​7 Crucial Logline Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Published in Script Magazine, March 6, 2015

Why is a good logline important? After all, it’s not printed anywhere in your script. And it oversimplifies your story to the point of absurdity anyway, right?

Wrong. A great logline is a vital step—arguably THE MOST IMPORTANT step—in writing your screenplay. If you don’t understand what your story is fundamentally about, and can’t distill it into a gripping, potential-packed one- or two-line summary, you’re not ready to move forward.

It doesn’t matter weather you’re writing an introspective indie, a car chase–filled thriller, or an orc-laden fantasy epic: Your logline MUST demonstrate a powerful conflict with a twist that makes it stand out right away.

Professional TV and film writers DO NOT START WRITING until they have a great logline. If they don’t yet know their story, they won’t devote months or years of their time to it. First, they have to hone their logline to decide whether it has the scope, audience appeal, and unique spin that makes it movie-worthy. Granted, the scriptwriting process can definitely be one path to discovering what your story is about—but the basic concept has to be there first.

I made up all of the loglines below from scratch. However, their flaws are 100% based on totally real loglines I see every single day as a script consultant and screenwriting teacher. And these are just some of the missteps I see most often!

Read the rest of the article here!

7 Simple Secrets for Making an Outstanding Short Film

Published in Script Magazine, December 9, 2013

Have you heard of the short films Doodlebug, Supermarket Sweep, or Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB? No?

Then how about Christopher Nolan, Darren Aronofsky, or George Lucas? Okay, good. They directed those short films at the very beginning of their careers.

So why make a short film? Because it’s probably the best calling card for an upcoming writer or director. Creating a strong short is one of the easiest ways to start out on the festival circuit, prove a feature concept, or get commercial work. And it’s almost definitely the fastest way to see your work onscreen, test your writing/directing skills, and get your name out into the world.

Here are three of my favorite recent shorts (all free online!), all of which happened to play at Sundance in the past few years.

Read the rest of the artcile here!

This Scene Sucks: 15 Screenwriting Mistakes to Avoid

Published in Script Magazine, November 20, 2013

Please enjoy this scene from my nonexistent, Birds vs. Bees.

I wrote this opening scene specifically for this article, but there isn’t a single error in it that I haven’t read in actual screenplays hundreds of times. I’m serious.

Can you spot all 15 (at least) errors?

.... Script readers are the gatekeepers who read the thousands of scripts that land on the desks of producers, directors, actors, production companies, studios, agents, and managers. Their job is to evaluate new screenplays all day, every day. Don’t make their job hard; make it fun. Make them sit up and take notice.

Do you think you spotted all of the errors in my opening scene? The 15 reader pet peeves I illustrated above are shockingly easy to fix, and will bring your script that much closer to making every reader recommend your script to their boss.

​Read the rest of the article here!