Category Archives: Screenwriting Biz

A Nicholl for your thoughts (Part 4)

I received my email from the competition on Monday evening and the screenplay I entered did not make it to the quarterfinals this year.

However, at the bottom of the email was…

“PS: Your script received two positive reads.”

According to this entry from the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Facebook page, that means my entry fell somewhere in places 1427 – 2526 out of almost 7,200 scripts.  I need to remind myself to feel good about being in the top 20%-35% and take that as a positive to keep writing and honing my skills.

On a positive note, my friend Ron Maede’s script “God Gets Fired” did make it into the quarterfinals!  I had a chance to read this script awhile back and am very excited for Ron since it’s a quite clever, interesting, and fun story.

Good luck in the quarterfinals, Ron!!!


Two friends of mine who I’ve had the pleasure to trade notes with through the Chicago Screenwriter’s Network have both seen (more!) recent success with their new scripts.  I read both scripts and can understand why they’re doing well and receiving recognition:

Ron Meade
Third place out of 1,000 scripts in the WriteMovies 28th Writing Contest

Colin Costello (Colin’s website)
Finalist in the Beverly Hills Film Festival Screenplay Competition

Well-deserved success for two hugely talented screenwriters!

L5 Pilot Released!

Back in December of 2010, my multi-talented brother Kaelan told me about a new Sci-Fi series he had a part in.

Having been a huge Sci-Fi fan since I was a kid, I was very excited to hear he was involved in such a project and got a chance to read the script and post a review.

Needless to say, when the pilot was released last week, I couldn’t wait to see it…


… and I wasn’t disappointed

I really enjoyed the amazing post-production effects coupled with an interesting premise and solid acting.  A storytelling technique I always like is when technical jargon is used that the viewer is not expected to understand, but makes sense to the characters.  L5’s fabric is woven with this (both in dialogue and visually) and gives the pilot a marvelously rich texture.

Well done, L5 Crew!  Here’s wishing you all the success you deserve!

Find out more…

iAnnotate PDF: A Screenwriter’s Review

Whenever someone asks me about screenwriting books, Your Screenplay Sucks!:  100 Ways to Make It Great by William Akers is always on the list of must-haves.  Yesterday, over on his equally-valuable blog, Akers made a short post about printing to proofread.

As I read the article this morning, a wave of guilt washed over me.

Oh, not because I don’t print to proofread as Akers suggests. For me, it’s a necessity — physically editing with a pen in hand opens my eyes to things I simply don’t see on the computer screen.

The reason I felt guilty was because I hadn’t written an article about the best sawbuck I ever spent:

App: iAnnotate PDF
Price: $9.99 (iTunes)

In short, this iPad app allows me to proofread and markup .PDF scripts as if I were writing on paper (with or without a stylus).  And that’s just the beginning.  The care that has gone in to making this a solid app is really astounding.  Having been in the technology business for over 15 years, I’ve spent a lot of money on software — iAnnotate PDF is hands-down the best value I’ve ever gotten for my money.

Following are some features/examples of how this app has revolutionized my writing:

  • Edit any .PDF document.
  • Size is close to a printed page.
  • Dropbox Support!
  • Don’t want to print 100+ pages when you review another writer’s script?  Now you can send them a flattened .PDF with your notes and edits (extremely valuable for professionals and aspiring writers active in screenwriting groups).
  • Text Box Notes (copy and paste into your screenwriting software of choice).
  • Oops!  Didn’t mean to cross that out!  No problem…  delete and redo.
  • Non-Intrusive Toolbars/Menus.
  • Stock and Custom Stamps.
  • Read produced scripts from your favorite online archives and keep a library with notes.
  • Highlighting.
  • Insert pages into any .PDF document.
  • Stops Killing Trees!
  • Customize and Add Toolbars.
  • … and the list goes on!

At first, I was concerned that using a stylus on a tablet wouldn’t be an adequate substitution for putting red pen to paper.  Within the first few minutes, I actually found it better.

My wife and I just spent a week in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico (the Nuevo/Puerto Vallarta area is awesome!).  Each morning, I would head down to the pool with my cup of coffee, iPad, and stylus, and have a couple/few hours of solitude before everyone else showed up.  I edited over 90% of the script on the trip.  And with WiFi and Dropbox support, I was able to back up everything whenever I wanted.

Following is an app screenshot (I use the highlighter tool to mark words that should be capitalized):

Who would have thought that sitting by a pool in Mexico I would find peace in crossing out chunks of words I had toiled over.  Long before using this app, I knew I was becoming a better writer when I was more excited about deleting than adding.  Irony, anyone?

Since there doesn’t seem to be a full-featured screenwriting app for the iPad coming any time soon, I find iAnnotate PDF makes the iPad a great screenwriting tool.