BIZ TIP TUESDAY:

SPADE/VAN DAMME RULE


We all wish we could have Oscar calibre performances in our films....

I've heard writers say "If Brad Pitt plays this role, it's a sure-fire hit!" or "Tom Hanks in this character will make you cry" or "Meryl Streep can turn this part into Oscar gold!" All of that sounds fantastic, unless your script REQUIRES a star or brilliant actor to make it work. Our scripts have to work no matter WHO they cast in the lead. We can't depend on a star to carry our scripts, our *writing* has to carry the screenplay. When we submit our screenplays, they are naked: no brilliant performance to make that just okay line sing, no gravitas of a great actor to give the role importance, and no funny delivery to make an iffy joke funny. We just have words on the page... so our words need to do all of the heavy lifting.

A new version of this tip is in the Protagonist Blue Book as the "Statham/Rudd Rule", but I've decided to leave the website version the same in order to give those who bought the Blue Book something extra... but no matter which actors become popular and which actors end up in genre films: our screenplays still need to work *before* the roles have been cast.

Buy TIMECOP DVD

Jean Claude Van Damme is a star who doesn't really carry a movie on his own, he's an action star who can do the splits and kick ass... but probably will never be nominated for an Oscar (though he was *great* in JCVD, playing an emotionally damaged version of himself). No one says "I just have to see the new Van Damme movie!" (Okay, I do). But if Van Damme is in a movie that looks interesting (like Mark Verheiden's TIME COP or Joshua James' great POUND OF FLESH), we'll go see it. The story is what sells the movie to the audience, not the star. The same is true with David Spade in comedies. These guys need strong scripts with great stories to carry them. They are second (or third) tier stars who don't attract an audience just because they are in the film, but because of the film they are in.

Our naked characters need to be interesting or amusing or passionate or fascinating on their own, not a character that *requires* the charisma or brilliant acting talent of a movie star. They haven't cast that star, yet... and maybe they never will. There are only so many of those great stars out there, so a large number of films will be made with that next tier talent.

The same is true for dialogue - if your lines will be laugh- out-loud funny if Jim Carrey delivers them, what if they can't hire Jim Carrey? What if they end up with Drew Carrey instead? Or Mariah Carey? Will those lines STILL be laugh-out-loud funny if Mariah Carey delivers them? Or is the humor DEPENDANT on the delivery of a specific actor? A funny line needs to be funny due to the *writing*, not due to whatever delivery the actor will give it. There are amazingly funny actors who can take a fairly bland line and make it laugh outloud funny. We all fantasize about them being in our films... but they won't have a chance to be in the film if the screenplay itself isn't so funny that it is bought and send out to those top tier comedic actors.

Pound

The same is true for dramatic actors. We're in Oscar season, now, so we get to see all of these great performances... But you can't just plug Meryl Streep into a bad script and end up with an Oscar nomination... it starts with the screenplay! If you write a screenplay that's just okay, and hope they will cast Streep to make it brilliant, you are out of luck. She's never going to see that just okay screenplay! The challenge is, in order to get Streep you have to have written an Oscar worthy screenplay to begin with. No easy way out! What's more, if instead of getting Streep you end up with Mariah Carey? That dialogue and those scenes have to be so great that they still work.

I have written scripts for ex-athletes who are new to acting. You can't depend on the actor to make the line work, you have to write "actor proof" lines that work on their own. The *writing* has to work no matter who ends up performing the role. You can write "just okay" dialogue and Tom Hanks will make it sound great, but some of the stars I've worked with require BRILLIANT dialogue to sound "just okay". I always look at my dialogue and imagine the WORST delivery rather than the best. If the line still works, it stays in the script. Part of my job is to make sure these stars look good - that they seem clever and bright. Instead of expecting an actor to make the line work, I have to make sure the line works on its own.

Our scripts should be written so that no matter who plays the lead, the script doesn't suffer. They should be able to cast David Spade (instead of Tom Hanks or Jim Carrey) or Jean Claude Van Damme (instead of Harrison Ford or Ah-nuld) and the film should still work. If your script won't work without a brilliant actor in the lead, what happens if all of the great actors are busy? Or too expensive? You don't want to limit the possibilities for casting your script. We all want great actors to play the roles that we write, but we can't write weak scripts which depend on great actors to work. There aren't that many great actors in the biz.

Buy HOT CHICK DVD

THE HOT CHICK is a good example. (This "rule" began as the FARLEY/VAN DAMME RULE then became the SPADE/VAN DAMME RULE, probaly should have been the SCHNEIDER/SEGALL RULE at some point, and now it's the STATHAM/RUDD RULE in the Blue Book.) Rob Schneider may be funny, but no one is going to pay $11 to see him play Hamlet. He needs a script with a great idea and great execution to attract an audience. We can not expect the audience to just show up because, heck, it's the new Rob Schneider movie! We need an *idea* that attracts the audience, because in this case I don't think the star is going to do it. At the screenplay stage, there *is no star* so all we have is that great idea at the heart of our story. We don't even have the "talents" of Rob Schneider! THE HOT CHICK has a high concept that generates laughs no matter who plays the lead - a spoiled cheerleader swaps bodies with a crude convenience store robber. The contrast between the two creates the comedy - it could have worked if Ernest Borgnine played the role! The situations were WRITTEN funny. Remember, when a producer reads our scripts they are "naked" - no comedian has been cast that will make the lines funny - the lines have to be funny on their own. The same thing with dramas and thrillers and horror scripts - if the scene doesn't make them cry on the page, you'll never know if it will make them cry when Meryl Streep plays the scene. THE HOT CHICK isn't funny because Rob Schneider stars in it, it's funny because the concept and situations and dialogue are funny to begin with. Rob Schneider is the icing on the cake... if he can be called that.

