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Thoughts from the “Honey Flood” contest winner!

Dear Friend,

Happy Weekend to you!

Last week I promised you some personal insight from Phillip T. Brewster, the winner of the “Honey Flood” script contest, and how he developed his winning script.

Well here it is.

Take it away Philip!

I would like to start by thanking Marvin at the BOSI for this great opportunity. I’ve been a regular reader of the BOSI newsletter for several years now and was very excited to receive the competition invite email.

Writing started off as a hobby and has nothing to do with my day-job. Plus I don’t live in LA!

I have a passion to write and am committed to learning the craft, investing in my screenwriting education (including Marvin’s Read My Script programme). That also includes immersing myself in the community, including the BOSI, via the internet which has made this all possible.

Movies are a collaborative medium and screenwriting often a solitary pursuit. However, the elements supplied, the Director’s vision of the film, the fantastic location and “of the period” comments, photographs and information were a great source of reference.

I started by reading the book, cover to cover (every word!). I reviewed all the information provided by the Director. And researched the “look and feel” of an England pre Beatles and the Swinging Sixties.

While letting all the information from the book and Director’s notes “sink in” I began to think of various scenarios until I eventually came up with one that I felt was strong enough. I wrote an outline, just a few lines of text to plot the story and to ensure I adhered to the three-act-structure.

I kept adding more information until finally I believed I had enough material and was ready to write my script.

I saw Honey as a “fish out of water”. The location lent itself to few characters. Where possible I wanted to retain many elements of the book; the reefer smoking, the turmoil in Honey and her tempestuous relationship with CD. I wanted Honey to show her anger, angst and ambition to obtain what she believed was rightfully hers. But also that she loved.

I knew, given the right setting, I only needed Honey and CD. Yes, the book incorporated friends and crowd scenes but no rule said they had to be in the script. In the end I even decided not to include the house’s hosts in the story. Pare it down, keep it simple and focus on the characters in question. After all, the story is about Honey and CD, no one else.

Be brave was the quote!

I knew my writing had to stand out from the crowd. Think bold, write something that will make readers and audience alike sit up and take notice.

I tried as much as I could to make it a visual spectacle by including at least one Trailer Moment, in my case a “money cascade”.

Then there was my determination to reflect the style of Elaine Dundy’s writing. “The Old Man and Me” was written with mischievous wit that I wanted to encapsulate.

Again, the above were suggested by the Director, I took note of what was wanted.

Then there’s the ending, where I confess my short story experience really helped in throwing a curveball. Again, taking to heart the Director’s guidance.

And the twist at the end… you’ll just have to watch the finished film for yourself.

All in all a great experience. Not only of adapting the book but what it’s like to get a time-pressure assignment.

My thanks again to Marvin for the opportunity.


Philip T Brewster.

No, thank YOU Philip, for investing so much time and effort into your material.

And a big “Thank You” to all the participants in “The Honey Flood Script Contest.”

I’ll let you know when the film is finished, and how you can watch it.

I’ll also let you know when another great opportunity like this comes up!

In the meantime, if you’d like to know for certain whether your screenplay is blockbuster material, if it needs a little polishing, or if you need to start fresh with a brand new topic, then sign up for “The 10-Page Program!”

I’ll read the first 10 pages of your script, then we’ll get on the phone afterwards to talk about how to best position it for the marketplace.

This is real-time, critically important feedback from yours truly, and it will clarify your next steps with your material.

Ready to take the next step in your screenwriting career?

Then check out “The 10-Page Program” now!

Enjoy today’s newsletter!

The Business of Show Institute Recommends: is the weekly screenwriting product or service that our staff has personally reviewed and feel you would benefit from. This week? Would you like Marvin V. Acuna to tell you if your script is a winner, or if it needs to be re-positioned for the marketplace? He can, by reading the first 10 pages of your script! Join “The 10-Page Program now!

My Script Was Optioned! How Do I Maintain My Rights?: is this week’s audio from yours truly. In this audio I talk about how not to give away the farm when you get your script optioned by a production company. As positive as it is to get your script optioned, HERE is how to keep control of your material.

The Box Office Report: gives you the latest feature film releases as well as the opening weekend projections, so you can be on top of this critical information.

Rookie Mistake: Killing the Gift Horse: is this week’s article by mc foley. mc is an active writer and regular contributor to this newsletter. The title of her column is “Lessons Learned: One Writer’s Journey”.

