Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Screenwriters Showcase + Discount

We would like to offer your readers a discount admission price of $125 (reg $149) good until Jan 31st for admission to our Scriptwriters Showcase.

For more info on the event, featuring only working screenwriters as panelists, please visit:

Scriptwriters Showcase: Learn From Those Who Write

April 7 - 9, 2005

Universal Studios Sheraton

Final Draft and scr(i)pt magazine present a one-of-a-kind scriptwriting and creative development industry conference, marketplace and job fair. Panels featuring A-list screenwriters, agents, managers, producers and development executives will examine the craft and business of scriptwriting for film, television and interactive media. Don’t miss this unprecedented opportunity to learn from the professionals who drive the entertainment industry.

Join us at Universal Studios in the heart of the entertainment community for this gathering of professionals dedicated to promoting the art and business of scriptwriting.

Space is limited! To register: http://www.scriptwritersshowcase.com
Use Discount Code MABL06 to receive your discount.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Crazy John's "King Kong" Review

My friend Crazy John gives his take on KONG.

King Kong (2005)

Review by John Dodd (jrd_73@yahoo.com)

Dir: Peter Jackson

(with notes on two other versions)

Kong and I go way back. When I was a child in the late 1970s/early 80s, I had a King Kong raincoat, part of the 1976 promotion that had been discounted over the years until my parents took advantage of some closeout sale. Being way too young to go to the film when it was released (or even to know it existed), King Kong 76 was not caught until it played network television some years later. I remember grooving to the snake and subway scenes but finding the film too slow and made even slower by the commercial interruptions. A viewer had to wait more than a whole hour to see the ape. What horror!!!!

The 1933 King Kong took longer to view. As a pre-teen, I remember reading film monster books and looking at the photos of Kong fighting the bat, but the film was not available at the local video store. Sad to say, once I got to be a teenager, I would watch an old film only if that was all there was to watch. I had other, gorier fish to fillet besides a fifty-five year-old monster movie. Finally, in the late 90s, I watched the original King Kong.

By comparison, this year’s King Kong was watched on opening day. I took off work just to be able to watch the first showing. Sure I had a few misgivings. The film was three hours, an indulgent running time for a monkey movie. It seemed odd for director Peter Jackson to want to remake his favorite film (I wouldn’t want to remake Dr. Strangelove or Ikiru or The Wild Bunch). Still, if any director could give King Kong 1933 a rival it would be Peter Jackson.

What I watched was a thrilling, well done, if overlong, adventure film. Kong 2005 is a film that wants to please. Instead of Kong fighting one t-rex, he fights three at once. Instead, of the would-be rescuers swimming from a herd of brontosaurs, they are caught in a wild brontosaurus stampede! The boat landing scene has giant waves, a rock wall, and many close calls. Jackson even gives the viewer a variation on the legendary, lost spider sequence from the original King Kong. Jackson is a showman worthy of Carl Denham himself.

Having said that, King Kong 2005 is not a great movie. By having a running time over three hours long, the star does not get his first close-up until well over an hour. Certain scenes (like the romance between Ann Darow and Jack Discoll - Watts/Brody) drag on. Hey, this is a film about a giant ape. The audience does not need relationships between crew members. We are all paying for the big monkey, bring him on.

Running time aside, there was at least one wink wink allusion to the first King Kong which produced a groan ("Faye is shooting a picture at RKO with Cooper"). Also, and there is no getting around this, computer FX cannot rival stop motion for this viewer. Kong moves perfectly, but many of the dinosaur scenes, as good as they are, look like twelve year-old left overs from Jurassic Park.

What Jackson does do brilliantly is the end. The New York of this King Kong is an amazing creation. The Empire State Building sequence provides an amazing view of a recreated 1930s city, a world that seems as real and as tangible as our own. The aerial footage squeezes the viewer’s emotion. We are in the planes circling Kong and feel the rush and the horror of the action. This sequence is amazing. It ends King Kong 2005 on a high note. Yet, this Kong is not the *real* Kong.

