Friday, November 18, 2005

EXPO'd out!

Hi all,

I've returned from the 4th annual Screenwriting EXPO in LA. There were over 4000 screenwriters in attendance, none stop activity from 8am until midnight or longer if you could hang. Very exhausting but the air was filled with so much inspiration and motivation. If you didn't have a chance to go, I would seriously consider going next year. I have a lot of information that I need to transcribe. When I do, perhaps after the holidays, I'll share it with you. What was so great about this conference is that you were able to meet face-to-face working screenwriters and producers in the industry. It's not every day that you can participate in a 1.5 hour talk with an Emmy nominated television writer or chat over cocktails with one of the writer's of Scary Movie or be able to rub elbows with a top producer who just may say, I like that idea, send me the script or spend the day at Fox Studios where you actually feel like you are one of the ones who have earned the priviledge of being there. What about meeting Shane Black and prescreening his latest movie? All of that and more happened at the EXPO. It was an unforgettable experience and has given me the extra umph to continue to pursue the dream and the motivation to do it.

Best wishes in all your creative endeavors.

Write on!


Would you believe that at one of the cocktail parties, I actually met Chris Soth,a produced screenwriter and teacher who has hit the million dollar mark. When he sat down at my table, I had no idea that he had been where I hope to be...on the screen and a million dollars richer. The odd thing is that he has a website called Milliondollarscreenwriting. Who'd a thunk it? We hit it off immediately. He's such a nice guy and has a great method on sequencing called the Mini Movie Method that will be revolutionary to the entire screenwriting process. This guy is the McKee for our generation. Check out the site when you have a chance:

Be sure to check back after the first of the year for my notes from the workshops I took.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Let's get ready to EXPOOOOOOOOO!

Hi all,

It's EXPO time again. I'll be there in La La Land socializing and
networking with the best of them. I arrive on Thursday late afternoon
and have my first party that night. Then it's a busy busy schedule for
the entire days on Friday and Saturday with a party each night! My oh
my! I guess I won't be getting any writing done especially with a
deadline fast approaching at Dec 31st. Oh well, at least I will have
learned something new that perhaps I can incorporate into the script
and hopefully I will have met someone who I can send my next script
project to.

At any rate, I'll be sharing what I learned for those of you who are
unable to attend.

Best wishes in all your creative endeavors,


To Be High Concept or Not...That is the question!

Here's an article featured in Unfortunately, for an idea not to be High Concept is not an option if you want to make a sell in Hollywood. Sure it's possible but with the competition out there, it's easier to break-in and get noticed with a high concept script that sizzles than a well written drama. Sad but true.

Since people in H-town are always beating us across the head about the HIGH CONCEPT! Here's a great article to understand exactly what in the world a high concept idea is and how it differs from a regular idea.

Happy reading and learning!


by Steve Kaire

High Concept has been a Hollywood term that's been misunderstood and used incorrectly more than any other I can think of. Ask most writers how they would define it and most will say it's any project that can be pitched in one sentence. A boy searching for his lost dog is one sentence but it's not even close to being High Concept.

The premise or logline is the core of High Concept. The premise is a condensed summary of what your story is about. My definition of High Concept is comprised of five requirements. They are in descending order of importance. Numbers one and two are the most difficult requirements to meet. But meeting only several of the requirements is not enough. All five requirements have to be met for success in trying to achieve the "slam dunk" project everyone is looking for.

First Requirement:
A logline is generally one to five sentences with the average being around three. Therefore, you have to pitch your material in a compressed, economical manner which captures the essence of your story and highlights its originality. Writers should practice pitching their work by boiling down their story into only one sentence regardless if their story is High Concept or not.

In seeking originality, we are not talking about reinventing the wheel. We can take traditional subject matter that's been done before and add a hook or to it which then qualifies the material as original. There have been dozens of films which covered the subject area of kidnapping. In the comedy, "Ruthless People". Danny Devito plays a wealthy man whose wife, played by Bette Midler, gets kidnapped. Challenging convention, Devito refuses to pay the ransom because he hates his wife and sees this as the opportunity he's been waiting for to finally get rid of her. Now, the bungling kidnappers are stuck with an impossible woman that they have no idea what to do with. It's that unique hook that makes this a High Concept film.

Second Requirement:
That means it's possible to meet Requirement #1 by creating an original story that's never been done before. But its appeal exists only in the mind of the writer who created it. An example would be a man who thinks everyone in the world is out to get him and refuses to leave his home ever again. While it's true that it's never been done before, who cares? Wide audience appeal means that virtually everyone you pitch your story to would pay ten dollars to see your movie first run. You have to decide either you're writing for your own enjoyment or you're writing to sell.

Third Requirement:
That means that within your pitch, you have to have specific details which make your story different. Let's take the bank robbing plot. If you came up with a story about three people who want to rob a bank by digging a tunnel underneath it, the response would be, "So what?" A twist on that genre is the old James Bond classic, "Goldfinger." The pitch would be, "What if a villain interested in world domination decided he was going to bankrupt the U.S. economy by robbing Fort Knox of all its gold."
Now that's not only unique but it contains specifics within the pitch that are not generic.

Fourth Requirement:
If you're pitching a comedy, then the potential for humor should be obvious within your pitch. People should smile or laugh when you tell it. If you're pitching an action movie, the listener should be able to imagine the action scenes in his head as your pitching. I sold a screenplay to Interscope called, "Worst Case Scenario." It was an action thriller about a government think tank that comes up with worst case terrorist and disaster scenarios. Its most brilliant member turns traitor and plans to pull off the worst terrorist act in American history using all the inside information he's gathered. The potential for action, thrills and big set pieces is obvious to anyone who hears that pitch.

Fifth Requirement:
Most pitches should 1 to 3 sentences long, five maximum. You are not telling what happens in Acts 1, 2 and 3. You are giving the essence of your story.

