From me to you

Festivities around Maximum Z HQ are underway, so taking a moment to say that which must be said.

As the year winds down, we all look back and think about what did and didn’t happen, writing-wise.

Progress was made, along with a few of the usual setbacks and disappointments.

We all know this ain’t easy, but why would we do it if we didn’t enjoy it?

The important thing is we keep trying.

I sincerely hope that each of you continues to push forward in 2023 so that this time next year you can proudly claim “Look at all the amazing stuff I was able to accomplish this year!”

Know that yours truly will always be in your corner, cheering you on and offering up as much encouragement as possible.

I’m extremely fortunate and grateful to know so many amazing and talented writers, and wish all of you nothing but the best in the coming year for all of your projects.

Happy holidays, you phenomenal creatives, you.

A nice wrap-up

2022 is starting to wind down, and the general consensus around Maximum Z HQ is:

It’s been a pretty good year.

-First and foremost, I finally managed to publish my books. Took a while to put it all together, but thanks to a heaven-sent editor/advisor, they became a reality.

Also nice is that they’ve been very positively received. And they make a great gift for any screenwriter (plug, plug).

-A lot of the year was also spent writing. I completed a few drafts of the animated fantasy-comedy spec – huge shoutout to the readers who provided some excellent notes that helped improve each draft. Hoping the end result achieves what I set out to do.

I’m also wrapping up the script for the microbudget feature. The producer who brought me onto the project really likes what I’ve come up with so far, which is always nice to hear. They’re hoping to start production in the spring, so fingers remain firmly crossed that becomes a reality.

Bonus – the producer also asked me to write a short, which I did. It’s a completed project and is already being submitted to festivals. Keeping any other details under wraps for the time being.

-Wasn’t able to make my horror-comedy short film, but I did connect with a local director who’s open to helping out. This whole “make it yourself” thing is quite a learning experience.

-Speaking of connecting, I got to meet a whole new bunch of local writers. I always enjoy that.

-I once again took part in the screenwriting track for the San Francisco Writers Conference, which included being on panels and offering advice to writers one-on-one. Had a great time with that, and I’ll get to do it again in February.

-Being part of the conference also led to doing a lecture about screenwriting for the California Writers Club, which it looks like I might get to do again sometime soon.

-Didn’t do so well on the contest front, but as evidenced in everything else I just talked about, I think I’ve done okay.

Here’s hoping for more good news and positive vibes for all of us in 2023.

Keep pushing forward, chums. I’m rootin’ for ya.

From the archives: May I be of some assistance?

info booth
“Be with you folks in a minute.”

Seeing as how we’re in the season of giving, I thought this post from July 2019 regarding helping out other writers in multiple capacities was rather appropriate.

Enjoy.

For the most part, working towards making it as a screenwriter is a solitary effort. You’re the one who has to write the script and get it out there. It’s a tough journey, but you don’t have to go it alone.

Hence – networking.

Making that initial contact is great, but you should also strive to make it worth the other person’s while as much as you are for yourself.

Once you start to build up your own personal community of Other Writers, and those relationships gradually develop beyond the “Hi. Nice to meet you” stage, you’ll naturally seek out some help in the form of feedback – your latest draft, a query, a logline, what have you.

And that’s all well and good, but it’s equally important, if not more so, for you to return the favor. Rather than just popping up and saying “Hey, would you read my script?”, try “Hey, we’ve known each other a while, and you seem to know what you’re talking about, so would you be open to reading my script? And I’d be more than happy to reading one of yours.”

Helpful tip #1 – don’t be the person who asks for notes but isn’t willing to give them.

Helpful tip #2 – even if you don’t like what their notes say, you still need to hold up your end of the bargain and give them notes – especially if you’re the one who asked in the first place.

Sometimes the best kind of help is when it’s unexpected – either from you or from somebody you know.

A few years ago, a producer friend of a friend was looking for a certain kind of project. I didn’t have anything that met their criteria, but offered to post the listing on a few social media platforms. At least 20 writers responded. I sent their info to the producer, who then contacted a few of them (as far as I know).

