Compulsion – Short Script Review (Available for Production!)

Compulsion
A noted therapist must break through to her brooding patient before he acts on his compulsion.

Compulsion – A strong, usually irresistible impulse to perform an act; especially one that is irrational or contrary to one’s will.

We all have them to some degree:

Turning on and off light switches a certain number of times before leaving a room.

Sticking your money in your wallet or purse with the presidents’ heads facing up.

Or the most common compulsion of all – watching porn.

What? Really? No one?

Fortunately, compulsions are usually harmless. Except in the case of Thomas, the antagonist in James Barron’s aptly titled short script Compulsion.

Thomas sits rigidly in the professionally sterile office of female therapist Dr. Selma as he explains his uncontrollable urge to photograph unsuspecting women.

Dr. Selma worries that Thomas’s compulsion and fantasies may lead to more dangerous behavior.

And speaking of unsuspecting women…

As the session goes on, Thomas reveals his latest obsession: a woman he photographs every night. A woman whose scent fills every molecule of air he breathes. A woman who doesn’t regard him as a monster. A woman whose name rhymes with Dr. Melma.

Outraged that Thomas has broken into her home and invaded her privacy, Dr. Selma demands he leave immediately. But Thomas, like all good compulsive psychotics, has distinctly different plans.

Much like classic Alfred Hitchcock films, Compulsion is a dark, brooding suspenseful tale. Directors who appreciate the psycho thriller genre should analyze this short script. Quick – before things go… quite awry.

Pages: 5

Budget: Low. Two characters. A small office. A Hannibal Lecter cutlery set.

About the Reviewer: David M Troop has been writing since he could hold a No. 2 pencil. His short scripts have been featured on MoviePoet.com, Simplyscripts, at https://www.scriptrevolution.com/profiles/david-troop, and on this here one. Currently, Dave is writing this review, but plans to write feature films in the near future and take Hollywood by storm. Well, not really storm – more like a sprinkle. He lives in the comatose town of Schuylkill Haven, PA where he is a proud grandfather, a father of two, and a husband of one.

About the Author: Recently discovered by STS and Script Revolution (but already treasured), James can be reached at jbarron021 “AT” gmail

READ THE SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SCRIPTREVOLUTION.COM

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved.

The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

 

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An Interview with Breanne Mattson – Writer of Warning Shot!

Back in December, STS announced that one amazing writer we know – Breanne Mattson – had received word that Bruce Dern was signed on for her upcoming feature, a captivating thriller called Warning Shot. Well, several more names have surfaced since then. Including David Spade, and Darth Vader himself – James Earl Jones! Terrific news, isn’t it?

Well, even more terrific is that STS’ Interviewer Extraordinaire, Anthony Cawood, had the opportunity to sit down and interview Breanne herself.

So, without further adieu, here’s what they discussed. Here’s a hint: read this one word for word. It’s fascinating – and informative too!

Q: Could you give me a little bit of background on how you got into screenwriting?

The short answer is I love movies and I love to write, so it just makes sense. Elaborating, I’ve been writing in some form or another since I was a kid. I grew up in a rural area where I often had to get creative to occupy my time. I did have access to music, movies and television growing up. For me, they were inspirational. They sparked my imagination. So I developed a love of the performing arts alongside my love of writing.

As for how I got into screenwriting specifically, I was booking musical acts for local events when I was approached by an independent producer about putting him in contact with musicians. He was looking for music for a movie. I took one look at the script and fell in love. I wondered why I wasn’t already doing that. So I started my first screenplay.

Q: You’ve been writing scripts for years, why screenplays?

There’s just something about screenplays that suits my personality. I love everything about screenwriting. The character development, the plotting, the visual nature of it, everything. It’s almost like needlework for the mind. I can say things or suppose ideas through an exploration of the human condition. It allows me to express my own empathy while providing an illustration for others, or to vent frustration while providing a method of catharsis for others.

Q: You work in TV, what is it you do and has it helped any with screenwriting?

I work in video production, mostly doing graphics. When you see the score change after a touchdown or a wrestler’s name appear at the bottom of the screen as he enters the arena, that’s me. It actually does help with screenwriting in some ways because it enables me to interact with all sorts of interesting people. I see behind the scenes at a lot of events and meet all sorts of characters. It can also be a lot of fun. I got chased around the ring by a wrestler once, for example. I’ve done a lot of cool stuff.

Q: Your first credit, at least according to IMDB, is the short Cobra Blood Cocktail, how did that get made?

The director contacted me through Simply Scripts. It wasn’t the first time someone had asked to produce one of my shorts, but it was the first time someone actually did it. It boosted my faith in the process.

Q: You’ve taken the role of Writer/Director on one of your shorts, Selfless, was this to maintain artistic control, expand your experience, or something else?

To gain experience, yes, but it also allowed me to be proactive. In 2009 I had a feature optioned by F. Javier Gutierrez and his then manager Richard Schwartz. Javier was on Hollywood’s International Watch List at the time for the feature “Tres Días” (which was changed to “Before the Fall” for American release). I was very excited and everything looked great, then the script languished in development for a year and a half. It was a wake-up call for me.

Around that same time, I had contracted to write a script for a development boutique. It was also very exciting, yet disappointing.

By 2010 I was depressed by the lack of progress with my career, so I decided to shift my focus. Instead of focusing on Hollywood, I decided to pursue independent film opportunities and just leave the door open for Hollywood. So in a lot of ways “Selfless” was a strange mixture of creative experimentation, learning the filmmaking process, and combating depression by doing something constructive. I was just trying to learn the process and develop some useful skills for the future.

Q: What did you learn from that experience and your subsequent shorts?

Too many aspiring screenwriters don’t understand how movies are really made and it’s problematic. A better understanding will not only make you a better writer, it will better equip you for a career in this business. Until you’ve gone through the basic process, including planning shots, scouting locations, casting, figuring out what the cast and crew will eat, or where they’ll go to the bathroom, or how you’re going to pay for it all, you really just don’t know what you’re talking about. Understanding these things will make you a more collaborative and contributing member of your team. And it will make you a better screenwriter. To me, that alone was worth it.

Q: Your short script, A Day with Death, was filmed in Africa and shown at quite a few international festivals, how did that come about?

The director found it through Shootin’ the Shorts. It’s another project helped through Simply Scripts. I’m very proud of it because it really demonstrates how simply writing something that explores the human condition can cross cultural boundaries. A filmmaker halfway around the world produced it and it went on the win the Viewers’ Choice Award for Best Short Film or Online Video at the largest film and television awards ceremony in Africa.

Q: Any other shorts in pre-production we should be looking out for?

Some filmmakers in New Zealand were trying to put “The End in Sight” together. I’d love to see that happen. I was looking at directing another one, but put it aside when “Warning Shot” started moving forward.