I've had thousands of projects pitched to me in over twenty years and writers mistakenly think that the longer the pitch, the better the story. No one wants to listen to a rambling pitch that goes on and on without any direction or focus. When you're pitching, you are telling what your story is about, not what happens in the story. The reactions you want to hear when you pitch is "Wow! Why didn't I think of that?" or "Why hasn't somebody made that movie before?" When the faces in the room light up after you deliver your pitch, you know you've got them. That's the sought after "slam dunk." That's what High Concept is all about.

STEVE KAIRE is a WGA screenwriter who has sold/optioned 8 projects to the majors including Warners, Columbia, United Artists and Interscope without representation. He's been featured in various industry publications and is a sought after speaker on the lecture circuit. He's also taught writing classes at the American Film Institute.

For more articles by Steve Kaire or to find out more about his groundbreaking CD entitled, "High Concept: How To Create, Pitch & Sell To Hollywood," go to:

Friday, May 27, 2005

Million Dollar Screenwriting yahoo group

Hi MDS'ers,

Just wanted to let you know that I created a new yahoo group so that we can more easily share files and information. Please sign up to be a member of this exquisite club at:

Looking forward to sharing with you.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Teleplay Tips & Tricks

Hi MDS'ers,

Here are some television pilot tips I pulled out of the newsletter. These could be very helpful. I would sign up to get the free newsletter if you're serious about writing for television.



Regular visitors to TV Writer.Com know that Larry Brody's "Teleplay
Tips & Tricks" appear in the Art of TV Writing section as cryptic
suggestions for better writing. Now you can find expanded versions
of these merry morsels of dramaturgy began appearing right here in
the TV Writer.Com Newsletter, as well as on the Final Draft software
website. Here, without further ado, is the latest installment in our
exciting monthly series:

One-Hour Teleplay Construction & Plot

Over the years certain types of story construction have proven to work
more effectively than others on TV. By "effective" I mean that series
that plot their stories this way have gotten consistently higher
ratings than others, and during the usual course of an episode fewer
viewers have gone surfing away.

For one-hour shows, start with a Teaser that illustrates the premise
of the episode. Make sure it shows us this week's central problem. And
make sure it really does "tease" us by ending on a note of tension -
with danger (physical or psychological) either impending or rearing
its fascinating head.

Act One should start with a response to what's happened in the Teaser,
and works best if it too ends with tension. Depending on the kind of
series this is, the tension can be personal and involving a series
"regular," or it can be something the hero has to handle professional
and be happening to a "guest."

Act Two should begin with the aftermath or resolution of the previous
tension and conclude with MAJOR trouble for a regular, most likely the
main hero him or herself.

A successful Act Three often starts by resolving the previous danger
and saving the hero and ends with the hero and his/her allies putting
together all the pieces of whatever puzzle they've been trying to
solve so that they now know what to do. It ain't over yet, though.
The end of Act Three is where the major crisis and climax of the whole
episode strikes because even though the doctors, lawyers, or Indian
Chiefs know the answer they still have to put that knowledge into

Act Four then can become the good guys racing to the rescue and saving
their client, patient, or themselves just in time. What should you do
with the Tag? Why just let the gang relax about it. (And if they can
relax poignantly so much the better.)

There we go, another one-hour drama or action show perfectly plotted!


Friday, May 06, 2005

How to Sell to Hollywood!

Hi MDSer's,

How to sell to Hollywood? This is the question of the century! At any rate, books can be great as a resource but the way to do it is as follows:

1. Make sure your script is written the best you can write it and in the proper format. Create a strong, interesting logline and a brief synopsis. I had someone request a synopsis that was no longer than 1/2 a page! It's a challenge getting your 100 page script summarized in an interesting and "you want to buy me" way in 1/2 a page but I did it. Trick is to focus on the high points of the story and conflict and not tell everything. Think of your synopsis as the trailer. Oh, on script length I've read that 90 - 105 pages is the best page lengths then somewhere else I read 95 -110. Which one is correct, who knows but what I do know is nothing over 120 but now 120 is pushing on the "long" side. My advice, aim for 100 can't go wrong with that.

2. Get a job in the industry so you can meet people.

3. If you can't do that then network like crazy. This may be hard if you are not in the LA area but wherever you live, go to all film and movie events, lectures, parties, seminars, conferences etc that you can find. You never know who you might meet and sometimes at lectures, the guest speaker may be a producer, agent, manager, story analyst or someone in the industry. You have to try to meet people and get your name and work out there. Hal Crosman has a thing on the site that gives advice on how to break into Hollywood. You can also find information in Fran Harris' book "Crashing Hollywood" that can be found on Amazon or ordered from Barnes and Nobel etc. You can also read my interview in there if you're interested.

4. If nothing goes on in your area then you can do the online thing. Visit production companies' websites. Signup for screenwriting newsletters like inktip which is great because they tell you who is looking for what and even have their credits that you can verify on

5. You can post your script after it's registered of course on a database that producers visit. Be careful and make sure they have a good reputation of some sort. I've used inktip because I've had my scripts requested when I used the free newsletter and didn't even have them listed on the site. I've also heard them mentioned by industry people at seminars I've attended so that made me feel confident that they were legit. I've since listed a script on the paid listing site but your scripts can get requested from using the free newsletter as well. There are others like script shark and script blaster but I haven't used them before so I can't speak on their services.