What did I get out of it? Just being happy to help and the appreciation from all the writers – even the ones the producer didn’t follow up with.

I’ve also been fortunate to be on the receiving end, with friends sending me emails and messages about listings seeking scripts like mine.

A little effort really does go a long way – anything from forwarding a script or job listing to a few words of encouragement, or even offering congratulations for somebody achieving some kind of accomplishment. Don’t you like when somebody does that sort of thing for you?

As much as we’re all working towards our own individual success, we’re also part of a community; one where each member should help support the others in whatever way they can.

The Maximum Z Winter ’22 Script Showcase

This blog has always been about trying to help out the screenwriting community and give others a boost whenever possible.

Letting the world know about your script seems like a pretty good boost.

This edition lists 33 feature and 15 TV spec scripts, all available for reading via the writer’s email. Something strikes your fancy and sounds like a fun read? Contact the writer and ask.

Is your script on this list and you want to let everybody know about it? Copy the url and post to your social media platforms. Go ahead and toot that horn.

Once again, a huge thanks to all the talented writers who sent in their script info. I hope you each get lots of eyes on your material, along with more than a few read requests, and all the good things those could potentially lead to…

Thanks for reading, and enjoy.

FILM

AMERICAN PRESIDENT: DEMON SLAYER

Paul Newton

Horror Comedy

Facing off against a horde of demons and the satanic cult who summoned them, a new President must find her voice in order to save the world and her soul.

Winner – Best Horror Comedy Screenplay – Oregon Horror Screams Film Festival – Fall 2022

kingawesomepaul@gmail.com

BAH, LOVEBUG! A VALENTINE CAROL

Rebekah “RX” Score & James “Doc” Mason

Holiday (Valentine’s Day) Comedy

On the eve of ruining her niece’s wedding, a love-challenged divorce attorney must rediscover the reason for the romantic season with the whimsical guidance of the Ghosts of Valentine’s Day Past, Present, and Future!

screenRIOTer@gmail.com

BEX URBEX

Ross Allaire

Horror

A paranoid lifestyle YouTuber and a ghost-hunter team up to investigate an abandoned factory with a dark past, but when they’re attacked by ghostly foes, they’ll need to trust each other and work together to escape with their lives.

BLAIR WITCH 2 meets FOUND FOOTAGE 3D

rossallaire@gmail.com

B.M.O.C.

J.E. Swainston

Horror

When a misunderstood university professor meets the woman of his dreams, his life takes a dark turn that ends in horrific tragedy.

janetswainston@gmail.com

BREAST IN SHOW

Andrea Berting

Dramedy

A young breast cancer patient helps her senior support group members learn to love their bodies again by teaching them the art of burlesque.

Top Ten Finalist – Comedy – Final Draft Big Break 2022

Top 50 – Launchpad

Best Original Comedy Screenplay – Richmond Intl Film Festival 2022

andreaberting@gmail.com

CALYPSO

Fiona Faith Ross

Fantasy, Thriller

Traveling to ‘the old country’ to find her only remaining family, a bereaved young American woman is forced to choose life or death when learning her aunt is a goddess needing a younger host to survive.

Winner – Best Script, Pinnacle Script Awards (LA) 2021

fionafaithross@gmail.com

CUSSING, FUSSING, FIGHTING AND KILLING

Anthony Moore

Drama

An ambitious software engineer tries to start a business only to have his life ruined when his scheming aunt turns his own wife against him.

Award Winner – Andromeda Film Festival 2022

Quarterfinalist – Wiki! The World’s Fastest Screenplay Contest 2022

techrat@live.com

DRAGON CREME BRULEE

Katie Haskins

Fantasy

When a failure of a fire mage discovers a lost journal, it sets him on a path at odds with history, his world, and the woman he loves.

