now playing on wordplay

July 23, 2013

 

I am a guest on Wordplay stop by and hit the Scripts forum to chat about the biz end of film writing.

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sick twisted bastards

September 11, 2012

 

I had this —

Sick twisted bastard of a yoga instructor tonight.  I swear this guy used to reign over the Fifth Circle of Hell but he was too rough on people so they cast him out and he ended up at my yoga studio.  He didn’t just make us do terrible hard things, he made jokes while he was doing it and laughed because he knew how hard the things he was making us do were.

After I limped home and was licking my wounds thinking how damn hard that session was, and thinking, Yeah, but you’ll go back to that guy’s class, damn him, because no matter how hard it was, it was good —

It occurred to me that is quite possibly how my students think about me.  I’m not easy.  My classes are hard.  Some of them extremely hard.  I know it.  And I make jokes.  They are not mean or derogatory jokes, they are basically saying, Yeah, I feel your pain, but you still have to get that knee over that left ear so let’s go.  But they are still jokes.

There is a shirt, “I Survived Max Adams’ Structural Writing.” That shirt totally started out as a joke.  Except —

People who finish Structural Writing buy that shirt.  It’s not a joke any more.  That shirt has turned into some sort of medal of honor.

My students come back.  But after tonight, I wonder if it is maybe for a different reason than I used to think.  Damn.  I’m the sick twisted bastard instructor.

How did THAT happen?

Excuse me now, I have to go soak in a tub of hot water.

 


*If you do not recognize the image above, it is from Legend, Tim Curry plays a great sick twisted bastard.

*Structural Writing is only open to people who have taken previous AFW classes so don’t get all het up and try to jump in there first — I won’t let you — go look at other classes.  Like High Concept Writing and The Art of the Pitch.  Those are both coming up in a week and are good precursors.

 

pitch frenzy

September 5, 2012

 

So here —

Is how this is going to go down.

[It always goes down like this.]

I have these two classes opening September 18th.

One is The Art of the Pitch. That’s about learning how to pitch a story so you don’t soil yourself in front of a crowd of spectators.

The other is High Concept Writing. That’s how to work on a story concept so it isn’t the first thing that popped into your head that felt clever at 2 AM on a Friday night with a few beers in you — and you just never got around to maybe bringing it up a notch — before tossing months of your life into the sand pit with it.

Both those classes start September 18th and run through October. Right about the time people start showing up at the Austin Film Festival and pitching ideas in the big pitch rally at Austin Film Festival that sounds like a gauntlet to me but I have never watched it in person because it is just too painful to me to watch people crash and burn like that.

What will invariably happen is right about the time these classes are coming to an end, someone [or several someone’s] will email me in a panic, getting geared up for the pitch event at AFF, and want me to drop everything and leap to help [with no time to do it in] with a pitch –- most likely on a concept that wasn’t thought out all that well before starting the script in the first place.

And I’ll say, Look, I teach a class on this, Why didn’t you take the class? That would have given you five to six weeks to work on the pitch with me before this came up. Or better yet, to work on the story so you had a story worth pitching here? Now you’ve got three days, who do you think I am, Anne Sullivan?

[Even Anne Sullivan got more than three days.]

And they won’t have a good answer.

Don’t be one of those people. Go sign up for the pitch class.

 



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

There are a couple seats left if you act fast:

 


VISUAL WRITING

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 |

REGISTER TODAY – SEATING IS LIMITED

more info : CLASSES

 


THE ART OF THE PITCH

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 |

REGISTER TODAY – SEATING IS LIMITED

more info : CLASSES

 


MARCH 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.

 

 

 

 

january classes

December 7, 2011

 

JANUARY CLASSES

Two January classes The Art of the Pitch and Visual Writing start January 10th. There is a preview of things to come in Art of the Pitch on the Austin Film Festival blog.

