Screenplays/Canadian Copywriter
Structuring Your Screenplay A Quick Course In Hollywood Moviemaking
How The Big Movie Stars Got Their Start
Screenplay Genres When Things Go Wrong
Contemporary Screenwriters
Screenplay Genres Glossary Of Screenwriting terms When Things Go Wrong
The Great Screenwriters
A Check List Of Great Movies How To Break Into The Movies
The Novelist Vs. The Screenwriter
New Canadian Movies Movie Options
Tips On Writing A Screenplay Frequently Asked Questions
Be A Film Critic
Movie Trivia Be A Film Critic
Screenplay Format Script Markets
The Script Doctor Is In Web Sites On Screenwriting
Take The Screenwriting Quiz
Can You Make A Living As A Screenwriter
Can You Guess The Top 10 Movies?
Digital Animation
Die Trying
Let's Go See A Movie Today
Books To Read

Writing a screenplay will be the big time writing assignment of your career -- but before you put pen to paper, we hope you're aware that a screenplay must follow a certain prescribed format. Even in the wild and woolly world of Hollywood screenwriters, every screenwriter, whether "gifted" or not, must know how to write a screenplay. Hollywood takes a dim view of the miscreant writer who refuses to follow the standard screenplay format. In fact, in "Tinsel Town", it's far wiser to be an artisan with knowledge than a brilliant screenwriter who jumps around screaming that he's captured "lightning in a bottle". One Hollywood screenwriter put it this way:"dreaming up a great idea is Paradise, but actually working it out is Hell". The message here is: study a good screenplay before trying to write one!(The overall message is make sure you're well practiced at whatever you want to do in Hollywood. Joanne Woodward once said: "When I was young, I wanted to be a movie star. When I got older, I wanted to be an actress".) The screenplay is an art form and the screenwriter is the artist. He's a sculptor with a vision who chips away at a craggy chunk of stone for weeks and months until arriving at his perfect vision -- a finished product that's exquisitely crafted and ready to endure the public's critical eye.

To begin, a screenwriter will have an "idea" (theme, premise). This idea will be so compelling that it will make a studio exec willing to shell out millions of dollars to produce it. If you use the great movies as a yardstick, your idea will tell the story of someone who has a life-altering experience, someone who reaches for the stars, someone who endures unspeakable troubles to finally find sanctuary and peace. First, you will create your characters, then work your plot around them -- instead of the other way around. You will create tension, conflict, intrigue, un-resolvable situations that will get resolved, then suddenly become un-resolvable again.

Whatever your idea will be, it will be so richly rewarding, so exciting, so timely, so magnificent that a studio executive can't get your idea out of his head. How do you come up with this idea? At Canadian Copywriter, we pride ourselves in having all the answers, but in this case we are resorting to the duh? factor. In other words, we're not exactly sure -- however, we do suspect that your great screenplay will probably happen through "happenstance", through watching people, understanding how they react to situations. That's exactly how many of the greatest actors have refined their technique -- by being around people, by taking the subway instead of a limousine, by eating lunch in a crowded cafeteria instead of under a tree! Daphne du Maurier once claimed that "writers should be read -- but not seen or heard" So why don't you just go about your business quietly, with a watchful eye, always on the lookout, always aware of your fellow man. Eventually, that brilliant idea will fall out of the heavens for you as surely as the proverbial apple fell on Isaac Newton's head -- and we trust it will be a high quality idea. And don't worry. If it is well structured, with great characters and a great plot, it will eventually see the light of day. Your movie will play to movie audiences all over the world. See the Canadian Copywriter Comment below. Once you've been struck with your epiphany, you will compress your idea into two or three sentences. This is called a log line (some people call it a synopsis) -- which is a two paragraph bare-bones description of the plot (for an example, look at a blurb written about a movie in TV Guide or in the entertainment section of your newspaper). Alternatively, here are a few sample log lines. Can you guess what movies they're describing?

A high class businessman meets a heart-of-gold prostitute and tries to transform her. In the process, they fall in love and discover the missing ingredient in their lives. An ambitious FBI agent enlists the aid of a criminally insane ex-psychiatrist to help track down a vicious serial killer. A week before her wedding day, a New York woman returns home to Alabama to confront her past, only to discover that home is where the heart is. A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard an ill-fated voyage at sea.
After you have written your log line, discuss your idea with a friend. Try to limit your discussion to one or two people. This is a very interesting part of the process. Chances are that you might worry that your idea is so brilliant and so earth-shattering that someone else will steal your idea. Our answer to that is: you shouldn't worry about it! The only thing you should worry about is yourself: you might talk about your idea so often and so long that you'll lose interest in developing it. You might "out psych" yourself, thinking that you've heard that story before. It's human nature. So, after you've tried it out on a friend (or two) and solicited their opinions, lock yourself away and proceed to write an outline, which is a 7 to 15 page description of the plot. (P.S.: If you do fear plagiarism, you can always register your screenplay with the Writers Guild of America, west. The cost is only about $40 and proof of registration might come in handy in court, if it comes to that). Remember to hang on to your log line, however. You'll need it when you're pitching your idea to movie producers and agents. Now, with all your ideas in your outline, the real work will begin. It's time to roll up your sleeves, order several dozen bottles of soda water and proceed to write a treatment, which is normally 15 to 45 pages long. After that, there will be the full-blown shooting script -- the full "fleshing out" of the "skeleton" so to speak. This is about 120 pages long and contains all dialogue and camera directions. This is where the really hard work will come in. Since this script will be the "blueprint" for the movie, any alteration, re-writes or re-shoots of any part of the film will cost a great deal of money for the movie production company. Therefore, it's essential that every angle of the script is "pin-point perfect" -- which is why we said earlier that screen writing is "development hell". However, once the movie is shot and all the Oscars have been awarded, this is the script that they will place under glass at the Smithsonian -- with your name on it! (Okay, so we're freakin' kidding about the Smithsonian. So sue us! Sorry, we tend to exaggerate sometimes). When you turn your idea into a script, you'll need great dialogue to pull it off. But great dialogue isn't easy. Great dialogue is a "study course" in itself and when done well, it's the mark of a true pro. To learn how to write great dialogue, you'll need a well-tuned ear as you listen to how people talk -- and write a script that accommodates their pronunciation slip-ups, their meanderings, their confused thoughts, their one word answers. If you use dialogue to explain a plot, you might as well walk to the window in your flop house (if you're a writer, we're assuming you live in a flop house) and throw the script away. And finally, if you want to be a screenwriter, be prepared for its consequences. Historically, despite the obvious importance of a screenwriter's work, the screenwriter has always held a lowly position in the Hollywood hierarchy -- usually a few leagues below stars, directors, producers and Hollywood executives. In the 50's and 60's, auteur theory pointed to the directors as the real authors of movies, further weakening the position of a screenwriter. Sanity prevailed, however, in the seventies. Screenwriters gained better recognition with news of multi-million dollar screenplay sales and a plethora of books celebrating the art of screen writing. Even so, Nobel and Pulitzer prizes have yet to be awarded on the basis of a screenwriter's work. (however, there are many literary greats who have won many awards outside of screen writing, even though they've penned a great many screenplays. Harold Pinter is one example). Okay, okay, let's dispense with this incessant babbling right here and now, and sum it all up. The four building blocks to a good screenplay are:

Log Line
(synopsis)

Outline
 

Treatment
  

Screenplay
  

You can organize your screenplay as one might organize a play -- with Acts.Act 1, which is about 30 pages long, sets up the conflict or action that rises to a crisis and leads to a confrontation. Act 2, which is about 60 pages long (and forms the
"spine" of the screenplay) thrusts the hero or heroine into a seemingly unresolvable situation. Act 3, which is about 30 pages long, remedies all conflicts and peaks at a satisfactory climax When you write your screenplay, be absolutely sure that it adheres to the prescribed format. The Hollywood studios receive thousands of scripts every year and rather than read them all, they will rout out as many as possible. The criteria is quite simple. The ones that don't "look professional" get tossed. If they trashed your screenplay -- the one that took so long to write -- wouldn't that be a crying shame! See what we mean about using the right format? All the details of writing a professional-looking script are here, but if you're truly serious, you should do two things:

  • The best way for an up and coming screenwriter to learn how to write a screenplay is to study those that have already been produced. Get some real screen plays from your favorite movies or television shows. Dozens of web sites offer them. Here's one: www.13idol.com
  • Pick up a software program such as "Final Draft". It takes you through all the steps of writing a professional script. It's actually quite easy. Final Draft's slogan is: "all you add is words". Other popular screen ware programs are: "MovieMagic", "Screenwriter 2000" and "Script ware". You might also wish to check out the software programs for story development too, such as "Dramatica Pro", "Story Craft", "Writer's Dream Kit", and "Blockbuster". All these programs are available through web sites such as ScreenStyle.com

    As we've already said, there is a prescribed format for a screenplay. That's because the key to a successful screenplay is "clarity". This is very important -- because once your script is approved, everyone from the Director through to the key grips and actors will all be reading from this same "blueprint". There are two ways to write a screenplay.

    1) The Shot by Shot Technique, which is a "story board" of all the pictures in the movie. You can actually show the shots in a story board (as though they were photographic stills). A lot of screenwriters will use a "card" system. They will write the scenes on cards as they complete the script. The cards can be easily switched from one segment of a film to another. For example, if there's a "flashback" in the movie.

    2) The Master Scene Technique. This is when the writer describes the locale and writes the narrative, dialogue and action underneath. For example, in the Godfather Mario Puzo writes a master scene in a garden at a wedding. Under EXT: GARDEN WEDDING SCENE, the camera moves from table to table, catching snatches of conversation, watching kids play, waiters serve tables, character vignettes, etc.


    When you are structuring your screenplay, consider what the genre will be. There are six basic genres.

    Drama In his book "Screen writing Tricks of The Trade", William Froug defines drama as "life with all the dull stuff taken out."This isn't the case, of course. It's chaos all round. Audiences love good drama because it imposes order on the chaos of life. You, as a gifted screenwriter, will understand that -- and use this gift to its best advantage.

    Melodrama is exaggerated drama. It emphasizes action over characters, which is how Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwartzenegger and all the other super jocks earned their living. If it wasn't for melodrama, they'd be shining shoes down at the mall.

    Comedy.Comedy is also about life. It takes tragedy and attaches a smile to it. Charlie Chaplin, the genius of comedy, said that a "man falling down the stairs, breaking his neck and dying is a tragedy. But if the same man falls down the stairs, gets up, dusts himself off and acts like nothing ever happened, that's COMEDY!"

    Farce Farce is exaggerated comedy -- comedy pushed to the level of absurdity. Some great farcical movies are: Dr. Strangelove, A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To The Forum, M*A*S*H, Blazing Saddles, Support Your Local Sheriff and the Producers.

    Tragi-Comedy A blend of comedy and tragedy -- perhaps described as Black Humour. Dr. Strangelove was a perfect example of this genre

    Tragedy. Try to avoid writing a tragic manuscript. Movie goers are reluctant to fork out $15 to see a movie (and more if you count the popcorn and colas) to see somebody moan for an hour and a half then run themselves through with a bare bodkin, especially when they're out on a date. You could always try being a
    playwright. If you're of that mind, remember that Shakespeare did a land-office business back in the dark ages.






