Reading truly is fundamental

marilyn book

Even though I’ve been spending a lot of time working on new scripts, I’ve also made a recent effort to start reading more scripts.

The contents of the folder on my desktop labeled “TO READ” include around a dozen scripts of well-known produced films and those of my associates within my social network, along with a few I received with the advice “you really should read this”.

It’s a lot of scripts to work my way through. I’ve completed three so far, and each one has been amazing. It’s a fantastic experience I can’t recommend enough.

What’s probably the most important aspect is that taking a look at all these different scripts lets you see the multiple ways of how a story can be told on the page. Each and every script does an amazing job with its own interpretation of “Show, don’t tell.”

It also helps because many times we’re so wrapped up in our own material that reading something new and original where you have no idea what’s going to happen gives your imagination a much needed rest. You can literally just sit back and enjoy the ride.

When you get so wrapped up in the story that you can easily visualize it playing out in your head, and the words and pages just fly by, then you know you’re in the hands of a skilled writer who knows what they’re doing.

Very important – while you shouldn’t try to straight-out copy somebody else’s style, you can at least let it influence how shape your own. Don’t just read a script – study how it’s put together.

Is the writing crisp and colorful? Are you able to follow the story? Is the sequence of events organized so that you can’t imagine it happening any other way? Do the scenes make their point fast and move on? Do the characters seem like actual people? Does the dialogue sound natural and get the point across without being too on-the-nose?

These questions – and so many more – will come up while I’m reading a script for the purpose of giving it notes. But if somebody says “Read this. I think you’ll like it.” and notes are NOT involved, then it’s easier for me to read it just for the sake of enjoying it, and not feel the need to be critical.

That being said, it’s still tough for me to take off my editor’s hat – even for a casual read. It’s not uncommon for me to find the occasional typo or ask a question about something I’m just not sure about. This isn’t me being critical on purpose. Quite the contrary. When something like that takes me out of the story, I want to let the writer know so they can fix it and prevent it from happening for the next reader.

Even though this is a read for enjoyment, certain technical factors still come into play for me. Does it look good on the page? Is there a lot of white space, or do I have to endure big blocks of text? How’s the formatting? Any misspelled words? Pretty much – do they have the basics down?

And the stories themselves – WOW! Some are in genres I love, others totally new to me, and even a few offering a totally new take on an old standard. Even though I may not be a fan of something, I can still appreciate and enjoy a well-told story.

Also very important – after you finish reading, especially if it’s a friend’s script, thank them for letting you take a look, and let them know what you thought of it (preferably in the positive). If it’s a produced script and the writer is on social media, you can let them know that way. I’ve done this a few times, and each time the writer was very appreciative.

At my current rate, I’m getting through about two to three scripts over the course of a week, so I have at least another month to month and a half before the folder empties out.

I’m looking forward to getting through this batch, and even more so when it’s time to start compiling the next one.

Presenting: Your Script!

spotlight gif

This was all about giving writers a platform to showcase the script they feel is the best representation of their writing, and a chance to help everybody expand their own personal network of writing associates.

I offered to list one script per writer, and the responses were many.

Boy, were they.

A whopping 130 scripts for both film and TV are here, with genres of all kinds represented. Trust me when I say there is A LOT to choose from.

So have at it. Read. Enjoy.  If something about your script catches somebody’s eye and they want to contact you about reading it (or potentially more), that’s why the email addresses are included.

A very hearty thanks to everybody who sent in.

And if there’s any interest, I might do this again later this year.

(for all you newcomers, feel free to subscribe to/follow this blog)

 

FILM

8TH WONDER OF THE WORLD

Pricilla Devi Kumar

Dramatic biography

A young French wrestler uses his ailment of giantism to dominate the sport of American wrestling, becoming one of the most celebrated wrestlers of the franchise; a fated journey that leads to his premature and preventable death.

pricillakumar20@gmail.com

 

9 MONTHS

Kelly Tran

Dramedy, Coming of Age, Asian

A 23-year woman’s entire life changes in the span of 9 months, starting with her mother falling ill and then her own unexpected pregnancy. 

Screencraft Fellowship – quarterfinalist

Los Angeles International Screenplay – quarterfinalist

thatkellytran@gmail.com

 

ABSOLUTE CONTROL

Laika Lee

Psychological Thriller

This story is about Jane, a girl with persecutory delusion, and Ragen, a psychotic killer with OCD. Jane is abducted by Ragen and imprisoned in a small cabin deep in the mountains, who tortures her every day for fun. During their time together, Jane seemingly uncovers the other identity of the psychotic killer, which is a 6-year-old little girl named Sanja, and she realizes as long as she can control this little girl who comes out every night, she might just have the chance to escape…

7 on The Black List

laika.lee@hotmail.com

 

A CHRISTMAS CHEER

Clint Ford

Historical drama

Seven years after his redemption, old Ebenezer Scrooge passes away on Christmas Eve morning. When he learns the spirit of Jacob Marley – who helped to redeem him – still roams the earth shackled and chained, Scrooge chooses to put his own Eternal Reward at risk so to confront Marley’s Ghosts of Christmases Yet to Come, Present, and Past in an effort to return the favor to his friend.

Page Turner “First 15”  – quarterfinalist

American Zoetrope – Top-Rated Screenplays for February 2020 – first place

Dallas International Film Festival – semifinalist

Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards – semifinalist

Inroads Screenwriting Fellowship – finalist

theactualclintford@gmail.com

 

A LONG AWAITED DAY

Mary Kate Allen

Historical Drama

When a WW2 plane wreck is discovered, it unites a group of strangers who work together to bring home a missing person. Based on actual events.

Content Creators of Atlanta – Best Feature Screenplay

Women Who Write In Film International Screenplay Competition – winner

The Monthly Film Festival – semifinalist (pending)

Featured on Coverfly’s The Red List

Allen.mk7@gmail.com

 

ALPHA 8

Stephanie Elie

Sci-Fi Family Adventure

When your mom isn’t your mom but really looks like your mom – she just might be an alien. That’s what 12-year-old Daniel discovers. So he sets out on an adventure to get his “real” mom back with the help of his three siblings. And yes, the alien comes too.

seliecreative@gmail.com

 

AN UNBALANCED LINE

Kristy Leigh Lussier

Sports Drama

A female football prodigy makes history when she saves a failing program and becomes the first woman named Head Coach of a college football team.

Script Summit – Best Drama

Twin Falls Film Festival – Best Screenplay/Excellence in Screenwriting

Las Vegas International Screenplay – Best Sports Screenplay

West Texas Film Festival – Finalist, Best Screenplay

Filmmatic Drama – finalist

Screencraft Drama – semifinalist

WeScreenplay Diverse Voices – semifinalist

rockitmpc@gmail.com

 

AN UNDOCUMENTED RUMOR

Philip C. Sedgwick

Drama/Action-Adventure

A journalist for an US-based Arabian TV network heads to the Arizona border to sleuth out a rumor regarding a terrorist attack formulating in Mexico. When the rumor proves true, the reporter enlists a most unlikely team to intercept the attack and take on the even more unlikely forces behind the operation.

Burbank Film Festival – Best Feature Screenplay

San Antonio Film Festival – Best Feature Screenplay

StoryPros – finalist (2x)

Hollywood Screenplay – finalist

Richmond Film Festival – finalist

philip@philipcsedgwick.com

 

BARMAGEDDON

Jimmy George & Chris LaMartina

Horror Comedy

A faithless bar owner must rally a motley crew of patrons to defend her pub against the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

scriptbutcher@gmail.com

 

BARNSTORMING: A STORY OF SEX AND BASEBALL

Ronald J. Drescher

Historical Dramedy

In 1925, a hard drinking, rule bending English scandal reporter on the hunt in America to expose the lurid truth behind Babe Ruth’s worst slump must use all her wiles to save the Babe after discovering his true humanity and the sinister plot to destroy him.

Diverse Voices – finalist

Rondrescher@mac.com

 

BARRIO FIESTA

Donna Mae Foronda

Horror/Thriller

A young white man meets his Filipino girlfriend’s family for the first time and easily wins their approval, but in more ways than he ever could imagine.

donna.foronda@gmail.com

 

BLACKPILL

Ben Johnson & Jolie Noelle

Horror/Thriller

When a group of incels imprison several young women in an old fifties-era “dream home”, one woman must find a way to outwit her captors and escape their twisted fantasy.

Screencraft Horror – quarterfinalist

benjohnsonvideography@gmail.com

 

BOSTON LAWYER

Rhys Freeman

Drama

A determined, ‘no-nonsense’ lawyer looks for justice in a heart-breaking case. In his way stands the last man on earth you’d expect to be accused of such a crime, along with unexplainable questions. If justice does not prevail, closure for everyone will be hard to find.

