Script Gods Must Die - Chicago Screenwriting Consultant - Part 2

Great Scenes: Mix 1
Jan 16th, 2017 by paul peditto

v for vendettaToday we’ll look at classic scenes, studying the clips/scripts from famous scenes in an effort to help with your dialogue. Not sure if I buy that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. My hope is you can synthesize how these words look on the page and incorporate them with an original touch in your own writing. Let’s get going…


The Revolution speech. Notice how the Wachowskis move us to and from multiple people to break up the long monologue. They take liberties with a few (V.O.)’s not being inserted, but I seriously doubt the money folks cared. Story over format every day of the week. Anyone looking to visualize a long monologue, this is a great example of how to do it…

                    Good evening, London.
                    Bloody fuckin' hell.
                    I thought it was time we had a
                    little talk.
                    He has to be at Jordan tower.  Come
          Finch and Dominic rush out of the room.  Creedy looks at his
          confused men.
                    Don't just stand there!  Follow
          V smiles at the horrified Adam Susan.
                    Are you sitting comfortably?  Good. 
                    Then I'll begin.
          The Leader screams, pounding on Fate.
                    Damn you!  Damn you!
          He hits the intercom.
                    Lieutenant, ready my transport.  I
                    want every armed man within a
                    hundred miles at Jordan tower. 
          We move in at VTV.
                    Right now, I imagine there are
                    hundreds of soldiers rushing here
                    to kill me because someone does not
                    want us to talk.
          We pull back in --
          INT.  LIVING ROOM
          A family watching television.  In the background, two
          children are squabbling.
                    Hush.  Turn it up.
          The husband does.  V's voice gets louder as we move towards
                    They are afraid that I am going to
                    say the things that are not
                    supposed to be said.  They are
                    afraid that I am going to say the
          INT.  APARTMENT
          A man sits on his couch, mesmerized by V.
                    The truth is that there is
                    something terribly wrong with this
                    country, isn't there?  If you look
                    about, you witness cruelty,
                    injustice and despotism.  But what
                    do you do about it?  What can you
          He pops his beer tab and the beer foams over the couch but he
          doesn't seem to notice.
          The car races wildly towards Jordan tower as Finch and
          Dominic listen to the broadcast on the radio.
                              V (V.O.)
                    You are but a single individual. 
                    How can you possible make any
                    difference?  Individuals have no
                    power in this modern world. 
                    That is what you've been taught
                    because that is what they need you
                    to believe.  But it is not true.
          The Leader seethes, staring at three television monitors in
          his limo which are all filled with V.
                    This is why they are afraid and the
                    reason that I am here; to remind
                    you that it is individuals who
                    always hold the power.  The real
                    power.  Individuals like me.  And
                    individuals like you.
          The bar is almost completely soundless except for the voice
          of V.  People stare at the television as if the moment were
          somehow suspended in time.
                    I have come to offer you a deal. 
                    If you accept, I will give you a
                    different world.  A world without
                    curfews, without soldiers and
                    surveillance systems.  A world that
                    is not run by other men but that is
                    run by you.  I am offering you a
                    second chance.
          EXT.  JORDAN TOWER
          The military forces have begun to swarm.
                    Four hundred years ago, a great
                    citizen made a most significant
                    contribution to our common culture. 
                    It was a contribution forged in
                    secrecy and stealth although it is
                    best remembered in noise and bright
          A crowd has gathered, watching through the window.
                    To commemorate that glorious night
                    at precisely the stroke of
                    midnight, the edifice of their
                    world will erupt with enough sound
                    and fury to shake the earth.  All I
                    ask is that you join me at the
                    gates to watch as the past is
                    erased, the pathway cleared so that
                    together we can start toward a new
          EXT.  JORDAN TOWER
          The Leader climbs out of his limo and is met by one of his
                    I want this man dead!  I want him
                    shot on sight!
                    Yes, sir.
          INT.  FINCH'S CAR
          Finch can see the forces gathering outside Jordan tower.
                              V (V.O.)
                    But, you ask, who am I to make such
                    promises?  A fair question but
                    hardly necessary as you know me
                    already.  To know me any more you
                    need only look to a mirror.
          Finch catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror.
          VTV fills every screen.
                    Truth be told, this wasn't even my
                    idea, was it?  If you think back,
                    you'll remember that night,
                    whispering in your lover's arms.  I
                    became a part of your plan just as
                    you have now become part of mine. 
                    Give me the line of the queen and
                    I'll give you your secret dream.
          A heavy battering ram is rushed down the hall, carried by
          four soldiers.
                              V (V.O.)
                    On the twelfth stroke of the fifth
                    day of the eleventh month, I hope
                    we shall all meet again.
          The crowd is much larger.
                    Until then, I bid you goodnight.