    ANGLE ON What the camera is aimed at: what the audience sees, also written as favoring.

    ANOTHER ANGLE Change the way the camera points at a subject, also written as new angle

    BACK TO SCENE Return from a distinctive shot (P.O.V. CLOSE SHOT, INSERT, etc.) to a more neutral camera set up.

    BEAT A pause for dramatic emphasis or a plot point, a moment that significantly advances the action

    CLOSE SHOT A shot in which the character's face occupies all or most of the frame, see also INSERT

    CUT TO Shift to a new scene

    EXT. Exterior scene, intended to take place outdoors (though it may be filmed on a studio set simulating the outdoors).

    FADE IN Gradually make the transition from blackness to a complete image. Fade-ins and fade-outs are typically used to make a significant change in time or location. Since fade-ins often begin a movie, FADE IN is traditionally the opening direction in a screenplay.

    FADE OUT Gradually make the transition from image to blackness. Since fade-outs often end a movie, FADE OUT is traditionally the last direction in a screenplay. Also written as GO TO BLACK.

    FAVORING See Angle On.

    GO TO BLACK See Fade Out

    INSERT A CLOSE SHOT of an object, such as a watch face, photograph or headline

    INT. Interior scene, intended to take place indoors.

    MONTAGE See SERIES OF SHOTS

    MOVING SHOT A shot in which the camera moves along with a moving character or vehicle, for example, a shot inside a moving car, also written as "moving".

    NEW ANGLE See ANOTHER ANGLE

    O.S. Off scene, refers to a sound whose source cannot be seen on screen. A voice heard off scene is often described as a voice-over or v.o. More precisely, a voice is O.S. when the speaker is understood to be speaking in the scene but is not present in the shot (as when a character listens to someone speaking on the other side of the room). A voice is a V.O. when the speaker is understood not to be speaking in the scene, such as a narrator or a voice from the character's past.

    OVER THE SHOULDER SHOT A shot in which the character's head is in the foreground of the frame and what the character sees is in the background, often used in POV and REVERSE ANGLE shots

    POV A character's point of view, how the scene looks to him or her.

    REVERSE ANGLE A 180 degree change in perspective; instead of Character A looking west at Character B, we now have Character B looking east at Character A.

    SERIES OF SHOTS A succession of short shots, often used to show the passage of a longer period of time, also written as MONTAGE

    V.O. Voice-over, a voice whose source is not visible in the shot; See also O.S.

    WIDE ANGLE Include more of the scene than in the previous shot







    Adaptations. A movie based on, or adapted from a work in another medium, such as a play, novel, history or an article.


    Backstory. The background to a story seen on a screen, sometimes seen in flashback or alluded to in dialogue or exposition. The backstory to Casablanca includes Rick Blain's service in the Spanish Civil War and his days with Ila in Paris.

    Caption. A printed line shown on screen to describe time or place or translate a foreign phrase. See also subtitle.

    Continuity Title. See INTERTITLE.

    Crawl Title. Creeping Title. Also referred to as a rolling title - which is text that rolls up from the bottom of the screen and vanishes at the top.

    Credits. Titles listing the people who made the movie and naming their contributions.

    Crosscutting. Shifting back and forth between two events happening simultaneously. Also called inter cutting.

    Dialogue. Lines spoken by actors.

    Episode. A self-contained part of an anthology or film

    Flashback. A scene depicting events that happened prior to the time of the main narrative.

    FlashForward. A scene depicting events that will happen or are imagined as happening after the time of the main narrative.

    High Concept. Term for a film that depends on an intriguing and unusual premise.

    Insert Title. Also called Inter title, this is a full screen of printed text inserted between segments of photographed action, rather that the film's beginning or end. In silent films, inter titles were used extensively to display dialogue. In sound films, they have been used sparingly, usually to describe a time or place change or offer exposition.

    MacGuffin or McGuffin. This term was first coined by Alfred Hitchcock. It depicts a goal which the actors care a great deal about, but which is not of great concern to the audience.

    Main Title. Printed title that gives the name of the film, usually at the beginning.

    Option. This refers to a screenplay which has been "rented" for a specified period of time. The renters have the option of producing the movie or not. When the option period expires, the rights revert back to the screenwriter

    Overlap Dialogue. Two or more actors are talking at the same time and their speech is unintelligible.

    Parallel Action. Action taking place in two or more settings, with the camera cutting back and forth from one to the other.

    Parenthetical. A brief instruction on how a line should be delivered, placed between parentheses and inverted between the character's name and his or her line of dialogue in a script. Also called a "wryly" for the overuse of the parenthesis "wryly" as in JANE (Wryly) Nice tie.

    Pat The Dog Scene. A scene in which the screen hero does something nice (for example, panting a dog), therefore gaining audience Sympathy. Sometimes inserted artificially to satisfy studio demands for a more likeable here.
    Photoplay. Archaic term, common in the silent era, for a screenplay or movie.
    Plot Point. A moment that significantly advances the action.

    Production script. A script of the complete film, including all dialogue and action as filmed.
    Outline. A synopsis of a proposed film story. If accepted, the writer will go on to write the complete manuscript

    Scenario. A completed screenplay or an outline or treatment for a screenplay.

    Scene. A unit of action normally taking place in a single location at a single time. A series of connected shots makes up a scene, a series of connected scenes makes up a sequence (2). The setting or location of a unit of action.

    Screenplay. The written text from which a movie is made. It includes dialogue, descriptions of a action and settings, and some camera and Sound directions. Also called script, scene or photoplay.

    Script. See screenplay.

    Selling script. An unsold screenplay that is being marketed to industry people, rather than shooting script formatted for use as a blue print for filming.

    Sequence. A series of scene connected by a single idea. Example include the wedding in The Godfather and crossing he Desert in Lawrence of Arabia. Each sequence has a beginning, a middle and an end.
    Shooting Script. The final approved screenplay used by the director in making a film. It includes not only dialogue and action but detailed camera instructions with individual shots numbered consecutively.
    Shot. A single continuous action that is filmed or appears to be filmed in one take, from one camera setup. The shot is the basic unit of film grammar; several shots make up a scene.

    Slug line. In a screenplay, the line of text that gives a scene's location and states whether it is an interior or exterior, day or night.

    Spec Script. A screenplay written on spec, or on speculation, that is, with no commitment for a studio or other buyer.

    Spine. The essence of a story, in other words the plot that holds the story together.

    Subtitle. A caption printed across the bottom of the screen, particularly a translation of a foreign language phrase.

    Synopsis. A brief summary of a film or potential film. Often precedes a more detailed outline or treatment, as a means of interesting buyers.

    Title. Text that appears on screen to convey information to the audience. Includes credits, main titles and subtitles.

    Treatment. A detailed summary of a film story. Often used to sell a project before the script is written.

    Writer's Guild of America (WGA) Union representing writers who write for film, television and radio

    A scene depicting events that will happen or are imagined as happening after the time of the main narrative. Also called flash ahead.

    Dialogue Writer. A person who specializes in writing dialogue for a film.
    Gag Writer. a screenwriter who specializes in writing jokes, either visual or verbal. Gagmen were especially prominent in the writing of silent film comedies.

    Screenwriter. A person who writes or revises a screenplay.

    Scribe. Slang for a screenwriter.

    Script Consultant. Also known as a Script Doctor. A person hired to consult on or re-write a script, often a troubled one in need of fixing.


    So what are the differences between a print novelist and a screenwriter? The differences become obvious when the screenwriter adapts a novel by the print novelist. Typically, a writer whose novel has been adapted for the silver screen will scream that the screenwriter "butchered" the adaptation of his brilliant novel. The problem is that

    Thornton Wilder
    1897 - 1975
    a screenwriter must make "adjustments" that adhere to the demands of the medium -- but achieving a fine balance between the story and its cinema graphic requirements is a job that requires a great deal of talent. At the Canadian Copywriter, we considered the reasons why. The consensus of opinion was that the screenwriter's point of view is the camera while the novelist focuses on things that can't be photographed -- the emotions and the internal workings of the characters as they go about the story. Describing things that can't be filmed is a tall order for any screenwriter. The novelist must understand that. Robert Bolt, the screenwriter who adapted "Doctor Zhivago" into an Oscar-winning movie said " "If you took the novel Doctor Zhivago as it stands and treated it as a shooting script incident by incident, the resulting film would run at least 60 hours. Therefore, in the film you can have only a twentieth of the book -- therefore, you have to turn it into something not only shorter, but quite different". When Thornton Wilder's novel "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" was adapted to the screen, he advised his screenwriters that "no service would be done to his novel if the screenwriters adhered too faithfully to its scenes". Mr. Wilder knew the words were written to be read rather than spoken. He concluded that "a motion picture has its own way of telling a story". Although the medium was new, Thornton Wilder was smart enough to know that watching a movie was entirely different than reading a book.


  • Use a Courier 12 point font. Do not boldface, right-justify, or vary fonts. Your script should look like it came out of a typewriter. Underlining is preferable to italics.

  • Single-space, except for the title page. The script title, byline and writer's name are double spaced.

  • Left margin is 1.5 inches, right margin 1.00 inch. The left margin is wider because there must be room for the three-hole punch. The top and bottom margins should be 1.00 inch each.

  • Bind the screenplay between plain card stock covers with two or three brass brads. There should be no writing on the covers. Don't forget the brass brads. Fancy covers are the mark of an amateur.

  • The optimum length for a script is 120 pages (at about a page per minute of screen time, this should translate into a two-hour movie). Avoid writing much longer or shorter. Always avoid writing longer: a 180-page first screenplay is the mark of someone who doesn't know how to edit his or her own work.

  • Descriptive text is 60 characters wide.

  • Dialogue is 30 characters wide

  • Title Page: Nothing on top. In the middle, center the title (in all caps) and screenwriter's name, like this:











    MARIGOLDS IN THE MOONLIGHT



    by John Doe








         John Doe
         123 Main Street,
         Anywhere, Ontario
         (555) 555-1234






    The bottom left or right of the title page should give the screenwriter's name, address, and phone number. Something like this:

    John Smith
    123 Main Street,
    Anywhere, Ontario
    (555) 555-1234
  • First page begins with FADE IN. Do not repeat name of screenplay or writer. Beginning with the second page, the page number appears in the upper right.

  • When starting a new scene or changing location, insert a slug line, like this:

    INT. WITCH'S CASTLE HALLWAY - NIGHT.

  • Slug lines must always say whether the scene is interior (INT) or exterior (EXT:) and whether it is DAY OR NIGHT.

  • Do not number slug lines. That is done in the shooting script, long after the project has already been sold


  • When a character is first introduced, his or her name is CAPITALIZED. Afterward, it is set upper and lowercase in descriptive text, but remains ALL CAPS when heading dialogue.

  • Dialogue: Indent the character name in ALL CAPS at 3.7 to 4.2 inches. Under that, indent the dialogue spoken by that character at 3.0 inches.

