Maximum Z Autumn ’21 Script Showcase

I’ve always been a big believer in supporting the writing community, and wanted to offer up the opportunity for as many writers as possible to put their material on full display for all to see. While there may be other sites that do this – most for a small fee, I thought it would be nice to do something similar – and for free.

Think of this as another tool in your personal kit of marketing materials. This is your chance to shine a spotlight on your script. Spread the word. Post the link. Toot that horn, and do it proudly.

What you will find below is a virtual treasure trove of material of 34 screenplays and 18 TV scripts. A vast spectrum of genres, many with accompanying awards and accolades.

But the most important part is that each and every one is available for you to read.

Something grabs your attention or piques your interest? The writer’s email is right there for you to click on and tell them “I’d like to read your script.” Maybe they’ll ask to read something of yours.

This is what networking and establishing professional relationships is all about.

So settle in and take a look around. Bet you find a script or three you like.

(And as long as I’ve got your attention, feel free to hit the ‘like’ button way down at the bottom of this post. Maybe even take it one step further and start following this blog. Management is dangling some enticing incentives for an uptick in numbers.)

FILM

AFTER EVER AFTER

David Schwartz

Animated Family Fantasy-Comedy

A royal princess has two weeks to rescue her prince from a powerful warlock, or else her sister will take over as Queen.

david@davidschwartzconsulting.com

ANNA’S EVERY-VERSE

Brian Tuttle

Drama

When a risk-averse accountant hits her head at work, she suddenly finds that every time she opens a new door, she steps into one of a dozen alternate versions of her life. She realizes the only way to get home is to keep opening doors, even if it means confronting every fear she’s ever had.

8 on The Black List

briantuttle11@gmail.com

AN UNDOCUMENTED RUMOR

Philip C. Sedgwick

Action-Adventure/Border Drama

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.

Best Original Screenplay, Burbank Film Festival, 2016

Best Feature Screenplay, San Antonio Film Festival, 2019

Official Selection, San Pedro Film Festival, 2019

Finalist, Official Selection, Beverly Hills Film Festival, 2016

Finalist, Hollywood Screenplay Contest, 2016

philip@philipcsedgwick.com

BANGK!

Mark Wesley

Crime/Heist/Thriller

A charismatic hustler devises a high-risk scheme to con the Bank of England into moving gold bullion to a location that’s easier to rob – if the New York mob don’t kill him first.

Quarterfinalist – 2020 Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards

markwesley13@gmail.com

BLACK OMERTA

Victer A. Levell

Drama

A corrupt Marine Corps Officer / Investment Banker with an old school Black and Italian upbringing reflecting on the origin and consequences of his actions after Federal conviction. Hiding in plain sight his entire career with Black Panther Party, and Gambino Crime Family affiliations. Living with a dark family secret, child abuse, and teenage PTSD results growing up into an adult broken with a Machiavellianism dark side.

usmc4457@gmail.com

CALYPSO

Fiona Faith Ross

Supernatural Thriller

When Granddad dies, a bereaved young American woman travels to the ‘old country’ to find her last living relative, an aunt who insists she is the immortal sea-goddess, Calypso.

Best Feature Screenplay – May/June 2021 round, Pinnacle Film Awards, LA

fionafaithross@gmail.com

DRAWING DEAD

Kelly Parks

Horror

Six poker pros tricked into a game of Texas Hold’em with The Devil must win or die.

2nd Rounder – Austin Film Festival

Top 25% – Coverfly

Quarterfinalist – 2021 Emerging Screenwriters Genre Competition

kelly.parks@gmail.com

FORSAKEN

Jeffrey Stackhouse and Wendy Lashbrook

Action-Adventure/Horror

A Confederate officer rides an urgent trail when the shocking brutality of a Black family found slaughtered forces him to choose a path of blood-soaked retribution, with only an adolescent Black girl as an ally.

PAGE Awards – Bronze Award – Action-Adventure

shadowlandonline.net

stackk@usa.com

FREEDOM FORT

Clint Williams

Historical Action-Adventure

Following the War of 1812,  withdrawing British forces turn over a fort and its armory to former slaves and Native Americans. But calls for an assault by the U.S. Army threaten the thriving community.

