Screenwriting articles

Things We Can Learn From The Movies

This list was sent by Richard Pepperman, author of Setting Up Your Scenes. The actual writer of this list is unknown.

1. Large, loft-style apartments in New York City are well within the price range of most people—whether they are employed or not.

2. At least one of a pair...

Winning Grants By Carole Dean

Grant funders like me read scores of proposals at once so to win grants you need to hone your writing skills and knock me off my seat with your first two paragraphs. Tell a compelling story, that’s what I am looking for and that’s what funders and investors really want....

"X" NEVER MARKS THE SPOT by Christina Hamlett

For as many times as I’ve watched a particular film, it didn’t occur to me until recently that it contained a profound message about the craft of writing.

The scene—an early one in the story—is a 1930’s college classroom in which a restless student body is listening to their professor...


Back when I used to run a touring theater company, there was only one rule regarding the amount of furniture and props for any given performance: If It Doesn’t Fit in the Car, It’s Not Going. (Fortunately, I was also penning all the plays the troupe performed so I had...

HOW TO COURT A FILM AGENT by Christina Hamlett

There’s a lot of similarity between courting a prospective agent for your work and testing the waters of a new relationship. Specifically, (1) Do you have enough in common to sustain a long-term association, (2) Were you introduced by someone who knows both of you, and (3) How much should...


Reprinted from MovieMaker Magazine

After having written two books on the subject (“Directing Actors,” and “The Film Director’s Intuition”), totaling together 700 pages, it’s a challenging assignment to condense for a magazine article the most important information and advice on directing the actor for film. I’ve organized the article into...

To Volunteer or Not To Volunteer - as a Production Manager, by Deborah S. Patz

So you’ve been asked to write a budget. Great! There is, however, no pay involved. Darn. There will be times when you are asked to volunteer your production management services – primarily in the case of writing budgets for free. Here are some quick guidelines to identify when such a...

Budgets: Use a Template or Write From Scratch, by Deborah S. Patz

My dad gave me an estimator’s pencil once: it was one half pencil and one half eraser. The pencil looked very ridiculous with the eraser flopping around due to its size, but the truth is: when writing budgets – estimating production costs – you spend equal parts erasing as you...

Introducing...the Editor or Don't Ignore that Little Person behind the Monitor

Reprinted from Student Filmmaker Magazine website

“The humbling truth is that the film is made in the editing room.”
Writer David Mamet introducing the editing Oscar for the 2002 Academy Awards ceremony

Introducing…the Editor
by Gael Chandler
Author, Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video

Filmmakers often hoist...

ACE Review of Cut by Cut - "comprehensive text...for every student of editing"

Cut By Cut: Editing Your Film or Video
Reviewed by Jack Tucker, A.C.E.
Spring 2005 review for “Cinema Editor, The Magazine for Film & Television Editors, Assistants, and Post Production Professionals/Official Periodical of American Cinema Editors, Inc.”

As one who teaches editing at several universities, including Long Beach State and...

Paucity of Premises, by Paul Chitlik

This article previously appeared in the LA Times Calendar Section some years back:

Maybe David Fieber’s problem with the movies (“Is ‘Armageddon’ Really the End:,” Counterpunch, July 13) isn’t that they are shot and edited MTV-style, poorly directed, acted, or even written. Maybe the problem is that they...

What's the Big Deal? by Christopher Vogler

Hollywood is a sink-or-swim industry where they rarely take time to teach you anything, but I once got a useful lesson early in my career when I was a reader for Orion Pictures. Our story editor called a meeting of the readers to tell us none of us had any...

Ask Michael - Column #1 by Michael Wiese

(Note: I was ask to write a column for an ill-fated website. They did manage one issue. This was my contribution.)

In this new column from one of America’s most prolific producers of independent media products of all kinds, we start with the most basic questions. We’ll select from your...

Watching Lord of the Rings - Again by Christopher Vogler

This article posted with permission from The Writers Store. (

Sometimes I like to see a movie twice; once to watch the movie, and once to watch the audience. You can learn a lot from watching the audience, how involved they are, how restless, how they breathe, when they lean...

The Conference Call -- Getting The Most Out Of Your Conference Dollar by Kathie Fong Yoneda

This article posted with permission from The Writers Store. (

If you’re an emerging novelist or screenwriter, it’s likely that you’ve attended or are thinking of attending a writers conference. Where else can you take classes to help you hone your craft, listen to panels of experts giving advice, or...

Five Secrets to Writing Screenplays that Sell by Michael Hauge

This article posted with permission from The Writers Store. (

This past summer (1999) 12 movies earned more than $100 million at the U.S. box office. Though they ranged from low budget horror to big budget sci-fi western, and included romantic comedy, broad comedy, children’s special effects comedy, mystery thriller,...

Is it a Story Analyst or a Reader? by Marisa D'Vari

This article posted with permission from The Writers Store. (

Question: I keep hearing about these mysterious story analysts who will be charged, hopefully, with reading my script. Who are they and what are they like?

Marisa D’Vari responds: Story analysts (or readers, as they are sometimes called) come in...

Great Characters - Their Best Kept Secret by James Bonnet

This article posted with permission from The Writers Store. (

Have you ever wondered why characters like Sherlock Holmes, King Arthur, Achilles, Scrooge, Dorothy and Superman go on forever? The real secret of their immortality lies in something you’ve probably never equated with the creation of a great character or...

Moving on from Square One by Steven D. Katz

This article posted with permission from The Writers Store. (

Our reader Tim Kessler asks: I have developed an idea into what needs to become a film treatment. Can you suggest how I can take what I’ve got into a piece of work that can be properly used to apply...

The Essence of Story by James Bonnet

This article posted with permission from The Writers Store. (

What is the essence, or heart and soul, of a great story? There are seven critical elements: the change of fortune, the problem of the story, the complications, crisis, climax and resolution of the classical structure, and the threat, which...

Giving The Audience A Great Ride: How to Create Passion, Suspense, and Other Entertainment Dimensions by James Bonnet

This article posted with permission from The Writers Store. (

The entertainment dimensions are the pleasant sensations the audience feels when they experience your story. The most important of these feelings are those associated with the actions of the genre structures. When you isolate the plots and subplots of your...

Victorians' Secrets: A Nineteenth-Century Guide to Screenwriting, or How the Victorians Invented the Screenplay by Michael Halperin

This article posted with permission from The Writers Store. (

It may seem peculiar in the 21st century to discuss screenwriting in the same breath as anything that had to do with the 19th century. What does one have to do with the other? After all, the only visual representation...

Exploring The Dark Side: The Anti-Hero's Journey by James Bonnet

This article posted with permission from The Writers Store. (

You have, no doubt, heard of The Hero’s Journey. In this article, we will explore the lesser-known ANTI-hero’s journey and the uncharted dark side of the passage—the place where the dark forces live and hatch their nefarious schemes. In...

Unlocking The Power of Story Within You by James Bonnet

This article posted with permission from The Writers Store. (

What is the source of our creativity? How can we communicate with that source and use it to unlock the natural storyteller that resides in us all?

Carl Jung called the source of our creativity the collective unconscious. Joseph Campbell,...

A Storyteller's Resolve in the New Year by Stuart Voytilla

This article posted with permission from The Writers Store. (

The Roman god, Janus, is often depicted with two opposing faces. His name gave us January and, nowadays, symbolizes our need to look back at the old and look forward to what our futures hold. But more importantly, Janus served...

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