Tag Archives: Writing

Say Hello to Screenwriting Competition Season!

Get ready to mark your calendars, folks. Many indies have gotten their big break from the following competitions, labs and fellowships (Benh Zeitlin & Lucy Alibar, Destin Cretton, Dawn Porter, Lucy Malloy and Edward Ricourt). What’s the worst that could happen? You spend $50 and turn that idea you’ve been working on FOREVER into an actual script you can shop around or even produce yourself? Sounds like a win-win to me.

If you have any others to add, leave a comment below and I’ll gladly update the list.

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Gatekeeper QOTD: Franklin Leonard (The Black List)

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Filmmaker Quote of the Day: Buck Henry

“Writing is keeping secrets, even from yourself in a way; until they absolutely need to be unveiled.”
– Buck Henry, Screenwriter (THE GRADUATE)


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Filmmaker Quote of the Day: Nora Ephron

“I don’t care who you are. When you sit down to write the first page of your screenplay, in your head, you’re also writing you Oscar acceptance speech.”

– Nora Ephron, Screenwriter (JULIE AND JULIA, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY…)

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What To Do When The Words Won’t Come? Oscar Screenplay Nominees Share Their Hardest Scenes

Moonrise Kingdom


I’ve got this idea for a blog post. Grabs notebook and pen, anticipating the words to flow easily from my head to the paper. I get a sentence or two. Nope, that’s not quite what I want to say. Scratches out words. Tries again from a different angle. NO. NO. NO. Tosses notebook aside, sulks for a minute and checks Hulu for the latest episode of “Parks and Rec”.


A very smart woman named Gloria Steinem once said “I do not like to write – I like to have written.” And it’s absolutely true. Writing can be awful because it’s all on you. You have to do the work, mostly alone and it is hard.

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Filmmaker Quote of the Day: Lawrence Kasdan

“Write and write until you just can’t write anymore.”


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Screenwriting Competition Season Is Officially Open. Are You Ready?

The worst feeling as an indie just starting out is hearing there’s a great opportunity to jumpstart your career, only to find out the deadline already passed. Well get ready to mark your calendars, folks. Let’s make 2013 the year of starting, finishing AND submitting our dream scripts. 

  • Outfest Screenwriting Lab

2013 Deadline: February 11th

“What began as a screenwriting competition has expanded into a dynamic three-day, mentor-led workshop in Los Angeles for selected screenwriters. The authors of five screenplays will be invited to participate in an intensive laboratory during which they will work closely with Lab Mentors — established writers who will critique and encourage their work.To be held in June 2013, with a follow up event during Outfest Los Angeles 2013, the lab will include sessions with other industry professionals, structured career development opportunities and participation in ongoing festival events.”


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Filmmaker Quote of the Day: Eric Roth

“I always go back to the first page every day.”

– Eric Roth, Screenwriter (FORREST GUMP)

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Filmmaker Quote of the Day: Nora Ephron

“I try to write parts for women that are as complicated and interesting as women actually are.”

– Nora Ephron


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Filmmaker Quote of the Day: Peter Hedges



“The process of finding the story you have to tell is wondrous, frustrating, humiliating, and joyous. It is an all-encompassing experience.”

– Peter Hedges, Screenwriter (ABOUT A BOY, WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE)




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Filmmaker Quote of the Day: William Goldman

“Writing is finally about on thing: going into a room alone and doing it. Putting words on paper that have never been there in quite that way before.”

– William Goldman, Screenwriter (MISERY, THE PRINCESS BRIDE)


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Filmmaker Quote of the Day: John August



“Only write the script you would pay to see opening night.”





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Filmmaker Quote of the Day: Raymond Chandler



“The faster I write the better my output. If I’m going slow…it means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.”

– Raymond Chandler, Screenwriter (DOUBLE INDEMNITY, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN)



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Filmmaker Quote of the Day: Anna Hamilton Phelan

“When I get bogged down I say, ‘ No attachment to outcome. Don’t worry about what’s going to happen to this. Just write the next word.”

