FRIDAY'S SCRIPT TIP:

PERSONAL AND COMMERCIAL

Here's the problem: For a script to be good, it needs to be something personal and emotional... but for a script to sell it needs to be something commercial that a couple hundred million people will pay to see. How do you find an idea that's both? What if all of the commercial ideas you come up with you aren't passionate about, and all of the personal ideas you come up with aren't commercial? How can you turn that personal and emotional idea into something with commercial potential?

Blood Hunter, Cinemax Premiere Movie

Let me use an example from my life and my films as an illustration. A few years ago I was in a long-term relationship that ended - she dumped me unexpectedly. About the same time, my most trusted friend screwed me over in a business deal; and because he ended up with the deal that I should have had, a couple of other friends of mine decided to join him instead of stick with me. He eventually screwed over those other guys, too, but for a while it seemed as if everyone I knew betrayed me. I ended up hardening my heart and withholding my trust. I closed myself off from the world. After a couple of years living like this I realized I was miserable. Those walls that prevented me from having my heart broken again or my trust betrayed also prevented me from having any friends or any real relationships. I had to tear down those walls - even if it meant getting hurt again.

This was perfect material for a screenplay - very emotional, and something that most people can identify with on some level. But there were three problems with writing this as a script:

1) Not interesting enough. Gee, my heart got broken and a friend screwed me over - big deal! Who cares? This stuff happens to everyone, so why would six hundred million people worldwide pay to see my version? How would this be entertaining? Let's face it, this story is like listening to some friend tell you about the bad day they had at work... boring!

2) Even though I was over the broken heart and the friend's betrayal, it's still painful subject matter. Would I really want to relive all of that stuff in a script? Would I subconsciously tone it down in order to make it easier (emotionally) for me to write?

3) When all was said and done, the girl who dumped me and the friend who stole my deal weren't the real problem, I was. Hey - people get dumped every day, but how many completely cut themselves off emotionally afterwards? How many people go out of their way *not* to fall in love again, and go out of their way *not* to form friendships? The real story was that I had stopped trusting people... was I brave enough to tell that story? Would I try to sugar coat it, or maybe make it look like my ex-girlfriend was a monster so that my reaction would make more sense? Could I really be honest about my emotions?

Which is why I believe that fiction is the lie we use to tell the truth.

I was going to wear a disguise... find a way to explore all of these painful emotions in a safe environment. So I used the tool of magnification - I took my basic story and blew it up. Magnified it. Imagine a guy who really couldn't trust anyone. A world where your best friend could be a monster who wanted to kill you. Where any woman you fall in love with may suddenly turn into a creature who wants to destroy you. A hero who lives outside of society because he can't trust *anyone* - not even puppies and kids! What kind of story has a hero surrounded by people who look normal, but may really be monsters under their skin?

How about vampires? What if our hero was the last of the vampire hunters? Every one he meets could be a potential vampire... or may be human when he meets them, then gets bitten and changes into a vampire. So our hero has learned not to trust anyone. He's closed himself off, just as I did. And he has no allies, no one to help him. He's miserable (as I was) and is just as dead as the vampires he hunts. He has to learn to trust again, and to open his heart. He has to learn to love again, and to trust again.

Night Hunter, Cinemax World Premiere

In my script NIGHT HUNTER, my vampire hunter goes through all of the emotional problems that I went through, making it a very personal story... yet still a very commercial story. There's a big audience for horror, and NIGHT HUNTER was an action-horror hybrid - similar to BLADE (but made three years before the big budget version). Because I've never been a vampire hunter, never known any vampires, I could write honestly about situations that would have been too painful to deal with in a more realistic world. I could deal with *my* faults, because they weren't my faults, they were this vampire hunter's. You'd be surprised how many actual incidents from my life ended up in that script in an exaggerated version that was *emotionally safe* for me to write (because it was about vampires).

A scene that was really autobiographical ended up being exciting and commercial, because it wasn't me being dumped by my girlfriend, it was a vampire hunter discovering that the woman he loves has become a blood sucker.

I was able to write something very personal and emotional, that was bought and made by a producer for Orion Pictures and ended up a CineMax Premiere Movie. It wasn't just cheap therapy - they *paid me*! All I did was take an event from my personal life and raise the stakes, intensify the emotions, and change the back stabbers into bloodsuckers. That's how magnification can be used to turn your personal story into a big commercial story. Find the basic emotional conflict in that personal story and magnify everything around it . The emotions stay the same, but the story becomes something big enough to fill the screen - exciting enough that millions of people will pay to see it.

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW?

When people tell me their script is the true story of that time when their girlfriend dumped them and they got really depressed and just ate donuts for a month, I wonder if they have any imagination at all.

I know that just telling a story is difficult, there are people who can tell you a story about how hard it was for them to find a parking place that will have you laughing or make you angry or even make you cry. That's a real skill.

But telling me a story that makes me laugh about parking you car while we are having a beer is one thing, writing a screenplay about something like that and then expecting someone to buy it and spend a chunk of change to make it into a movie... and then expect a lot of people to buy tickets to see it, is a whole other thing.

Different stories work best in different mediums. The casual story about your life is great for dinner or drinks conversation, but I really don't want to pay $12 to see it on the big screen. Unless you are TE Lawrence or James Bond or the school mistress in DIABOLIQUE. Then your life is different and interesting and will have scenes that fill that big screen. But most people's lives are a Thoreau quote. Kinda boring, because there's no song... just parking difficulties.

Two of my favorite films are AMARCORD and BREAKING AWAY, both are basically a year in the life of a boy becoming an adult. But look at what happens in these two films! These are not normal lives, these are lives that can fill the big screen. Championship auto races and Princes with harems and famous cruise ships. World championship bicycle races. These may be small slices of a real life, but the background is the *world*.

Something to think about.

Take a closer look at IRON MAN - what's going on underneath the superhero story? What's the emotional core? See how a big summer event film can *also* be a personal film?


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OUTLINES & THE THEMATIC!

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OUTLINES & THE THEMATIC Blue Book.

ARE YOUR SCENES IN THE RIGHT ORDER?
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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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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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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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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 over 208 pages!

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GREAT SUPPORTING CHARACTERS!

*** 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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THAT STAR PART!

*** 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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THEY SOUND DIFFERENT!

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*** 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 160 pages!

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SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING

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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.
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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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