6. So, if you don't have an agent, the best way to get your stuff into the studios is to find a producer who is on the studio lot or has a development deal with a studio or some sort of connections to get your project in the door. Make sure the producer you are sending your query to is interested in your genre of script. For example, Dark Castle does horror. If you wrote a drama...they probably wouldn't be interested. Look at the credits when you go to the movies, search the is a good reference. And don't think you can just send it to them anyway incase they are breaking out in other directions in the near future or you think your project will make them want to change courses because you don't want your name on the "bad list". I've heard that production companies keep track on a database of all queries/submissions etc with comments. You definitely don't want nasty comments next to your name because what if you think of this great horror film but you already ruined your changes by sending them something they didn't want. When you find out what production company and/or studio is known to specialize in a certain genre write it down. I've created a file of production companies who are looking for what at the time and credits if I had found any. I've sent a short three sentence query to a production company I found almost a year ago that simply said, "Are you still looking for a new material? I have a high concept comedy I think you might be interested in. Best wishes in all your creative endeavors." You know what happened, they asked to send a logline and synopsis which I did right away. Then they asked to read the script which I mailed right away. About a month later they had passed but gave me some notes and what they thought of the project which were very good and they did say that they liked the script and thought it was marketable but not for them. Go figure. Note: I took some of their notes and did a rewrite, sent it out to another producer who requested it off the logline and synopsis that I didn't change from when I sent it to the first producer and it got optioned. Now this producer has minor requests for changes that I'm working on now. So what one person thinks they can't do anything with, someone else will.

7. Speaking of contest, don't enter just any ole contest because it's a contest. Contests can't guarantee anyone will want to read your script in Hollywood unless it's like the Nicholls, Chesterfield etc. Check the details and enter a reputable one who gives the top 10 or whatever exposure or maybe the semifinalist can get read by a production company, agent or manager. I personally don't do but one or two contests a year. The Nicholls is always on the list and it doesn't cost a lot like some others and is the most prestigious one. I would beware of contests or really think hard about those that cost more than $40 to enter...just my opinion. Also, the same goes for contests that don't have a track record. has a list of contests and you read what other's think of them that have entered.

8. You can also apply for a writing fellowship but most of them require you to move to LA except the Nicholls, you can write where you are and mail in your script pages.

9. You can try to send your query to a star who you think would love your project. You can find their management/agent information in the Hollywood creative directory or online at You can also find out roles they are anxious to play by reading interviews with them. I found out two actresses who has their own production companies who want to do more romantic comedies. I read that in a magazine article at walmart...wrote down said actress name on my receipt..didn't want to buy the magazine after I read the article in line (note to walmart, don't put mags by the checkout if you want to sell them). I also wrote the quote from the magazine so that when I transfer the information to my idea book I keep, I'll know why I wrote her name down. Actually, I wrote the note next to the blurb of the future script I don't have time to write because I'm working on something else. Now, I have to find her contact information. You get the picture. So, as I read stuff in books, magazines or on the internet if I find out a star's production company or what kind of material they are looking for, I make a note. Same goes for studios and production companies. Recently through a conversation I found out exactly the kind of script a studio is looking for for a particular actress...I'm working on it now. When someone drops a hint of what a studio is looking for but can't find, it would be great if you have the exact script in a file...if not, you can write it and then submit in a month or two if you are a fast writer. I can write a draft in a month, rewrite in a few weeks and have it ready to go...having colleagues who are writers and a mentor helps with polishing effforts. Having motivation to write helps a lot especially if I know someone is looking for a script I have or am working on.

10. You can take a screenwriting class either in person or on the net given by someone in the industry because if you do the assignments and they like your writing, they can tell someone else to read your stuff who can make a decision to buy or get it in front of the right people. You never know.

11. Try to surround yourself with positive people who are doing the same thing you have done or have had a script optioned and/or produced because you never know. The positive energy could rub off on you or if they hear something that someone is looking for and know you have it, they may just tell you.

12. Post your ideas about screenwriting (not ideas about scripts you are working on unless you want feedback) on forums and writing loops. Share information if you have it because you never know who may be on them. I've actually met a former sitcom writer who lives in Hollywood so I've gotten some inside information on how things work...can be discouraging but knowing what happens going in makes you not totally surprised when things happen that may not be pleasant. I've also been invited to visit a set, he is now working on independent films. All knowledge is good knowledge and you never know when you'll need it or the contact.

13. Create a website and/or blog. These are great for exposures and can be done very inexpensively or even free. has free blogs.

14. Try to do some interviews. I know what you're thinking, who would want to interview me because I haven't done anything yet! Stop being just never know. I'm not talking about big interviews like on ET or E! or Inside Edison, duh! I'm talking small ones. Amazingly, I've been featured in Fran Harris' book Crashing Hollywood and I did an interview for an online newsletter Hey, it's a start. I was actually flattered and honored that Fran chose me to be included in the book although I hadn't been produced but I think she liked my spirit and my personality.

15. Get business cards made up with your email address and website so that you can hand out when you meet people. I also send these when producers requests to read my script. I used to put phone numbers on it but now I only list my cell because I moved to California from Texas last year and had to throw away all the remainder business cards because they had the wrong number and I hate to scratch off old info on cards. That's totally unprofessional and don't look very good. So I have my cell which I don't have any intention of changing. Also, even if you move 10 miles away, your home number will change so it's better to list a cell besides, if someone wants to buy your script, you don't want to wait till you get home and check your messages to find out! Especially if you are like me who forget to check messages on my home machine for days! Cell messages get checked at least 3 times a day.

16. Have a great personality because that will help you to meet people more easily and if they like you, they may want to help you. No one wants to help mean, nasty, negative people. Then keep your chin up, stay positive, keep persevering, never give up no matter what and keep hope alive. If you do that along with as many of the other 13 things, you'll succeed. Guarantee it.

Other than that, I don't know whatelse to tell you. Hope this helps. I've done all of this except get a job in the industry (however I did get an offer from a producer that came as a referral from my mentor to do a rewrite) and got two options from two different producers with offices on two different studio lots in the past 2 years the most recent a month ago..but no sale yet. I'm hoping it'll happen this year.

I can't think of anything else but if I do, I'll put it on my blog.

Best wishes in all your creative endeavors and keep me posted if my ideas helped you.



I'm starting a forum called Milliondollarscreenwriter. Make a note of it or book mark my website because I'll have a link on it. I haven't had time with the rewrites and my book project to work on it but it'll have information like the above on it.


