THURSDAY'S SCRIPT TIP:

STORY = CHARACTER = STORY = THEME


A story is when a character is forced to deal with an emotional problem (usually a character arc) in order to solve an external problem (plot) in order to prevent a catastrophic event from occurring.

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So, I start either with a character or a plot, then find the plot or the character that fits... hopefully with a wild "high concept" idea attached. My Showtime film BLACK THUNDER began with a call from a producer I had worked with in the past. Could I show up at the office the next day with 5 ideas for action movies that either feature a helicopter or a stealth fighter plane (they had stock footage of each). So I brain-stormed up a bunch of plane and helicopter ideas overnight and showed up in the office the next day to pitch them (3 of each)... and as usual, the one they selected was the one I liked best. I never know whether that's because I pitch it better or because it's a better idea. The ones they select are usually the ones that are closest to me.

Which meant I ended up with some stock footage of a pair of Stealth Fighter planes in a dog fight, a "glamour reel" of a Stealth Fighter plane from the manufacturer (I think Lockheed)*, some footage of the Blackbird Spy plane in action, a star signed to a multi- picture deal the producers needed a film for... and three weeks to turn in a first draft.

The idea I had come up with was about the ultimate Stealth Fighter Plane - push a button and it's INVISIBLE. Terrorists steal it. How do you find an invisible war plane... before it finds you?

That was science fiction a decade ago, but today it is theoretically possible - a recent article in the science section explained how invisibility was now possible... exactly the way I explained it in my script! My concept of "active stealth" had begun with my research - a bunch of books I bought on Stealth planes on my way home from the pitch meeting. One of the books mentioned that the RAM-skins used in Stealth Fighters is a "passive system" - it doesn't create invisibility, it just absorbs radar beams. Well, if there's a passive system, why can't there be an *active* system? (The rule of logical opposites.) In the book I'd bought about the SR-71 Blackbird there was a bit about how this pre-passive stealth plane had used a radar jamming device - an active system. Well, the SR-71 was *decades ago* - what if they had continued tinkering with that radar jammer and come up with an active stealth system that could bend light around an object... making it invisible? I created the phrase "active stealth" to describe this system.

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Though Clint Eastwood's FIREFOX was about stealing a high tech plane from the Russians, there had never been a movie about someone who steals a plane *from us* and we have to get it back. This was basically an original idea.

Because I was dealing with a stealth plane, CONCEALMENT became the key to theme, and the rest of the screenplay came from the theme of concealing yourself as a form of betrayal. The theme created situations and scenes that were theme-based..This helped me write the script in 3 weeks, and it also helped to make the script more than just a dumb action movie. I was exploring an issue and exploring characters.

THEME IN ACTION

1) The plane is stolen by Colonel Ratcher, who conceals his identity by wearing a Mission Impossible style mask that makes him look like test pilot Moore. Concealment for purposes of betrayal! I needed a way to steal a top secret plane right off the military base with no shortage of security. So I gave him the test pilot's face, uniform... and severed thumb so that he could pass through a biometric security point. Anything worth stealing in a story has to have an equal amount of security. If you are stealing a candy bar, there isn't much security. If you are stealing the world's most powerful war plane? It should be almost impossible... then our job is to find the most clever way to get past all of those security devices.

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2) Local woman Mela and her Uncle Rojar Ebair conceal that they are members of the underground, preparing a rebellion. I needed some reluctant allies for my hero Vince Conners when he is alone behind enemy lines, and thought it would be fun to have him accidentally put the local rebels at risk - so *they* want to kill him, too. But they reluctantly pool their resources. This gave me a fun scene where Conners is being chased by an enemy patrol through a village, ducks into a house thinking he's safe... and has a gun shoved in his face. Out of the fry pan, into the fire! Then the parol knocks on the door! The fry pan *and* the fire!

3) Mela has weapons concealed behind a false wall in her house...

4) And she conceals our hero behind the same false wall when the patrol search for him. This created a tense scene when the police search the house and almost find Conners.

