The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter, April 29 2011 PDF Print E-mail
The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter - The Business of Show Institute

Dear Friend,

A well-to-do couple was having a dinner party one Saturday evening with all their well-to-do friends.

Suddenly there was a shriek from the bathroom.

The hosts went running to see what the matter was, and saw one of their guests pointing at the sink – which was spewing brackish, dirty water.

Oh the embarrassment!

So the couple quickly got on the phone to call a plumber who could fix this disastrous problem.

But since it was a Saturday night no one was picking up their phones.

FINALLY, the couple got a plumber on the line who agreed to come over.

When the plumber got to the home he looked under the sink for a moment, then gave one of the pipes a good whack with his wrench.

Suddenly, the water ran clear and the pressure returned to normal.

The couple was delighted and grateful – until the plumber handed them the bill.

$388.97!

"We HARDLY think that hitting a pipe is worth $388.97!" they exclaimed.

The plumber took the bill back, scribbled something on it, and then handed it back.

The updated bill said, "Knowing WHERE to hit the pipe - $388.97"

Sometimes, bringing someone in who knows "where to hit the pipe" can create results that seemed impossible previously.

In your screenwriting career, that's what I'm here for.

To show you what actions to take in order to create your desired results.

So if you haven't checked out my #1 Secret To Screenwriting Success video yet, I suggest you do it NOW:

http://screenwritingsuccessnow.com/bosi/

Best Part?

It won't cost you $388.97 to watch... nope, it's free, and it will definitely facilitate your screenwriting success!

And speaking of screenwriting success, here's what we've got for you in this week's action-packed Screenwriter's Success 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? Free video reveals the #1 secret to getting your screenplay read by top Hollywood professionals... even if you don't live in Los Angeles!

Check it out here:

http://screenwritingsuccessnow.com/bosi/

All Investors Are Not Created Equal: Instead of drafting a new article today, I was compelled to repurpose the one below. As you journey out into the univierse of fund raising, I thought that this article would be a great tool for you to draw from.

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.

I Am The General: 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 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . If your question is chosen, it (and your answer) will appear in an issue of The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter.

Marvin V. Acuna Interviews Danny Manus: is this week's article from Director of Development for Clifford Werber Productions, Daniel Manus. The title of his column is "No B.S. for Screenwriters - The Executive Perspective."

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? Writer/director of "Session 9," "Transsiberian," and director of "The Machinist" – Brad Anderson!

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".

Harold, Lotti, Ray Liotta, Comedians, Vin Diesel And Me...: is this week's article by our newest contributor, Manny Fonseca. Manny currently works for Kopelson Entertainment and frequently attends pitchfests on the Kopelson's behalf. The title of his column is "Confessions of a Hollywood Gatekeeper."

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 http://www.TheBusinessOfShowInstitute.com and have them sign up there.

May Your Life Be Extraordinary,

Marvin V. Acuna





The Business of Show Institute Recommends:

Free Video Reveals The #1 Secret To Getting Your Screenplay Read By Top Hollywood Professionals...
Even If You Don't Live In Los Angeles!

Click HERE!



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All Investors Are Not Created Equal

by Marvin V. Acuna

Instead of drafting a new article today, I was compelled to repurpose the one below. As you journey out into the univierse of fund raising, I thought that this article would be a great tool for you to draw from. All relevant contact information for the originall author is located at the end of the article. FULL DISCLOSURE: I have no affiliation nor relationship with the author. I am not endorsing his services, simply directing you to a potential resource. - Marvin V Acuna

In a tough economy, all capital is created equal, right?

Wrong. Even in a credit-starved environment like this one, the source of your money matters. A lot.

When it comes to courting angel investors - well-heeled individuals looking to put some of their stash in promising young companies that could yield juicy returns--entrepreneurs should take great care. Some angels can be a mild nuisance, others downright conniving and unscrupulous.

Here are seven types of fallen angels to avoid.

Suit Slingers. These nettlesome types look for any excuse to take you to court. Rather than try to help your company grow, instead they try to make money through intimidation, threats and lawsuits. They know you don't the resources to fight them and most likely will cave to their demands.

Smart Guys. Successful business people who become angels often have a prodigious sense of superiority. They tend to be overbearing, negative people hypercritical of every decision you make. Their money may spend, but don't let them intimidate you into bad decisions.

