7 Must-Have Screenwriting iPhone Apps for Screenwriters

A short list of essential screenwriting iPhone apps (and some for iPads as well) – apps which I believe should be a part of any discerning, elitist iPhone screenwriter’s library, if he or she hopes to continues to remain the better of, and more educated than, the peasants using all of those knuckle-dragging non-Apple devices.

How to Not Be A Racist Screenwriter (Even Accidentally)

Racist screenwriter isn’t an archetype you see a lot of in Hollywood. But racism in screenwriting is all too common. It’s true that the film industry is taking significant steps towards diversity, and that we can discuss how big those steps are, or how late they are, or whether or not those steps will take … Read more

How to Be A Screenwriter That People Recommend

Sure, we all know experienced producers, agents, and name talent use screenplay coverage to separate good screenplays from bad ones. But did you know they also use it as a mechanism to keep their eye open for good screenwriters? The RECOMMEND, CONSIDER, or PASS on a script coverage is typically the one “big final score” … Read more

5 Ways to “Seduce” a Script Reader

In my line of work, script reading, we get paid to read scripts and give notes or write coverage. Which means we have to read every single page of a client’s screenplay. But, as you might imagine, it’s quite a different situation at a studio or production company, where a producer may be asking a … Read more

Read the script coverage for Boogie Nights

Script coverage for Boogie Nights, which I recently found on the interwebs, thanks to a sleuthy Redditor, teaches us screenwriters and script readers some key lessons that we need to keep in mind when considering script coverage for own screenplays:   Lesson 1: script coverage is extremely subjective! Every reader has their own weird opinions on what … Read more

The Screenwriter’s Bill of Rights

With the amount of available outlets for filmed entertainment exploding exponentially each year, the demand for screenwriters at nearly all levels below the “Studio Tentpole Writer Line” grows ever higher. But so does the number of producers and companies jumping into the filmed entertainment sector, at all levels, from Podcasters to YouTube Humor Channels (like … Read more

Screenwriting for Documentaries — Some Quick Thoughts

Documentaries have one key, primary ingredient that makes them documentaries: they reveal reality. But then again, so does a security camera, propped up over a cash register in any given liquor store. So what is it that differentiates a documentary film from a security camera feed? Or the video babycam for that matter? Or a … Read more

Movie Magic Screenwriter Vs. Final Draft

At Roger Corman’s Concorde-New Horizons Studios in 1997, I opened a script file using Final Draft for the first time. It was on a “Macintosh” because I didn’t call them “Macs” back then. In short, with all due praise to John Hodgman, I was a “PC.” A different kind of “PC,” Production Coordinator Joey Geiger … Read more

Will your screenplay’s file format exist in 20 years?

The two most popular screenwriting software packages – Movie Magic Screenwriter and Final Draft – are popular for many reasons: Formatting your script as you go by simply hitting the TAB key… allowing screenwriters to customize the look and feel of their screenplays… built-in index cards and scene navigation and other writing aids… Not to … Read more

How to write a sympathetic protagonist

Regarding all your exposition, see if you can let your exposition “walk and chew gum at the same time,” so to speak. That is, if a scene is only designed to provide exposition on X, see if you can make the scene do double duty, or triple duty, and provide exposition on Y and Z as well.

How to write a synopsis for script coverage

Writing a brief synopsis for a screenplay is the act of distilling the script’s story down to its essence while maintaining absolute brevity. You may recall that Polonius told his king, amongst other things, that brevity is the soul of wit. What he failed to include, perhaps due to his self-imposed brevity, was that brevity … Read more

How to get your screenplay under 120 pages

“I loved the movie Django Unchained, but the script was too long…” “The Dark Knight made us millions, but the script was 167 pages, so let’s not do that ever again…” …Said no one ever. Yet, if you’re lucky enough to get your script into the hands of someone who can make or break your … Read more

How screenwriters can win arguments with producers

With all screenwriters, it happens sooner or later. Eventually, we all get into fights with producers. Creative, financial, it doesn’t matter – if you’re writing screenplays, and you’re at all successful in getting one of your scripts into any sort of development or production pipeline, you’re going to have a fight with a producer. At … Read more

Review of Highland – John August’s Screenwriting App

Sometimes we screenwriters, we just want to, well, screenwrite. We don’t always enjoy fussing over format or margins or how to make a parenthetical look right or whether or not writing “THE END” should be marked in Final Draft as a slugline/scene heading or an action line or just plain “general.” The idea of Final Draft and … Read more

My first script coverage ever for Media Artists Group in 1994

In the last century, in the year 1994,  I worked at a boutique talent and literary agency in Beverly Hills called Media Artists Group. For some perspective, Dean Martin and Bob Hope were still alive, Married with Children was still on the air, and The Simpsons was only on it’s fifth season.  Another Simpson, OJ, was still just … Read more

Writing an elevator pitch for your screenplay

Many of the scripts that come into Screenplay Readers have a lot going for ’em:  great dialogue, solid pacing, characters that leap off the page… But sometimes a screenplay can have all those things firing on all those cylinders and still come up a bit short in the RECOMMEND department. Why is that? In most cases, it’s easy to … Read more

Persistence: How to make it as a screenwriter

Screenwriters are often malnourished. No, not in the food sense, but in the department of career orientation. Some ask “Can I make it as a screenwriter if I don’t live in LA?” (a question I answer in my article here). And some ask “What are the best day jobs for screenwriters? (which I offer some suggestions … Read more

How hack writers write female characters

If you’re like me, you want to see smart, capable, females up on that big screen. You want to see female characters through an accurate lens. To write in the dark, ignorant of 50% of the population just because that’s the way it’s always been, is no longer acceptable.

8 Screenwriting Lessons from “Halt and Catch Fire”

If I were an executive over at AMC, I’d be a little nervous.  What, with Mad Men and Breaking Bad all wrapping up, and to mention the producers of The Walking Dead talking about moving the show more towards a Cop Rock vibe and all. It’s a general truism for we in the screenwriting class (or at least, true enough) that nervous suits with … Read more

How screenwriters can write more and write faster

Out of the 500 or so friends and family I have in my life, approximately 498 of them are screenwriters. And of those 498, exactly one of them actually writes screenplays.  The rest just want to.  Real hard.  Yet they don’t, because they  let everything else become more important, more distracting. Wait! SQUIRREL! Me on the other hand, … Read more

5 Quick Ways to Get a Script Reader to Love Your Script

As Sun Tzu once said, “There are good screenwriters, and there are bad screenwriters.”  And while much of the difference between the two can only be measured with abstract criteria (such as “talent,” and “chutzpah,” and “originality,”)  the fact is, there are several key criteria good screenwriters do with their screenplays that are not only concrete, measurable, and observable, but also, in … Read more

How do I make my script funnier?

Making your script funnier is not easy. Handing a screenplay to someone and telling them it’s funny is easy. But making them laugh as they read it? That’s an entirely different kind of flying altogether. The word “funny” has a lot of different interpretations, but in the filmmaking profession, the word funny only means one … Read more

A review of the Mac screenwriting app Slugline

Slugline is a screenwriting app that kind of flies under everybody’s radar. I decided I’d do a quick review of the program. The Slugline demo was easy to find on the modern, simple Slugline website, and easy to download and install. The first thing I do with any screenwriting software is start writing, to see how … Read more

How to fail as a screenwriter

When asked what was the best way for an aspiring starlet to get into Hollywood, the legendary Bette Davis once famously replied “Take Fountain.” Her advice remains evergreen today, only now there are also a myriad other ways for starlets and screenwriters like us to “get into Hollywood,” so speak — that is, to make it … Read more

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