Download The Modern Moviemaking Movement

If you are looking for filmmaking information, make sure you download your free copy of the Modern Moviemaking Movement. In this guide, ten of Hollywood’s most innovative filmmakers provide insight on how to navigate the ever changing world of Independent filmmaking.

Topics covered in this book, include how to write your script, how to raise the money and also, how to implement modern movie distribution strategies.

Here’s an overview of what’s included in this FREE Filmmaking Book! Download here.

  • Uncover Successful, Modern Screenwriting Tips with Jurgen Wolff
  • Find Out How To Make the Most of Movie Money with Norman C. Berns
  • Discover Six Ways to Finance Your Feature Film with Gordon Firemark
  • Bankroll Your Movie with Tom Malloy
  • Get The Inside Scoop On Crowdfunding with Carole Dean
  • Plan Your Production For Maximum Success with Peter D. Marshall
  • Modern Guerrilla Filmmaking with Gary King
  • Navigate Film Festivals and Do Them Right with Sheri Candler
  • Sell Your Movie Without the Middle-Man with Jason Brubaker
  • Know The Producer of Marketing and Distribution and Utilize The New 50/50 with Jon Reiss

This filmmaking book is 100% FREE of charge. Enjoy!

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Seriously. Add this one to your collection of filmmaking books!

Screenwriting: Why Kim Cattrall got mad at me

I just saw Kim Cattrall mentioned in the news and it took me back to a long time ago when I did a rewrite of one of her early movies, “Mannequin.”

It was my first script doctoring job and I was in a hotel in Philadelphia, every night faxing the new pages to the studio in LA. where the head of the studio read them the next morning. I wanted to make it as easy for him to visualize the script as possible, especially since he was reading in installments of about ten pages a day. Because of that, I used “parentheticals” like “angrily” or “wearily” much more often than I normally would.

Then the cast came in for the first read-through. Kim Cattrall took out a big marker pen and started marking stuff out. Somebody asked her what she was doing. She glared at me and said, “Crossing out all the places the writer told me how to act.”

Ouch. But I was right, because I was writing a reading script, one that was being read under difficult circumstances.

If you’re writing a script to be read by someone who is possibly going to buy it, you want to make it as easy and entertaining as possible. Yes, it’s easy to overdo the parentheticals, ideally your dialogue itself suggests how it will be delivered. But when it helps, go ahead. A sarcastic remark from an actress is not too high a price to pay.

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For screenwriting tips from Jurgen Wolff, come back here every Tuesday and also see his site, www.ScreenWritingSuccess.com and check out his book, “Your Writing Coach,” available from Amazon and other online and offline booksellers.

Are screenplay contests worth entering?

I’m pretty skeptical about script contests as a way to further your career. There are success stories but I think they’re the exception. So I was interested to read the view of Chad Gervich on the Script website. He says that winning a script rarely gives you the edge. He’s been a judge in script contests and says winning only shows your script was the best, but that the standard is generally atrocious.

How bad are these scripts? Out of 500 he estimates that ten to fifteen “have some semblance of real voice, character, or storytelling. That doesn’t mean they’re good…” On the one hand that’s good news because it means if you have a good script you have a reasonable chance of winning. On the other hand, if people in the business know that these contests have a low standard, they may not pay much attention to them.

Listen, having won a contest is better than nothing and there have been some successes, but it’s good to have a realistic view, especially when some contests have a hefty entry fee. Here are a few specific tips:

Look at the ratio of the entry fee to the prize–if it costs $50 to enter, and the prize is only $500, I figure somebody’s making money on this.

Of course it may be access to important people in Hollywood that you’re after, in which case you need to check whether the contest is specific about who will see the winning entries. Simply being told that “the winner will be sent to important Hollywood producers and agents and directors” isn’t good enough. First, who are these people? Second, have they actually agreed to look at the winners, or are they just going to get them sent to them and throw them away or hit the delete key?

Finally, does the contest list previous winners? If so, why not email a couple of them and ask them what their experience was–did it help them? If so, how? You should be able to Google them or find them on Facebook or you can write them a letter c/o the Writers Guild if they’re members.

Good luck!

(Jurgen Wolff offers screenwriting tips here every Tuesday as well as on his site, www.ScreenwritingSuccess.com. Also see his book, “Your Writing Coach,” available from Amazon and other online and offline booksellers.)

 

Screenwriting: is your story novel?

One more question that helps you figure out if you’re onto a “monster” idea instead of just a goodish one is, “Is it novel?” That’s what Stefan Mumaw says in his book, “Chasing the Monster Idea.”

Of course nothing is totally new. Even the Bible says there’s nothing new under the sun, and that was quite a while ago.

Generally creativity means the combination of existing elements to produce something different from either of them (and, ideally, more useful or interesting than either of them alone).

Coming up with a new story for a film is especially challenging, given how many films and TV shows and plays there have been.

The good news is that you don’t need to come up with something hugely different–to a degree, people like seeing the same kind of story but they do want some kind of twist. Here are some options:

Gender switch — prime example is “Alien” in which the Sigourney Weaver’s part was written for a man. It made her one of the first female “tough guys.” That switch has been done a lot since, but maybe you can think of an interesting way to have a male in a traditionally female role.

Unusual location – this worked for “Witness,” which took place in an Amish community.

Different time – detective story set in Rome, for instance or in medieval times (“Name of the Rose”)

Different genre or format – “Who Killed Roger Rabbit” mixed comedy with a hard-boiled detective plot and added in the mix of live action and animation for good measure.

What switch might make your story stand out?

(You’ll find Jurgen Wolff’s screenwriting tips here every Tuesday and also on his site, www.ScreenwritingSuccess.com. Also get his book, “Your Writing Coach,” published by Nicholas Brealey.)

Screenwriting: what experience do you want the audience to have?

According to Stefan Mumaw’s book, “Chasing the Monster Idea,” one of the key questions to ask if you want to find out whether your idea is a “monster” rather than just good (or bad) is, “Does it create an experience?”

Which movies you’ve seen would you call an experience?

I’d say “Alien,” which made me jump out of my seat when that thing exploded out of poor John Hurt’s chest…the ending of “Sixth Sense” which I didn’t see coming and was a topic of conversation for a while…and to be more general, any movies that make me wish they would just keep going for a few more hours (like “Sideways”) or movies that keep me thinking about them for days afterward (“Gone, Baby, Gone”), or ones (the “Bourne” films) that are a good thrill ride while they last even though they may be forgotten pretty quickly afterward.

There are a lot of ways to make your movie an experience but I think it helps to have one in mind as you’re writing. On the one I’m writing at the moment, my goal is to make people think about what they want to leave behind when they die, and maybe to feel a little nervous about the prospect.

If you haven’t thought about it already, consider what experience you want people to have. One way to focus on this is to write the review quotes you’d like to see when your film has been released–“A thrill ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat,” or “A hilarious look at parenthood that also makes you think,” for instance. Then, as you write or rewrite, make sure you deserve those quotes.

(For more screenwriting tips, come back for a new post from Jurgen Wolff every Tuesday and also see his blog, www.ScreenwritingSuccess.com. Also check out his book, “Your Writing Coach”).