Winner – Final Draft Big Break – Historical/Period

Grand Prize Winner – Write/LA

clintwilliams3@gmail.com

INSENSIBLE EXISTENCE

Mark LeClair

Action Drama

A Special Forces veteran realizes his revenge slaying of the gang that killed his family won’t bring them back, nor his emotions, which makes him a valuable tool for the Feds. With help from his veteran-brothers, he agrees to take care of a pest problem for the FBI & DEA, but realizes too late that he is being set up and not expected to survive. The most dangerous person alive is one with nothing left to lose.

Semifinalist – 2021 Filmmatic Drama Screenplay Awards

mark.leclair@hotmail.com

KISS ME DEAD

Ken Henderson

Fantasy/Thriller

A hard-boiled ex-cop stays on a missing person case even after he’s murdered.

Winner – 2019 PAGE International – Thriller/Horror

Semifinalist (top 50) – 2014 Nicholl Fellowship

Quarterfinalist – 2019 Final Draft Big Break

2nd Round – 2019 Austin Film Festival

Quarterinalist – 2014 Scriptapalooza

kenhenderson@gmail.com

LUCKY DIP (short film)

Brian Weston

Drama

Everyone dreams of winning life changing money on the lottery. A big win changes lives. But sometimes not for the best.

bw1707@yahoo.com

MAN OF COLOUR

Martin Keady

Historical Drama

MAN OF COLOUR is a biopic of Walter Tull, one of Britain’s first black professional footballers, who was driven out of the game by racism (even from within his own club) but rallied to become one of Britain’s greatest heroes of World War One. 

Best Screenplay (Feature) – 2021 Page Turner Awards

keadym1616@gmail.com

MAX & LUPE: TREASURE HUNTERS!

Jane May

Adventure Comedy

MAX AND LUPE: TREASURE HUNTERS! is a movie about a heartbroken and hapless American dude who just wants to enjoy his all inclusive Mexican vacation but gets tangled up with a couple of slick international treasure hunters who are racing against a seriously bad hombre in order to score their biggest prize yet!

janemay11@gmail.com

MIDNIGHT

Alvina Charles

Action/Drama

A teenage boy is involved in an underground case to take down his father’s enemy but switches sides when secrets unfold.

riaria200113@gmail.com

MISS ME?

G. Leo Maselli

Dark Comedy

After six long years in a French convent, a teenage girl, with a pathological narcissist disorder in full bloom, returns home in California determined on having sex with her hero who just so happens to be her father’s best friend.

donleonado@gmail.com

MO’ALLEM

Nerris Nevarez-Nassiri

Coming of Age

When a brilliant Iranian teenager finds out she must give up her dream of going to college for an arranged marriage, she secretly fabricates an identity as a school teacher to obtain an American visa and escape the morning of her wedding.

Finalist – Austin Film Festival

Semifinalist – Vail Film Festival

nerrisnassiri@gmail.com

OUT BACK OF BEYOND

Dave Goossen

Comedy

After bungling a multi-million dollar deal, the two women responsible are sent to the Australian outback to save the project but end up battling their ruthless boss to save a quirky town instead.

davegoossen@gmail.com

PRELUDE TO A DREAM

David Dinning McDermott

Fantasy, Romance

A story that integrates magic and mythology into the fabric of the modern world, as we follow two lovers across the boundaries of death and time.

Finalist – Bright International Film Festival

Finalist – Beyond The Curve International

Finalist – Hollywood Screenplay Festival

Finalist – European Cinematography Awards

dinningproduction@gmail.com

ROMANTIC DOG

Das Bleu

Drama

A struggling musician is at a crossroads with life until he meets an alluring ballroom dancer while staying at the Chateau Marmont.

Semifinalist – Big Apple Agents and Managers Networking Lab

Semifinalist – Big Apple Film Festival and Screenplay Competition

dasxbleu@gmail.com

SCARLET SEAS

J.C. Young

Father and daughter hunters pursue a fugitive vampire to the New World; whose blood-thirst unleashed when pirates plunder the ship ferrying her coffin.

Red List selection – Coverfly, Feb 2021, July 2021

Top 20% – Coverfly – Top 20 Action-Adventure Feature Screenplays

Semifinalist – 2020 Filmmatic Screenpay Pitch Competition

Semifinalist – Creative Screenwriting Unique Voices Competition

Quarterfinalist – 2021 Screencraft Sci-Fi & Fantasy

writer.JCYoung@yahoo.com

SEX WITH MY EX

Lucy Linger

Romantic Dramedy

An interior designer relives her teenage years, and puts her marriage at risk, when she lands a job working with her first love.

lucy@lucylinger.com

STAND TALL!

