Sunday, March 29, 2009  

Books - Writing Screenplays that Sell

A complete blueprint for writing and selling film and TV scripts that is now considered the most practical book on the subject of scriptwriting. A myth-busting book that puts purpose behind your dream of breaking into the film industry and polishing your skills to stay for the long haul. Fascinating chapters on Four Paths to a Deal, Living and Working Outside Los Angeles, and The Life of a Screenwriter.

Format: Softcover
ISBN: 62725009
Publisher: Harper Perennial


Saturday, March 28, 2009  

Screenplay Quickie - Cold Mountain

Anthony Minghella directs this tale based on the best-selling book about wounded Civil War soldier Inman (Jude Law) making the long, treacherous journey to his home in Cold Mountain, N.C. Along the way, he thinks of his love, Ada (Nicole Kidman), who has fought for sanity and her father's farm's survival while Inman has been gone, even with a brave young drifter named Ruby (Renee Zellweger, in an Oscar-winning performance) there to lend a hand.

Download the Cold Mountain Screenplay.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009  

Writers inside tips on how to write a screenplay

Almost everyone thinks they know how to write a screenplay. Weve all heard someone watching TV saying I could write better script than that!
The truth is that just about everyone does have a story worth telling. Unfortunately most do NOT know how to write a screenplay. Most professional artists are very particular about their tools. The screenplay writer is no different. The key to writing is being organized. Before even writing a single word, you must have an inner road map that your characters are going to follow.

If you are writing a novel, you CAN take the time to ramble and develop your descriptive talents. A screenwriter cannot!

Just like any muscle, the writing muscle has to be exercised on a regular basis. The simple process of sitting in front of a computer for set periods of time is critical in training the subconscious that THIS time is when you are going to call on your creativity. In order to learn how to write a screenplay you have to understand STRUCTURE. Unlike a novelist, you do not have the luxury of allowing your script to develop into 300 plus pages. It will not get read if it does not conform to an industry standard of around 110 pages.

The structure of most contemporary screenplays: 1) Establish the character and general situation, 2) force them up a tree and throw rocks at him and 3) get the hero down again.

Firstly, you get the audience to know something about the character and his situation. Secondly, a situation must be created that goes against your characters comfort zone. He must have a nemesis trying to destroy everything he stands for. This bad guy takes pleasure putting your hero up that tree and making it as uncomfortable as possible. Thirdly, our hero needs to overcome all odds and payoff' the bad guy. If it really is that simple, then why isnt everyone a screenwriter? The answer is they really do not know how to write a screenplay.

So let us say that you have a clear idea of what your three acts are going to be. Well now you begin to develop the characters. They have to play off each other and either support or destroy our main character. Any time the characters are neutral, the screenplay is dead. Just remember: conflict equals drama. No conflict, no drama.

So how do you go about becoming a screenwriter? Like the road to Carnegie Hall - you practice! Each day you become sharper in your telling of the story. Each day you improve your writing skills. Each day you look back and see how far you have come.

So how does your screenplay rise above the sea of scripts waiting to be read? Follow up! It isn't because your script isn't good that it hasn't been read and responded to. That is the very last consideration. Any producer that is worth his salt has a groaning desk of submissions. Yours is simply ONE of those. So follow up - but politely. It may well be the most important thing in your life but to any producer it simply just ANOTHER screenplay. There are a million legitimate reasons why Hollywood should not immediately fall at your feet but YOU are going to overcome this. If you do not believe this, then do not even attempt to learn how to write a screenplay! If you DO believe in yourself, then hey why shouldnt you be the one that gets lucky?!

So yes, learning how to write a screenplay isnt so difficult. The difficult part comes AFTER you have written the screenplay.

Richard Patton - author and screenwriter shows how to write a screenplay and get paid for it. Find the writers Gold in Summer Acting Camps and what the best screenplay writing software is.


Sunday, March 22, 2009  

Books - Screenplay Companion

Have a great idea but are having trouble turning it into a screenplay? The Screenplay Companion is here to save the day! Not a how-to guide, but a fill-in-the-blanks workbook that will help you organize your thoughts, break down the story and dig deeper into characters. Never lose your notes again, there’s always a place to put them. The Screenplay Companion contains sections on Time Management, Scene Analysis, Writer’s Journal, Character Analysis, Character to Character Relationship, Story Elements, Story Line, Theme, Premise, 3 Act Storyboard, Contact Management, Script Submissions Log, and Resources.

