November online AFW screenwriting classes Character Writing, Dialogue Writing, and Mastering Story Momentum are right around the corner. Classes are seating now and begin November 10. Reserve your seat now.
The September newsletter is about to go out. Did you sign up for the mailing list? Do you wanna?
September classes The First 30 Pages, High Concept Writing, and The Writer’s Reel begin September 8. You want those. You know you do. Go check them out:
There is an open seat in the 5150 online international screenwriting workshop.
There are two calendar slots available for September consults from yours truly, Max. These are being offered at a special September rate. For more info, hit that:
Grab those while they are available. There are only two calendar slots open and once they are gone, they are gone.
Talking heads is a term that, as I was told in the film school trenches, relates back to the early days of television when news was delivered by a solitary news announcer sitting behind a desk reading news reports to the camera off a sheet of paper.
A solitary individual sitting unmoving on screen talking delivering facts is not very cinematic or visually exciting and if you turn on a news program today, you’ll see all sorts of clips to more exciting footage and visuals playing out to make the news show more entertaining and engaging for viewers. News shows fight for viewers just like every other form of programming out there.
Fast forward to today and “talking heads” in film scripts.
When a writer hires me to review material, it’s important to note, the writer is not paying for the read. I can read a script in an hour. Two hours if the script is too long.
(Too long means 150 pages. Um. Everybody hates you, 150 script pages people. Stop doing that.)
The point is, I’m not getting paid by the hour for the read. I’m getting paid for expertise responding to and analyzing the material. This is an important distinction.
If you just want to pay someone by the hour for the read, well, what’s minimum wage these days? About $12 per hour? Give the script to your mom and write her a check for $24. Done!
At the AEB one year anniversary bash I was a guest speaker at (thank you for inviting me AEB I had a great time) there was a question and answer session after the talk and one question stands out to me.
A woman said she got advice to write a lot of scripts. To have a trunk of scripts. Like, three romantic comedies if she was interested in writing romantic comedies and three scripts for drama if she was interested in writing drama and three –
I’m pretty sure that was headed for three scripts in any genre she ever had an interest in writing at all and I stopped her and said —
You need ONE script.
One of the most injurious words in reviews is “but.”
The characters are wonderful, but –
The story is gripping, but –
The visuals are cinematic, but –
See, here is what the word “but” does in any sentence: It negates any positive statement coming before it. For example:
The original screenwriter’s uniform blog post appears to be lost in the interwebs somewhere (how does this happen?) but it keeps coming up in conversation. (Also, according to fashion experts, white sneakers are back! Whoah. Did not see that coming.)
One thing to keep in mind plotting a story is that there is a difference between a primary story goal and tasks protagonists undertake to achieve the primary story goal. For example, looking at the film The Blues Brothers, (1980 starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, written by Dan Aykroyd and John Landis, directed by John Landis), the protagonist goal is to save the orphanage the two leads Jake and Elwood grew up in.
Primary Goal: Save the orphanage.
Major Dramatic Question: Can Jake and Elwood save the orphanage?
To save the orphanage —
*Last updated September 12, 2019. We cannot update exact entry dates and fees. We’re sticking with broad parameters and a solid list. It’s up to you to double check exact entry dates and current entry fees.
10 OF THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS SCREENWRITING COMPETITIONS THAT APPEAR TO DO THE MOST FOR A SCREENWRITER’S CAREER ARE:
Type: Feature Film Script
Qualifications: Open to amateurs only: Screenwriters who have not earned more than $25,000 writing fiction for film or television. Entry scripts must be the original work of one writer or of two writers who have collaborated equally, and must be written originally in English. Adaptations and translated scripts are not eligible.
Entry Dates: Between early January and the final cut off date May 1.
“The trick with talking head scripts is, people who know what they are don’t write them, and people who write them don’t know what they are.” ~ Max Adams
I meet a lot of new people during the course of Festivals. Some make great impressions. Some don’t. Hell sometimes I don’t. “I ain’t no monument to justice!”
[Extra points if you can identify that quote yay!]
It happens. But. I have a career. Many of the people who appear to be working overtime to make a bad impression don’t. Or, do, but appear hell bent on a bad impression anyway.
Here are some cautionary don’ts for festivals.
A friend completed a historical drama and was brainstorming with me on ways to get the material out there and read by the right people. I introduced her to Terry Rossio, who knows a hell of a lot about getting material out there and read by the right people. Terry gave my friend advice so good I asked Terry if I could share it on the blog. Terry, being the great guy he is, said of course. So now you get the benefit of Terry’s great advice too.
The Impetus to Produce
~by Terry Rossio
Your situation speaks to the heart of the heart of the screenwriter’s dilemma.
You have a project that is clearly above average and worthy. There are people who need projects to film. So, how to get them to decide to film this project?
I’ve been all over 5150 workshoppers to create usable press packets. Or, Hell, just usable photos. With that in mind, it might be helpful if I spell out what should be in an artist’s press packet. So let’s do it yay!
RÉSUMÉ: A professional résumé lists out professional points:
PROJECTS: Projects both produced and unproduced — and separates projects by type, for example, mine separates film, plays, and books.
AWARDS: Any prizes or awards or placements in competitions you have won or placed in — that are industry related. Winning a trip to Hawaii at a car dealership does not count. Winning Nicholl does.