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5) Of course, the stealth plane itself is all about concealment... but our hero and his co-pilot Jannick have to conceal their Stealth plane when they land behind enemy lines. The fun part of this was that it allowed me to "show" the Stealth plane from stock footage on the ground next to our heroes... by throwing a camouflage tarp over... probably the grip truck or a Honeywagon... with a plywood mock up of the plane wing. On these films that use stock footage you're always looking for ways to match your real people to something that already exists on film.

6) When Jannick is captured he must conceal the existence of our hero... and the mission. We'll talk about this scene tomorrow - along with the relationships of the characters in the story.

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7) In order to pass through a checkpoint, Rojar conceals our hero under some melons in his produce truck. This scene actually didn't begin with theme - it began as a joke. Roger Ebert always joked about how every car chase ends with someone plowing into a fruit cart. I thought it would be funny to have the fruit cart in the car chase, and also needed a way to get out hero through a checkpoint into the villain's military base. That gave me Rojar Ebair the Libyan Produce King. Say Roger Ebert with a french accent, you get Rojar Ebair.

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The produce truck rolls up to the checkpoint to make a regular delivery for the commissary, and the guards give the contents of the truck a thorough search... creating suspense, because they keep *almost* finding the hero hidden under the crates of melons and produce. Just when they are about to let the truck go... they discover an irregularity and draw their weapons... leading to the "fruit cart" chase.

The produce truck chase was fun to write - I envisioned it as a Western scene. The truck is chased by a pair of motorcycles... like a wagon chased by villains on horseback. When they begin shooting at the truck (blasting melons) our hero springs up and returns fire. That was his character's big change from being concealed (hiding in Act 2) to fighting instead of hiding (what breaks us into the character aspect of Act 3). Theme again. One of the cycles speeds up, and the rider jumps from cycle to the truck bed - just like an Indian in an old western jumping from his horse to a wagon. This leads to a big fight in the bed of a speeding truck trying to evade the other motorcycle. Double excitement! Of course, our heroes win the battle and the fruit truck smashes - sending fruit all over the place and satisfying Roger Ebert's Fruit Cart Car Chase Rule.

THEME SCENES

At the time I wrote this script, I was a regular on the Compuserve Showbiz Forum, as was Roger Ebert. All of the characters in the story are named after other Forum regulars. The evil terrorist Stone was named after my friend Bob Stone who writes comedy presentations for businesses. The pilot named Hinkle... well, Don Hinkle now posts on my message boards. It was fun for all of my online friends to see the movie with characters named after them - and Hollywood actors playing those roles.

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There are dozens of other scenes created from the theme of concealment, including a "character twist" at the end revolving around several photos which really the same photo - which we will talk about in tomorrow's tip about Character Keys.

I came up with a list of scenes - many more than I needed. I picked the best of the scenes and used them in my outline. Pacing is critical in an action script, so I made sure that roughly every ten pages included one action scene of some sort - each action scene had an emotional component that demonstrated "concealment for purposes of betrayal". Either one character concealed information or betrayed another, or a character's actions betrayed them to the enemy, or something was concealed or there was the THREAT of betrayal within the scene. Every scene was thematic.

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By Act 3, it was ALL action scenes! One action scene rolling right into the next! A huge action-packed raid on the enemy military base... that leads to a series of dog fights setting one Stealth against another - and one squadron of fighter planes against another.

Whether you start with a character or concept, you can usually find the other... and find your theme while you're at it. They are all connected in that wonderful thing we call "story"... and we look at The Thematic Method in my Story Blue Book. This also helps when you're trying to beat the clock and turn in an interesting draft in 3 weeks.

Want to read that first draft? Here's what I came up with in 3 weeks, reading research books at night and blasting out five "good" pages a day. Sure, some of this needs work... and he filmed version had some changes...

BLACK THUNDER - 3 week first draft.

BLACK THUNDER - CAR CHASE SCENE!

* for reasons never explained to me the Stealth Fighter footage I wrote the script around was never used! Instead they substituted some ugly old 1950s plane. I suspect after they sold every single foreign territory *plus* a US deal that included Showtime and DVD before the film was made... they decided to trim the budget and pocket the difference. They found cheaper stock footage and even used stock footage of *stars* from my CRASH DIVE movie instead of hiring stars for the supporting characters. Many changes happen on the way to the screen, but that's the biz!