Vincent Paterno

Romantic Comedy

A Vegas waitress tripled in size becomes a beloved showroom headliner, falls in love with the scientist who accidentally enlarged her, and vows to rescue him when he’s kidnapped by three mutual rivals.

Most Original Concept – Feature Screenplay – LA Under The Stars Film Festival

Best Character – Colleen Cossitt – Die Laughing Film Festival

Finalist – Los Angeles Cinefest

Finalist – Beyond The Curve International Film Festival

Semifinalist – Stage 32 New Voices in Animation Screenwriting Contest

vpaterno0819@gmail.com

TALONS

Brent Rouleau

Crime/Mystery/Thriller

While investigating a series of bizarre deaths, a veteran detective who quit big-city crime for small-town policing finds his life in danger when he uncovers a long-hidden black-ops program with ties to the highest level of the American government.

Semifinalist – Screencraft Drama

2nd Round – Austin Film Festival

2nd Round – Launch Pad Feature Competition

leafswinin05@yahoo.ca

THE BRIDGE

Persephone Vandegrift

Supernatural Horror

After agreeing to take part in a dangerous séance, a grief-stricken young woman discovers the truth behind an entity’s vengeance against the town and must stop it before it kills again.

sephvee7@gmail.com

THE FIRST GENTLEMAN

Mark Gunnion

Action/Romance

When President Rosa Cortez’s secret Camp David peace summit is taken hostage by brutal commandos, her scandalous ex-jock husband Will slips through the cracks. As war hero Rosa fights back from within, they must find a way to save each other – and the Chinese President.

Grand Prize – 23rd Annual Fade-In Screenplay Awards

3rd Place – Action-Adventure – Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition

Semifinalist – StoryPros Screenwriting Competition

Official Selection – 15th Annual “Action On Film” MegaFest in Las Vegas

Official Selection – Vancouver Badass Film Festival

markgunnion@gmail.com

THE FUNNY FARM

Robert Ward

Horror

A wisecracking demon slaughters the parents of a farm girl hiding in a cellar… but when the demon extricates her, they battle to a ghastly ending.

Award Winner – 2019 Filmmatic Horror Screenplay

2nd Place – 2019 Best Feature Script – Hollywood Horrorfest

Finalist – 2017 Shriekfest

Nominee – Best Horror Screenplay – iHorror Awards

Grand Prize – Horror – 2016 Hollywood Screenplay Contest

rward@got.net

THE MAN OF LA CANADA

Sara Carpenter & Josh Greiveldinger

Comedy

Loosely based on Don Quixote, Alonso, becomes convinced he is a comic book superhero and, with the help of his reluctant best friend, attempts to take down a small town biker gang.

whitebeltfilms@gmail.com

TYPHOON BABY

Tad Israel

RomCom

As a typhoon turns his relationship upside down, the man turns from hater to lover.

tadisrael@gmail.com

UNDER THE BED

Ethan Chen

Horror/Supernatural Thriller

A young tormented girl Lily befriends a monster that is willing to kill those who wronged her. With each kill the monster changes with Lily changing as well.

Best Unproduced Script – Niagara Falls International Short Festival

Best Unproduced Script – Hong Kong Indie Film Festival

ethan_chen8282@aol.com

UNTIE ME

Carol Frome

Thriller

When Sophie and her girlfriend Isabella uncover murder evidence, they don’t know that it will lead Sophie to an unthinkable choice: kill her all-powerful father or be killed.

carolfrome@msn.com

WE ARE ROUGH MEN

J.R. Blomberg

Neo-Western Crime Drama

In 1972, a sheriff being investigated for murder must confront his rodeo past when he suspects bull riders in a slew of bank robberies.

jrblomberg75@gmail.com

WELCOME TO GARYTOWN

Seth Nelson

Comedy

When a popular podcaster moves back to his rural hometown and discovers his job-hopping childhood friend is living a double life, he must decide whether to go along with the prank, or expose the truth in an effort to boost his career.

