Got a screenplay or TV script you want the rest of the screenwriting community to know about? Well, here’s your chance to put it front and center.
It once again gives me great pleasure to officially announce that The Maximum Z Winter ’22 Script Showcase will post on Friday, December 2nd. That means you have between now and Thursday, December 1st to submit. Details listed below.
It’s my little way of giving a helping hand to any writer who’d like to give their script a little publicity boost, absolutely free of charge. And once the Showcase posts and you see a script that you’d like to read, then by all means drop the writer a line and ask. I bet they’d be thrilled to send it your way.
Once the post is up, I’ll post a link to it on my various social media platforms, and highly encourage you to do the same if you want to get more eyes on your listing.
Here’s how it all works:
Email the following info here with the subject line “Maximum Z Winter ’22 Script Showcase’:
-Film or TV?
-Awards (if applicable) – 5 at the most
And that’s it.
Two VERY important details to keep in mind:
-DO NOT SEND THE SCRIPT!!
Just the info above. Nothing else.
Only one script per person.
New scripts are highly encouraged, but submissions from past Showcases are also welcome.
Again – send it in between now and Thursday, December 1st.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – proofread the email before sending it. There’ve been more than a few typos over the years, so make sure everything reads the way it’s supposed to.
Looking forward to seeing what you’ve got, so don’t delay and send it today!
Kyle Andrews is a Screenwriter, Actor, Producer, and Writer Advocate living in Los Angeles. As a writer, Kyle has written for or worked with several film hubs and online screenwriting resources. As an advocate, his “Kyles List” has helped several up-and-coming writers attain success in the industry. He is currently in development on three features, two as producer and one as writer.
What was the last thing you read or watched you considered exceptionally well-written?
There’s so much thoughtful, inspiring, engaging, and downright special (yeah, I said it) content out there at the moment, sometimes it’s difficult to narrow that down to just one or two. So, I won’t!
Lately I’ve been watching a lot more television than film. This past weekend I binge-watched Ted Lasso and I’ve never been left so deeply inspired by such a lovable goofball. For dramatic flavor, Raised by Wolves reminds me a lot of how I felt watching both The Leftovers and the reboot of Battlestar: Galactica, and I really wish more people would take a chance on it. WandaVision is also fantastic—though if folks enjoy a Marvel show that takes risks, I’d encourage them to check out FX’s Legion (also on Disney+).
There have also been a number of exceptional scripts I’ve read from undiscovered writers recently, and I’ve got those up over at my Advocacy page: kylefandrews.com/advocacy
How’d you get your start in the industry?
I’ve been writing screenplays and stage plays for 20 years, since I was a high school drama nerd and indie video store manager in my hometown in Massachusetts. At the risk of being too honest, this is where I admit writing wasn’t really my pursuit—I just enjoyed doing it while I focused on trying to be an actor, a much safer career choice. I ended up at Emerson College where I got a BFA in Acting with a playwriting minor, both of which taught me a great deal about craft…and very little about how to actually apply it all to the real world.
After moving to LA a little over a decade ago I had some moderate success acting in commercials but didn’t start finding real momentum until I started writing and producing my own projects. After a short film I cowrote, coproduced, and starred in got some traction at a few festivals I was approached by a competition and coverage service to help run their contests and manage their reader staff. That gave me the freedom to start meeting kind and generous industry pros while stretching my writer legs. This led me to where I am now: advocating for screenwriters, developing scripts and writer skills, lining up a few feature productions, and writing for myself and on contract.
Is recognizing good writing something you think can be taught or learned?
Any skill can be taught or learned, so long as someone puts in the time, has a level of humility and self-awareness, and is willing to admit they don’t know what they don’t know.
When it comes to recognizing good writing, I would hesitate to make it too binary a distinction, that you either can or you can’t. I think the most important thing is to recognize your own approach to what the author has written is inherently biased, subjective to your own experience and perspective, and—most importantly—not canon. Criticism free of judgement is how you empower artists to flourish.
For me, the most important thing is to recognize whether the writer met the goals they set out to meet, if doing so was an engaging experience for me as an audience member, and if not, how best to help them achieve those goals.
Anything else is just, like, your opinion man.
What do you consider the components of a good script?
Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, and Heart. Go Planet.
The thing I look for most is how a script ties its various components together. The threading of the various aspects of character, plot, theme, relationships, personal history and backstory, setting, and even tone and genre together in a way that makes sense as we come to learn about and experience them for ourselves, and grow as we watch them succeed or fail (or both).