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LEARN SUSPENSE FROM THE MASTER!

*** HITCHCOCK: MASTERING SUSPENSE *** - For Kindle!

Alfred Hitchcock, who directed 52 movies, was known as the *Master Of Suspense*; but what exactly is suspense and how can *we* master it? How does suspense work? How can *we* create “Hitchcockian” suspense scenes in our screenplays, novels, stories and films?

This book uses seventeen of Hitchcock’s films to show the difference between suspense and surprise, how to use “focus objects” to create suspense, the 20 iconic suspense scenes and situations, how plot twists work, using secrets for suspense, how to use Dread (the cousin of suspense) in horror stories, and dozens of other amazing storytelling lessons. From classics like “Strangers On A Train” and “The Birds” and “Vertigo” and “To Catch A Thief” to older films from the British period like “The 39 Steps” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much” to his hits from the silent era like “The Lodger” (about Jack The Ripper), we’ll look at all of the techniques to create suspense!

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BRAND NEW!

*** THE BOURNE MOVIES

All five "Bourne" movies (including "Legacy" and it's potential sequels) - what are the techniques used to keep the characters and scenes exciting and involving? Reinventing the thriller genre... or following the "formula"? Five films - each with an interesting experiment! A detailed analysis of each of the films, the way these thrillers work... as well as a complete list of box office and critical statistics for each film. This book is great for writers, directors, and just fans of the series.

Only $3.99 - and no postage!


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BRAND NEW!

*** HOOK 'EM IN TEN *** - For Kindle!


Your story doesn't get a second chance to make a great first impression, and this book shows you a bunch of techniques on how to do that. From the 12 Basic Ways To Begin Your Story, to the 3 Stars Of Your First Scene (at least one must be present) to World Building, Title Crawls, Backstory, Starting Late, Teasers and Pre Title Sequences, Establishing Theme & Motifs (using GODFATHER PART 2), Five Critical Elements, Setting Up The Rest Of The Story (with GODFATHER), and much more! With hundreds of examples ranging from Oscar winners to classic films like CASABLANCA to some of my produced films (because I know exactly why I wrote the scripts that way). Biggest Blue Book yet! Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 100,000 words - 312 pages!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!





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Over 400 Pages!

*** BREAKING IN BLUE BOOK *** - For Kindle!


Should really be called the BUSINESS BLUE BOOK because it covers almost everything you will need to know for your screenwriting career: from thinking like a producer and learning to speak their language, to query letters and finding a manager or agent, to making connections (at home and in Hollywood) and networking, to the different kinds of meetings you are will have at Studios, to the difference between a producer and a studio, to landing an assignment at that meeting and what is required of you when you are working under contract, to contracts and options and lawyers and... when to run from a deal! Information you can use *now* to move your career forward! It's all here in the Biggest Blue Book yet!

Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 400 pages!

$4.99 - and no postage!


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MAKING A SCENE!

*** SCENE SECRETS *** - For Kindle!

***

What is a scene and how many you will need? The difference between scenes and sluglines. Put your scenes on trial for their lives! Using "Jaws" we'll look at beats within a scene. Scene DNA. Creating set pieces and high concept scenes. A famous director talks about creating memorable scenes. 12 ways to create new scenes. Creating unexpected scenes. Use dramatic tension to supercharge your scenes. Plants and payoffs in scenes. Plus transitions and buttons and the all important "flow"... and more! Over 65,000 words! Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is around 210 pages!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!


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50 Tips On Dialogue!

*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Kindle!

*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Nook!

Expanded version with more ways to create interesting dialogue! How to remove bad dialogue (and what *is* bad dialogue), First Hand Dialogue, Awful Exposition, Realism, 50 Professional Dialogue Techniques you can use *today*, Subtext, Subtitles, Humor, Sizzling Banter, *Anti-Dialogue*, Speeches, and more. Tools you can use to make your dialogue sizzle! Special sections that use dialogue examples from movies as diverse as "Bringing Up Baby", "Psycho", "Double Indemnity", "Notorious", the Oscar nominated "You Can Count On Me", "His Girl Friday", and many more! Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is 175 pages!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!