Semifinalist – Filmmatic Comedy Screenplay Awards (Season 6)

snelson1076@me.com

WORLD WAR 3.0

Glenn Toussaint

Science Fiction

In 2065, a hacker and a group of telepaths lead three rogue nations in a desperate last stand, against the plutocratic world government’s drone forces. 

glen@sandyhornerealestate.com

TELEVISION

ANCHOR RIDGE

Christopher O’Bryant

A lawyer is sent to a small southern town to handle a troubled estate, but upon arrival something feeds off the fear and guilt from his past.

If TRUE DETECTIVE investigated THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE in the TWILIGHT ZONE.

obryantcj@gmail.com

BINGOMAN

Shauney Taylor

Thriller/Drama

A small town has had two young girls go missing in one month. Can this eight year old girl’s imaginary friend protect her from being the next one caught?

2nd Place – Open Topic Short Film Contest

2nd Place – Raindance Film Festival

taylorsue42@yahoo.com

BROKEDOWN

Richard Leone

Crime Drama

Set in Portland, Maine, Detective Sarah Leighton, a Combat Veteran and recovering opioid addict, investigates a drudge related homicide and must choose her career or her family when she finds herself crossing the line between cop and criminal in order to bring down a local drug ring.

richard.leone@gmail.com

CHANNEL SURFING

Peter J. Herron

Black Comedy Sketch Show

A half hour black comedy sketch show exploring the world of broadcast television by joining a viewer each week as they jump from channel to channel, catching dark/absurd/social commentary comedic vignettes of the news, TV shows, sports, movies, documentaries, adverts and everything else vomited out the media we consume today. 

peterjherroncartoons@gmail.com

FANGIRLS

Gary Barnard

Dramedy

When two best friends learn of a real life crime that mimics one of their favorite comic books, they do everything they can to solve it.

garybarnard25@yahoo.com

FATHER BROWN – THE BELLE OF THE BONFIRE (spec)

Karen E. Simmons

Light-comedy murder-mystery BBC series

Two of Father Brown’s friends go undercover at a high-class hotel to find the culprit behind a series of grisly murders, using themselves as bait to draw the killer out of the shadows.

Another of my Father Brown specs – THE WRONG SCONE – won 2nd Place for One-Hour Dramas in the 2021 Scriptapalooza competition

ksimmons511@yahoo.com

HER MAJESTY’S MUSKETEERS: LITTLE GIRLS SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH SWORDS

Phillip E. Hardy

Action-Adventure

Beset by enemies conspiring against King Louis XIV, a collection of courageous fighting women come together to train and fight for the greatest swordsman in France, the uncrowned queen.

Winner – Best Action Television Script – Mount Fuji International Film Festival

Official Selection – Las Vegas International Film and Screenwriting Festival

Official Selection – Best Script Award – London

phillip_hrdy@yahoo.com

HUMAN GAME 3: THE REVELATION

Nathan Waire aka Nathan Zen-Sapien

Suspense/Thriller

When a psychic begins to have visions of grizzly murders she enlists the help of one serial killing team to hunt down an even bigger threat!

Outstanding Achievement – Madras International Film Festival

Finalist – Toronto CIFT

Official Selection – Medusa Film Festival

Finalist – Best Script – ViZ Awards

nathanwaire@gmail.com

INTER-DIMENSIONAL RUNNERS

Alex Rodriguez

Animated Comedy

Prince, a half-demon slacker, falls into another dimension and looks for a way back home in time for ramen night, but is chased by inter-dimensional guards who want to kill her for disrupting the balance.

alejandra.rs92@gmail.com

KITT

Maura Campbell

Comedy/Drama

Lonely neuroscientist Susan transfers her cat’s consciousness into a homeless coma patient. But when the cat gets his tongue it sends everyone into a flap, not least the Ethics Committee overseeing her experimental project.

maura.campbell@btinternet.com

MALACCA

Benjamin Jimenez

Thriller/Suspense

After the mysterious disappearance of flight MH777 in the Gulf of Malacca, and the reappearance of Dr. Milton James and his six fellow passengers three months later, Dr. James is confronted with a mysterious, life-threatening conspiracy that he and his companions must uncover before it kills them and, what could be worse, these secrets serve to destroy the world as we know it.

bjimenezt@gmail.com

MASKED INTENTIONS

Rachel Amy Ritchie & Kate Burcham

Murder-Mystery/Dramedy

When a vindictive murderer rudely interrupts their graduation gala, the university’s supposedly brightest must bare their secrets to unmask the killer and make it to graduation.

raritchie13@yahoo.com

OCCUPIED INTELLIGENCE

Collin Lieberg

Historical Drama

Based on a true story. Two newly recruited female Resistance members risk their lives to rescue downed soldiers and translate Nazi secrets as part of a civilian spy ring, only to face betrayal and capture.