    DOROTHY Toto. I've got a feeling we aren't in Kansas anymore.

  • Avoid giving explicit camera directions like "Camera pans left to follow the intruder" or "JUMP CUT, followed by DISSOLVE." This is called "directing on the page" and is damaging for several reasons, not the least of which is because it breaks the spell of your story by drawing attention to the camera. (It also usurps the job of the director, who will most likely ignore your instructions anyway.) Instead, simply describe what the viewer will see: "The intruder walks left."

  • Prose style should be clear, vivid and enjoyable, Only describe things the viewer could see or hear, but remember that a reader will have to get through your script first, Be kind to that reader.

  • Capitalize sounds other than dialogue. For example: "the car SCREECHES to a halt, HORN going wild."

  • When completely changing place and time, you may insert "CUT TO:" at the right margin, with a space before and a space after. However, some writers dispense with this, preferring not to clutter the page. There is no need to use it when you are merely shifting locations within a continuous scene.



    1 Keep An Eye On The Competition. Make sure your screenplay idea isn't already in the works at the Hollywood studios. Pick up a copy of Variety and look for a section called 'Films in the Future'.
    2 Keep going over the basics. Never underestimate your ability to forget good script structure. Stay up to date with books such as "Adventures in the Screen Trade" by William Goldman. "Hero with a Thousand Faces" by Joseph Campbell, "Screenplay" by Sydney Field. "The Art of Dramatic Writing" by Lajos Egri, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces", by Joseph Campbell, "The Writer's Journey", by Christopher Vogler, "Stealing Fire from the Gods", by James Bonnet, "Screen writing From the Heart", by James Ryan , "Screenplay" by Syd Field. Check the book stores, post questions on the internet, ask friends who read a lot, question aficionados of your particular genre, scope out book fairs and other conventions, etc.
    3. Build a reference library. Collect ideas, jokes, information, situations related to your topic. When GHOSTBUSTERS was written, Harold Ramis and Dan Akroyd spent several months developing ideas about ghost hunting, which provided great source material for the eventual screenplay.
    4. Character profiles. Breathe humanity into your characters. If your plot is conventional, it becomes doubly important that your characters and their relationships be unique. Think of the actors who might play your characters, then work their characteristics into your characters' personae.
    5. Plot. It's even better if you can come up with a unique plot. Reference other great plots by watching the classic films. Pick a classic story structure or genre to play around with. Even if you don't borrow from the classics, it's important to know what's gone before, so you have an idea of what's unique and what's "old hat".
    6. Themes. Again, keep in mind the classic literature. They provide excellent touchstones when you're trying to articulate your concept.
    7. Consider your story board as a "work in progress". Re-arrange your board, review your board, question your board, show your board around, challenge the board, re-think the board, until you are utterly confident that time won't be wasted going down the wrong path. Several drafts of your script are easily eliminated with this strategy.
    8. Finally, ACTUALLY WRITE THE SCRIPT.
    9. Determine your submission strategy. In other words, who will get the script and when? Will you make recommendations for actors? Directors? At this point, you're not submitting your script for comments. You've worked hard on it. You want to sell it!
    10. Revise the script. After the script has been set aside for a while, go back and make revisions. A lot of this will be small stuff (word choice, style choice, dialog polish) but some of it may be big (whole scenes thrown out, new sequences invented, etc.).
    11. Revise the script again. Make sure that your characters' stories are working and each character's 'voice' is consistent. Look for things to cut, things to simplify, stuff that's still in there because you just couldn't bring yourself to cut it, but doesn't fit any more. Again, the revision may include small and large changes, and each revision will probably take as long to accomplish as the original script took to write.
    12. Polish script. Check for continuity problems. Check for typos and spelling errors. Polish the dialog.
    13. Finalize submission strategy. Ideally, you'll have an interested agent by now, and with the agent's help the screenplay will 'hit the market' over a weekend, with a few 'key' people reading the script a few days in advance (fishing for a 'preemptive bid'). Or a big name will have already become interested.
    14. Submit the script. And Pray!




    Symptom: A scene is too predictable.
    Remedy: Change your point of view. Tell the story from someone else's eyes. For example, let the bad guy give his point of view. Or let the victim give hers. Tell the story from all the peripheral angles, then hone in on the central character -- and let him explain himself.

    Symptom: I don't know how to handle a pivotal scene.
    Remedy: Consider who might direct your movie. Will it be Quentin Tarantino or Ron Howard? If it's Quentin Tarantino, there will be ranting and raving. A hit man will be involved. If it's Ron Howard, the movie will have a magical "high concept". If it's Rob Reiner, the characters will discuss things with each other and eventually have hurt feelings.

    Symptom: I need color.
    Get out your paint brush. Delve into the characters for a while. Use their quirks not to drive the plot but to embellish their character. In the movie Fargo, for example, Frances McDonald was pregnant. This lightened up a rather twisted movie plot as she moved from clue to clue like a beached whale.

    Symptom: I've got a great start, a good finish, but the middle seems to drag.
    Remedy: Give your story a time line. In other words, things have to be done within a specified time. This adds urgency. For example, a nuclear missile must be disarmed by midnight or a killer has given police twenty four hours before he kills again.

    Symptom: My dialogue doesn't ring true.
    Remedy: Try writing the script without any dialogue at all. A movie is mostly a series of images. Figure out people's facial reactions or how they will look on screen before adding your dialogue. When you do this, you'll save a lot of writing -- and unnecessary dialogue.



    You can make a living doing just about anything badly. In the quirky world of Hollywood, however, you could earn world-wide fame for your incredible ineptitude. For example, you could write a movie that eventually becomes a cult movie. "Forbidden Planet" and "Plan 9 from Outer Space" fall into this category.
    They were two of the worst movies ever made, however their cult following has increased over the years. Audiences have flocked to see them in re-runs (just to experience how bad a movie can get). Cult movies have become a genre of their own. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), now in its third decade of audience involvement, is still going strong. The 1936 film "Reefer Madness" has been regarded as an anachronism by today's generation of marijuana smokers. There are also cult followings for pornographic movies that gain special notoriety such as Behind The Green Door (1972) which starred Ivory Snow model Marilyn Chambers. These days, there is the "Sharknado" franchise, which is based on the ridiculous theme of "tornados picking up sharks from the ocean and depositing them across the country to maim and kill their human prey. There are also movies that were considered classics in their day but over time have lost their original appeal and are now regarded in a different way by today's audiences. "The Sound of Music", for example was re-released in 1999 and became a Rocky Horror-type participatory event. So go ahead. Write a bad movie. You might get famous! (although you might just have to produce it yourself).







    Baumgarten-Merims Entertainment, 1640 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Ste. 218, Los Angeles CA 90025. Tel: (310) 996-1885. E-mail: baumgartenmerims@yahoo.com. Audience is motion picture and television viewers. Accepts: films (35 mm) and videotapes. Contact: Adam Merims, producer, or Grant Stoner, creative executive. Terms: Pays in accordance with Writers Guild standards. Buys motion picture and television rights. Submissions: Query with synopsis.

    Grade A Entertainment, 368 N. La Cienega Bldvd., Los Angeles CA 90048. E-mail: GradeAProd@aol.com. All audiences. Accepts: Films (35 mm.) Well written, well-developed, completed feature film scripts only. Contact: Andy Cohen. Terms: Pays in accordance with Writers Guild standards for all rights. Submissions: Query with Synopsis via e-mail only.

    Codikow Films
    Codikow Films, 8899 Beverly Blvd., Ste. 719, Los Angeles, CA 90048. Tel: (310) 246-9388. Accepts: films (35 mm.) Commercial and independent screenplays. Contact: Stacy Codikow, producer. Terms: Pays in accordance with Writers Guild standards for all rights. Submission: Query with synopsis and resume.




    Salaries for screenwriters range from "chump change" to a "king's ransom". If you're lucky enough to be Joe Eszterhas you can go ahead and order that yacht you've had your eye on. His original script for Basic Instinct sold for $3 million and he has reportedly earned between $3 million and $4 million for subsequent scripts. Joe's laughing all the way to the bank!. However if you're just a "run of the mill" screenwriter, the Hollywood Screenwriters' Guild reports that an original screenplay, including treatment, ranges from a low of $48,738 to a high of $91,495. For a non-original screenplay, including treatment, the guild minimum ranges from $42,647 to $79,308. These rates are the same for both New York and L.A.

    Movie Options

    Often a screenwriter will earn his or her living on scripts that are never produced. Impossible, you say? No, it's true. Producers will buy the rights (usually for six months to two years), then try to arrange financing to produce your script. If that doesn't happen, the rights automatically revert back to you -- and you can peddle your script elsewhere. Some screenwriters make a decent living just optioning their scripts!


    Two types of films are being penned these days. The first and seemingly most popular is the macho "high adventure" flick which is less dependent on plot than it is on special effects. The writing is not of the heart, but of the glands. The other type -- the type which the Canadian Copywriter endorses whole heartedly is the literary drama which tells a story and makes a point. In our humble opinion, when a movie has a point to make, it's worth watching. These types of movies are best represented by: "The Green Mile," "The Shawshank Redemption," "The Monster's Ball" and even the quirky "The Man Who Never Was".


    Canadian Copywriter Comment

    We've noticed that a good percentage of the truly worthwhile movies aren't written by "screenwriters" at all! Either they're written by fresh neophytes who haven't been tainted by the Hollywood "testosterone" syndrome or by those who have jumped from literary works to the big screen. The more of these movies we watch, the more we're convinced that a solid background in literature is essential for success. You gotta read, folks!




    A.S.A. Screenwriters
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    If your screenplay doesn't succeed the first time, don't sweat it. You've just got to keep trying! Consider these examples:

    Pamela Wallace wrote the screenplay for "Witness" (co-written with Earl W. Wallace and William Kelley). After years of trying to sell her script to the studios, production companies, actors and directors, she finally threw in the towel. One day Harrison Ford stumbled upon a copy of her script. He liked it -- and subsequently agreed to star in the movie, which was immediately produced. "Witness" won an Academy Award and was recently named one of the top fifty movies of all time. One story (although we're not sure if it's just folklore -- and if we're wrong about this, please let us know) says that over the years, the writer of "Edward Scissorhands" (we're assuming Caroline Thompson -- then it again it might have been Tim Burton) wrote dozens of screenplays that were rejected, prompting her to believe she was going insane and that she was the only one in the world who was wrong and everyone else was right. One night, the rejection became too much and in a fit of pique she shredded her collection of rejection letters. In the middle of the tantrum, she decided that the process would be easier if she had scissors for hands. Suddenly an idea occurred to her and she spent the rest of the night "fleshing" out an idea for a movie. The result was an award-winning screenplay and movie. Whether this is true or not, it sure does sound cool, doesn't it? So, there you have it. These are just two examples of the thousands of success (and failure) stories happening in Hollywood every day. What's the morale of the story? Your success (when it happens) will probably be a combination of luck, happenstance and talent!