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FIRST HITCHCOCK BOOK!

*** HITCHCOCK: EXPERIMENTS IN TERROR! *** - For Kindle!

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Contained Thrillers like "Buried"? Serial Protagonists like "Place Beyond The Pines"? Multiple Connecting Stories like "Pulp Fiction"? Same Story Multiple Times like "Run, Lola, Run"?
HITCHCOCK DID IT FIRST!

This book focuses on 18 of Hitchcock's 52 films with wild cinema and story experiments which paved the way for modern films. Almost one hundred different experiments that you may think are recent cinema or story inventions... but some date back to Hitchcock's *silent* films! We'll examine these experiments and how they work. Great for film makers, screenwriters, film fans, producers and directors.

Only $5.99 - and no postage!


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BRAND NEW!

*** VINTAGE #1: HOW TO WRITE PHOTOPLAYS *** - For Kindle!

***

Screenwriting books have been around as long as films have. This series reprints vintage screenwriting books with a new introduction and history, plus new articles which look at how these lessons from almost 100 years ago apply to today’s screenplays. Anita Loos book is filled with information which still applies. In addition to the full text of the original book, you get the full screenplay to Miss Loos' hit THE LOVE EXPERT, plus several new articles on the time period and women in Hollywood.

Only $2.99 - and no postage!


MY BLOG!

SCRIPT SECRETS STORE - Do you have a monkey mug yet?




The new CDs are available now!

AUDIO CLASS!

NOIR & MYSTERY80 minute CD packed with information on writing Film Noir and Mystery scripts. Using examples from CHINATOWN to OUT OF THE PAST to DOUBLE INDEMNITY you'll learn how to create stories in this dark, twisted genre. How to plant clues, red herrings, suspects, victims, spider women, fallen heroes, the funhouse mirror world of noir supporting characters... and the origins of Film Noir in literature Noir dialogue and how noir endings are different than any other genre. All of the critical elements necessary to write in this critically popular genre.
The Noir & Mystery Class is only $15 (plus $5 S&H). First 20 on Limited Black Disk!

RECESSION SALE! $5 OFF!

WRITING HORROR - The essentials of a horror screenplay - what do ROSEMARY'S BABY, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE EXORCIST, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE OTHERS and OPEN WATER have in common? This class will tell you! All of the critical elements necessary to write a script that scares the pants off the audience. Writing Horror is $10.00 (plus $5 S&H).

IDEAS AND CREATIVITY - 80 minute CD packed with information. Tools to find ideas that are both personal *and* commercial. Hollywood wants scripts with High Concept stories... but not stupid scripts. Developing *intelligent* high concept ideas. How to turn your personal story into a blockbuster - or find your personal story in a high concept idea. Brainstorming and being creative. Ideas and Creativity is $10.00 (plus $5 S&H)

WRITING INDIES - Writing an Indie film? This class covers everything you need to know - from Central Locations to Confined Cameos. Using examples from SWINGERS, THE COOLER, STATION AGENT and others, this 80 minute CD is packed with information. How Indoe films challenge the audience (while mainstream films reassure the audience). Structures, using BOYS DON'T CRY, RUN LOLA RUN, HILARY & JACKIE, and others as example. Writing for a budget, writing for non-actors, getting the most production value out of your budget. Writing Indies is $10.00 (plus $5 S&H)

Click here for more information on CLASS CDs!



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Makes a Great Gift!

*** THE SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING *** - For Kindle!

*** THE SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING *** - For Nook!

Why pay $510 for a used version of the 240 page 2000 version that used to retail for $21.95? (check it out!) when you can get the NEW EXPANDED VERSION - over 500 pages - for just $9.99? New chapters, New examples, New techniques!

"SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING is the best book on the practical nuts-and-bolts mechanics of writing a screenplay I've ever read." - Ted Elliott, co-writer of MASK OF ZORRO, SHREK, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and the sequels (with Terry Rossio). (ie; 4 of the top 20 Box Office Hits Of ALL TIME.)

Only $9.99 - and no postage!


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HOW YOU TELL IT!

*** STORY: WELL TOLD *** - For Kindle!


This book takes you step-by-step through the construction of a story... and how to tell a story well, why Story always starts with character... but ISN'T character, Breaking Your Story, Irony, Planting Information, Evolving Story, Leaving No Dramatic Stone Unturned, The Three Greek Unities, The Importance Of Stakes, The Thematic Method, and how to create personal stories with blockbuster potential. Ready to tell a story? Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 85,000 words - 251 pages!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!


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ACT TWO IS EASY!

*** ACT TWO SECRETS *** - For Kindle!


Expanded version with more techniques to help you through the desert of Act Two! Subjects Include: What Is Act Two? Inside Moves, The 2 Ps: Purpose & Pacing, The 4Ds: Dilemma, Denial, Drama and Decision, Momentum, the Two Act Twos, Subplot Prisms, Deadlines, Drive, Levels Of Conflict, Escalation, When Act Two Begins and When Act Two Ends, Scene Order, Bite Sized Pieces, Common Act Two Issues, Plot Devices For Act Two, and dozens of others. Over 67,000 words (that’s well over 200 pages) of tools and techniques to get you through the desert of Act Two alive! Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is well over 200 pages!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!


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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR!

*** SUPPORTING CHARACTER SECRETS *** - For Kindle! (Exclusive)


Expanded version with more techniques to flesh out your Supporting Characters and make them individuals. Using the hit movie BRIDESMAIDS as well as other comedies like THE HANGOVER and TED and HIGH FIDELITY and 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN and many other examples we look at ways to make your Supporting Characters come alive on the page. Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is around 170 pages!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!


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WRITING PICTURES!

*** VISUAL STORYTELLING *** - For Kindle! (exclusive)


Show Don't Tell - but *how* do you do that? Here are techniques to tell stories visually! Using Oscar Winning Films and Oscar Nominated Films as our primary examples: from the first Best Picture Winner "Sunrise" (1927) to the Oscar Nominated "The Artist" (which takes place in 1927) with stops along the way Pixar's "Up" and Best Original Screenplay Winner "Breaking Away" (a small indie style drama - told visually) as well as "Witness" and other Oscar Winners as examples... plus RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 200 pages!

Only $4.99 - and no postage! (limited time price)


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BEST SELLER!

*** YOUR IDEA MACHINE *** - For Kindle!

*** YOUR IDEA MACHINE *** - For Nook!

Expanded version with more ways to find great ideas! Your screenplay is going to begin with an idea. There are good ideas and bad ideas and commercial ideas and personal ideas. But where do you find ideas in the first place? This handbook explores different methods for finding or generating ideas, and combining those ideas into concepts that sell. The Idea Bank, Fifteen Places To Find Ideas, Good Ideas And Bad Ideas, Ideas From Locations And Elements, Keeping Track Of Your Ideas, Idea Theft - What Can You Do? Weird Ways To Connect Ideas, Combing Ideas To Create Concepts, High Concepts - What Are They? Creating The Killer Concept, Substitution - Lion Tamers & Hitmen, Creating Blockbuster Concepts, Magnification And The Matrix, Conflict Within Concept, Concepts With Visual Conflict, Avoiding Episodic Concepts, much more! Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 175 pages!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!


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IT STARTS WITH CHARACTERS!

*** CREATING STRONG PROTAGONISTS *** - For Kindle!

*** CREATING STRONG PROTAGONISTS *** - For Nook!

Expanded version with more ways to create interesting protagonists! A step-by-step guide to creating "take charge" protagonists. Screenplays are about characters in conflict... characters in emotional turmoil... Strong three dimensional protagonists who can find solutions to their problems in 110 pages. But how do you create characters like this? How do you turn words into flesh and blood? Character issues, Knowing Who Is The Boss, Tapping into YOUR fears, The Naked Character, Pulp Friction, Man With A Plan, Character Arcs, Avoiding Cliche People, Deep Characterization, Problem Protagonists, 12 Ways To Create Likable Protagonists (even if they are criminals), Active vs. Reactive, The Third Dimension In Character, Relationships, Ensemble Scripts, and much, much more. Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is once again around 205 pages!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!


