Monday, March 31, 2008  

Screenwriting 101

Professional instructor!
Published author & writer

Deadlines approaching: 4/1/08

April and May, 2008 class

Rated Top Online Screenwriting Class by Screenwriter’s Monthly

Screenwriting 101 is an online class for beginning writers or writers wanting to brush up on the fundamentals. For four weeks you will interact and study under the guidance of your instructor to jump start your writing and hit the ground running. Also, two online LIVE lectures during office hours to help you as you do your assignments and work on your script. (Register below).

The class presents the fundamentals of screenwriting: character development, plot development, structure, conflict, and dialogue. Mainly focused on beginners or anyone who wants to brush up on the fundamentals. Students gain enough knowledge to continue writing their screenplay, start their first screenplay, and finish.

Course Certification?: Yes!, you receive a certification of successful completion!
Course Format: Online & instructor based
Course Length: 4 week(s)
Cost: was $150, NOW: $75
Deadline: 4/1/08

For more information and read testimonials or to register:

Why take a class? Every year about 50,000 or more screenplays will be registered with the Writers Guild of America and other services. Less than 1,000 will be purchased by Hollywood studios and producers. The competition is fierce. You're competing with professionals as well as everyone else. Start your screenwriting career (or first screenplay) by taking a professional level class taught by a professional.

Class Breakdown:

Finding the Heart of your story
Plot or Character driven, which is best?
Cause and Effect (Characters and Plot)
Thinking about Characters
Fully fleshed Characters
The Paradigms of a Story
Screenplay Structure
What is Structure and why is it important?
What Structure best suits your Story?
Structure and Genre
Classic Structure: Linear, Journey, Chase, Search
Types of Alternative Narrative Structure
Writing your first ten pages
The Setup: the or else scene
Establishing genre and drama
Connecting the Audience
Case Studies
Looking Ahead towards your Second and Third Acts (setups and payoffs)
Writing the Scene
Types of Scenes
Scene Dialectics
Ins and Outs

Who is the instructor?

The instructor is Chris Wehner, a published author, journalist, critic and professional screenwriter. He has worked in the field for over 10 years. He was recently Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Screenwriter's Monthly and VP of Development for MoviePartners. Currently his screenplay, EL CAMINO, is in development with Area 51 Films in Los Angeles and is scheduled to go into production this year. He recently optioned his latest script, THREESOME, to producer Ted Melfi and is also scheduled to go into pre-production this year. His book, "Screenwriting on the Internet: Researching, Writing & Selling Your Script on the Web" was a Top Seller at The Writer's Store and his latest book "Who Wrote That Movie?" has received praise as well.

For more information and registration:

Saturday, March 22, 2008  

Horror Movie Scripts - 10 Steps To Writing A Horror Screenplay

A horror movie has certain rules. If you break too many the audience will be disappointed.

This is a very short, no fluff, blueprint of how to write a horror script.

1. The Hook. Start with a bang. Step right into a suspense scene. ("Scream" opens with a terrifying sequence with Drew Barrymore on the phone with a killer)

2. The Flaw. Introduce your hero. Give him a flaw. Before you can put your hero in jeopardy we must care for him. We must want our hero to succeed. So make him human. (In "Signs" Mel Gibson plays a priest who has lost his faith after his wife died)

3. The Fear. A variant of The Flaw. The hero has a fear. Maybe a fear of heights, or claustrophobia. (In "Jaws" Roy Scheider has a fear of water. At the end he has to conquer his fear by going out onto the ocean to kill the shark)

4. No Escape. Have your hero at an isolated location where he can't escape the horror. (Like the hotel in "The Shining")

5. Foreplay. Tease the audience. Make them jump at scenes that appear scary -- but turn out to be completely normal. (Like the cat jumping out of the closet) Give them some more foreplay before bringing in the real monster.

6. Evil Attacks. A couple of times during the middle of the script show how evil the monster can be -- as it attacks its victims.