Control Freaks. This kind of angel starts out looking like your new best friend. Don't be fooled. As soon as you hit a pothole, he'll trigger a "gotcha" clause in your agreement that gives him more ownership and operational control of your company. Only your Board can save you here.

Hand Holders. The tutorial investor is not after control, but he wants to guide you on every niggling issue. What feels like benevolent mentoring before he writes the check becomes a painful nuisance soon after. Unless you have an overabundance of time and patience, keep your distance.

Has-Beens. These angels take to wing with every perturbation in the economy. Typical profile: former high-fliers with a liquidity problem. They are still at the country club every day, but now are running up a tab. They will meet with you, ask a thousand questions, but never get around to closing a deal.

Numb Skulls. Wealth is not synonymous with business savvy. You can spot a dumb angel by listening to the questions they ask. The more superficial the questions, the less value (and more potential harm) they will bring to your organization. (That goes for financial journalists too.) One caveat: Numb-skull angels may have important and much smarter friends, so don’t disregard them entirely.

Brokers In Drag. Deal brokers posing as angels (they may be lawyers or accountants by trade) have little intent to invest in your company. Their goal: to get you to pay them to introduce you to actual investors. Brokers may be worth their fees, but don't mistake them for angels.

General rule of thumb for avoiding fallen angels: Eschew investments from private individuals and focus on credible, professional angel-investing organizations. Even then, do your own due diligence: Ask what other companies they've invested in and talk to the chief executives of those outfits to get their feedback. Finally, make sure your lawyer--not the investor--writes the initial investment document or term sheet. This should be a standard document and not negotiated on a one-on-one basis. Beware requests for last-minute clauses that could come back to haunt you.

Yes, money's tight. But choosing the wrong angel could put you on the flight path to perdition.

Martin Zwilling is the founder and chief executive officer of Startup Professionals, a company that provides products and services to start-up founders and small business owners. Check out his daily blog at http://blog.startupprofessionals.comor contact him directly at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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The Box Office Report

Wed, Apr. 27DailyTotal
Rio (2011)$1,550,275$87,606,964
Water For Elephants$1,426,309$21,765,547
Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family$1,112,780$29,940,539
African Cats$512,219$7,726,159
Scream 4$477,047$32,858,041
Hanna$430,850$33,274,027
Soul Surfer$390,763$30,063,188
HOP$379,555$102,357,965
Source Code$374,233$46,007,765
Insidious$338,682$45,285,506


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Lessons Learned: One Writer's Journey

I Am The General

by mc foley

There is an inherent difference in three major components of my work as a writer ~ and one of these components gives me ulcers, headaches, short-term memory loss and on the worst days, bouts of explosive stomach flu. What is the component? For the moment, let's call it — THE APPROACH.

While the other two components keep me impassioned and hammering away at my goals, the APPROACH sometimes makes me feel like I'm in the middle of a chaotic circus... unsure which elephant to train first, all the monkeys flying around like wild bats flinging their feces at each other while the audience gets very, very confused.

This was never something I had to deal with when I was only three feet tall and full of wild ideas. That was back, waaaay back during the days when part of the stuff we call 'writing,' was dubbed 'playing make-believe' (a phrase, which doesn't get used much by writer-adults — even though that's basically what we do).

As a kid, I played make-believe constantly. Sometimes I was an intergalactic soldier and I'd tuck & roll on the ground to ‘shoot' at the neighbors invading aliens. Sometimes I ran a circus, and I trained teams of flying monkeys. Sometimes I owned mud pie factories and I was filthy, stinking rich.

As an adult, these imaginary games still help me, in a way, when dealing with elements of the writing life.

Let me expand... (and forgive my use of 'all caps' ~ it's partially for me and partially for you)

My three, major, work-as-a-writer components are:

The factory: working on a script/book/etc that I am IN THE PROCESS OF WRITING — and sweating out the story as I go...

The intergalactic adventure: working on STRATEGIES TO DISTRIBUTE the script/book/etc that I've ALREADY FINISHED (whether it be "getting it read" or actually "marketing it," if I'm involved in that side at all)

And finally...

The circus: working on the APPROACH aka: PITCH to a script/book/etc that I am ASKING SOMEONE ELSE TO PAY ME TO WRITE.