Beverly Hills Screenplay – finalist

Hollywood Screenplay – finalist

rhysfreemanwriter@gmail.com

 

CARIBBEAN CRUISE VACATION

Jonathon Douglas

Comedy Adventure Parody

A white boomer must overcome his culture-centric dependence when he is forced to take a black teen on a family cruise in place of his estranged son and discovers the youth has the connections needed to bring his son aboard ship.

JonathonDDouglas@gmail.com

 

CHARLIE’S CHRISTMAS CAROLE

Diana Stout

Family Holiday

Christmas non-believer school principal Charlie Dickson must choose between keeping his job that removes the annual holiday pageant or his daughter who won the lead, his reunion with the play’s director, and an age-old reindeer with seemingly magical powers.

drdianastout@gmail.com

 

DARKNESS NEVER FADES

Gair Mcdonald

Horror-Supernatural/Thriller

A street-wise teen and her estranged mother, embarking on a road trip, are terrorised by a supernatural force, a cursed manifestation of family infidelity.

Next Generation Independent Film Festival – Winner, “Best Creature Feature”

Nicholl Fellowship – Honorable Mention

gairmcdonald123@btinternet.com

 

DARK OF THE MOON

Graham Holliday

Dramatic Thriller

At the climax of the next space race, an astronaut must decide what’s more important: landing on the moon first or revealing the hoax.

realgrahamholliday@yahoo.com

 

DREAM FILLER

Anat Golan

Science Fiction/Political Drama

After a nerdy medical researcher illegally impregnates a Dream Filler, a person who fulfills one’s desires, he must fight to save his unborn child and the Dream from termination by the hands of a ruthless government agent.

thewritescript@gmail.com

 

ELIMINATION AGENDA

Stuart Heimdal

Action-adventure

When a biological weapon to wipe out specific races is shopped on the black market, a CIA operative is tasked with locating it before it falls into the wrong hands.

Screencraft Action – quarterfinalist

heimdal@gmx.com

 

ELLSWORTH ’58

Graham Stone Johnson

Sci-Fi/Coming of Age

After aliens lay waste to a small town, a boy and his bully are all that remain. When the boy’s sister returns, aged 10 years overnight, she leads the trio on a perilous journey to locate the one thing that can save them.

grahamstonejohnson@gmail.com

 

EXODUS

Anthony Moore

Sci-Fi/Drama

A decorated FBI agent is assigned to find out why large groups of people are disappearing nation-wide and discovers that the answer is worse than he could have ever imagined, forcing him to question his own identity.

Black Screenplays and Stories Screenwriting Contest – grand prize

Filmmatic Drama – semifinalist

StoryPros – quarterfinalist

techrat@live.com

 

FAERIES: RISE OF THE SOUL EATERS

Chip Street & Sean Meehan

Horror Creature-feature

Four city-slickers lost in the wilderness are stalked by a pack hunting troupe of blood-thirsty faeries, and have to gamble on the erratic memory of an elderly local to find their way to the safety of a mountaintop ranger station before the creatures eviscerate them all.

Shriekfest – finalist

chip@chipstreet.com

 

FEVER DREAM

Jordan M. Horowitz

Timely Psychological Thriller

After being assaulted at an audition, a struggling actress lands the lead role in a film, but the further she delves into the dark mind of the character, the more her dream becomes a nightmare.

jordan@jordansfilms.com

 

FINDING CORA

Jalissa Cruz

Mystery/Suspense

A detective helps a victim link her past attempted kidnapping to a recent abduction, and with the help of her family and friends, they unmask a heinous small-town conspiracy.

yelissaaawrites@gmail.com

 

FLAT SQUIRREL

Fiona Ross

Animated comedy-adventure

When a determined but stranded flying squirrel joins a bunch of forest animals hooked on junk food, they battle the meanest-ever junk-food junkie who’ll kill them for the donut supply.

Florida Comedy Film Festival – Best Screenplay (Titanium)

Hollywood Screenplay Festival – Silver Award

fionafaithross@gmail.com

 

FOLLOW UP

Chris Watt

Drama

Over the course of an interview with a young music journalist, a broken and reclusive rock star reveals the secret behind his mysterious disappearance twelve years earlier, finding surprising inspiration for a possible comeback along the way.

Kosice International Film Festival – Honorable Mention, Feature Screenplay

British Independent Film Festival – official selection

New York City Independent Screenplay Festival – official selection

Rome Independent Prisma Awards – official selection

Austin Screenplay Awards – official selection

Indie Visions Film Festival – official selection

writeherewritenow80@gmail.com

 

FREEDOM FORT

Clint Williams

historic action-adventure

Two runaway slaves meet en route to a fort abandoned by the British following the War of 1812 and join a community of former slaves thriving under the protection of the fort’s cannons. But the growing village is threatened by a pending invasion by U.S. Army troops. Based on actual events.

Write LA  – grand prize winner

Nicholl – quarterfinalist

Final Draft Big Break – finalist; winner – historical/period/war

Black List score: 8

clintwilliams3@gmail.com

 

FULL MOON OVER THE NUDEY BAR

Daniel Bridges and Emily McGuiness

Horror-Comedy

Two vets head down South in search of their missing conspiracy theorist buddy only to find that he was “kinda right” and hiding in a seedy small town overrun by a pack of ’80s clad stripper werewolves.

Houston Comedy Film Festival – official selection

Portland Comedy Film Festival – official selection

Austin Comedy Film Festival – official selection

Screencraft Comedy – quarterfinalist

danielobridges@gmail.com

 

FUN AND GAMES

Ariel Relaford

Horror

Two adopted, teenage siblings receive a mysterious box. In order to save their own lives and the lives of others, they must race against the clock to solve the riddles it holds.

arielrelaford@gmail.com

 

HARBOR

Amina Divine

Suspense

A corrupted bed-and-breakfast owned by a Swedish couple hosted by a harbored African girl. Can she escape? Will she survive?

aminacarr@gmail.com

 

HOLY HARRY

Zach Witt

In the midst of a brewing revolution, the CEO of Heaven mysteriously vanishes, leaving a new arrival to keep the peace or face deportation to Hell.

Script 32 Comedy – quarterfinalist

zwitt87@gmail.com

 

IGOR AND FRANKIE

Jim Picariello

Animated family feature

Chaos abounds at the MIT women’s dorm when Igor mistakenly creates a serum that brings stuffed animals to life. When the formula’s stolen, she must team up with Frankie, her manic-inventor roommate-from-hell, to steal it back and subdue the resulting rampaging, fluffy abomination.

Nicholl Fellowship – top 10%

Austin Film Festival – second rounder

Stowe Story Labs Fellowship – finalist

jimpicariello@gmail.com

 

INCOMPLETE

Kenson Junicue

Drama

A self-depleted young black man lands an internship at a prestigious law firm and quickly becomes involved with his prejudiced boss.

Diverse Stories – semifinalist

International Independent Film Awards – finalist

New York Screenplay Film Awards – finalist

junicue@me.com

 

JACKSONVILLE

Jeffrey R. Field

Comedy/Thriller

A suicidal Army veteran rescues a mob princess from kidnappers, only to have her blackmail him into killing a key witness against her father. Of course, it’s Florida.

Screencraft Fellowship – winner

Nicholl Fellowship – top 50

jefffield88@yahoo.com

 

JUST MY IMAGINATION

Antonio Shorter

Short

One brother wants to be like the other, but the other brother wants him to be more and better than him.

antonioshorter.21@gmail.com

 

LAST DAY ‘TIL SUMMER

Jimmy Hurt

Slasher/College Drama

Seven sinful college students win a foreign internship lottery, only to be locked in the theatre by a cult of murderous professors on the last day of class.

jbirdsseets29@gmail.com 

 

LAWN BOYS

Steve Cleary

Comedy

An out-of-work ad man saves his buddy’s failing landscaping business by targeting lonely housewives but must become a champion of nature when a shifty artificial turf dealer shows up on the scene.

WildSound Festival For Comedy – table read

steve@stevecleary.com

 

LOCKDOWN AT ONKALO

S. H. Sadek

Sci-Fi/Psychological Thriller

In the distant future, a woman finds herself trapped in a nuclear waste repository for 20 years with a clone left there to protect it from the monsters outside.

s.hsadek.writes@gmail.com

 

LONELY BOY

Adam Argyrides

Queer Coming-of-Age Drama

A socially awkward loner struggles to realize his sexuality and personal potential amid the pressures and dramas of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

adamargyrides97@gmail.com

 

LOVE ME

Jordan Tate

Thriller

Traumatized and reclusive since a violent assault, a famed female screenwriter trying to return to her normal life accepts to write a screenplay for an independent and first time female producer who begins stalking her.