7. Investigation. The hero investigates, and finds out the truth behind the horror.

8. Showdown. The final confrontation. The hero has to face both his fear and the monster. The hero uses his brain, rather than muscles, to outsmart the monster. (At the end of "The Village" the blind girl tricks the monster to fall into the hole in the ground)

9. Aftermath. Everything's back to the way it was from the beginning -- but the hero has changed for the better or for the worse. (At the end of "Signs" Mel Gibson puts on his clerical collar again -- he got his faith back)

10. Evil Lurks. We see evidence that the monster may return the future..(Almost all "Friday The 13'th"-movies end with Jason showing signs of returning for another sequel)

Now you can start writing your horror screenplay. Good luck!

About The Author

Henrik Holmberg writes horror screenplays for indie filmmakers.

Thursday, March 20, 2008  

The 2008 Bluecat Screenplay Competition


* Winner receives $10,000
* Four finalists receive $1500
* Every writer receives a written script analysis of their screenplay

Now in its 10th year, the BlueCat Screenplay Competition has discovered more successful writers and provided more support through our analysis and feedback to more writers than any screenplay competition in the world.

We are the leading voice for the development and inspiration of the undiscovered screenwriter, and our community welcomes you to challenge yourself by entering your screenplay in the 2008 competition!


We are a writing competition founded in 1998 by a writer and judged by the same writer for its entire history.

We're not a film festival, an agency or media corporation, or the arm of a corporate studio.

We are for screenwriters only!


Andy Stock and Rick Stempson (2005 Winners) has a second script in production: THE GOODS: THE DON READY STORY, produced by Will Farrell and starring Jeremy Piven and Ving Rhames

Lance Hammer (2004 Finalist) recently won the 2008 Sundance Directing Award for BALLAST---on to Berlin!

Andy Pagana (2004 Winner) is directing for DIE HARD producer, BlueCat winner under second option after winning 2006 Austin

Young Kim's (2006 Winner) script HYUNG'S OVERTURE attached to HITCH producer Teddy Zee after development in Pusan

Ana Lily Amirpour's (2007 Winner) THE STONES slated for production this year


We provide over 600 words of analysis on every script we receive, carefully written by readers handpicked by our judge, giving the beginning writer and the seasoned pro an objective opinion on their work.

Over the course of our history, we have given over 7000 writers feedback on their screenplay for simply entering, at no additional cost.

Would you like an honest, unguarded reaction to your screenplay?


We offer the largest cash prize ($16,000) for a screenplay contest that provides written analysis to every entrant than any other competition. There are no additional fees to get our feedback on your script.

We take pride in rewarding all writers for their commitment to their goal and their dream!


$60 entry fee


BlueCat Screenplay Competition
Hollywood, Ca 90028

Wednesday, March 12, 2008  

Discovering the Great Movie Idea for Your Next Screenplay

I am lucky. I have no problems coming up with very good ideas for movies. If I never had another idea for the rest of my life, I would not make a sizable dent in the ones I already have. Screenwriters who struggle with coming up with an idea tend to be visibly annoyed when I tell them this. I think I’m comfortable sharing this with others because I know movie ideas really mean nothing and please nobody in and of themselves, so there’s not much to brag about. I guess you can get lucky and sell an idea, but in terms of what’s important, a motion picture screened in front of people, a great idea is simply a member of the orchestra that achieves that vision.

I’m not sure where all the ideas come from, but I can tell you where I was, and by telling you this, perhaps this will help you come up with your idea. First, you should know what you want to write. A feature? For the studios? For yourself to direct? Maybe a low budget script for someone else to direct. Will it be shot on film or digital video? Are you looking for an idea for a short film? Perhaps you have a particular genre in mind.

Parameters are excellent tools for creativity. The irony is restriction spawns wonderfully imaginative ideas. If you can write about anything or anybody, with absolutely no conditions, it becomes harder to settle and find that jewel of an idea. So determine your conditions, every one, and embrace them, because there you will find the frame of your idea. In other words, knowing your movie has to be shot on digital video in four weeks with two Asian women in their thirties at an antiques store will narrow your thinking and concentrate your imaginative power.

Is it necessary to have parameters before we come up with an idea? Of course not. You can always find a very special idea and that idea will determine it’s own boundaries. But if you have needs for your screenplay, determine those needs, and it will help.