2nd Rounder – Austin Film Festival

Top 50 – ISA Fast Track Fellowship

Quarterfinalist – Page Turner Genre Screenplay Competition

Quarterfinalist – Screencraft TV Pilot Competition

collin.lieberg@gmail.com

RIVERMEADE

S. E. McKendrick

Fantasy

6 impossible things before breakfast?

  1. travel to a small English village on a whim
  2. find out that fairy tales are the historical documents of a parallel reality
  3. find out you’re cursed
  4. meet a mermaid
  5. meet a troll (who lives under a bridge)
  6. pet a dragon

Okay, that took until lunchtime, but wait ’til you see tomorrow’s schedule!

scripts2020@mail.com

SEX PASTA

Pilot – “Tiro”

Rowan Wood

Sitcom

A group of college friends return from winter break to find that things are changing more rapidly than they expected.

marphclon@gmail.com

TERRA NOVA

Pilot episode – “Scott”

Jonathan Tedman

Historical/Adventure

Robert Scott leads the Terra Nova expedition to Antarctica in his attempt to become the first human to reach the South Pole.

jonathan.tedman@ntlworld.com

THUNDERBOLT

Zachary Thomas Starnes

Crime Drama/True Story

In the late 1970’s, a father and son set to build a legacy by taking a hidden bar in their small town, from a stash house for the mob, to the regions most popular joint and the centerpiece for the true stories of wildly good times and various crimes that circulate it… Everyone has a Thunderbolt story.

zacharytstarnes@gmail.com

ZCBD

R.S.J.

Horror

A local street pharmacist is forcefully recruited by a secret  government agency that wants him to distribute a new strain of narcotic to his customers but unbeknownst to him the new drug does more than gets you high but also makes you crave human flesh.

reddyself@gmail.com

Just a few days left!

Hey, you amazing writer of screen or television, you.

Got a spec script you want to put in the spotlight?

Well, your chance to do exactly that is RIGHT NOW.

Friday, 29 October will see the posting of the Maximum Z Autumn ’21 Script Showcase, and it’ll feature a wide variety of screenplays and TV scripts, complete with the vital details for each, along with the contact info in case something strikes your fancy and you want to contact the writer about reading it.

And your script could be one of them.

Here’s how it works.

Using the subject line “Maximum Z Autumn ’21 Script Showcase’, email the following info about your script here.

Film or TV

Title

Author

Genre

Logline

Awards (if applicable, and limit it to 5)

Your email

And that’s it.

DO NOT SEND THE SCRIPT!

and

ONLY ONE SCRIPT PER WRITER.

The deadline for sending is Thursday 28 October, so the clock is a-tickin’.

Send it along post haste so you don’t regret missing out on this amazing opportunity!

On the lookout for: Your Script!

Greetings! Just a friendly reminder that on 29 October – just a mere 3 weeks from now – the Maximum Z Autumn ’21 Script Showcase will go up, featuring an abundance of spec scripts for film and television…

And yours could be one of them!

Here’s how it works:

Email the following info here using the subject ‘Maximum Z Autumn Script Showcase’:

Film or TV

Title

Author

Genre

Logline

Awards (if applicable, and no more than 5)

Your email

And that’s it.

DO NOT SEND THE SCRIPT

and

ONLY 1 SCRIPT PER PERSON

Cutoff date for submissions is 28 Oct, so send it soon! Don’t wallow in self-loathing and regret from missing out.

Here’s to an opportunity (for TV & film writers!)

I’m a big believer in supporting the writing community, and helping writers promote themselves and their work whenever I can.

Thus: The Maximum Z Script Showcase.

A catalog of sorts, chock-full of listings for film and TV spec scripts, all available to read by any and all interested parties.

Previous efforts have proven to be positive and productive experiences, so the time seemed right to do it again.

The Autumn ’21 Showcase will post on 29 Oct. The perfect treat heading into Halloween weekend, no?

It’s a very simple process.