Jordantatescreenwriter@yahoo.com

 

MECHCRAFT

Brian Fitzpatrick

Science-fiction

A teen singularity is hunted by relentless enemies for his shape-shifting nanotech ability embedded in his DNA. The Matrix meets Harry Potter.

The Script Lab – quarterfinalist

Screencraft Sci-fi/Fantasy – quarterfinalist

Final Draft Big Break – quarterfinalist

PAGE International – quarterfinalist

brianfitzauthor@gmail.com

 

MIND BLOWN

Paul Jarnagin

Action-Thriller

A cybersecurity agent discovers a mind-control Trojan horse in a popular VR gadget and must stop the inventor’s wicked game plan to save her daughter’s life.

Vine Hill Productions Legendary Script – winner

StoryPros – Action/Adventure – 2nd place

milehiscribe@gmail.com

 

MINDSCAPE

Joao Alves

Film Noir/Horror

In 1941, two special agents must go inside the mind of a Navy sailor gone insane, to find who or what destroyed a naval base and left him as the sole survivor, re-living his memories and risking losing their own sanity in the process.

European Genre Forum – one of 10 scripts selected

joao.alves.anim@gmail.com

 

MOMOTAMI: RISING SON

Mista Martel, Mary Kate Allen, Samuel C. Connor & Steve E. Holbert

Historical Fiction

In 1918, a Japanese couple comes to the United States in search of a better life. After decades filled with prejudice, humiliation and human rights violations, when World War II ends, their son decides to run for President of the United States.

Content Creators of Atlanta – winner, Best Feature Screenplay

Black Film Festival Atlanta – finalist, Best Feature Screenplay

TMFF – The Monthly Film Festival – finalist, Best Feature Screenplay

Actormista@gmail.com

 

NANA AND JAKE

Ross Allaire

Family/Science-fiction

A retired first-grade teacher and her orphaned grandson must outwit an obsessed small-town sheriff in order to save who they think are refugee aliens on a doomed planet.

ross.rocknroll@gmail.com

 

NEURAL

Sarah Granger

Sci-Fi

An expert informant gets infected by an unusual cybernetic virus, giving her 24 hours to live. With nowhere else to turn, she goes to her ex, who recruits a team of hackers in a rush to find the viral code and take down the dark web boss who hurt her.

Fade In Sci-Fi – semifinalist

sarah (at) sarahgranger (dot) com

 

NICKED

Eileen Wilson

Short film

Santa, held up at the grotto, uses his magic to save a lost soul getting nicked.

Bloodstained Indie Film Festival – winner, Best Short Script

Top Indie Film Awards – nominee, Best Short Script

chorlton1and@gmail.com

 

NUMBER ONE

Rich Hammond

Drama

Afraid of losing everything, a fading rock star tries to save his career by faking his own death.

rich@richhammond.com

 

OH, MY LEO!

Jeff Naparstek

Dark Comedy

A man has the opportunity to spend twenty-four hours with his wife… three days after his funeral.

Georgia Shorts Film Festival – Best Feature Comedy

propwriter1@gmail.com

 

OLD WEST

John Henderson

Revenge/Thriller

An aging farmer saddles up to hunt down a Western outlaw and his gang after a shootout takes away the last of everything he holds dear.

johnmichaelhenderson@gmail.com

 

OPHIDIA (THE SNAKE)

Greg Tennant

Psychological Horror

A nightmare vision of a former activist getting over a bad breakup and becoming entangled with a woman who claims to be helping him but who threatens to feed him to a giant snake.

Oaxaca Film Fest – finalist

13Horror.com Film & Screenplay – finalist

Oregon Scream Horror Week Film Festival – official selection

Indie Suspense Horror Sci-Fi Film Festival – official selection

gjtennant@sbcglobal.net

 

OTHERSIDE

Marin Rymer

Sci-Fi/Thriller

A suicidal detective investigating a spate of missing persons becomes one herself when she’s apparently trapped inside a suspiciously perfect hotel run by a peculiar proprietor.

marin.rymer@yahoo.com

 

PIECES

Stephen Tronicek

Horror-drama

After accidentally causing the death of his brother, a renowned surgeon starts to cut pieces of himself off.

The Million Dollar Screenplay – semifinalist

Screencraft Horror – quarterfinalist

stephen.tronicek@gmail.com

 

RATIONAL PANIC

Robert Rhyne

Psychological Thriller

When a theater professor’s wife, who suffers a panic disorder, mysteriously disappears during Mardi Gras, the professor is sucked into a strange and deadly mind game with one of his students, who has written a play with an eerily similar character.
 

Horror Hotel – Best Horror/Thriller Script

Shriekfest – Best Thriller Feature Screenplay

StoryPros – finalist

Script Summit – finalist

We Screenplay – finalist

PAGE International – quarterfinalist

randprhyne@aol.com

 

REPRESSION

Minh-Anh Vo Dinh

Horror/Drama

While struggling with a dead end job to support his dysfunctional family, a young man begins to experience nightmare inducing sleep paralysis, in which malevolent forces and horrifying visions terrorize him.

Screencraft Horror – semifinalist

minhanhvodinh@gmail.com

 

ROUGH SURFACE

Tim Brennan

Drama

Based on actual events, a young reporter investigates the life and murder of a Lakota Sioux girl as the killer’s confession rock the foundations of a small town.  

Big Break Screenwriting – finalist

TSL Free Screenwriting Contest – finalist

tbrennan75@gmail.com

 

SANDHILLS, NE

Coral Rucker

Social Horror – short film

Isaac goes to Nebraska to visit his friend Luke. During his stay he experiences creepy and unnerving encounters with the townspeople of Sandhills.

coralaotw@gmail.com

 

SIMULATION THEORY

Mage Lanz

Drama/Sci-Fi/Mind-bending

A woman’s assumptions of reality are unraveled as she experiences different lives in different universes.

lanz.mage@gmail.com

 

SKIP TO MY LOU

P.J. Marino

comedy-drama

A man held prisoner in a futuristic desert penal colony befriends a soulful zombie hitchhiker, the last of many pets he names “Chrissy”, but Chrissy is jealous, and has a tendency to eat any new friend the man makes.

pjmarino@pjmarino.com

 

SLAYCAY

Bill Poore

Psychological Thriller

After discovering that her best friend is sleeping with her fiancé, an unstable Instagram influencer invites her cheating friend on an all-inclusive Jamaican vacation where she plans to take her revenge.

8 on the Black List

b.poore8@gmail.com

 

TERMINOUS 9

Stephen A. Rutkowski

Science Fiction

With the sun dying, a family joins an intergalactic mission to a new planet in hopes of restarting civilization. After an arduous journey that spans generations, they finally arrive at the new planet, Terminus 9, which has a healthy sun but may be uninhabitable for other, more sinister reasons.

s.a.rutkowski@gmail.com

 

THE FLASHLIGHT FARMER

Alison C. Wroblewski

Original Drama

A young widow must save her home and dairy farm with the help of her opioid-addicted father before the bank forecloses for a debt she didn’t know her dead husband accrued.

Richmond International Film Festival – finalist

Fresh Voices – semifinalist

The Black List x Women In Film Residency – semifinalist

Screencraft Fellowship – quarterfinalist

Screencraft Drama – quarterfinalist

Sundance Labs – second-rounder

alisoncrews@mac.com

 

THE INVADER

Phillip E. Hardy

Science Fiction/Film Noir

When several women are murdered in Texas, a small-town lawman suffering violent dreams and premonitions tries to prevent a growing body count, while hunting for what could be a serial killer from another world.

L.A. Neo Noir Festival – Winner, Best Iconic Neo Noir Screenplay

Mindfield Film Festival – Winner, Best Science Fiction Screenplay

Filmquest – Finalist, Best Script

Los Angeles Film Awards – Winner, Best Science Fiction Screenplay

Kapow Intergalactic Film Festival – Finalist, Best Screenplay

Shriekfest – Quarterfinalist, Best Screenplay

Hollywood Blood Horror Festival – Winner, Best Screenplay

phillip_hrdy@yahoo.com

 

THE IRON HORSE OF LUCY STEELE

Paul E. Zeidman

Western-Adventure

1874. A fiery train engineer relentlessly pursues the ruthless outlaw who has stolen her one-of-a-kind locomotive to pull off the biggest heist in U.S. history.