So after you have determined the conditions for your screenplay, or if you have not, now you can come up with your idea. What’s a good place to start? The newspaper. Read a thick newspaper. Read through all sections. Read the obituaries. This is our world. Artists look at the world and become moved to express themselves. I read the newspaper anyway, but many times I find something, even one line, which is highly inspiring. By looking through the newspaper with fresh eyes, we become open again to what affects us. I also find the newspaper will confirm instincts I might already have about an idea.

And make sure you read the section you normally never read at breakfast. Trust me.

Okay, you’re reading the newspaper, and you might find something interesting. Documentaries can also be great reservoirs for inspiration. Awesome documentaries abound these days and they often contain imagery, facts, and revelations that may provoke an idea out of left field. Now don’t run out and rent 20 docs and lean into your DVD waiting for the logline to come out of the screen and hit you over the head. Just watch what is interesting and forget about what you need.

Walk where you would normally drive. Take the train to work if you don’t. Get on a public bus, or go rent a car and drive. Spend the day at the airport. Take a different way to work each day for a week. Make a list of ten stores you would never for the life of you visit for any reason at all, go to all ten and browse for 20 minutes each. These disruptions in your environment will open your eyes. You’ll be able to take in more of your world, and it will effect you and make you think.

We’ve run out of ideas because we are bored by what we see. You’re shut down. You don’t need to get on a plane or visit a foreign country to clear your head and help you focus. Your distant planet is down the street, walking distance.

Another inspiring action is to take the day and go to a series of garage sales. The homes, the neighborhoods, the people and the stuff they’re trying to sell you will definitely make you think. There are a million stories in what people pick up and keep as belongings in their lives. Try an estate sale. I have left estate sales feeling as if I knew the personal habits and longings of the recently deceased, simply by the possessions they kept until their death. It’s not difficult to find these sales, they happen every weekend and right close by.

Take up a new sport. Enroll in a language class. Sign up for a course at the Red Cross. I picked up a basketball one day and start playing after many years and I felt like I had a new movie in my head every time I stepped on the court. Getting an education in something new gets us humble and that humility keeps us open to new information and this makes us creative. If we feel like a master, we’ve run out of ideas. As students, we accept there’s more out there, and that attitude will spawn discovery and fresh perspective.

Finally, when I don’t know what I should write about, I ask myself what’s troubling me. If you take a second to pause and get quiet with your heart, you will find you desperately what to say something very important. Let that something speak.

One more thing. Please don’t write about you know, like they always say. Let somebody else do that, and you, you write what you want.

Copyright © 2006 BlueCat Screenplay Competition

Sunday, March 09, 2008  

Screenplay Quickie - 10,000 BC (2008)

This is a movie I have been eager to see. I am a big historical fiction buff. Just the thought of giant wooly mammoths coming to life on the big screen gets me going.

By no means is it a cinematic masterpiece, but you should have that mindset already when you sit your tush down in a seat. My expectations sought a visual experience. I got what I paid for. 10,000 BC is a theater must. How often do you get to see and hear a raging herd of mammoths?

Now for the quickie:

The script itself is very weak. The acts are clearly definable. The characters seem undeveloped and narrow. The dialogue… well… it’s hard to really critique the dialogue seeing that there were a lot of ancient tongues used that were subtitled. Was the English language we use today really around in 10, 000 BC? Hmmm… The pace of the script was choppy. I could go on forever like this. If I had a copy of the script to read I'm sure my opinions would be different. However, with all these flaws in the script I was still entertained. Remember, going into this I wanted visual entertainment not intellectual stimulation.

Maybe it’s a guy thing, I’m not sure. I loved this movie. So did my wife, but she left the theater looking for more. I left the theater grunting and roaring like a wooly mammoth in appreciation.

2 Stars for the script from A Screenwriter’s View
4 Stars for the visuals from A Screenwriter’s View

Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 1 hr 49 mins
Theatrical Release: 2008
Genre: Action/Adventure
Starring: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Omar Sharif, Tim Barlow
Director: Roland Emmerich
Screenwriter: Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser
Producer: Michael Wimer, Roland Emmerich, Mark Gordon


Friday, March 07, 2008  

Movie Review - No Country for Old Men

Genre: Drama
Run Time: 121 minutes
Rated: MA 15+
Country: United States
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Actors: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kelly Macdonald.

Read the screenplay:No Country for Old Men by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy) - undated, unspecified (probably shooting) draft script in pdf format (hosted by Miramax Films)

Miramax Films presents a film written and directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen. It is a critically acclaimed 2007 film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy. The film features Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem.

If you like the kind of film that surprises you and takes away your breath at the same time,this is it. It tells the story of a drug deal gone very wrong and the ensuing cat-and-mouse drama as three men crisscross each others paths in the desert landscape of 1980 West Texas. Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon some dead bodies, a stash of heroin and more than $2 million in cash near the Rio Grande.

The local sheriff, Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), tells of the changing times as the region becomes increasingly violent. The key character of Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) and his weapon of choice — cattle gun — are introduced as he escapes police custody and steals a car by using the cattle gun to kill the car's driver. But at the same time a hunter hunting pronghorn come across a collection of corpses and one Mexican near death which was the result of a drug deal gone bad. The hunter Llewwlyn Moss [Josh Brolin] also finds two million dollars in a suitcase and decides that he will keep the money and leave the Mexican to die, but has a change of heart and returns with some water for the man.

But this good deed sets off a cat and mouse game in which the hunter and the hunted switch roles as a gang of Mexicans,Chigurh,Moss and Bell chase each other and the two million dollars across the Texas and Mexican landscape. But unbeknown to Moss, Chigurh who was hired to retrieve the money has a transponder hidden in it. And Chigurh, who is a professional hit man, will kill anyone who gets in his way.

In the meantime Moss, not knowing anything about the transponder, sends his wife Carla Jean [Kelly MacDonald] out of town and jumps from motel to motel trying to elude not only Chigurh but also the Mexicans. While all of this is happening, Bell main concern is to try and protect Moss after he finds him. Chigurh is closing in on Moss because of the tracking device.

Chigurh ends up killing some of the Mexicans and a rival hit-man named Carson Wells who is played by Woody Harrelson. Moss arranges a meeting with Carla Jean in El Pasco to give her the money and tries to get her out of danger. All of the action now takes place at the motel when all of the main characters converge there, but not at the same time. Moss is killed by the Mexicans in a bloody shootout. Sheriff Bell shows up and enters a room to discover that the vent covers have been removed and knows that the money had been removed and then leaves, not knowing that Chigurh is hiding in that same motel.

Bell finally gets the opportunity to visit his uncle Ellis [Barry Corbin] and informs him that he is going to retire because he is getting leery of the changing times, but Ellis accuses him of just being vain. Some time later Chiguth confronts the widowed Carla Jean and offers her the same "coin flip"opportunity that he had offered the gas station owner, Carla Jean refuses and in the next scene it shows Chigurh examining the soles of his boots, as if to indicate that he had committed another murder. He ends up in a car accident but he manages to elude the police and escapes again.

At the very end of this story Bell is reflecting on the many choices he had in his life. He tells his wife[Tess Harper] about the two dreams that he has had while heis experiencing an uneasy retirement at home.

Highly praised by critics, the film received several Golden Globe Award nominations. Roger Ebert called it "as good a film as the Coen brothers... have ever made and gave it a four star review and it appeared on many of critics top 10 list of 2007.It took Best Picture at 2008 Critics’ Choice Awards.

About The Author

Andrew Conway is an avid author,writer and a classic movie buff. If you love watching movies or just listening to great music, then visit:

Wednesday, March 05, 2008  

Building Your Screenwriting Career - The Missing Pieces

Once upon a time, there was a young man who very much wanted to be in show business, or more specifically, making movies. He attended one of the best film schools in the world, while there discovered the joys of writing and producing and everyone around him had high expectations about his career. Yet for more years than he cares to admit, that career was stalled.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that young man was me. And this article is for everyone who, like me, has visions of having their name up on the big screen as a writer. It’s all about the importance of getting a balance of what I call “macro training.”

Over the years, I’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars in classes, seminars, books and retreats all intended to teach me to be a better writer. Don’t get me wrong. Many of these classes were well worth the money when it came to teaching me about the CRAFT of screenwriting. I absolutely learned a lot. But talent and craft by themselves are not enough to make you a regularly working professional screenwriter.

