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Screenwriters Billy Wilder and I.A. Diamond

Screenwriters Billy Wilder and I.A. Diamond

I ran into —

Joanne Lammers at Austin Film Festival. Joanne is a friend and really cool and is the Director of the Archive at Writer’s Guild of America.

I have known Joanne more years than I will say in public but to put it in perspective, one of those babies was a bump in a hot dress at a big awards ceremony when we first met.

Joanne was out at AFF with a really cool WGA exhibit featuring archives like Billy Wilder’s original scripts and the typewriter the original Psycho was written on. [That type writer weighs like a hundred pounds too so kiss your laptap and say “Thank you dear God, that I live in a time in which moving the writing machine does not include a hernia and blow up donut” — also they didn’t have blow up hernia donuts back then either, those poor bastards.]


One of the things Joanne said to me was how surprised she was a lot of exhibit guests [and people lined up around the block so I give credit for that, that is pretty cool, but still, there’s a question here] and these exhibit guests are, you know, “writers”? How many of them looked at script pages in the presentation and and looked mystified and said, Wow I didn’t know they wrote what the characters were actually doing in the scenes.

This of course confused Joanne because she was wondering, Well what are these people writing or even doing at a writer’s conference if they don’t know that? And, haven’t they ever read a script before? Because all scripts — okay, all good scripts — do that.


People trying to write scripts who have never read scripts was not as much confusing or mystifying to me because even though it is totally confusing and mystifying that anyone would actually attempt to write a script without actually reading one? Ever?

[Isn’t that like trying to write a symphony without learning how to read sheet music? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?]


I have been around on the internet long enough to know it happens. Over and over again. [I blame Final Draft! Anyone can write a movie! Just buy this software! Ahhh!] I also have seen the appalling statements online that go something like, “Oh I don’t write anything that characters do physically or that actually happens in scenes physically or describe any settings or action at all, the director will do that and I would be stepping on his toes if I put that in.

Really? Writing the movie would be “stepping on the director’s toes”? Because, you know, no movie? In the real world, no movie on the page usually spells, no director signs up to direct. But I digress. Bottom line —

You should wonder, if you aren’t writing action or setting descriptions or what characters are doing or, you know, a movie? What is the director actually supposed to sign on to direct?


I’ve never met a director who wanted to write the script for the writer since the writer didn’t actually write it. I meet a lot of directors who want to change the fuck out of an existing script. Just not so many who want to write the script that doesn’t exist.


Let’s ask a real question. In a poll. Yay!

How many film scripts have you read?




The new —

Online screenwriting class Non-Static Writing begins in one week. There are still two open seats in this class.


Non-Static Writing | Begins March 9, 2010

Non-Static Writing : 6 Week Workshop begins Tuesday March 9th 2010. This is an online 6 week advanced course on non-static writing taught by yours truly Max Adams. There is a reason movies are called “moving pictures.” Because they move. This course is about keeping those pictures moving within a script. Subjects include opening environments, using open and closed environments, moving characters within enclosed environments, using dialogue to create tension within closed environments, using and not using filters and — how to kill a scene in under five seconds with an electronic device.

[You do not want to do that last one.]

Course fee is $270. Course length is 6 weeks. Seating is limited. Send email for course sign up to : courses @

[you must type out the above email address without the spaces — we are trying to outwit spam bandits]


About Your Lovely Instructor :

Max Adams is the recipient of a Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as well as a recipient of Austin Film Festival’s screenwriting award. Her released films include Excess Baggage [credited] and The Ladykillers [uncredited]. Max has worked with Hollywood Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Universal, Tri-Star and Columbia Pictures. She is a former AFI Alumni reader and WGA online mentor as well as a current Nicholl reader and judge. She is the author of The Screenwriter’s Survival Guide; Or, Guerilla Meeting Tactics and Other Acts of War and is a 2010 recipient of the College of Fine Arts Distinguished Alumni Award from University of Utah. Her students and workshoppers include Nicholl Fellowship winners, Screenwriting Expo winners, Disney Fellowship winners, Warner Bros. competition winners and working and produced writers. She has lectured and/or taught at Austin Film Festival, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, New York Film Academy, Gotham Writer’s Workshop, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences and UCLA and is a prior WGA online mentor and the founder of two international online screenwriting workshops, Left Door and 5150.