Creative Screenwriting Unique Voices – winner, western genre

Screencraft Action – top 10 finalist (2x)

Nicholl Fellowship – top 15% (2x)

Screencraft Fellowship – semifinalist

Tracking Board Launchpad – top 50

StoryPros – semifinalist, action/adventure

Worldfest Houston – Gold Remi – western screenplays

paul.zeidman@gmail.com

 

THE LAST TREE STANDING MOTEL

Howard Casner

Drama, Crime

After two hired killers murder someone at a remote motel, they receive a call from their boss telling them they can’t leave the motel until he gives them permission—but won’t tell them why; are their lives at stake, or is this some sort of sick joke. Whatever it is, tragedy is inevitable.

PAGE International – semifinalist

Austin Film Festival – semifinalist

All Access – semifinalist

London Screenplay – finalist

Glendale Screenplay – finalist

Beverly Hills Film Festival – official selection

hcasner@aol.com

 

THE MARIO PUZO STORY

M. J. Moore

Biopic/Drama

After his Depression-era youth in Hell’s Kitchen and his decades of postwar obscurity as a struggling novelist, author Mario Puzo triumphs in 1969 with “The Godfather,” which immediately became the fastest-selling novel in publishing history. 

 

 

THE PENNY

Roxanne Marchand and Sheila Brothers

Family, Coming of Age

11-year-old Harry’s estranged grandfather finds him sneaking around in the forbidden attic and is none too happy but the smallest of treasures and Grampa’s nostalgic stories take them both back to see the lives that were touched by this special coin while unknowingly forging an unbreakable bond between the two.

The Penny was honored and published in short story form in the book “Family Movies Hollywood Didn’t Make, But Should” by Young Films and Publishing.

roxmarch@bellsouth.net

 

THE PODESTA

Vic Sammartano

Historical/Biographical Fiction

A career politician under Mussolini faces revenge when his fight against the fascist regime is no longer tolerated. To avoid certain death, he and his family escape from Sicily, secreted on a commercial fishing boat, destined for French Morocco.Two years later the Nazis occupy France in WWII, setting in motion a series of life-threatening events as the story of three generations of his family unfolds.

Seeking feedback

yvic@comcast.net

 

THE PORTENT

Esther Agulian Carr

Drama

A Scottish Highlander in the 1800’s haunted by a dark spirit, must find the woman whose destiny is mingled with his, and yet it will take more than their love to break the phantom’s curse.

Screencraft Drama – finalist

Screencraft Public Domain – finalist

esthercarr9@gmail.com

 

THERE’S BLOOD ON THE DISCO BALL

Brian Flaccus and Chadwick Hopson

Dark Comedy

Four friends in crumbling relationships set out for a night of party therapy while hunting a serial killer.

brian@theknightsyoung.com

 

THINGS KEPT HIDDEN

Christopher O’Bryant

Western/Horror/Thriller

After being hired to locate a young woman, a new Pinkerton and a mysterious bounty hunter each with their own secrets, set out to find her, only to discover a cult will stop at nothing to keep her for themselves.

Breaking Walls Thriller – finalist

Los Angeles Crime and Horror Film Festival – semifinalist

Screencraft Fellowship – semifinalist

chris@obryant.ws

 

TILLIE

David Chester and Blake Pinter

Coming-of-Age/Period Drama

When her tyrannical father forces her to leave school to work on the family farm, a gifted girl secretly embarks on a life-changing journey to follow in the footsteps of her beloved teacher.

Pitch Now Screenplay Competition – finalist

Screencraft Public Domain Screenplay Contest – finalist

Vail Film Festival – finalist

davidhalchester@gmail.com

 

UNBURIED (based on the play UNBURIED)

Rebecca Norris – both play & screenplay

Dramedy

A wisecracking chronic hoarder must face her complicated past when authorities give her 72 hours to clean up her home or be put out on the street.

O’Neill Theater Center – National Playwright’s Conference – semifinalist

Austin Film Festival – 2nd rounder

Screencraft Playwriting – quarterfinalist

beckaroohoo@gmail.com

 

WHAT KIND OF WOMAN

Elizabeth  Block

Dramedy – short

A young woman’s life is flipped upside down by secrets from her mother and she is forced to become the parent instead of the child.

Screencraft Film Fund – quarterfinalist

SF Indie Fest Screenplay – finalist

screenblock@gmail.com

 

WINTERBURG

Owen Stidman

Drama

When their post-high school lives don’t turn out the way they’d hoped, five millennials return to their small Rust Belt hometown in hopes of finding personal fulfillment.

owenhstidman@gmail.com

 

YOUR MOVE

Danny Aviv and Jeff Haber

Romantic Comedy

A former photographer, nervous about #MeToo culture, gains a new perspective on life and love when he meets his ideal woman at the chess shop where he works.

j.r.haber@att.net

 

TELEVISION

4-F: OPERATION UNDERWORLD

Greg Beck

Historical Crime Drama Espionage

The New York Mafia of Lucky Luciano & Meyer Lansky work with Naval Intelligence in World War II to stop the Axis powers. Focus on Lansky underling with ALS & his handler a Sarah Lawrence graduate and a member of Women’s Reserve. Boardwalk Empire meets Sicario.

Austin Film Festival – AMC Pilot Script – Finalist

Scriptapalooza – 3rd place

gbeck86@gmail.com

 

A GENTLEMAN’S HEIST

Alex Konz

limited series – Action/Adventure

A crew of nine engages the FBI, Catholic Church, and the Cuban regime in a complicated game of cat and mouse across the globe while in pursuit of the remnants of a long lost king’s treasure. 

Coverfly’s The Red List – #15 Adventure Television of the Year

ark4497@gmail.com

 

AKITA ON PAROLE

Jordan SuperMan Taylor (RIH), Sire Eminence Zakkiyyiah, Stacci D. Great

Dramedy Sitcom

Akita, an accomplished, strong-willed, ball-busting attorney formulates an exit program to combat recidivism because she’s very arduous of the judicial system’s failing track record for rehabilitating repeat offenders. Little did she know that the implementation of this program would be like a punch to the throat.

WildSound February 2020 – winner

Catalina Filmfest – finalist

1greatproduction@gmail.com

 

AMATEURS

Dan Phillips and Chris Townsend

Sitcom

A small group of misfits find their place in local amateur dramatics where relationships grow in the strangest of ways, in the strangest of costumes. 

drphillips86@gmail.com

 

ANGELS OF WAR

Natalie G. Bergman and Victoria E. Rau

pilot – Drama, World War II history, Medical & Military – diverse cast led by female lead role ensemble

The untold true story of a group of American nurses trapped behind enemy lines for over three brutal years in the South Pacific during World War II. Follow their heroism, relationships, endurance and survival.

The Golden Script Competition – semifinalist

roseandpearlproductions@gmail.com

 

BOUNTY

Gary M. Howell

Drama

When a deep-sea explorer goes missing, his son must unravel a mystery embedded in his father’s will, and doing so will entangle him in a world of drug smugglers, murderers and backstabbers.

WeScreenplay – semifinalist

Screencraft Pilot Launch – finalist

Atlanta Film Festival – semifinalist

PAGE International – quarterfinalist

garymhowell@gmail.com

 

CHICAGO OVERCOAT

Abby LaMarre

pilot – Supernatural Drama

On the south side of Chicago at the helm of Prohibition, a horror writer finds herself torn between two worlds when she stumbles upon a speakeasy run by vampires.

Austin Film Festival – second rounder

Screencraft Pilot Launch – quarterfinalist

Screencraft Fellowship – finalist

James A. Michener Fellowship – awardee

lamarreabby@gmail.com

 

CLAIRVOYANT DETECTIVE

C.J. Knapp

Crime Thriller

Murders trigger a latent gift in a hard-nosed tenacious Asian detective. As she investigates the bizarre killings, she uncovers strange amulets linked to the Chinese Zodiac – and the world of demons.

Script Summit Screenplay – Official Selection (pilot)

Script Summit Screenplay – Official Selection (pitch bible)

Extreme Screenwriting – Recommend

cjknapp11@gmail.com

 

COUNTERINTELLIGENT

Natalie Sayth

Comedy

A clumsy FBI analyst must overcome self-doubts and a dysfunctional bureaucracy to locate a compromised informant and gain her boss’s trust.

natalie.sayth@gmail.com

 

CURTAIN CALL

Kate Harbert

Comedy

“Curtain Call” follows a touring company of a failing musical as they struggle with low ticket sales, insane crew members, and an unreliable cast.