    One of the most crucial elements throughout your screenplay is how you will keep the viewer in a suspension of disbelief. Your audience is highly sophisticated. When they enter a theatre, they actually want to like your movie (since they paid good money for it, and they don't want to feel foolish for spending money on a movie they dislike). For the sake of their entertainment, they are willing to give you all kinds of leeway in your creative endeavors. This "partnership" of sorts is jeopardized as soon as you write something that doesn't make any sense. For example, one of our Canadian Copywriter members reports that he recently saw the movie "Signs", directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The movie was about a farmer whose crops had been flattened by alien space ships. According to Mr. Shyamalan's theory, these aliens had mastered the technology of travelling billions of miles across the universe in space ships, yet when they arrived on earth, they didn't have the common sense to figure how to get out of a locked bathroom. These brilliant aliens had no idea of how a doorknob works. Writing scenes like this can ruin the credibility of the rest of your masterpiece -- because once a viewer disbelieves one of your theories, the rest of your theories are immediately under suspicion. In contrast, the recent "War of The Worlds" movie shows heartless, indiscriminate aliens who methodically exterminate every living organism on earth with sophisticated machinery. Perhaps if M. Night Shyamalan had directed this movie (instead of Stephen Spielberg), the aliens might have parked their tripods on the edge of town, shinnied down a fireman's pole and raided the local pub, only to get into a donnybrook with the locals. In an M. Night Shyamalan movie, they'd probably bust open the pub door and start yelling "This world aint big enough for the two of us". Oooh, boy, would the spit and the false teeth ever fly! That would be ridiculous, of course. Come to think of it, M. Night Shyamalan's movies seem to wreak of these kinds of inconsistencies. In another of his epics, The Village, he wrote about a group of people who decided to leave the violence of the big cities and take refuge in, of all places, a game reserve. This group immigrated to this reserve and built quite a sophisticated little village (of course, the people who ran the game reserve never noticed that there was a full-grown village right in the middle of their game preserve). Things, however, weren't all beer and skittles for the villagers. In an effort to keep the young folk from leaving the village, the "elders" decided to concoct a story about "forest people" who will kill anyone who ventures out of the village and onto their turf. That ought to keep 'em down on the farm, huh? But, then, to totally confuse the audience, the main village elder decides to send his blind daughter into the forest alone to retrieve medical supplies for a villager who is mortally wounded. The poor girl stumbles her way through the woods (surrounded by "aliens") to arrive outside of the confines of the game reserve. She manages to climb a twenty-feet high fence and when she arrives on the other side, an astonished guard takes pity on her. He borrows a ladder from the main office so he can help her climb back over the fence and return to the game preserve. What incredible, unmitigated, complete nonsense! What's even more amazing is that this movie starred some pretty decent talent: William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver and was financed by Disney Productions. In the words of the immortal Marvin Gaye (or I guess that isn't quite right, is it?), what's going on? Tell me what's going on? Hey, we've got to be fair though! M. Night Shyamalan has made one decent movie! THE SIXTH SENSE WAS ABSOLUTELY FREAKIN' BRILLIANT! but he's been riding that "gravy train" for years -- and one begins to wonder exactly what he's smoking when he comes up with such bombs as "Lady In The Water" and "The Happening" (the only thing frightening about "The Happening" was that it was frighteningly stupid!). But this kind of arrogance isn't restricted to M. Night Shyamalan alone. It's pervasive in the industry. There was another case in a Canadian movie the other night (made in Vancouver). A woman was abducted by a trucker and thrown in the back of his truck. She managed to work herself free, however. When she got out of the truck, she could have escaped into the wilderness (like most women that I've ever known would try to do, hey -- some even trying to get away from me, har, har, har, har), however, she searches for a knife, finds one, and then attacks her abductor -- sticks the knife right into his back, right up to the hilt. He pulls out the knife and goes after her -- and, at that point, she decides that heading for the woods, although it wasn't her first choice, might have been a better idea, so she opts for Plan B and runs like the wind. However, throughout the rest of the movie this murderous "son of a bitch" is as healthy as a horse -- as if nothing ever happened. He didn't even have a scintilla of back pain. Robax couldn't even sell this guy a single pill -- even if they promised him a role in one of their TV commercials as a wooden maniac killer. Hey, c'mon buddy...c'mon...c'mon..c-u-h-h-mon buddy? In the words of Dave Chapelle, CUUHHMON! We might mention that the most troubling thing is that when you try to inform the people in charge of a production that there is a continuity problem, they shrug it off and say it's due to the "limitations of the medium". Good Lord, what a crock of bull shit! Our film industry really thinks their audience is a bunch of idiots! So, look at your screenplay with a jaundiced eye, remembering that all your finest efforts could fall apart with just one tiny little nonsensical slip-up. Perhaps the safest way to approach it is to believe that your audience is a lot smarter than you are -- which, unfortunately for you, most of your audience is!


             Many stages exist in the film making process. The first stage, of course, begins with you -- the screenwriter. After your script is written, it might be bought outright by a major motion picture studio or optioned by a producer, director, celebrity, etcetera. An optioned screenplay is a "rented" screenplay. In other words, the person holding the option acquires the right to produce the movie within a prescribed period of time. If the movie isn't produced within the specified period, the rights are returned to the author. Once your screenplay is in the hands of the top brass at the movie studio, it will be handed over to a producer. What is a producer and how do you qualify to be a producer? That's easy. You just have to know somebody. There are no schools for producers, no associations, no requirements, just an ability (or a desire) to produce. Here's a partial list of what a producer will do:


  • Conceive the idea (that's to say if the screenplay hasn't been written yet!)
  • Gather together the writers, actors, director, location scouts, etc.
  • Sell the concept and the people involved to the studios or other possible financial backers (in the hackneyed world, called "angels").
  • Select locations.
  • Get together a list of all hardware and equipment needed (scene by scene)
  • Put together a shooting schedule and budget.
  • Hire the crew
  • Manage the film's production
  • Keep in constant touch with the film's progress, discussing daily issues with the director.
  • Keep the financial backers up to date on the film's progress (this is very important).
  • Oversee editing
  • Oversee previews
  • Make plans for distributing and marketing the film.


    The actual day to day tasks of creating a movie are up to the director. He answers to the producer while the producer answers to the financial backers. It is a "rare" director who can assume complete creative control over a project. A director's power is often determined by the "final cut" clause. This is when all the rushes have been produced and the final editing of the end product begins. Usually, most directors lose control of the project at this point. Lately, however, the studios are trying to appease the directors by offering them their own "final" cut to be seen in video versions of the movie (which is different from the theatre version).




  • If you want to write a great screenplay, you should be aware of the great movies. Movies have evolved over the years, constantly maturing in their cinematic techniques. Here are some of the landmark films and the reasons why you should study them if you want to be a great screenwriter.

    THE BIRTH OF A NATION -- 1915

    While this is a highly racist film, D.W.Griffiths Civil War epic turned cinematography into "art". His techniques, while commonplace today, were astonishing at the time. The film was three hours long (which was unheard of in 1915) yet people sat through the movie both enthralled and fascinated. D.W. Griffiths pioneered "crosscutting", a technique which imbued the picture with suspense and excitement. The technique takes the viewer from the past to the present and from one series of events happening simultaneously with another. D.W.Griffiths was also highly creative with his use of the camera, mixing close ups with long shots to make a point. The Birth of a Nation began a new era of cinema.

    NANOOK OF THE NORTH -- 1922

    This film was the first "reality" film. Robert Flaherty went to great pains to capture this story of Nanook, a real eskimo on the shores of Hudson's Bay. He travelled to the far north to follow Nanook on his daily hunt for food. As the movie progresses the viewers begin to realize that "the hunt" is a "life and death" proposition -- a constant challenge to stave off starvation. Flaherty's "Nanook Of The North" was a great achievement because of its emotional content and its incredible cinematography of the grand, sweeping North.

    BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN -- 1925

    This film by Sergei M. Eisenstein chronicles the crew on a Russian ship who decide to revolt in 1905. Similar to D.W.Griffiths' BIRTH OF A NATION, this film was also an epic. What was most impressive was Eisenstein's startling use of montage to tell his story and fire the emotions. In Potemkin, he used different kinds of montage with a grace and rhythm not previously seen.

    THE GENERAL--1927

    The General isn't so much a salute to films as it is a salute to Buster Keaton and silent films in general. It is, without a doubt, the greatest of the silent films. In an era of Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford, Buster Keaton was both an artist in front of the camera and behind it. THE GENERAL is a film that uses cuts and crossovers for maximum comedic effect.

    THE JAZZ SINGER - 1927

    This film marks the beginning of the "talkies" -- movies in which the actors actually got to say something. The Jazz Singer is a story that has been made into a movie several times, the most notable of which for today's generation stars Neil Diamond. The earlier "Jazz Singer" was Al Jolson. The film made an impact on the moviegoing public and proved to be the death knell for the silents. When The Jazz Singer was released only 200 theatres were equipped for sound in the United States. Two years later, however, there were over two thousand.

    39 STEPS -- 1935

    Alfred Hitchcock is considered one of the most influential minds ever to stand behind a camera lens. His legacy is still being studied by today's film students. He was the master at using the best visual means to tell a story and create suspense. The story concerns an innocent bystander who suddenly finds his life in peril, which is a common Hitchcock theme. Other characteristic ingredients include murder, scenes in a train, comic relief and visual tricks to fool an audience.

    MODERN TIMES --1936

    Charlie Chaplin worked "damn hard" on the set to make a great film and MODERN TIMES was a perfect example of his work. It was a hilarious look at the despair of the depression-ridden thirties and the merciless reduction of the average man to a cog in the wheels of progress. Through it all, Chaplin takes great delight in depicting the lighter side of the industrial revolution and proves that man, not machine, will emerge as both the survivor and winner.

    GRAND ILLUSION -- 1937

    Jean Renoir's masterpiece is one of the best anti-war films ever made. While Hollywood was making typically "Hollywood" films, the French were exploring the "art form". Renoir impressed his audiences by his ability to depict depth of character, concern with basic problems of life, and a rivetting, truthful portrayal of the human condition. The film is a work of rare perfection with its understatement, incisive characterizations, muted tensions, and excellent performances

    STAGECOACH -- 1939

    America loves the western. Its the perfect genre for stories of action, drama and bravery. Of course, the western is all-American and STAGECOACH was the all-American western. STAGECOACH brought together a cast of characters and deposited them into a crisis situation. It was riddled with Oscar winning performances such as Thomas Mitchell, cast as the whiskey-soaked Dr. Josiah Bone and Andy Devine as the whiney-voiced stagecoach driver. In a bumper-crop year for movies which included Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Wizard of Oz, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Gone With The Wind and Wuthering Heights, John Ford, the director of STAGECOACH was still able to pull off an oscar win for his direction.

    GONE WITH THE WIND -- 1939

    This film is the most popular movie ever made. It's not the highest-grossing movie ever made because today's ticket prices cost more than those purchased in 1939 -- but more people have seen GONE WITH THE WIND than any other movie. It was the product of everything that Hollywood was about: glamour and fakery, tinsel and technique, stars and extras, powerful producers and hangers-on, talent and tom-foolery. Its budget was astronomical, its scenes epic, its schedule completely out of whack, yet out of this mess came a perfect jewel of a story with powerful performances from everyone involved.