 


VISUAL WRITING
Begins January 10, 2012

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 |

Course Fee : $375 |

:::register:::

:::more info:::

 


THE ART OF THE PITCH
Begins January 10, 2012

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 |

Course Fee : $375 |

:::register:::

:::more info:::

 


FUTURE CLASSES:

Two March classes High Concept Writing and Character Writing start March 13th, 2012. For a full list of upcoming classes visit :::classes:::

:::register:::

:::more info:::

 

 


upcoming classes

November 7, 2011

 

Two classes begin November 15th —

Structural Writing and Non-Static Writing. I have a couple seats left so if you move fast you can be added to a roster.

Meanwhile, if you missed the new gallery photos, what is wrong with you? Go see :::here:::

And if you missed the October Newsletter, wow are you slacking that is :::here:::

A full schedule of upcoming classes is :::here:::

Classes being offered through the U are in January and March so if you are a U student, those are the classes for you. And if you are outside matriculation, hey, the world is your oyster you can sign up for anything on the list just hit me up with an email: :::contact:::

 

“Most aspiring screenwriters simply don’t spend enough time choosing their concept. It’s by far the most common mistake I see in spec scripts. The writer has lost the race right from the gate. Months — sometimes years — are lost trying to elevate a film idea that by its nature probably had no hope of ever becoming a movie.” ~Terry Rossio [Shrek, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Mask of Zorro]


The first week of —

Screenwriting 101, students turn in their story ideas. Ironically, students with the most mundane ideas tend to be the ones most worried about ideas being stolen. “I have this great idea about a woman going home for Thanksgiving, what if other students steal it?”

Hmm. Okay. Three things:

•One, other students in a screenwriting 101 class don’t have the connections or chops to steal an idea.

•Two, the only person who could steal an idea in a screenwriting 101 class is probably me the teacher — I do have the connections and chops to walk a concept into a studio.

•Three, there is no way I would do that –– first because it is unethical, but more importantly? The concept sucks and no one at a studio is going to get excited about it.

Yeah, I know, you’re laughing at the poor bastard who thought a story about Thanksgiving dinner is an exciting and novel concept. But ––

Take a hard look at your concept. I’m willing to bet 90% of the concepts out there would make the Jeopardy category “Most Done Screenplay Concepts.” [That's a safe bet, I read a few hundred scripts a year so have a pretty good idea of what is out there.] Think yours wouldn’t make that list? Consider some of its components. How expected is the setting? How expected is the genre? How expected is the character in the lead role? How expected is the opposition? How many other scripts have the exact same villains — in a damn similar scenario? [Hint, Middle Eastern terrorists with bombs are not new and exotic bad guys.]

Also, before you sass me about scripts about characters going home for Thanksgiving getting made and working –– take a look at the screenwriters’ names attached to those films. Those names are usually not “beginner” names. And when they are? Not beginners who sold to a studio. Beginners who had to go indy and are probably still working the bookstore job because indies rarely pay rent. Even the A listers usually have a damn hard time convincing suits “Going home for Thanksgiving” is a project to throw millions of dollars at.

If you’re new? If you’re breaking in? If you’re somewhere in the middle just trying to make that next sale and nothing is sticking? Maybe what you’ve got there is a Thanksgiving script.

Studios might be more inclined to take a look at a Thanksgiving script if something about the story concept stood out. Like, location and genre. Maybe it’s not just Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe it’s Thanksgiving dinner on Mars. That is a start. Or maybe there is some mental real estate thrown in there –– maybe it’s the president having Thanksgiving dinner on Mars. Or the creator of the biggest social networking site on the planet. Maybe the stakes could be higher. Maybe it’s the president AND the creator of the biggest social networking site on the planet having Thanksgiving dinner on Mars and the fate of Planet Earth hangs in the balance ––

I am making that up on the fly and it’s not a story I would recommend you write. But it is a mindset I would recommend you adopt. How do you make the concept bigger? Think genre. Think location. Think mental real estate. [If you are on Facebook or just recognize the name, maybe you get why studio peeps were willing to throw millions of dollars into making a film about a computer nerd facing a lawsuit --- that would not have flown if the computer nerd hadn't created the most recognized social platform on the planet. "Facebook" is the definition of mental real estate.] Think stakes –– how could they be raised?