Read the rest of this entry »

Writing The Micro-Budget Screenplay: Post & Marketing
Jan 10th, 2017 by paul peditto

seed and spark

It’s a movie, now what?

In Part 4 in our Micro-Budget series we’ll assume the movie is shot and you’re in Post-Production or the marketing phase.

We’ve been using the movie I wrote/produced, Chat, as a case-study. Before we get to Sales Agents and Distributors, some life lessons for the writer as your flick hits the edit room. Unless you directed or financed it, it’s doubtful you’ll be in the edit room making final decisions. Too many cooks in the kitchen. Your writer-head needs to be in the right place to surrender control. The whole purpose of Micro, you thought, was keeping control. So that if the movie fails at least it’s your movie that fails.

But let’s stay positive and say you did direct or produce it and will have at least some say on Final Cut. The only thing that matters at this point is what you got in the can. The script is still important, but much more to the point is the footage you got. For instance…


I mentioned in the previous posts how our Director, Boris Wexler, got permission to shoot in the Board Of Trade offices where he worked. It looked nothing like the sleazy XXX-chat office I’d first imagined.


Falcon timidly, stranger in a strange land, stands before SYD, 48, a toad. As Syd searches the messy office for paperwork. Falcon scans the room…

Because we shot at Boris’ Board of Trade offices, this scene was moved from Syd’s office to the Conference Room. More spectacular visuals than a simple office scene, really opened things up and gave us a new take on the seedy backrooms you’d expect from an adult chat cam operation.

Falcon emerges, holding a large wreath, staring up at the sun. He places powerful protective sunglasses over the contacts, stepping into light.

Alien landscape, cars and people move very fast, dizzying. A crying child, a jackhammer at a construction site, the screaming of an EMT van passing with cherry lights blazing. All these exaggerated, hypersensitive for Falcon, who walks with wreath toward…

Falcon bends, laying the wreath again a newly dug stone. He stands back to observe the wreath, the stone, the empty cemetery.

Falcon looks up at a piece of paper with scrawled writing, then at a nondescript commercial building. He moves inside.

All were filmed as written. Nothing wrong with these scenes in and of themselves, but in front of a test audience we learned that the pacing of the movie’s open was slow. Top and bottom trims were made to each of these and some were outright cut. In the edit room it’s not about what was in the script any more. It’s about maximizing what you SHOT.



Falcon walks the fluorescent corridor. Still wearing protective sunglasses, he drifts past door after door. Partial glimpses inside… CHAT MODELS in various states of undress, typing on keyboards or chatting into computer cameras, office cubicles made to look like bedrooms. This is an Adult Chat studio complex and business is very good indeed. Falcon’s sunglasses hide his eyes, but the fluorescence still brings pain.

We shifted this scene to after he screens the video of his daughter doing sex chat for the first time, weeping upon seeing her.

Thus, we accomplished (I hope!) the four keys to the first 5 pages: 1-PROTAGONIST established 2-TONE established 3-WORLD established 4-CONFLICT established.



Lotta micros (like ours) trying make it into A-level film fests with no name actors and limited marketing funds. Sundance had over 12,000 submissions last year– an all-time record. Might be the ex-craps dealer in me but the mathematics of making Sundance ain’t great.