I compare the first component to a factory, and it's a factory I enjoy — because I've never had a problem with working my ass off, around the clock, day after day, month after month, like my own self-imposed sweatshop of one (don't get me wrong, I'd appreciate a long beach vacation — and soon — but we do what we have to do). Sometimes I wonder if I'm a word-junkie, because, as I always say, I don't subscribe to the writing-is-painful school of thought. I love writing and 14 hours straight of writing is not painful to me.

I compare the second component to intergalactic gunslinging, adventures and unpredictable aliens because, sometimes I have to find my allies, strap on my lightsaber and walk into strange cantinas looking for ways into worlds I don't yet have access to; and strategies to transform strangers into stalwart supporters of my battle plan. Exciting, engaging, mysterious...

I compare the third component to a (f&*ckd up!) circus because — as I'm fine-tuning my approach/take/pitch to people whose reactions I cannot control, I sometimes want to scratch my eyes out because of all the different choices, all the different ways to frame things, all the ‘important' details — of which, only a few can actually be used. It feels like madness — it feels like those insane monkeys flinging feces at my head (and at the execs) — but it feels this way, because personally, I least enjoy the process of convincing other people why something needs to be written.

And part of why I least enjoy this component, is because the scribe in me just wants to write. That little creature is hell-bent on putting words on the page, on shaving them down into things of beauty, on following up with more and more and more! Why should I have to ask for permission?! — the gnarled little troll shouts from inside my brain. If I wanna write, I'm gonna write!

However... painful as it is... I still make myself work on THE APPROACH. Why? Why do something I so intensely dislike? Because, at least in the film and TV world, and unless I'm blessed with a limitless amount of funds to finance entire projects independently, I have to. Because the gnarled little troll might be fantastic at spewing a torrent of words... but that torrent of words doesn't always get me paid.

Or rather, the troll just isn't focused on what is needed — to get paid. Its main concern — is execution. It's a loyal soldier. Not a General. It will burrow into the most dangerous, booby-trapped, land-mine-ridden wastelands... but it will not make the decision to go there.

I am the General. And the troll will go there — because I command it to. It awaits my word, and it valiantly throws itself into the heat of a battle, because this is what I say must be done for the greater good.

Even if it sucks.

Indeed... if writing for mainstream film or television is truly my desire, then the APPROACH — the PITCH — that great and terrifying foe — must be faced.

And while — like any normal soldier — my gnarled little inner scribe may vomit all over itself at the thought, it also knows, the battle must be fought.


by word & by deed,
- mc foley


About mc foley:
Melinda Corazon Foley was born in Cebu, Philippines, raised in Virginia and currently resides in West Hollywood, CA. In 2005, MC Foley was named East West Players' James Irvine Foundation Mentee affording her the privilege to craft a new original stage play, the result: "Down and Out." It debuted at the Union Center for the Arts. Foley was then awarded the Asian American Writers Workshop Scholarship, which she utilized to re-imagine the aforementioned play into a web based series incorporating verse, motion graphics and comic book illustrations. Recently Ms. Foley completed work on a debut YA novel, The Ice Hotel. The novel is a fantasy adventure written especially for readers experiencing the profound pain of loss. In the book, a family, reeling from their eldest son's death, escapes to the Ice Hotel, where an age-old, arctic magic connects this world to the next.

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A Legal Perspective for Screenwriters

by Gordon P. Firemark

Question:
"I have written a screenplay that centers around a popular video game. Do I need to ask the publisher for permission to use the video game or is it alright if I go ahead and copyright my script?"

Answer:



Have a legal question? Email them to: legalquestions@thebusinessofshowinstitute.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

The foregoing is intended as general information only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship with Mr. Firemark. This information is not a substitute for a private, independent consultation with an attorney selected to advise you after a full investigation of the facts and law relevant to your matter. Neither Mr. Firemark nor The Business of Show Institute will be responsible for readers' detrimental reliance upon the information appearing in this column.

About Gordon P. Firemark:
Gordon Firemark is an attorney whose practice is devoted to the representation of artists, writers, producers and directors in the fields of theater, film, television,and music. He is also the publisher of Entertainment Law Update, a newsletter for artists and professionals in the entertainment industries. His practice also covers intellectual property, cyberspace, new media and business/corporate matters for clients in the entertainment industry.