Quarterfinalist – Finish Line Script Competition 2022

katie.haskins@gmail.com

DUEL REALITY

Gerasimos Rozis & Cypher Robinson

Sci-Fi/Action

When she discovers that her VR program to treat PTSD has been hijacked, an obsessed programmer enters the VR world to stop a ruthless military contractor from using it to build the perfect soldier.

cyphers.bridge@gmail.com

ELLA

Michael Dean

Crime/Thriller

To escape her unhappy life in Oakland, a teenager embarks on a dangerous odyssey that sees her confront drug dealers and human traffickers as she seeks a new place to call home.

Top 1% – Coverfly Thriller, All-Time Top 20

Semifinalist – Austin Film Festival 2022

Semifinalist – Vail Film Festival 2022

Finalist – Bigfoot Script Challenge 2022

Semifinalist – WeScreenplay Feature Screenwriting Lab 2022

dirtydovecreative@gmail.com

FALLING FROM THE SKY

Robert Rhyne

Thriller, Crime

After a troubled Texas teenager is convicted of lying to the police for claiming that he saw an astronaut fall from the Columbia Space Shuttle explosion, he witnesses a murder, but no one will believe him – except the killer.

Finalist – PAGE International Screenwriting Awards 2022

Finalist – StoryPros 2020

Second Rounder – Austin Film Festival 2020

Top 10% – Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting 2020

randprhyne@aol.com

FAMILY

Cythina Ros McClendon

Drama

When her husband puts their family farm up for sale, his wife must reunite their far-flung family in order to save it.

CRMcFL@aol.com

FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND

Brian Mulligan

Dramedy/Coming-of-Age

A strong-willed teen and her guilt-ridden brother battle grief and each other after the accidental death of their closest friend changes their lives forever.

‘Stand by Me’ meets ‘The Fault in Our Stars.’

Semifinalist – ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship 

Quarterfinalist – Shore Scripts Feature Contest 

Finalist – Set in Philadelphia 

Second Rounder – Austin Film Festival 

bmull863@gmail.com

HOPE CALLING

Ina Williams

Holiday, Romance, Family

When a harsh anonymous blog goes viral about a small town in Georgia called Hope, a grieving journalist travels there and gets more than a story when he meets an artist who calls the town, home.

Quarterfinalist – Final Draft Big Break 2022

ina.onyx@gmail.com

LIVE-STREAM

Ramsey Patrick Anderson

Thriller

When a long-haul truck driver learns he’s driving a series of Fight-To-The-Death, live-streamed matches in his trailer, he must risk his life to stop it.

djgameshow@yahoo.com

MADRE OSO (MOTHER BEAR)

J.R. Blomberg

Action Crime Drama

A single Latina mother, desperate to afford the medication her son urgently needs, unknowingly traffics young women across the border for a Cartel funded trucking company… for her children’s sake, she better deliver.

jrblomberg75@gmail.com

ONE HIT WONDERLAND

Jack Caswell

Comedy, Action, Adventure

Sick of reading the same bedtime story to his son, a weary father wishes death upon the title character only to wake up in the story-book world and discover his only way home is to carry out the hit.

2nd Rounder – Austin Film Festival 2022

Runner-up/2nd overall – Byron Bay International Film Festival 

Semifinalist – Filmmatic Comedy Screenplay Awards – Season 7 (2022)

Quarterfinalist – Screencraft Comedy Competition 2022

Top 1% – WeScreenplay Recommend

jackcaswell84@gmail.com

ORSON & BUDDY

Bill Kelly, Jr.

Dramatic Comedy

Dying celebrity impersonator Orson Welles must make peace with best friend and fellow impersonator Buddy Holly before Buddy’s new girlfriend stops them from finishing their sequel to Citizen Kane.

kellyjrbill@gmail.com

REASONABLE SUSPICION

Joel McElvaney

Comedy/Thriller

Ready to leave her corporate-lawyer husband over suspicions of infidelity, a legal aid attorney must instead go on the run with him when his millionaire client sends a hitman to kill them both.