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Over 240 pages!

*** THE TERMINATOR MOVIES *** - For Kindle!


He's back! The release of "Terminator: Genisys" (now on BluRay) is set to begin a new trilogy in the Terminator story... 31 years after the first film was released. What draws us to these films about a cybernetic organism from the future sent back in time? Why is there a new proposed trilogy every few years? This book looks at all five Terminator movies from a story standpoint - what makes them work (or not)? What are the techniques used to keep the characters and scenes exciting and involving? How about those secret story details you may not have noticed? Containing a detailed analysis of each of the five films so far, this book delves into the way these stories work... as well as a complete list of box office and critical statistics for each film. This book is great for writers, directors, and just fans of the series.

Only $3.99 - and no postage!



hcd

FINAL DRAFT SOFTWARE

Use your creative energy to focus on the content; let Final Draft take care of the style. Final Draft is the number-one selling application specifically designed for writing movie scripts, television episodics and stage plays. Its ease-of-use and time-saving features have attracted writers for almost two decades positioning Final Draft as the Professional Screenwriters Choice. Final Draft power users include Academy, Emmy and BAFTA award winning writers like Oliver Stone, Tom Hanks, Alan Ball, J.J. Abrams, James Cameron and more. * * * Buy It!

copyright 2018 by William C. Martell


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SCRIPT SECRETS STORE

Script Secret Store SCRIPT SECRETS STORE From Typing Monkey coffee cups to messenger bags to T shirts - everything a screenwriter needs to look sharp while working on that Oscar nomination! Get your Script Secrets Coffee Cup today!

MY OTHER SITES

B MOVIE WORLD
Cult Films, Exploitation, Bikers & Women In Prison, Monster Movies.

FIRST STRIKE PRODUCTIONS
Producing my own scripts, investment possibilities, pipe dreams.

NAKED SCREENWRITING CDs

Naked Class NEW! The NAKED SCREENWRITING CLASS ON CD! The 2001 London Class on 8 CDs! Recorded *live* the morning after the Raindance Film Festival wrapped. The two day class on 8CDs, plus a workbook, plus a bonus CD with PDFs.
The 2 Day Class on CD!

E BOOKS PAGE

bluebook E BOOKS: New Blue Books and Novelettes!
I am expanding all of the Blue Books from around 44 pages of text to around 200 pages! Some are over 250 pages! See what is availabale and what is coming soon!Also, I've been writing Novelletes and there will soon be novels.
E BOOKS: BLUE BOOKS & NOVELLETES

BOOKSTORE

Every screenwriting book in the world!
SCREENWRITER'S BOOKSTORE
In Association With Amazon.com
From the latest screenwriting book to guides for finding agents and producers... all with at the Amazon.com discount!

BOOKLETS & PRODUCTS

bluebook FIRST STRIKE BLUE BOOKS
Each Blue Book is 48 pages and focuses on a different aspect of screenwriting. Dialogue. Visual Storytelling. Your First Ten Pages. Act 2 Booster. Protagonists. Great Endings.
Seventeen Blue Books now available!

THE SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING The Best Nuts & Bolts Screenwriting Book On The Market!

ONLINE CLASSES
Furious Action Class
BILL'S CORNER

My nineteen produced films, interviews with me in magazines, several sample scripts, my available scripts list... And MORE!
...............................BILL'S CORNER


Available Scripts

CLASSES ON CD

Class CDs CLASSES ON CD! Take a class on CD! GUERRILLA MARKETING - NO AGENT? NO PROBLEM! and WRITING THRILLERS (2 CDs). Full length classes on CD. Now Available: IDEAS & CREATIVITY, WRITING HORROR, WRITING INDIE FILMS, more!
Take classes on CD!