Mr. Firemark serves on the Boards of Governors of The Los Angeles Stage Alliance (the organization responsible for the annual Ovation Awards for excellence in Theater), and The Academy for New Musical Theatre. In the past he has served on the Board of Governors of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, where he served as liason to the Association's Entertainment Law Section (of which he is a former chairman).

Mr. Firemark holds a B.A. in Radio, Television and Film from the University of Oregon, and earned his law degree at Southwestern University School of Law. Before opening The Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark, Mr. Firemark was a partner with the Business Affairs Group, a boutique entertainment law firm in Los Angeles. He has also worked in the legal and business affairs departments at Hanna Barbera Productions and the MGM/UA Worldwide Television Group, and started his legal career as an associate at Neville L. Johnson & Associates, a West L.A. firm specializing in entertainment litigation.

For more about Mr. Firemark, visit http://firemark.com/.

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Marvin V. Acuna Interviews Danny Manus

by Daniel Manus

This week, we are doing something very different. Marvin and I thought with almost 100 BOSI articles written, we'd give you some back story on how we met, how my column came to be and talk about my own BOSI Success Story...so here's our "interview."

Marvin: So Mr. Manus, it's been almost two years since you've joined our BOSI family, but you've never talked about how we crossed paths. Since success is often about chance meetings, tell our readers about ours.

Danny: Well, we had first met years ago when I was an executive at Sandstorm Films and you were a manager. And then our different career paths brought us back together again in 2009 at the Screenwriting Conference in Santa Fe, where we were both speaking on a panel. And that was actually the very week that I launched No BullScript!

Marvin: And after that panel, I walked outside to the tables and found something you had written.

Danny: Yeah, it was a single handout sheet of the No Bullshit Do's and Don'ts of Pitchfests – it was just some really honest, funny stuff on what writers should and shouldn't do when pitching. It was actually that No B.S. Pitching class that inspired the name – No BullScript Consulting. But anyway, you told me you liked it and that we should meet when we got back to LA. So, we set up a meeting, we got drunk on a Monday afternoon, you told me about BOSI, and the rest is history. Haha!

Marvin: I asked you if you wanted to write a weekly column.

Danny: And I think I slurred an "absofuckinglutely." And then quickly sobered up when I thought to myself – how the fuck am I supposed to come up with that much to say?

Marvin: Well you did it, my friend, and now almost two years later we are coming up on 100 articles.

Danny: It's insane, right? And I'm gonna do something really big, different and crazy for the 100th article, which I think is about 5 weeks away, so everyone should stay tuned!

Marvin: So as you know, we've been doing these BOSI Success Stories from writers all around the world, but I hear you have your own?

Danny: Well I started writing my articles very soon after launching my company, not knowing if it would succeed or not. And it really was the BOSI readers and community - and your great advice - that helped build my company and supported me as I got started. And it's the articles I have written for BOSI that inspired my book, most of my classes, and got me published.

Marvin: So what's the number 1 thing you would tell writers to help them create their own Success Story?

Danny: Wow. There are so many things that go into finding success – and I'm still figuring out what most of those are. But what I tell writers is that they have to embrace both the business and the art of screenwriting. If you only care about one, you're not going to be successful. You have to balance research with practice, smarts with good instincts, passion with professionalism. And of course...have a good consultant on your side. Haha!

Marvin: Fantastic. And now I hear you're producing a new class series here in LA? Tell us what it's all about and what inspired you to create it?

Danny: Well, writers constantly ask me the same questions – How do I get representation? How do I break in? What do execs want in a pitch? How do I meet executives and learn what they're really looking for? How do I know what sells and what doesn't? Is there a certain structure execs look for? How do I make a graphic novel out of my script? So, I thought it was time that writers got all those answers right from the source in one great class series.

So, I put together these 8 classes – called "The Executive Series for Screenwriters." I reached into my rolodex and brought in some great people – really great Executives in Hollywood that I've known for years who all have a really strong point of view and want to impart their experience and knowledge to writers. So, it's a great chance to learn but also to meet and network with top industry insiders and gatekeepers. You always speak about how to break in and creating your network and the secrets to networking – well – here you go!

Marvin: Who are some of these teachers and what are they teaching?

Danny: Well I'm teaching my class on breaking in, the notes execs give, and the development process. But then we've got Luke Ryan, former Senior Vice President of MGM, teaching a great comedy writing class. We've got Rachel Miller – President of Tom Sawyer Entertainment and one of the hardest working and smartest managers I know – teaching how to get and keep representation. Jessica Green, the Vice President at The Gold Company, is teaching the class on pitching and she's done pitches with the likes of Vince Vaughn and Jim Carrey.

