I’m happy with the way the summer box office has played out so far. We’ve had a few nice surprises – like a non-sequel, non pre-existing franchise, non YA novel doing great amongst a sea of more traditional summer blockbuster flicks (The Great Gatsby). We have a spec script that’s not about super heroes or car races or blowing shit up outperforming a heavy favorite with the world’s biggest movie star in it (Now You See Me beating After Earth). We have ANOTHER spec script, The Purge, occupying a prime-time slot on the summer slate this weekend. Whether it does well or not, getting a spec script turned into a movie that’s released during the most competitive time of the year – that’s a huge accomplishment. This is all good news for screenwriters. It gives producers and executives and studios the confidence that they CAN take chances on spec material.

However, it’s important to remember that there’s a step that needs to happen BEFORE your spec competes for one of those coveted summer slots. You have to sell the damn thing. And in order to sell it, you have to get your script out there for people to read. And typically (unless you bypass the system and get a kick-ass reception on a site like Scriptshadow), that means getting an agent to go out wide with your script. And that’s what led me to today’s article.

You see, I don’t think there are enough amateur writers out there who track the spec market. Sure, many are aware of what sells. But are they actually tracking WHAT GOES OUT WIDE? Are they tracking the scripts agents and mangers are sending out to all the producers in hopes of getting a sale?  Agents are typically looking for two things when they’re repping a script from a new writer.  a) it’s well-written.  And b) it’s a marketable enough concept that studios will actually be interested in buying it.  “a” is, of course, important. But it doesn’t matter without “b.”   This information is invaluable because if you know what agents like to push, you’ll have a much better shot at landing one.

So today I’m going to give you the last 15 scripts that went out wide, along with their genres and loglines. I want you to see with your own eyes what reps are sending out there. I didn’t cherry pick these loglines. I went to the Tracking Board (which you can get a 25% discount on if you sign up through Scriptshadow btw) and simply filtered by specs that have gone wide. If something didn’t have a logline, I didn’t include it. These are the scripts that were listed.

There is a caveat here. Agents have relationships and often know what places are best for a project, and therefore will send certain projects out to a much smaller list of folks. So these are by no means the ONLY scripts being sent around town. But they are the ones agents are sending out wide in hopes of the script either selling, or everyone liking the script enough to want to work with their client. Let’s take a look.

Lewis & Clark: Trial By Fire
Genre: Action/Adventure/Supernatural
Logline: Pitched as “Pirates of the Caribbean” meets “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”. Story is a re-imagining of the historic expedition. After the United States acquires the Louisiana Territory, President Thomas Jefferson sends Lewis & Clark on a journey to the American West that is believed to be inhabited by fearsome beasts that threaten the entire country.

Bullet Run
Genre: Action
Logline: Kept under wraps but pitched as “Speed” meets “Thief”.

Genre: Drama
Logline: Based on a novel, a boy secretly watches his actor/father run a con so the family can survive WWII Shanghai, but the father’s arrested, so the boy applies what he’s learned to survive.

Genre: Action/Thriller
Logline: The right man in the wrong body. A dead CIA operative’s memories, secrets and skills are implanted into an unpredictable and dangerous prison inmate in hopes that he will complete the operative’s mission.

Genre: Horror/Thriller
Logline: A woman begins experiencing terrifying visions when she moves to her husband’s vineyard.

The Uncontacted
Genre: Horror
Logline: Pitched as “Attack The Block” meets “The Descent”. A group of grad students find themselves stranded on an island in the South Pacific. When they attempt to make a contact with an ancient cannibalistic civilization rumored to live there, they accidentally uncover something deadlier, lurking underground.

Pirate Hunter
Genre: Action/Adventure
Logline: In the year 1700 a Naval Lieutenant embarked on a search for the most bloodthirsty ship on the seas, as he sought his revenge. It found him.

Hottest Ass Contest
Genre: Comedy
Logline: With the coastal Florida city they work for on the verge of bankruptcy and their jobs on the line, the hard-partying great-grandson of the city’s founder, along with his coworkers, take matters into their own hands. Setting out to attract thousands of revenue-generating revelers, they transform their city into an epic spring break destination by staging a Hottest Ass Contest that will feature only the finest female derrieres from all over the world.

Beauty and The Beasts
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
Logline: Two years after the events of the classic tale, Belle’s Prince Edgar mysteriously goes missing after she discovers the truth about his past, that he is actually a prince from a land of beasts. Belle is now thrown into an adventure where she travels to a magical land of fantastic creatures, and must restore order to the ancient kingdom if she is ever to see her love again.

The Asterisk
Genre: Action
Logline: Logline: Kept under wraps but pitched in the vein of “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Lethal Weapon”.

Keeping Time (yay!)
Genre: Sci-fi/Romance/Comedy
Logline: Logline: A for-hire time traveler, who specializes in “preventing” bad relationships, meets a mysterious woman who also claims to be a traveler and is determined to stop him from completing his mission.

Sinbad and the 7 Curses
Genre: Action Adventure
Logline: Sinbad’s crew must battle seven curses hurled at them by an old adversary when a princess gets in the way.

The Do Over
Genre: Comedy/Sci-fi
Logline: Pitched as “Back To The Future” meets “Peggy Sue Got Married”. When a divorced couple is inadvertently transported back in time, they set out to break up their younger selves and change the course of their unhappy lives…only to discover that they are still meant for each other.

Genre: Action
Logline: Pitched in the vein of “Fast & The Furious” in the air. An undercover agent, posing as the infamous parachuting hustler D.B. Cooper, infiltrates a group of thieves who are staging elaborate robberies of casino “money planes”; mid-air, mid-flight, jumping from plane-to-plane at 10,000 feet! