Saturday, February 28, 2009  

Script Magazine - 1 Year Subscription - USA

Magazine Description
Script has been the leading source for information on the craft and business of writing for film and television for over 11 years. Script is now part of the Final Draft family of products and many new content features have been added. Each bi-monthly issue delivers informative articles on writing, developing and marketing screenplays and television scripts. The editorial content is for writers, by writers. Most of the articles are written by working writers and development executives. Additionally, agents, managers and entertainment attorneys contribute regularly. Script offers substance, style, inside information, news, trends and authoritative advice on how to write and sell a script in today's challenging market.

Each issue brings you the following regular features:

New Writer Profile
Script knows which writers are about to hit it big. Meet the next top scriptwriter-talk about his process, career and plans for the future.

Anatomy of a Scene
Scenes are rewritten over and over before they reach the big screen. Find out which scenes were the most difficult, and how and why the changes were made leading up to the final scene that was shot.

New Media
Scriptwriters, both aspiring and established, sometimes need to make some money in between spec sales. There are many ways to write for a living while writing specs. Each issue of Script profiles a different kind of new media for which scriptwriters can provide content.

From Script to Screen
This long-running favorite of Script readers chronicles the progress of a current film from its inception to the big screen, and gives the writer a forum to talk about the changes that happened along the way.

Why I Write
Script gets up-close and personal with the working scriptwriter. Why I Write is a frank conversation with a successful, working writer who speaks about his day, his writing style and quirks, and his individual path to

Writers on Writing
Script's Writers on Writing series sets our editorial far above the rest. Working writers with films currently in the theaters write articles about their scriptwriting process. Past contributors have included Bill Condon, Roger Avary, Brian Helgeland, John August, Jeff Nathanson, Bobby
Moresco, David Goyer, Simon Kinburg, Jim Sheridan, Ed Solomon, and many

The Small Screen (TV)
Television writers are some of the best dramatic writers working today. Script takes you into the writers room of popular shows such as The Shield, Rescue Me, The Closer, My Name is Earl, Weeds, The Sopranos, and more.

Subscribe Today!


Friday, February 27, 2009  

How Do I Become a Television Writer? Part 1

You laugh at their jokes and love their characters. Jerry and Kramer. Lucy and Desi. Will and Grace. Week after week you sit and their lives become part of yours. When they laugh, you laugh. When they cry, you cry. And when they fall in love, you fall in love.

You’ve fallen under the spell of the television writer and the shows they create. Over the generations, millions of Americans have included their favorite shows as a staple part of their weekly routine. The stars that we create from the actors and actresses in these shows become part of American popular culture. But who creates these characters? Who comes up with these stories? Who are the people that think up the situations and write those crisp lines of dialogue that become etched in our collective psyche? The answer is the television writer.

Except for the few awards shows such as the Emmys or People’s Choice Awards, we never see these writers in public. Like the wizard behind the curtain in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ they go to work day after day, creating the entertainment we love. But how exactly do they do it? What exactly is the process involved and more importantly for some that crave to see their own words on screen…how does one become a TV writer?

Writing a television show is not an easy process. While there are variations from show to show, typically a group of writers has the work shared among them with greater responsibility, title and compensation the further up the chain of command on the writing staff that you go.

Writer Positions

Typically a writer is responsible for one or more episodes that he is assigned to write. A show runner, who is usually the head writer overseas this staff and splits the required episodes up among his writing staff. The show runner is responsible for a number of things. Chief among these is overseeing the show’s story ‘arc’ or how the various shows will come together to move the show in a direction during the season. The Show runner is also responsible for the overall quality of the writing in the individual episodes in a show and is often either the creator of the show or someone that has mastered the ‘voices’ of the characters and the show’s concept and able to guide the other writers to a finished product that is worthy of the show to the public.

As a staff writer, you are given a salary to write ‘on staff’ and are usually responsible for specific episodes that you are writing and in charge of. As part of the staff however, you are also expected to read the other writer’s material and brainstorm for ways to make them better, to improve dialogue and to contribute to the overall material of the show.

Often a show will bring in one or more freelance writers to work on episodes that the staff does not have time work on or on a particular idea that the Show runner likes. While not on ‘staff’, they usually do not give input to other episodes and are responsible for their particular episode only. A freelance assignment however is a precursor often to being invited to write full time on staff on a show. Many staff writers and Show runners started off their careers writing as an assignment or freelance writer.

It goes without saying that working on a top show can be a rewarding, exciting and lucrative career. But how does one learn to be a television writer? What is involved? Where can you go to learn and what tools are either necessary or useful to have?