Naomi Beaty, who worked with Blake Snyder on "Save the Cat" is teaching our structure class – perfect for new writers. Rudy Scalese is a horror film guru (and a damn good bowling partner) and he's teaching our horror writing class, and Joe LeFavi – a comic book writer, publisher and former executive at Jim Henson - is teaching our Graphic Novel course. It's such a viable way to break in and make your project stand out – it's a must see class!

Marvin: And what level of writers would benefit most from this series?

Danny: Every level. From the first time beginners to the professional writers who want to network with real gatekeepers and get a leg up on the competition.

Marvin: And is there any special discount for BOSI readers?

Danny: Always! As I've been saying at the end of my columns, BOSI readers get a special 10% discount off all classes – all they have to do is put in the code "THEBOSI" at checkout!

Marvin: And where can they go to find out more information and sign up?

Danny: Writers should visit http://theexecutiveseries.eventbrite.com and if they have any questions, of course they can email me at Daniel@nobullscript.net.

Marvin: Well this has been fun. I'm looking forward to another 2 years of great exclusive BOSI content and I know we're going to have some big things happening in the coming months.

Danny: Amen! And thanks for everything!


About Daniel Manus:
Daniel Manus is an in-demand script consultant and founder of No BullScript Consulting, which can be found at www.nobullscript.net and was ranked one of the Top 15 "Cream of the Crop" Script Consultants by Creative Screenwriting Magazine. He was the Director of Development for Clifford Werber Productions (Cinderella Story, Sydney White) and is attached to produce several projects independently. Daniel was previously a Development Consultant for Eclectic Pictures and DOD at Sandstorm Films, which had a first look deal at Screen Gems. He is the author of the E-Book "No BS for Screenwriters: Advice from the Executive Perspective," and teaches seminars to writers across the country. Raised on Long Island, NY, in an amusingly dysfunctional household, Daniel holds a B.S. degree in Television with a concentration in Screenwriting from the Ithaca College Park School of Communications.

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Best Business Advice for Screenwriters

Brad Anderson, writer/director of "Session 9," "Transsiberian," and director of "The Machinist" - on his best business advice for screenwriters:

"In regard to finding a good story you have to have a level of curiosity and desire to go out there and see the world—do things. Find interesting, provocative, unusual fresh kinds of stories to tell because those are the kinds of stories that get noticed and more likely get the kinds of financing you need to realize it.

This movie here, "Transsiberian," evolved out of a trip I took 20 years ago, after graduating from college, on the Trans-Siberian. That trip became the seed for the script and the movie like 20-odd years later. So gathering experiences is more important to me, at least in the early stages of your career, than trying to strategize and think of clever ways to break into the industry.

Go out there see the world. Try to use your curiosity to pull in interesting ideas into your brain that are later going to translate later into movies....So my advice is find a good story and don't be surprised if it takes you five years to get it off the ground, get the financing together to make it."

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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:

Mark Pedowitz
President, CW Network

Tal Rabinowitz
Head of Comedy Department, NBC

Scott Landsman
VP Comedy Development, Sony Pictures Television (rumored)

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Map Your Material

by Sean Hinchey

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?

A successful map, or work flow, should have all of the major act breaks crafted in as much detail as possible. Figure out what the setbacks will be followed by the successes of the protagonist. What will the main character have to deal with in order to overcome defeat at any of these points? What will the midpoint success of the story be?

Next, figure out what will happen in the bulk of your acts. This is where you figure out the arc of your protagonist. What will they be accomplishing throughout the story? You will have your act breaks figured out, so now you need to fill in the rest of the story flow. Be clear on what that overall message and theme of your script will be when mapping out these scenes. Keep it simple, but figure out how many scenes you need to completely tell your story.

As you are going through this process, you will need to decide how many supporting characters there will be, and who your antagonist is. Now you will be delving into character development. Create a detailed analysis, similar to a dossier, on each person in your story. Let the process flow, no matter how minuscule or insignificant a detail you may come up with, put it down. You never know how that small item might come into play during the story. Some characters may have more details than others, that's OK. The idea here is that you want to create as much backstory as possible so that you can visualize these people.