Rome Independent Prisma – semifinalist

harbertekate@gmail.com

 

DICK DOCS

Marc Blitstein & Brian Rousso

30-minute single-cam comedy

A once-promising urologist who abandoned his profession, now this underachieving pool cleaner, is forced to start practicing medicine again to prevent his estranged broke father from ending up on his couch.

emailmarc@mac.com

 

DOWNTOWN

DeShawn Hill

Drama/Dark Comedy

A tightly-wound, bottom-tier business man is thrown into the underbelly of his mundane city after he witnesses the unthinkable on a night out.

Officialdeshawnhill@gmail.com

 

DYSFUNCTION JUNCTION

Jim Mercurio

1/2 hour Dramedy pilot

An orally fixated neurotic psychologist falls for an anally retentive businesswoman and all sex breaks loose. Will this modern couple be able to navigate through self-deception, projection, codependency and anger to find love or will their relationship become a dysfunction junction. In the vein of auteur-driven half-hour dramedies such as Fleabag, Girls, Better Things, and You’re the Worst.

Currently #1 for Drama Television (Half-hour)s of the year on the Red List

JimMercurio@gmail.com

 

FRANKENSTEIN UNLEASHED

Neal Wiser

Sci-Fi

Years after the virus he created killed his wife and millions of others, Vik Frankenstein and his brother have to harvest organs from the dead to keep Vik alive long enough to take down his old friend, the scientist who actually unleashed the virus.

Screencraft Fellowship – finalist (pending – winners announced in July)

WriteMovies Screenwriting – grand prize winner, Winter 2020

Inroads Screenwriting Fellowship – winner (top 10)

Stage 32 4th Annual TV Writing Contest – quarterfinalist

nwiser@gmail.com

 

GARYTOWN

Seth Nelson

Comedy, Mystery

A successful podcaster reunites with a job-hopping childhood friend and exposes his brother’s true identity.

snelson1076@me.com

 

GOING STEADY

Robyn Paris

1/2-hour single-cam Comedy

Ladies’ man widower Sid Shineman, the former owner of a high-end women’s boutique, moves in with his fashion designer daughter Abby after the death of his wife. Together, they navigate the world of online dating, while weeding through advice from their flamboyant live-in housekeeper, Wanda. COMPS: Grace and Frankie, The Kominksy Method

Stage 32 Pilot Competition – quarterfinalist

robynoparis@gmail.com

 

HADES

Michael Boaks

Medical/Crime Drama

When Australia’s top ER doctor is permanently struck off, his life spirals into chaos. Desperate, he takes a job as private doctor to a secretly unwell Croatian crime boss as gangland tensions rise.

michaelboaks@hotmail.com

 

HANDBASKET

Matthew J. Kaplan

Supernatural

When a drummer’s deal with the devil results in the disappearance of the singer, the remaining bandmates must face their own demons in order to break the deal before the next singer vanishes.

kapmatt@gmail.com

 

HOW HEATHER SURVIVED THE APOCALYPSE

Amanda Graham

pilot- Comedy

A smart-but-sneaky teen girl stuck in a crazy Baptist cult in 1986 discovers the world will definitely end in two years’ time.

Screencraft Comedy – quarterfinalist

amandagraham@gmail.com

 

HOW WE ROLL

Katey Clausen

1-hour Drama

Trapped under the boot of her father, a closeted young woman who comes to find herself, and her sexuality, through roller derby in 1984 California.

cynthiakclausen@gmail.com

 

HUNTING VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN

M. Pepper Langlinais

1-hour Drama – pilot

A newly dead man, a mortician, and a cop work together to seek the source of local zombie activity in small-town Kansas.

Fresh Voices – “worthy of network consideration”

Creative World Awards – semifinalist

methos@gmail.com

 

INFINITELY YOURS

Darci Faye

hour-long Drama (adapted from the author’s play of the same name)

Emily is forced to go home for her father’s funeral. When Emily crosses paths with her ex-boyfriend, she is not sure which scares her most – the fear that he hasn’t changed a bit … or the fact that she still has feelings for him. An explosive new drama about the hidden cycles of violence in rural Maine.

Planet Connections Theatre Festival – nominee, Outstanding Playwriting of a New Script

dcf@bu.edu

 

INVASION OF THE CUBECUMBERS

Brannon Hollingsworth

Animated Children/Family Comedy

When an overzealous boy applies too much fertilizer to his father’s crop of cubecumbers, he and his family scramble to put the abundant crop to good use.

brainypixelproductions@gmail.com

 

KISMET

Ashwini Prasad

Comedy & Drama

A South Asian woman leaves her sheltered family life in Vancouver, BC to New York City after a series of events lead her to a calling for a new life and a new career path as she embraces her autonomy and her sexuality. 

ashwini_prasad01@yahoo.com

 

KRIMPS

Michael Paul Caruso

Drama

In Portland, Oregon, 1889, an atypical vaudeville producer works to become a bold voice for justice to fight against a ruthless band of pirates who capture citizens and sell them to work on ships.

myshacaruso@gmail.com

 

MATCHMAKERS

Erin Felton

Sci-Fi Sitcom

A workplace comedy about a PR woman representing a company of matchmakers who genetically engineer women for love, even though gene therapy technology is still often defective. 

Austin Film Festival – second round

erinhollyfenton@gmail.com

 

MORNINGWOOD

T. Gordon Stanley

Dark comedy, mystery

A disgraced intelligence officer, who steals three million dollars, goes underground in a peculiar small town, but loses his leg while setting up an illicit operation to unveil international corruption.

Table Read My Screenplay – Park City – semifinalist

tgordonstanley@gmail.com

 

MYTHIC QUEST: MIDNIGHT KINGDOM

August Isles

Comedy

Mythic Quest’s newest expansion “Midnight Kingdom” has leaked to the public and it’s not well-received. Co-creative directors Ian and Poppy blame each other while Davis tries to deal with Montreal.

aiwritestv@gmail.com

 

NAMAHAGE

Travis Seppala

pilot – Horror

After her American husband is killed in an accident, a Japanese woman must save his children from a pack of mythological demons.

Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards – quarterfinalist

Austin Screenplay Awards – quarterfinalist

Scripts & Scribes Logline Madness – top 24

flannelmann@yahoo.com

 

NO THANK YOU

Brittany Suzanne Kelly

Comedy

Tawnie, a plus-size Caribbean woman living in LA fed up with her romantic connections not panning out, drunkenly places an explicit personal ad that gets over 500 replies. She decides to date those who responded in hopes of finding her true sexual match. 

brittany@striketwicecreative.com

 

OCCUPIED INTELLIGENCE

Collin Lieberg

Historical Drama

Inspired by the true story of two women in Occupied Europe who spy for Allied forces by rescuing downed soldiers and translating Nazi intelligence, only to be betrayed and captured.

collin.lieberg@gmail.com

 

PARKMONT

Brandon Hull

Comedy

Probation forces a twentysomething to find work or go to jail. He finally lands a job, unbeknownst to him it’s with South Florida’s largest gun and drug runner.

BHWrites24@gmail.com

 

PAX ALPHA

Kevin Ryan

Historical Fantasy

As the Roman Empire collapses, a vengeful grandmother protects her grandchildren while on a warpath to the magical rulers that murdered her husband and son.

kevinryan333@gmail.com

 

PUBLIC INTEGRITY

Shawn Decker

Crime drama

A new detective unit tasked with criminal justice reform faces obstruction when they investigate police corruption and brutality, starting with an officer-involved shooting of an unarmed Black celebrity.

shawndoc1996@gmail.com

 

REAPER

Kayona Ebony Brown

hour-long pilot – Drama, Crime, Fantasy

After being demoted from her job as the Grim Reaper, Death uses her unearthly powers to exact vigilante justice for the soon-to-be-dead.