If you live in the bay area, a one day screewriting workshop is being given by a woman who taught herself screenwriting and has had 2 movies produced! Should be very inspirational. Go to for more info. It's next Sunday, the 15th...don't know if the class is full or not though.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Got an option for my script!

Hi MDS'ers,

Just wanted to pass on the great news. My urban comedy screenplay, DOGGED, has been optioned by a producer in L.A. Yeah!!!! One step closer to the prize...a real movie deal. Fingers, eyes and toes crossed for a sale this year! We can dream can't we? This is Million Dollar Screenwriter! Just when I was about to give up, this happens which goes to show you to never ever give up! No matter what!

Happy writing and movie watching.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Free Screenwriting Seminars!

Hi future MDS'ers:

Below is a post I received from Creative Screenwriting about free seminars! The only catch is that you have to be in the LA area since that's where they are taking place.

Check it out. I know one of the lecturers personally and he gives a lot of information and is very personable and can really help you develop your projects and to get that for free is even better. I had to pay for the seminar I took with him but it was well worth it.


CS Publications, Inc.
6404 Hollywood Blvd., Ste. 415, Los Angeles, CA 90028


Comp Seminars for Screenwriters in Los Angeles (ONLY)
Creative Screenwriting magazine will be videotaping 30 of the most popular seminars from the Screenwriting Expo over the next two weeks and you're invited.

The seminars will take place on a sound stage in downtown Los Angeles. You will need transportation by car to get to the sound stage.

There are two sessions (morning and afternoon) each day and attendance is limited to 100. You can sign up for multiple sessions and multiple days, but PLEASE DON'T SIGN UP for a session you can't attend.

Your attendance is complimentary (no charge).

Morning Session: 7:45 AM to 1:30 PM

Afternoon Session: 2:15 PM to 7 PM

There will be a 1-hour lunch break at approximately 1:30 PM. Lunch is NOT included, but sodas and water will be available.

You must be prompt, or you won't be allowed to enter the stage.

Release Form: You will need to sign a release form allowing us to videotape you when you arrive at the stage in order to become an audience member. There will be some down time while cameras are loaded/moved and new shots are set up. So please plan on being patient during the shooting of the DVDs. The information these speakers impart is worth the wait.

Current Schedule (individual speakers and topics are subject to change)

Sunday April 24th

Morning Session: Richard Krevolin (8:45 AM Start)

Stories that Touch Your Soul

Advanced Structural Analysis

Afternoon Session: Richard Krevolin (3:15 PM Start)

Prof. K's Master Class Scene Workshop

Monday April 25th

Morning Session: Michael Hauge

Writing Romantic Comedies And Love Stories

Creating Powerful Movie Scenes

Afternoon Session: Michael Hauge

Mastering the 2-Minute Pitch

Pilar Alessandra

Writing The Three Minute Pitch

Tuesday April 26th

Morning Session: Karl Iglesias

Mastering the Essential Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters

Evoking Emotion on the Page

Afternoon Session: Karl Iglesias

Evoking Emotion in Your Concept

Wednesday April 27th

Morning Session: Robert Kosberg

Selling Your Idea To Hollywood With Pitch King Robert Kosberg

Afternoon Session: Michael Hauge

Grabbing the Reader in the First 10 Pages

Thursday April 28th

Morning Session: Jeff Kitchen

36 Dramatic Situations for Brainstorming

Jeff Kitchen's Class on Sequence, Proposition, Plot

Afternoon Session: Jeff Kitchen

Jeff Kitchen's Two Tools for Advanced Screenwriters

Friday April 29th

Morning Session: Michael Ray Brown

A Structure Checklist: How to Plug the Holes in Your Script

Afternoon Session: Jeff Kitchen

Jeff Kitchen's Screenwriting Seminar

Jeff Kitchen's Class on Classic Structural Technique

Saturday April 30th

Morning Session: Jim Mercurio

Killer Endings

Afternoon Session: Ken Rotcop

Perfect Pitch: How to Sell Yourself and Your Movie Idea to Hollywood-The Lecture

Perfect Pitch: How to Sell Yourself and Your Movie Idea to Hollywood-The Workshop

Sunday May 1st

Morning Session: Jeff Kitchen

Jeff Kitchen's Full Day Seminar

Afternoon Session: Jeff Kitchen

Jeff Kitchen's Full Day Seminar (Pt. 2)

Monday May 2nd

Morning Session: Jeff Kitchen

Jeff Kitchen's Full Day Seminar (Pt. 3)

Afternoon Session: Jeff Kitchen

Jeff Kitchen's Full Day Seminar (Pt. 4)

Tuesday May 3rd

Morning Session: Karl Iglesias

Evoking Emotion: Characters

Evoking Emotion: Story

Afternoon Session: Karl Iglesias

Evoking Emotion: Scenes

Evoking Emotion: Description

Wednesday May 4th

Morning Session: Richard Walter (9:45 AM Start)

Attitude vs. Gratitude: Strategies for Securing an Agent

Screenwriting: The Whole Picture

Afternoon Session: Richard Walter

Reader's Backflip

Thursday May 5th

Morning Session: Karl Iglesias

Evoking Emotion: Dialogue Subtext

Afternoon Session: Karl Iglesias

Pitching to Sell: Engaging the Listener Emotionally

Friday May 6th

Morning Session: Jim Mercurio

The "T" Word: Theme

Afternoon Session: Devorah Cutler- Rubenstein

Ten Sure-Fire Ways to Raise Money for Your Film

Scott Rubenstein

How to Write Your Script and Deduct the Expenses Off Your Tax Return

Saturday May 7th

Morning Session: Paul Gulino

Sequences: The Hidden Structure of Successful Screenplays

Afternoon Session: David Freedman

Screenwriter's Guide to Making Money


Use this link to RSVP and follow ALL the instructions:

If you can't find the session you want on the RSVP form, that session is already filled.