Buy 50 First Dates DVD

Even though Adam Sandler is a star who gets $20 million a film and his films are usually very successful (don't ask me why), he still picks high concept scripts that could work even without a star. 50 FIRST DATES is a good example of a romantic comedy that is idea driven so it doesn't have to be star driven. Drew Barrymore suffered brain damage in a car accident and can't make new memories. Every morning she wakes up a clean slate - unable to remember anything that happened since her accident. Sandler is a love 'em & leave 'em romeo who thinks she might be the perfect woman - talk about a no maintainenece relationship! No reason to remember her name in the morning because she won't remember yours. You can have a series of one night stands with her, and she'll always be there for the next one... without being even a little angry at yuou for not caling her for a few months. Of course, he falls in love with her... and now must make her fall in love with him all over again every single day in order to maintain their relationship. That's a great high concept - it not only can be mined for humor, it provides the groundwork for romance, too.

Notice how the *character* is interesting as well. This is not some blank slate and Sandler shows up to give the character humor and emotions and depth... this is a conflicted character who could be played by almost any actor. The scheming romeo who loves them and leaves them... who finds himself falling in love. Imagine the Hugh Grant version. Imagine the Ryan Reynolds version. The Tom Cruise version. The Morris Chestnut version. The Kevin Hart version. The Jane Lynch version. The Diego Luna version. The Sung Kang version. The Kal Penn version. The John Cho version. The Neil Patrick Harris version. The Jean Claude Van Damme version. Though each actor brings their own personality to the role, you need to start with a role that is interesting enough and has enough depth to support that star's personality. We need to create those fully dimensional roles on the page *before* they cast Adam Sandler or whoever to play that role.

The *script* provides the comedy and romance and drama, so that Adam Sandler doesn't have to. There a great dramatic moment where Sandler believes Barrymore would be better off knowing the truth about her accident (her father and brother pretend it never happened), and the plan backfires. Barrymore has to relive the tragedy, and it's just too much for her. Her father and brother blame Sandler - creating more conflict and drama. The script provides the comedy, drama, and romance - and that makes Sandler look good. Along with WEDDING SINGER this is one of his best films... not because his acting is any better, beacuse the *script* makes him look good.

And to keep with the SCHNEIDER/VAN DAMME RULE scenario - Rob Schneider plays Sandler's best friend.

The new Jean Claude Van Damme movie POUND OF FLESH is about a guy who has his organs harvested and kicks some ass to get them back! Check out the trailer here!

Instead of writing a script that *requires* a great actor to carry it, you should be writing great scripts which can carry any actor. A great actor will just make it better, a second or third tier actor will still come out looking good. We have no control over casting, all we control are the words on the page... so make your script so good that even the worst actor can't ruin it! That means: make the *screenplay* brilliant. Is that hard work? Of course! But there is no movie star attached to our screenplay when someone reads it: it's just words on a page. So those *words* have to work.

More on this in the Protagonist Blue Book!


BRAND NEW

OUTLINES & THE THEMATIC!

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OUTLINES & THE THEMATIC Blue Book.

ARE YOUR SCENES IN THE RIGHT ORDER?
AND ARE THEY THE RIGHT SCENES?

Your story is like a road trip... but where are you going? What's the best route to get there? What are the best sights to see along the way? Just as you plan a vacation instead of just jump in the car and start driving, it's a good idea to plan your story. An artist does sketches before breaking out the oils, so why shouldn't a writer do the same? This Blue Book looks at various outlining methods used by professional screenwriters like Wesley Strick, Paul Schrader, John August, and others... as well as a guest chapter on novel outlines. Plus a whole section on the Thematic Method of generating scenes and characters and other elements that will be part of your outline. The three stages of writing are: Pre-writing, Writing, and Rewriting... this book looks at that first stage and how to use it to improve your screenplays and novels.

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ALSO NEW!

DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book!

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DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book.

IS HALF OF YOUR STORY IN TROUBLE?

Most screenplays are about a 50/50 split between dialogue and description - which means your description is just as important as your dialogue. It just gets less press because the audience never sees it, the same reason why screenwriters get less press than movie stars. But your story will never get to the audience until readers and development executives read your script... so it is a very important factor. Until the movie is made the screenplay is the movie and must be just as exciting as the movie. So how do you make your screenplay exciting to read? Description is important in a novel as well, and the “audience” does read it... how do we write riveting description?

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NEW AND HOT!

*** STRUCTURING YOUR STORY *** - For Kindle!


William Goldman says the most important single element of any screenplay is structure. It’s the skeleton under the flesh and blood of your story. Without it, you have a spineless, formless, mess... a slug! How do you make sure your structure is strong enough to support your story? How do you prevent your story from becoming a slug? This Blue Book explores different types of popular structures from the basic three act structure to more obscure methods like leap-frogging. We also look at structure as a verb as well as a noun, and techniques for structuring your story for maximum emotional impact. Most of the other books just look at *structure* and ignore the art of *structuring* your story. Techniques to make your story a page turner... instead of a slug!

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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.

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The new CDs are available now!

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THE BOOK THAT STARTED IT ALL!

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

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READY TO BREAK IN?

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NEW!

*** 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!

NO KINDLE REQUIRED! Get the *free* app (any device, except your Mr. Coffee) on the order page on Amazon!


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STORY: WELL TOLD!

*** 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!

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MOVIES ARE 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!

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ACT TWO SOLUTIONS!

*** 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!

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SUBPLOTS?

*** 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!

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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.

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ADVICE FROM 1920!

*** 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!


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I WRITE 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!


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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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PRO DIALOGUE TECHNIQUES!

*** 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 over 175 pages!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!



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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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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

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

BILL'S CORNER

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