INTO THE SPIDERVERSE was the #`1 film over the weekend, and we've had that reboot of the reboot of SPIDER MAN (which was also great), I thought I'd revisit that film from only ten years ago callled SPIDER-MAN 2. Many of the critics thought that the second film was superior to the first - but I had the alternative opinion the second film dropped the ball. Although the villain and villain's plan were much better in SPIDER-MAN 2 (probably what the critics were responding to) the film managed to puncture any dramatic situation that great villain created. The first film was filled with dramatic tension and unresolved conflicts that continued to simmer under the surface. Tension is *unresolved* conflict that is still present in the scene. Once you resolve the conflict, the scene loses its tension. Once you resolve a long-standing conflict in the film, the story loses its tension. So the key to maintaining tension is to hold off resolving any big conflicts until the end of the film. In a case like the SPIDER-MAN movies, you may not want to *ever* resolve major emotional conflicts because you'll need them in the next film. It's that "CHEERS thing" where everyone wonders wehn Sam & Diane (and then Sam & Rebecca) would hook up, and maybe ger married. but the minute that happens... the show is over.

The SPIDER-MAN movies were the gold standard of super-hero flicks until that Disco one, and now we've had two reboots which have made *less* money than the first films. The first SPIDER MAN movie made over $400m domestic, AMAZING SPIDER MAN 2 didn't even crack $200m domestic. It's even worse if we adjust for inflation. SPIDER MAN 2 made less than the first film. But this series ushered in the "serious superhero" movie like the DARK KNIGHT trilogy and IRON MAN and the Marvel films (like WINTER SOLDIER, which is a 70s film masquerading as a superhero movie). These are serious films... about guys in tights and capes. But SPIDER-MAN 2 mis-stepped right away with a recap sequence telling us what happened in the first film. Problem is that the opening titles did such a great job of recapping the first film in an interesting way (comic book frames) that the film version of the recap became redundant. Hey, we already know this stuff! For those of us who saw the first film, it was *really* redundant.

But the biggest problem for me with SPIDER-MAN 2 (original) was conflict dissipation. The film keeps neutering the conflict! The engine that runs the machine of SPIDER-MAN is that Peter feels guilty about contributing to Uncle Ben's death. That is Peter Parker's motivation for donning the spidey-suit and fighting crime. In a past tip about the first film, I noted that the guilt that the character feels is not only his motivation for being a super-hero, it's also our doorway into the character. We understand the guilt and understand the character. Without that guilt, he is less interesting and less motivated.


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Every time there is a scene with Peter and his Aunt, the tension is thick - he killed her husband. Maybe he didn't pull the trigger, but he's partially responsible. This tension makes for great dramatic scenes between the two... but in SPIDER-MAN 2 Peter decides he can't bear the tension... so he confesses to his Aunt and she *forgives him*! Conflict resolved. Tension over. Now there is no more dramatic tension in the scenes with his Aunt... and Peter has lost his motivation for being a super-hero and is no longer as *deep* a character as he once was. Huge mistake!

Peter feels that Spider-Man is too much responsibility for him and presto-chango, his powers fade! Peter doesn't have to *give up* his powers, they go away. No *decision* involved. Peter Parker is *passive* in his own life. When his powers fade, his decision to give up being a super-hero is much easier... it's really not even his choice. Spidey does not give up using his powers, they gave up on him. You never want things to be easier for your protagonist, you want to make things more difficult. You want the character to make the decisions, not to have the decisions made for them.


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The story is filled with "easy outs" where problems just solve themselves or disappear. Conflict - real conflict - just vanishes. This removes the drama from the situation. Drama (and conflict) is what brings out character - so we end up with a story that actually weakens the characters instead of explores them. I can't imagine a scene in any super- hero movie where the super-hero is unmasked in public - and nothing happens! Nothing. Since the beginning of super-heroes, the most important thing has always been to protect the secret identity. That's why they wear those spandex outfits and masks in the first place (it's not just an alternative lifestyle decision). Once a super-hero is unmasked, they are powerless - villains can destroy their lives and the police can arrest them as the vigilantes they are. There's this whole spiel in KILL BILL 2 about Superman and his secret identity. If there's a single rule in movies like this it's that the super-hero can never be unmasked. If they are, there's hell to pay... Except in this film. A whole train load of people see Spider-man without his mask... and nothing happens at all! There are no repercussions. An action without any equal and opposite reaction. That's just not possible in the real world - and rings false in the *reel* world.