If you are going to attend, please save this e-mail as it will be your only listing of what topics will be covered by the speakers each day.

I look forward to seeing you at the seminars.

Erik Bauer


Creative Screenwriting

Contact Information
voice: (323) 957-1405

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

"Crash" a new movie dramatizing urban reality

The article featured below was posted on the They have good information there. Feel free to check it out now and then. I bought one of their ebooks about screenwriting and it was very good and very affordable so much that I had it bound at kinkos so that I'll always have it as a screenwriting reference. [And no, no one's paying me to say good things about them but I'm always open to free gifts especially if they relate to would be good because it gets very expensive printing out all those pages. :)]

CRASH Dramatizes Urban Reality

By Glenn Bossik 3/28/05

Writer/Director Paul Haggis based his upcoming film, CRASH, on a personal life experience in which he "was car-jacked at gunpoint" in Los Angeles, California. That experience inspired the screenplay for CRASH, which he co-wrote with Bobby Moresco.

In the story, the lives of several racially diverse characters in Los Angeles collide with each other during a 36-hour time period before Christmas. Among the characters are a Brentwood housewife and her husband, a district attorney; a Persian store owner; two police detectives; an African-American TV director and his wife; a Mexican locksmith; two car-jackers; a rookie cop; and a Korean couple.

At the heart of the story is a car-jacking. Actress Sandra Bullock plays the character, Jean Cabot, a Brentwood housewife who is a victim of the car-jacking.

Bullock explains that Jean lives in a protected world. "[Jean is] an example of someone who has really built her life around things that are incredibly trivial and empty," she says.

Bullock feels that people don't understand what the real world is like. "Our reality is so detached that I think it requires a catastrophic event to make us either feel or acknowledge what's actually going on," she adds.

According to co-writer/producer Bobby Moresco, people don't always come in contact with each other in Los Angeles because they use cars for transportation. Producer Cathy Schulman agrees. "We protect ourselves in our cars It's highly simplistic, but surprisingly true," she says.

CRASH shows how fragile our feelings of safety are. "None of the characters escape unscathed," says filmmaker Paul Haggis

The characters in CRASH deal with racial problems, and Haggis's co-writer, Bobby Moresco, defines racism as a societal problem. "I think that on some level everybody in America is touched by the question of race and racism," he says.

When CRASH debuts in movie theaters on May 6, 2005, audiences will see how racism has compromised our society.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Has diversity finally reached Hollywood?

I was forwarded this article from a colleague and thought it posed an interesting question so I've decided to post it here. Not sure which mag this was featured in though.

Happy creating.

Has diversity finally reached Hollywood?
By KEVIN HERRERA, Staff Writer 09.MAR.05

Movie industry insiders and independent filmmakers
agree, 2005 has been a banner year for African Americans in cinema.

Jamie Foxx and Morgan Freeman both took home Oscars in an awards
ceremony featuring more minorities nominated than ever before; three
of the year's highest-grossing films — "Coach Carter," "Are We There
Yet?" and "Hitch" — all star black men; while the "hottest" movie at
the Sundance Film Festival, a barometer for what's hip in Hollywood,
was "Hustle & Flow," a film by John Singleton, an African-American
director from South Los Angeles.

While few would call this recent success a renaissance in African-
American film ("Hitch," "Diary" and "Are We There Yet?" are not
considered great cinematic achievements), industry experts said it
is certainly significant, for it signals an evolution in an industry
that has long resisted attempts to diversify.

How long this will last, and what impact it will have in terms of
getting more minorities in front of and behind the camera is
anyone's guess.

"There has been a huge climactic shift," said veteran director Mike
Schultz, whose films include "Car Wash," "Krush Groove," Berry
Gordy's "The Last Dragon" and most recently, "Woman, Thou Art
Loosed." "When I came on the scene, I think there was only Gordon
Parks, Melvin Van Peebles, who had been ostracized by Hollywood, and
Sidney Poitier was doing his `Uptown Saturday Night' thing and that
was it.

"Today there are all kinds of movies coming out with very talented
young directors of color. I see a critical mass of trained black
professionals in every aspect of the business, which I think will
translate into more quality stories being told."

"Blacks are getting offered more mainstream roles now and the
Academy [of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] and critics are
recognizing what these actors can do outside of `Soul Plane'
or `Booty Call,'" said Laurence Washington, co-publisher of "Soul Plane" and "Booty Call" were films heavily
criticized in the black community for portraying African Americans
as buffoons or sex-crazed fools, with director Spike Lee and the
Rev. Jesse Jackson speaking out against them.

Washington is skeptical of course, never willing to trust the
motives of major studios. "Today blacks are the flavor of the
month," he said. "Tomorrow, who knows? And in Hollywood, the bottom
line is the bottom line."

Because Hollywood is all about "the green," meaning money, producer
Reuben Cannon, who was behind "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," which
debuted at number one, stunning industry experts, said he would like
to see a movement towards more collaboration between black
filmmakers and black producers, not with major studios, who Cannon
feels exploit minority audiences desperately craving quality
entertainment. If studios will not hire minorities in positions of
power, it makes sense for blacks to support themselves, Cannon said.

"Real progress will happen only when we finally combine our creative
talents with our financial resources," he said. "I want to see a
movement toward black independent films because that is the only way
to keep the integrity of the art intact. If we do business the
traditional way, through major studios, we are only going to get
frustrated or disapprove of the finished product because there are
no black executives monitoring the process. We will not see a change
until we become the change. We can't wait for studios to come to us."

To finance "Hustle & Flow," Singleton spent $3.5 million of his own
money. Now studios are offering him four times that amount to
distribute the film, he said.

"What you have are black people taking charge," Singleton said from
the set of his new film "Four Brothers." "You have Tyler Perry
[creator of `Diary'] financing that himself and Ice Cube produced
[`Are We There Yet?'] you know, so it is a really good time to be
making films independently. African Americans are really popular in
entertainment right now."