    THE GRAPES OF WRATH -- 1880.

    Hollywood was always a city that was heavily involved in fantasy. It was fearful of movies that depicted the most appalling aspects of the human condition -- yet when Twentieth Century Fox acquired the rights to John Steinbeck's famous novel about farmers in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl, John Ford adapted the novel to a screenplay and the movie went on to be lauded artistically and a financial success.

    FANTASIA -- 1880

    Nobody is quite sure whether Fantasia was a colossal folly or a movie that was well ahead of its time. Whatever it was, it still bears mentioning as a landmark film. Our editor remembers taking his children to the movie and the shocked horror on their faces when they realized it wasn't a "cartoon". The intent was well meaning: to marry classical music with art, but the effort seemed to go over the general public's collective heads. Over the years, however, the critics have been kinder to Fantasia and it has been analyzed and re-analyzed until it has made some sort of artistic sense. In any event, it was a daring move for Disney.

    CITIZEN KANE -- 1941

    At twenty five years of age, Orson Welles crafted this Oscar winning movie about a tycoon who could never forget his childhood sled: "Rosebud". The movie remains as one of the most studied pieces of work in cinematic history.

    SINGIN' IN THE RAIN -- 1945

    Gene Kelley starred in this jubilant trip to Paris by an American. His contribution to the film as choreographer, director and dancer has been the injection of styles based on ballet, tap and jazz, as well as an athletic energy that was ideally suited to cinema. The picture had all the elements that make a musical entertaining and coordinated with rare precision -- dancing, singing, score, production numbers, comedy, book, dialogue, performance -- polus an overall joie de vivre . The tour de force, of course, is Kelley's number: "Singin' In The Rain" which very few people will ever forget!

    ROOM AT THE TOP -- 1959

    ROOM AT THE TOP was a British film that marked the beginning of the "Adult" film. Although it was not as racy as some of the movies today, it threw the blankets off the concepts of sex, infedility and homosexuality. Its characters curse, swear, connive and commit adultery. Generally, movies which didn't meet the Production Code Authority's strict censorship rules weren't successful, however Room At the Top was the first to break through. Its release marked the beginning of the end for the censorship authority. The movie won two Oscars. One for Simone Signoret, the lead actor and another for Neil Patterson, the screen writer.

    DR. STRANGELOVE -- 1964

    Any serious attempt at researching the film industry cannot ignore the contributions of Peter Sellers and his starring role in Dr. STRANGELOVE. This Stanley Kubrick movie is the ultimate masterpiece of gallows humour as it examines life on the brink of a nuclear maelstrom. Every scene strikes the perfect balance between realism and satire. Incredible performances are delivered by Slim Pickens, Keenan Wynn and George C. Scott.

    BONNIE AND CLYDE -- 1967

    This movie was another step forward for movies to show "real" violence. Although it pales in comparison to the violent themes today, it was more violent than the old Edward G. Robinson gangster films of yesteryear. BONNIE AND CLYDE has endured for its power, complexity and dramatic and emotional impact, it stands primarily as the film that best exemplifies the mood of the period.

    A SPACE ODYSSEY -- 1969

    Stanley Kubrick takes us on a flight into space in this brilliantly conceived cosmic adventure. Film students should study Kubrick's match dissolves (for example, the dissolve from a bone thrown in the air to a space station) and his judicious use of music. Kubrick wanted a full visual experience, a two hour and twenty minute movie with less than forty minutes of dialogue. It is an innovative film that forms an exciting point of departure for the medium.

    Z -- 1969

    Z is based on the novel by Vassilis Vassilikos. This movie from Greece uses a documentary approach to get its message across. Perhaps the most exciting part of the film is the irresistible music by Mikis Theodorakis, Greece's best-known popular composer. Making the movie was a heroic battle for the director, but his efforts eventually paid off. Z was not only a commercial success but also won the best picture and best director awards from the New York Film Critics, as well as an Oscar for best foreign film and another for best editing.

    EASY RIDER -1969

    This film was in the right place at the right time and was a watershed for the new generation that rejected the old values of getting a job, buying a house and working until it was time to receive a pension. EASY RIDER itself was rejected by every major motion picture company and was eventually filmed independently on a small budget. In a sense, the film became a national anthem for a younger generation in search of greater personal freedom. For Jack Nicholson and Karen Black, their roles provided a turning point in their career and they went on to become major motion picture stars.

    THE SORROW AND THE PITY -- 1967

    Very few documentaries can begin to approach the profundity of Michael Ophul's movie about the Nazi occupation of France. The documentary about the occupation of a small town is incredibly complex -- although it can be simplified to two major parts -- "The Collapse" and "The Choice". When the movie was released, the French were still reeling over the Nazi occupation of their homeland and the French TV networks refused to air THE SORROW AND THE PITY. It was relegated to a small theatre on the left bank. Eventually, however, it gained national and international recognition.

    DEEP THROAT -- 1972

    This hard-core porno film opened the doors to "anything goes" in the movies. It was a small-budget film which played in a few movie houses in New York City. However, its big break came when the police decided to raid the movie house and confiscate the movie. Suddenly, everyone went to see the movie. Serious movie reviewers called DEEP THROAT better than average porno fare and the race was on to come up with movies like DEEP THROAT

    SLEEPER -- 1973

    And then came Woody Allen! SLEEPER was Woody Allen's first attempt at directing -- and it worked! SLEEPER was one of the first movies with a zany plot and even zanier acting.

    NASHVILLE -- 1975

    NASHVILLE has been dubbed the most versatile picture since CITIZEN KANE. Robert Altman broke the mould with his musical extravaganza that had everything: vulgarity, greed, deceit, cruelty, barely contained hysteria and the frantic lack of root and grace into which American life had spiralled, driven by its own heedless vitality. NASHVILLE won the best picture and best director awards from the New York Film Critics




    Not updated lately. A History of Violence continues in wide distribution.

    L'Audition continues playing in Montréal and Ste-Foy, Québec. Please check local listings for theatres and times.

    C.R.A.Z.Y. is now playing at the Granville Cineplex Odeon in Vancouvber, B.C.; at the Uptown in Calgary, Alberta; the Globe in Winnipeg, Manitoba and in Ontario at the Bytowne Cinema in Ottawa and at the Cumberland Cinemas in Toronto. Please check local listings for theatres and times.

    Cake continues in Mississaug, Toronto and Scarborough, Ontario; Montréal, Québec; Dieppe, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Please check local listings foir cinemas and times.

    The Dark Hours continues playing. Now at The Bookshelf in Guelph, Ontario and at The Bytowne Cinema in Ottawa, Ontario. Please check local listings for theatres and times.

    Le Dernier trappeur is now playing in Montréal, Repentigny, Rimouski and Sherbrooke, Québec

    Eve and the Firehorse opens January 27.

    L'Horloge biologique continues at the Cinéma Tops in Laval, Québec.

    Lie With Me is now playing in Vancouver, B.C.; at the Uptown in Calgary, Alberta; and in Ontario at the Bookshelf in Guelph, the ByTowne in Ottawa and the Carlton Cinemas in Toronto, Ontario

    The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico is now playing at the Revue Festival in Toronto, Ontario.

    Maurice Richard is in wide distribution in Québec. Please check local listings for cinemas and times.

    Saints-Martrys-des-damnés continues playing in Gatineau and Laval, Québec. Please check local listings for theatres and times

    ScaredSacred continues playing. Click the title for the official website and look for places, dates and times under "Screenings."

    Les Voleurs d'enfance / Thieves of Innocence continues at the Cinema Tops in Laval, Québec.

    Water is now in wide distribution across Canada.

    Where the Truth Lies is playing at the Paradise Festival in Toronto, Ontario


    Anhalt, Edward (1914-2000).

    American screen and television writer and cinematographer. Known for his adaptations, he collaborated with his wife Edna on the Academy Award-winning story for Panic In The Streets (1950). His screenplays include: The Young Lions (1958) and Becket (1964), for which he won an Academy Award.

    Balderston, John L. (1889 - 1954)

    American screenwriter, journalist and playwright. Best known for his work in fantasy and horror, he collaborated on Universal's Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). His first solo effort was The Mummy (1932). Balderston also wrote the screenplay for Gaslight (1944).

    Bass, Ronald (1943-)

    American screenwriter, novelist, and producer. Although his work runs from thrillers to romance, it was his collaboration with Barry Morrow on Rain Man (1988) about an autistic man that earned him an Academy Award. Other films include The Joy Luck Club (1993) and My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)

    Bennet, Charles (1899-1995)

    British-born screenwriter and director of British and American films. Best known for his collaboration on several of Alfred Hitchcock's films, including in Britain, Blackmail (1929) The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)and the 39 Steps (1935). His work in the U.S. includes Foreign Correspondents (1880) and the re-make of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

    Bolt, Robert (1924-1995)

    British Playwright, screenwriter and director of British and American films. The theme of man versus society, evident in his play A Man For All Seasons, which he turned into an Academy Award Winning screenplay (1966) runs through his work. He also received an Academy Award for Dr. Zhivago (1965). Other films include Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Ryan's Daughter (1970) and Lady Caroline Lamb (1972) ((both movies starred Sarah Miles)), which he also directed.

    Brach, Gerard (1927 - )

    French-born screenwriter of French and International films. Noted for his collaboration with director Roman Polanski on films such as Repulsion (1965, UK) and Cult-de-Sac (1966) and Manon des Sources (Manon of the Spring) (1986).

    Brackett, Charles

    (1892 -1969) American screenwriter and producer. Collaborated as a writer and producer with director Billy Wilder on 13 films, from comedies to films noir, including Ninotchka (1880) and two that earned Brackett Academy Awards: The Lost Weekend (1945) and Sunset Boulevard (1950). Without Wilder, Brackett won an Academy Award for Titanic in 1953.

    Brackett, Leigh 1915-1978).

    American novelist and screenwriter, She created strong men and women in tight spots in the screenplays for five Howard Hawks films. including The Big Sleep (1946) and Rio Bravo (1959)

    Buchman, Sidney(1902-1975)

    American screenwriter and producer. Buchman's metier was comedy, earning him an Academy Award for The Talk of The Town (1942). Other films include Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) and Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941). Blacklisted in the 1930's, he later contributed to Cleopatra (1963).

    Burnett, W.R. (William Riley) (1899-1982)

    American screenwriter and novelist. He left his mark on the American crime movie with films adapted from his novels Little Caesar (1931) High Sierra (1941) and The Asphalt Jungle (1950). His screenwriting includes High Sierra, This Gun For Hire (1942) and the Great Escape (1963).

    Carriere, Jean-Claude (1931-)

    French screenwriter. He probed the psychological depths of personality, especially in films scripted for director Luis Bunuel, including Belle de Jour (1967), Le Charme Discret de la Bourgeosie (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie) (1972) and Get Obscur Objet du Desir (That Obscure Object of Desire (1977). Carriere also scripted The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988).