– Anna Hamilton Phelan, Screenwriter (GIRL, INTERRUPTED, GORILLAS IN THE MIST)

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OutSet offers chance to bring LGBT Stories to Screen (Apply by 10/29)

OutSet (The Outfest/LifeWorks Film Mentoring Program)

15 LGBT youth between ages 16-24 will be selected to participate in OutSet (based in Hollywood, CA).  Each fellow of OutSet will write a short film screenplay with themes regarding gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender persons and/or issues during the first two months of the program and an Outfest selection committee will determine which five scripts will be produced. Fellows will be assigned a mentor to assist in production of short films.

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Today’s Lesson: Everything’s Been Done Before

(The video from SouthParkStudios.com wouldn’t embed, so here’s the link to it: http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/153489/2-month-old-mayonnaise)

So, this post is coming together much later than I’d wanted, and is going to be much shorter than I’d planned, for one simple reason: the two previous posts I’d started writing were already done here on Indies Unchained.

First, I’ve recently started reading Fahrenheit 451 for the first time (hey, it was never on our reading list high school), and I wanted to tie the unsettling future of a world gone so PC that books and all thought-provoking media were destroyed into the need for shocking films like the just-released Compliance. But then I found out there had already been a post about the startling film based on the real abuse of a McDonald’s employee because of a phone call by someone posing as a police officer. Continue reading

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The Trouble with Research…

Well, that’s not really fair to research. It’s actually a crucial step in creating a fully immersive world in your script. Could Mark Boal have written as dynamic a script for The Hurt Locker if he had just sat at his desk instead of traveling with soldier in the field? We’ve all had that experience of watching a movie and being pulled out of it by a glaring inconsistency.

On the other hand, when everything has been thoroughly researched the world created is so authentic the audience usually (and hopefully) doesn’t even notice.

It gets a bit overwhelming after a while.

My problem is that I love research too much. I am obsessed with getting every detail of a script exactly right. In one script I’ve written, not only did a character have cancer, but it was set in the 1980’s. So not only did I have to find out a kind of cancer would be appropriate for my story (life-threatening, but not debilitating), but I had to look up how that was treated in a time before I was even born. Or let’s say character is a big-shot who is all about image. I am not a car expert, so I am compelled to look up what kind of car he could afford and would fit in with his social scene.

I’ll be half an hour into writing, right in the middle of a scene or a stream of inspiration. But this need to know RIGHT NOW what prop is appropriate or how exactly social services would handle returning a child of abduction to their parent. Which totally breaks my concentration.

Cover of "On Writing" by Stephen King

But I was re-reading Stephen King’s On Writing. It’s a wonderful book that every writer — novelist, screenwriter, playwright — should have. Part scattered-memory memoir, part suggestion box, part inspirational survival story (it was started before he was hit by a car and nearly killed in  1999, and was finished as part of his mental recuperation after), all great. The best thing about On Writing is that, unlike many writing books, King doesn’t write in a condescending, “I have done this, so this is the path to success,” tone. Many people have asked him over the years about his process, so he wrote it down so that other writers could take from it what would work best for them.

In the third section, King identifies his 10 commandments of writing. And right there at number 9 is Research. And that it shouldn’t overwhelm the story. The story should always be first and foremost. Research serves the story by making the world whole and complete. But the first thing you should do is write the story.

All that research I get wrapped up in will serve no purpose if it gets in the way of actually completing the story. That is what I need to focus on. Table the things I don’t know, the information I want to confirm. Compile a list (including page numbers) of things I want to go back and check. Once I have the story in a first draft, that’s when I can have fun with all that time-consuming, nit-picky, delightful detailing of research.

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Have You Read a Script Today?

Since there are still 10 long days until Season 5 of Breaking Bad premieres and my local movie theater chain is never going to screen Moonrise Kingdom, I thought I’d start out this month easing back into a scriptwriting schedule. While I’m not quite ready to outline, I did glance back at a bookmark from my favorite site, Go Into The StoryOne of my unofficial gurus for all things screenwriting, Scott Myers, offers a gem called “1, 2, 7, 14.” for writers (season and emerging) that I think is worth trying out.

It goes a little something like this…

It is a simple formula to do three things — Read Scripts. Watch Movies. Write Pages. — you need to do to expand and deepen your understanding of the screenwriting craft. 4 numbers for you to remember: 1, 2, 7, 14.

  • Read 1 screenplay per week.
  • Watch 2 movies per week.
  • Write 7 pages per week.
  • Work 14 hours per week prepping a story.
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