The film has a lot of "easy outs" where problems solve themselves, but the biggest one for me was that big, juicy scene I imagined when Harry Osborne peels off that mask to find out who murdered his father and discovers it's his best friend. That scene in the film's trailer was the reason why I had really high hopes for this film. Wow! Talk about drama! Talk about conflict! But instead of juicy stuff, we get a fine example of conflict dissipation. "Now isn't the time to deal with you and me" and we cut to *after* Peter has been released by the best friend he betrayed who wanted to kill him! Easy out! Not only does this cheat us out of what could have been the best scene in the story, it creates an unresolved conflict that requires a couple of tacked on scenes to hold it over until the next film. We end up with a RETURN OF THE KING never-ending end trying to deal with all of these conflicts that get pushed under the rug (when they should have been explored in juicy scenes in the film). If the purpose of this was to set up Harry Osborne as the villain in the next film, maybe it should have been saved until the next film... or they should have found some way to save it for the *very* end of the film as a cliff- hanger. By placing it before the final battle with Doc Ock, it ends up not making any sense. Harry has to work his revenge against Peter into his busy schedule? Again - we have the action, but no equal and opposite reaction. Just an easy out.

The problem with easy outs in the SPIDER-MAN movies is that they are all about responsibility. They are all about tough choices. They are all about how Peter's *not* going after the guy who robbed the Wrestling Promoter results in his Uncle's murder. For every action - even the small ones - there is a reaction. So when something happens that should logically create a problem - and the problem just doesn't happen - it goes against the core theme of the story and what the *character* is all about. We have removed that "great responsibility".


There's a quote from Robert DeNiro that pops up every once in a while on the Wordplay message boards that goes something like, "Don't talk the scene away, do something!" One way of avoiding or dissipating conflict is just to talk the problem away. A big problem on SPIDER-MAN 2 was that everyone *talked* about problems instead of giving us scenes that showed them dealing with them. It's Death-By-Exposition. This also lead to a bunch of really clunky dialogue.

In the first film, the action scenes keep forcing Spidey to save MaryJane or go after the bad guy. The end scene where he must make a decision between saving the woman he loves or a busload of kids is all about how with great power comes great responsibility. Scene after scene in the first film gives him difficult choices between what he wants and the responsibility of being a super-hero. Mary Jane is on the falling balcony - rescue her or stop the Green Goblin from killing innocent people? The action scenes were *thematic* and all about exploring the character. In SPIDER-MAN 2 the train scene is exciting, but isn't really about Spidey (unless one of the early drafts was about Spidey losing faith in himself and this was illustrating renewed faith). Peter never has to make a difficult decision in the entire film! The action scenes are just action - they don't explore character,. There is no emotional component to the action scenes in the second film. I think when the action scenes are telling the story, the dialogue doesn't have to do as much heavy lifting... which leads to those clunky lines and exposition scenes.


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The one conflict you don't to have watered down and made less exciting is the main story conflict - the one between the hero and the villain. That's the whole story! The SPIDER-MAN movies are all about guilt and responsibility and making the tough decisions. You all know I'm in favor of having villains explode at the end... the villain has put our hero through hell for the past two hours and it's time for him to pay! There's a karma thing to the ending of a movie. You want the villain to die. A film that ends with the police showing up and the villain being arrested is just not satisfying. So when Doc Ock suddenly changes into a good guy for no apparent reason, the film just dies. I wanted to see the battle of the titans - the story has been promising this battle for the past two hours. I wanted to see Spidey win... and save the world. I didn't want to see Spidey chat with the Doc Ock for a few minutes, convince him he's made a mistake, and have *the villain* save the world and die in the process. Hey, the villain isn't supposed to save the day - that's the hero's job!

