BIZ TIP TUESDAY:
LET'S SELL A SCRIPT TOGETHER!
We are almost halfway through the year!
Over the holidays at my parent’s house, some channel was showing a Neil Simon movie starring Walter Matthau and Ann-Margaret that I had never heard of, I OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES. I thought I’d seen everything Simon has done, heck, I even watched a couple of episodes of the NEW NEW ODD COUPLE (2015) (and two episodes were enough), so I ended up watching the movie, even though there’s a reason why I’d never heard of it until now. And wait, Michael Dudikoff is in it? *And* David Faustino? How did I ever miss this? Here’s the story: 19 year old Libby Tucker (Dinah Manoff) goes to live with her estranged father, screenwriter Herb Tucker (Matthau)... who has no idea what to do with a daughter. She wants to be in the movie business, and at this point in his career - so does dad. He’s broke. Libby gets a job as a valet parker at one of those places where movies stars go, and has this scheme - she writes all of her information on the back of the valet parking stubs, so that stars and directors and producers will contact her. While watching, I wondered if that would work. Matthau’s character knows it won’t work - and neither will going to meetings or anything else. None of that stuff is working for him. Because this is a movie, things actually work out for Libby in a most unexpected way...
The valet stubs? Could something like that work? Is the experiences Hollywood insider played by Matthau *wrong*?
After you get done saving cats and have some screenplays to market, maybe you should consider skinning cats... because the truth is, there are a million ways to break in, and anyone who says “that way won’t work” really means that it didn’t work for them. There’s a screenwriting guru who says that query letter are a waste of time... but the first real money option I got from a Hollywood producer was from a query letter. And some form of query letter or cold call has been a part of many of my sales. Factor in, many screenwriters I know landed their managers through queries... and their managers have landed them sales. So queries may not have worked for this guru, but they worked for other people. The lesson is - you have to try everything... maybe even writing your name and contact info on the back of valet stubs that are thrown away immediately after the big time producer collects their blue Ferrari Testarossa.
GETTING THE REAR IN GEAR
After a few years of wheel-spinning studio meetings that went nowhere and assignments that never ended up on screen, I decide to produce my own films a couple of years ago... and spent much of that year jumping through a series of hoops looking for money... and my projects (RIPTIDES and STEEL CHAMELEONS) still haven't been made! I’ve been stuck at 19 produced scripts for longer than I want to admit, and I'm ready to get ANOTHER script on screen! I was spoiled by the world of cable movies - you write one today and nine months later you watch it on HBO. I became addicted to seeing the stuff I write actually end up on screen, so I'm always looking for my fix. That means I need to keep letting producers know I still exist - so that they read scripts, buy them, and hopefully make them. I need to make new connections, and that means some form of query letters plus some networking plus maybe entering contests.
For this you will need a new 2020 calendar. One with big white squares to write things in. Most people will write in doctor’s appointments and PTA meetings and other stuff, we’re going to use our calendars to plan our networking and keep track of our writing (page count or word count). Hey, you can use it for those dentist appointments and PTA meetings, too. I got my office calendar at the 99 Cents Only Store - so this isn’t going to break your bank. I was a poor screenwriter for years, so I know you aren’t made of money.
In the Breaking In Blue Book I suggested writing 5 or 10 equeries a week to agents and managers and producers and sending out at least 100 before you begin thinking that other screenwriting guru may be right. That gives you a lot of chances and makes sure you have a chance EVERY WEEK to have a producer or manager want to look at your script. A watched emailbox never fills - and this method has you putting new queries in the email instead of waiting around for the response. Again - equeries are cheap, as in *FREE*, which is my favorite price. Keep track of when you send these and who you send them to on that calendar, and send a new batch with every new screenplay that you write (and rewrite so that it’s ready).
You will also want to network as much as possible, and that means finding events where producers and managers might be and going there. Film festivals, writing events, and anything else you can find. The Breaking In Blue Book has 12 Ways To Make Connections In Your Home Town, and 14 Ways To Network In Los Angeles. So find the events you want to attend and put them on that calendar. That way you can plan your day job around those events and be prepared for when they happen. I suggest you reach for the stars in your planning stage, because you can always do less. But if you know that a local film festival is coming up in June, you can be ready to network in June (new script, business cards (got mine from VistaPrint cheap!), and days off and that cheap motel three miles from the event) and if you decide not to go, it’s okay. If you decide to go, you already know about the cheap motel three miles from the event and you aren’t scrambling at the last minute.
If you are interested in entering screenwriting contests, put the entry dates on the calendar and count back and mark on the calendar when you need to start doing the rewrites on your script in order to have it super awesome by deadline date, then count back to when you need to have your script finished and when youy need to start your script. The idea is to have a writing plan in place that will get that script ready in time for the contest deadline, and I mean *really* ready. The day before the contest deadline is no time to finish your first draft!
I’m going to try to find a manager this year... Every single script I’ve sold or assignment I have landed has been *without* a manager, but that’s often a lot of work. The one time I had an agent I basically made my own sales, and the one time I had a manager is the only time in my career I made ZERO sales or options or assignments. Why? I had the wrong manager (and earlier, the wrong agent). So my basic advice to you is to not just send equeries and try to network with just any manager or agent - target the right manager or agent for you. That means you will need to research.
