Excited to announce that Script Butcher is an official sponsor of the Other Worlds Austin Sci-Fi Screenwriting Contest!
Shorts: 40 pages or less, must be original material.
Features: 70 pages or more, must be original material.
Pilots: may be sitcom or one-hour, network or cable (anything longer than one-hour should be submitted as a feature, i.e. a made-for-tv movie), must be fully original, no spinoffs. Sitcoms tend to be 22-40 pages depending on formatting, one-hours 45-70 pages.
Specs: should be for an existing show, on air in the US (BBC America or Showcase shows on Syfy are fine) either currently or in the last year.
Retro-Specs: may be for a long-cancelled series (Lost In Space), a spin-off (CSI: Mars), or a television series based on an established property (The Dragonriders of Pern) and should be 22-75 pages in length. Recently cancelled series (last ten years) are highly discouraged although not prohibited.
Each category finalist will receive a free book from Save the Cat!, a copy of Save the Cat! Story Structure Software 3.0, a free set of Script Butcher notes, and $250 in cash.
Grand Prize Winner selected from the three category winners receives an additional $250 cash.
There are no rules for writing. There are only tools and techniques. The key is to find what works for you.
These are tools and techniques that help me. My hope is they’ll help you too.
SCRIPT HACKS FOR SCENE CONSTRUCTION
Questions to ask when creating a scene:
WHAT ARE YOUR CHARACTERS’ AGENDAS?
What are your characters’ individual agendas in this scene?
How can you make achieving these goals visual?
How can you make the audience understand what these goals are so they can root FOR or AGAINST your characters achieving them?
Figure out your characters’ individual agendas in a scene and the rest falls into place.
These agendas can be as simple as: “Avoid eye contact from any human.”
Or they can be as plot driven and complex as: “Retrieve a specific object of importance”.
Doesn’t matter what the goal is, as long as every character in that scene has a purpose.
Understanding your character’s agenda clarifies WHY a scene needs to exist. A clear understanding of why a scene exists informs all creative decisions such as:
What are the best contrasted elements you could add to maximize conflict in the scene?
What is the best situation to play out the scene given these chosen creative elements?
Where is best location/set piece to have the scene occur given the agenda and situation?
WHAT OBSTACLES CAN YOU FORCE THEM TO OVERCOME?
A character’s victory in a scene is only as strong as the obstacles you force them to overcome.
What obstacles can you throw at your characters to make it as hard as humanly possible for them to achieve their agendas/goals?
These obstacles can come in infinite forms both internally (self-sabotage/friendly) and externally (outside forces/strangers/foes). It can be anyone or anything that gets in the way of the character’s agenda.
What are the most creative actions your characters could take to overcome these obstacles and achieve their goals given these chosen elements?
-Contrasts for Maximum Conflict?
-Internal and External Obstacles?
-Creative Actions to Overcome these Obstacles?
Scene construction can be an arduous task. If you take the time to answer these questions when crafting your scene, the possibilities for making that scene entertaining are endless.
Happy National Screenwriters Day! Today we celebrate the unsung heroes of cinema, SCREENWRITERS. After all, before it goes on the screen, it starts on the page.
I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the 2017 successes of some of my hardest working screenwriting clients.
Suzan Battah – Basatai
Two worlds under threat by a blood curse, born in one to cause uncertainty and chaos for all. Humanity will fall if the curse is fulfilled. All BaSatai are on edge. No one will survive a blood curse to destroy us all. www.basatai.com
“Basatai” was chosen as an Official Selection of the 2018 Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival. It has also won numerous awards in past years.
Jack the Ripper is in the headlines again as a troubled gay San Francisco homicide inspector and an unorthodox Miss Marple hunt a madman who is recreating his murders.
The “Modus Operandi” logline placed in the Top 100 in the Thriller/Suspense Festival in Toronto. The feature script placed as one of the best scripts to read in 2017. This script also garnered James multiple writing assignments.
SOBER – Can Kacey Cohen, a quirky and kindhearted high school guidance counselor, survive her severe alcoholism and find happiness?
“Sober” was a Semifinalist in the 2017 BlueCat Screenplay Competition.
INHUMANE – A sadistic, small-town sheriff and his cronies brutalize a young woman and leave her for dead in the woods. Bitten by a werewolf and bestowed with supernatural abilities, can she retain her humanity as she exacts revenge?
“Inhumane” is currently in pre-production as Eric’s first produced feature film. The team recently completed a trailer for prospective investors.
Two young DJ’s, determined to leave a musical legacy behind in their home town before they join the Marines, compete for their love interests, their honor, and the title of 1991 world DJ champions. The only thing in their way is a rival DJ gang known as “The Crew”, that have some information on them that could derail their futures for good.
“Turn The Tables” won the Diamond Award for Best Script at the 2017 Hollywood Film Competition.
“Turn The Tables” also won second place for Best Feature Script at the 2017 NYC Indie Film Awards.
As a script consultant, nothing brings me more joy than watching writers work hard to improve their scripts and hone their craft. These clients have put in the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to succeed in writing full proof scripts that slice through the competition.
The last few months of the year I started working with a crop of new talented clients. Given the work ethic they’ve displayed, I have no doubt I’ll be sharing their success stories as well.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to help writers on a daily basis. I look forward to working with new screenwriting clients in the coming year.