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14 Things I Learned Pitching In Hollywood

I’m not a well-known writer, but I have sold eight original movie ideas from pitches, (mostly to Hollywood studios), and had many more commissions for book adaptations, re-writes and production polishes, (generally the sort of script doctoring that rarely gets your name on screen or on imdb, but can make you look like a serious contender to your bank manager). I’ve made horrendous cock-ups in pitch meetings. This is not an exhaustive list, nor are these points in order of importance, just things I learned along the way. (It was less of a learning curve, more of a “learning cliff”). 1)… Read More »14 Things I Learned Pitching In Hollywood

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4 Reasons **That Moment You Don’t Like** Is NOT A Deus Ex Machina

So, the Deus Ex Machina. What is it? Well to know a word or phrase is to be able to define a word or phrase (as my English teacher always used to say), so here is the dictionary’s definition: Pretty straightforward, tbh. In other words, by today’s standards, it’s *something* that’s parachuted in to a story to SAVE characters in some way and/or SOLVE a problem FOR THEM. Obviously, the Deus Ex Machina is lame. No one wants to put one in their stories. Oh, except those using it for comedic effect of course, like we see in DODGEBALL (the… Read More »4 Reasons **That Moment You Don’t Like** Is NOT A Deus Ex Machina

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Writing, Selling & MAKING Thriller Screenplays

Delighted to say our next movie, ASSASSIN goes into production TODAY so to celebrate, I talked to its writer, director and producer (not to mention my ol’ mucker) JK Amalou about our fave genre. Enjoy … What are your three favourite produced Thrillers and why? The granddaddy of the modern thriller: PSYCHO (1960). Many people classify it as a horror but it’s first and foremost a thriller. Look at the first half: Marion Crane steals the money, goes on the run, avoids the police or detection. Then this unreal plot twist happens: she is killed. The hunter (Norman Bates) now becomes… Read More »Writing, Selling & MAKING Thriller Screenplays

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10 Questions For Your First Ten Pages

Everywhere we look, screenwriters are advised to make their ten pages absolutely rock. And this is good advice, since if you write a “good” ten pages, chances are your draft will get a full read at that agent’s, prodco, initiative or contest. Knowing what “good” means in terms of the first ten pages is half the battle … So here are my thoughts on how to judge your own work from a script reader’s POV: 1. WHO are the characters? Whether TV script or feature, by page 10, we need to know who the main characters are – and by “main… Read More »10 Questions For Your First Ten Pages

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5 Tips For Writing Period Movies

I love being transported by movies, not just entertained, but transported, moved up the ladder to a different reality. I love walking out of the cinema with a story and storyworld still sticking to me, like napalm in the morning. This explains why I’m attracted to period pieces (and “period piece” also includes science fiction films, which are period pieces that look forward rather than backward). A lot of my screenwriting – paid gigs and spec work both – has focused on slips up or down the timeline. So here are a few guideposts that have been helpful to me… Read More »5 Tips For Writing Period Movies

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6 Things You Need To Know As A Screenwriter If You Want Your Scripts Made

“Being a screenwriter is 10% craft; 90% trying to stop someone fucking up your script.” I remember a professional writer coming in to talk to us at university. I forget his name or what he wrote – see number 2 on this list – but I remember having seen his movie, thinking it was shit and therefore he must be a shit writer. How wrong I was. Fact is, until a writer is produced, there’s no way of truly understanding how screwed up filmmaking really is. That’s why lots of new writers point fingers at various productions they dislike, believing… Read More »6 Things You Need To Know As A Screenwriter If You Want Your Scripts Made

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Stuck In A Rut: 7 Ways You’re Sabotaging Yourself (And 1 Thing That Will Set You Free!)

Stuck In A Rut Is your writing stuck in a rut? You’re not alone. It’s  been a week since I posted *that* post about avoiding low budget depressing drama & high budget science fiction/fantasy spec scripts if you want to stand out from the crowd … And what a week! Some writers have been expressing: AMAZEBALLS! I TOTALLY GET IT! INVEST IN IDEAS! YAAAY! Others have been decidedly lukewarm: *Grumble grumble* MY SCRIPT IS ONE OF THOSE AND I HAVEN’T GOT ANY LEADS SO I “SPOSE” YOU “COULD” BE RIGHT *Grumble* … And others have said, point-blank: YOU’RE TOTALLY WRONG, GET… Read More »Stuck In A Rut: 7 Ways You’re Sabotaging Yourself (And 1 Thing That Will Set You Free!)

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Want To Get Noticed? Then Don’t Write These Type Of Screenplays

Updated Previously titled, ‘Want To Get Noticed? Don’t Write Low Budget Depressing Drama or High Budget Science Fiction/Fantasy Spec Scripts‘, this post will outline why trying to get out of the submissions pile with a low budget drama or a high budget sci fi TV pilot like a gazilion other writers (probably) ain’t gonna work for you. Strap yourself in and suck it up, peeps … Cliches + Stereotypes = BORING When I started script reading, everyone was writing very “worthy”, very personal psychological dramas where generally everybody died or was at least miserable as Hell and in the grip of addiction,… Read More »Want To Get Noticed? Then Don’t Write These Type Of Screenplays

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Dear Writer

Dear Writer, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read your work. Mixing genre, dialogue and characterisation in such a fashion without a discernible sense of structure or narrative logic had never occurred to me before, so it was quite a revelation. Thanks also for your insightful emails following my coverage of your work. Though script reading and writing is pretty much all I do, I would never have been able to recognise your evident enthusiasm without the guidance you showed me. Equally, your use of profane language and personal insults regarding my age/gender/work and production history* (*delete as… Read More »Dear Writer

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Preaching To The Converted? 6 Of The Best — Drama

Your Honour, members of the jury: we are gathered here today to discuss the impact of feature length dramas on an audience… Though drama is indeed my favourite (yes, possibly even above my beloved Horror), it has long been my belief such fare has no impact whatsoever in changing the attitudes of their viewers. Why? Because the very viewers such films attract already possess the beliefs and values explored by the drama in question – hence the audience watching said dramas in the first place: like attracts like. But don’t take my word for it; I will demonstrate. [Box Office… Read More »Preaching To The Converted? 6 Of The Best — Drama

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