I would have rather had Spidey use Doc Ock's mega-weapon against him somehow, and solve both the villain and the weapon (fusion gizmo) problem at the same time... then have Octavius get in some last words as himself as redemption. Darth Vader doesn't just fall on his sword in RETURN OF THE JEDI, he's the villain up unto the point where he's mortally wounded... and reverts back to his human self so that he can die in Luke's arms. Even then, it's kind of a "have your cake and eat it, too" ending - less satisfying than the Death Star blowing up in STAR WARS. You want the villain to pay for what they've done... not turn into the hero.

And leave Spider-Man as the guy who *does nothing* to save the day! The ultimate in passive protagonists - he doesn't solve the problem. The ultimate in easy outs - the problem basically solves itself.


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This goes back to that secret identity that must be protected at all costs - the big romantic triangle in *any* super-hero movie is between the super-hero, the love interest, and the secret identity. Look at Superman, Lois Lane, and Clark Kent! Part of what makes the relationships tick is that it's all about unrequited love. Clark loves Lois who loves Superman. Nobody here is ever gonna be happy!

For the character dynamics to work, Peter must love Mary Jane who loves Spider-Man. Problem is, Peter *is* Spider-Man, but can never reveal himself without putting Mary Jane in danger. The point of SPIDER-MAN's ending was that Peter had to sacrifice his love for Mary Jane in order to continue being Spider-Man. A great CASABLANCA ending!

So ending SPIDER-MAN 2 with Mary Jane knowing that Spider-Man is Peter Parker? Just ruins everything in that relationship! No more love triangle! No more emotional conflict within Peter where he must choose between love and duty. Plus it kills a major conflict in SPIDER-MAN 3 which leads to that disco ball scene! Oh, and she accepts his being Spidey - another easy out! Another conflict dissipated!

The first film had a dopey over-the-top and motiveless villain in Green Goblin. SPIDER- MAN 2 has a great villain in Doc Ock, but seems to miss whatever point it was trying to make. Peter's wish is to avoid conflict and lead a normal life? The lesson that Peter learns is that sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do? So what didn't the *script* learn that lesson? Why do we get mixed signals - the script avoids conflict all the way until the end, but preaches that Peter needs to forget his dreams and face the conflicts? The biggest conflict in SPIDER-MAN 2 is it's point - it seems to be saying one thing and doing another. The first film was *consistently* about great power requiring great responsibility. Somewhere between the two is a GREAT movie, but I think they're just two good ones... and one awful one. How could SPIDER-MAN 3 suck so much?

And now two reboots less than ten years later. Will we have reboooted reboots in ten years? I hope SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME is as good as HOMECOMING.



Making Your Own Movie?
Writing An Indie Film?
Writing A Low Budget Genre Script To Sell?
Writing A Made For TV Holiday Movie?

You will be writing for BUDGET. On a standard spec screenplay, you don’t have to think about budget, but these types of screenplays writing with budget in mind is critical!

If you are making your own movie, budget, is even more important - and you need to think about budget *before* you write your screenplay... or you will end up with a script that you can’t afford to make (or is a struggle to make). Everyone is making their own films these days, and even if you have done it before there are lots of great techniques in this book to get more money on screen - for less money! You can make a film that looks like it cost millions for pocket change.

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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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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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*** 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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NEW: Update with casting for films 7 & 8!

All Six Movies analyzed! All of the mission tapes, all of the “that’s impossible!” set pieces and stunts, the cons and capers - and how these scenes work, the twists and double crosses, the tension and suspense (and how to generate it), the concept of each film as a stand alone with a different director calling the shots (broken in the sixth film), the gadgets, the masks, the stories, the co-stars and team members (one team member has been in every film), the stunts Tom Cruise actually did (and the ones he didn’t), and so much more! Over 120,000 words of fun info!




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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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!


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.
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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)

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).

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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.)

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*** 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!

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*** 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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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 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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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!

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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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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.

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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!

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*** 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!

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*** 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!

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copyright 2020 by William C. Martell

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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.

Furious Action Class

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

Producing my own scripts, investment possibilities, pipe dreams.


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.
The 2 Day Class on CD!


Every screenwriting book in the world!
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From the latest screenwriting book to guides for finding agents and producers... all with at the discount!


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!


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

Available Scripts


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