With Degrees in Film, Real Estate Finance and Development as well as a PhD in Psychology, Robert Levin writes expert articles covering a broad range of issues. Some of his websites include:,,, and


Thursday, February 26, 2009  

Screenplay Quickie - Far From Heaven

A Connecticut housewife (Julianne Moore) finds herself dealing with her husband's (Dennis Quaid) infidelity (she finds him with another man) and the racial tension that epitomized the late 1950s at the advent of the Civil Rights movement in America. As a coping mechanism, she develops a friendship with her African-American gardener (Dennis Haysbert), who's full of sage wisdom.

Download Far From Heaven Screenplay


Wednesday, February 25, 2009  

Writing Software - Visual Thesaurus

"Inventive. Imaginative. Ingenious. Fanciful." - The New York Times

The Visual Thesaurus is an interactive dictionary and thesaurus which creates word maps that blossom with meanings and branch to related words. Its innovative display encourages exploration and learning. You'll understand language in a powerful new way.

Say you have a meaning in mind, like "happy." The VT helps you find related words, from "cheerful" to "euphoric." The best part is the Visual Thesaurus works like your brain, not a paper-bound book. You'll want to explore just to see what might happen. You'll discover -- and learn -- naturally and intuitively. You'll find the right word, write more descriptively, free associate -- and gain a more precise understanding of the English language.

  • Over 145,000 English words and 115,000 meanings
  • Right-click on any word to launch an Internet search for images or information.
  • Use the Settings Panel to control font size, filter content, display up to 17 semantic relationships and more.
  • The intuitive interface helps you find words through their semantic relationship with other words and meanings.


  • Tuesday, February 24, 2009  

    Writing Hot Scripts You Can Shoot Indie Style

    By Sid Kali

    When I first got into screenwriting I was told to read Aristotle's Poetics, Syd Field's Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting, Lew Hunter's Screenwriting 434, and host of other books by brilliant people that I devoured religiously. I was a regular at screenwriting workshops, took classes, and felt very much the screenwriter despite not having wrote any part of a script. It's like a fighter that always trains, but never gets in the ring to go to war. In theory I knew what to do. In practice I was unproven. It's like you really never know if you can take a punch until you've been clipped on the chin.
    My mind was clogged thinking about three act structures, plot points, paradigms, story arch, and writing detailed biographies for characters. Writing a script was much more involved than just sitting at your computer typing fade in, then fade out. But I was fired up to a write a script that was high concept, smart, and followed all the advice I had taken in.

    I scanned the trades trying to predict the next big trend in Hollywood, I read newspapers looking for great story ideas, and watched movies in the hopes of coming up with the next "insert popular movie" meets "insert popular movie" or something like "it's just like Titanic, but it happens in space aboard a shuttle". Then it happened, I found my story idea. There was an article years back in Variety or The Hollywood Reporter that buddy movies were hot. The formula made money hand over fist. Look at Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in the Rush Hour franchise. There it was, I would write a high concept buddy flick with action, smart one liners, and punchy dialogue.

    I pored over all the notes I had ever taken on writing a script to get ready to write a buddy movie. It took me a long year to finally finish the script for my dash to buddy movie cash. Turns out I had spent way too much time going back to look at my notes on how to write a script instead of just writing one. I was holding on way too tight to the rules and not letting it flow. Then it came together two fold.

    First, I was originally inspired to write and direct by watching film noir classics like Little Caesar, Public Enemy, and Angels With Dirty Faces. Then I got hooked on up to date urban crime dramas like Menace II Society, The Departed, Hustle & Flow, King Of New York, Reservoir Dogs, City of Industry, Sexy Beast, State Property, Rosario Tijeras, Training Day, Goodfellas, and Man On Fire. And here I was forcing myself to write a buddy flick coming out of the gate . When at this point in my creative life I really wanted to write and direct hard-hitting urban crime films that featured corrupt and cynical characters in plots with strong subject matters. That's where my heart was at.

    Second, I realized I was using all the things I had learned as a crutch. Syd Field and Lew Hunter are amazing masters of screenwriting, but they're not going to write my script for me. What's hot today in Hollywood isn't hot tomorrow. You can't waste time chasing trends. When all this hit me I decided I was going to write the script that told the story I really wanted to share with audiences. It wasn't about seeking fame or fortune anymore. It was about writing because you have a story you feel you need to tell.

    The next logical step I saw was to write a script I could direct and shoot on an independent film budget. I wrote the script for Consignment which would become my directorial debut. The spirit of independent film making came together. The cool thing for me was being able to give a Latino and Black perspective of the events that were going to unfold in the film. This worked because I am Southern California based and Co-Producer/Editor Tim Beachum brought elements from the East Coast having lived in Ohio, Detroit, and finally Virginia Beach. Consignment a Sid Kali film deals with the drug trade that thrives at the street level. This fast-paced urban movie erupts into 14 on screen murders. The script was written for viewers that want realistic stories, talent, and action that expands the overall style of the urban genre.

    Consignment a Sid Kali film is being released by Maverick Entertainment Group, Inc. under their Urban Label on November 13, 2007. This hard-hitting urban drama is very different from the buddy movie that started the journey, but that earlier experience made this possible.

    Consignment has been followed up with the stylish gangster film In With Thieves a Sid Kali film. It's the intense story of a Cuban cartel that practices their own version of Santeria, an African based crime group that deals in blood diamonds, ruthless Albanian gangsters, and a tough American burglary crew that all collide violently after a 5 million dollar diamond rip-off. We've recently completed post-production for In With Thieves. The script idea was researched to make sure all the elements included were authentic and played realistic.

    Right now the focus is to continue shooting urban movies and to work with a diverse cross section of actors that are not afraid to take on roles that deal with strong subject matters. I've completed two more scripts in this genre titled Stash Spot and Meth City.

    The current writing focus could change. It all depends on which way the creative wind takes you. Look at how diverse a film maker Robert Rodriguez is. He broke out writing a script he planned to shoot himself on an independent budget. That script was El Mariachi. Now he is able to keep doing edgy films like Grindhouse and family franchise films like Spy Kids. Amazing. Do what moves you.

    Just My Two Cents For What It's Worth And It Might Not Be Worth Anything

    I'm just wanted to share some things I've experienced writing scripts geared towards being shot as independent projects. This won't help you if you want to write a script to pitch to major Hollywood Producers, Studios, or Agents. It's targeted to those who have to write a script based on the resources they have to get through an entire film shoot. This is not an easy task because most movie viewers are used to splashy Hollywood movies with great visual effects, intense car chase scenes, explosions, and wild shoot outs. Take the killer movie Heat with Al Pacino and Val Kilmer. In my opinion the bank shoot out was one of the most amazing scenes ever captured on film. There is no way many of us indie film makers could have written that scene into one of our scripts.

    Not because we couldn't have come up with the idea or wouldn't love to include an action packed scene like that in a movie, but the harsh reality is we could not afford to shut down a major street, have access to a bank, afford a ton of extras and cast running around, the expense of having squibs go off when people were shot and list too long to cover. Consignment did not have the kind of budget that would allow me to write in a scene like that.

    Michael Mann who wrote and directed Heat is a great film maker that truly maximized the resources he had at his disposal. That scene was a masterpiece. You have to do the same with your script just on a smaller level. If you don't have access to a helicopter for a daring rescue attempt why write it into your script? If you can't get a picturesque mansion as a location don't set your story in a mansion. If you want to make a biker movie and don't know any bikers you're going to run into problems.

    Common sense dictates what elements you put into your script. When you write it helps to keep in mind the resources you know you have access to.

    Disclaimer To Only Writing What You Can Shoot On An Independent Budget

    I am addicted to screenwriting. I am self-confessed junkie to the craft of storytelling. It feels pretty good to have stopped training to fight and gotten my nose bloody making two independent films. Will I ever write scripts with no budget in mind and pitch them to Hollywood players? You bet my friend. I'm writing a psychological thriller in the spirit of Fatal Attraction, but with a darker slant on infidelity that I plan on pitching solely as a literary property with zero intention of seeing it done as an indie or direct to video title.

    Thanks for taking the time to let me use this article as a forum to share with you. I hope everyone out there grinding it out to write and direct films finds success on some level. At the very least the satisfaction that you know you're in the mix giving it your all. Good luck and fight the good fight


    Monday, February 23, 2009  

    Online Screenwriting Courses and More

    Have you ever thought of taking some writing classes online? I was at the Writers Store the other day and came across some good stuff.

    Reader Beware: The classes are kind of expensive.

    Here's the quick list of online classes offered.

    Screenwriting Courses:

    Screenwriting I - The Basics

    Television Writing I -The Basics

    Creating A Production Company: Online Course

    Now for the "More" Courses:

    Children's Book Writing I - The Basics

    Feature Writing I - The Basics

    Fiction I - The Basics

    Finding and Developing New Ideas

    Humor Writing I - The Basics

    Maneuvering Film Festivals: Online Course

    Memoir Writing I -The Basics

    Mystery Writing I - The Basics

    Nonfiction Writing I - The Basics

    Playwriting I - The Basics

    Poetry Writing I - The Basics

    Romance Writing I - The Basics

    Science Fiction Writing I - The Basics

    Travel Writing I - The Basics

    Writers Boot Camp Online

    If you are looking for even more courses visit:


    Sunday, February 22, 2009  

    Screenplay Quickie - It's a Wonderful Life

    It's a wonderful film. Frank Capra's inverted take on A Christmas Carol stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a good man who's spent a lifetime giving up on his dreams in order to keep life in his small town humming. When a guardian angel named Clarence finds a despondent George poised to jump off a bridge, he shows George what life would've been like had he never been born.