    Chandler, Raymond (1888-1959)

    American Novelist and Screen Writer. The master of hard-boiled detective novels such as Farewell, My Lovely, several of which have been adapted for the screen. Chandler also collaborated on the screen plays. These include Double Indemnity (1944) The Blue Dahlia (1946) and The Stranger On A Train (1951).

    Chase, Borden. (1900-1971).

    American screenwriter and novelist. He specialized in westerns, war films and other adventure genres. Among his films are Red River (1948) ,based on his novel The Blazing Gun on the Chisholm Trail (1948), Winchester '73 (1950), Bend of The River, (1952) and Vera Cruz (1954).

    Chayefsky, Paddy (1923-1981)

    American playwright and Screenwriter. He was especially adept at playing ordinary people, as in his Academy-award winning screenplay of Marty (1955). He earned a second Academy Award for The Hospital (1971). Other films include The Bachelor Party (1957), The Americanization of Emily (1964) and Network (1976).

    Clarke, T.E.B. (Thomas Ernest Bennett)(1907-1989).

    British screenwriter and novelist. His talent for comedy was most evident in The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) which won an Academy Award. Among his other films are Passport to Pimlico (1949) and Sons And Lovers (1960).

    Coffee, Lenore (1897-1984).

    American screenwriter. From the silent era through the 1950's, she specialized in writing women's melodramas and in fixing ailing scripts. Films include the Volga Boatmen (1926), Arsene Lupin (1932), Till We Meet Again (1944) and The End of The Affair (1955).

    Comden, Betty (1919-) and Green, Adolph (1915-)

    American lyricists and screenwriters, Comden and Green's genius for parody and wit have graced some of America's Greatest Films. These include On The Town (1949), Singin' In The Rain (1952), The Band Wagon (1953) and Bells Are Ringing (1960).

    Diamond, I.A.L. (1920-1988).

    Romanian born American screenwriter and producer. He is best known for succeeding Charles Brackett as director Billy Wilder's co-screenwriter and producer, beginning with Love In The Afternoon (1957). His dry and sardonic wit is also found in Some Like It Hot (1959) and his Academy Award winning script for The Apartment (1960).

    Dunne, Philip (1908-1992).

    American Director and Screenwriter, he is best known for his adapted screenplays of major films such as The Last of The Mohicans (1936) and How Green Was My Valley (1941), Forever Amber (1947), Pinky (1949) The Robe (1953) and Ten North Frederick (1958). His 1982 book Take Two dealt with the blacklist.

    Ephron, Nora (1941-)

    American screenwriter, director, producer and novelist. She wrote Heartburn (1985), Silkwood (1983) and When Harry Met Sally (1989). She wrote and directed Sleepless In Seattle (1993) and You've Got Mail (1998)

    Epstein, Julius J. (1909-2000) and Epstein, Philip G.

    (1909-1952). American screenwriters. Identical twins, they were known for their sophisticated dialogue in their scripts. Their collaborations, mostly on adaptations of stage plays, included The Man Who Came To Dinner (1941), Casablanca (1942) for which they won an Academy Award and Arsenic and Old Lace (1944).

    Eszterhaus, Joe (1946 --)

    Hungarian American screenwriter, producer and novelist. Known for the large fees he commands and the sex and violence that characterize his scripts, Eszterhas became a bankable name after the commercial success of Basic Instinct (1992) Other films include Jagged Edge (1985) and Silver (1993) for which he was also a co-executive Producer.

    Flaino, Ennio (1910-1972) and Pinelli, Tullio (1908)

    Italian screenwriters. Best known for combining mysticism and irony in their collaboration with Federico Fellini on films such as Luci del Varieta (Variety Lights) (1951), La Stra (1954), La Dolce Vita (1960), Otto e Mezzo (8 1/2) (1963) and Giulietta degli Spiriti (Juliet of The Spirits) (1965). Pinella also scripted Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini (The Garden of the Finzi-Continis) (1971).

    Foreman, Carl (1914-1988) and Panama, Norman (1914 - )

    American screenwriters, producers and directors. The team's forte was comedy. Films together include My Favorite Blone (1942), Road to Utopia (1946), Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) and the Court Jester (1956). Frank scripted several films alone, including A Touch Of Class (1973).

    Furthman, Jules (1888-1960)

    American screenwriter. One of Hollywood's most prolific screenwriters, from silent films through Rio Bravo (1959) he sometimes collaborated with his brother Charles. His output includes Morocco (1930), Mutiny On The Bounty (1935) Only Angels Have Wings (1939) and To Have And To Have Not (1944)

    Ganz, Lowell (1948-) and Mandell, Babaloo(1949-)

    American screenwriters. Comedy is their forte, as evidenced by Night Shift (1982). Splash (1984), Parenthood (1989), City Slickers (1991), A League Of Their Own (1992) and Where The Heart Is (2000).

    Gelbart, Larry (1925-).

    Best known perhaps for bringing "MASH" to the television screen, Larry Gelbart has also written The Notorious Landlady (1960), Oh God (1977) Tootsie (1982) and Blame It On Rio (1984).

    Goldman, Bo (1932-)

    American screenwriter and script doctor. He won two Academy Awards for One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and Melvin and Howard (1980), Other screenplays include The Rose (1979) Shoot The Moon (1982), Scent Of A Woman (1992) and Meet Joe Black (1998)

    Goldman, William J. (1931)

    American screenwriter, novelist, playwright and nonfiction writer. A novelist prior to beginning his screenwriting career in the 1960's., he is known for crafting witty adventures and his skill as a script doctor. He won Academy Awards for Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (1969) and All The President's Men (1976), The Princess Bride (1987) and Hearts in Atlantis (2001). He directed the filmmaking process in his nonfiction book Adventures in the Screen Trade (1983). James Goldman, his brother, (1927-1998) was also a screenwriter and playwright.

    Goodrich, Frances (1901-1984) and Hackett, Albert (1900-1995)

    American screenwriters and playwrights. They adapted their Pulitzer Prize Winning Novel The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) for the screen. Other films include The Thin Man (1934). It's A Wonderful Life (1946), the Pirate (1948) and Father Of The Bride (1950).

    Gruault, Jean (1924-)

    French screenwriter. Associated with French New Wave director, Francois Truffaut, Gruault achieved renown with several screenplays for Alain Resnais, including Mon Oncle d'amerique (1980). Other films inclue Jules et Jim (Jules and Jim) (1961), Les Caribinniers (1963), L'Enfant Sauvage (The Wild Child) (1970) and L'Histoire d'Adele H. (The Story of Adele H. (1971).

    Guerra, Tonino (1920-)

    Italian screenwriter, poet, and painter. A creator of fairy-tale worlds, as in his script for Fellini's Amarcord (1973), he has worked most closely with director Michelangelo Antonioni. Screenplays for Antonionni include L'Aventura (1960), La Notte (1961), L'Eclipse (Eclipse) (1963) Deserta Rosso (The Red Dessert) (1964) (Blow Up) (1966) and Zabriskie Point (1970).

    Hayes, John Michael (1919 - )

    American screenwriter. He won an Academy Award for Alred Hitchcok's Rear Window (1954) and also scripted the director's To Catch A Thief (1955), The Trouble With Harry (1955) and The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956). Adaptations include Peyton Place (1957), the Matchmaker (1958) and The Children's Hour (1962).

    Hellman, Lillian (1905-1984).

    American playwright and screenwriter. A major dramatist, she adapted some her plays for the screen, including These Three (1036), The Little Foxes and The Searching Wind (1946). She also wrote several original screenplays, including Dead End (1037) and The Chase (1966). Among her plays that have been adapted by others for the screen are Wach On The Rhine (1943) and The Children's Hour (1962).

    Buck, Henry. (1930 - )

    American TV writer, screen writer, actor and director. His first screenplay was The Graduate (1957). He has also written Catch 22 (1970), The Owl and The Pussycat (1970) What's Up Doc? (1972) and The Day of The Dolphin (1973).

    Sydney, Howard (1901 - 1939)

    American screenwriter and playwright. One of the first Broadway playrights to go to Hollywood with the advent of sound films. Howard became known for using dialogue with economy to support the images on the screen. His scripts which often convey a social message, include those for Arrowsmith (1931) and Dodsworth (1936) along with his Academy Award winning contribution to Gone With The Wind (1939).

    Jhabvala, Ruth Prawer (1927)

    German born screenwriter and novelist working in India and England. She has portrayed the clash between East and West and, with Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, created literate adaptations of modern novels. Films include Shakespeare Wallah (1965), India), her Academy Award winning A Room With A View (1985), Howard's End (1992), The Remains Of the Day (1993), and The Golden Bowl (2000).

    Johnson, Nunnally (1897-1977).

    Screenwriter, producer and director, best known for his adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath (1880). Films include The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936), Jesse James (1939) How To Marry A Millionaire (1953) and The Dirty Dozen (1967).

    Kanin, Fay (1917 - )

    . She and her husband collaborated on screenplays for Rhapsody (1954), Teachers' Pet (1958) and The Right Approach (1961)

    Kanin, Garson (1912-1999) and Gordon, Ruth (1896-1985)

    . A husband and wife team, they hit their peak with Adam's Rib (1950). Other films include "A Double Life" (1947), Pat and Mike (1952) and The Marrying Kind (1952). Ruth Gordon gained acting fame for her role in Rosemary's Baby.

    Kanin, Michael (1910-1993).

    He is best known for his collaboration with Ring Lardner Jr. on the screenplay for The Woman of the Year (1942) for which he won an Academy Award. With wife Fay Kanin, he collaborated on screenplays for several films (see above). Among his other screenwriting credits are Centennial Summer (1946) and How To Commit Marriage (1969)

    Khourl, Callie (1957-)

    American screenwriter. With one Academy Award-winning film, Thelma and Louise (1991), Khourl made her mark. The feminist road film, in which two women strike a blow for their gender when one kills a rapist and both go on the lam, stirred controversy. Khouria also wrote Something To Talk About (1995).

    Koch, Howard (1902-1995).

    American screen writer, Koch's screenplays were often marked by social concerns, and in the 1950's, he was blacklisted. Among his scripts are Casablanca (1942) for which he shared an Academy Award, The Letter (1880), Sergeant York (1941), Mission To Moscow (1943) and The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946).

    Koepp, David (1964 - )

    After writing the psychological thriller Bad Influence (1990), Koepp turned to comedy and action, writing Death Becomes Her (1992) Jurassic Park (1993) and Carlito's Way (1993) He collaborated with his brother Stephen on The Paper (1994).

    Kraly, Hans (1885-1950)

    German-born screenwriter of German and American films. His most notable work was in the silent era with films such as Die Austerprinzessin (The Oyster Princess) (1919). So This is Paris (1926), The Student Prince (1927) and 100 Men and a Girl (1937).

