TUESDAY'S BIZ TIP:

NO MONEY OPTIONS


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I make a living writing screenplays. When I option a screenplay, people pay me actual money. When I sell a screenplay, they pay me even more money. When they film a screenplay I wrote I get a production bonus. I don't work for free... and I don't give free options.

Okay - that's not entirely true. I would give Spielberg a free option... but he's not asking for one and WOULDN'T ask for one. Spielberg has the money to pay for an option... and he's a real producer. It's either a catch 22 or a variation on that Groucho Marx joke - anyone so important that you would consider giving them a free option is so big that they would never *ask* for a free option.

An option is renting a script to a producer. It's just like renting an apartment - but you are the landlord. Someone pays you an agreed upon amount for an agreed upon time - then they move in. They have temporary ownership of your script. While that script is under option it is not yours - you can't sell it, you can't show it to other producers, you can't complain about what the producer does with it. The script isn't yours for as long as the option lasts. My landlord doesn't give me free rent on my apartment, so I can't give anyone a free option on my screenplays.

There's no such thing as free rent, no such thing as a free lunch, but people still try to option scripts for free. Why is that? Three possible reasons come to mind...

1) The guy offering you a free option isn't a real producer. Hollywood is filled with wannabe actors, wannabe writers and wannabe producers. Anyone with $20 can get business cards printed that say they are a producer, but what have they actually produced? Part of our job is to make sure we are dealing with real people. Look them up on IMDB, ask them for some film titles you can rent at Blockbuster. Check them out! Every company I have dealt with has had movies I can rent at Blockbuster. Most have had big office buildings on Wilshire Blvd. They are real companies with track records that make real movies. A producer who has made successful movies in the past will have some money to pay for options.

Though the reason for an option is to go to a funding source to find the money to make the film or pay for the screenplay, it still takes money to make money. It's one thing for a producer not to have mid-six figures to pay for your script in their bank amount, another if they're flat broke and can't pay you for an option. Do you really want to work with a broke producer?

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2) They're paying what it's worth. They aren't willing to put company money, or even personal money, at risk for the script. Hey, these guys have development funds so that they can pay for options! If they aren't willing to risk that money on a script, that script is probably a long shot. I've had scripts optioned by guys working out of their garage (like in the movie MISTRESS) and they paid real money because they were willing to risk their personal money on my script. They could take my script to a distributor or studio and get the money to make the film. The guy working out of his garage took my script to his contact at Hemdale and got a deal. He was out of his garage and into a production office, and I was paid to rewrite my script for Mickey Rourke. If a producer isn't willing to spend a cent on your script, that's not a good sign.

3) They are a material packrats. When I first came to town I met this "producer", a real character, who optioned scripts for $1. Though this was pre-IMDB I checked him out and he *did* have his name on a handful of small films. He read one of my scripts, said he loved it, and wanted to option it for two years for $1. I was stupid enough at he time to agree to this. The producer asked for a 5x8 card with the title, genre, lead character's name - age - occupation, main location, a logline, two films that it was similar to, and five keyword like "martial arts" or "serial killer" or "sexy". He had a xeroxed page with directions on how to do this that he gave me.

Later I discovered that he had never even read my script. He never read *any* scripts! He optioned every script he could find for $1, wrote the title on the spine and took it to his warehouse, put the 5x8 card in his files. He had a bunch of old card file cabinets in his office. If someone was looking for a Western with a 10 year old female lead that had a serial killer and a donkey in it, he could go to his files, find which 5X8 matched the description, and send the script(s) to the studio or production company looking for that weird western. Because he owned THOUSANDS of scripts, he scored often enough to make a living. Sure, he probably only made money on 1 out of 3,000 scripts, but his producer fee made the couple of thousand dollars he paid in $1 options worth it. The THOUSANDS of scripts that *didn't sell*? After 2 years, they were landfill.

SCRIPT POLLUTION

The worst thing about a free option or a $1 option - the "producers" send your script to everyone in town and your script gets "polluted". Every producer has seen your script, so you when the option is up you have no place to send it. The script is garbage. And it may not even be the fault of the script - I know of a particularly obnoxious "producer" that no one in town wants to work with. He may take your script to a real producer and it may be turned down because he's associated with it. His reputation rubs off on your script! A producer who is spending real money on an option is more likely to have made real money on a past project, and less likely to be an obnoxious jerk. They've worked with people in the past and know how to handle themselves. They don't inflate their reputations, or waste people's time with false promises, or have hair-trigger tempers, or ask for a huge producer fee just for finding the script in the first place. When the producer has a serious financial investment in your script, they tend to be more serious about getting it set up somewhere so that you can be paid... and they can be paid.

One thing to remember about an option is that it is a "lease" on a screenplay with an option to buy... and the sales price and particulars will usually be spelled out in the option agreement. That makes it a *sales* agreement. Not a consolation prize. Not an almost sale, an option *is* a sale. Which means if that option is for $1, what the heck are you selling it for! Look at the contract language! If it's vague, that means you're going to get screwed. This is why you need an entertainment lawyer to look over your option agreements... it is really a sales agreement, and you may have just signed your script away for a buck!

Don't tie up your script with a time waster for $1... and miss the chance to option your script to a real producer. There are real producers out there - hold out for them.

Much more on this subject in the BREAKING IN BLUE BOOK!


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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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*** 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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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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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.
Seventeen Blue Books now available!

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!
...............................BILL'S CORNER


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