A Legal Perspective for Screenwriters: is our column by entertainment attorney Gordon P. Firemark. To ask your legal questions, email us at If your question is chosen, it (and your answer) will appear in an issue of The Screenwriter’s Success Newsletter.

6 Screenwriting Tips From In-Demand “Burning Love” Creator Erica Oyama: Erica Oyama created the hit web series-turned-TV-show, Burning Love and now she has five screenplays in development. Here, the in-demand screenwriter talks to Co.Create about her approach to burning through projects. Joe Berkowitz of Co.Create has the full story.

Best Business Advice for Screenwriters: is dedicated to asking a top executive or successful screenwriter the absolute best advice they could give a screenwriter looking for success. This week’s contributor? Two-time Oscar-winning producer/director/writer of “Crash”, “Casino Royale”, and “In the Valley of Elah” – Paul Haggis!

The Scoggins Report: is our weekly spec market analysis and/or pitch report. Use this column to see what’s selling, who’s buying what, and what genre you should be writing for. This real-time Hollywood market intelligence is pure gold…

Digging the Well Before You’re Thirsty: is our column dedicated to tracking the promotions and movements of Hollywood’s Executives. Use this market intelligence wisely…

Map Your Material: is this week’s article from screenwriting contest judge and author of “39 Ways to Win a Screenwriting Contest & The Nine Mistakes New Writers Make” – Sean Hinchey. The title of his column is “Insights and Screenwriting Wisdom from a Veteran Screenwriting Contest Judge”.

That’s it for this issue, but we are dedicated to making this newsletter THE resource for aspiring screenwriters.

If you enjoyed it, and would like to pass it along to friends, please have them go directly to and have them sign up there.

May Your Life Be Extraordinary,

Marvin V. Acuna

The Business of Show Institute Recommends

Would you like Marvin V. Acuna to tell you if your script is a winner, or if it needs to be re-positioned for the marketplace? He can, by reading the first 10 pages of your script!
Join “The 10-Page Program” now!

Click HERE!

My Script Was Optioned! How Do I Maintain My Rights?


Do have any information on options that someone brand new to screenwriting might benefit from? I have written three screenplays and two are now being presented with options by different production companies. How does one navigate to a position of not giving away rights to a timely project that has great promise with an option that may doom it to a less than glorious fate?

Thank you for your insights.

Joe Carraro

Read more & discuss →

The Box Office Report

Thu, Jun. 26 Daily Total
How to Train Your Dragon 2 $3,134,774 $108,714,532
22 Jump Street $2,929,465 $124,436,892
Maleficent $1,748,462 $193,633,390
Think Like a Man Too $1,628,599 $37,768,360
Jersey Boys $1,403,180 $19,732,486
The Fault in Our Stars $1,352,963 $104,745,018
Edge of Tomorrow $954,221 $78,944,632
X-Men: Days of Future Past $682,317 $220,093,472
Godzilla (2014) $224,356 $196,085,100
A Million Ways to Die in the West $177,125 $41,158,955
Neighbors (2014) $154,950 $146,455,385

Rookie Mistake: Killing The Gift Horse

Long ago, I attended a wrap party with someone I’d just met. I soon learned two things: One — he was a raging alcoholic with a mean temper. Two — people have different definitions of what constitutes a “rookie mistake.”

At a certain point in the evening, we were sitting at a table with a group of people, and this guy I’d come to the party with (let’s call him Andrew) was four or five drinks in when another person I’d met at AFM (American Film Market) strolled up and said hello to both of us. Let’s call this second person Jason.

“Oh, you know Andrew too,” I said to Jason. “Where’d you guys meet?”

At that, Andrew launched into a strange rant about how embarrassing it was that I’d asked such a rookie question. “You never ask people that!,” he shouted at me. “You’re so green!”

Read more & discuss →

A Legal Perspective for Screenwriters


“I am thinking about writing a series of YA novels featuring the characters and world of King Arthur and Robin Hood. Does anyone own the rights to these historical/fictional characters and settings, or are they considered in the public domain?”


This is both a simple, and a tricky question to answer.

As a general rule of thumb, works created prior to 1923 are likely to be in the public domain. But, when works fall into the public domain, anybody is free to copy and build upon them. And that new “built upon” work, (or at least the original components contained therein) IS entitled to copyright protection.