In the Breaking In Blue Book I have some methods for managers that may work for you, but here are some tips that will save you from shelling out the money to buy my book: read the trades regularly for script sales, and pay attention to who represented scripts in your genre. Build up a list. Also look at best unproduced screenplay lists like The Black List and The Hit List and The Blood List (etc) and look for scripts that are similar to yours and see who represents them. Soon you will know what agents and managers prefer what genres and subgenres and know who to target. By the way, there are some management companies that actually have submission information on their websites. But how do you find the email address for managers at places that don’t have submission information? Well, if you can get one email address from the company, you can figure out the rest. Some are FirstNameLastName@WebAddress. Some are FirstInitialLastName@WebAddress. Some are FirstNameLastInitial@WebAddress. There’s a limited number of possible combinations, right? If you have one email address you can figure out the others, and if you have *none* you can maybe try some combinations and see what happens. But you want to send your equeries to the manager or agent who regularly goes out with your type of material. Sending an equery to a manager who usually sells rom-coms with a pitch for your torture porn horror script is not going to be successful.
The two subscription public tracking boards offer much more information - not just the scripts that sold, but the ones sent out that *didn’t* sell (and the managers who sent them out) and if you have the money, subscribing to one may be helpful.
Because I’m looking for a manager and some sales, I’m going to be doing all of this myself. So let's all do it together. Maybe by the end of the year we will ALL have a script on film, right?
WHAT IF I DON'T GET ANY RESPONSES?
As I say in the Breaking In Blue Book, some big company, maybe Coca-Cola, was once asked about all of their billboards and commercials and concerts and race cars. They said that about 99% of those ads DIDN'T result in sales of Coca-Cola... but they had no idea what the 1% that did was, plus that 1% was changing daily. One day somebody might look up at a billboard and actually buy a Coca-Cola. Another day nobody that looked at the billboard bought one. But if you removed ALL of the billboards & adverts, they'd definitely lose sales. Coca-Cola would stop being the first soft drink Americans thought of.
A big part of what we're doing with equeries is advertizing ourselves. We're getting our name in front of people. Someday, we hope all of this advertizing pays off with a sale.
I know I told this story before: About my "orange fliers". After selling COURTING DEATH to a Paramount based company and moving to Los Angeles, I realized I needed to make another sale... but I knew absolutely no one in town. So three times a year I used to send out "junk mail" to independent producers about my new scripts. I’d been collecting a list of producer’s addresses and - this being the dark times before email - was mailing actual letters to them. I tried to make the "junk mail" amusing - often I did parodies of actual junk mail ads intended for "resident" and "occupant" but put in my mailbox by mistake. One company (the guys who produced DUMB & DUMBER) got three pieces of mail from me every year for YEARS before responding. But they did respond. They invited me to the premiere of their new film. At the party afterwards, the I introduced myself to the prez of the company... He knew who I was! "You're the guy who keeps sending us junk mail!" I never sold them anything (though they read some stuff) but it took me YEARS before I got a response. By that time, they knew my name....
You can be famous, too.
Send out equeries - 5 or 10 a week and keep doing it until you’ve sent out 100 on your current best screenplay. Target the managers and agents and producers (so that you aren’t wasting both their time and yours) and maybe try sending some to producers. Thathas worked for me, and may work for you. The great thing about equeries - they cost nothing. When I first did a Script Tip about query letters, it was all done by mail - and would cost you the price of a Big Mac Meal at McDonalds every week. Now? Free. My favorite price.
You’ll probably have better luck with equeries and networking at a handful of events every year than by getting a job as a valet parking attendant and writing your name and contact info on the valet stubs... which didn't even work in the movie!
All About LOGLINES, TREATMENTS, and PITCHING!
LOGLINES, TREATMENTS, and PITCHING! Blue Book!
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Loglines, Treatments, Pitching, Look Books, Pitch Decks, One Pagers, Rip-O-Matics?
You have written a brilliant 110 page screenplay, but how do you get anyone to read it? You need to distill it down into some form of verbal moonshine or story rocket fuel that will ignite that bored development executive or manager or agent and get them to request your screenplay. But how do you shrink those 110 pages into a 25 word logline or a 2 minute elevator pitch or a one page synopsis or a short paragraph? This 100,000 word book shows you how! Everything you need to know! From common logline mistakes (and how to solve them) to how your pitch can reveal story problems to the 4 types of pitches!
NEW: WRITE IT: FILM IT!
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.
OUTLINES & THE THEMATIC!
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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DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book!
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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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!
*** THE BOURNE MOVIES
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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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THE BOOK THAT STARTED IT ALL!
*** 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
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"SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING is the
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READY TO BREAK IN?
*** 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!
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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*** 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.
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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!
*** 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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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!
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E BOOKS PAGE
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
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
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!
In Association With Amazon.com
From the latest screenwriting book to
guides for finding agents and producers... all with at the
BOOKLETS & PRODUCTS
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
nineteen produced films, interviews with me in magazines,
several sample scripts, my available scripts list... And MORE!
CLASSES ON CD
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!