Format: Softcover
ISBN: 963917714
Publisher: Write-Side Productions


Saturday, March 21, 2009  

Screenplay Quickie - The Maltese Falcon

The big bird is the stuff dreams are made of... according to gumshoe Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart). When his partner gets snuffed, Spade starts digging around for the murderer. But when the trail leads to Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Mary Astor, a sinister troika intent on nabbing the titular solid-gold bird, Spade must make some tough decisions.

Download The Maltese Falcon Screenplay.


Thursday, March 19, 2009  

Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting

The Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting is the world’s most esteemed screenwriting competition. Each year up to five $30,000 fellowships are awarded to authors who have previously earned less than $5,000 writing for film or television.

Screenwriters who have not earned more than $5,000 writing fictional work for film or television.

Entry scripts must be the original work of one writer, or the collaborative work of two writers, and must be written originally in English. Adaptations and translated scripts are not eligible.

Entry Deadline
Entries, including script submissions, must be postmarked each year by May 1.

Entry Requirements
--original feature film screenplay approximately 90 to 120 pages in length (there is no page limit)
--an application form
--US $30 entry fee.

Up to five $30,000 fellowships are awarded each year to promising new screenwriters. From the program’s inception in 1986 through 2008, over $2.7 million have been awarded to 115 writers.


Download Application

2009 Application .PDF
2009 Application .DOC


Wednesday, March 18, 2009  

Becoming a Million Dollar Screenwriter

It’s Awards Season in Hollywood as the countdown continues to Oscar Night. I don’t know about you, but every year when I watch the Oscars, I love to imagine myself all tuxed out and mingling with Hollywood’s Elite at the Kodak Theatre. The million dollar question is, what’s the real difference between the tens of thousands of unproduced writers out there and the screenwriting members of the Academy sitting at the Kodak?

The obvious answer is, they have big agents who make sure they’re constantly working as writers. They’re the insiders. But even insiders like Paul Haggis, last year’s Oscar winner for both writing and directing CRASH started out as outsiders scrambling to break in.

It’s not about who has the most talent, though talent is important. Nor is about who has the most powerful agent, though again, having a strong agent can be a major asset. It’s about how you see and treat yourself as a professional. Let me tell you a story.

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.

© Gordon Meyer, all rights reserved

About the Author: Gordon Meyer is an optioned screenwriter and the creator, producer and host of The StoryMakers Studio, an ongoing series at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatres Complex in Hollywood which tells the story about how particular films got made through the eyes of the people who made them. Hollywood’s biggest, brightest actors, directors, writers and producers appear at the popular series – LIVE AND UNSCRIPTED.

His book “The Screenwriter’s Manifesto” explores the concept of the writer as an entrepreneur in detail and is available at


Monday, March 16, 2009  

Off Subject - New Additions to the Family

I generally try to keep my personal life off the blog… but we just got two new kittens and I wanted to share the news.

Bingo a.k.a. “Bings” is the black and white domestic medium hair. He's the big brother. 6 lbs. already at 4 and a half months.

Bonsai is the Siamese domestic medium hair mix. She's the little cutie weighing in at about 3 lbs.

We adopted them from the local humane society. They are brother and sister. We adopted both of them so they would not be seperated.

Aren’t they cute?

Books - Anatomy of a Screenplay

With clear logic and accessible language, Anatomy of a Screenplay goes beyond the rigid-rule and subjective approaches to screenwriting to show a flexible and accurate way of understanding a screenplay. Dan Decker's revolutionary theories of Character Structure, Drive Structure and Convergence are presented to the public for the first time in this book.


Sunday, March 15, 2009  

Screenplay Quickie - Adaptation

Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) is a Los Angeles screenwriter battling enormous feelings of insecurity and impotence as he struggles to adapt The Orchid Thief, a book by Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) whose main character, John Laroche (Chris Cooper), searches for love. Add to the mix Charlie's twin brother, Donald (also played by Cage), and you have a surreal, Spike Jonze-directed gem about the search for passion.

Download the Adaptation Screenplay.


Friday, March 13, 2009  

2009 Bluecat Screenplay Competition

The BlueCat Screenplay Competition is now open for submission of feature length screenplays for the 11th year!

Final Deadline: April 1 $60 entry fee

--Quarter-finalists will be announced on June 15th
--Semi-Finalists will be announced on July 15th
--Five finalists will be named on July 23rd and awarded $1,500.
--The winner will be named on August 1st and awarded $10,000.



