

Clint Williams

Action-Thriller

A combat vet forms an uneasy partnership with Russian mobsters to save his failing lakeside bar, but declares war when the Russians cross the line into human trafficking.

Coverfly Red List – #19 All-time Action Feature

clintwilliams3@gmail.com

NOVUM

Joseph Rhea

Sci-Fi, Drama

As the last descendants of Earth struggle to survive in an aging undersea colony, a troubled young cargo-sub captain must join forces with an untested crew to defeat an ancient enemy that has returned to destroy what’s left of the human race.

Second Rounder – Austin Film Festival 2021

Top 25% – Coverfly

wjrhea@gmail.com

OPAL

Nicholas J. Philippa

Thriller

A struggling miner and her brother win the opal mining lottery when they find a million-dollar opal, but they must escape an isolated outback mine and evade cut-throat thieves, who are hellbent on stealing the opal and ending their lives.

8 – The Blacklist

Quarterfinalist – Gold Coast FIlm Festival 2022

njpwriter@gmail.com

OUT/BREAK

Tapan Sharma

Thriller, Horror, Sci-Fi, Satire

After an African-American man wrongfully convicted of murder breaks out of prison during a mysterious “zombie” outbreak, he sneaks back in to decide where he’s better off.

Finalist/Official Selection – Script Summit 2022

Semifinalist – StoryPros 2021

tapandemonium@gmail.com

PARAGON: ORIGINS

Carlos Ontiveros

Sci-Fi, Action

In order to save his imprisoned father, a shamed outcast must claim a dragon and his rightful place in the Combat Dragon League to avenge his family and clear his father’s name.

realcarlosonti@gmail.com

PECULIAR TASTE

Philip C. Sedgwick & Leslie Lilywhite

Horror

A TV food host at a festival discovers there’s something “special” in the corn chips that’s giving everyone around her a nasty hunger… and she might be on the menu. 

Official Selection – Burbank Film Festival 2022

Official Selection – Southeast Regional Film Festival 2022

Top Ten – Phoenix Film Festival 2013

Semi-Finalist – Rhode Island International Film Festival (Oscar-Qualifying festival) 2016

philip@philipcsedgwick.com

PIECE OF MINDS

Bobby Alonzo

Psychological Thriller, Horror

Seeking a cure for Alzheimer’s, a devoted geriatrician-in-training acts on his morbid obsession of beheading elderly men and studying their brains for research.

Semifinalist – Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards Fall ’21

Quarterfinaslit – WeScreenplay Feature Contest 2022

Quarterfinalist – Filmmatic Horror Screenplay Awards (Season 6)

bobby.s.alonzo@gmail.com

PRODIGAL

Gerald Hanks

Faith, Family, Drama

A white pastor in a Black Atlanta church must face down a rival pastor who threatens to reveal a secret from his past.

Winner – Kairos Prize for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays 2021

Coverfly’s THE RED LIST – 2021

Official Selection – Texas Faith and Family Film Festival 2021

Semifinalist – Faith Fest Screenplay Competition 2021

storyintoscreenplayblog@gmail.com

RED BANNER, WHITE TAIGA

Sebastien Basset

Historical drama

In revolutionary Russia, a naïve young bureaucrat is assigned to oversee the collectivization of a remote Siberian village terrorized by bandits.

sebastienbasset98@gmail.com

ROSE-COLORED GLASSES

Adrian Prospero

Revenge Dark Comedy

After being betrayed by her ex-BFF, a cynical doomsdayer discovers the world is ending and decides to travel across the country to take revenge for total satisfaction before armageddon strikes.

If LADYBIRD was a revenge tale.

Winner – Roadmap Writers JumpStart 2021

Coverfly Top 1%

Semifinalist – Script Pipeline Competition 2021

Semifinalist – Shore Scripts Competition 2021

prospero.adrian@gmail.com

RUN THROUGH THE JUNGLE

Steve Hanisch

Comedy

In this parody of Apocalypse Now, an uber-macho soldier and his ragtag team of buffoons are sent upriver to find an intelligence operative.

Winner – 22nd LA Comedy Film Festival Screenplay Competition

Winner, Best Unproduced Screenplay – 6th Northeast Film Festival

Honorable Mention – 9th Los Angeles Film and Script Festival

stevehanisch1@gmail.com

SCARLET SEAS

J.C. Young

Action-Adventure

Father and daughter monster hunters pursue a fugitive vampire to the New World, but when pirates plunder the ship ferrying her coffin, they unleash her blood-thirst on the Caribbean.

Finalist – Coverfly Pitch Week – Spring 2022

3x Coverfly Red List Selection

Semifinalist – Filmmatic Horror Screenplay Awards, Season 6

Semifinalist – Pitch Now Screenplay Compettion, 3rd Season

Semifinalist – Creative Screenwriting Unique Voices

writer.jcyoung@yahoo.com

SCORCHED LANDS

Christian Moldes

Neo-Western Crime Thriller

A midnight cattle robbery provokes a god-fearing rancher and his family to take extraordinary measures against corrupt officials who seek to sabotage the local cartel.

Top 20% Western Coverfly

Quarterfinalist – BlueCat 2019

Second Rounder – Austin Film Festival 2021

7 average score on The Black List

moldes15@gmail.com

SCREAMPLAY

Mark Wesley

Comedy, Horror

Possessed by warring gods, a naive screenwriter’s heist script sends a gang of thieves into a terrifying underworld. Can she write a way out, or will each new page take them deeper into the land of the dead?

markwesley13@gmail.com

SCREW

Kamran Ali

Horror, Thriller

When FARC militants kidnap his pregnant wife, a Bangladeshi refugee navigates the treacherous Darien Gap to rescue her, slowly descending into madness as he realises something more sinister stalks the murky shadows of the jungle…

Finalist – Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards Winter 2021

Quarterfinalist – Industrial Scripts – The TITAN Awards 2021

Quarterfinalist – Final Draft – Big Break 2021

Quarterfinalist – Filmmatic Horror Screenplay Awards Season 6

kali2011@live.co.uk

SINGULAR

Matheus H. Macedo

Romance, Comedy, Drama

A night of chance meetings between an ensemble of early-to-mid 30’s friends and strangers trying to move on, move ahead, some lost, some stuck, some masking. New and old love collide as confrontation, conversation, music, dance, and ultimately, transformation swirl in this neon-soaked, single-night story.

mhmacedo85@gmail.com

SLAYCATION

Ryan Malik

Horror, Mystery

A forgotten 1980s Scream Queen is shoved back into the limelight when she helps solve a series of murders based on the horror movie that ended her career.

theaterfilms@icloud.com

SLUSH

T.J. Peters & KayDee Kersten

Comedy

Two marketing executives for the holiday movie industry find themselves lost in an endless loop of Christmas cliches and can only escape once they’ve found true love.

Semifinalist – The Script Lab

Second Rounder – Austin Film Festival

Quarterfinalist – Filmmatic

Top 5% on Coverfly

tpetersccc@gmail.com

SPIELBERG’S JAWS

Bradford N. Smith

Drama

Production of Hollywood’s first summer blockbuster steers a future film legend into troubled waters.

Finalist – Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition

Finalist, Emerging Screenwriters – Genre Screenplay Competition

Quarterfinalist – Shore Scripts Feature Contest

bradfordnsmith@gmail.com

STRIKE TEAM ELFA

Matthew Rodgers

Christmas Kids Action Comedy

After being told by her mother she’s not ready to lead Santa’s elite North Pole special ops team, a maverick hotshot is desperate to prove herself by single-handedly defeating a threat the North Pole hasn’t faced in a thousand years.

mj.rodgersthefirst@gmail.com

STUDS

Adrienne Thorne

Comedy, Romantic Comedy

A gorgeous twenty-something must fight through sexism to keep her job in the male-dominated world of bull stud sales, while falling for the macho new-hire brought on to replace her.

Quarterfinalist – Academy Nicholl Fellowship

Semifinalist – Scriptapalooza

Quarterfinalist – Screencraft Screenwriting Fellowship

thorneadrienne@gmail.com

THE DEAD RINGER

Suzanne Lutas

Action, Thriller

Inspired by true events, this is the story of an illegal immigrant whose uncanny resemblance to the mistress of a ruthless London-based Chinese Triad boss makes her the perfect candidate for a MI5 mission: infiltrate the gang and bring them down.

Winner – Wiki Screenplay Contest October 2020

Semifinalist – PAGE Awards International 2015

Semifinalist – Creative World Awards

Semifinalist – Screencraft Action & Thriller

suzannebl@mail.pf

THE DIARY OF MELVIN SANBORN

Lewis Leslie

Psychological Thriller

As he struggles to adapt to a new family, young Melvin is tormented by the monster that murdered his parents. He must find a way to defeat the beast, and convince his foster parents that he hasn’t completely lost his grip on reality.

lldreamhero@gmail.com

THE DRIVE TO KILL

Joseph Bianco

Thriller

When a random act of ride-share violence destroys his life, a man in recovery struggles to choose between faith and forgiveness or a past life of violence and retribution towards the industry he holds responsible.

My novel of the same name which the screenplay is based off of, won week 9 in Taleflicks Discovery contest – https://taleflick.com/pages/discovery-winners

joebianco@thedrivetokill.com

THE FUNNY FARM

Robert Ward

Horror

An indestructible, wisecracking demon terrorizes and kills the parents of a farm girl who hides in a bolted cellar… but after the demon extricates her, he falls in love with her while she figures out the way to kill him.

Finalist – Script Summit 2019

2nd Place – Best Feature Script – Hollywood Horrorfest 2019

Winner – Filmmatice Horror Screenplay Award 2019

Nominee – Best Horror Screenplay – iHorror 2017

Grand Prize – Horror – Hollywood Screenwriting Contest 2016

rward@got.net

THE LAST PRIEST

Brian Mulligan

Drama, Faith-based

Berlin 1938. The Catholic Church makes a deal with the devil and a reluctant 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.

Semifinalist – ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship 2021

Top 15% – The Academy Nicholl Fellowship 2021

Quarterfinalist – The Script Lab – TSL Free Screenplay Contest 2021

Quarterfinalist – TIROTA FINISH LINE SOCIAL IMPACT SCRIPT COMPETITION 2021

bmull863@gmail.com

THE LAST TRAVELERS

Darrell McGregor

Action, Adventure

When an intrepid archaeologist on the hunt for a mythical artifact is kidnapped by a ruthless billionaire, her estranged husband assembles a motley team and crosses the globe to save her, but gets more than he bargained for when pursued by an elite team of mercenaries on the way to uncovering an ancient mystery.

Quarterfinalist – Nicholl Fellowships 2021

Quarterfinalist – PAGE International Screenwriting Award 2021

Quarterfinalist – Final Draft Big Break 2021

Quarterfinalist – ScreenCraft Action & Adventure 2021

darrell.mcgregor@gmail.com

THE LAST UNICORN OF AMBROSIA

Scott Carroll

Fantasy/Adventure

In the magical but troubled Land of Ambrosia, a teenage farm-boy must save the mythical night-sky unicorn from a tyrant King hunting the creature and who wants to use its powers to raise the dead and conquer the world.

sc4341905@yahoo.com

THE MERMAID MURDER

Eileen Montague

Thriller

After surviving an abusive relationship, a lonely chef meets the new guy in town and finally starts dating again, but when dead bodies start turning up, she worries her new beau might be a serial killer. 

e.monty@hotmail.com

THE PRINCE OF WALGROVE MANOR

Phillip E. Hardy

Character-Driven Dramedy

A young male rocker plays with local bands, works a white-collar job, consults a therapist, and dates multiple women until two of his girlfriends collide at a party, and one pulls a gun.

Winner, Honorable Mention – Best Comedy Screenplay, Los Angeles Film Awards

Winner – Best Feature Screenplay, Florence Film Awards

Winner – Best Unproduced Screenplay, New Filmmakers Austin

Winner – Best Action Screenplay, Mount Fuji International Film Festival

Winner – Best Screenplay, Waikiki Beach International Film Festival

phillip_hrdy@yahoo.com

THE RED THIRST

Anthony Mariani

Supernatural Thriller

After her murder, an Irish woman takes on the role of the dreaded Dearg Due, a time-traveling vengeful supernatural creature who stops perverse men from committing crimes against women.

marianifilms@gmail.com

THE RICKETY MAN

Jeremiah Lewis

Horror

Haunted by her sins and the death of her sister, a disgraced London socialite returns to her family’s country manor only to find her guilt has conjured something terrifying deep in the woods–and in herself.

Semifinalist – Table Read My Screenplay Genre Screenplay Competition, Spring 2022

Stage 32 OWA pick – May 2022

jeremiah.lewis@gmail.com

THE SALEM WITCHES

Brian Smith

Teen Drama

After discovering that her ambitious mother is going to make her kill a man in order to complete her training, a teenage witch devises a dangerous plan to escape her mother’s clutches.

briansmi71@gmail.com

THE TENETS OF FEAR

Allison Hanna

Horror, Drama

After renting out some rooms to make ends meet, a bereaved horror author must venture into a world of his own stories when an ominous monster from his worst nightmares kidnaps his new tenants.

alliegateau91@gmail.com

THE TENTH ROUND

Stephanie Bianca

Sports Drama

When a young boxer paralyzes a former world champion, both lives are nearly destroyed until a stunning moment of violence inspires an unlikely friendship that pulls them from the brink.

stephanie.k.bianca@gmail.com

THOMAS/THOMASINE

Evan Garrone

Historical, Drama, War

In 1603 an intersex person is born in Newcastle England. They were raised as a girl, went to war as a man, and were persecuted in Jamestown Virginia for being both. Based on a true story.

Semifinalist, ScreenCraft True Story & Public Domain Competition 2022

Top 15% – 2021 Nicholl Fellowship

Semifinalist – Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards Summer 2021

Quarterfinalist – ScreenCraft True Story & Public Domain Competition 2021

egarrone107@gmail.com

TONY AND ANNETTE

Daisy Eagan

Comedy – short

An aging cabaret duo finally get discovered…by Gen Z.

Best Short Comedy Script – Hollywood Shorts Festival

Best Short Script – Royal Wolf Film Award

Best Short Script – Pinnacle Film Awards

Finalist – Pasadena Film Festival

Finalist –  The Monthly Film Festival

daisyeagan@gmail.com

TURNTABLES

Ryan Greenwood

Drama

When the master tapes of an indie rock band’s sophomore album disappear, lead singer Anna must overcome mutiny in the band’s ranks and find a way to deliver a follow-up album to the record label or face embarrassment and emotional ruin.

ryancgreenwood@gmail.com

VALLEY OF THE SHADOW

Logan Shaw

Crime, Drama, Thriller

After a bank robbery goes wrong, an ex-cop-turned-thief carjacks a down-on-her-luck transgender woman and holds her hostage in a desperate escape attempt… until they become partners. 