REAR WINDOW meets MIDNIGHT RUN

Quarterfinalist – StoryPros 2022

jdmcelvaney@gmail.com

RECIPE FOR HATE

Brent Rouleau

Mystery/Thriller

Facing police indifference and anti-punk hysteria after his two friends are brutally murdered, a punk rock zine writer becomes the next target when he enters the dark world of neo-Nazi extremism to find the killers and end the bloodshed.

leafswinin05@yahoo.ca

SKITCHING

Thomas R. Schrack

Coming of age adventure

When his ride to a skateboard competition bails on him, a penniless teen has 90 minutes to scratch together $300 for another ride or get stuck in the city he desperately wants to leave, forever.

MID 90s meets DOPE.

thomas.r.schrack@gmail.com

TEN TEXAN OUTLAWS

Ian Jeffrey Martin

Neo Western with a supernatural twist

Forced to repay a debt to a ruthless gangster, a heist crew seeks out an ancient treasure, but discovers the long-dead gang of outlaws it belonged to refuse to give it up without a fight.

Top 50 – Roadmap Writers Jumpstart Features 2022

Semifinalist – Screencraft Action & Adventure

Top 10% – Coverfly – All projects

Top 16% – Coverfly – Westerns

ian@ianmartinscreenwriter.com

THE BOCA SHUFFLE

Tod Klinger

Dramedy

A restless man stuck in assisted living convinces his millennial van driver to take him and his motley crew on a cross-country road trip to reunite with “the one who got away.” 

8 – The Black List

Quarterfinalist – TSL Free Script Competition 2021

klingertod@gmail.com

THE CROOKED CROSS

Wendy Appelbaum and Alanna Lewis

Thriller

Tormented by the loss of her parents to the Nazis, a Jewish author expiates her resolved grief by tracking down surviving Nazis who have secretly emigrated to the west.

Quarterfinalist – Screencraft Action & Thriller 2014

Quarterfinalist – Script2Comic 2022

wappel_80@hotmail.com

THE DARK BELOW

Brian Fitzpatrick

Sci-FI/Horror

Ruthless mercenaries, fanatical cultists, and celestial horrors won’t stand in the way of an all-girl urban explorer team hell bent on rescuing a little girl from the grip of a shadowy monster in a secretive lab.

brianfitzauthor@gmail.com

THE DYBBUK OF WILLIAMSBURG

Max Kinchen

Horror

When her groom is possessed by a vengeful disembodied spirit on their wedding night, a young bride must challenge the notions of her own faith and her place in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in a race to set him free.

Second Rounder – Austin Film Festival 2022

Official Selection – HorrOrigins Film Festival 2022

Recommended – The Script Lab (coverage)

max.kinchen@gmail.com

THE GRAND JURY

Suzanne Lutas

Sci-Fi/Thriller, Short Film

A small random group gets a chance at an interview for a sought-after position and must endure a long wait in a room where the test truly begins.

Winner – Best Short Screenplay – Arrow International Film Festival 2022

Semi-finalist – Wiki Screenplay Contest – January 2022

Semi-finalist – Reelheart International TV Pilot & Screenplay Competition 2018

suzannebl@mail.pf

THE HALF LIFE OF HARRY FIGG

Mark Wesley

Sci-Fi/Comedy/Drama

A troubled street kid’s life is turned around when he comes to the aid of a reclusive scientist whose fusion experiment is targeted by industrial spies.

Semifinalist – Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards

Quarterfinalist – Stage 32 Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Quarterfinalist – New York City International Screenplay Awards

Quarterfinalist – Chicago International Screenplay Awards

markwesley13@gmail.com

THE LAST EARTH STATION

Kathryn Radmall

Sci-Fi

When a long forgotten colony ship reappears on the far side of the galaxy, explorers are sent to discover what happened to it, and why the vessel’s enigmatic commander insists it can never return to Earth.