But so what? You’ve got options like never before to get your film out there, maybe even make enough $$$ back to make your next film, and the next, and get noticed. That’s how Ryan Coogler goes from low-budget Fruitvale Station to Creed.

Your marketing approach should be personal and right for you. You might not want to give up control to a distribution company. You might choose to 4-wall it (where you pay to screen it, fill the house via social media, and take a piece of the door) in a handful of cities hoping to draw critical buzz. Maybe you’ll choose to keep 100% control, promote it yourself and put it out on a place like Seed & Spark. Maybe you’ll try to get into major film festival or go the B and C-level or not bother with the film fest circuit at all. Be a student of how small-budget movies emerge from the pack. Be original — like never-seen-before original– like Tangerine, a movie about transvestite prostitutes shot on an iPhone for low, low money.


So what happened with Chat? Anything to learn from that? I believe it happened in this order…

*Showcase Entertainment signed on in late summer 2014 as Sales Agent. Yes!

*Sundance rejection. Boo!

*10 other A-level Fest rejections in 2015. Boo! But…

*Summer 2015 Gravitas Ventures agrees to distribute Chat! North American Cable and VOD. (75%-AVOD, SVOD, TVOD revenue retained indicates we’ll at least be able to start paying investors back with an outside shot of fully paying them back. The gold standard: Breaking even.) Yay!

*Armed with Gravitas deal Showcase actively sells this movie at AFM in New York, foreign markets, and DVD distributors. Nice! But…

*Trailer needs reworking—cost is 5,000$, right off the top. Boo!

*First check back in 2016 from all digital platforms indicates the obvious: Don’t quit your day job, Peditto. Rrrr….


So what’s all this amount to for you? How should you handle distribution? It’s a personal choice, as I mentioned. It’s nice my movie is selling on a dozen online platforms. Without stars and Sundance-less, we had no illusions about making it into theaters for a theatrical run, though we did get two nights at Siskel Center-Chicago this Spring…


The key is realistic expectations in a crowded marketplace. Lotta product out there. The decisions are many: Film fest submission or no? Name actor in a cameo to help with sales later or no? Self-distribution or give away a piece and hook on with a company like Gravitas Ventures? How much will you get up front to give away pieces of domestic, foreign and digital rights? Will you make anything without major festival cache? Imaging you’re making this micro-budget movie to make big $$$ is surely a prescription for Zoloft. Better to keep it realistic.



Read Spike Lee’s journal of the making of She’s Got To Have It. He struggled to make rent, hit his mother up for money, annoyed and pissed his friends off with money requests, anything to get his first movie made.

David Lynch took years to make the sub $30,000 Eraserhead. He had a paper route and grabbed unused sound and film stock from dumpsters.

Cassavetes made other people’s movies to get the cash to make his own low-budget films.

Orson Wells made wine commercials.

Robert Rodriguez sold himself for medical experiments.

Pillars and icons of filmmaking, all. They didn’t have the technological advantages you do today. But they made it happen.


Hollywood. Home of the true 1%.

Behind this gated community are the impeccable hedge rows, million-dollar mansions, and Lamborghini excess. The Country Club of which you are most definitely not a member. You cannot apply to this club. The gatekeepers know you are not of their cloth.

They can smell you, folks. You are the Unwashed. They can smell your wanting, your desperation to join them on the inside. They have set up impenetrable motes and ramparts to stop you.

How will you scale these walls?

Write and MAKE a quality micro-budget movie.


The church of D.I.Y. is upon us. The church of Micro-Budget, and all the digital miracles therein. In 1996, Jane Doe cost $225,000 to make in 18 days on Super 16 film.

In 2014 Chat cost $44,000 to shoot in 18 days with a Canon 5D Mark III.

This is what micro-budget has done. Enabled a freedom never before allowed. The freedom to pull all these projects out of the realm of needing millions from other people, needing bankable stars, needing to make artistic compromises, and moving it… into the realm of possibility.