I learned through painful experience that if you want to succeed as a professional artist in show business, whether it’s as a writer, actor, director or any other craft that’s employed by the networks and studios, you have to treat your career as a small business with yourself as the CEO. As countless people have said to me over the years, it’s called Show “Business” for a reason.

Eureka! This was the missing piece. When it finally registered with me the importance of treating my artistic endeavors like an entrepreneurial small business, I began to see things in an entirely different light. I call myself a writer and producer – and those are accurate titles – but the business I’m in is really manufacturing, sales and distribution. Huh?

Think about it. As a professional writer, you’re manufacturing a product – the things you write. In order to get paid for that product, you also have to have a sales, marketing and distribution mechanism in place so that the scripts you write can generate money for you.

Of course you have to have the talent and skills to consistently deliver quality scripts and do so on time. But talent and skill alone don’t hack it. If you want to be a successful, consistently and steadily working writer, you have to understand that you’re in the business of creating and selling products. Your products are your scripts.

Like any manufacturer, in addition to dedicating part of your business to developing and creating products, you also need to address the sales, marketing and distribution of those products (scripts) along with the business affairs aspect (contracts, accounting, etc.) of working with your customers (studios, production companies and/or networks). You don’t have to do it all by yourself, but you do need to make sure these aspects of your business as a professional writer are handled. Just by making that shift in the way you see yourself and your career, you’ll immediately transform from would-be writer to an entrepreneurial professional well on the road to success.

About The Author

Gordon Meyer created, produced and hosted the long-running series, “Hollywood’s Master Storytellers” which enabled audiences the opportunity to see and hear some of the most successful and celebrated filmmakers in the world talk about the movies they’re best known for, including Academy Award® winners Oliver Stone, James Cameron and Paul Haggis. His book “The Screenwriter’s Manifesto” explores the concept of the writer as an entrepreneur in detail and can be downloaded for free at

Sunday, March 02, 2008  

General Motors Drives Your Stories

Filmaka is here to turn your passions into professions, and so we are excited to present the latest professional opportunity for our members. We are proud to announce our latest competition, in collaboration with General Motors Corp., the world’s largest automobile manufacturer.

GM wants to support storytelling on the web, and they have come to Filmaka because of our creative and sophisticated membership. GM wants your pitches for shows that can feature some of their new vehicles. They have provided specific guidelines which we encourage you to adhere to. They do not want a commercial, or obvious pitches inserted into unrelated narratives. GM is seeking content where viewers are connecting with characters, and through them with the vehicles they drive. Find moments that feel like they could only be served by the cars and trucks you choose. Find the emotions that will make viewers remember your film whenever they see these vehicles. Think the Pontiac Firebird “Screaming Chicken” in Smokey & The Bandit. Think the Chevy Malibu in Repo Man. Think the original Knight Rider Trans-Am. Think the Camaro as Bumblebee in last summer’s blockbuster Transformers.

They are extensions of the characters, or characters themselves. They are integral to the stories, not tacked-on advertising. This is an opportunity to create real, ongoing programming with compelling characters and stories. Make use of the technological possibilities of the web and find ways to engage viewers with the show and with the vehicles. Do you have other promotional ideas that go hand-in-hand with your narrative? Go for it!

Filmaka will select up to 7 finalists to receive $5000 each. From these finalists GM can choose pilots to put into production and provide the appropriate vehicles for the shoot. Submit a detailed written synopsis of a film 3 – 5 minutes in length, with 4-5 more episode ideas intended to total around 30 minutes of original webisodic content that can live on its own and potentially be viewed as “pilot” material, as well as your creative extension and distribution recommendations. The episodes themselves must support and integrate one of GM‘s identified brands/messages:

Chevy Malibu
Chevy Silverado
Environmental Message
New Saturn Family (specifically Astra and Vue Greenline)
Cadillac CTS and Escalade Hybrid

The rights to any submissions not selected as finalists will be retained by you, the creator. They will be kept confidential and only used internally at Filmaka as a record of your style and creativity, and to be considered for potential series development outside of the GM competition. Help define the next generation of content. Good luck, we can’t wait to see what you come up with!

A complete list of the vehicles GM wants to feature, and more info on the contest can be Found Here on our site. ( We will start accepting submissions (in pdf format) in the middle of next week. Submissions must be in by MARCH 11th.