Time has not been kind to the 1976 King Kong directed by John Guillermin. I had remembered from my youth liking this Dino De Laurentiis production. Due largely to Jackson’s remake, it is now out on DVD. While I do not think the film is as bad as everyone but Dino says, it certainly can not be called good. Jessica Lange gives either an awful performance or has a very thankless role. The snake now looks like a contender for film history’s fakest looking reptile (and there is quite a competition in that category). Yet, the biggest fault was the decision to use a man-in-a-suit after over a dozen Godzilla movies. This Kong is not even a good man-in-a-suit, not much better than the one in Mighty Peking Man, the cheap-O, Hong Kong ripoff of King Kong 76. The film even highlights its fault with the very unwise line, "Who the hell do you think went through there, some guy in an ape suit?"

The King Kong of 1933 (made by explorers Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack) remains the best version of this story because it creates one of the most memorable characters in film. Kong lives, breathes, and dies before our eyes. He dies with a gesture of confusion as if to say how did I get here. We feel the pain of a stranger in a strangeland, the last of a dying breed killed by the modern age (and love). This is not a man-in-a-suit, but a character more real than the ones played by Robert Armstrong and Faye Wray. To his credit Jackson in 2005's King Kong does strive to make a character, but this Kong does not have the life, the style of the Kong of 33. When Kong 33 played with the carcass of the tyrannosaurus, there was genuine curiosity on his face. When Jackson’s Kong does it, the end result feels more like homage. I have met more than one who claims the 1933 King Kong as the best film he/she has ever seen. My grandfather was one of these. If he was still living, I would take him to Jackson’s King Kong. He probably would have liked it, but I’m also sure he would have said, "That’s not King Kong."

Jackson’s greatest achievement for the true King Kong is to help with the release of the DVD. This two-disk set, which among other extras recreates the lost spider scene, is a must buy for all Kong fans. Many will spend $5-10 to watch Jackson’s Kong. It is money well spent, but an even better buy is the $20-25 DVD of the 1933 King Kong.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me

33 years ago today in a galaxy far far away, actually Illinois, but close enough.

Few Contest reminders.

Two Additional Weeks

The AAA Contest deadline has been extended to December 15th.
That's just two weeks away!

To submit your screenplay right now, https://www.creativescreenwriting.com/step1.php

Call for Entries!

Breaking into the world of screenwriting is no easy task. Creative Screenwriting magazine is proud to sponsor the AAA Screenplay Contest, a chance for a few talented writers to take the next step in their writing career.


Only 7 days left until the Ferryman crosses the river Styx and your
chance of becoming the next big thing in horror dies forever. Don't miss
the boat.

You could miss the chance to win the only screenplay competition solely
dedicated to the horror genre... your genre.

By now, you're probably hard at work tweaking the screams and scares of
your script.

Please remember, all entries must be postmarked by December 9, 2005 to
be eligible.

Horror Screenplay Competition
1028 12th Street #8
Santa Monica, CA 90403

Friday, November 25, 2005



New Online Entry Now Available!

Open Door Contest Deadline: December 1, 2005
scr(i)pt magazine's Open Door Contest sponsored by BENDERSPINK.

The first-place winner of this contest receives $3,000 CASH,
consideration for
literary representation by BENDERSPINK, screenwriting software provided
Final Draft, a $200 gift certificate from The Writers Store, a free
class from
ActionCut Seminars, promotions from Inktip.com and
plus much more!

Entry Fee: $45

For more information and to enter online visit:

About the Sponsor: BENDERSPINK is a diversified management/production
specializing in initiating and managing the careers of screenwriters,
and actors as well as producing quality film and television projects
communicate unique takes on universal themes.

With a first-look deal at New Line Cinema since July 1999, the company
produced 14 feature films including A History of Violence, Red Eye,
Monster-in-Law, The Ring, The Ring Two, American Pie 1 & 2, American
The Butterfly Effect and Final Destination.

As managers, Benderspink has an unparalleled reputation for
nurturing and kick-starting the careers of talented filmmakers and
actors. The
eclectic array of projects its clients have been involved with include
Santa, In Her Shoes, 8 Mile, Adaptation, Can t Hardly Wait, Requiem for
Dream, Backdraft, American Psycho, Phantom of the Opera, Point Break,
Confidence, Goodfellas, The Clearing and Threshold.

The company also recently renewed its first-look deal with 20th Century
Television s Fox 21 studio.