Read more & discuss →

6 Screenwriting Tips From In-Demand “Burning Love” Creator Erica Oyama

Sometimes it only takes one hot property to propel you to the tipping point in Hollywood. For Erica Oyama, this project involved putting Ken Jeong in a dress to play a bachelorette named “Ballerina.”

Oyama had been a faithful viewer of The Bachelor for years before it occurred to her that the genre this show belonged to was a lush, practically untouched creative landscape for parody. After a particularly goofy season finale in 2010, in which bachelor Jake Pavelka proposed to the clear-cut villain of the show, Vienna Girardi, inspiration struck. The next day, Oyama sat down and began hammering out an idea whose impact would last way longer than Pavelka and Girardi, who inevitably split up three months later.

That idea became Burning Love, a Bachelor-iffic satire Oyama wrote and produced, and which her husband, Ken Marino, directed and starred in. After an initial run as a Yahoo web series, the show eventually got picked up by E! and ran for two more televised seasons. Despite having worked for years as a writer on shows like Children’s Hospital, and adding jokes and polish to Marino vehicles like Role Models and Wanderlust, Oyama instantly became a known quantity because of Burning Love. It was her calling card, and with it came a lot of offers.

As of now, Oyama has five screenplays in development. Some are collaborations with Marino, like the adaptation of profanity-based children’s book, Go the Fuck to Sleep, and some are solo endeavors, like the forthcoming White Girl Problems. With a full slate of projects in various stages, Oyama talked to Co.Create recently about writing with a partner, handling multiple scripts at once, and making choices much more difficult than which bachelorette should get the rose.


A web series is a good place to express every weird thought you have, and some of the work is similar to writing a movie. I wrote Burning Love’s first season almost all at once, so it ended up being over 140 pages. It sort of felt like a movie-length script, even though it was episodic. Structurally, it doesn’t hit the same beats in the same places as a movie would, but it wasn’t such a difficult transition.

Joe Berkowitz of Co.Create has the full story.

Best Business Advice for Screenwriters

Paul Haggis – Two-time Oscar-winning producer/director/writer of “Crash,” “Casino Royale,” and “In the Valley of Elah” – on his best business advice for screenwriters:

“When I’ve spoken at colleges and schools and—after you give the long spiel about writing from the heart, and all that stuff—the writers always ask, ‘What are people looking for?’ And I say, ‘Stop, stop thinking that right now.’ The really great producers don’t look for that anyway. They’re looking for an individual voice. They’re looking for a story that moves them. And if you start thinking, ‘What do they want?’ and write that, then you’re never going to reach down to that great place.”

Pitch Market Roundup April 2014

The spec market may have cooled off a bit over the past couple of months, but at least the pitch market has been warming up. You know, not warm warm, but we’ll take growth where we find it, especially since this week’s start of the Cannes Film Festival will get in the way of new pitch sale announcements between now and Memorial Weekend.

The Pitch Market Scorecard we published at the end of April had what turned out to be complete numbers through the end of the month, so we’ll skip the mini-analysis we often do here and send you straight off to the detailed breakdowns of each of April’s pitch sales on the following pages.

Read more & discuss →

Digging the Well Before You’re Thirsty

Tracking the Movement of Hollywood’s Executives

What do you do when a friend gets promoted or moves to a new position? You congratulate them right?

What else might you do? You might send them a card telling them how excited you are for their new position. Later, you might follow up with that person to see how they’re settling in. Then, you might send them an interesting article once in a while.

Why would you do this? Because that’s how relationships are nurtured and developed. (They’re not developed by asking for favors before the relationship has matured)

So we’d like you to help us in congratulating the following executives who have just been promoted or moved positions.

The Business of Show Institute Congratulates the Following Executives in Their New Positions:

Read more & discuss →

Map Your Material

Unsure of where your story is going? Did you just write yourself into a corner? Whether you are rewriting a script that you’ve worked hard on, or you are just starting from scratch, take the time to Map Your Material. You’ll work more efficiently and you’ll create a better screenplay to submit to a script contest.

Writing is a difficult enough challenge when you have to come up with a new concept, develop your own characters and create great dialogue. With everything that is demanded of you as a screenwriter, you need to make your work flow as easy as possible. Before you even begin writing your script on paper, or typing it into your computer, you should create a comprehensive map of your screenplay. What should that include?

Read more & discuss →