Last, figure out how the dialogue will flow. Will the main character speak intelligently or in slang? Will they be witty or serious? This doesn't mean you have to craft extensive exchanges, just enough to give your characters some depth. You may imagine the antagonist stammering every time they get flustered, or the main character always flubs a suave line when they are around a member of the opposite sex, for example. What you are trying to do is jot down any little verbal quirks that you may have about the characters. Don't worry if you'll actually use them, just get them down on paper while the ideas are fresh.

You'll find that the more homework you do when it comes to outlining your screenplay, the less heavy lifting that will be left for you when you actually have to write it out. Writing is never easy, and mapping your screenplay may be more difficult than you realize. However, if you develop a great story process you can save yourself a great deal of time when it comes to writing your scenes. Streamlining the process will help you generate a contest winning script.

Now that you have a screenwriting map, what do you do with it? How do you take all the information and turn it into a quality script? See where we are going with this process in the next article, Story Flow to Screenplay.


About Sean Hinchey:
Sean Hinchey has been a script consultant for International Creative Management (ICM), Miracle Entertainment, Nash Entertainment, and Viviano Entertainment. He's also read the preliminary drafts of Michael Crichton's best-selling novels, State of Fear and Next and has performed extensive research for the stage plays and screenplays of writer/director Floyd Mutrux (American Hot Wax, Million Dollar Quartet).

Sean's expertise has made him a highly sought after judge for such prestigious screenwriting contests such as: The Big Break Contest, The Miramax Open Door Contest, Artists and Writer's Contest, Energy Contest, Smart Contest and The Chills and Thrills Contest. Throughout his career, Sean has read over two thousand scripts, giving him an insight into what it takes to become the winner of a screenwriting contest.

Three of Sean's screenplays have been optioned and one was a finalist in the Film in Arizona Screenwriting Competition. He won an award for his first non-fiction book, Backpacking Through Divorce.

Drawing from these experiences, he's written a book, 39 Ways to Win a Screenwriting Contest & The Nine Mistakes New Writers Make, set for publication in Spring 2010.

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Harold, Lotti, Ray Liotta, Comedians, Vin Diesel And Me...

by Manny Fonseca

This week is going to be a little all over the place. Rather than talk about one specific topic, I'd rather just touch on a few things that happened this past week.

So let's get started...

First up... Harold.

No, I'm not going to print your open letter to the readers Harold...I've already given you too much time and attention. Hell THIS is still giving you time, but I think the readers will benefit from some of the responses I received from last week's column. Here's what people had to say about Harold:

"What a douche bag that guy is. Poor bastard. I'd encourage more behavior like this, as it makes for great reading. It's like watching The Human Centipede. It's totally fucking fucked up torture porn yet I couldn't take my eyes off it."

"I cannot imagine how some people want / wish succeed in ANYTHING this way...I'm glad you've responded to that wish-to-be-cool rant. It's absolutely mind boggling how many people think this way and then they are feeling screwed that no head of studio awaits them with limo on the Greyhound station when they arrive. Tell you what. I'd rather give it another year than have a 15 fuckin' minutes of wasting somebody's time with my crap."

"HahahahaHAHAHAHA! Holy shit, that was the best fucken response to a "writer" I've ever read. Man, I share your pain. I don't know how many of those you have, but I have tens of thousands of writers...writers really go above and beyond the call of doody, the best stories are always writer stories. Like your guy Harold."


So there you go, Sir. Your peers. There were others, but those were my faves. Movin' on!

Gotta share a really good story with you about my new BFF Lotti.

Lotti sent me a logline for her script and wanted my gut feelings on it. Without going into too much detail, Lotti's script REAKED of a vampire movie. Now, I don't know how you feel...but, um...

Fuck Twlight.

Fuck True Blood.

Fuck the Buffy Reboot.

Fuck all of that vampire shit.

With a wooden stake.

Covered in garlic.

During the day.

I am so over the vampire thing. Like really. No. Seriously. Can we stop? Please?

So not in so many words, I responded to Lotti and told her as much. She responded by telling me that her script wasn't actually a vampire movie at all, but more along the lines of a serial killer movie.

Whoa! Hold the phone. A serial killer movie? I like those. Tell me more! So we chatted back and forth for an afternoon via email and the more and more we talked, the more I realized that her script wasn't the problem, but the way she was selling it was the problem.