Another thing writers hear a lot is “don’t be boring,” and like, yeah, that’s generally good advice. But how do avoid boring your reader? Interesting characters, smart dialogue, fun action are always useful—but for me, it’s making the threads of the story as dangerous as possible. When a script is connecting with a reader on a visceral level, it’s because we care about the people we’re reading and we don’t know whether they’re going to get out of it.
And danger doesn’t always, or even typically, mean physical—it just means the stakes behind it are life and death, even in comedy. For instance, a character in unrequited love might feel like they’ll die if their love interest ever found out; the opportunity for a potential yes gets overshadowed in the misery of all the ways they could say no. Get some real tension in there and we’ll care what happens regardless of the answer.
What are some of the most common screenwriting mistakes you see?
Writers make the mistakes that fit their level of experience, so every mistake is common in that sense. For a newer writer, it’s thinking that formatting is the biggest concern and not spending enough time in the pre-work before diving into the script itself. For a pro, it’s leaning on habits that may no longer be serving them.
Not following through with actually marketing the script is another concern. Personally, I look to elevate the craft whenever I can, and I love seeing writers who do the same—but our art form is one that is only going to be appreciated by a handful of people. Figuring out how to get the script made into a visual piece of art is something I encourage writers to focus on, at least for a bit before they jump into the next great script idea that they’ll lovingly craft and not pitch to anyone.
I run into plenty of “basically ready” scripts, but the writer has no idea how to market their work—or worse, throws obstacles into their own way through assumptions. Instead of trying to pitch what they’ve got, they spend their time writing new scripts and their money and energy competing for the approval of anonymous screenwriting competition readers with indeterminate levels of experience to soothe their ego.
Combine that time, energy, and money into learning how to pitch your work and grow your network and you might actually see the results.
What story tropes are you just tired of seeing?
I’m actually a huge fan of using tropes if a writer is able to subvert it with purpose and puts it in a new light. Which on some level makes it not a trope, I guess?
That being said, I don’t consider misogyny, racism, ableism, or the like to be “tropes,” but rather a deeper indication of something inherent in the writer’s worldview It’s very easy for me to tell the difference between a character with these qualities and a script that actively or passively engages in these things. I tend not to make time for these works and I let those writers know it.
What are some key rules/guidelines every writer should know?
-Script rejection is not about you, it’s about them and their current needs.
-You will never get anywhere if you don’t let people read your script.
-Disagreeing with a note is as important as agreeing with one because it helps the writer clarify for themselves what their intention is.
-Invite and embrace constructive criticism and encourage yourself not to dismiss all criticism as “unconstructive.”
-At the same time, respect yourself by recognizing when someone isn’t respecting you and allow that person’s opinions to fade into the background.
-“Formatting” is less about demanding adherence to a strict set of rules and more about making sure a script reads clearly to the benefit of potential collaborators.
-Please for the love of all that is holy stop focusing on whether to bold sluglines or use “we see” or include songs and just tell a good story.
Have you ever read a script where you thought “This writer really gets it”? If so, what were the reasons why?
Absolutely, often, and with great aplomb, from new and “elder” writers alike. In these situations, the writer has deeply explored the backstory, invested in the characters’ individual perspectives, and connected the relationship threads between them, their world, and the events of the plot, found the organic rhythm for the story, and presents it to the reader in a way they can engage with, understand, and visualize as often as necessary.
Do all that and no one will care if you’ve bolded shit.
How do you feel about screenwriting contests? Worth it or not?
Hoo boy, this is the most complex question phrased in the simplest way. Having worked within that system, I know first-hand how some writers and their careers have benefited from winning or placing high in them. I have personally worked with contests to help them promote their writers and have connected several with managers, gigs, and a larger network as a result. I’ve even developed a couple of services that certain contests still employ to the benefit of their writers.
I’ve also heard from reps and producers that they’ll receive a Top 10 list of writers from a competition or coverage service and none will get signed because the folks judging the scripts don’t have a frame of reference for what is ready for market. This gets compounded when some writers whose scripts are close but do need some work get an outsized impression of their impact and don’t bring it the rest of the way.
There can also be a lack of transparency that that doesn’t serve to build trust. I don’t want to disparage individual competitions, but some of them also pitch relationships they don’t actually have or prizes that they can’t fulfill. There are also a couple full-on scams, but I don’t want to get sued by the sociopaths who run them (they are, thankfully, fewer and farther between than you might think).
I guess my feelings boil down to how an individual writer uses it to their personal benefit. If they can win or make finals and they promote themselves with those victories, then that’s great. If the service has a presence in the community a writer finds helpful, that’s also good. If the writer is newer and they’re looking for basic, no frills feedback, then it can certainly be a starting point for development. For everyone else, I think they’re best as accessories to the main work—fun for adding some flair but won’t provide you much cover in public.