You email the following info about your script under the subject “Maximum Z Autumn ’21 Script Showcase” here:

Film or TV

Title

Author(s)

Genre(s)

Logline

Awards (if applicable) – for those with numerous awards, please limit it to 5

Your email – in case someone wants to contact you about reading your script

That’s it. Nothing else.

Two very important details to keep in mind:

DO NOT SEND THE SCRIPT!

Just the info listed above.

-and-

ONE SCRIPT PER PERSON. Sorry. No exceptions.

If you’ve submitted to the Showcase before, you’re more than welcome to send the same script, but we do encourage giving your new stuff a chance to shine.

Submissions will be accepted until Thursday 28 Oct, so don’t delay and send it today!

Q & A with Tim Schildberger of Write LA

Tim Schildberger is an experienced writer, script coach, and co-founder/Head Judge of Write LA – an annual screenwriting competition that gives writers a chance to get read by managers, and hear their winning script read by professional actors in LA (and posted on YouTube). He cares far too much about helping writers improve their craft and get access to the industry. Tim is an expat Australian, a former TV journalist, writer on the globally popular soap opera NEIGHBOURS, newspaper columnist, creator of a comedy/reality series for the Travel Channel called LAWRENCE OF AMERICA, and one of the key members of the original BORAT team. He has stories.

In his spare time, Tim is a husband, parent, tennis player, road tripper, and he and his family foster kittens. Seriously. Twitter: @write_la Instagram: @writela

What was the last thing you read or watched you considered exceptionally well-written?

I hate to be a cliche, but THE CROWN – sets the bar very high. Peter Morgan is a genius. His ability to tell story with and without words, and build tension in scenes that on the page might appear boring, is remarkable. THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT had similar skill, attaching us to an unconventional character quickly and effectively.  Feature films – I loved PALM SPRINGS – structurally, and characters/dialogue, and who doesn’t love a woman solving the problems using education and intellect!

How’d you get your start in the industry?

I was 22, living in Australia (where I’m from), working as a trainee TV News Producer. I had applied to newsrooms, and I’d called up various TV series, asking if they needed a writer. It was a simpler time. A nightly soap opera, NEIGHBOURS, let me do a writing submission, which they liked – and said they’d get back to me. In the meantime I got the job in TV news.

One day, six months later,  I got a call in the newsroom, it was NEIGHBOURS, asking if I’d like to write an episode. I said yes, obviously. They mailed me the scene breakdowns, I typed my script on a typewriter, and ten days later mailed it back. All after working a full day in the newsroom. I did that 5 more times before it all got far too overwhelming. I was the youngest writer they’d ever had, and that experience made it clear to me that writing, in all its forms, was my future.

What was the inspiration for creating the Write LA competition?

We wanted to create a competition we’d want to enter. I’ve been writing for a long time – and I’ve entered competitions large and small. I’ve won a few, placed in a bunch, and it became clear that many of the writing comps out there don’t really do much when it comes to attracting attention, gaining industry access, or launching careers. And pretty much none put any kind of focus on helping writers improve their command of craft. So our goal was to build a competition that somehow combined both goals – to help with the craft, and to help with the access.

What makes Write LA unique compared to other screenwriting competitions?

Two things I think separate us. First, we are a competition run by actual writers. So we are able to deliver a certain degree of respect and admiration for the act of actually finishing a script and entering it – that many competitions lack. We know how it all feels.

Second, we stand proudly in front of the competition. Everyone knows I’m the co-founder and Head Judge. When you email a question, it comes to me. I do an enormous amount of reading, and I’m supervising every aspect of the competition. We try hard not to be a faceless comp where sometimes it can feel like you’re sending your script into a void, and then hoping something emerges. It matters to us that the entrants feel ’seen’.

A big concern for writers entering a screenwriting competition is the quality/experience level of its readers. How does Write LA address that?

I hear that. And I’ve experienced it first hand. A script will make the Nicholl semifinals, and won’t make it out of the first round somewhere else. And then you get ‘feedback’ that feels like it was written by someone who never actually read the script, they just strung a few buzzwords together.

So to address that – I’m heavily involved in the reading process. I’ve handpicked our small team, I do a ton of reading personally, and I set pretty clear parameters when it comes to what I’m looking for when it comes to command of craft. Every script that makes it into our top 15 semi finalists will have been read by at least three different people, including me.