Q: Would you advocate writing short films, why do you think they are useful?

It’s interesting to watch the changing landscape with regard to shorts. They haven’t traditionally been known to make money and new ways are being found to monetize them. I haven’t personally put much stock in them in terms of returns, but my attitude is changing as I’m seeing new opportunities. At this point, I still think they’re generally more useful as learning experiences. They’re great for learning the basic filmmaking process, but that’s only if a writer chooses to get involved.

As for their usefulness toward making a writer a better writer, I think it depends on how you approach them. I generally focus on the same things I do with a feature. I consider things like character development and story arcs. If a writer ignores those things, then they’re really just purging. That’s okay, but I’m not convinced it will really prepare you for writing a feature. And I don’t think shorts are going to supplant features anytime soon. I hear a lot of people talk about the short attention spans of the current generation, but they say that about every generation. The current generation is quite capable of immersing themselves in something for a couple of hours. Movies and video games prove it.

Q: Did you start with short scripts and then move to features?

I jumped right in and wrote a feature first. It was terrible. My second feature was a monumental improvement. It was like the difference between Metallica’s “Kill ‘Em All” and “Ride the Lightning,” if “Kill ‘Em All” had been awful instead of awesome. It was like they were written by two completely different people. I only write shorts if I can fully exploit the ideas of a story in a short span or if the idea of a feature feels anaemic.

Q: When it comes to feature scripts, how do you approach structure in your scripts? Do you follow any particular method?

I try and keep structure very basic. I’m of the mindset ‘simple story, complex characters.’ I believe in letting characters complicate a story. With plotting and structure I only need a basic framework for the characters to operate in. I generally use the three-act structure with the second act divided into two halves. I do like a midpoint, so in that regard I guess you could say I use a four-act structure. I use the same major plot points most writers are familiar with.

Good plotting will camouflage any structure in much the same way strong three-dimensional characters will camouflage any plotting. That’s why I focus so much on characters. I understand they’re the key to a successful story. Everything I write, no matter how much action may be in it, is ultimately character-driven.

Q: What was the first feature you wrote and how did you get it out there? Did you query Producers, enter competitions, use Inktip, etc?

I don’t recall the first feature I ever queried a producer about. It wasn’t the first one I ever wrote, but yes, I queried producers and managers. I also tried places like Inktip, yes. I didn’t find any of it to be all that effective. I didn’t really try a lot of competitions until later. I haven’t generally found them to be all that effective either. The most useful thing about competitions – particularly if you’re fortunate enough to place in a major one – is that it can give your script a little more credibility.

Now this is just my personal view – and I know it diverges from that of the average up and coming screenwriter – but I don’t really think about things like getting a manager or agent. If that happens, it will happen during the course of what I’m doing. I stay focused on getting movies made. I think shifting my focus to independent film was the best thing I ever did. It allowed me to stay busy and feel productive. I’ve interacted with producers, actors and and crew. It’s been very healthy for me as a writer. A lot of people fail to recognize or appreciate the resources they have available outside Hollywood. Even right there at the local level. It’s a lifeline, it really is.

Q: Your features have done really well in some of the most prestigious competitions (congrats!), did you receive interest from agents/producers afterwards?

Thanks! From producers and managers, yes. Not so much agents. Managers and producers seem to create a bit of a buffer between writers and agents. I had what they call a hip pocket deal with a manager for a time, but it’s hard to find someone who wants what you want.

It’s important to keep in mind that Hollywood is a place, not a person. I know for a fact there are people in Hollywood who want to make great movies. They care. They do. They just don’t always have the power to get things done the way they want. There’s this mindset among a lot of people in this business that everything has to go through this development process where it’s supposedly improved. Even if it’s not.

We always hear how ninety-nine percent of scripts are terrible, but what a lot of people don’t understand is that it’s not just a writer thing. Producers, managers, development people, executives and investors can all have terrible ideas. I’ve been involved with quite a few projects by this point that looked like they might go somewhere, only to watch them fizzle. It’s a heartbreaking business.

The trick is to find people whose philosophies align well with your own. I’ve found working with people who don’t get what you’re about to be futile. That’s why I like working with people like Dustin (Fairbanks) so much. He’s made sacrifices to maintain his integrity and I respect that about him. I believe in Dustin and have a fierce loyalty to him. It’s refreshing to find somebody like that in this business – and worth the long hard road to get there.

Tying this back to your question, I think it’s more important than anything (besides writing a great script) to get out there and work in the business in any way you can. Meeting people and networking will almost always prove more fruitful than competitions or queries. And you’ll feel better about yourself. I cannot stress this enough.

Q: People may have heard the term ‘hip pocket deal’, but what does it mean/involve?

Basically, it means a manager or agent is representing you or your work without a contract. They operate in the same capacity as your manager or agent though you’re not an official client. If your script sells, typically you would get signed. It also allows a manager to get to know a potential client better before signing them. That works out well for the client, too. You can make a clean break if a potential manager isn’t working out for you.

Q: What are your thoughts on screenwriting competitions in general?

I think they’re fine as long as you maintain perspective and don’t get carried away. They can be fun and eye-opening experiences, but there’s very little chance a competition is going to launch your career. I was sparing with them and stuck mostly to the top ones. I wouldn’t advise spending a lot of money on them. You’d be better served putting that money into a movie.

Q: Your feature script, Warning Shot, is currently shooting and I believe you’ve been on set too… how did it get picked up?

It was a Nicholl quarterfinalist in 2011. Managers and producers said it was great, but it seemed nobody wanted to do anything with it. Managers I spoke with wanted to use it as a sample to try and get assignment work. Most producers wanted me to write something based on someone else’s idea as well. They liked my character development and wanted me to help create characters for their own projects. I reread the script one day and felt it was being overlooked. So I put it back on the market. It received a positive review over at the Scriptshadow website. That’s how I met Dustin.

Dustin deserves a lot of the credit. He’s the one who went out there and made the connections who could get the script into the hands of known actors. Bruce Dern signing on was really a turning point. That’s when people started taking us more seriously. It’s a bit like that scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” where the villain Belloq is walking with the Nazi officer and talking about how he followed the directions on the amulet. He looks over and sees Indiana Jones and Sallah digging with a crew and realizes something is going on over there. People started noticing that this little low budget indie picture was attracting names.

Q: What can you tell us about the script?

It’s a hostage thriller. The main character is a single mother trying to take care of her daughter on a limited income. When they’re both taken hostage by a couple of men sent by her grandfather’s business rival, she’s placed into the most vulnerable position imaginable. She’s completely helpless and has to try and protect her daughter at the same time. One of their captors is extremely dangerous and unpredictable. He enjoys tormenting people, psychologically as well as physically. It utilizes a common theme in my work – the power of one. The nobody everyone thinks they can walk over who has to find it within themselves to stand up and fight back.