Remember those 12,000+ submissions to Sundance last year? Record number. The D.I.Y. “revolution” is tied into digital technologies and easy access to those technologies. Meaning the availability of great cameras, advanced software programs available for home use.

Then add social media, crowdfunding, and digital distribution options through VOD(Video-On-Demand) platforms. Lower production budgets freeing movie makers from traditional barriers of entry.

This is a very good time to be making movies, and a very good time to be writing them.

Micro-Budget movies are not a panacea for world hunger. This is a world filled with no-name actors, microscopic production budget limitations, drama upon drama and the stress that comes from never having enough money when you make the movie.

But, the point is…. you’re making the movie!

It all starts with the script.

For so many years it was just a dream—getting your movie made.

You’ve talked and talked about it. With Digital technology, it’s there to be had. There’s no better time to write a micro-budget screenplay.

So let’s go…write the damn thing!

New Script Mag article- Overheard Dialogue
Jan 4th, 2017 by paul peditto

dialogue-window-148176_640My new Script Magazine article just came out: How to improve your screenplay dialogue with one simple exercise. Sound like bullshit? Here’s a piece of it, you decide:

“Today we’ll try the overheard dialogue exercise, Part 2. You can check part 1 here. Remember, the goal of the exercise is to pick a conversation you hear this week, write it down, study the nuances and tone of it. When you listen to real world dialogue you’ll recognize it doesn’t play out in straight noun-verb, perfect grammatical sentences. This should help you when sit down to write movie dialogue.

It’s going to be painful, but to get better at your own dialogue you need to listen to people—on the subway, on the line at Target. Screenplay dialogue isn’t a regurgitation of real life speech. It’s a stylized recreation. It’s repetition, lost thoughts, rhythms, pacing, stuttering, political outlook, educational background, tension and release, subtext.”

Read the rest of the article here.

The Absolute Last List of 2016 Links!
Jan 1st, 2017 by paul peditto

Breakfast Sausage Links

The title says it all. All the damn links I accumulated and have laid on you from 2016, and still there are more! Well, this is it– one last list of screenwriting resources for you to check out from last year. Hope they help. And away we go!

Fantastic Film Comment article on the making of Taxi Driver here… chimes in on why Hollywood’s obsession with Remakes and Sequels cycle has to die, right here…

Five Hitchcock techniques to use in making your own film, over here…

How David Lynch made his first film, here…

Free downloadable storyboard templates, here…

Top women in Hollywood speak out, right here…

Some things you can’t fix in post. Better to fix it in production. Over here…

Great post on the insanity and industry surrounding structure, here…

Where to go to copyright your script. Here.

Everything you always wanted to know about copyright and fair use. Here.

Storytelling, the Old School radio way. Here.

Bryan Singer doing YouTube web series with major production value. Over here.

Video School tutorials on D.I.Y Filmmaking, here…

Capturing drone footage for night shoots, right here…

Massive list of movie cliches. Here.

100 major directors give you the rules of filmmaking. Here.

#film school. Here.

Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles. Here.

Best detective movies from the 70’s. Here.

How to make a feature for 10K. Here.

Keep making shitty movies until you make one that isn’t. Duplass Brothers strategy, here…

Red Epic lighting secrets from the guy who shoots House Of Cards. Here.

Submit to over 4,000 film fests here...

Eight NOT so true stories made by Hollywood. Here.

Malick & the creative experience of Knight Of Cups. Here.

How plotting can kill a character. Here.

Film slang 101 for working a movie set. Here.

Netflix and Amazon add wrinkles to Sundance deal-making. Here.

Monster article on making and marketing your web series, right here.

And thaaaaaaaat’s entertainment!



2016, The Dear Departed
Dec 11th, 2016 by paul peditto

bowie memorial

Here’s one for the greats that we lost in 2016. You impacted so many lives and are missed. You are of the ages and will be remembered 100 years from now, and even longer…








»  Wordpress Customization and Development: Local Galaxy Web Development  
»  Substance: Chicago Script Consultant, Script Gods Must Die   »  Paul Peditto, Author

© All Content Property Script Gods Must Die © 2013