We give every script, whatever the genre, or whether it’s a TV pilot or feature, full respect and attention. And all the additional feedback (offered at an extra fee), is done by me personally. So there is a consistency of the feedback, and a name attached to it (mine). I’m not interested in telling anyone what I would do, I’m focused entirely on maximizing the opportunities presented by the writer and doing my best to empower them to bring the most out of their idea, and their skills. 

What do you consider the components of a good script?

Gosh – this isn’t easy to answer quickly, but I’ll try. For me, a good script needs fleshed out characters, who face clear challenges – no matter how big or small. Because no matter how detailed the world, or ‘big’ the story, if we don’t care about the characters, it’s all a waste of time.

Also, an understanding of the audience experience is awesome. A writer who is aware of audience expectations, and is able to manipulate those expectations is exciting. And finally, a clear sense of where the story is heading. Not a lot of extra clutter. Just a solid story, competently and confidently told.

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

Misuse of Scene Description is HUGE. Using it to reveal character details an audience couldn’t possibly know. Using it to show off a writer’s literary command – with all sorts of flowery descriptions that waste time, rather than establish ‘mood’.

Not writing an outline. I’m confident I can pick within 5 pages if a writer has an outline, and a firm idea of who this story is about, and where it is going. And taking too long to dive into story. Spending page after page building a complicated world, and then finally starting some sort of story – is a big mistake. Even STAR WARS had a brief title explanation, and then we were into Darth Vader storming Leia’s ship. The rest we figure out as we go.

Lastly, I have to add too many spelling errors. A sloppy script does not inspire confidence.

What story tropes are you just tired of seeing?

A character waking up, turning off their alarm, and getting into the shower as the first thing we see. Happens WAY more often than you would expect, and is not only dull, but unwise. What viewer who sits in a darkened movie theatre wants to see a feature film start that way?

I’m also not a fan of drawn out action sequences. It’s great that you see the car chase in your head, but all a reader cares about is ‘does someone important die?’

Oh, and a shot of ‘overdue bills’ on the kitchen table. Anything but that please. I see a lot of stereotypes with the characters too – which usually tells me a writer is basing a character on another character they’ve seen in a movie or on TV – rather than an actual, flawed, complex human being.

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

What you are doing is more about hard work than flashes of inspiration. It’s less about talent than it is about grind.

Accept that re-writing is inevitable. Your first draft will not be a work of art. It’s a starting point.

Learn to receive notes as comments on the words on a page, not a personal attack, or a statement on your writing ability.

Characters are more important than story nowadays. Put the extra effort into figuring out who they are, and their emotional journey through your story.

What you are doing is brave, and awesome, and you should feel very proud of yourself every time you finish anything. Every time. Plenty of people talk about writing something. You went and did it. That’s huge and should never be ignored.

There is no work of art in the history of human beings that has ever been loved by 100% of the people. Accept that your work will not be universally loved – because humans are humans.

Details matter. Every scene matters. Every line of dialogue matters. Everything you do is conveying a message to an audience. Understand and embrace that.

Have you ever read a script where you thought “This writer really gets it”? If so, what were the reasons why?

I read many scripts like that! I read hundreds of scripts a year, so I regularly find writers who are very skilled. As for reasons, I would say the absolute, clear number one is making me feel something. I’m not alone in this. I tell anyone who’ll listen if you can make a reader feel a genuine human emotion, that is FAR more important and impactful than any set piece, world, intricate story or cute scene description. It isn’t even close.

Also, it’s fun to read scripts by writers who think about the audience, and work hard to provide us with a rich, enjoyable experience. I know the expression “write what you know” is popular. My version is “write what you know, but make it accessible to strangers.”

And while I’m here, let me add that writing what you know really refers to your emotional experience and authenticity. Not your time in middle school. If you can dig into your emotional space, which is uniquely yours, and share that on the page – that authenticity connects you with a reader/audience, and goes a long way to establishing what the industry likes to call your “voice”. I’d like to say it was easy to do. It’s not. But it’s important.

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

I have to say I’m a big fan of custard. There’s a custard tart in my homeland Australia – a mini pie – which is very much my favorite. But as that doesn’t really exist here – I’m going to say I like banana cream, apple, peach, and I’m a big fan of all the cobblers and crumbles too. I don’t think I’d refuse any pie that came my way.