It’s very character driven. Instead of getting bigger, I went deeper. It’s a mistake to think a movie is less just because its budget is smaller. This script allowed me to say things I’ve wanted to say for a long time. I got to explore the human condition on a level that’s harder to delve into when the plot is thicker. I was forced to push my creativity. I think low budget storytelling is actually more challenging than big budget. It’s much more difficult to create a sense of progression when your options are so limited. The good news is that it really helps with creating a sense of genuineness when a character’s options are limited.

Q: It’s got an incredible cast, including Bruce Dern and James Earl Jones, how has it been working with such stars on your first US feature?

It’s been surreal. I was stunned when I heard the names of the actors who were reading my script. Stunned. They were huge. I’m at a loss trying to express the feeling of being told Bruce Dern or James Earl Jones or David Spade is reading your script. And then to have a producer call you and say they’re going to do it. It’s almost impossible to describe.

Bruce is incredible. He’s a living legend. You just aim a camera at him and he does his thing. That voice. That inflection. He’s like a hurricane. He tears it up. You just have to film it and figure out later how to minimize the loss of any of that gold. I don’t envy the editor trying to decide what material to cut in the wake of a Bruce Dern performance.

James Earl Jones is, of course, movie royalty. He’s such an amazing talent and an incredibly nice person. I was standing by the monitors with a headset on and watching him on set when he said, “Where’s the writer? Is the writer here?” Imagine that in James Earl Jones’s voice. I was awestruck.

David Spade is huge in the world of comedy. I really feel honored that he chose this project for a rare dramatic part. And he did a fantastic job. He really got the character. And he’s a really nice guy. And hilarious. Just listening to him between takes had me dying laughing. Bruce is also very funny. David and Bruce together were killing me.

The first time I heard Tammy Blanchard might take the lead, I pushed for it. I think she’s amazing. And she was every bit as awesome as I knew she would be. Her talent is a sight to behold, let me tell you.

Frank Whaley is also an amazing actor. Watching him work was just jaw-dropping for me. He’s such an artist. I believe he’s an acting genius.

Onata is one of the best child actors I’ve ever seen. I mean that. Child roles can be scary. You have to wonder about a child’s ability to capture a character in adult situations and you worry about the effect it might have on them. Onata killed it. And concerns about the effect were unfounded. She shrugged off the intensity better than a lot of the adults (laughs).

Then there’s Guillermo Díaz and Dwight Henry. They had a great chemistry together and played off each other so well. Guillermo is a really nice guy in real life, but he’s so creepy and scary on screen. There are a lot of nuances in his performance. People might miss a lot of them the first viewing. I love that kind of stuff.

Dwight is a terrific natural actor. He’s just got this special something. An x-factor. He’s super nice in real life, too. Always a smile and always so positive. He’s also a baker. He brought some of his buttermilk drops to set one day and went around handing them out to people. Such an amazing person.

The whole cast and crew were all just so wonderful. I couldn’t have asked for more. I’ve got lots of stories to tell. Too many to write up right now. Maybe I’ll do a Q&A or a sit-down interview someday and tell some of the stories.

Q: So how different is the shooting script for Warning Shot, compared to the Nicholl script?

Oddly, it’s still relatively close. There were a lot of changes, but the basic story itself held up.

Q: And are these changes driven by you, Dustin, cast… All of these?

They come from everywhere, starting with producers. It seems like everyone wants to make changes. I was fortunate to have a director who wanted to minimize unnecessary changes. Dustin still won’t tell me all the change requests because he says I’ll flip out (laughs).

Some changes are out of necessity. During casting, I sometimes changed things to court particular actors, then changed them back if the actor passed. One character was changed from male to female and back again. One character’s ethnicity changed. A couple of characters were expanded to give bigger actors more to work with. So casting drove a lot of changes while it was being packaged.

The script changed during production sometimes, too. Location constraints might require a rewrite to compensate. A small rewrite might be necessary to fix a continuity error. And, of course, there are the actors. Sometimes rehearsal reveals things that need to be addressed in the dialogue or action. Action can usually be addressed with blocking, but the dialogue sometimes needs to be trimmed or rewritten. I found out one evening around 6:30 I had to rewrite a scene that was going to be shot first thing the next day. I had to get it done before I went to bed because sides were going out the next morning. That’s the kind of situation writers can find themselves in on a movie set.

Q: Anything you’ve learned from the experience? And anything you’ll change in future scripts because of it?

Some things, yes. There’s a distinct point where you realize your script isn’t yours anymore. I remember looking around one day at all the cast and crew working so hard and realizing that all these people represent all that I’m unable to do on my own. It’s humbling. It takes so many people and they work so hard every day. And for such long hours. They give so much of themselves. It’s so much more than one person could ever do. I thought to myself what foolishness and arrogance it is to perceive a script as purely your own.

More practically, I see things I can do to make people’s jobs easier. In the future I’ll look more at the timing in scenes and the relationship between the dialogue and the action. I’ll also be more mindful of some technical things like abbreviated scene headings to ensure they’re unique enough that they can’t get confused with other locations when the script is broken down.

Q: What’s the release plans/schedule for Warning Shot?

We’re shooting for festivals next year. We’ll have to see what kind of distribution deal we can get. It’s a little too early to set a specific date.

Q: There are a ton of people out there who offer coverage services, position themselves as gurus etc, what’s your view on such services?

I generally think if a script consultant can be an expert on screenwriting, why the hell can’t a screenwriter? Why can’t I be the expert? I don’t buy the logic that a writer is “too close” to their work to see its flaws. That excuse works early on, as you’re learning the craft, but it’s entirely possible for a writer to develop the ability to objectively scrutinize their own work. I don’t get writers who think they will forever need someone else to tell them whether or not their story works.

Writers have to be able to know what works and what doesn’t work in a story. That’s the real talent. If a screenwriter doesn’t have that ability, I don’t see much of a future for them. If a script consultant does have that ability, I don’t see what’s stopping them from being the writer instead of the consultant.

I do think there’s a place for script coverage when it comes to readers helping producers find projects. If a reader is levelheaded and acting in the best interest of the producer, they can really help a project get off the ground. If it’s a jealous writer who really has no motive to see another writer succeed, then they can kill a project. I think too many producers put too much stock in the opinions of consultants, but it’s because I’ve seen the damage they can do. I’ve had producers think a script was wonderful, only to see their confidence wane when a consultant was negative. I don’t understand how a producer can be so excited about a script and then have so little faith in the writer. It seems strange to me that someone would value a consultant’s opinion over that of the writer who wrote the script they love.