8 on the Blacklist

Finalist – SWN Screenwriter’s Network 2022

Semifinalist – ISA Table Read My Screenplay 2022

Semifinalist – Outstanding Screenplay Contest 2022

Top 50 – Roadmap Writer’s Top Tier Competition 2022

sloganshaw@gmail.com

WASTERS

David Rattray

Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi

When a fast food worker discovers that his favourite video game is ‘real’ and he’s been unwittingly controlling deadly assassins for a secret government agency, he must become the ultimate secret agent to stop the villains, save the world and find love.

Quarterfinalist – Scriptapalooza

Quarterfinalist – Screencraft Action/Thriller 2021

Quarterfinalist – Table Read My Screenplay Action

dave@daverattray.com

WE DON’T SMILE ANYMORE

Leah Simmons

Thriller

A career-driven woman is dragged by her husband to an exclusive couple’s retreat where she discovers their relationship is the center of a charismatic cult leader’s plot for political domination.

THE STEPFORD WIVES + THE INVITATION

lsimmons.johnstone@gmail.com

WORKING MOTHER, QUEEN OF SPACE!

Simon Josiffe

Action, Dramedy

A working single mother struggles to raise her daughter and run her business, as she is also the exiled queen of an alien reptile people. It’s a busy life.

simonjosiffe@hotmail.com

YOUNG FAMILY VACAY

Michael Samonek

Family, Adventure, Comedy

When a dysfunctional family gets lost on a road trip in Florida, mom and dad accidentally drink from the lost fountain of youth and wake up the same age as their tween kids! Now they have to learn to work together to survive the swamps, gators, giant bugs, and a creepy weirdo who is out to get them.

samonek@gmail.com

TELEVISION

ANONYMOUS

Porsha Addison

Dark Comedy

A suicidal man, fed up with his own mediocrity, receives an opportunity to gain purpose when he agrees to help the stranger who saved his life plot revenge on those that ruined hers.

Top 10 Genre Finalist – Comedy, Creative Screenwriting Unique Voices

Finalist – Filmmatic TV Pilot Awards

Finalist – The Breakk Competition 

Semi-Finalist – Fade In TV Awards 

porshawrites@gmail.com

BABY MAKES…FOUR

Rachel Aparicio

30-minute Dramedy

A mid-30s couple trying to get pregnant impulsively have a threesome with the husband’s best friend and must deal with the fall-out long after. 

rachelaparicio@gmail.com

BENSON & BREMER

John Kirkman

Historical, Musical Drama

Los Angeles 1941, a young radio writer and wannabe actress leverage a lucky break into their own radio show, all while struggling against their growing feelings for each other and the chaos of world events.

Top 50 – Roadmap Writers Top Tier Competition

jhkirkman@gmail.com

BLACK WOLVES

Sophia Baratti

Drama, Thriller

A group of freshmen selected for their prestigious university’s secret society are put to the test by its egotistical leader and the increasingly dangerous tasks they must complete in order to gain admittance.

sabaratti@gmail.com

BURN

Philippe Bowgen

30min comedy, LGBQTIA+, workplace

It’s not fitness, it’s life. Except when fitness IS your life. So when three group fitness instructors are suddenly fired from a celebrity Manhattan gym chain, they decide to conquer the very industry that’s paid their bills with hilarious consequences in this comedy about entrepreneurship and identity.

Finalist – Sundance New Voices

Top 3 – Nashville Film Festival

Finalist – Willamette Writers TVLab

philippe.bowgen@gmail.com

CANUSA STREET

Zack Morrison

Comedy, ½-hour single-cam

In a small town absurdly cut in half by the Canadian border, a jaded US Border Patrol agent solves local cases while engaging in a rivalry with her overachieving counterpart in the Canadian Mounties: her twin sister.

Best Comedy Teleplay – Catalyst Content Festival (formerly known as “ITV Fest”)

Finalist – Nantucket Screenwriters Colony

Finalist – Richmond International Film Festival

zmorrison18@gmail.com

CASUS BELLI

Kathryn Orwig

Historical Crime Mystery, 1-hour serialized TV, premium cable

In the midst of WWI, when the head of the Vincenzio Mafia is murdered by an inside man, his squeamish younger brother must uncover the murderer among them – the only catch is, he’s gotta suss out the killer on the battlefield as the mafiosos have been drafted.

BOARDWALK EMPIRE on the battlefields of WWI

Winner – Best Crime TV Script – Los Angeles Crime and Horror Film Festival 2021

Top 50 – Roadmap Top Tier 2021/2022

Top 50 – ISA Fast Track 2022

Quarterfinalist – WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Fall 2022

Quarterfinalist – The Script Lab – TSL Free Screenplay Contest 2022

kathrynorwigauthor@gmail.com

CHARLIE AND THE UNEXPLAINED

Eric La Febre

Sci-Fi, Adventure, Comedy

A coming of age mystery about a conspiracy obsessed teenager who suddenly unlocks a secret to the universe.