The first-round finalists for the Thrills & Chills Contest sponsored by
Walks Into a Bar are in. scr(i)pt magazine and Guy Walks Into a Bar
would like
to thank all who entered and congratulate the second-round finalists

The second-round Finalists are:
(In No Particular Order)
Jeff Wolverton for Sherlock & Jack, a thriller
Deborah Oversen, for Another Side of Evil, a suspense/thriller
Robert Bridge for Sacrificed, a thriller
Patrick Bates for Ichabod, a horror
Michael Hultquist for Victim, a psychological horror
Tyler Jensen for The Wolves of Brighton, a horror/sci-fi
Rachelle Reinhart for Point of Entry, a suspense/thriller
Carolyn Haywood for Tears for The Innocent, a gothic thriller
Stephen Smith for Sleepwalkers, a supernatural/thriller
Eugene James for Lion's Share, a crime/thriller

The top-three finalists will be announced in early December 2005.

For more information visit:

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Writing is hard . . .

Writing is hard and procrastination is easy. If you think about it, I'm sure some of you or may even have friends who talk about writing more than actually doing it. When I'm working on a screenplay, I try and write at least three pages a day. So, after a month, you're roughly around ninety pages. But any writing is better than no writing at all. And most of all writing is fun and do it for yourself.

Have a Great Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Friday, November 18, 2005

The AAA Contest

Contest Reminder

The AAA Contest ends December 1st. That's just 13 days away!

Call for Entries!
Breaking into the world of screenwriting is no easy task. Creative Screenwriting Magazine is proud to sponsor the AAA Screenplay Contest, a chance for a few talented writers to take the next step in their writing career.

The winning script and synopses for the top ten screenplays have been requested by 292 production companies and agencies including:

The winner of the AAA contest will be profiled in Creative Screenwriting magazine and the names of the top ten finalists will be published in CS Weekly. Finalists and their screenplays will also be publicized in press releases and ads placed in industry publications.

Prizes include $5,000 cash for the Grand Prize winner, plus the winning script mailed to over 290 agents, managers, and development executives who have requested it, screenwriting software, a subscription to Creative Screenwriting, and free admission to Screenwriting Expo 5.

Second and third places receive $500 cash, free software, subscription, and admission. Plus the top ten have synopses for their scripts submitted to over 100 agents, managers, and producers who have requested them.

Submit your best work in any genre. Only $40 to enter.

Deadline: December 1, 2005.

For complete details, http://www.creativescreenwriting.com/aaa/

To submit your screenplay right now, https://www.creativescreenwriting.com/step1.php

Good luck everyone.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Horror Screenplays Wanted

Hollywood Scriptwriting Institute is now affiliated with DVD
companies needing quality, low-budget scripts, currently
featuring the horror genre. Brief synopsis required.

Hollywood Scriptwriting Institute
1605 Cahuenga Blvd.
Hollywood, , CA 90028
Phone: 323-461-8333
Email: hwdscreen@aol.com
Web: http://Moviewriting.com



Horror Screenplay Competition
1028 12th Street #8
Santa Monica, CA 90403

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

8th Annual Scriptapalooza Screenplay Competition

8th Annual Scriptapalooza Screenplay Competition


With Write Brothers, Robert McKee and The Writers Guild
of America,west Registry all supporting Scriptapalooza, this is the
competition to enter.

First place prize is $10,000

2004 entrant Patrick Andrew O'Connor hired by DisneyToon to rewrite feature
All the judging is done by 60 production companies
Entertainment Weekly Magazine calls us 'One of the Best'
We promote the top 13 winners for a full year
5 scripts in the 2005 Competition have been OPTIONED
Finalists, Semifinalists and quarterfinalists get requested consistently

Early bird deadline January 5, 2006

Visit http://www.scriptapalooza.com or call 323-654-5809 or email
us at info@scriptapalooza.com

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Write On?

Haven't posted in a while. I've been dealing with some personal issues that have pretty much shut down my whole life. Starting to see a little light again. Question. How does one find the inspiration to write again after a personal loss when it's hard to do the normal mundane daily life stuff? Seeking inspiration. Thanks.

Monday, September 19, 2005


The early 90's gold rush of screenwriters heading for California may be over. But I read a lot of advice telling screenwriters they must live in Los Angeles to sell a script. Sure, you will be mere miles away from the power brokers and power lunches, but what do you do if you live smack dab in the middle of the country? I'm not sure I want to be huddled with all the other aspiring screenwriters living in cardboard boxes along Santa Monica blvd. Ten years ago maybe? Maybe not.