I realize you’re talking about services and not the consultants hired by producers, but my opinion of consultants who sell their services directly to writers is essentially the same. If the consultant knows what they’re talking about and has the writer’s best interest at heart, then they can help a writer improve. If not, they’re really just taking your money. At some point, however, writers need to reach a level of competence where they don’t need that anymore. They should know when a story works. They shouldn’t need anyone else to tell them.

This gets back to working with the right people. I care more about what Dustin or the actors think than any consultant. We’re the ones making a movie together.

Q: What are your thoughts on the business side of screenwriting, getting your scripts ‘out there’ and networking to make connections?

I think it’s crucial. It’s important that the writer does that or has someone advocating for them who can do it more effectively. I don’t think a lot of aspiring writers realize how many people a script is going to have to excite in order to get a project off the ground. Your script is going to have to inspire a lot of people for a long time. There are so many points where everything could just fizzle.

This is why it’s so important that writers have something to say. People latch on to things that mean something to them. One of the first things Bruce Dern said to me was about how his character resonated with him. Producers, actors, investors, all these people have to see something in your script that moves them to want to see it through.

Q: If you’ve used services/sites like Inktip, SimplyScripts, The Blacklist, what’s your view on this type of model for screenwriters to get their scripts seen, and hopefully picked up?

I’ve said this before, but I really think Simply Scripts is the best stomping ground on the internet for up and coming screenwriters. It’s a trial by fire and it’s free. Only at SS can any writer, regardless of their background or how much money they have, put their work out there to sink or swim on its own merits. There are other great sites for screenwriters, but a lot of them insulate new screenwriters from direct unfiltered criticism.

Other sites only allow a few pages or have some sort of selection process. Or charge. At SS you can post entire screenplays for public consumption for free. If you choose to participate, people will notice and you will get read. And you will get skewered. And you will become a better screenwriter. You will work to succeed or you will fall by the wayside. The way it should be.

I’m speaking about becoming good at it. As far as getting picked up, that’s a different thing, That’s business. There are success stories, but we don’t see what’s going on behind the scenes. We don’t know how much any particular site had to do with any script’s success. From a creative standpoint, I think SS had a lot to do with my development. From a business standpoint, I definitely think it has a lot more to do with just not giving up. I just kept pushing until I connected with the right people.

Q: What screenwriting projects are you working on now and when can we next expect to see your name on the credits (other than Warning Shot)?

Right now I’m planning to work with Dustin again on another project. We work well together. I’ve got several projects I hope to get off the ground in the future. We’re both always looking at what we can get done.

I also field writing assignments, but I only accept ones that really excite me. I’m not interested in anything that doesn’t allow me the opportunity to write something amazing. I’m also not interested in convoluted development processes that impede my own natural writing process. I want to feel good about what I write.

Q: What’s the best and worse screenwriting advice you’ve been given?

The best advice is to write. You have to do the thing you hope to become good at. There are no shortcuts. Until you’re good at it, you don’t have much of a chance. If you’re good at it, you have a chance (assuming you’re willing to work hard and put yourself out there). That’s about as simple as it gets. Other good pieces of advice are to have your own voice, focus on a great story, or read other scripts, but I think to just write is the best.

The worst? Hmm. This might be controversial, but I think the pursuit of perfection is stupid. Yes, I just said that. Perfection is a stupid goal. It’s vague undefined bullshit that has no real meaning in the real world. Storytelling is like a ramp. There’s a pinnacle. It’s not perfection, but it’s as good as it can get. The only options left are to go backward or over the edge. Any changes from that point on are either inconsequential or they screw up the script in some other area. I mean, you can stabilize a bicycle wheel with a second axle but now the damned wheel won’t turn.

It’s a bit like, “Write because you love it.” What vague and useless advice. Of course I love it. Only an idiot would write if they didn’t love it. I write because I want to make movies. It’s implied that I love it. Screenplays are meant to be produced. I want to reach out to people. To hold a mirror up to the world. Making an impact is what I love.

Another shitty piece of advice that I hate is, “Writing is rewriting.” If that’s really how you feel, then I think you should quit. A lot of people in this business want to reduce the writer to the dull tedium of the craft. I say to hell with that. Rewriting is writing. It’s all writing. Love it all. That’s not intended to be a jab at Hemingway – who was a much better writer than I’ll ever be. I just think that once a writer accepts rewriting as a part of the total process, they’ll be a lot happier. It’s possible Hemingway meant essentially what I’m saying and the adage has morphed into something he didn’t intend. Regardless, I think the suggestion that writing should be tedious is bad advice.

Now for a few ‘getting to know Breanne’ questions

Q: What’s your favourite film? And favourite script, if they’re different.

I don’t really have a favorite. I love so many movies, from every genre, throughout the whole of movie history. I’m still going through the classics. I just saw “The Maltese Falcon” for the first time within the last year. If I had to pick one, it would probably be something like “Fargo.”

It’s the same with screenplays. I’ve read so many. “Spotlight” is the last one that stuck with me.

Q: Favourite author and book?

I’m a huge fan of murder mysteries. I can’t get enough of them. I love Agatha Christie. “And Then There Were None” is one of my favorite stories ever.

Q: Beer or Wine (or something else)? And which variety?

Wine. Red. Pinot noir is my favorite. Not much into beer, though I’ve been known to have one on occasion.

Q: Favourite food?

Hmm. I guess spaghetti or lasagna or something. I’m a picky eater. I generally like things plain and I’m one of those people who doesn’t like my food touching. And I hate when people try to get me to eat something I don’t want. People use sight and smell to choose food too, you know.

Q: Any other interests and passions?

I play the guitar. I’m not great at it, just okay, but I find it meditative. I’m also a black belt in Karate. That’s really useful for fight scenes. I also dabble in magic and illusion. I stink at it, but I often find the con artistry techniques useful for making a character appear clever. My husband and I like to take road trips. I find traveling inspirational. I just walk into an interesting location and start imagining all the exciting scenes that could happen there.

Q: You live in Salem, BUT not that one… do you ever get confused tourists?

Not that I’m aware of. We’re on opposite ends of the country from that other Salem. Maybe that helps people separate them.

Q: Any final thoughts for the screenwriters of SimplyScripts?

I don’t think a lot of aspiring writers understand how much they’ll have to write in order to have a career as a screenwriter. It’s a lot. I meet so many aspiring writers who are having trouble with that first script. I tell them to just do it. Just write it. Write the best script you can and let your work speak for itself.

I also think too many writers try and imitate what’s currently hot or trendy. It’s true you can never be completely original. You’ll always be a product of your influences. But all you have to separate yourself from that vast sea of writers out there is your voice. Never sacrifice the thing that makes you unique. Never let anyone get you to give up your voice. Originality is almost impossible, no matter how hard you try. Uniqueness is almost certain, unless you avoid it.