:::more info:::


where the art work comes from :
that is from arsian

the character course

December 12, 2009


legs_iiJan 5 —

January 5 SeeMaxRun Character Workshop :

The 6 Week Character Workshop begins Tuesday January 5th. This is an online 6 week advanced course on characterization taught by yours truly Max Adams. Subjects include introductions [aka authorial intrusion is your friend]; protagonists vs. antagonists; using point of view characters; defining characters through action & tension; likable vs. empathetic characters; maintaining interest withholding character details; illuminating character through subplots; and if we have time we may throw a kitchen sink in there too.


Course fee is $240. Course length is 6 weeks. Seating is limited. Send email for course sign up info to : courses @

[You must type out the above email address without the spaces — we are trying to outwit spam bandits here.]


:::more info:::



meercats_250I bitch —

A lot about things gone wrong in scripts I read for Nicholl. Bad brads. Bad action. “Etcetera.” WAY too many Dead Elvis jokes —

There is another side to this too though. Sometimes things go really right in Nicholl scripts.

The thing about that is though, Nicholl reading requires a certain amount of confidentiality. So —

When I am bitching and complaining about something gone tragically wrong Nicholl, I cannot actually say, “This just happened.” I have to make something up that is close — but not identifiable.

And. When something goes really really right? I also cannot say, Hey I just read the coolest thing reading for Nicholl.

Well, okay I can say that. I just cannot tell you what it is.


I just read the coolest thing reading for Nicholl.

Wish I could tell you what it is.


where that image comes from :
the full size image is here on celluloidblonde

But —

the original photo source is :
aj’s white eleven site here

etcetera my ass

June 7, 2009


girl with dunce cap by arthur tressOkay —

Never. Ever.

Put “etc.” in scene description.

Just don’t.


where the art work comes from :
that is girl with dunce cap by arthur tress



rabbit in top hatThought for today —

The coolest thing about Nicholl going fully electronic this year is —

No brad mayhem! Yay!


where the art work comes from :
that is magician’s rabbit in hat by kent dufault

dead stop

July 15, 2008


So I am reading —

This script. It is a nice script. Characters are working. Dialogue is working. There is structure. Emotion. Tone. Pacing. The writer even has voice. Things are going great. Then a character in the script starts picking strawberries off a vine.

Dead stop.

Strawberries do not grow on vines.

I am reading this script. The story is set on a farm. The chickens all live in the barn.

Dead stop.

Chickens are not kept in barns.

I am reading this script. A character asks, What’s that smell? Uh oh. The lead character has “deer poop” on her shoe.

Dead stop.

Anyone here know what “deer poop” looks like? Kym does but for the city kids, it looks like pellets. Hard little pellets and deers are herbivores so if it smells like anything it smells like grass.

I am reading this script….


where the art work comes from :
that is from kitty


nicholl script bradsThis totally requires —

A photograph. It is tragically not a good photograph — hey it is a dinky camera phone — but should illustrate the situation. Answers are multiple choice I would not spring a blue book on you.


Given that most scripts are created equal before you open them, which script would you want resting on your delicate alabaster thigh as you read scripts in your pretty underoos and oversized t-shirt? Or, put another way, which script would you actually feel friendly towards?

a : the script with the dinky brads that is going to explode and/or fall apart resulting in tragic paper cuts, page sorting mayhem and much swearing?

b : the script with the long dangerous brads that is going to stab you every chance it gets and leave marks interesting men will find disconcerting?

c : the script with the nice sturdy brads that are not too long and not too short and not too flimsy and also have pretty washers so are totally flat against the script?


*the answer is provided below spelled backwards :


:::good brads:::
:::pretty washers:::
:::fun mallets:::


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