    Download the It's a Wonderful Life Screenplay


    Saturday, February 21, 2009  

    Script Writing Format and its Elements

    A screenplay or script is a blueprint for creating a motion image. It can be modified from a previous work. For example—from a short story, play, novel or it could be from an original work in and of itself.

    Most screenplays are anticipated to be written in 12 point Courier or Courier New typeface, devoid of bolding or italicizing. This section depicts the elements used to develop a screenplay.

    Title page—

    Since a title page is the first indication to a producer that you are either professional or an amateur, so make sure that your screenplay is quite gripping type.

    Title should be highlighted, either by underline or by quotation marks.

    In the bottom of it, put contact information and any copyright information.


    Transitions are short descriptions illustrating how the film will move from one scene to the next.

    The only time to employ Transition is if it is vital to tell a story. For example—
    You can use Time Cut to specify the passage of time.

    Dissolve to indicate that time has passed.

    You can make use of Match Cut if you want to demonstrate that there is some association between something we just view and something in the new scene.

    Scene headings--

    Scene headings or slug lines mark out the commencement of a new scene in a screenplay.

    If the scene is exterior, it begins with "EXT" and if the scene takes place indoor, than "INT."

    When pursuing this descriptor, the name of the location of the scene should be materialized in caps.

    This is than followed by a space, a hyphen, another space, and then the time of day.

    Scene headings should have a margin of 1.5 inches from the left, 1 inch from the right.

    Page breaks--

    When a paragraph of action or dialogue is split up across the pages, the break is supposed to come among the sentences and not previous to the second line of the paragraph.


    It represents what can be observed on the screen and is always in a present tense


    In screenwriting, whenever a character verbalizes, it is dialogue, even if it is a monologue.


    Parenthetical is used as an ongoing notation. If the same character keeps on speaking, this notation can be used.

    It should be short, eloquent, to the point, and used only when it is extremely required.



    Friday, February 20, 2009  

    Screenplay Quickie - Eyes Wide Shut

    Director Stanley Kubrick's last silver-screen odyssey dishes up a chillingly distant examination of carnal desire and obsession. A rhubarb about fidelity with his wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman), sends Dr. Bill Hartford (Tom Cruise) reeling into the Manhattan night. He soon finds himself in a surreal succession of sexually charged encounters, capped off by a clandestine visit to an upper-crust orgy where what he witnesses could get him snuffed.

    Download Eyes Wide Shut Screenplay.


    Thursday, February 19, 2009  

    Writing A Comedy Screenplay

    Isn’t it funny how the court jester has become the superhero of the entertainment world. Yes, the comedian, the funny man, has surpassed the movie star or rock musician in the popularity league. Think of the likes of John Cleese, Steve Martin or Woody Allen and you are seeing writer/actors that people aspire to be. A far cry from the local fool or village idiot.
    So what drives people to comedy? Many comedians have told of how, as youngsters, they used comedy to defuse potentially violent encounters. But surely not all comedy geniuses sprang from the ranks of the bullied. To my mind the comedy impulse operates on a much simpler basis, the need to be liked. We court popularity by giving people the safe, non-addictive, drug of laughter.

    But that’s not what this article is about, it’s about writing comedy screenplays, which is a much harder proposition than writing gags. You’ll note that the three stalwarts named above gained their greatest honours with movies. They may have started out as gag writers, but ultimately the glittering prizes only come via the silver screen. Having said that I would encourage any novice screenwriter contemplating a screenplay to master the short form first.

    The relationship between a gag or joke and a full length screenplay is a strange one. I personally like the Monty Python methodology of stringing sketches along a comedic plotline, but a character telling a joke does not make your movie a comedy. The comedy must from the start be in your basic plot. Around your daft situation your characters can become involved in humorous situations and say funny things, as long as they are moving the plot forward. A useful rule of thumb which I learned when writing sit-coms was that there were only three reasons for a line of dialogue to be in a comedy script. One, to move the plot forward; two, the set up line for a joke; and three, the punchline to a joke. Everything else is waffle and should be stripped out.

    It is possible to take a favourite joke and mould it into your character’s plotline, but you must ensure that the joints don’t show. Does the situation fit in with the rest of the narrative? Would your character utter that punchline? Comedy is not a one-size fits all scenario.

    Take for instance this joke – A guy gets on a plane and finds himself sitting next to a beautiful woman. He strikes up a conversation and the woman tells him that she is a sex researcher. He is fascinated and asks her what she is researching. “I’m looking into sexual myths,” she says, “For instance it’s believed that black men have the largest appendages of any race, whereas it’s the native Americans who can claim that honour.” “Really,” he says. “Yes, and Italian men have a reputation as the world’s greatest lovers, whereas it is actually Jewish men who are the most amorous. My name’s Julie Crawford by the way, and you are …” He takes her proferred hand and replies without a blink, “Tonto Cohen.”