Roadmap Writers Diversity Initiative – Winner/1st Place

kayona@kayonaeboynbrown.com

 

RESTING BITCH FACE

Dana Braziel-Solovy

1/2 hour comedy

When a people-pleasing starlet loses her ability to fake a smile, she must learn to embrace her inner bitch and rebuild her identity in a society that demonizes women who are not ready to make nice.

dana.braziel@gmail.com

 

‘SCRIPS

Craig Guerra and Jason Gardner (based on Craig Guerra’s memoir ALIVE and UNWELL)

pilot – Coming-of-age true crime drama

When his mother dies, a college student studying far from home struggles to reconcile with his estranged father while slipping deeper and deeper into the prescription drug trade.

craigguerra@gmail.com

 

SENIORS HIGH

Dave Goossen

1/2 hour pilot – Dramatic Comedy

After moving from Montana to North Carolina, a feisty octogenarian comes to terms (or not) with the “cliques” at his seniors home that parallel those of his grandson in his new high school and his daughter at her new job.

dave@davegoossen.com

 

SOUL SISTERS

Brandon Udy

Comedy

Ruth is psychic. Janine sees ghosts. Together, these middle-aged half sisters navigate LA life (and death), juggling relationships, careers, and the living and dead celebrities that frequent the city.

brendon.u@gmail.com

 

SOUTHERN FRIED

Guy Crawford

1/2-hour Dramedy

A prodigal daughter and her female fiancé return to her small southern hometown to take over the family diner, setting up a collision of worlds and values that leaves everyone trying to figure out how to coexist in the new normal.

guyc2_2000@yahoo.com

 

STAR DUCKS

Jake Lynch

Animated Sci-Fi Comedy – pilot (Quack Landing)

A crew of ducks crash their spaceship on an uncharted world under suspicious circumstances. Their lowest ranked crew member, reckless Sagittaria, sets out on an otherworldly journey to recover the missing ship pieces, find her missing crew and learn from the Scroops what it really means to be a true hero.

jakelynch25@gmail.com

 

SUBTERFUGE

Rich Andrew

Drama/Sci-Fi pilot

A scientist studying posthumanism goes on the hunt for a metaphysical artifact that could unlock a singular truth that’s been hidden from mankind by certain elites throughout history.

richandrew00@gmail.com

 

TEEN ZOMBIE SHOW

David Santo

half-hour pilot – Comedy

A small town girl with a razor sharp wit searches for the fairytale man of her dreams, but “happily ever after” gets tricky when her Prince Charming turns out to be a zombie, and her mother prohibits their illicit love.

Fresh Voices Screenwriting Competition – 1st place, TV 

Firereel Film Festival – 1st place

The Crime List – 1st place

Hollywood International Moving Pictures – 1st place

Worldfest Houston – 1st place

ScriptXpert coverage at The Writers Store – double recommend

davidsanto@hotmail.com

 

THE EXPLORER

Heidi Stangeland

Historical Drama/Thriller

When Vikings accidentally discover North America, it’s not only unfamiliar and hostile territory they have to conquer but the clash of old and new religion that causes conflict throughout the crew.

Script Summit Screenwriting Festival – Best Character Category

heidi@vegvisur.com

 

THE FAIRY KNIGHT

Sam Tracton

pilot – Supernatural/Fantasy

A man seeking to heal his dying aunt absorbs a stockpile of magical energy, embroiling him in an ancient fairy warrior’s hunt for revenge.

ratiyusarmor@gmail.com

 

THE IMAGINATION OF BILLY COULTER

Garison Ellsworth Piatt

Teen/Adventure/Drama

A young boy escapes his dysfunctional life through his overactive imagination, until his daydreams become real…and out of control.

writer@garisonpiatt.com

 

THE MAINELAND

Kelsey Kyle

pilot – Drama

In a sleepy seaside town in Maine, three estranged siblings must move in together after their mother’s suicide is ruled a homicide. 

kelseykyle1@gmail.com

 

THIS COVIDIEN LIFE

Emily Lozano

Comedy

In the midst of a global pandemic, six employees of a failing retailer decide to quarantine together in their abandoned offices. Will they save the company? Will they get caught? Or will they drive each other insane?

emily@emilylozano.com

 

THIS IS AMERICA

Jared V. Walker Jr.

Fantasy/Adventure

To escape his immoral past, an unexpected hero must deliver a powerful child to a mystical hidden city while fleeing a diabolical scientist who will stop at nothing to recover her experiment.

jarevwalkerjr@gmail.com

 

UNSOCIAL

Nick Coffman

1/2 hour Comedy pilot

Evicted from her luxurious, virtual lifestyle, an aggrieved woman returns to a real world run by droids and smart cars.

ncoff10@gmail.com

 

UNTIL THE RIOTS COME

Naja Rayne

one-hour Historical Drama

A Chicago newspaper publisher fights against the federal government’s efforts to censor the Black press during WW2.

Sundance Episodic Lab 2nd rounder 

najaraynewrites@gmail.com

 

VAMPI E.R.

Luke Zwanziger

Comedy-Horror

When a socially conscious OHSU doctor in Portland, OR is turned into a vampire, she is ethically compelled to help the sick and injured at a mismanaged hospital for mythical creatures and monsters.

WW FilmLabTV – finalist

LukeZwan@gmail.com

 

WANDERLUST

Alicia McLachlan & Paul Winters

pilot – one-hour Drama

In the isolated Australian Outback, an Aboriginal hostel clerk with an identity complex must decide whether to take over the struggling family business with her enigmatic best friend or leave town to pursue a life of her own.

https://twitter.com/AliciaMcLachlan

 

WENDIGO

Sandrene Matthews

Fantasy Drama

A selfish, supernatural flesh-eater struggles to maintain her free-spirited lifestyle when she is forced to lead the family hunt to protect them from their own barbaric desires and the humans who wish to eradicate them.

Screencraft Sci-Fi/Fantasy – semifinalist

sandrenehatesspam@gmail.com

 

WHITE PLAGUE

Michael A. Levine

Science Fiction/Horror

When an anthropologist returns to her home in Milwaukee, a worldwide pandemic breaks out – unlike any other because it can be energized by electronic transmissions like smartphones and wifi. She knows someone she believes has a cure – the traditional healer of the tribe she was studying in the Nicaraguan rain forest. But to get to her she will have to travel 3,300 miles through plague-infested areas without modern transportation and needs the help of the one person she detests the most – the man she holds responsible for the death of her brother.

Stage 32 Read My Screenplay – Consider

QuantumW@gmail.com

Q & A with Barb Doyon of Extreme Screenwriting

BarbDoyon

Barb Doyon is the owner/founder of Extreme Screenwriting, a Los Angeles-based screenplay and TV pilot coverage service. She is well known among Hollywood producers as a skilled ghostwriter who is also a produced screenwriter, producer and award-winning documentary writer.

She’s a yearly keynote speaker at the Script-to-Screen Summit and has authored books on screenwriting including, Extreme Screenwriting: Screenplay Writing SimplifiedExtreme Screenwriting: Television Writing SimplifiedTurn Your Idea into a Hit Reality-TV Show, 10 Ways to Get a Hollywood Agent to Call You! and Magnetic Screenplay Marketing. Before opening Extreme Screenwriting, she worked at Walt Disney Studios writing press releases for the studio and Disney Sports.

What’s the last thing you read or watched that you thought was incredibly well-written?

Extreme Screenwriting’s client Larry Postel’s upcoming Netflix movie The Main Event was a solid, inspirational read. Larry captured the Follow Your Dreams theme and wove it into a compelling conflict that incited a hero to break through his flaws and become a champion. It’s the story of a little boy who takes on WWE Superstars and I love how the trailer states the theme.

How’d you get your start in the industry?

I worked at Walt Disney Studios in the press room where I wrote daily press releases for then-CEO Michael Eisner and the studio’s production companies. One day a producer asked if I had time to do coverages and he showed me how to spot the diamonds among the coal heap. This eventually branched into my company Extreme Screenwriting.

What do you consider the components of a good script?

Whether they realize it or not, audiences want to viscerally live through a hero and experience the types of change they can’t, won’t, or are too afraid to implement in their own lives. Regardless of genre, the writer should make sure that the external and internal conflicts are interlocked, resulting in an external conflict that forces change in a hero. Most writers are excellent at coming up with unique concepts, but fall short when it comes to the hero’s flaw and arc. A good script combines external and internal conflicts to solidify a hero’s arc.

What are some key rules/guidelines every writer should know?

-Interlock internal and external conflicts, as noted above.

-A producer should be able to remove all dialogue from a screenplay and still know what the movie is about. It’s called a ‘motion picture’ for a reason.

-Don’t take format for granted. Learn how to use it to create pacing, emotion and to help guarantee fewer scenes are rewritten or deleted during the development phase.

-Stop asking gurus to explain subtext and start listening. Learn to hear subtext in everyday dialogue. This is fastest, easiest way to learn how to write it and how to become a pro at lingo.

-Don’t toss in something because you think it’s interesting. If Mona’s red skirt doesn’t mean something to the story as a whole, then leave it out.

-Learn the genre rules! Producers buy screenplays based on genre.

-Start thinking of description as action and create moving picture. Don’t tell us the room’s filthy. Show John walk in, toss cigarettes into an overflowing ashtray and kick his feet up on a pile of yellow newspapers.

-Be able to state the screenplay’s theme in one line. Producers ask, ‘What is the theme?’ to weed out amateurs from pros. Amateurs can’t answer this question.