    Krasna, Norman (1909-1948)

    American playwright, screenwriter, producer and director. Light, sophisticated comedy was his specialty, evidenced by Bachelor Mother (1939) and his Academy Award- winning Princess O'Rourke, (1943) Other screenwriting credits include The Richest Girl in the World (1934) The Devil and Miss Jones (1941) and Sunday in New York (1964)

    LaGravenese, Richard (1959 - )

    American screenwriter and director. Strong female characters often mark his films. LaGravenese wrote screenplays for The Fisher King (1991), The Bridges of Madison County (1995), The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996), The Horse Whisperer (1998) and Beloved (1998). He directed and wrote Living Out Loud (1998).

    Lardner, Ring, Jr. (1915-2000).

    American screenwriter and journalist. The son of humorist Ring Lardner, he won two Academy Awards for Woman Of The Year (1942) and M*A*S*H* (1970). He was blacklisted, however, for Contempt of Congress in the great "McCarthy" years witch hunt".

    Lederer, Charles, (1910-1975).

    He collaborated with Ben Hess on Kiss of Death (1947) and Ride The Pink Horse (1947). Working with director Howard Hawkes, he adapted comic material for His Girl Friday (1880) and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). He also scripted The Thing (1951).

    Lehman, Ernest (1920 - )

    American songwriter and producer. From 1950's through the 70's, the versatile Lehaman was one of Hollywood's most successful writers. His output included two scripts for Alfred Hitchcock. North by Northwest (1959) and amily Plot (1976) as well as Sabrina (1954), the Sweet Smell of Success (1957) and West Side Story (1961). He produced some of the films he wrote such as Hello Dolly (1969). He received an honorary Academy Award in 2001

    Loos, Anita (1893 - )

    American screenwriter, playwright and novelist. She adapted her story collection Gentlemen Prefer Blondses twice for the screen (1928) and 1953). A master of cinematic wit and satire, Loos wrote screenplays for more than half a century, often in collaboration with husband John Emerson. Her screenwriting credits include His Picture in the Papers (1916), San Francisco, (1936) and The Women (1939).

    MacArthur, Charles (1895 - 1956).

    American screenwriter, playwright and director. In collaboration with Ben Hecht, he wrote several plays and screenplays, including two of Broadway and Hollywood's most pungent satires The Front Page (1931) and Twentieth Century (1934) MacArthur separately, wrote The Senator Was Indiscreet (1947). He was married to Helen Hayes.

    Macpherson, Jeannie (1884 -1946).

    American screenwriter and actress. The stage-trained actress entered film in 1908 appeared regularly on screen in films that included Enoch Arden ((1911) and the Merchant of Venice (1914). From 1915, she turned to screenwriting, working often with Cecil B. DeMille on films such as Old Wives For New (1918(, Male and Female (1919), The Ten Commandments (1923) and Reap The Wild Wind (1942)

    Maddow, Ben (1909-1992)

    American screen writer, non-fiction writer and director, Maddow crossed many genres in his career, including some socially-conscious films for which he was blacklisted. His screenplays include Intruder in The Dust (1949) The Asphalt Jungle (1950), Johnny Guitar (1954) The Savage Eye (1960) which he also co-directed wand co-produced (1937) Heaven Knows Mr. Allison, (1957) and North To Alaska (1960).

    Maltz, Albert (1908 - 1985)

    American screenwriter, playwright and shot-story writer. Blacklisted and imprisoned as one of the Hollywood Ten, he wrote socially conscious documentaries as well as some notable war and crime films including This Gun For Hire (1942), Destination Tokyo (1944, Pride of The Marines (1945) and the Naked City (1948).

    Mamet, David (1947-)

    American playwright, screenwriter and director. Known for his naturalistic dialogue, this playwright has adapted his own and others' work for the screen. Films include The Verdict (1982) The Untouchables (1987) Glengarry Glen Ross (1997) and Wag The Dog (1997). He sometimes directed his own films such as Heist (2001).

    Mankiewicz, Herman J. (1897).

    Brother of Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Herman shared an Academy Award -- and an ongoing controversy about who wrote what -- with Orson Welles for Citizen Kane (1941), in which his trademark witty dialogue is featured. He also worked on Duck Soup (1933), Dinner at Eight (1933) and The Pride of The Yankees (1942).

    Marion, Frances (1887-1973)

    American screenwriter. Known for dramas and melodramas, this major figure in early American cinema won Academy Awards for The Big House (1930) and The Champ (1931). Films include Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917) The Son of The Sheik (1926), the Wind (1928) Anna Christie (1930), Dinner At Eight (1933) and Camille (1937). She also wrote the book How to Write and Sell Film Stories (1937).

    Mathis, June (1892-1927)

    American screenwriter, she was the Head of Metro's script department. She helped launch the career of Rudolph Valentino with adaptations of the Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse (1918) and Blood and Sand (1922) Other films include Ben Hur (1926) and Irene (1926).

    Mayer, Edwin, Justus (1896-1960)

    American screenwriter. He was lured to Hollywood by sound films. Mayer wrote action films, including seven for Howard Hawk, including Dawn Patrol (1930), Scarface (1932) Red Dust (1932), G-Men (1935) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).

    Dudley, Nicholas (1895-1960).

    American screenwriter and director. He was very highly revered in Hollywood for his highly literate work in films such as The Informer (1935), for which Nichols won an Academy Award. Nichols worote 13 other films for Ford. Credits include Bringing Up Baby (1938), Stagecoach (1939) and Pinky (1949).

    North, Edmond H. (1911-19900)

    American screenwriter. North hit the top of his form when he won an Oscar for Patton (1970). Among his other films are One Night Of Love (1934) The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) and Sink The Bismarck (1960).

    Nugent, Frank S, (1908 - 1965)

    American screen writer and New York Times Film Critic. He is best known for several John Ford westerns: "Fort Apache (1948), She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Wagonmaster (1950). He also worked on The Quiet Man (1952) , Mister Roberts (1955) and the Last Hurrah (1958).

    Peoples, David Webb.

    Peoples burst onto the scene with Clint Eastwood's western Unforgiven (1992) but he has since specialized in science fiction films including Blade Runner (1982), Leviathan (1989) and Soldier (1998).

    Eleanor, Perry (1915-1981)

    Known for her adaptations and careful examination of character, Perry wrote mostly for films directed by her husband Frank Perry in the 1960's. Films include David and Lisa (1962), The Swimmer (1968) Last Summer (1969) and Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970).

    Pierson, Frank (1925) American screen and TV writer. Academy Award winner for Dog Day Afternoon (1975) which mixed a sex-change operation with a bank robbery. His Cat Ballou (1965) melded comedy with a western. Other films include Cool Hand Luke (1967) and Presumed Innocent (1990).

    Pinter, Harold (1930 - )

    British playwright and screenwriter. A major playwright, Pinter's works are often sinister and menacing. Films include The Servant (1963), The Birthday Party (1968), The Homecoming (1973) and The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981).

    Polonsky, Abraham. (1910-1999).

    American screenwriter and director, Polonsky showed early promise with Body and Soul (1947) and Force of Evil (1948) but was blacklisted from 1951 to 1967. His films include Madigan (1968) and Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (1970).

    Prevert, Jacques 1900-1977)

    French screenwriter and poet. Director Marcel Carne,m for whom Prevert wrote Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise) (1945) called him the "poet of French cinema". Films include Quai des Brumes (Port of Shadows) (1938), Le Jour se Leve (Daybreak) (1939) and les Portes de la Nuit (Gates of the Night) (1946).

    Raphaelson, Samson (1906-1983)

    American playwright and screenwriter. His forte was sophisticated romantic comedies, especially for Ernst Lubitsch in One Hour With You (1932) Trouble in Paradise (1932) and the Shop Around The Corner (1880). He also worked on Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion (1941). His play The Jazz Singer was the basis for the 1927 film.

    Ravetch, Irving (1920 - ) and Frank, Harriet, Jr.

    This husband-and-wife team wrote scripts with strong characters. Films include Hud (1963), Hombe (1967) and Norma Rae (1979). Other credits include The Long, Hot Summer (1958) and The Sound And The Fury (1959)

    Riskin, Robert (1897-1955)

    American screenwriter and playwright. An Academy Award winner for It Happened One Night (1934), he worked often with that film's director, Frank Capra, on comedies with a social point. Films include The Whole Town's Talking (1935), Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936), Lost Horizon (1937), You Can't Take It With You (1938) and Meet John Doe (1941).

    Robinson, Casey (1903- 1979)

    American screenwriter. At Warner Bros, in the 1930's and 40's he worked on many genres. Robinson helped establish the Errol Flynn screen persona with Captain Blood (1035) and scripted six Bette Dav's films, including Dark Victory (1939) and Now, Voyager (1942. Kings Row (1942) is another of his prominent scripts

    Rodat, Robert (1953-)

    American screenwriter. His father, severely wounded in World War II "has never seen a war film he likes -- he thinks they were "phoney-baloney". The result was Saving Private Ryan (1998) for which he won best original screenplay and an Oscar. He also wrote Patriot (2000).

    Ryskind, Morrie (1895-1985)

    American playwirght and screenwriter, He was a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and the recipient of two Academy Awards, for My Man Godfrey (1936) and Stage Door (1937) Ryskind established his comedy credentials with the Marx Brothers in Cocoanuts (1929), Animal Crackers (1930), A Night At The Opera (1935) and Room Service (1938).

    Salt, Waldo (1914-1987)

    American screenwriter. His Academy Awards were for Coming Home (1978) and Midnight Cowboy (1969). He also wrote Serpico (1973) and The Day of the Locust (1975).

    Sargent, Alvin American

    Screen and TV writer, Sargent's films show people coping with changes in their lives. In the 1970's, hist a peak with several adaptations: The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds (1973), Paper Moon (1973), Julia (1977) and Ordinary People (1980). The last two won Academy Awards.

    Saunders, John Monk (1897-1880)

    An American screenwriter. Originally an Army Air Corps officer, he began writing for films in the 1020's and contributed the stories for several aviation films, including Wings (1927), the Dawn Patrol (1930) Devil Dogs of The Air (1935) and Dawn Patrol (1980). He was married to actress Fay Wray.

    Schiffman, Suzanne (1929-2001).

    Originally a script girl for Francois Trufaut, she became his collaborator on later films. She shared a Cesar award for Le Dernier Metro (The Last Metro) (1980) and also worked on La Nuit Americaine (Day For Night) (1973) L'Histoire d'Adele H. (The Story of Adele H.) (1975) and L'homme Qui Aimait les Femmes (The Man Who Loved Women).

    Schnee, Charles (1916-1963)

    American screenwriter and producer. Films include Red River (1948) the Bad And The Beautiful (1952) which earned him an Academy Award . He also wrote They Live By Night (1949 and Butterfield 8 (1960).

    Schrader, Paul (1946-)

    Known for psychological probing films, Schrader wrote Taxi Driver (1975). Other scripts include Raging Bull (1980), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Affliction (1997), which he also directed, He is the author of Transcendental Style in Film.

    Schulberg, Budd (1914-)

    American Novelist and Screenwriter. Son of Paramount executive B.P. Schulberg, Budd is best known for his expose novel of Hollywood, What Makes Sammy Run? (1941) and for his Academy Award winning On The Waterfront (1954), as well as A Face In The Crowd (1957).