About reviewer Anthony Cawood: I’m an award winning screenwriter from the UK with over 15 scripts produced, optioned and/or purchased. Outside of my screenwriting career, I’m also a published short story writer and movie reviewer. Links to my films and details of my scripts can be found at http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

About the writer: Breanne Mattson is no stranger to accolades.  Her feature lengths have made Nicholl Quarterfinalist three times (yeah, that’s three times, beeyotch!) She’s also made semi-finalist in BluecatFinal Draft and honorable mention in TrackingB.  She’s also received a “worth the read” from Scriptshadow.  Her website can be viewed at www.breannemattson.com (IMDB credits here.)

Beacon Calling – Short Script Review (Available for Production)

Beacon Calling
How far would you go to save humanity?

Ping.

Three world-worn wanderers walk wearily through a white winter wasteland. They are John, Noah, and Wilda, and their only guide is the small metal box with the flashing red light.

Ping.

Driven on by the incoming signal, our three explorers are obviously on an important and dangerous mission. Pausing briefly to appraise their situation, they discuss turning back. They are, after all, running low on supplies, and out there, somewhere in the darkness..someTHING is stalking them. Beaten both emotionally and physically, the three realize that there is no decision to be made: if they fail their mission, they’re all dead anyway.

Ping. Ping.

The signal is getting closer…but so is the creature! The group presses on, into the unknown. Where are they heading, and just what have they left behind? And WHAT is this creature!!

Are you getting a sense of the tension in this script? I hope so, because you may want to pop a Xanax before reading. Sled tracks, bloody footprints in the snow, a discarded iPod. The mystery deepens with each visceral image. And if it sounds like I’m being vague, don’t worry, it’s only because I don’t want to spoil the surprise ending.

Get ready for an eleven-minute panic attack, because Beacon Calling is a master class in suspense writing. A slow-build tense thriller filled with all the mystery and intensity of the best episodes of Lost, set in a Mad-Max-in-the-snow style wasteland (take note, George Miller!). This is one script guaranteed to keep your audience on edge, and keep them guessing until the shocking finale. They won’t know what hit them. Directors, come in from the cold and grow something sinister out of this script.

Ping. Ping. Ping!!!

Pages: 11

Budget: Low. Location may be tricky, since it is set in snow. But as long as your production doesn’t go all Revenant on you, costs are reasonable. (Plus, there IS a desert version of this available as well…!)

About the Reviewer: Dane Whipple: put the coffee down, coffee is for closers. He is currently working on that screenplay everybody keeps talking about: The Wild Age. Contact him at dane.whipple (AT) live.com

About the Writer: Chris Keaton is an Air Force veteran living with his family in sunny Arizona. He’s primarily a screenwriter, but he does love diving into prose. He has had several short screenplays produced and go on to win awards. He’s optioned a few features screenplays and currently has a thriller feature in pre-production. A young-adult novel based on one of his screenplays is soon to be released. You can see some of his projects on his website, (www.Chris-Keaton.com) or follow him on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chris-Keaton/456096811068609).

READ THE SCRIPT HERE (AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!)

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM 

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

 

Keeping it Fresh – Short Script Review (Available for Production!)

Keeping it Fresh
Ken and Ruth have done it all. Except this.

What are you willing to do to keep things fresh? That’s a question many couples in their 60s dare to ask, and Ken and Ruth do their best to answer.

Does Fresh mean honest? Or just exciting? And when the stakes are ‘whatever needs to be done to share one’s life’, how can a couple truly know?

As veteran writer Rick Hansberry’s script opens, we meet Ken and Ruth in their well worn family car; tersely discussing their “action plan.” Ruth’s awash with nerves – her hands playing with a folded piece of paper. Ken tries to be sensitive to her concerns, but fails miserably at every attempt.

Where is this duo going? And why?

Their destination – a grocery store. What on Earth could be nerve racking there?

Soon, we discover Ken and Ruth are in… a race. Of what kind? The truth’s unclear. But what unfolds next is a comedy of errors – a wondrous blend of anxiety and charm. Imagine the slapstick as Ken and Ruth dodge obstacles, friends, enemies, wet floors, and – of course – time.

What will the finish line reveal? We won’t spoil the surprise (or the produce). But you will find a warm, sophisticated comedy – ala a young June Squibb or Seymour Cassell.

This is a script with tons of buy-one-get-two-free.  Including: a budget friendly tale, featuring characters of a “specific” (and underrepresented) age. All of which makes this story stand out – and write it’s way into even old and jaded hearts.

Need some older actors? Consider giving your parents’ “cool” friends something to do for a day. But regardless of who you cast, you’ll charm your way into festivals with this Fresh, young-at-heart gem!

Budget: All that’s needed are two good actors, and access to a deli or supermarket – at least a few aisles.

Pages: 6

About the reviewer: Rachel Kate Miller is a veteran of the feature animation industry, having worked on several Oscar winning films, bringing stories to life. In 2012, she left animation to move to Chicago and run the design department for President Obama’s reelection campaign. She is now living in New York, writing, consulting on various projects and creating an educational animated series for elementary students focused on engaging kids in science.

About the Writer: Rick Hansberry has written/produced several short films, including the SAG Foundation award-winning “Branches.” His first feature is set to be released in the summer of 2014. Trailer available here . He teaches screenwriting seminars and workshops in the Central Pennsylvania area and is presently available for hire for new story ideas, rewrites and adaptations. He can be reached at djrickhansberry – AT – msn, (cell phone 717-682-8618) and IMDB credits available here.

READ THE SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM 

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

 

The Documentary Killers – Short Script Review (Available for Production!)

The Documentary Killers
A group of students make a film that’s to die for.

On May 11, film student David Breiss disappeared from his New York City apartment and was never seen again. Suspected in his disappearance are three of his fellow film students, Larry, Johnathan, and Calvin. Just why do police suspect their involvement? It seems the students were all working together on a documentary film called “How to Hide a Body“. Their concept was simple enough: dress up a mannequin to make it look like a murder victim. Then, hide the “body” with a note for whomever may find it. By seeing which mannequins were discovered and which remained hidden, the students were able to document the best techniques in concealing a corpse.

After a run-in with local law enforcement, the boys are fined for dumping, and David decides to call it quits. But some of his fellow filmmakers decide it is time to kick things up a notch and start burying more than just mannequins. Soon, local animal shelters are reporting missing dogs and cats. Not long after, David himself goes missing. Did David’s film school buddies take things too far and put what they learned into practice? Filmmakers are supposed to suffer for their art, but does that include rotting in the woods somewhere?