Or are they?

Some have questioned the importance of box office figures,
considering the release dates for "Diary," "Hitch," "Are We There
Yet?" and "Coach Carter," all fell in or around Black History Month,
which is considered to be one of the slowest periods of the year for
films, and a perfect time to release films appealing to black
audiences. That may have contributed to the high box-office returns,
some said.

"You are not going to put these movies up against your typical
Hollywood blockbusters and that is why you are seeing them all
released right now," said Ralph Scott, program director for the
Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center in Los Angeles, who is
very critical of the lack of minorities greenlighting films, which
he said creates movies based on offensive stereotypes. "Once it hits
May or June, you won't see these types of films except for maybe an
F. Gary Gray film."

Gray directed "Be Cool," "The Italian Job," as well as "Friday," and
like Antoine Fuqua, another black director who made "Training
Day," "Tears of the Sun," and "King Aurthur," Gray is considered a
filmmaker with that all-important "crossover appeal."

"I think you have seen the success of these films because they are
not niche films or black films or urban films, they are good movies
with crossover appeal," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box
office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations.

"With the right actor, these films are not considered black films,
but just good entertaining films that people of all ethnic
backgrounds want to see," said Gitesh Pandya, editor of "Movies like `Ray,' `Diary,' and `Barbershop,'
where the majority of the cast is black, are showing Hollywood that
there is a big appetite for films like these and with the right cast
and story, crossover sales to their moviegoers can lead to very
strong profits. The color Hollywood really loves is green and if a
type of film can bring home the bacon, the industry will take

Scott warns to be weary of the hype. Major studios will capitalize
on it the best way they know how, and that is producing films that
lack honest portrayals and poignant content.

"Whites are comfortable as long as blacks are doing the things that
are stereotypical, shooting each other, degrading our women, not
being a father to our children," Scott said. "But once we are loving
and caring human beings, it doesn't fit and doesn't seem right. Of
course Denzel [Washington] is going to win an Oscar for playing a
bad guy [in `Training Day'] and Halle Berry for a hoochie momma
[in `Monster's Ball.'] Until the mindset that creates that outcome
changes, I think we are just seeing another peak before a deep
valley in black films. Hollywood is going to end up treating [this
recent success] as a trend and it will not be ongoing. I assure you.
These will be treated like flukes."

Thursday, March 10, 2005

From DVD to Pay-per-view

Another way to get your films out there.

Dear Filmmaker,

Westpark Foundries is now accepting product for use on our two new
pay-per-view channels. We are looking for feature length films,
documentaries, and television programs.

We have deals with two new IPTV networks and are currently negotiating our
deal with a cellular provider for your submitted short films.

Westpark provides an 80-20 split. That means for every dollar that your
film earns on Pay-Per-View, you will receive .80 cents.

This is a non-exclusive deal, so that you may sell your film in any other
fashion you choose, and may end your agreement with Westpark at any time, by
giving us 30 days written notice to remove your Content from our offerings.

Please visit: and fill out the
submission form and mail your films to:

Westpark Foundries


1312 Yorkshire

Austin, Tx. 78723

We are only accepting DVD's at this time, no other format will be
considered. Please insure that your film is mastered as a DVD and NOT as a
VCD, they are very similar.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Million Dollar Screenwriting Club

Hi all,

I took a screenwriting class that was totally fab and at the end of the class, the teacher/producer welcomed us as future members of the Million Dollar Screenwriting Club. Wow! Wouldn't that be great if it were to happen? At first my analytical mind thought that it was impossible especially since I haven't even made the first sale but nothing truly is impossible. People are doing the seemingly impossible every single day. Then I read two anonymous quotes the very next day that said, "Just because we haven't realized our potential doesn't mean it's not there." and "Don't judge your future successes by what is materializing in your life at the moment. Rather focus on what you do now that will create the future payoff." Those were so true and really spoke to my soul. I believe in signs and to me, having the instructor say that then finding the quotes was like a huge 'hello'. I realized that I was judging my future success by where I am today in my career. How ludicrous is that! Anyway, I'm creating a forum called the Million Dollar Screenwriting Club as a place to network and inspire future members of the million dollar club. Others have done it and so can we.

Sign up now.

I've created a link on my website:

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

African American Filmmakers

Article from the site.

African-American filmmakers
African-Americans are redefining Hollywood's landscape and the "new black" in the process

By Polly Delaney
Pictured: Jeff Byrd, left, and Darryl Taja on the set of
"I'm black and have been in some positions of so-called power for some time now," says Yvette Lee Bowser, with a smile in her voice.

Since grabbing the reins of ABC sitcom "Hanging With Mr. Cooper," Bowser has had a show on the air every year. Her latest creation, "Half & Half," anchors UPN's Monday night lineup, with some 3.1 million viewers tuning in on a good week. "We were hot in the early '90s and here we are, hot again," she says of black scribes.

A recent report by the WGA supports Bowser's optimism. Across the board, the number of minority writers working in primetime television is up 13% from 10% in 2001. In fact, in all walks of the industry -- from feature films to television to the executive suite -- a new generation of talented professionals is bursting into the spotlight.

Be it up-and-coming directors such as Jeff Byrd (the upcoming "King's Ransom") and Bryan Barber (HBO Films' upcoming OutKast project), or production and development professionals, entertainment attorneys and agents, the black outlook in the entertainment industry is bright.

Of course, there is still plenty of ground to cover. African-Americans account for approximately 12% of the U.S. population, but blacks in the executive ranks account for an even slimmer sliver of the pie. Arguably, the number of high-ranking black executives in the ranks of the entertainment industry lag behind other arenas, such as business and politics.