Thursday, March 12, 2009  

You are the Box Office Smash: The Personal Screenplay

Right this very second, in the heart of every struggling, undiscovered screenwriter, in the dark, hidden corner deep within, there is a voice, a clear whisper, saying one thing:

You're never gonna figure this out.

And this is not referring to the story with its gaping hole, the finale missing a payoff, the hit and miss humor, the flat title.

I’m talking about freedom. The freedom to work as a screenwriter. Compensation for a home for family and a life. The resources to wake up and ply your craft and pay the freight, without obstacle. The chance to see your writing made into pictures, to work with the industry’s best, to fulfill this goal of professional screenwriter. Hollywood success.

Behind this voice is the idea that somehow, some way, you’ll find the hero, or the hook, logline or pitch that will punch your golden ticket. If you could only figure out what the studio wants, if you can only get a solid bead to this game, you know you can write and execute. What is the script I should write to get an agent? What is the one that will sell? It’s not that I don’t know how to write, I know how to write screenplays, I just need to know what they want, even though I think I know what they want, but I don’t think I have the idea that they want. Yeah.

I'm not gonna figure this out, whispers the voice.

Why this uneasiness? Does it originate within ourselves? I don’t think so. But where does it come from? The daily obsession with box office grosses? The news of the seven figure deals to newbies? The endless procession of boneheadedly conceived franchises-in-waiting arriving in the theatres every Friday? People winning Academy Awards for movies you would not be caught dead writing? Recognizing an idea you came up with years ago on your couch, produced with a $130 million budget drowning in CGI?

All these things are but a few of the possible reasons why this seeds unhealthy doubt and confusion in the modern screenwriter. Tracking these forces outside us and beyond our control in an effort to trudge the path to a successful screenwriting career will prove to most to be unproductive and corrosive. Basically, trying to figure out what Hollywood wants will land us in a resentment that makes “giving up” a sane response to the very challenge which used to inspire us. In short, we cannot chase a perceived trend and remember our dreams.

You cannot look at the marketplace and find your voice. You can find ideas, trends, and inspiration there, perhaps, but you can find these things driving in traffic as well. But listening to your voice is the key to creating original, compelling stories.

Your life is your own story. You have a completely unique thread of experience. By allowing yourself to express these emotional experiences, your screenplay, your story, will be different from any other and powerful, as original as your fingerprint.

Why is it powerful? When we have the courage to be specific about what we know about living, we create an authentic world an audience recognizes as the life they are living on planet Earth. This connects your audience to your story. This connection is the foundation of the phenomena o

Why does story mean so much to us? We recognize the triumphs and tragedies of our lives, with all the hilarity and tears. By seeing it, we are validated and it underscores meaning and purpose to living.

If we don’t use what we’ve collected in life in our hearts and spirits, then our story loses its authenticity and the connection the audience should make fails. They do not see themselves, and when they leave the theater, they do not call their friends. When people do not call their friends after seeing a movie, the movie bombs.

When a writer opens their person to their work, when they allow themselves to be vulnerable, to risk exposure of the secrets of their life story, they take a huge step towards creating a screenplay of substantial value, a screenplay with a greater potential of a large number of tickets sold.

This is precisely why art and commerce have remained bedfellows for thousands of years. To look at the relationship between art and commerce as adversarial or incompatible is just plain foolish. Art happens when people invest their spirits in their work without fear, and story is artful when the writing is truthful and the writer is authentic.

And what do we have to be honest about? We can only lie about what we know, and we can only tell the truth about what we know. And that is what has happened to us, our life story. This is what we share.

This is not a pitch to write “what you know.” This is not about writing stories about where you work or where you live. This is about writing about what you felt. You can imagine characters and worlds and actions and speech you’ve never personally experienced, but if you remember to infuse your choices with your emotional and spiritual struggles and victories as a human being, your screenplay will be different in the very best sense of the word.

The question you have to answer is not what does Hollywood want today. The question is how honest of a writer do you want to be. I guarantee you can write a blockbuster, you can write a box office hit. This will happen when you find an audience. And the correct path to this crowd of people is listening to yourself. If you practice, you will develop an inner ear for who you are and what you know and you will become masterful in loading your work with your fingerprints. Writing is personal work. You are the guitar. You are the box of paint. Give of that and your audience will remember why life is good and they will talk of you.