    Sorry if you’ve heard that one before, but the point I’m trying to make is that John Cleese couldn’t use that line because it doesn’t fit his screen persona, but it seems almost specifically written for Woody Allen’s sexual neurotic. In previous articles I’ve told how I write comedy sketches. Take a ridiculous situation and keep writing till you hit a punchline. Then go back and prune out the extraneous material. This method wouldn’t work for an entire screenplay but would work if you regard the entirety of a 90 minute movie as consisting of 30 scenes or sketches. Your problem would be in keeping your sketches within the limits of your plot. And remember, not only must your screenplay have a beginning, a middle and an end, but each sketch must have the same.

    For me there’s a greater satisfaction in writing comedy material than any other and I’ve tried most. Try it yourself, but remember that the competition is brutal.

    Run titles.

    For more help on writing go to Resources & Training For Writers


    Wednesday, February 18, 2009  

    Script Supplies - Classic Linen Script Covers

    Classic Linen Script Covers

    These are not just your ordinary covers! Crafted of heavy-weight stock containing 25%linen, these brand-new Classic Script Covers give off a ‘feeling’ that your script is special before your reader ever turns the first page. Richer colors - now even in stylish black - will set your entry apart from others.


    Tuesday, February 17, 2009  

    Screenplay Quickie - The Royal Tenenbaums

    Wes Anderson's New York fairy tale about a dysfunctional family features martini-dry comedy and a superb ensemble cast. The early promise of Tenenbaum child prodigies Chas (Ben Stiller), Margo (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Richie (Luke Wilson) was short-circuited by the flaws of patriarch Royal (Gene Hackman). Despite Etheline's (Anjelica Huston) maternal influence, the Tenenbaums -- now grown -- display mere vestiges of their former potential.

    Download The Royal Tenenbaums Screenplay


    Monday, February 16, 2009  

    How do you achieve Success as a screenwriter based at home?

    Screen writing is a very completive branch of writing and it can easily be done at the comfort of your home. To distinguish yourself as a prize- winning screenwriter, you will need to master great organizational skills, be uniquely creative and learn the best ways to present your final product to the buying studios. There are many techniques for screen writing. These are;

    Organization Any one person who masters organization in their writing tasks is on their way to becoming the master screenwriter. In fact, they are on their way to producing an award winning stellar screenplay. Organization is the key technique in screen writing. Before you start on your screen play, you should ask yourself the following questions; a) Does my script have a clear start, middle and the end? b) Does the story make any sense

    The above questions may seem to be basic, yet many a screenwriters grapple with organizational problems that they don’t seem to know how to resolve. There are four organizational methods which any screenwriter can apply so as to succeed. These are, outlines, treatments, index cards and scene lists. All these tools are highly effective and all a screenwriter need, is to be discreet in deciding which organizational method best suits their situations.

    Making your play captivating and interesting. Any type of Writing is a process. All the most successful screenwriters take creative risks. Otherwise, without an interesting story even the most organized screenplay play will not get a market. A professional screenwriter should never copy another writer’s style, rather they should exercise their own imagination and experiment with various ways of telling and making the story.

    When submitting your finished script, do it like a professional.

    Once you are through with writing your interesting and well-organized screenplay, you will need to submit your script neatly and according to the receiving studio standards.

    Below are the general guidelines to follow: ? A feature length screenplay should be longer than 95 pages and short than 125 pages when you submit it to the studio for consideration. ? Do not include character biography or synopsis with your script. This gives the studio editors with excuses not to review the whole screenplay. ? Scene numbers should never appear on the script until it is sold. Studio readers or editors view the numbers as distraction and use it to demote your script as amateurish. ? Studio readers prefer to receive scripts bound with circular metal brads. Use of folders and binders take up a lot of office space thus your script may end up being discarded by interns unintentionally during the normal cleans ups. ? Finally, the use any of the many available screenwriting programs in formatting your script will greatly aid in making your screenplay to given a consideration. These programs are such as Movie Magic Screenwriter, script wizard and others.

    Think success and be a success It is always good, to take calculated risks with the plot and character development. Also ensure you follow the set studio standards for script submission. Strong writing skills development takes time to show themselves. A screen writer should have the willingness to learn new things all the times and should have perseverance capabilities. Writers who are always experimenting with new ideas and who constantly improve their writing skills always succeed.

    By Freddy Ngiam, Founder & CEO of


    Sunday, February 15, 2009  

    Script Savvy's Monthly Screenplay Contest


    $500 CASH

    A FREE 6 Month Membership and Project Archival at

    A FREE listing on and the following additional Inktip prizes:
  • An email sent to Inktip's list of industry professionals about your screenplay.

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  • Please visit for complete details.


    Saturday, February 14, 2009  

    Script Supplies - Acco Brass Fasteners #5 - 1 1/4"

    Your script is finished. Now what? It's time to make your script look professional.