"I don't think African-Americans wield nearly as much clout in Hollywood as they wield in other disciplines," says public radio and talk show host Tavis Smiley, citing Merrill Lynch chairman and CEO Stan O'Neal, American Express chairman and CEO Ken Chenault, Time Warner chairman and CEO Richard Parsons, the members of the Congressional Black Caucus and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice as examples.

However, thanks to a recent string of boxoffice success stories, there's no question that blacks are wielding more of that all-important clout. Last year, F. Gary Gray's "The Italian Job" made more than $100 million and was Paramount's highest-grossing 2003 release. More recently, Kevin Rodney Sullivan's "Barbershop 2: Back in Business" (MGM) opened at $25.1 million, almost 22% higher than the $20.6 million opening of MGM's original "Barbershop" comedy in 2002. The sequel has since gone on to gross more than $62.6 million.

Antoine Fuqua helms producer Jerry Bruckheimer's "King Arthur," a July release that distributor Buena Vista is hoping will become a breakout hit on par with 2003's "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl." This fall, Newmarket will release producer Lee Daniels' follow-up to 2001's "Monster's Ball," "The Woodsman," the story of a convicted pedophile (Kevin Bacon) who looks to rebuild his life after being released from prison.

But there are just as many important developments away from the director's chair. Ask Matt Johnson, one of only a handful of black entertainment lawyers in the business, who juggles an impressive client roster including Ice Cube, Tyra Banks, the Hughes brothers, writer Jeff Rake and Michael Keaton.

"There are at least three of us who have seven-figure practices," says Johnson, who works at one Hollywood's biggest entertainment law firms, Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca, Fischer, Gilbert-Lurie, Stiffelman & Cook. "The business is getting more difficult. The money is getting tighter. The studios are getting cheaper and more aggressive in terms of what they want (regarding) rights and other obligations in terms of talent, so it just requires lawyers to be smarter and more creative."

Johnson recently cut a rare deal for Dave Chappelle that will see the comedian doing a comedy special for Showtime while retaining ownership and licensing rights for the DVD.

On June 25, Warner Bros. Pictures' new indie outfit, Warner Independent Pictures, is scheduled to release "Before Sunset," Richard Linklater's sequel to 1995's "Before Sunrise." Also on the slate are "We Don't Live Here Anymore," which WIP acquired at the Sundance Film Festival, and director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's follow-up to "Amelie," "A Very Long Engagement."

Tracey Bing, vp production and acquisitions for WIP, has the plum job of picking and choosing such films, working with Mark Gill, Paul Federbush and Michael Andreen. "For me, it is important to find original stories by filmmakers with unique voices from around the world," she says. "Of course, I am personally interested in finding those stories (from) filmmakers of color."

Although none of the above titles is overtly targeted to black audiences, some say that as executive offices become more ethnically diverse, by their very nature, they will help promote new ideas that appeal to traditionally underserved audiences. The sea change might be slow and subtle, but it's definitely happening.

"Everybody points fingers at the agencies for not taking on writers," HBO's director of original programming of comedy Jada Miranda says. "But when I look at the agencies right now, UTA has great agents of color who are going to bring in great writers of color. William Morris has Marcus Wiley. You have this new crop of young agents and executives who are really going to systematically start changing things just by virtue of being there."

Miranda oversaw the final season of "Sex and the City" and is part of HBO's core comedy development team, working alongside Sarah Condon and Carolyn Strauss. She currently has 30-plus scripts in development including projects by director and playwright George C. Wolfe ("Take Me Out") and Brillstein Grey production "East/West Values" by Sabrina Dhawan (2001's "Monsoon Wedding"), about two East Coast families assimilating from India.

Also in the queue are "The Entourage," a series based on Mark Wahlberg's pre-stardom Los Angeles experience, which started shooting Monday.

"I don't take it as a color thing," offers Bravo vp development and production Jamila Hunter, who is shepherding "Long Way Round," a documentary series following actor Ewan McGregor and best friend Charlie Boorman as they ride their motorcycles around the world. "If my perspective can add a different perspective to a roomful of people, fine. I'm from San Diego, so it's not as if I'm coming to work in dashiki. But, on the other hand, if there are things that I notice and I do have a different life experience, I feel like it's advantageous of me to bring that to the table."

The goal, according to most black production professionals, is to explode the notion that the only films that appeal to black audiences are titles such as Screen Gems' January release "You Got Served" and offer movies and television programs with a much broader range of content.

Urban is no longer black. The success of crossover films such as Universal's "2Fast2Furious" and notably, "The Italian Job," underscores the idea that real power comes with transparency, when African-American executives and creatives migrate between mainstream and niche.

Finding a balance can mean going from Compton, Calif. to Beverly Hills without missing a step. Many feel that what is represented in rap videos doesn't wholly encapsulate the black experience.

"I think there's a very urban but educated upper crust of African-Americans that are young and still upwardly mobile, and we don't get serviced," says Darryl Taja, who is currently producing "Ransom" and "Slay the Bully" for New Line and recently sold Ken Rance's "32 and Single," a romantic comedy with Gabrielle Union attached to star, to Universal. "You see movies like (MGM's upcoming comedy) 'Soul Plane' come out where they're quite exploitative. If a movie like that is successful, then it means that five more movies like that are going to get made. There are still very few African-American dramas that get made," he says.

Looking to effect real change, Taja recently left his Catch 23 Alter Ego division to launch his own production banner, Epidemic Pictures and Management Inc., and is in the process of forming the African American Regulatory Committee, an organization designed to monitor media content and change the often negative depiction of blacks in film and television. MGM vice chairman and chief operating officer Chris McGurk, Fox vice chairman Robert Harper and WMA's Nicole David have expressed interest in supporting the endeavor by serving on the advisory board.

"There are no black execs with greenlight power in this town, and the execs that (do) have it never lived in our communities, so how can one make an informed decision on what is or is not suitable to market to the black audience?" Taja says. "I once heard that a very powerful senior-level studio exec made the statement that 'he knew black people better than black people knew black people.' I just laughed. You gotta love the arrogance and absurdity of that statement."