Best Television Script – Prague International Film Awards 2022

Best Television Pilot – Chicago Script Awards 2021

Official selection – Bloodstained Indie Film Festival 2021

elamakesthings@gmail.com

CLOCKING OUT

Michael Malone & Wolfe McReady

Drama, Thriller

What happens when the Grim Reaper wants to retire? Mort has been taking souls since the beginning of time. Finding himself overworked, under-appreciated, and emotionally drained, he decides to find a replacement and a way to escape the great beyond without The Council finding out.

malonecomedy@gmail.com

CONFESSIONS OF A PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHER

Georgia Cooney

Comedy

Being a primary school teacher is meant to be easy! However, Lottie quickly finds out the meaning behind the saying “Never work with a children or animals!” 

georgiacooney1@gmail.com

CREATURES: MYTH MAGIC MUTANT

Marquis Carter

Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Drama

Born and raised in the state of New Xerica Matteo suddenly finds himself forced to live in a secret village, home to magical creatures after a fight with the Army Generals son. While trying to find answers to why his mother relocated him Matteo uncovers his connection to the village.

marquis.carter717@gmail.com

CTHULHU RISING

Jeff Carpenter

Dark Fantasy, Weird War, Mystery

In 1942, when a Tokyo fortune-teller foresees the destruction of Japan at the hands of American atomic warfare, he must find a way to convince the Imperial Navy to investigate ancient ruins on a remote Pacific Island to uncover a counter-weapon. But what he doesn’t predict may unleash something far worse.

jeffkantoku@yahoo.ca

DAISY CHAIN

Francisco Castro

Crime, Suspense

In a small Arizona town, a mysterious double-homicide reconnects two women — a Filipina deputy and a Caucasian store owner, high school nemesis back in the day — and throws them into a massive conspiracy led by a reclusive billionaire who plans to alter the fate of the planet.

Finalist – Stowe Story Labs/New Mexico New Voices

Quarterfinalist – Emerging Screenwriters Sci-Fi & Fantasy

ffcastro1016@gmail.com

DANGEROUS HOUSEWIVES

Chip Riggs

Spy Thriller/Action

One cul-de-sac in a small Southern town hides the CIA’s most dangerous killers, but when they’re betrayed by one of their own, the wives of Foxglove Lane will have to use all their deadly skills to save everything they hold dear.

chipriggsfiction@gmail.com

DOUGHVILLE

Asante Ace Robinson

Urban

During the opioid drug epidemic, the small USA fictional town of Doughville becomes a hotspot for “out of towners” from city to sell drugs for high prices, sending Doughville and its residents into some place never seen before.

acerobinson05@gmail.com

ELYSIA

Adriana Laplanche

Fantasy, Action

Years after being smuggled into the brutal nation of Elysia, a young woman joins the hunt for a missing girl with the hopes of buying her way home – but discovers all is not what it seems.

adrianalaplanche@gmail.com

ESOTERICA

Stephen Saleh

Magical Realism, Drama

A team of occult consultants face a battle for their very existence when they are targeted for their enigmatic leader’s centuries-old alchemical research by a sinister character from his past.

Runner-up – Scriptwriters and Co International Festival

stephensaleh@yahoo.co.uk

EXIT STRATEGY

Phil Norris

Buddy Heist, Drama, Urban Fantasy 

When you’re down on your luck planning to steal a super yacht probably isn’t your first choice solution. Especially if you’ve never done a dishonest thing in your life.

Full script reading for BBC Writers Academy

philnorris363@gmail.com

GET BY

Paul Kitala

Comedy, Drama

Five toxically co-dependent and selfishly motivated friends get into various misadventures in Nairobi, Kenya.

kitalabpm@gmail.com

GOFER BROKE

Katie Canty

Single Camera Comedy

A workplace comedy about the office production staff of a network television show. The PA’s and production staff must strive to overcome the challenges of working on location in the rural outskirts of Hollywood while struggling to appease the high-maintenance writers and VIP’S of the show.

Based on my real-life experience working as a PA in the 90’s for a top-rated CBS show. 

katiecanty@msn.com

HOMETOWN REPORT

Collin Lieberg

1-hour Drama

After the death of her superstar ex-boyfriend, an ambitious political reporter must investigate by returning to the small hometown that shunned her, navigating the simmering tensions of a community in mourning, a corrupt politician, and a secret that could scandalize it to the core.

Second Round – ISA Fast Track Fellowship

collin.lieberg@gmail.com

KINGKILLER

Adeleke Kayode

Fantasy

Vowing to fulfill the dying wish of his mentor, an adventurous man journeys to find his place in the world as he searches for a mysterious book with connections to mythical warriors that may be more fact than fiction.

ravenkid5115@gmail.com

KYLA’S WAR

Hank Isaac

Drama, Historical, Action-Adventure

A twelve-year-old girl is the pampered pigtailed daughter of a respected surgeon by day and, by night, a WWII Resistance fighter who is quickly becoming the scourge of the Third Reich.

Winner – Best TV Pilot – Wiki: The World’s Fastest Screenplay Competition

Coverfly – Top 2%

Winner – Best Script – North American Film Awards

Finalist – Inroads Screenwriting Fellowship

2nd rounder – Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Competition

pointsource@gmail.com

MARRIAGE IS A JOKE

Lauren Schwein

½-hour Comedy

Best friends, Mike and Lauren (gay and straight respectively), decide to get married as a joke to mock the institution of marriage and celebrate their unique friendship after their friends harangue them about their lack of focus on their futures.