There’s something you can up — always — in a simple story concept. And if you are trying to break in, trying to get read and sold, trying to get attention ahead of the A list writers already in every studio rolodex? You had better be thinking about ways to “more up” in the concept department.


•More up in High Concept Writing. Seating is limited. Register today.

 

some gotham love for max

February 19, 2011

 

This is fun, Gotham did a write up on me yay!

 



Profile: Max Adams
~By Britt Gambino

 

Gotham teacher Max Adams has only one hard and fast rule for great screenwriting: don’t be boring. That and always use 12-point Courier font (and even that rule, she says, can be broken). If you were to follow Max’s example, you would learn another lesson about the screenwriting trade—be bold.

Originally, Max had planned to become a novelist but, by happy accident, she decided to take a screenwriting class and fell in love with the medium. She then burst onto the scene by winning first place in two of the most prestigious screenplay competitions—the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting and the Austin Film Festival’s feature screenwriting award.

Max now serves as a judge for the Nicholl Fellowships. She notes that over the years the scripts have gotten better and the competition stronger. However, it seems that one bothersome trend has not altered visibly; specifically, women still aren’t writing as many screenplays as men. According to Max, the submissions to the Nicholl are about 3 to 1, male to female. “I don’t know what that says,” Max offers. “Maybe it’s a more masculine desire. Then again, you have an industry that’s skewed toward a masculine perspective.” But Max makes a clear case for the need for female filmmakers—women are also consumers of film. In simple terms, behold the power of audiences for movies like Sex and the City or Twilight.

The Nicholl fellows have created “a family of sorts, a community.” They meet regularly for lunch. Max says, “We talk about working, agents, jobs we’re doing, jobs we’re considering doing, people we’re working for, releases that are coming out, that sort of thing.”

Being industry savvy is something Max knows a thing or two about. This year marks the ten-year anniversary of the publication of her book, The Screenwriter’s Survival Guide: Or, Guerilla Meeting Tactics and Other Acts of War. The book focuses on the business aspects of screenwriting, including such tidbits as what to wear to a meeting. The traditional “screenwriter’s uniform,” Max says, “is a t-shirt, jeans, and a casual jacket thrown on top.” She adds, “The illusion is that you are working at the computer, then throw on a jacket and head out the door to a meeting. I say illusion because writers are not actually that put together in front of the computer.”

Max claims that new technology is an ally to the bold new screenwriter. “Editing and filming have become cheaper,” Max says. “You can shoot stuff digitally and not spend an exorbitant amount of money on film.” (As opposed to spending $1,000 per minute on film some ten to twenty years ago.) Technology has also enabled screenwriters to learn by doing. “Things may work on paper that don’t work on film,” Max says. “It’s a lesson you don’t learn unless you go out there with a camera.”

Max tries to impart what she’s learned to her students. She makes them aware of what they’re up against, but she’s also encouraging. “People break the gates everyday…break the mold, break new ground.”

Most of all, Max advises confidence, saying, “Write like a pro if you want to be a pro.”

 


*max is a faculty member of :::gotham writers’ workshop::: and :::the university of utah::: and is the founder of :::the academy of film writing:::

 

where that article comes from :
that is from gotham writers’ workshop

 

 

Upcoming 2011 —

Online Master Classes in Screenwriting
Taught by yours truly Max Adams:

 

March:
Character Writing, 03.15.11
High Concept Writing, 03.15.11

May:
Non-Static Writing, 05.17.11
Structural Writing, 05.17.11

July:
Character Writing, 07.19.11
Visual Writing, 07.19.11

September:
High Concept Writing, 09.13.11
The Art of the Pitch, 09.13.11

November:
Structural Writing, 11.15.11
Non-Static Writing, 11.15.11

 

•For more info on upcoming classes, visit :::afw courses:::
•For registration info contact Max via :::afw contact:::

 


•As of January 2011 AFW online courses are accepted accredited University of Utah courses. For info on course credit, contact Paula Lee in the Film & Media Arts Department via paula.lee @ utah.edu

 

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