About the Author
Winner of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the Sundance Film Festival for LOVE LIZA, Gordy Hoffman wrote and directed three short films for Fox Searchlight in 2002. He made his feature directorial debut with his script, A COAT OF SNOW, which world premiered at the 2005 Locarno Intl Film Festival. A COAT OF SNOW made its North American Premiere at the Arclight in Hollywood, going on to screen at the Milan Film Festival and the historic George Eastman House. Recently, the movie won the 2006 Domani Vision Award at VisionFest, held at the Tribeca Cinemas in NY. A professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Gordy is the founder and judge of the BlueCat Screenplay Competition. In addition, Gordy acts as a script consultant for screenwriters, offering personalized feedback on their scripts through his consultation service, For more articles written by Gordy Hoffman on screenwriting, visit


Wednesday, March 11, 2009  

Producers Seeking Scripts

Producer seeks films for GAY AUDIENCE

Select Sevices Films is looking for films for a GAY AUDIENCE, that can be made for under $1 million. We are NOT looking for a gay themed script for GENERAL audiences. Think HBO type scripts including the explicit type of sex scenes you might see on HBO. WGA and Non-WGA Welcome.

We pay attention to professional, carefully proof-read queries. Thank you.

In SUBJECT line put 'ISA LOGLINE' - [Your TITLE]'

Cut and Paste QUERY LETTER or SYNOPSIS ONLY into body of email at:





We are a small media production company in Los Angeles looking for THREE completed micro-budget, feature length, high-concept scripts to produce. We are placing emphasis on ACTION, THRILLER or FAMILY. The ideal concept will have minimal locations and cast, a unique non-traditional storyline with a short but strong hook in the logline. We look forward to reading your script, this could be a chance to have your work produced.


The total production budget for each feature is 150K. Therefore we can offer only $500.00 for your completed script. The upside for you will be a completed film and the opportunity of being a produced screenwriter. Please NO Drama, Horror, Comedy or Romantic Comedies. Thank you for your submission.

We pay attention to professional, carefully proof-read queries. Thank you.


Cut and Paste QUERY LETTER or SYNOPSIS ONLY into body of email at:



Tuesday, March 10, 2009  

Screenplay Quickie - Braveheart

Combine the pathos of Mad Max with the epic battle scenes and machismo of Gladiator, and you'll get a sense of Braveheart's power. Mel Gibson directed and stars in the full-throttle telling of the story of rebel Scottish warrior William Wallace and his fierce battle to rid Scotland of a tyrannical English ruler. Mythmaking at its best, Braveheart picked up Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography and more.

Download the Braveheart Screenplay.


Monday, March 09, 2009  

12th Brooklyn Int'l Film Festival: June 5-14, 2009


Categories: Feature, Documentary, Short, Experimental, Animation

Awards: $80,000 in services, products, and cash.

Final Deadline: March 16, 2009 (posted by)

Film Festival Dates: June 5-14, 2009



Sunday, March 08, 2009  

Books - Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting Revised Edition

A real gem on the craft of screenwriting, this fourth edition of Syd Field's preeminent book on screenwriting provides easily understood guidelines for writing a screenplay, from concept to finished product. Field makes the art of film writing accessible to novices and helps practiced writers improve their scripts, as he pinpoints stylistic and structural elements such as characterization and plot (and why the first ten pages are crucial).

This masterful book provides tips and techniques on screenplay format; collaborations; adaptations; what to do after your screenplay is written and more. The highly-regarded scripts of Chinatown and Silver Streak are used to illustrate concepts.

"Syd Field is the preeminent analyzer in the study of American screenplays." -- James L. Brooks, Academy Award-winning writer, director, producer.


Saturday, March 07, 2009  

Professional Screenplay Formatting Tips

As the number of screenwriters increases around the world, literary agents, screenwriting contests and film and TV productions companies are bombarded with more and more material. To make matters worse, tens of thousands of new media graduates enter the fray every year. The sheer number of specs flying around the industry is simply overwhelming. The Writer’s Guild of America gets 50,000 new registrations a year alone!

Now some of this material is good. Most of it, though, is not. And unfortunately that overwhelming majority of scripts that are poorly formatted, poorly written, way too long or just downright amateur has created a generation of angry and jaded professional readers.

Now you might say, “What do I care what some lowly reader working a desk in the bowels of CAA’s dream-making machine thinks of my masterpiece!? He’s just a reader!”

Well you better care, because that kid is the gatekeeper to your future, and if you don’t make him or her happy - and confident that your are indeed a professional quality screenwriter - the minute they lay eyes on your script, you’ve already lost half the battle.

Don’t believe me? Okay, look at it this way... It is a well known fact that at every agency and production company there are three piles of scripts.

Pile “A”: Screenwriters they personal know and have respectable credits (not some short film or that ‘feature’ you made with your mates). We’re talking ‘Sold’ writers here.