Winner – Stage 32 TV Comedy Screenwriting Contest 2021

Finalist – Script Summit Screenplay Contest 2021

Quarterfinalist – Creative Screenwriting Unique Voice Screenplay Competition 2022

lschwein@gmail.com

METAMORPHS

Abi Hindle

Sci-Fi

After Irene Quarrington, a philanthropic socialite, learns of a viral infection altering her body, she and her similarly affected friends set out on a quest to figure out what is going on, navigate life with their newfound abilities, and manage their brand new metamorphoses.

abihindle95@gmail.com

PEMBROOK

L.E. Coleman

Sci-Fi, Action, Drama

After finding out the Agency lied to him about his mother’s death, a confused and angry CIA agent with strange paranormal powers goes rogue to find her and must evade his former team, who stop at noting to keep the two apart.

Quarterfinalist – StoryPros Awards 2022

Quarterfinalist – Filmmatic Inroads Fellowship – Season 5

Official Selection – Script Summit 2022 (still in consideration)

lecoleman54@gmail.com

POSERS

Jason Schuster, Chrystopher Smith, Bailor Ellison

Comedy

Los Angeles, 1994; a disconnected teen, rocked by the economic demise of his family’s animatronic business, seeks solace in a used record store.

Quarterfinalist – ScreenCraft TV Pilot Script Competition 2021

jasonschust@gmail.com

PRIVATE SCHOOL PUERTO RICAN

Gilbert X. Hernandez

Comedy, Drama

A young Puerto Rican from the Bronx, that is being raised by a single teenage mother realizes that his scholarship to a fancy elite Manhattan private school causes a lot more problems than it solves. 

gilxhernandez@gmail.com

PROFIT

John Dorsey

Action, Adventure

Israel Rhone, a small time magician and conman stumbles onto a Golden Tablet that will lead him to founding his own religion and maybe unleash Lovecraftian Gods.

Winner – San Francisco International Screenwriting Festival

Quarterfinalist –  Final Draft Big Break 2020

Top 100 (Feature or TV Pilot) – Table Read My Screenplay Genre Screenplay Competition Austin 2021

johndorseyiv@gmail.com

QUEEN OF CUPS

Ronald V. Micci

Comedy

A tarot-reading young secretary attempts to guide the failing architectural firm for which she works back to prosperity after it fires its workforce and merges offices with a lingerie company whose female head has the hots for her boss.

#1 in top 100 TV scripts on StoryGo.io

rvmicci@yahoo.com

SIA (SUPERHERO INSURANCE AGENCY)

Zanni

Dramedy

When her hated rival is beating her to the most valuable assets, a cynical insurance agent pushes the boundaries to sign high risk/high reward clients and save her struggling superhero insurance agency.

Quarterfinalist, The Script Lab – TSL Free Screenplay Contest 2022

onlyzanni@gmail.com

SLIM CHANCE

Erick Buckley

Fantasy, Comedy

A hapless, middle-aged, comic book store owner on the verge of losing his business, his home, and his kids, must deal with suddenly becoming the Avatar of Eris, Greek Goddess of Chaos and being thrust into a world he has no business being in.

Quarterfinalist – Emerging Screenwriters SciFi/Fantasy

erickbuckley@gmail.com

SON OF A PREACHER MAN

Charlie Newell

Dramedy

A middle son must navigate the throes of adolescence in a hyper-religious environment where the holy and the profane threaten to tear his family apart.

charliedavidnewell@gmail.com

SPECULATION

Kitanya Harrison

Drama

When a former executive at a lucrative investment bank is accused of stealing their high-speed trading software, a group of journalists and  FBI agents struggle to expose the deep web of fraud and corruption at the heart of one of America’s most powerful institutions.

8 & 9 on The Black List

kitanya.harrison@gmail.com

THE ASH PIT

Cat Muir

Psychological Thriller

When a child is found dead in the woods, a 70 year old, retired detective must revisit her last, unsolved case and face the woman who almost destroyed her before time runs out for them all.

cat_muir@yahoo.com

THE CHOSEN FAMILY

Alex Seligson

½ hour comedy

An LGBTQ Family sitcom- The Chosen Family is a glimpse into the lives of Ron and Sanjay Chosen, their children, and their new friends as they raise their families in sunny, heterosexual Florida.

Finalist – Nickelodeon Writing Program

Quarterfinalist – Inroads Fellowship

Quarterfinalist – TSL Free Screenplay Contest

Quarterfinalist (pending) – Scriptation

Quarterfinalist – WeScreenplay Diverse Voices

alexseligsohn@yahoo.com

THE KREWE

Guy Crawford

Drama

After her daughter is shot, father arrested, a biracial single mother takes control of her family’s empires on both sides of the law to protect not only their lives but also their fortune from the FBI who wants to throw them in prison and the good old boys’ network who wants to steal it all.

guyc2_2000@yahoo.com

THE LADY ALMONER

Lynsey Cullen

Historical Drama

Grieving the death of her fiancé, the first hospital social worker in Britain Miss Mary Stewart thinks she’s lost everything, until she’s faced with those who have nothing. London, 1895. 

lynseytcullen@gmail.com

THE PEACEMAKER

Jaye Blohm, J.R. Blomberg, & Michael G. Willis

Action, Thriller. Drama

Two arch enemies, both assassins, must put aside their deadly past to defeat a greater evil, an elusive entity known only as The Peacemaker…that is if they don’t kill each other first.