She had a logline that turned me off ‘cause I hate vampire shit. It's a fad. A trend right now. But now that I had more information and found out is WASN'T about that, I was excited about the project and wanted to read the script.

Here's my point...the logline is important people. I worked with her and gave her some thoughts on how to make it a little more original. Not sure if she's going to follow my advice, but she understood the breakdown in communication and that's really what's key. She wasn't REALLY selling what she had. So think about it. Think about YOUR logline. Does it really cater to your script or is it selling something different entirely?

Great ending to this story is I did end up reading the first 15 of her script and proceeded to have a GREAT conversation with Lotti on the phone. I wish her all the best in her script and look forward to the start of an awesome friendship.

Moving on...

A few weeks ago I shared with you the straight-to-DVD sequel S.W.A.T. 2: Firefight. Well, I got another one for you peeps. Yes, this one is the craptastic Street Kings 2: Motor City.

Yup, that's right my people from the D, yet another shitty sequel filmed in D-town. This one stars the once good actor, Ray Liotta.

Side story...while in town filming separate movies, Ray Liotta and Fiddy-cent were hanging out at the bar at the Friday's my dad and I hang out at. My dad totally drank with Ray Liotta.

Anyway...for those of you that decided to buy a fifth of your favorite adult beverage and peep S.W.A.T., you totally have to repeat that night with Street Kings 2. Spoiler alert...it sucks.

NEXT!

Another thing I had the chance to check out this past weekend was the HBO special Talking Funny with Ricky Gervais, Chris Rock, Louie C.K. and Jerry Seinfield. All jokes aside, they really talked about some issues that I found to be really interesting. Specifically they talked for a bit about finding your voice. A subject I've chatted about here before.

It was interesting hearing Louie C.K. and Chris Rock talk about swearing on stage and Seinfield talking about making the choice early in his career NOT swearing on stage. He even did a "clean" version of a Louis C.K. joke and it was funny, but he had had made it his. He had taken the anger out of it. Funny, but in a different way.

Anyways...for those of you that love comedy or find any of those guys remotely interesting, I would highly suggest seeking it out. It's worth it. In movie news...

Fast Five opens this weekend and say what you will about the series, I'm kind of excited. For one, I'm kind of a Vin Diesel fan. Sure, he's a bit of an oaf...but he knows how to kick ass. Second, and more importantly, it officially launches the Summer season of movies. The blow ‘em up, big stars, big action glitz of Hollywood's finest. Every week a new robot, super hero, actor-who-will-never-win-an-oscar will grace the screen in this year's tentpole picture. Fucking yay people. Fucking yay!.

Now, I'm not the biggest fan of the Onion, BUT, they had a really good bit about Fast Five and seeing how it directly relates to screenwriting, I thought I would share it with you. Check it out here.

Lastly, I've been really getting to know you the readers and it's been great. FYI, the "fucktard army" has officially been changed to "Flock of Fucktards." Time to amp up the community...so I'm officially inviting all of you to find me on Facebook.If you're too lazy to do a search, then friend me at http://www.facebook.com/manny.fonseca. That way you can follow my online sass throughout the week.

As always, you can always get ahold of me at weekendread@gmail.com. Ask me anything, share anything you want or even send me an iPad 2! Cause that would be awesome.Kidding. Not really. No. I am. *I say as I shake my head no.* I will respond to everyone so don't be shy. I even appreciate the occasional "hi." You can also inquire about my script consulting/developing services as well as my pitch consulting services. I'll work with you and whip you into shape to get your ass out there and make some major headway!

Till next week...


About Manny Fonseca:
Manny Fonseca hails from Dearborn, Michigan. Always knowing that he was destined for something more than a menial job in retail or the auto industry, he set forth to discover his passion.

After discovering Woody Allen films in undergrad, he knew what he wanted to do. Be a writer. Putting his ability to pen witty sarcasm to good use, he applied for the master's degree program at Ohio University.

Three long years later, he exited the graduate school womb and entered the world of film, ready to take on the industry with swinging fists. Staying optimistic and showing that he's willing to put in the effort, his internship days reading scripts, writing coverage and doing slave labor paid off into a full time position where he reads scripts, writes coverage and does slave labor. This time, for money!

He's currently working at Kopelson Entertainment and frequently attends pitchfests on the Kopelson's behalf.

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