    The following products are industry standard and a must if you want to make a good first impression with a prospective agent.

    Acco Brass Fasteners #5 - 1 1/4"

    1 1/4" for the screenwriter

    These are THE brads used by Hollywood studios, scriptwriters, and production companies, the legendary ACCO #5 Fastener. Using these brads tells the gatekeepers that you know the turf. Just right for scripts from 70 to 120 pages these brads are 1 1/4 inch long, solid brass, with wide head to ensure your script will withstand numerous readings. Be sure to pick up matching brass washers for added durability.


    Friday, February 13, 2009  

    Script Tips - Defining Premise

    The premise of a film or screenplay is the fundamental concept that drives the plot. Most premises can be expressed very simply, and many films can be identified simply from a short sentence describing the premise. For example A lonely boy is befriended by an alien; A small town is terrorized by a shark; A small boy sees dead people.

    The uniqueness or compelling nature of a film story's premise is often a key element in selling it, especially during the initial pitch. However, coming up with a compelling and original premise is very difficult after over 100 years of film making. Often, premises are either derivative (Die Hard in space) or contrived (two black guys must dress up as white girls -- White Chicks). Naturally, the quality of the premise isn't necessarily a good predictor for the quality of the screenplay or film.

    A story which has an easily understood, compelling premise is said to be high-concept, whereas one whose premise is not easy to describe, or relatively small-scale or mundane, is said to be low-concept. A low-concept story is highly execution-dependent because the commercial viability of the project will depend largely on the quality of the creative endeavors of those involved, whereas a high-concept story may pull in audiences purely based on a simple premise. High-concept movies aren't necessarily expensive or effects driven, however. One of the most successful low-budget independent British films of recent years, The Full Monty (1997), had a very simple premise a group of male steel workers decide to become strippers.


    Thursday, February 12, 2009  

    2009 Oscars - Best Film Screenplay Downloads

    The Oscars are here once more. If you would like to read the scripts from the movies that have been nominated for best film, follow the links below. The only script that is not available is Slumdog Millionaire. Oddly enough, this is the movie that should win the Oscar. The only nominated movie I have not seen is Milk. Hopefully I will get a chance to see it before the awards show.


    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - October 30, 2007 revised draft script by Eric Roth (based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald)


    Learn More about: FROST/NIXON

    Frost/Nixon - August 27, 2007 revised yellow draft script by Peter Morgan

    Download The FROST/NIXON Script

    Learn More about: MILK

    Milk - undated, unspecified draft script by Dustin Lance Black

    Download The MILK Script

    Learn More about: THE READER

    The Reader - undated, unspecified draft script by David Hare (based on the novel by Bernhard Schlink)

    Download THE READER Script

    Learn More about: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

    Script not available.

    Labels: ,

    Screenplay Contest Advice

    There are many screenplay contests available to the aspiring screenwriter. These contests can be a good avenue to getting one’s work noticed and/or make a sale. So, it’s important to make certain that you have written your screenplay to the best of your ability and according to industry standards.

    The most important thing to do for any aspiring screenwriter is to first learn the basic techniques of screenwriting before sitting down to write one. I come across many hopeful writers who think that all it takes to write a script is a good story idea and a lot of explosive special effects. While a good story is important, with or without the special effects, writing that story using proper industry standards is equally important. (Please visit -- Tips for Screenwriters link for further information.)

    There are specific techniques to the craft of screenwriting involving everything from act structure to proper screenplay format, which must be followed. It's difficult to write engaging characters, focused plots and entertaining screenplays without having a solid framework in which to bring it all to life.

    Before any money is spent submitting your work to a screenwriting contest, it would behoove the writer to first educate himself in the "tools of the trade". There are many, many screenwriting books available as well as workshops and seminars, both online and in live classroom situations. My advice is to take advantage of them. Then, armed with the basics, write, write and then write some more.

    Then before submitting your work to any screenplay competition have it copyrighted and WGA registered. (United States Copyright office: Writers Guild of America:

    Advice and Suggestions

    I am a judge for many contests and as such, have read thousands of TV scripts and screenplays. I can assure you that the winners are chosen because their screenplays or TV scripts contain great stories and are written to industry standards. Therefore, putting your best foot forward is a must. Below are some pointers to keep in mind before you submit your screenplay.

    1. If your purpose is to “break into the business”, make certain that the script contest you enter offers meetings with agents and/or producers as part of the prize for winning and not just cash prizes. Of course, if it is just the extra cash you’re after, then go for it!

    2. Make certain, before you write that entry fee check and send in your material, that the screenplay contest or TV script competition is a reputable one and indeed has, in the past, delivered to its winners what it promised in its promotion.

    3. Presentation of your screenplay does count so make certain your screenplay follows the accepted industry standards. This not only includes using the proper screenplay format but also such things as a typo-free screenplay and the correct binding.