Winner – Bridge Fest, Vancouver

Nominee – Hybrid Genre, ‘The Red List’, Toronto

Winner – Los Angeles Motion Picture Festival

Winner – H.G. Wells Award, LA Sci-Fi Film Festival

Nominee – Hamilton Film Festival, Canadian Film Market

kathryn.radmall@icloud.com

THE MERC

Scott Sawitz

Action thriller

After reinventing himself as a badass security specialist, an everyday schlub must become the badass he’s pretended to be in order to prevent his secret double life from being exposed.

Formerly under option – Pause ‘n’ Rewind Studio

SJSawitz@yahoo.com

THE VACATION CLAUSE

Mere Walton

Holiday/Comedy/Drama

When Santa Claus disappears at the most important time of the year, a recently deceased grandfather and new elf-in-training, must recruit his grieving granddaughter to help him save Christmas in order to convince her there’s joy in her life that’s yet to be discovered.

mwaltonwrites@gmail.com

WE GOT THE BEAT

Eric Vardeman

Coming Of Age

It’s the summer of ’83 and five fun loving best friends are out to have the time of their lives after a stroke of luck comes their way but discover that luck brings them more than they bargained for.

evardeman@gmail.com

WELCOME TO GARYTOWN

Seth Nelson

Comedy

When a popular podcaster discovers a small-town taxidermist is his job-hopping childhood friend in disguise, he must decide whether to go along with the prank or reveal his identity in an effort to boost his own career.

Best of the Fest – Die Laughing Film Festival 2022

Best Comedy Screenplay – 4Theatre Film Fest 2022

Semifinalist – Mad Wife Productions Fellowship 2022

Semifinalist – Krimson Horizon International Film Festival 2022

Best Comedy Screenplay – New Age Cinemas & Scripts 2022

snelson1076@me.com

TV

A FAMILY

Cid Weinberg

Drama/Family

An LGBTQ+ California family must navigate everyday life, teen angst, and overcome heartache after the sudden death of their patriarch.

Quarterfinalist – Screencraft Family 2022

Quarterfinalist – Screenwriter’s Network Competition Goldman Award 2021

Finalist – Dallas International Film Festival 2021

Top 10 (2x) – Coverfly 2022

cidbanayatweinberg@gmail.com

ALIVE: A FRANKENSTEIN REIMAGINING

Aimee Dansereau

Sci-Fi/Horror

In this modern day reimagining of Frankenstein, the unhinged Dr. Victoria Frankenstein brings Mary to life, and forces her to kill people for scientific experimentation, but as Mary evolves into an ethical person, it’s up to her to stop her evil creator.

Semifinalist – Screencraft Screenwriting Fellowship 2021

Finalist – Big Apple Film Festival Screenwriting Competition – Fall 2021

Quarterfinalist – Screencraft Horror 2022

Semifinalist – Filmmatic Drama Screenplay Awards – Season 7

Quarterfinalist – Filmatic Horror Screenplay Awards – Season 6

adansereau8@gmail.com

ALTER/EGO

Tyler Clair Smith

Sci-Fi

When the world’s most despised billionaire is revealed to be a beloved hero, he must scramble to save his company while preserving his legacy as a hero.

tclairsmith@gmail.com

CANDY IS AWESOME

Steve Kimura

Action/Comedy

A group of CIA operatives use their cover as a pop band to save the world and discover that the music biz can be as treacherous as the bad guys they encounter.

stevekimura@me.com

CRACKED

Zac Lucas

Native American detective, mystery series

Still guilty over his three-year-old daughter’s untimely death, a Lakota Aspie detective fights skeptical and hostile colleagues, to prove his visionary skills matter when (re)solving mysterious cases.

kiwee@y7mail.com

HAWKWOOD

Karen E. Simmons

Light comedy/murder-mystery

Former Scotland Yard Inspector John Hawkwood is trying to redeem himself from his dark past by working as a private detective in an idyllic Cotswolds village in 1956 England, surrounded by a cast of equally quirky & unconventional characters.