Pile “B”: Screenwriters recommend by other agencies, lawyers or companies.

Pile “C”: General submissions from people they don’t know - AKA YOU!

The A-Pile usually gets read quickly by someone with power and experience. Often the agent / producer herself.

The B-Pile is read by the agent’s top assistant or a junior partner / creative executive at the firm.

The C-Pile is usually read by an intern, office boy, or fresh out of film school, wet behind the ears newbie.

Now don’t despair. That office boy may have no power, but what he does have is a burning desire to find that diamond in the rough (your script!) and thus move his way up.

So what can you do to impress this kid? Good question. Let’s ask one:

I feel the need.... the need for speed!

Damn straight I do. I’m a reader you see. I’m a 22 year-old gal in Hollywood who just got off work on Friday... But before I can let my overworked, underpaid self really cut loose and enjoy the weekend, I’ve got to read freaking 5 scripts AND have coverage of them ready for Monday’s afternoon story meeting!

Yeah, yeah, I can read them by the pool, but when I reach into my beach bag and pull out some yahoo’s 125 page rom-com, my heart sinks. My first instinct is to simply chuck it in the deep end, but since it’s my job, I’ll at least read enough to fake the coverage later with a big ole PASS / PASS on both script and writer.

Now for you boys and girls who don’t know what PASS means... this isn’t high school. PASS is not a good thing. PASS means... FAIL. As in you failed to impress me, I’ve duly logged such in our database (which we share with most of the other agencies in the business), and my company will most likely never read anything from you ever again. Certainly not this script, no matter how many times you tell us you’ve ‘re-worked’ it.

Just remember scripts are like movies. Funny how that works, huh? They should be read in a single sitting. Furthermore, reading them should be fun and entertaining. And there’s nothing entertaining about a 125 page script that takes 3 hours to read!

Ideally your screenplay should have that young gal frantically flipping pages, as she blindly paws for her mohito, she is so engrossed. And what makes readers engrossed? All together now... SPEED. Pure unadulterated speed!

Summary: Essential proof-reading and formatting tips for Screenwriters who want to sell their scripts to production companies or land an Agent.

About Author: Anthony James is a professional feature film screenwriter living in Los Angeles and London. He has sold seven screenplays and specializes in helping new writers with screenplay formatting, proof-reading and copyrighting their screenplays. To find out more about screenwriting like a pro and proper screenplay printing please visit


Friday, March 06, 2009  

Screenplay Quickie - The Cooler

Bernie Lootz (William H. Macy) is the unluckiest man in Las Vegas. Looking to knock out their highest rollers, one of the last mob-run casinos in town uses Bernie as a "cooler" to defuse lucky streaks. The scheme goes along just fine until Bernie falls in love with a cocktail waitress (Maria Bello) who becomes his "lady luck," much to the chagrin of the casino's crooked director (Alec Baldwin).

Download The Cooler Screenplay.


Thursday, March 05, 2009  

Script Supplies - Clapboard Mouse Pad

Bring the glamour of old fashioned Hollywood to your computer desk with the classic clapboard mouse pad. A generous 8” x 8” surface with a non-skid backing provides the perfect place for your mouse.

The long-lasting construction and fine-grain textured plastic surface offers improved and precise mouse tracking while the natural open-cell rubber backing keeps the pad in place and prevents desktop scratches. The nonporous surface simply wipes clean for quick and easy upkeep. This durable mouse pad will be with you and keep you inspired throughout your writing career.

Order a Clapboard Mouse Pad.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009  

How Do I Become a Television Writer? Part 2

While there is no one ‘right’ way to learn to be a TV writer, many start out by watching enormous amounts of episodes of the ‘type’ or ‘genre’ of show they would like to write for. They break the stories apart structurally to learn what makes an effective story. They analyze dialogue and the characters voices so as to be able to write ‘in voice’ of the characters on a show.

There are many books available that give a good fundamental background to television writing. Two that I recommend are 'Writing TV Sitcoms' by Evan Smith and 'Successful Television Writing' by Lee Goldberg. By watching shows and writing the scenes down on index cards, an aspiring TV writer will slowly learn the fundamental parts of the structure of the shows they want to write for. Taking classes is another way to learn. Whether attending top writing programs at schools such as NYU, USC or UCLA or local programs or seminars held by industry professionals, the key to success is to keep writing. The more you write the better you become.