    4. Keep in mind that the industry professionals who sponsor some of these film and TV competitions do so in order to find good producible material, hopefully for lower rather than higher budgets. Therefore, entering a screenplay in a genre with a story that screams “high budget” lessens the writer’s chances of winning. This means that

    (1) Sci-fi special effects stories taking place on purple planets populated with giant, paisley-skinned, seven-armed, Plasmanian Wooglegorps who magically float through the air using anti-gravity belts or (2) a 1920’s Period Piece necessitating Model-T’s, Zoot suits and flappers or (3) an action/adventure story that has the bad guys blown to smithereens, along with their Lear jet, over the ocean, followed by a high-tech nuclear submarine underwater search and rescue mission while the oil slicked water burns out of control, are not the best way to go.

    5. Make certain that your story is told visually. Film is a visual medium.

    6. Make sure you don’t have “on the nose” dialogue or too much dialogue and that all the dialogue sounds natural.

    7. Check to make sure that your characters are interesting, engaging and have good character arcs. Nothing worse than having an unlikable hero, a wishy-washy bad guy, or a protagonist who starts out angry at the world and by the end of the story is still angry at the world having learned and changed nothing in his nature.


    Once you've gone through your screenplay and are satisfied with it, have it read by someone else. After all, your story is intended for a movie-going audience so honest opinions from friends and family members will give you a feel for that audience reaction.

    Then do yourself a favor and have your screenplay read by an industry professional that has experience and good credentials in the area of script analysis. A writer can become too close to his work and not be able to “see the forest for the trees”. It is to your advantage to have any possible format, story, character, dialogue and structure flaws found and corrected before it is submitted to a movie or TV script contest.

    While there is never any guarantee your screenplay or TV script will be a winner, writing one to the best of your ability and which meets industry standards is a must, as the competition is fierce.

    I wish you great success in your present and future story-telling adventures.

    Lynne Pembroke is a writer, poet and screenwriter. Specializing in screenwriting, script writing help and screenplay analysis of movies/tv scripts. Services provided, include: story analysis, ghostwriting, rewriting and adaptation of novel to screenplay. Visit her website at

    Wednesday, February 11, 2009  

    The 2009 The Movie Deal! Screenplay Contest


    - Flight and Hotel accommodations to the set of YOUR MOVIE PRODUCTION!

    Movie Magic Screenplay Studio! ($699)
    A Complementary Pass to an industry pitchfest ($275)
    A Computer Discount Warehouse Giftcard ($100)
    A Complimentary Package (up to $150)
    The TMD! TOP 100 writers each season will also have a chance at landing production deals! We're working with other production companies looking for their next project.

    Earlybird Entry:

    Thursday, February 05, 2009  

    Enter the Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship

    The Write Stuff: The search to discover and develop new and creative writing talent

    Nickelodeon is offering writing fellowships in live action and animated television to writers with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Participants will have hands-on interaction with executives writing spec scripts and pitching story ideas.

    The program, developed to broaden Nickelodeons outreach efforts, provides a salaried position for up to one year.

    To enter please visit:

    What is NWF?

    Developed to broaden Nickelodeon's outreach efforts, the Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship is designed to attract, develop and staff writers with diverse backgrounds and experiences on Nickelodeon Network productions.

    Operating in a three-phased structure, the Fellowship provides a salaried position for up to one year and offers hands-on experience writing spec scripts and pitching story ideas in both live action and animation television.

    This three-phased structure allows fellows an opportunity to nurture relationships with creators, network executives, line producers, head writers, show runners and story editors.

    As part of their script writing, each fellow will be assigned to an Executive in Charge of Production and have an opportunity to write a spec script for an on-air Nickelodeon show.

    In addition, all fellows are integrated into the activities of both the development and production departments. This allows the fellows an opportunity to attend storyboard pitches, notes meetings, records, table reads, show pitches and show tapings, all while being exposed to top creators and key production crews.

    To enter please visit:

    Wednesday, February 04, 2009  

    Scriptapalooza 2009

    Regular Deadline March 5, 2009

    Why should you submit your script to Scriptapalooza? — Grand Prize: $10,000; 2 writers got their scripts made into movies by LifeTime Network in 2007; All the reading is done by 90 production companies; Entertainment Weekly Magazine calls us 'One of the Best'; they promote the winners, runners-up, finalists and semifinalists for a full year; they are considered one of the best screenplay competitions by agents, managers and producers; Supported by the Writers Guild of America west Registry; Supported by the Writers Guild of Canada.