Semi-finalist – Santa Barbara International Screenplay Awards, 2022

ksimmons511@yahoo.com

IN THE SHADOWS

A.J. Retelle

Drama, Mystery, Horror

Van Helsing Institute agents investigate a vampire murder that could set off a war between rival clans.

ajretelle85@gmail.com

JENKINS AND WATTS: PARANORMAL ATTORNEYS AT LAW

Michael P. Brennan

Comedy/Horror

In a world where ghosts exist and have rights, Jenkins and Watts defend them against overzealous law enforcement, organized crime, and literal demons from hell…for fair market price.

Semifinalist – Screencraft Comedy 2022

Semifinalist – The Golden Script Competition 2022

Recommended – Shore Scripts coverage

Top 4% overall, top 3% genre – Coverfly

mbrenn3@gmail.com

KNEAD THE DOUGH

Brett Joyce

Half-hour comedy

A corporate salesman attempts to understand why he left his pizza chef job for the woman that just rejected his proposal in Hawaii as he finds solace in a pizza truck, The Dough Mobile. While he thought he needed dough to solve his life problems, what really needs to solve them is that he has to knead the dough.

2nd Rounder – Austin Film Festival 2022

realbrettjoyce@gmail.com

LIFER GUARDS

Lisa Lutes

Half-hour comedy

Unable to find anything better, a group of millennial lifeguards remain stuck in their high school jobs at a community pool.

lmluey@gmail.com

RESTLESS SOULS

Victoria Thomas

Dark Comedy with Horror/Fantasy elements

Two brothers’ loyalties are put to the test as they run from their guilt, but not all blood can be washed away.

8.9/10 – Coverfly (project in top 4% for analyst)

vikkisumner1@gmail.com

SMALL TOWN COUNTRY (GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME SETH)

David Crosman

Half-hour sitcom

The leader of a new and small nation must figure out healthcare or lose citizens. Two low-level officials woo a dignitary in the hopes of getting a cushy job.

2nd Rounder – Austin Film Festival 2022

Consider – Coverage Ink 2022

davidcrosmanwa@gmail.com

SOUTHSIDE SHUFFLE

Dave Goossen

Drama

A disgraced musician returns home with hopes of reopening a club but gets caught up in deceit and the dangerous criminal underbelly of a picture-perfect tourist town.

davegoossen@gmail.com

THE PENITENT

Sheila Cavanaugh Dionne

Drama

A recently deceased girl and her accidental killer team up with an angel to save their respective families from looming disasters.

sheila@fortunamajor.tv

TOUCH OF DARKNESS

James Welday

Film noir, sci-fi, mystery

When re-emerging memories of a life he never lived begin plaguing an unassuming salesman, his reality takes a nightmarish turn.

jameswelday1@yahoo.com

Hurry! The clock’s ticking!

Just a friendly reminder that the Maximum Z Winter ’22 Script Showcase goes up a week from today – December 2, which means you’ve only got a few days to send in the info for your screenplay or TV script if you want it to be included.

And a great bonus of doing this is that you can post the link on all of your social media platforms and say “Hey, check it out! My script’s in here!”

It should also be noted that all of this is ABSOLUTELY FREE, which is always great.

Here’s how it works.

Send the following here by Thursday, December 1 with the subject line ‘Maximum Z Winter ’22 Script Showcase’

-Film or TV?

-Title

-Author

-Genre(s)

-Logline

-Awards (if applicable, and no more than 5)

-Your email

And that’s all.

(Just to give you an idea of the finished product, here’s the Summer ’22 edition)

Two VERY important details to keep in mind:

-DO NOT SEND THE SCRIPT!!

Just the info above. Nothing else.

-and-

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. Shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes between starting and hitting ‘send’.

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!

SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION!!!

My GO AHEAD AND ASK! books make for some excellent gifts this holiday season. Whether for yourself or for another screenwriter, they’re an entertaining and informative read, and would be a great addition to any screenwriter’s home library.

Available in both paperback and e-book formats.

Plus, many types of pies are discussed.