Based on characters and events from The Peacemaker series created by best-selling author Blair Howard.

jayeblohm.writer@gmail.com

jrblomberg75@gmail.com

mgwwrites@gmail.com

THE RIGHT CLOSET

Melissa Price

Sociopolitical farce, dramedy, LGBT

Archenemies, a famous Latino drag queen and a loathsome anti-LGBT congressman survive a plane crash only to awaken with amnesia as best friends and allies determined to transform the world for the better—together.

drmelissaprice@aol.com

THE SUNFLOWER SOLDIER

Jason Inman

Drama, Neo-Western

After returning home to his family’s farm after he’s discharged from the U.S. army, a man discovers there’s a human trafficking operation being run out of a nearby ranch so he uses his military expertise and the help of an old friend to put it out of business.

jasonwilliaminman@gmail.com

VOYEUSE

Zanna Cardash

Drama, Thriller

Despite discovering she’s the star of an incriminating sex film, a vulnerable teenager vows to save her narcissistic film director lover after she reveals her desire to take a stranger’s life – then her own.

Finalist/Top 50 – ISA Fast Track Fellowship

Winner – Best Pilot Screenplay, Olympus Film Festival LA

Winner – Best TV Series Pilot Screenplay, New Renaissance Film Festival

Winner – Best Pilot Screenplay, Out Of The Can Festival

Semifinalist – Emerging Screenwriters Genre Competition

words@zannac.co.uk

WHITE ORCHID

Alex Vaz

Drama, 30-minute

An orphaned daughter of the Vietnam War travels to America in search of her estranged mother, where she must defeat the forces of evil that have enslaved the local Vietnamese community with drugs and sex trafficking, in order to create that bond with the woman she never knew. 

drvaz801@yahoo.com

YOU’RE KILLING ME, MA!

Cody James Ong & Mark Gonzales

Comedy, Dark Comedy, Slapstick

A young Boston detective can’t catch a break and lives at home with his mother who’s secretly a serial killer.

Serial Mom meets Frasier.

Finalist – Writer’s Duet 48 Hour Contest 2021

codyong22@gmail.com

Calling all writers of film & television!!

As has been written about many a time on this platform, I’m a huge supporter of helping writers out when I can, especially when it comes to promoting their own material.

Which is why a few years ago I created The Maximum Z Script Showcase; a twice-a-year post that lists film and television spec scripts writers have sent in with the intention of letting the rest of the world know about them. Each listing includes the basic information about each script (genre, logline, awards, etc.), as well as the writer’s email in case it piques your interest and you’d like to contact them about reading it.

So I’m proud to announce that the door is now open to submit your script to the Summer ’22 edition, slated to post on Friday, June 24th.

Interested in having yours included? Here’s all you need to do:

Email the following info about your script with the subject “Maximum Z Summer ’22 Script Showcase” here:

-Film or TV?

-Title

-Author(s)

-Genre(s)

-Logline

-Awards (if applicable) – 5 at the most

-your email

And that’s it.

Two VERY important details to keep in mind:

-DO NOT SEND THE SCRIPT!!!

Just the info listed above. Nothing else.

-and-

ONLY ONE SCRIPT PER PERSON. No exceptions.

New scripts are highly encouraged, but it’s still okay to send in one that’s been featured in a previous edition.

Submissions will be accepted until Thursday, June 23rd. After that and you’re out of luck.

Reading for reading’s sake

This week I opted to give myself a bit of a break among the writing and outlining sessions, and read some scripts just for the hell of it. Admittedly, some of them had been in my “to read” queue for quite a while, and right now seemed as good a time as any to finally get to them.

No notes. No feedback. Just sitting back, relaxing, and losing myself in the stories.

They ranged from a horror to a historical action, a western to a drama based on true events.

And each and every one was fantastic in its own unique way.

It also helps that these are the works of some excellent writers to begin with, so that made the overall experience that much better.

If I’d been asked when I was starting out if I could ever just read a script, I’m not sure if the answer would have been yes. I suspect I’d’ve been too concerned with thinking “what works in this script?” and “what can I learn from this?”

But the experience that’s come from reading and writing scripts has enabled me to look at a screenplay as more than an educational document. I can see solid storytelling, strong plots, three-dimensional characters, snappy dialogue, and all the other elements.

All of those elements combine to make for some darned good scripts.

It’s one of the best pieces of advice when a newer writer asks “How can my scripts be better?”

READ SCRIPTS!

There’s a vast assortment from which to choose, making it super-easy for you to customize your reading list.

And to take it one step further, numerous members of the online screenwriting community would be happy to share or swap scripts. You just have to do the work in finding something that piques your interest. Believe me, they are definitely out there.

If your schedule allows, try to make the effort to read one to two scripts a week. You’ll be glad you did.

