Script Gods Must Die - Chicago Screenwriting Consultant - Part 2

nofilmschool Special
Mar 2nd, 2017 by paul peditto


I say it every year, THE best single blog for film-makers and screenwriters is nofilmschool.

Only ones in the same ballpark are John August, Indiewire, Script Magazine and Go Into The Story. Do yourself a favor and check them out. Funny name considering the free education they provide. I could spend a full week on that site (and probably have). Here’s a sampler of some of recent articles and links they published that you might want to know about.


From Dan Mirvish, co-founder of Slamdance, comes this funny and excellent article giving some tips for making your own low-budget Indie. Plenty on the business side which is essential. Great, unconventional list…

“1. Always prepare a Chain of Title agreement

Use the WGA’s free collaboration agreement on their website. You don’t even have to be a member of the WGA.

Even if you don’t have a contentious relationship with your co-writer, at some point you might. (Think of the Stairway to Heaven lawsuit: your co-writer might die in 30 years and her kids might sue you.)

But more practically, you’ll need a proper Chain of Title if you ever hope to sell the film, since all distributors require Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance, and all E&O insurance requires a proper Chain of Title.

11. Find the goat

Find the most annoying person on your crew…and don’t fire that person. You want the crew to hate/cringe/eye-roll them rather than you.

15. Arrive early, bring donuts, and wear tape

On an indie shoot, be sure to be the first one on set in the morning and last to leave. From time to time, bring donuts (or more efficiently, donut holes) even before craft service gets set up. Wear a role of tape on your belt to say to the crew that you’re willing to work with them, not above them. (Even if you never use it.)”


Who doesn’t need free money? Check out this can’t miss list.

“I need money, you need money, we all need money for our films. Below find all the cash that autumn has to offer. As usual, for scriptwriters, contests reign supreme; documentary is abound with funds for socially relevant stories; and narrative film funds lean heavily on pitches and labs (If you’re a narrative filmmaker, don’t forget to follow this up with our breakdown of where to shoot for the best tax incentives to boot!)

The following grants, labs, and pitch opportunities are organized by deadline from September through early December, and by category for documentaries, narratives and screenwriting. If you’re looking for a head-start on a different granting season, we also have our most recent spring grants here, summer grants here, and winter grants here.”

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Great Scenes- Mix 2
Feb 21st, 2017 by paul peditto


Today it’s Part 2 of our Great Scenes Mix. There is no bottom to the scenes you nominate could for this category so my criteria was: 1) Clips and scripts. (Find both so you can compare the written page with the movie.) 2) Don’t be freakin’ boring or predictable. (Speaks for itself).

The reason I do clips and scripts is make clear what needs to be obvious to even a break-in screenwriter: The thing is never done. Changes were made– sometimes significant changes– even to great scenes like these.

Hopefully, also, if you haven[t seen these, you’ll be inspired to check out the full movie. Vamos!


Check out the full script of Happiness for the full scene. Top of the movie, she’s breaking up with Jon Lovitz. He’s crushed but still hands her the gift he brought.

	For me?

(hands her a gift)
	Open it up.

(discovers a pewter ashtray)
	Oh, but Stuart. This is�oh,
	this is beautiful.

	Thanks. It's a Gainsevoort
	reproduction. Boston, late 1800's.
	I sent away for it just after
	we had our�first date.

	Oh, I just love it.  It's a�it's a
	collector's item.

	Yeah, it is pretty special.

	It almost makes me want to start
	smoking again!

	Look at the bottom.

(examines more closely)

	Forty karat gold-plate inlaid base.

	Oh, Stuart. Thank you. This really
	means something to me. I'll always
	treasure it�as a token�

	No, you won't.
(retrieves his gift;
a sudden shift in emotion:)
	'Cause this is for the girl who
	loves me. The girl who cares for me,
	for who I am, not what I look like.
	I wanted you to know what you'd be
	missing. You think I don't appreciate
	art. You think I don't understand
	fashion. You think I'm not hip.
	You think I'm pathetic, a nerd,
	a lard-ass fatso. You think I'm shit.
	Well, you're wrong. 'Cause I'm
	champagne. And you're shit.
	And till the day you die, you,
	not me, will always be shit.

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Screenwriting Links 12
Feb 14th, 2017 by paul peditto

Good Reader, welcome back to Script Gods Must Die and the Quixote-esque search for screenwriting knowledge! Spanning the globe to bring you the thrill of screenwriting victory and……oh wait, Millennials won’t get that reference:


The agony of defeat is always instructive. It’s also always funnier when it happens to the other guy. This coming from a guy with a tale or two of his own concerning abject defeat. I really liked this article from Slate by Stephen Harrigan about his reflections on a career writing B-Movies. Here’s a sample:

“I had already written the script so there was nothing for me to do on the set except sit in my special chair and eat red licorice from the craft services table while everyone around me was in urgent motion, often miserably trying to achieve some effect that I had thoughtlessly set down in my screen directions. “A raven lands on a rock” had cost me only a few keystrokes, but that mindless literary flourish translated into thousands of dollars of precious production time as a frustrated raven “wrangler” tried in take after take to make his trained bird hit its mark.