Personally, I think it's possible to make contacts without having to uproot your family for your pipe dream. I've been to Los Angeles and I've been to Las Vegas. Nice places to visit. Wouldn't want to live there. Had a little too much fun there. I'm from the Midwest and I like it here. Not much happens. You can get a lot of writing done. And more importantly I think you can have a unique voice here and not chase the latest hollywood trend.

I've received several emails asking how to contact producers. It's not a secret handshake anymore. If you have a great story, they will read it whether they say they won't read unsolicited scripts or not. This is the CYA policy. Most will take a standard release form and many times they have their own with their letterhead on it. It just means you won't sue them if your story sounds too much like one they make down the road. But that's another topic.

A few years ago, Christopher Wehner wrote a book called Screenwriting on the Internet: Researching, Writing, and Selling Your Script on the Web. Great book if you're not ready to load up the car for LA. I was interviewed for the section entitled "OF PLANES, E-MAILS & WEB SITES". I also did an interview about screenwriting on the internet for Absolute Write. You can read it here: Mark's Big Interview. Take note I was little greener than I am now.

I am happy to say that some of my best contacts have come through the internet. I've had a few options, a couple work for hires, and made a little green in the process. Remember with the internet anyone is just an email away.

Unique voice. Unique story. Fresh air.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Query Letter

The query letter can be your ticket into the golden gates of Hollywood. Sure, a great screenplay must follow, but the query will get you the read.

The query letter serves several functions. It tells perspective agent or producer that you want them to read your screenplay. It contains the logline of your screenplay. Simply put the logline is the TV guide description of your screenplay. And if you have placed or won a screenwriting contest or have any professional accolades, be sure to list those as well. The query letter should be no more than a page long. And always include your contact information. I know a lot of this info will be old hat for many, but I didn't have old hats when I started out, so bear with me.

Does the query letter work? Yes. Do you have to send a lot of them? Yes. How can you tell if your query is working? 30% request rate is pretty good. At least that's how I judged my returns. For my first screenplay "Lucid," I sent out tons of queries and got a lot of requests. This can be good and bad. Good because you're getting reads. Bad because you're saturating your own work. But it helps to be a little young and dumb when you're starting out. And don't worry about the odds. Remember it only takes one YES.

I talked a little bit about "Lucid" in an earlier post. This was my first screenplay. Back in '97 being young and dumb the logline read something like this:

In this Usual Suspects-style thriller, Peter Seven is a collector for the Boston Mob looking to change professions after Chester Scanlon, a new and detrimental addition to his collection route, kills an upscale investment banker. This attempt to change his line of work leads Peter Seven to Hans Sai, an eclectic French painter/professor
at Boston University with his own dark past.

As things go from bad to worse for Peter, he's forced to kill Chester Scanlon only to find him alive a day later, and it seems to have everything to do with Sai's mysterious artwork.

About my third query, I found a producer ectastic about this story. If I remember correctly, he even paid the postage so he could read it the very next day. That doesn't mean a hell of a lot now with pdf files and gigs of email, but then it meant about seventeen bucks. Like any newbie I fired it out there at a whopping 132 pages. It should've fallen somewhere between 90 and 110, but what the hell did I know. All mistakes aside I almost sold my very first screenplay three months after completing it. But that's another story and another soapbox.

Queries do work. I prefer email queries because you generally get a quicker response and don't have to deal with the should I SASE or not argument. Postage is a lot more expensive now. Be selective and do your homework on a production company. There are many examples of query letters out there on the net and in the screenwriting books. If anyone would like to add to the discussion feel free. And if you want to know what not to do, check out Query Letters I Love.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The AAA Contest

Another screenwriting contest opportunity.

Sponsored by Creative Screenwriting

DEADLINE December 1, 2005

Welcome to Creative Screenwriting's bi-annual screenplay competition. The AAA Contest is looking for the best and most talented writers from around the world. If you have written a great screenplay, please allow us to bring your work to the attention of the industry.

Our Grand Prize winner will receive $5,000 and agency/production company consideration, and our two runners-up will receive $1,000 apiece plus agency/production company consideration. We'll also send loglines and synopses for the top ten scripts to more than 250 agents, managers, and development executives who have requested them. Submit your best work in any genre.

Find the downloadable forms here Creative Screenwriting AAA contest

Sunday, September 04, 2005

How to Start Marketing Your Screenplay

I know this might be jumping ahead for some people, but I thought I would start off with a few ideas on how to find producers to submit your screenplay. As much work as you do on creating your screenplay, you have to spend just as much marketing it.