Hope you like receiving what I’m giving

Despite what some may say, it’s actually kind of tough to get a gift for a screenwriter. Straight-up cash – for contests and consultants, of course – is always good, but Murray in the accounting department says Maximum Z’s budget only goes so far, so that’s not an option.

So I figured, how about the next best thing?

You guessed it. Guidance!

So in the spirit of the season, here are some helpful tips that can benefit any screenwriter. One size fits all, the color suits you to a T, and they never fade, run or tear.

WRITE SOMETHING YOU WOULD WANT TO SEE

You like comedies? Write one that could make you laugh out loud. Horror fan? Transfer the scares onto the page. Your taste runs towards small indies? Bet some aspect of your life would be a great foundation for a story like that.

When you go to the movies or sit down to watch something streaming at home, you want your money’s worth. It’s up to the script to deliver on that.

The writer’s love of the material should be evident on the page. The reader/audience will pick up on your enthusiasm for the material, so don’t hold back and have at it. You’re your own target for this, so what would you want to be included in your story?

WRITE AS IF INK COSTS $1000 AN OUNCE

You want the words on the page to really flow, to make the reader keep going and want to turn the page/see what happens next, right? Which do you think will do the job better? Two lines of tight, concise action, or five of excessive prose? I’ve seen both, and prefer the former by a substantial margin.

The subheading for this could be “the more white on the page, the better”. You want to make the absolute most out of that valuable real estate on the page, so why would you want to clutter it up with thick blocks of text? Grab that red pen, put on your editor’s hat, and jump in. Could this dialogue or action be trimmed down from four lines to three? Or two?

The more the writing flows, the faster the read, and the more likely you are to keep your reader’s interest. Try to use as few words as possible; the ones that make the biggest impact.

SHOW, DON’T TELL

You’d think this was a basic one, but I’ve seen a lot of scripts that include what a character is thinking, why they’re doing something, or what something really means.

In other words, “How do we know that?” Film is primarily a visual medium, so if you’re able to present information we can see that’s part of the story, do it!

Here’s an example I like to use:

“INT. KITCHEN – NIGHT

Bob stands at the sink, washing dishes. His mind drifts to when he took Mary Lou to the prom, where she subsequently dumped him and then ran off with a plumber and now lives in Akron with four kids, a cat, and a mortgage.”

What would we see onscreen? A guy washing dishes. That backstory info needs to be presented visually, or as much as can be.

SPELLCHECK IS NOT YOUR FRIEND

True story: I once read a script that included the now-immortal line “She sets a bag of frozen pees on the counter.” I had a lot of trouble focusing on the rest of the script after that. Couldn’t tell you for the life of me now what the story was, but I will remember that line until the very end.

When a writer asks me to look over their script, I’m not just doing story notes. I check punctuation, spelling, grammar, the whole shebang. Having a few goofs is pretty standard; anything more than that and it becomes a problem. Sloppy writing makes it look like the writer isn’t taking this as seriously as they should. Not a great speller, or tend to overdo it with the commas? No problem. I bet there’s a writer within your network who’d be happy to do a polish for you.

DON’T BE BORING

Easier said than done, right? It’s a challenge to make any story interesting enough to hold onto the reader/audience’s attention, but it all starts with what’s on the page. Is the writing flat, or does it really pop? Does the writer have a handful of verbs they use over and over, or have they given their thesaurus a real workout?

Which sounds more visual and intriguing?

He walks into the room.

OR

He struts into the room.

Hint: it’s not the first one. Doesn’t imagining somebody strutting into a room feel stronger, more cinematic, than somebody simply walking in?

The script is your way to paint a picture in our minds using words, and words alone. It’s up to you to do that in as entertaining a way as possible, using the words that pack the most punch.

Does the writing in your script do that?

BE NICE TO PEOPLE/PLAY NICE WITH OTHERS

Another one you’d think would go without saying, but manners do count – especially when it comes to meeting people who could potentially have an impact on you establishing a career.

Which would you rather be – the congenial person who’s interested in what the other person has to say, is open to ideas and suggestions, celebrates somebody else’s accomplishments, and wants to help out, or the bitter, self-important person who constantly whines/complains about how they’re not getting the recognition they deserve, badmouths other writers, won’t change anything in their script because “it’s perfect the way it is”, and just makes it all about them?

This is an extremely tough business to break into, let alone thrive in, so wouldn’t you want as much support as you can get? And every other writer needs as much support as you do, so you should try to help them just as much. Plus, nice people are nicer to be around.

Also important – be honest. Don’t present yourself as something you’re not. If you weren’t telling the truth about one thing, why should anybody believe you about anything else? Sometimes all you have is your reputation, and you don’t want to have it work against you.

Those within the industry would much rather work with somebody who presents themselves as a team player, and not a diva. Cliched as it sounds, you really do only get one chance to make a first impression. Make sure that yours puts you in the best possible light, then you do what you can to keep yourself there.

And that’s it. Hope you get some use out of these, and feel to re-gift as needed.

Wishing you all the best for a happy holiday season that involves a slice of your favorite pie and at least a little bit of writing.

Q & A with Hudson Phillips of ScriptBlast

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 of KILLING 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.