Is that rigor mortis setting in? Nope, just a rock-solid concept. As a mocumentary film in the vein (no pun intended) of Best in Show, with a truly dark bite, The Documentary Killers manages to skewer the contemporary film-school scene, examining to what lengths aspiring film students will go to stand out in the crowd. It’s just the kind of thing that keeps killing it on the festival circuit. TDK is a smart, snappy script that is anything but DOA.

So don’t waste any more time digging for a script to shoot, this one is a real find.

Pages: 18

Budget: Medium. Structured as a mock news program, including studio interiors, and of course, a mannequin.

About the Reviewer: Dane Whipple sings the songs that remind him of the good times, he sings the songs that remind him of the better times. He is currently working on that screenplay everybody keeps talking about: The Wild Age. Contact him at dane.whipple (AT) live.com

About the writer: Phil Clarke, Jr. is a contest winning writer who has had feature films optioned, but no mainstream feature length productions… yet.  Produced shorts of Phil’s have been featured at Cannes and Clermont Ferrand.  More of his work is available at his website: www.philclarkejr.com.  (IMDB Credits listed here.)

READ THE SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SCRIPTREVOLUTION.COM

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

Man’s Best Friend – Short Script Review (Available for Production!)

MAN’S BEST FRIEND
Three days after a couple’s beloved dog goes missing, a phone call arrives that will change the game. Forever.

Put aside whether you’re a dog person or cat person just for a moment and focus on the incomparable talents of Man’s Best Friend, and why mutts have earned this most eminent title.

Ready…?

Guide dogs, guard dogs, sniffer dogs, therapy dogs, herding, hunting, tracking and cadaver dogs, bomb, drug, and chemical detection dogs; dogs of war, dogs who can sniff out cancer – dogs who rescue their owners from burning buildings and rolling rapids… And that’s just to name a few of their talents. Add to that, unconditional loyalty and love, goopy grins, sloppy kisses and perennially wagging tails, and really – the ‘elegant tramp’, (as one of my friends labels felines), is really not much competition, now is it?

From Rin-Tin-Tin and Lassie to the memorably cute but a lil’ fugly Verdell in As Good As It Gets, it’s no wonder dogs have an illustrious celluloid history, in both leading roles and as sidekicks.

Okay, now picture this:

You’re wandering down the street, minding your own business, and you look up to see MISSING, LOST DOG, or REWARD, stamped across a poster and nailed to a telegraph pole. Typically a photo of said AWOL pooch looks dolefully and adorably into the camera. Aww, so sad, and guaranteed to tug at the ol’ heartstrings.

This is also the opening scene of Steven Clark’s screenplay, Man’s Best Friend.

But hang on now, cause if you’re thinking this is going to be a cute fluffy-dog piece think again. Curt and Cassie, a couple in their thirties (he’s a cop btw) have just received a rather ominous telephone call and discovered there’s a bounty to be paid on Ranger, their missing ‘family member’ – and a rather hefty ransom demand.

MAN (V.O.)
We have your dog. …
He’s got nice teeth. But I’ve got
pliers. … $10,000 dollars for the mutt. Cash. Or
I start playing dentist.

Eww! Marathon Dog, anyone?

To say anything further would spoil the fun, the suspense, and the very, very, dark twists and turns of this piece. Suffice to say this tail (sorry, tale) is less for lovers of Marley And Me , and more for fans of teeth baring, and snarling Cujo, and Seven Psychopaths.

Dare I say, if you’ve got a nose for talent you can call off your search right now cause with Man’s Best Friend you’ll definitely be barking up the right tree.

Pages: 10

Budget: Low. Just – make sure you do this one right… every beat!

About the reviewer: Libby Chambers has been writing all her life – especially in her head, and on scraps of paper. It’s only in the last few years she began to get serious about screen-writing. Prior to this she worked in the Features Department for ABC TV as a Program Assistant, and trained as a FAD. She has also worked professionally as a freelance web-content editor and proofreader. She is thrilled her first ever entry (Simpatico) into a Screenplay Comp – The LA Comedy Festival ‘Short’ screenplay division took out Top 3 Finalist and hopes the high placing will be a continuing trend. 🙂 Libby would love to see her words come to life on screen. She lives with her husband (also a screenwriter) in Sydney, Australia, and describes him as being both a good and a bad influence on her writing. You can contact Libby at libbych “AT” hotmail

About the writer: A writer since the age of 12, the first book that Steve Clark ever read was Amityville Horror. The second was Cujo. He’s been writing ever since, and is currently hard at work on two features. He’s reachable at SAClark69 “AT” verizon.net (or on Long Island, if you’re in the area!!)

READ THE SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM 

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

 

Here ye, here ye: A GREAT Interview with Produced Writer Michael Kospiah: Author of The Suicide Theory!

Michael Kospiah is a screenwriter and playwright based out of NYC. To date, he has two produced off Broadway plays, a Feature (The Suicide Theory) and a Short (The Dead Guy in the Trunk), made thus far.

Now available on Netflix – and highly recommended as an indie gem – The Suicide Theory was made with director Dru Brown and Seven8 Media. So far, it’s won the Grand Jury Award in The Dances With Films Festival. The Dead Guy in the Trunk? Made by Scheffilm Productions in Australia.

Michael is a fellow Simplyscripter and – needless to say – a great example for fellow screenwriters. So we were thrilled when Michael agreed to sit down for a chat. Here’s what was discussed… all details any aspiring scriptwriter should know.

Q: Could you give me a little bit of background on yourself and how you got into screenwriting?

A: Ever since I was a kid, I was huge into movies. Every time I’d go to see a film, it was like an event for me. I actually remember every film I’ve seen in theaters dating back to childhood (I’m pretty sure). But I was into action films mostly; Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Van Damme. Eastwood. A lot of Kung Fu films. Mostly rated “R” movies. Only my mother and my father allowed me to watch rated “R” movies. I still remember my mom taking me to see Lethal Weapon in theaters when I was five or six years old (and it was awesome). However, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. And they were timid about allowing me to see PG-13 films. In fact, they only really allowed me to watch films they watched. Most of them I HATED. But my grandmother in particular was a HUGE Hitchcock fan and allowed me to watch all of his films as well as his TV shows (The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Alfred Hitchcock Presents). She also let me stay up and watch old Twilight Zone episodes. And I thought they were awesome. It introduced me to a whole different genre of film/entertainment that I liked – and it didn’t depend on explosions and hand-to-hand combat. And then I saw “Psycho” when I was 12. And it changed my life. It was so unique. And the twists and psychology of the characters intrigued me. Once I found out that films were written first, I was all about it. It was what I always wanted to do. Soon, I started watching film-films like “Taxi Driver”, “Pulp Fiction”. And those films made a strong impression on me as a young teen, further fostering my desire to write movies. From that point on, I made it a point to watch as many films as I can. I remember writing my first “script” when I was 14. It was a corny creature feature called “Attack of the Killer Groundhogs” that I wanted to film myself with a camcorder my grandmother gave me for my birthday. I remember my mother finding the 20-or-so-page script written on yellow-lined paper and saying something to me about all the profanity… LOL. I wanted to get my friends involved as actors, but at that age, everyone was starting to smoke pot, party, chase girls, etc. In other words, everyone I was friends with was “too cool” for making cheesy films. So, it was a while before I actually started reading actual screenplays and making an effort to learn the craft. Not until I started college.