It began to dawn on me during the production of that movie that as much as I yearned to be part of the team, my real role was going to be that of lonely outlier. Screenwriters are less like actual filmmakers than like wedding planners: we work for months or even years making sure everything is ready, every detail is in place, but in the end it’s just not our party.”

indiewire logo 2


From the ever great Indiewire comes another tale of woe. When it comes time to actually shoot your movie, sometimes greatness is just not meant to be. Or, as the final words of Detour instruct us: “Fate, or some mysterious Force, can put the finger on your or me, for no good reason at all.” Here’s such a case, a great article from Scott Beggs on the journey of Max La Bella and his project Demonic. This is what happens when a passion piece goes wrong.

“More than five years later, “Demonic” hasn’t hit theaters. La Bella recently posted a lengthy blog entry titled “The Downside of Up,” chronicling the aggravating ups and downs of the project — including two false starts, losing a director the day before shooting was supposed to commence, an abandoned release date plan meant to avoid a larger film (that ironically ended up not being released either) and a final kiss of domestic death in the form of a foreign release that got “Demonic” onto pirating sites within hours. It became an extended lesson in the high price of staying excited about what you love to do.

Filmmakers rarely talk about their failures, which is largely why La Bella’s screed is so fascinating. It’s also what makes it such a valuable lesson to those aspiring screenwriters and directors who think of getting an agent as crossing the finish line, the blissful delusion that getting past the gatekeepers is the ultimate goal. It’s important that La Bella shared a common story that isn’t commonly shared — his dream job didn’t morph into a nightmare so much as it got replaced by the day-to-day standard operating procedure of mini- and major studio filmmaking.”


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The Micro-Budget Screenplay: Preparation
Feb 4th, 2017 by paul peditto

Chat Poster V2

My new Script Magazine article is up. If you’re writing a micro-budget screenplay, maybe check this one out. It details some pitfalls along the path of my making CHAT (photo above) and gives some insight on the earliest formats your script can take in the outlining stage.

Here’s a piece of it:

“Glance at the Go Into The Story Spec Script List for 2015 and you’ll see 55 specs sold last year. Then add up the screenplays registered with the Writer’s Guild that year– shall we say, conservatively, 50,000? About 1,000 to 1, though I’ve seen the odds– especially for those without an agent or manager– at much worse. Then look at the WGA 2016 Annual Report to see that for all the tens upon tens of thousands of folks writing screenplays last year, exactly 1,799 got paid. For every spec screenplay writer you see on breaking through with a magical story of success, you could point to a thousand dreams that didn’t pan out.

Jez Peditto, so you’re saying I should stop dreaming of being a screenwriter? I should stop writing… because the odds are against it?

Script EXTRA: 11 Ways to Develop Your Screenwriting Hustle

Not at all. I’m talking today about the need for re-calibration. A mental rearrangement of priorities. From Old School to New. The need to know yourself…and your project.

When you write a screenplay and ignore budgetary considerations, you guarantee needing other people’s money.

Needing other people’s money cedes power. It guarantees the need of L.A. and the necessity of the L.A. mechanism. It’s why you should consider writing with micro-budget in mind. When you write for cost you increase your odds of seeing the script happen. Because you control the mechanism.

The real question should be: How do I write a movie for the absolute lowest price possible without compromising the vision of my film?”

Read the rest of the article here!

script mag 2

Great Scenes: Birdman
Jan 30th, 2017 by paul peditto


Want to write great screenplays? Read them. That logic is too facile– like saying everyone who pays for classes at Second City will end up on Saturday Night Live, or win an Oscar like Adam McKay. The walls of Second City are filled with famous faces, but for every one of them who “made it”, there are thousands who did not. Same with reading screenplays. I won’t guarantee that you’ll end up signing with William Morris Endeavor if you do so, but you’ll improve. That I’d bet on. And if you’re reading screenplays, why not read an Oscar winner? Full Birdman script is here.

I usually spread the wealth on these greatest scenes posts but there are a dozen scenes from Birdman which are worthy of a script/clip look. Let’s study how this movie looks on the page…

*p.s.: Sorry for the script scrunching, nothing to be done about it.


Emma Stone and Michael Keaton go off on what it means to be relevant in the era of Facebook:

Listen to me. I’m trying to do something
that’s important…
This is not important.
It’s important to me! Alright? Maybe not to
you, or your cynical playmates whose sole
ambition is to end up going viral and who,
by the way, will only be remembered as the
generation that finally stopped talking to
one another. But to me… To me… This is–
God. This is my career, this is my chance to do
some work that actually means something.
Means something to who?
You had a career before the third comic book movie,
before people began to forget who was inside the bird
costume. You’re doing a play based on a book that was
written 60 years ago, for a thousand rich, old white people
whose only real concern is gonna be where they go to have
their cake and coffee when it’s over. Nobody gives a shit but you.
And let’s face it, Dad, it’s not for the sake of art. It’s because
you just want to feel relevant again. Well, there’s a whole
world out there where people fight to be relevant every day.
And you act like it doesn’t even exist! Things are happening
in a place that you willfully ignore, a place that has already
forgotten you. I mean who are you? You hate bloggers. You
make fun of twitter. You don’t even have a Facebook page.
You’re the one who doesn’t exist. You’re doing this because you’re
scared to death, like the rest of us, that you don’t matter.
And you know what? You’re right. You don’t. It’s not important.
You’re not important. Get used to it.
Silence. Riggan seems devastated, and Sam can see that.

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