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Holiday Mailbag!

Some podcasts have prerecorded "holiday mailbag" episodes this week, as they're on vacation. So I thought I would do something similar! Here are some questions I've been asked in the past, and my responses. Hope they're helpful!


1. How do I get my script seen by VIPs?

Here are some of the many responses I can give you: Get yourself a strong portfolio. Make sure you have more than one script. Get notoriety by winning a competition, or shoot your film, and show the finished product around. Think you're ready for an agent? Go get one! Start working in the industry to increase your contacts. Send query letters to production companies.


2. My child is so talented. How do I get him an acting agent?

Get them new headshots. Make a list of agents in your area, or within driving distance, and do a big email to them all. If you can, get your kid some experience auditioning by either auditioning for local small things yourself, or better yet, sign them up for an audition class.


3. How can I get in touch with celebrities to see if they want to help me get my script made?

You don't. If you're friends with one, great. But if you're asking me this question, then you're probably not in a position to be doing this. No offense, but you're no one, and they don't know you.


4. Why do I always get stuck in Act II?

Because you didn't outline properly ahead of time. Plan your story. Plan the ups and downs, and the character arcs. Plan the conflict, and the turning points of the plot. Read a book on screenwriting, or download my Awesome Ultimate Screenwriting Outline template.


5. How can I turn my book into a movie?

Write a movie version of it. Is your book successful? Yes? Then great. That will give your script more weight. Is your book not successful yet? No? Then the fact that you've written a book version of it doesn't matter. Basing movies off of books only matters if the book is successful.


6. How can I turn someone else's book into a movie?

See if the rights are available. Look up to see who the publisher is and contact them. If the rights aren't available and you really want to write it anyway, then instead of basing your script on a book, simply use it as inspiration. Change the story so you're not stealing it.


7. Should I move to Los Angeles?

Sure. Always a good idea. But maybe you don't need to. If you're driving distance from Chicago, Atlanta, Toronto, New York City, Albuquerque, or another major city with an active film industry, you might be good where you are for right now. If you're an actor, and you're not close to any city, then consider moving. If you're a screenwriter and you're not close to any city, then you can still start submitting to competitions and agents, even if you're not yet local. Or book a session with me to discuss your career goals.


8. How do I write good dialogue?

Listen to how people talk. How they really talk. Show, don't tell. And watch my video on writing good dialogue or download my Screenwriting Handbook.


9. Are screenwriting competitions a waste of money?

No. But small competitions no one has heard of might be. And you know what's really a waste of money? Submitting to competitions with a script that isn't ready. For more info, read my article on submitting to competitions.


10. Which screenwriting software should I use?

Final Draft, Writer Duet, Fade In, Celtx are all good. Final Draft is still considered the industry standard. Use the free version while you're learning, but purchase it before you start submitting your script anywhere. Don't look unprofessional.


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