Q: And how many features, shorts, etc have you written now?

A: Hmmm… I lost count around 25 feature screenplays, and that was a few years ago. I’ve written a few screenplays as a ghostwriter as well that ended up never seeing the light of day (not worth the shitty pay). I’d say about 30 or so feature length scripts and probably around 20 or so shorts. Roughly.

Q: Did you undertake any formal training, courses etc, or just jump in?

A: I did take a screenwriting class in college and did take classes at Gotham Writer’s Workshop in NYC, but the classes never actually showed us, in detail, how to actually write a script. It was more analyzing film and identifying acts, character arc, etc. Which was helpful. And I had read enough scripts to have an idea of what a screenplay looks like. But I remember writing screenplays as a very green “wannabe” writer and posting them on websites like Trigger Street and Zoetrope and getting my ass handed to me by other more experienced writers. And to tell the truth, the harsh criticism really helped me. And the fact that I wanted to be a great writer attracted other kinder writers with more experience than me to help steer me into the right direction (in terms of which books to read, which screenplays to read, guiding me through a lot of the nuances of writing description and action, dialogue, formatting, structuring, hitting the right beats, developing characters, etc). Simply Scripts also has helped me become a better writer. I’ve received some great advice from other writers on here a long time ago when I first started visiting this site (around 2006/2007). And I still get great advice from members (though I don’t frequent the site as much as I’d like to these days).

Q: How did the filming of your script The Suicide Theory come about?

A: Well, I actually posted the script on this site back in 2008 and it received A LOT of feedback, a lot of positive responses. Tons of comments. I started getting a ton of emails from directors and producers. But a lot them wanted me for their own projects based on their ideas. The script was considered a bit too dark by a lot of them to get investors interested in funding the project. But they liked my potential. One of those directors was Dru Brown based out of Australia. We co-wrote a few scripts but nothing really came of them. Meanwhile, I had another director out of the U.K. option The Suicide Theory. And after a few years (including an option extension) I didn’t really see much movement in terms of making this a film. So, I decided to make The Suicide Theory a free agent after the 2nd option expired. Literally, almost a week later, Dru emailed me after a few of our scripts failed to build traction, asking me if The Suicide Theory was still available. And, yeah, that’s how that came about.

Q: How can people see The Suicide Theory?

A: Right now, it’s available in the United States on Netflix, Amazon and Itunes. It’s also still available to rent on demand on most cable outlets (Cablevision, Time Warner, DirecTV, etc).

Q: And your short, The Dead Guy in the Trunk, how did the film maker find you and the script?

A: Again, the script was discovered on Simply Scripts a few years back by director/producer Lucas Scheffel (again, out of Australia), who I ended up becoming friends with. Good guy.

Q: Dead Guy is a great little short – really well shot, any more in the pipeline?

A: I took a little break for a while. The business end can be a little taxing mentally. But I usually focus more on features. Though I’m sure I’ll come up with a few more shorts here and there. That year that “Dead Guy” was found, I actually wrote four other shorts and sold three of them. Yet, only “Dead Guy” ended up getting made. We’ll see what happens.

Q: Have you used services like Inktip and The Blacklist? What’s your view on this type of model for screenwriters to get their scripts seen, and hopefully picked up?

A: I used Inktip a very long time ago (like about 10 years ago) and got nothing out of it. Though that may be because I wasn’t quite there yet as a writer in terms of skill level and “selling” my story. I am thinking of joining again, giving it another whirl now that I have experience. I’ve heard good and bad things about The Blacklist. Never tried it. I understand, on top of the monthly fee, you have to spend additional money to get reviews. And the script only gets sent out if you receive a score of 8 or more by the reviewer. Or something like that. My advice is, if you have the money to spend and you think it gives you a nice shot at exposure, then shell out the dough. But I would make sure that the script is in great shape before investing that type of money. I would even send it out to a few well-received coverage services first. If you don’t have the money for that, websites like Simply Scripts and Script Shadow help (if you can get through to Amateur Fridays – haven’t visited Script Shadow lately, not sure if they still do that or not). Just get as much feedback as possible from writers you believe have a decent background.

Q: Have you used, and if so what are your thoughts on notes and coverage services?

A: Absolutely. Of course, I’ve used notes from review sites as Triggerstreet, Zoetrope and Simply Scripts (all free, although I don’t think Triggerstreet does that anymore). And I have paid for coverage services in the past and they were mostly helpful. These days, I have a lot of seasoned and successful screenwriting pals that I trust. Though I would definitely consider a coverage service if needed. And if the prices were reasonable and the company had a good word-of-mouth thing going for it.

Q: And have you entered and/or won any screenwriting competitions? What are your thoughts on competitions in general?

A: I have never entered a screenwriting competition before. Maybe I’m just a cheap bastard. But I do have mixed feelings about competitions in general. I had a hard time trusting the process, especially getting past some of their readers in order be seen by the industry pros. One of the things I question with a lot of the readers for these competitions is their qualifications. Last thing I want to do is pour my heart and soul out into the script just to get turned away by a college intern. But, I’ve heard good things with a few competitions (PAGE, Final Draft’s Big Break, Austin Film Festival, American Zoetrope and, of course, Nicholl’s). I may consider entering one of these things soon. Whatever helps get you more exposure, I suppose.

Q: How do you approach structure in your scripts? Do you follow any particular method?

A: It depends on what kind of story I’m going for. I wrote a stream-of-conscious kind of story with a heightened sense of reality (ala David Lynch), so obviously, the structure isn’t as A-B-C as it would be in other, more conventional stories. The Blake Snyder beat sheet can be a good one to follow in terms of structuring a script, but I feel it can be limiting if you just stick to that and that alone. If I’m writing something more “conventional”, that beat sheet comes in handy. It also depends on what my character’s goals are, too. I don’t know, structuring a screenplay to me is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle or doing a crossword. I just try to fit the pieces together in the best way possible. I usually have my characters in mind first. Yes, your characters are VERY important. But once I truly get to know my characters, they tend to take me where I need to go regardless of what I had outlined. As I write the script, I often times find myself rewriting the outline along the way. And my outlines aren’t usually that detail oriented because of that. I’ll include scenes I have in mind, write down what I want to accomplish in each scene, some imagery I’d like to include, motifs, meaning, etc. But I try to keep it basic. The characters ultimately, at least with me, dictate where my story goes.

Q: What projects are you working on now and when can we next expect to see your name on the credits?

A: I’m working on a horror feature right now. One of my favorite sub-genres of horror – home invasion. Trying to put my own twist on it, make it unique yet viable. I also have a “passion project” of sorts in the pipeline. I’m at about page 20 with that one and have been stuck there for a bit. That one will take some time.

Now onto some more general questions.

Q: Do you have a favourite film genre?

A: My favorite genre to write is probably suspense. I gravitate towards darker material. It used to be crime-drama. Over the years, it’s kind of blended together in my style. My favorite to watch is horror. I’m working on my first horror feature right now. I’ve tried writing horror before, but it’s always turned into a drama or suspense film with elements of horror. I tend to blend genres in stories I write without noticing it.

Q: What’s your favourite film? And script, if they’re different.

A: My favorite film is Taxi Driver. Just ahead of Psycho. Barely. Taxi Driver influences more of my writing. I’ve always been drawn to the flawed “hero” or “anti-hero”. Because that’s how I’ve always seen myself; flawed with good intentions. I think a lot of people see themselves that way. I guess that’s why so many people identified with the Travis Bickle character. Everybody has their moments of social ineptitude. Everybody knows what it’s like to be lonely and awkward. And it was unlike any other film I’ve seen up that point when I was 12-13 years old. Mainly because there really was no plot. And I fucking LOVED that. It was a journey into madness. This guy was obviously whacked, his perception of reality skewed. But we’re seeing this world through his eyes. And, for some reason, we kind of understand his behavior. And that frightens us in a way. Yet, we root for the guy. Just a great, great film. It’s probably my favorite script, too – I love Paul Schrader! But, to mix things up a bit, I’ll throw out the screenplay for “Sideways”. I loved the movie, but I read the screenplay first and actually thought the script was better. And it was just so expertly written. I was in my early 20s when I read it, still trying to find my stride as a writer. And it REALLY helped me with formatting, learning how to write brief yet effective description and action and making the page actually look good (white space, 1-3 line action/description paragraphs, when to jump to another paragraph). Yes the film was fine, I loved the bookends (someone knocking on his door at the beginning, him knocking on the love interest’s door at the end) and it had a lot to offer structurally and with character arcs, character relationships, all of that. But the script really helped me learn how to actually WRITE a script.

Q: What’s the best and worse screenwriting/film making advice you’ve been given?

A: The worst I’ve ever given is to quit – LOL. It can be frustrating. The hardest part is after you’ve finished writing the script (up until it’s on the screen, it’s never really finished). The business end can be extremely frustrating. It takes a lot of patience, not just selling your product, but once the product is sold. There is a lot of waiting involved. The best advice I’ve given is to keep writing. Find your voice, find what you’re GREAT at (not just good) and stick with that. Not to say you should only write in one genre or write about one thing all the time. But stick to things you are passionate about. And if you’re writing for hire, find something that in that story you can relate to and be passionate about. It’s easy to spot a script without heart.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring screenwriters on SimplyScripts?

A: Keep improving upon your craft. Get good advice. Find other like-minded writers such as yourself and surround yourself with them. Make as many connections as possible. Always keep learning and be willing to learn. Have confidence in yourself but know what your skill level is and keep improving upon that. Always get as much feedback as possible. From trusted peers. Peers you don’t trust. And if you have the money, shell out the dough for coverage services. Enter as many screenwriting competitions as possible. That’s one thing I wished I would have done more (and something I’m considering doing more of in the future). The only way you become something in this industry is if you’re noticed. Exposure is important. Yes, there is a lot of luck involved but you have to create your own luck. Be seen, be heard. I had a film out in theaters here in the United States (albeit select theaters for a limited time) and I STILL don’t have an agent or a manager. Having a produced film isn’t enough. Send out queries to reputable agents, managers and producers. But make sure your script is top notch. You only get one chance to make a first impression. A good script is not good enough. And, most of all… keep writing.

Q: Any thoughts on the Oscar contenders?

A: I’m always excited about the Oscars. Some good films this year although nothing I’ve seen is as good as last year’s “Whiplash”. “The Revenant” was solid. Great acting. That’s my pick for Best Picture. I was disappointed “Straight Outta Compton”, “Ex Machina” and “Creed” weren’t nominated for Best Picture. “Creed” was my favorite film of the year, but I’m a Philly boy at heart and huge “Rocky” fan, so I’m biased. Hoping Stallone grabs that Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He was phenomenal.

Q: Any final thoughts for the screenwriters of SimplyScripts?

A: This is a great site for writers of all skill levels. Take advantage of the resources this website offers… for free! Every time I’ve done Q and A’s with audiences, I’ve always mentioned this website. It’s a great learning tool… if you stay active in the community. Read scripts, meet other writers. I’ve met a lot of great writers AND great people on here that I’m proud to say I’m friends with outside of this site.

ABOUT INTERVIEWER ANTHONY CAWOOD: I’m an award winning screenwriter from the UK with over 15 scripts produced, optioned and/or purchased. Outside of my screenwriting career, I’m also a published short story writer and movie reviewer. Links to my films and details of my scripts can be found at http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

ABOUT THE WRITER:

Well, we think the above information is pretty much a GREAT intro to Michael.

But if you’re an agent, managing company, or director looking for your next writing star, you might VERY WELL want to drop Michael K. a line at spesh2k “AT” msn!

And for yet more juicy details…

Michael J. Kospiah is an award-winning screenwriter and playwright who began his career as a sports columnist for several newspapers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. With 15 years experience, he has worked as a ghostwriter, script consultant, script doctor and has collaborated with filmmakers from all over the world. His first-produced feature film “The Suicide Theory” had its world premiere at the prestigious TCL Chinese Theaters on Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California in 2014. After winning several awards on the festival circuit (Dances With Films Festival – Grand Jury Prize, Austin Film Festival – Audience Award, Melbourne Underground FF – Special Jury Prize), the film was picked up for distribution in U.S. and Canada via Freestyle Releasing and received a brief run in select theaters while available (and still available) On Demand through most major cable outlets (also on Netflix). The film was listed #5 on theguardian.com’s Top 10 Australian Films list for 2015 and is currently rated 76% on Rotten Tomatoes.

You can visit his IMDB page here  http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5414625/?ref_=tt_ov_wr and reach him via email at spesh2k “AT” msn.com.

Link for Mike’s Twitter Page: @spesh2k https://twitter.com/spesh2k

Link for The Suicide Theory trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eaXXOKJvtg