When I first started out everyone said you have to get an agent to sell a screenplay. The mantra was "no agent no sale". Then you find most agents aren't interested in you unless you've had a sale. Catch - 22: Can't sell a screenplay without an agent and can't get an agent without a sale.

After sending out dozens of query letters to agencies and getting very few requests, I decided to start contacting the producers myself. You have to be proactive with your screenwriting hobby, because until you get a check that's what it is. The saying is "it takes ten years to become an overnight success in Hollywood". And it can take even longer than that if you're not treating your hobby like a job.

So, where to begin? The first thing is make sure the screenplay is the best damn thing you can make it. Make friends, relatives, postmen read it. Get feedback. Find what works and what doesn't work. Better to find out from Uncle Charlie then a producer with dozens of credit and little time to nurture your budding talent.

Accept the criticism and learn from it. Don't get mad. Remember these people are taking time out of their lives to read your story. Make it entertaining as possible. But listen to what they have to say. With that said, there are professional readers and script coverage services that will critique your story for a price. A new screenplay has one shot to impress then it's covered. And that coverage goes into a database and is shared among other production companies. Bad coverage will sink your screenplay. So, again make it the best damn screenplay you can.

Now, places to look to submit your screenplay. First place to start is The Internet Movie Database. Here you can enter a list of movies similiar in genre to what you've written. There you can find a list of production companies and producers who make the type of films that you're writing. Another excellent place is Done Deal which list the screenplays sold and who bought them and even the agent that brokered the deal. And many times through search engines like Google you can find their address and contact information. Also, if you're willing to spend some money on your hobby, and you will, The Hollywood Creative Directory is like a bible of production companies containing contact info and list of credits.

So, here are some ideas and places to start. Next I will focus on that marketing tool known as the query letter.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Back in '97 I was "Lucid"

I completed my first spec screenplay called "Lucid" and registered it with the Writer's Guild of America. Before that I was writing short stories and hoping to write the great American novel. I had always been a big fan of movies, but had never tried writing a screenplay. Then I discovered Syd Field and found a few of his books on screenwriting, and I was off and running.

I remember I had gone to see "Scream 2". The series where all the characters are hip to pop culture and know horror movie cliches. When I got home I received my first request for "Lucid".

"Lucid" was a screenplay about a small time collector for the mob who finds a painting that opens a doorway to another realm. There's a little more to it, but that'll serve for now.

A few weeks back, I had queried several literary agencies that I found on the Writer's Guild website who were willing to take a look at new writers. So, I received my request and promptly sent out my screenplay.

And waited and waited and waited.

Then received the standard "not for us at this time" which in Hollywood speak means never. But I was new and green as grass and thought it was great to even have a screenplay requested. More on the transformation of "Lucid" later.

My question: Do you remember your first request? And how did you go about getting it?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Screenwriting Contest

Guy Walks Into A Bar Productions Sponsors Latest Quarterly Screenplay Contest Designed To Launch A Screenwriter's Career!

Prize: The winner will receive representation from Guy Walks Into A Bar Management and begin working immediately to try to develop his/her script with Guy Walks Into A Bar Productions PLUS screenwriting software provided by Final Draft, a $200 gift certificate from The Writers Store, a gift certificate to any Action/Cut Seminar ($350 value) and a copy of Dr. Format Answers Your Questions ...


I'm mulling this one over. Sounds like a pretty good deal for the winner. If anybody has any feedback on Scr(i)pt magazine contests, please feel free to add a comment. I subscribe to the magazine, but have yet to enter one of their contest.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Jumping on the Blog bandwagon

After finding really excellent screenwriting information through other screenwriting blogs like http://johnaugust.com/ , I found it only inevitable before I tried my hand at one. I started my personal website Mark's Screenwriting Page (www.markatwater.com) way back in 1998 as a way to meet and share information with other screenwriters over the internet. Since then I've written 12 screenplays and more or less have had my share of little victories.

I've also hosted a screenwriting chat on Tuesday nights for quite a few years now at http://pub49.bravenet.com/chat/show.php/4136484944 Feel free to stop by.

Anyway, as I start a new trek through the web, I hope to meet many more screenwriters and hear their experiences.

And if you haven't checked his blog out yet, Josh Friedman has an excellent site at http://hucksblog.blogspot.com/