Similarly, the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications Creative Summit, which will take place April 15-16, was created to bridge the divide between industry executives and those looking to advance within the creative arenas of the cable industry. Participants included Lifetime's senior vp programming Kelly Goode, Paramount Digital's Leonard Washington, Paramount Network Television senior vp comedy Rose Catherine Pinkney and Overbrook Entertainment manager Miguel Melendez.

"I think at the moment the climate is very good," Bowser says. "I think the industry is very open to hearing what we have to say. Are they buying it every time we say it? No. But I think they're not buying it when someone not of color is pitching an idea. So, I think we're in a positive cycle right now, and it's on us to be prepared when ears are open."

Adds Bing: "It's a difficult job market with so few opportunities. But I truly believe that when you get a diverse group of people in the room that's when the innovative and exciting projects get done."

Bright young things: Who you should be talking to at that next industry mixer

Tracey Bing, vp, production and acquisitions, Warner Independent Pictures. Bing has a knack for finding reel gems like Liev Schreiber's directorial debut, "Everything is Illuminated." Cherry Road Prods.' "Barnes" is another of her projects, and Bing previously worked on Jonathan Demme's 1996 release "Courage and Pain."

Gordon Bobb, entertainment attorney, Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka & Finkelstein. Recruited by one of Hollywood's top legal minds, Nina Shaw, to join her practice. Bobb's clients include Jamie Foxx, Cedric the Entertainer and writer-directors Malcolm D. Lee (2002's "Undercover Brother"), Reggie Bythewood (2003's "Biker Boyz") and Rick Famuyiwa (2002's "Brown Sugar").

Tina Chism Penned Fox's drum-tastic 2002 release "Drumline," so the studio hailed her "Taxi," casting Jimmy Fallon and Queen Latifah in the project. Also in the works are Universal's "Nappily Ever After," starring Halle Berry, and Warner Bros. Pictures' "Jelly Beans," to be helmed by Chris Robinson.

Wayne Conley Formerly a writer-producer on Nick's "Kenan & Kel," Conley has "King's Ransom," starring Anthony Anderson, in production at New Line. His projects "Jive Turkey" and the untitled Uncle Buck film also are in development.

DeVon Franklin, creative executive, MGM Pictures. This 26 year-old is one of the youngest black studio executives in Hollywood -- plus, he works as a Christian minister and motivational speaker. Believes his studio's planned fall releases "Be Cool" and "Beauty Shop" epitomize what the "new black" should be in terms of material.

Jamila Hunter, vp development and production, Bravo. Works on Bravo's alternative series, specials, longform and programming strategy; influential in acquiring "Project Greenlight" from HBO. New series under her watch include "Blow Out" (the hair-salon answer to NBC's "The Restaurant"), "The D-List" and "Long Way Round."

Jada Miranda, director of original programming, HBO. She cut her teeth on a two-year stint at Orly Adelson Prods., then quickly rose through the ranks at ABC. Now, she is now part HBO's comedy development team.

Marc L. Moore, associate, White O'Connor Curry & Avanzado. This renaissance legal eagle is the man to call when you're having a "'Survivor' problem." CBS is the firm's biggest client, but it also reps the Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros. Pictures and Paramount.

Amber Pollard, television literary agent, Endeavor. Pollard helped seal the deal for Kevin Lima to direct the 2003 ABC telefilm "Eloise at Christmastime," for which he won a DGA Award in February in the children's programming category. Some of Pollard's other director clients are behind event television including USA Network's recently aired "Call Me: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss," helmed by Charles McDougall, and the upcoming CBS telefilm remake of "Helter Skelter," written and directed by John Gray.

Marcus Wiley, television literary agent, William Morris Agency. Formerly at Regency Television and Fox Broadcasting Co., Wiley last summer landed squarely in the TV department at WMA. Represents writer-actor Marc Wilmore (Fox's "The Simpsons"), director Jessy Terrero (MGM's upcoming comedy release "Soul Plane") and the Los Angeles Lakers' Rick Fox, among others.

Published April 06, 2004

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Doing the Producer Strut

My latest script is finished. I've gone over it dozens of times that I'm having dreams about it. So, I figured that it's time to get it out there. I did let a few people read it. Funny, though. All the women love it and the men aren't too thrilled. Not that it's a bale basher or anything! Promise! At any rate, one producer asked to read the script and 2 others asked for the synopsis so I sit and wait. I hope to hear something whether yeah or nay next month. Ah the pain of having patience! At any rate, it's out of my control for the moment so I'm starting on a new project.

I also signed up for a Creating High Concepts class. I hope it's worth the $150 bucks. I'll let you know.

The saga continues...


Monday, January 03, 2005

My career's alive in 2005!

Every year I create a slogan that's meant to motivate, no push me into action. I've been honing my screenwriting craft for 4 years now and have not made any progress. Not that I've tried. I was never focused or persued it wholeheartedly but that's all gonna change. Actually, in 2004 I made more progress than I had in the last 3.5 years. I wrote three scripts and started marketing which I never really did before. I guess because I didn't feel I had any high concept scripts to push. I've always sought out screenwriting groups and other hopeless souls on the path. Why do we torture ourselves like this? Probably because we can't help it. No matter what happens, we can never give up. As long as you try, there's an opportunity to make it. If you give up and quit then it's never going to happen.

I finished "Dogged" a comedy. I really enjoyed working on this project and think this could be the one to jump start my stale writing career. I've sent it out at the end of December 2004 to a producer who is also a director and has a movie coming out in 2005 with Vivica Fox and Bill Bellamy. Wow! I really hope he likes it. In case he doesn't, I'm researching who else I could send my script to. I honestly will be surprised if he doesn't like it because he likes comedies and this script is pretty funny and has a lot of heart. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed. I'll keep you posted.

The saga continues...