-Your hero should get the best lines, the last line, the big scene moments, a grand entrance, and the worst-case scenario should happen to them and they alone should resolve the main, external conflict.

What was the inspiration/motivation for your book Magnetic Screenplay Marketing?

It’s heartbreaking to see extraordinarily talented, aspiring screenwriters struggle for years to get a producer to read their material. Extreme Screenwriting does help writers promote their material in our monthly newsletter, but writers need to spend as much time marketing as they do writing. Most do not! Instead, they send out a few queries here and there, maybe attend a pitch festival every couple of years and that’s it.

The market is rapidly changing, and if aspiring screenwriters don’t change with it, they’ll be left behind with little hope of getting their material into the right hands. The change in the industry requires a new way of thinking and it does have a learning curve, so that’s why I decided to make a book detailing how to get ahead of the curve and beat the competition with this a marketing strategy.

This book is very different from other screenwriting books in that it focuses more on what a writer can do AFTER they’ve gained some experience and have market-ready scripts. Is what you describe a newer development for screenwriters, and what results have you seen from it?

The marketing technique I outlined in the book, related to getting a producer to call you, isn’t new to the industry. It’s been around for a long time, but until recently, this strategy hasn’t applied to screenwriters. However, there’s been a shift in the industry. Like any other product (yes, a screenplay is a product), the buyer (producer) wants social proof of its viability and is even hiring staff to find material with this ‘proof’ attached.

The Magnetic Screenplay Marketing book teaches the writer how to develop this marketing strategy and put it to use. Prior to publishing the book, I worked with 13 writers to beta test the strategy resulting in agent representation, three options, a television pilot deal and 362 combined read requests, averaging 27 per beta tester. A few did fail at the process, but they didn’t complete the steps, skipped steps, or simply quit before even giving it a try. Therefore, results will vary, but the bottom line is the fact that the industry is changing. I highly recommend aspiring writers get aboard this fast-moving train before they’re left behind.

One portion of the book is about writers obtaining “bread and butter assignments”. What does that mean, and why are they a potential avenue for writers?

This pertains to one of the strategies outlined in a section of the book on how to get an agent to call you. The first agent 99% of writers sign with will be from a boutique agency. These are the smaller agencies in town and while they do make sales, most of their commissions are generated from writing assignments, rewrites, and ghostwriting. It’s so prevalent that it’s literally become their ‘bread and butter’, in other words it’s the main moneymaker.

However, a lot of writers refuse to do this type of work. They’d rather wait around to sell their own screenplays. This sounds reasonable, but if it’s been a year (or 2) and a writer’s work hasn’t sold and the writer won’t do this lucrative work, they become dead weight for the agent. This creates an ‘opening’ for the aspiring writer who notes in queries that they’re open to all kinds of writing assignments! During the beta test, one of our writers gained representation using this strategy. A writer who isn’t open to doing assignments is leaving a lot of cash on the table and missing out on a golden opportunity to gain representation.

You mention sending in writing samples (when and only when requested). One of the options you suggest is to send the last 10 pages of a script. Why the last 10 as opposed to the first 10, and what results have you (or other writers who’ve done this) seen from this?

This is a strategy I decided to add to the book after several years of hearing of its success. Most agents, producers and story analysts agree that most writers know how to nail Act I, but then the material starts to fall apart. The result is an accumulation of story points that miss the mark.

Therefore, if a writer can still intrigue them with a strong ending that reveals voice, theme, solidifies a plot, and nails down pacing while intriguing them to want to know more, then the screenplay’s worth reading. This isn’t the preference for all agents and producers, but even those who start off requesting the entire screenplay often flip to the end first.

You also have a section of the book regarding writers creating teaser trailers for their scripts. What’s a teaser trailer for a script, and what’s the advantage in doing it?

This is part of the new marketing strategy that involves creating an audience for a screenplay via social media, primarily YouTube. This doesn’t involve a Hollywood-style trailer, but rather a simple teaser video that can literally be done for $0 cost (the book shows how) and all the writer has to do is write a 1-page script.

Think about it. For years, producers have purchased books and reality-TV concepts that got their start on social media, based solely on the fact they came with a built-in audience. When a writer sits down to pitch a script, I guarantee the producer is wondering if the story can draw an audience, but imagine the potential for a sale if the writer walks in the door with an audience already attached to the screenplay. It’s a huge advantage and can make the project a hot commodity!

How can people find out more about you and the services you provide?

Extreme Screenwriting invites writers to visit us at www.ExtremeScreenwriting.com. We offer coverage, a free monthly newsletter, and see the Bookshelf tab for the Magnetic Screenplay Marketing book (available for instant eBook download).

Readers of this blog are more than familiar with my love/appreciation of pie. What’s your favorite kind?

Homemade blueberry.

blueberry pie

Q & A with Ethan Ransom of Screenwriting Is Hard

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Ethan Ransom began writing at a young age, but didn’t find his way to screenwriting until college, when he had a glorious realization that people actually made a living writing the movies that he loved. Right then and there, screenwriting became his discipline. After finishing two feature scripts, getting married, and moving to LA, Ethan completed the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting, and then the Screenwriting MFA at The American Film Institute.

He was very fortunate to get repped right out of school, and has been hustling ever since. In 2016, he realized he needed to give back to newer screenwriters who were still struggling to learn what he had and began mentoring and coaching in earnest. He lives down the street from the Walt Disney and Warner Brothers studio lots in Burbank, California, with his incredible wife and three vivacious children.

What’s the last thing you read or watched that you thought was incredibly well-written?

THE STANDOFF AT SPARROW CREEK. Great dialogue and characters, great twists, gut punch of an ending. It puts you so squarely in the perspective of the characters, who are isolated, without information, operating on instinct, and doing the best they can, only to have rug pulled out from under them — and thus, us. Not a wasted word in that movie, and great performances to boot! Anyone looking to write a contained thriller should give it a watch and study why it succeeds!

How’d you get your start in the industry?

I made the move to LA after writing a couple screenplays, getting engaged, and getting invited to the UCLA Professional Program for Screenwriting (UCLA’s and USC’s grad programs declined my application). From there, I’ve worked a number of different day jobs — reality TV vault manager, post-production assistant, marketing production coordinator and writer-producer — all while continuing to write.

But my big boost was the screenwriting MFA at The American Film Institute, and specifically the two acting seminars that they made us take. That opened up my world as a writer and gave me a way into my craft that I hadn’t had up to that point. It helped me understand what I was actually trying to achieve on the page: a framework for real, performable emotion, created by the story I would write. I tell people that AFI made me three times the writer I was beforehand. From there, I was fortunate enough to find a manager thanks to my thesis script, and have been on the hunt ever since.

Is recognizing good writing something you think can be taught or learned?

I think everyone recognizes good writing intuitively. They feel it — they know it’s good, whether or not they can explain why. I think the ability to recognize why writing is good and to reproduce that in your own work is what’s difficult to learn. I think it can be taught and learned to some degree, but if you don’t have an innate writer’s instinct buried somewhere inside, all the classroom time in the world can’t teach you how to write well.

What do you consider the components of a good script?

Far and away, the most important component of a good script is compelling action lines and a rhythm of dialogue that creates the mood and flow of the story in the same way that the movie/TV show will. That’s what sets professional scripts apart: the action lines feel masterful, artful, and they take you through the movie in your mind’s eye in a specific and calculated way to mimic the feeling of watching the final product in your head. That’s the most important thing. That’s what makes for a compelling read, a page-turner, which to me is the best description of a good script.

What are some of the most common screenwriting mistakes you see?

Beyond bad grammar, bad spelling, typos, and improper format, the most common screenwriting mistake I see is action writing that describes the visual moments out of order, where we have to interpret the prose to figure out what we’d actually be seeing if we watched the filmed version of the script. That’s what screams “amateur” to me.

Second to that, I often see dialogue that doesn’t factor in character reactions — as in, the emotions of the lines don’t follow each other moment to moment. One character says something, and then the other character says something that simply would not follow from what the other character said, but is rather what the writer wants or needs to happen. That takes the reader out of the scene, out of the script, out of the story. You just can’t make that mistake and expect your script to work.

What story tropes are you just tired of seeing?

None, really. I love tropes, as long as they’re executed in an original, fresh way. I think tropes exist because certain types of stories just work, but with how much content is being created right now, when you use a trope, you better put a spin on it, or it’s going to be absolutely dull, no matter what trope it is

What are some key rules/guidelines every writer should know?

You never need as many words as you think. Cut as much as you can.

Find your writing routine and stick to it. Defend it zealously.

Let early drafts be bad — no one will see them but you! Don’t try to be perfect on the first pass, it’ll just slow you down, and no matter WHAT you do, the first pass will suck!