How can people find out more about you and the services you provide?
My website kylefandrews.com includes all aspects of my work including Writer Advocacy and my own acting, writing, and producing.
Since it worked so well a few months ago, I thought it would be nice to once again offer creators (which includes writers, filmmakers, artists, and so forth) the chance to present their materials to as wide an audience as I can provide.
The master list will be posted on Friday, October 2nd – ONLY ONE LISTING PER PERSON!
And with the holiday season just around the corner, what better gift to give than something that helps support your fellow creatives?
So if you’ve got a book, a film, a webseries, a comic or webcomic, or pretty much any other kind of finished and ready-for-public-consumption product, this is your chance to put the word out.
If you and your project were among those listed last time, you’re more than welcome to be included again, but it would also be great to see some new material added into the mix.
And for all the screenwriters wondering when it’s their turn, a post that’s all about scripts will be taking place in late October or early November, so keep an eye out for that announcement in a few weeks.
The story you are about to read is true. Only the names have been omitted to protect the innocent.
The script of a friend of mine has had some positive results in the contest world, and the most recent venture was getting professional analysis on it, resulting in somewhat decent scores.
I’ve read this script, and it’s very, very good. It takes a classic story everybody knows, and then examines what happens AFTER the events of that story. There’s a lot to like about it, and my friend is doing what they can to get it out there.
Part of their effort is seeking advice from those with more experience. Sometimes it’s via social media, private online groups, or public community forums. We’re in several of the same groups, so I’ve seen a lot of my friend’s posts.
Not that I consider myself to be especially ‘experienced’, but since becoming connected with this person, I’ve done what I can to be supportive and helpful when applicable.
Earlier this week, my friend came to me with a dilemma.
They’ve been frequenting a community forum where one of the members regularly belittles or downplays any form or announcement of good news posted by another writer. Sometimes it’s along the lines of “”Look, this is a tough industry. If you can’t take the criticism, you’re totally in the wrong field, which it looks like you are.”
I also marveled at how much time people tend to spend on these forums. Many comments tend to be of the “I know better than you, so bow before my obvious superiority” sort. This was a big part of why I stepped away from them. I’d rather spend my time, y’know, actually writing.
Quick side note – the person claims to have representation, and some optioned scripts as well as a news release from a few years ago about their latest script being shopped around. Both my friend and I scoured IMDB Pro for any mention of them at all, but…bupkis. Take from that what you will.
As much as I consider every other writer to be my competition, I don’t think I’d ever actively try to dissuade somebody from trying. Would I remind them this is an extremely tough field to break into, let alone thrive in, and that their overall chances of success are very small? Yes.
I’ve also dealt with “professionals” who’ve talked down to me and told me my story ideas were stupid and worthless, using the reasoning “I’m just treating you the way somebody in the industry would. If you can’t take it, maybe you shouldn’t be trying.”
Not having as much experience as some, the people I have encountered were actually polite, helpful and supportive. If something didn’t work for them, I’d at least get “thanks, but no thanks.”
This does compel me to ask: is that really how the industry treats most people?
This most recently came to a head when my friend asked about suggestions for how to use the positive results they received from a reputable script analysis service as a marketing tool.
The same person was the first to respond, saying the concept wasn’t that original, so the script didn’t have much of a chance, and marketing it would be a very tough sell. When asked what they would recommend, they seemed to just repeat the same things.
My advice to my friend was to ignore 99 percent of what that other person said, but keep in mind that yes, the field for potential interest in their script is limited, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t at least try. There’s no guarantee, but you never know who might say yes.
I made some suggestions of possible strategies, and summed it up with the standard “if they say no, you move on to the next one.”
As many of you probably already know, I’m a big believer not just in networking, but also in supporting the writing community. I try to help when I can any way I can.
This other person seemed to run completely counter to that. I just don’t see the point in why they would. To make themselves seem important? To show off their accomplishments? Wouldn’t they rather be seen in a positive light, rather than a negative one? I know I would.
I also mentioned to my friend that treating people like that could eventually backfire. Just because you might be a nobody today doesn’t mean you couldn’t be somebody important tomorrow.
And writers have long memories. We tend to remember those who leave bad impressions.
The best I could offer my friend was that I was there to help them and offer encouragement and advice when needed, and I hope other writers feel the same about their friends as well.
-The fine folks at Shore Scripts have a couple of deadlines coming up fast.