The Tools

While using a typewriter and paper or a word processing program such as Microsoft Word can be used to write a television episode, these days most writers use dedicated screen and television writing software. These programs automatically format your script into an industry accepted format that producers and other writers are used to seeing. All the books mentioned above give examples of proper script format and it is highly advised to purchase at least a few TV scripts to familiarize yourself with the format and its specifics. Some of the more popular screenwriting software includes Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter. Other ‘plug-in’ formatting options are available to use along Microsoft word and other program but they don’t provide the sophistication, flexibility or compatibility that the major programs provide. All working television writers use professional formatting software, usually one of the two mentioned.

How to get work as a television writer.

So you’ve put your dues in. You’ve written script after script, learned story structure and dialogue and the words and story flow off your page gripping the reader without a boring or slow spot to be found. How do you now get work as a television writer? The short answer is…it’s not easy, but it’s possible. Typically, a working television writer has an agent or manager that helps him meet the working professionals in the industry and shows his ‘spec scripts’ to the hiring producers.

In order to get an agent interested you’ll need a minimum of two, but preferably more ‘spec scripts’. These scripts should be the very best writing you can do and be of existing shows that are viewed as the most popular and most respected out on television at the time. You don’t want to do a spec script of an outdated or off the air show because producers are not interested in seeing anything but the shows that are at the top of the game at the moment. At the same time you often don’t want to write an episode of a particular show with hopes of writing for that show. Chances are it will never happen.

First off all many shows have policies that they will not accept submissions of episodes of their own show. This is because first, for legal reasons they don’t want someone to claim that they stole the idea for an episode in case they happen to already be working on something similar and secondly…as much as you might think you wrote a perfect or great episode of that particular show…the Show runners…who created the show in the first place know the show better. No matter how great you think yours is, they will always think they are a step ahead of you and set impossible levels of achievement to an episode of their show.

Instead you should be thinking of creating a portfolio of spec scripts that are of a similar type but a different show. For instance, let’s say you are interested in writing sitcoms. Write a few spec scripts of some of the top sitcoms out at a particular time. Most likely if you do get an agent or manager you will be meeting to work on a brand new ‘lower’ show when you are starting out and not a top show. The writers on top shows are usually very experiences and have been around for years putting their dues in. You need to work your way up to that. Landing a job on an off-network show and getting experience is what it’s about at first.

How do I get representation?

So how do you get an agent to have your work shown? There is no simple answer to this. There are many ways people have gotten agents and managers that have launched their careers. Some people know a great contact. Others enter and win contests for screenwriters. Others write query letters asking for representation. Still others come up with their own creative ways to convince an agent that they are able to make money for them as a writer and get themselves represented. Often you will have to start at a smaller agency and as you become more successful you will move up to a larger more established agency. There is no magic to it. It’s hard work, perseverance and a little luck.


Pursuing a career as a television writer can have many rewards. You can make fantastic money, work with interesting, creative people and create worlds and characters that may resonate with millions of potential viewers. The journey is long and hard but if you are one that truly craves to pursue your dream, it can be worth that long route. Always keep in mind that true talent raises to the top eventually. As those that have inspired me have insisted I remember when pursuing my own dreams. Never give up. Never ever give up…and you will succeed.

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


Tuesday, March 03, 2009  

Books - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Story to Screenplay

"I was born under unusual circumstances." And so begins the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, adapted from the 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who is born in his eighties and ages backwards. A man, like any of us, unable to stop time. We follow his story set in New Orleans from the end of World War I in 1918, into the twenty-first century, following his journey that is as unusual as any man's life can be. Directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a time traveler's tale of the people and places Benjamin Button bumps into along the way, the loves he loses and finds, the joys of life and the sadness of death, and what lasts beyond time.

Included in this volume is F. Scott Fitzgerald's provocative story and the stunning screenplay by Eric Roth (Forrest Gump), a bold re-imagining of this classic tale.

Format: Softcover
ISBN: 9781439117002
Publisher: Scribner Book Company


Monday, March 02, 2009  

The Movie Deal Screenplay Contest


A PRODUCTION DEAL! Yes, your screenplay will be produced! Flight and Hotel accommodations to the set of YOUR MOVIE PRODUCTION! PLUS, many other amazing prizes!

In addition to the GRAND PRIZE, 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. Currently 4 Screenplays have been optioned from the list of 2008 Finalists, so enter now, your script may be the one we're all looking for!


Earlybird - March 15th - $45 Features - $20 Shorts
Regular - April 30th - $55 Features - $30 Shorts
Extended - June 30th - $65 Features - $40 Shorts

Enter your script today!