    Shanley, John Patrick (1950-)

    American playwright and screenwriter. Coming relatively late to films from the stage, Shanley received an Academy Award for his first screenplay, Moonstruck (1987). Subsequent scripts include Alive (1993) and Congo (1995).

    Silliphant, Sterling (1918-1006).

    He won an Academy Award for In The Heat Of The Night (1967). Films include Village of the Damned (1960), Charly (1968). The New Centurions (1972), The Poseidon Adventure (1972) , The Towering Inferno (1974) and the Enforcer (1976).

    Simon, Neil (1927 - )

    American playwright and screenwriter. Broadway's most successful comedy writer has also done well writing screenplays, often adaptations of his own plays. Films include Barefoot in the Park (1967) , The Odd Couple (1968), Plaza Suite (1971), The Sunshine Boys (1975), The Goodbye Girl (1977) and Biloxi Blues (1988).

    Southern, Terry (1926-1995)

    American novelist and screenwriter. Author of the best selling novel Candy (1964) and collaborated on the countercultural road film Easy Rider (1969) Other films include Barbarella (1968) and The Telephone (1988).

    Steward, Donald Ogden (1894-1980)

    American screenwriter, humorist and playwright. Specializing in adaptations and working frequently with director George Cukor, Stewart took an Academy Award for

    The Philadelphia Story (1880).

    Other films include The Barretts of Washington Street (1934), Holiday (1934), Holiday (1938) and Kitty Foyle (1880). The blacklist prematurely ended his career.

    Stoppard, Tom (1937-)

    Czech-born British playwright and screen, radio and TV writer. The acclaimed playwright, known for his experiments with language and structure, has specialized in adapting his writing for the screen. Films include Brazil (1985), Empire Of The Sun (1987) Rosencrantz and Guilderstern Are Dead (1990) which he also directed and Shakespeare In Love (1998)

    Sullivan, Charles Gardner (1879-1965)

    American screenwriter and producer. Known as the dean of American screenwriters. Sullivan practically invented the western film with his work on William S. Hart's projects beginning with The Passing Of Two Gun Hicks (1914). Film critics range from Civilization (1916) to Union Pacific (1939).

    Swerling, Jo. His scripts usually focused on American tradition and bright hopes for the future. Films include Platinum Blonde (1931), the Whole Town's Talking (1935), Pride of the Yankees (1942) and It's A Wonderful Life (1946).

    Taradash, Daniel (1913-)

    Taradash's best works were adaptations of works from other media. They include Golden Boy (1939), the Academy Award- winning script for From Here to Eternity (1953), Picnic (1956), and Bell, Book and Canale (9158).

    Tesich, Steve (1942-1996)

    Yugoslavian born American screenwriter and playwright. Breaking Awayu (1979), a coming-of-age film in which town and gown tensions are worked out in a bike race, made Tesich's screen reputation. Strong characterizations marked other scripts in his brief career, including Eyewitness (1981) and The World According To Garp (1982).

    Towne, Robert. (1934 - )

    American screenwriter and director. He is respected for his doctoring of others' scripts -- including Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and The Godfather (1972) -- as well as for the high quality of his own. Moral ambiguity underlines his best work: The Last Detail (1973), Chinatown (1974), his Academy Award winner and Shampoo (1075).

    Trotti, Lamar (1900-1952)

    American screenwriter and producer. In twenty years at Fox and 20th Century Fox, Trotti dramatized American history with scripts for films such as In Old Chicago (1937), Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), The Ox Bow Incident (1943) and Guadalcanal Diary (1943). He received an Academy Award for Wilson (1944).

    Trumbo, Dalton (1905-1976).

    American screenwriter and novelist. Jailed as one of the Hollywood Ten, Trumbo won an Academy Award for The Brave One (1956) under a pseudonym. The pursuit of ideals imbues his work. Films include Kitty Foyle (1880), Spartacus (1960), Exodus (1960), Lonely Are The Brave (1062) and Johnny Got His Gun (1971), adapted from his own anti-war novel.

    Vajda, Ernest (1887-1954)

    Hungarian-born American screenwriter and playwright. He is best known for romantic comedies of the early sound period, particularly for director Ernst Lubitsch including The Love Parade (1929) and Monte Carlo (1930). Among his other films are A Woman Rebels (1936) and Marie Anotoinette (1938).

    Wilson, Michael (1914-1978)

    American screenwriter. Blacklisted after his Academy Award for A Place In The Sun, Wilson made contributions to Friendly Persuasion (1956), The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962) that went uncredited. He was posthumously awarded an Academy Award for The Bridge on the River Kwai in 1085.

    Woods, Frank (1870-1939)

    American screenwriter and critc. Woods wrote the scenario for D.W. Griffith's first feature film, Judith of Bethulia (1914) and collaborated with him in The Birth Of A Nation (1915) and Intolerance ((1916).

    Zaillan, Steven (1953-)

    American screenwriter and director. Zaillian worked with Steven Spielberg on two historical films about brutal oppression: Schindler's List (1993), for which he received an Academy Award, and Amistad (1997). Other films include Awakenings (1990), Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993), A Civil Action (1998) and Hannibal (2001).

    Zavattni, Cesare (1902-1989)

    Italian screen-writer, novelist and film critic. An exponent of neorealism in his screenplays of the 1880's and 50's, he most notably collaborated with Vittorio De Sica. Zavattin's films include Sciuscia (Shoeshine) (1946), Ladri di Bicicletta (The Bicycle Thief) (1948), Maracolo a Milano (Miracle in Milan ) (1951) and Umberto D. (1952).




    Jeffrey Boam -- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Lethal Weapon 2, Lethal Weapon 3, The Dead Zone, Funny Farm, Innerspace, The Lost Boys, Straight Time.
    Daniel Pyne -Pacific Hieghts, The Hard Way, Doc Hollywood, White Sands
    Desmond Nakano --Last Exit to Brooklyn, Boulevard Nights
    Tom MuscaStand and Deliver, Little Nikita
    J. Randall JohnsonThe Doors, Dudes
    Kathleen Knutsen RowellThe Outsiders
    Eric RothMemories of Me, Suspect, The Concord -- Airport '79, The Nickle Ride
    Alex Cox Repo Man, Sid and Nancy
    Robert R. PoolThe Big Town
    Walter Halsey Davis Seven Hours To Judgement
    Gregory WidenHighlander, Backdraft
    Dan O'BannonAlien, Blue Thunder, Return of the Living Dead, Lifeforce, Total Recall





    Breaking into the movie industry will be no easy task. It's not like law or medicine where you are required to pass certain exams and be accepted either to the bar or A.M.A. Most times, it's luck, coupled with some very hard work. Industry veterans suggest that you make a film, not a two-hour long epic, but one that's just long enough to showcase your talents and abilities. For a formal education, you can attend New York University, the University of California at Los Angeles, AFI Conservatory, the University of Southern California or any other number of universities with first-rate film programs and drama departments. (In Canada, Ryerson University has both an excellent Radio and Television Arts and Drama Program - and many of the school's graduates have gone on to bigger and better things. Eric McCormack, star of Will and Grace, is one example).
    For aspiring directors, you can get information at the Directors Guild Of America. Their web site is at
    www.dga.org. The D.G.A. will award $2,500 scholarships each to an Afro-American, a woman and a Latino student filmaker.
    For future movie stars, the Screen Actors Guild website features items such as "So You Wanna Be An Actor". SAG also publishes its own books such as Young Performers Handbook, How To Be A Working Actor, by Mari Lynn Henry and Lynne Rogers; Directory of Professional Theatre Training Programs and Summer Theatre Directory, Summer Theatre Guide by John Allen, Professional Actor Training In New York City, by Jim Monos, the Camera Smart Actor, by Richard Brestoff and Your Film Acting Career by M.K. Lewis and Rosemary Lewis.
    On the web site of the Screen Producers Guild , hopefuls are given the opportunity to e-mail questions that will be answered by members of the guild. The site also contains valuable definitions of the roles of the producer, executive producer and associate producer, along with a list of 26 producer functions. Another web site of interest is EmploymentNow.Com, which includes a wide range of information on jobs and a section in which actors can post credits and photographs.




    Which universities offer the most extensive film studies programs?
    There are many, however, the major school for scriptwriters is U.C.L.A. in Los Angeles, California. Of course, the reasons why are obvious.
    How many major motion picture studios are there?
    There are many motion picture throughout the world. India has the most, pumping out 800 full-length films every year. The famed "Bollywood", which is a mixture of the words "Bombay" and "Hollywood" is now rivalling Hollywood for the quality of their movies (although many are still filmed in Swahili). By comparison, Hollywood only produces 80 full-length feature films per year. In the States, the majors are: Disney, Dream Works, SKG, MGM, Paramount, Sony (Columbia/Tri-Star), 20th Century Fox, Universal and Warner Bros. The majors, however, are not the only "game in town". The States also has many independent companies such as Miramax, New Line Cinema and Polygram which are producing some very exciting movies.
    Why do so many creative people flock to Hollywood, then want to get out?
    The movie business is flawed. Sometimes it can be cruel and unseemly (we often think of the song "It Never Rains In California, but, girl, don't they warn you, IT POURS" This song was about a young actor who went to Hollywood to make his mark in motion pictures -- but it didn't work out. For some reason, though, due to talented people, great movies are made. However, in many of the movies themselves, there are flaws. For example, in one of the last scenes in the movie Ebeneezer Scrooge starring Alistair Sim, the camera man can be seen in the mirror. It happens when Scrooge is dancing around after realizing that he isn't dead.

    P.S.: If you want to appreciate how common such shenanigans are in Hollywood, not to mention how central they are to what a character in F. Scott Fitzgerald's final novel, The Last Tycoon called "the whole equation" of making movies, take a gander at David Thomson's saucy and entertaining new book: The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood. We enjoyed every sentence (although he could have been a little more "biting". The book was probably lawyered to death).


    A Canadian Copywriter Comment
    While many of today's box office hits are epic "male" adventures fuelled by pure testosterone, movies that truly make film history will always be stories that are well-constructed with good characters, good acting and a unique plot. In our opinion, a writer must have a good literary background in order to achieve this...which means reading and understanding the classics as well as understanding today's mass market. Once these "arrows" are in your "quiver", so to speak, you are on well on your way to achieving your goal.

    Books To Read


    The Way Of The ScreenWriter Anansi, 283 pages, $26.95

    This book by York University Professor Amnon Buchbinder examines some of the more thoughtful screenplays by Nora Ephron, Charlie Kaufman and Joe Eszterhaus, including titles such as Central Station, Being John Malkovich, The Sixth Sense, Nurse Betty, Whale Rider, The Fisher King, Galaxy Quest, Gosford Park, American Beauty, Memento and Celebration. Perhaps the most useful sections of the book are when Professor Buchbinder shows us what doesn't work in a screenplay such as a woman looking at family photos with a bitter look to display her inner bitterness. He calls it "playing charades" -- forcing a character to act something out to communicate a message. It's a cool read -- and a definite help in your quest to become the world's best screenwriter!