Ultimately, don’t ascribe to anyone else’s method for writing. Take in their ideas, experiment, and find your own.

Don’t get too caught up with prep work or logistics work — the finished script is what you’re aiming to create. Everything else must serve that goal. Set aside anything that isn’t.

Have you ever read a spec script that was an absolute, without-a-doubt “recommend”? If so, what were the reasons why?

Sadly, I haven’t, but the elements that might earn a script a “recommend” are as follows: a unique concept and point of view, stellar writing, a tight and compelling plot, rich characters, and as a bonus, the subversion of genre conventions.

How do you feel about screenwriting contests? Worth it or not?

As long as you know that winning a contest will never get you a career — you’re basically paying for the chance to, at best, be rewarded with prize money and exposure, and at worst, be told your work isn’t good enough yet — heck, go for it. I think it can be helpful for exposure purposes and getting read in certain places, but like this business, there are no guarantees. Only spend what you’re willing to lose.

How can people find out more about you and the services you provide?

Email me at ransomwriting@gmail.com, or find me on the socials — @ransomwriting (Screenwriting Is Hard) on Facebook (my services are posted on this page).

People can also follow me on Instagram (@ransomwriting), Twitter (@ethanwransom), and subscribe to my YouTube Channel Screenwriting Is Hard.

I also do mentoring sessions as well as notes on completed work, and am always posting helpful info and links!

Readers of this blog are more than familiar with my love/appreciation of pie. What’s your favorite kind?

French silk. Mmmmm. Oui, oui.

french silk pie

Q & A with Dominic Carver

Dom Carver

Dominic Carver is a screenwriter, script consultant, and script editor.

In 2008 his first short film, AGN, was produced by Split Edit in Norway and broadcast on Norwegian TV. His second short film written in 2010, the mystery thriller THE TRAVELLER, was a collaboration with Dubai-based director Musaab Ag. In June 2011, Dominic won the Prequel To Cannes Feature Screenwriting Prize for FAITH, a bleak unflinching look at the life of a London street prostitute.

Dominic has since been commissioned for six feature screenplays and has also worked as a script editor on other projects, including the feature THE DYING EYE (2013).

Dominic continues to place highly in many competitions most notably the FINAL TEN of FINAL DRAFT’S BIG BREAK 2016 FEATURE COMPETITION – FAMILY/ANIMATED, the FINAL TEN of STAGE 32 TV WRITING CONTEST 2017 and the FINAL TEN of Idris Elba’s GREEN DOOR, GREEN LIGHT INITIATIVE 2017.

What’s the last thing you read or watched you thought was incredibly well-written?

DUBLIN MURDERS by Sarah Phelps. Utterly spellbinding, a haunting examination of loss set in and around the search for the murderer of a young girl. Sarah’s work is wonderfully paced and her dialogue frighteningly good. She writes beautifully dark, complex characters, and with THE ABC MURDERS she breathed new life into the well visited character of Poirot.

How’d you get your start in the industry?

I have always loved stories, often reading a novel a day during my teens. On one particularly slow and boring day at work, I decided I’d had enough and needed to do something other than rot away in a dead-end job, so I signed up to do the Scriptwriting for Film & TV degree at Bournemouth University. Skip forward a few years and I won the Prequel To Cannes Screenwriting Competition, and one of the judges recommended me to a producer, who offered me my first feature commission.

Is recognizing good writing something you think can be taught or learned?

A very interesting question. I believe that to be a truly great writer you have to have a certain amount of natural storytelling talent. You can be taught how to create characters, develop ideas, write characters and dialogue to a reasonable level and to recognise what works and what doesn’t, but if that natural storytelling ability isn’t there. you’re going to struggle and will only ever be average.

Good storytelling is instinct; getting to the emotional core of your characters and their journeys and being able to put that on a page to move and manipulate your audience in ways they weren’t expecting. It’s easy to spot a good screenwriter – they stand out from the crowd. From the hundreds of scripts I’ve read over the years, only four really made me sit up and pay attention and go, ‘This writer has real talent!’

What do you consider the components of a good script?

The characters and the journey they’re on. If your audience doesn’t feel for your characters or their journey, then you’ve lost them before you’ve even begun.

The film JOKER is the perfect example. He’s the most despicable character, a psychopath you would go out of your way to avoid in real life, but on the screen we understand and can empathise with the circumstances that made him. Even when he goes on a killing spree at the end of the movie, regardless of how horrifying and distasteful it is, we understand why and empathise with him. If, as a writer, you can make even the most despicable character sympathetic, that’s masterful writing.

What are some of the most common screenwriting mistakes you see?

Where do I start? Poorly developed characters. If you don’t know who your characters are, how can you expect your audience to? Generic storylines. A popular one at the moment seems to be the ‘mid-life crisis’ and the search for meaning in characters’ lives.

If you don’t approach it from a unique angle, give the audience something they haven’t seen before, then why bother as your screenplay will be lost amongst a sea of similar scripts. Static scenes where characters share their secret feelings around a table and a cup of tea. It’s a visual medium, people sitting around chatting about their feelings is boring to watch. Busy those static scenes up. And when have you ever opened up to a stranger and told them your inner most feelings? Never! People just don’t do that, unless verbal diarrhea is a character trait.

If new writers took more care in developing their characters and their stories, rather than copying what has come before and populating those tired stories with generic characters, there would be a lot more interesting stories out there.

What story tropes are you just tired of seeing?

The mid-life crisis. The hero whose family is murdered and they go on the hunt for revenge. And that’s just two. There are so many more, I’d be here all day listing them. Dig deeper, people!

What are some key rules/guidelines every writer should know?

-Spend time on developing your characters and ideas.

-Don’t write great chunks of dialogue or scene description. Less is more. You’re writing a screenplay, not a novel.

-Study people. Find out how people tick.

-Don’t try and write a Tarantino (or another writing hero) movie. Write your own, what appeals to you. Find and develop your own voice.

-Always, always, always have your work read by a professional screenwriter before you send it out into the wider world. Yes, it will cost you money, but you need to know if your story and characters work as it will save you a lot of time and effort. Far too many writers send work out before it’s ready and they wonder why they experience so much rejection.

-Write the first draft quickly without over thinking it too much. The following draft will be a lot better. Just get those ideas on the page and then worry about reworking them. A page of crap is easier to rewrite than a blank one.

-Don’t make a tit of yourself on social media. Be kind, be polite, be inquisitive but never ever pester others to read your work. If you are friendly, polite, respectful and get to know them as friends, people will start to ask to read your work or even recommend you to others.

-Rewrite! Rewrite! Rewrite!

-Network like your life depends on it… because it does.

-Never take rejection personally. It’s never about you, it’s just that your script isn’t a fit with that person at that time. If you get rejected, rework your screenplay and then send it out to two more people. Developing a thick skin is an absolute must for being a writer.

Have you ever read a spec script that was an absolute, without-a-doubt “recommend”? If so, what were the reasons why?

Yes, and it still puzzles me why it hasn’t been made. I don’t usually mention clients I read for, or their work, as it’s confidential, but in this case I’m going to name the script and the writer. It’s MINOTAUR by ADEWOLE ADEYOYIN.

I hate horror movies, I don’t see the point of watching something that you know is going to scare the poop out of you, but Ade’s script stood out because of its characters, story, themes and its depth. It took a well-explored genre and turned it into something original and compelling, a thrill ride from start to finish.

If any producer out there reads this and is looking for a cracking monster movie, get in touch and I’ll pass it on. It needs to be made!

How do you feel about screenwriting contests? Worth it or not?

Yes! Not only do they test your work, but if you do well they can help propel your career forward. A friend and I wrote a feature from conception to finished second draft in twelve days back in 2016. She wrote the first draft in seven days and I spent the next five rewriting. We entered it into Final Draft’s Big Break and made it through to the final ten in the family category. If it had been entered in the historical category, I think it would have gone even further. Every competition we entered this script into it made at least the quarterfinals, so we knew we had something special.

But which competitions to enter? Pick the well-known ones, the ones with an impressive lineup of judges or that offer access to industry players. Paying for feedback is a great idea, but how well your screenplay does in the competition will also be a great indicator of how good your writing is.

How can people find out more about you and the services you provide?

From my website at www.thescriptwriter.co.uk. It needs updating, but as usual I’ve been busy. I’m sure I’ll get around to it at some point. Maybe next year.

I’m also on Twitter – @DomCarver

Readers of this blog are more than familiar with my love/appreciation of pie. What’s your favorite kind?

Steak and kidney… nothing beats it!

steak-and-kidney-pie