go julie go!

February 28, 2013



Julie is one of my students. I would love to take credit for everything she has accomplished, but I can’t. I am her teacher, I guide. I’m a good teacher and a good guide. Hell, I’m a good writer, if it comes down to that. But. A guide can only guide someone willing to be guided who has drive to push through. I could be walking someone up Kilimanjaro, but it would not do any good if that person said, Oh I’m tired now, I think I’ll turn back. And it wouldn’t do any good if I said, Hey, try to avoid that edge. And the person being guided didn’t listen to me and walked over the edge. So there is this fine line of taking credit for the student’s accomplishments. Because, if the student isn’t special, well all the guiding in the world won’t stop that student from quitting or walking over that edge.

That said? I’m mad cap proud of Julie Howe. Here is her recent post on the Austin Film Festival blog:


I know what you’re thinking. “She must be directionally confused, poor thing.” But hear me out because I actually do own a compass and know the difference between north and south.

When Matt Dy first rang me back in 2010 to say Joyce San Pedro, a producer based at Sony and an AFF judge and panelist, wanted to meet with me about my script, I was thinking he must have meant to call someone else — some OTHER writer who may have had the same last name as me — and he hit my number by mistake. Happens, right? Thankfully, it wasn’t a butt dial.

I’m one of those lucky writers who caught a break thanks to Austin Film Festival; as well as to an army of fellow writers who were generous and kind, brutal and honest, and most of all just plain supportive. As a result, my 2010 AFF comedy script is in development with Joyce San Pedro and Alex Siskin. It’s not a studio deal; it’s a handmade independent production deal. And I didn’t leave the baby on the doorstep and walk away. Instead, I made an arrangement with the producers that included involvement from start to finish. I wanted to learn, I wanted to know what it was really like to make a movie, to be part of a team. I didn’t know if I would be chewed up and spit out like a stale Chiclet or be able to hold my own. Not to mention being able to hold my tongue when necessary while still holding true to my vision.

As luck would have it, I was taken under the wings of the good guys and I’m thanking the gods of screenwriting I didn’t end up stuck to the bottom of somebody’s Nike. Those who championed the script from the beginning, Joyce San Pedro. Michael-Ryan Fletchall and Alex Siskin, opened the door for me and I ran through it like my hair was on fire. Let’s face it, I’m not a kid. I’m staring down the point-blank barrel of middle age. I want my shot before Medicare kicks in or I start thinking my purse belongs in the refrigerator.

I owe my tenacious attitude not only to the opportunity afforded me by Austin Film Festival but also to an amazing writer’s group called 5150 whose founder Max Adams, won the screenplay award when AFF was a pup. From the beginning of my tenure in the group, Austin Film Festival was touted as THE festival. Everyone in the group aspired to place well in the screenplay competition. Needless to say, winning was unbelievable and surreal. Like I had brought home 5150’s version of the Stanley Cup (yeah, I’m from a hockey state!). I would not be where I am without the help and guidance of these wickedly smart, talented peeps.

Although this all sounds like rah-rah cheerleader fluff…


:::continue reading:::



christmas_presentWriting is —

One of the few professions linked directly to screaming ads at Christmas time. Or at least that is a definite impression I get. “What to get the writer on your Christmas list!” You don’t see that with a lot of other professions. “Say, got a coal miner on your list? How about this nifty new pick axe?” “Got a pilot on your list? How about an altimeter?” “Here is the perfect gift for that nurse on your list, support hose!” I do not see those ads. And this may be the result of me just hanging out more places “writer” than places “coal miner/pilot/nurse.” But I suspect not.

I am not sure what this says. But I have suspicions. See, the other area that has big screaming advertisements directed specifically at an activity is –


“What to get the rock climber on your list!” “What to get the knitter on your list!” “What go get the cyclist on your list!” You see lots of ads directed at buying people specific gifts for their hobbies. And I find this a little concerning. The implication being, perhaps, that writing is still being considered a hobby and not an actual profession?

I’m not sure I like that.


*By the way if anyone is wondering what to get this writer for Christmas, she could really go for a case of Stag’s Leap merlot. I know! Not even writing related! Crazy, right?

*If you simply must get a writer something writing related? A MacBook Air is always a nice choice or, barring anything quite so nifty? Give a gift certificate. Writing IS a profession and a writer can write off purchases made on a gift certificate.


we have book

December 1, 2012


Trav_PBOOK006And the book is —

Shipping. Yay! The eBook for iPad and Nook shipped out today for all pre-orders. It will be a few days before it shows up on the Barnes & Noble and iBook sites — they are loading but there is an approval and waiting process so —

If you want the book right now, no waiting, go to the book’s website and order the book direct. And it will magically appear in your inbox before anyone else out there even has a clue. (You are so smart.)

The Kindle version of the book for Amazon is still in production, I am saying that will be coming out on or before December 15th, just to be safe. But if everything goes the way it is supposed to, that is actually shipping Tuesday. Again, it takes a few days for the book, once loaded on Amazon, to show up for sale on Amazon, but you can jump that fence by (tell me if you have heard this before) going to the book’s website and ordering the book direct. In which case, it will come to you in your email inbox. Yay!

There is no hard copy book. That is a 2013 project.

In the meantime, go get the book. Yay!




We have a delivery date of November 21st for the eBook after which, barring major catastrophe and/or Apple complications the eBook will be available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks.