    Visit or call 323-654-5809 or email us at

    Tuesday, February 03, 2009  

    How To Break In and Succeed as a Screenwriter

    Screenwriting is a competitive trade. To distinguish yourself as a prize-winning writer you need to master organizational skills, take creative risks, and learn how best to present your final product. For the aspiring screenwriter, Tom Lazarus' book, "Secrets of Film Writing" is one of the best. An exceptional screenwriter with five produced screenplays, Lazarus developed this book for beginning writers enrolled in his classes at UCLA.

    This article examines a few of the many techniques outlined in "Secrets of Film Writing" and provides examples of screenwriters who succeeded with Tom Lazarus' guidelines.

    Master organization and you're closer to producing a stellar screenplay, not a mediocre one. Ask yourself these questions:

    1. Does the screenplay have a clear beginning, middle and end?

    2. Does the story drift aimlessly or does it make its point successfully?

    These may seem like basic questions, yet many screenwriters grapple with organizational problems.

    Lazarus addresses this issue in his book; he recommends writers use one of four organizational methods to ensure their screenplays flow smoothly: outlines, treatments, index cards, and scene lists. All four of these tools are equally effective. Writers need to be discreet to decide which organizational crutch best suits their needs.

    In writing the screenplay for the Hollywood feature film "Stigmata," Lazarus chose to use a scene list for organizational support since he already had specific ideas about the chronology and action details of his story. To writers who have difficult organizing and prefer a different method, Lazarus says, "Go for it, because no one is going to see it. It's a process. There is no wrong way."

    Writing is a process. Great screenwriters take creative risks. Without an interesting story, even the most organized screenplay will be unmarketable. The goal should never be to copy another writer's style; instead exercise your own imagination and experiment with different ways to spark your story.

    When Warner Brothers hired Tim McCanlies to adapt Ted Hughes' famous English novel "The Iron Man" for the screen, he struggled with whether he should remain true to Hughes' vision or develop a new story based loosely on the original book's events. McCanlies chose to do something risky and wildly creative; he Americanized "The Iron Man" by setting the story in the 1950s during the Cold War terror and renamed it "The Iron Giant." His calculated risk proved worthwhile. American audiences related to the film and appreciated its examination of an unusual time in their nation's history. Also, English audiences embraced "The Iron Giant" despite its variation from the original English text and awarded it the 2000 BAFTA Award for best feature film.

    McCanlies' success lends a valuable lesson: when you risk nothing, you gain nothing. McCanlies, Lazarus, and other successful screenwriters embroil themselves in chances, write creatively, experiment with different ideas, and raise their characters' stakes.

    Once you have written an interesting, well-organized screenplay you need to submit your script neatly and according to studio standards. Lazarus warns his UCLA students about several technical errors in script presentation that annoy studio readers. Follow these guidelines:

    1.A feature length screenplay should be longer than 95 pages and shorter than 125 pages when you submit it for studio consideration.

    2. Don't include a synopsis or character biographies with your script as it gives studio readers an excuse not to review the whole screenplay.

    3. Don't put scene numbers on your script until it is sold. This is a rule of the game; readers find scene numbers distracting and use them as an excuse to dub a screenplay "amateur" and unworthy of further consideration.

    4. Studio readers prefer to receive scripts bound with circular metal brads. Using folders and binders hog office space and interns may discard scripts unintentionally during spring cleaning.

    5. Finally, use one of the many screenwriting programs to help format your script, such as Movie Magic Screenwriter, Final Draft or Script Wizard. You can find discounted deals at, and

    Make sure you proofread your script several times before submitting a script for Hollywood review. Busy studio readers will not peruse screenplays riddled with basic errors like confusing "it's" with "its" and using "are" when you mean "our." Use a program like Style Writer to remedy such embarrassing grammar mistakes. When you're ready to submit your script, grab a Hollywood Creative Directory to find markets for your script.

    Remember to take risks with plot and character development, and follow studio standards for script submissions. Studying resources like "Secrets of Film Writing" by Tom Lazarus, "How Not to Write a Screenplay" by Denny Martin Flinn, "Crafty Screenwriting" by Alex Epstein, and "Alternative Scriptwriting" by Ken Dancyger and Jeff Rush can be helpful for aspiring writers. Developing strong writing skills takes time, a willingness to learn, and perseverance. Writers who constantly improve their skills and experiment with new ideas will succeed.

    Brian Konradt is a freelance writer and founder of (, a free web site to help writers master the business and creative sides of freelance writing; he also is founder of (, a free website to help authors promote their books.

    StoryLink's Oscar Contest 2009

    Think You Know Oscar?

    Think you know who will win on the big day? Sure, you may have won your office Oscar pool in years past, but what's the fun in beating Joe from Accounting who used a dartboard to make his picks?

    It's time to for you to take your predictions to the next level! Join us for our free online Oscar Contest, where the winner receives a copy of Final Draft software and full bragging rights for beating out scores of serious film aficionados.

    Who knows? Maybe next year, your screenplay may be on the Academy Award® list.

    Good Luck!