But wait, you do not have to wait in line and jostle elbows and servers with the unwashed masses for the eBook. You can pre-order the eBook right now. How is this wizardry possible, you ask? Hit the :::book order page::: and as soon as the book becomes available it will be delivered straight to your in box.

Magic! Yay!


:::order book:::



Self Portrait

October 28, 2012





ebook frenzy

September 12, 2012


So, starting a dialogue —

With eBook conversion peeps to put the new edition of The Screenwriter’s Survival Guide out electronically.

Here’s a question. See I’m thinking go electronic first, wait on hard copy. But how many people are going to be annoyed they cannot get the book hard copy? People have told me they are saving space on a shelf for the new edition. What if there is no hard copy, what if it is electronic or bust?

Let’s test the waters here. When the new edition of The Screenwriter’s Survival Guide comes out, if you are planning on getting it, how were you planning on getting it? Kindle? iBook? Paperback? Hard cover? Which is your preference?



who knew?

June 6, 2012


When I wrote Excess Baggage —

In the original script, the father – who was a very bad father – was a currency trader. He traded globally. And if he wanted a currency to dip, he helped. By making people disappear or dead, if necessary, because that’s a pretty fast way to disrupt a currency. Disrupt chain of command — in whatever form it takes. He was a pretty cold guy in general, not just on the father platform.

I thought I was making that up at the time. It never would have occurred to me someone would actually do that. I was just looking for the broadest harshest way to make money trading and when I hit currency trading, I thought, that’s it, that’s the way to do it.

[That required a fuck load of research to pull off too because I’m not exactly currency trading wired and it is a damn shame none of that made it into the movie.]

Now I’m watching the world and getting, I wasn’t the first person to think that up. I was just the only person naive enough to think of it as fiction.


poetry mayhem

April 26, 2012


If you look at us, we’re an odd threesome to be hitting a poetry slam. I disdain poetry. Except for Bukowski. Mostly I think poets are emotional masturbators. Drew, well I suspect Drew’s sneaking around to music clubs doing open mic night but not poetry clubs. Michael is the one who might do a poetry slam. But if he has he hasn’t told his filmmaker brethren about it.

[We are all filmmakers. But, as filmmakers, we are supposed to be above "art" on one plane, and all about "art" on another. We live in a weird place, we filmmakers.]

But. Michael was coming to town. Drew had been corralled and was going too. And I need to leave the house more often because if I do not I may grow an umbilical cord to this computer. So I put on pretty shoes and off I went to this “poetry slam.”

I did not think I would like it. I have never been to a “poetry slam” and really all I was thinking was, Haight Ashbury 1960’s, wow this could seriously be a bad fashion and hair nightmare —

Okay, it really was a bad fashion and hair nightmare [also the beards and sideburns ahh!] but also? The poets were really good. Like “open a vein and make you feel and think” good which is what good writing is about.

Yay poets!

I have favorites now too. Which is a little traumatic. But hey, these poets are getting shipped off to other states for competitive poetry mayhem and I am rooting for them.

My one piece of advice? Go on last. The scores appear to go up along with the volume of alcohol the judges have consumed. Take advantage of that.


Two January classes, The Art of the Pitch and Visual Writing, start January 10th.

There are a couple seats left if you act fast:



Begins January 10, 2012

Visual Writing | Putting Vision Back Into Viewing | Online 6 Week Master Course | Start Date : 01.10.12 |

MAKE YOUR READERS “SEE” YOUR MOVIE: You will learn how to use the visual elements space, light, and texture to create locations and scenes readers can “see”; how to establish and utilize perspective in scenes and sequences to make a script visually dynamic; how to create and utilize perspective; techniques to make characters visually dynamic and “real” for readers; techniques to juxtapose exterior and interior visuals to create visually dynamic motion and space on the film screen; and more….

Instructor | Max Adams

Reading Material | supplied in class forum & library. Some outside material is linked to.

Viewing Materials | posted or available via Netflix, iTunes, YouTube or your friendly neighborhood video rental.

Weekly Chats | Thursday nights | 8 PM EST.

class seating limit : 12 | a writing sample may be requested prior to acceptance | a course deposit is required for this class
course fee : $375 |


more info : CLASSES



Begins January 10, 2012

The Art of the Pitch | Pitching Stripped of the Nonsense | Online 6 Week Master Course | Start Date: 01.10.12 |

GET READ AND SELL: You will learn the five essential elements your pitch must contain to sell to producers and studios; the two pitch models; action driven vs. character driven pitching; the six points an elevator pitch must contain to interest a potential buyer — and what an elevator pitch is; how to open; how to close; how to use your story’s turning points to make your story compelling; when film comparisons work — and when they don’t; how to address the specific concerns of different members of the entertainment industry; and how to condense and expand your pitch to take advantage of new pitching opportunities and mediums.

Instructor | Max Adams

Reading Material | supplied in class forum & library. Some outside material is linked to.

Viewing Materials | posted or available via Netflix, iTunes, YouTube or your friendly neighborhood video rental.

Weekly Chats | Thursday nights | 9 PM EST.

class seating limit : 12 | a writing sample may be requested prior to acceptance | a course deposit is required for this class
course fee : $375 |


more info : CLASSES



Two classes are coming in March 2012, High Concept Writing and Character Writing.

March classes begin March 13th.

•For more info on upcoming classes visit CLASSES.



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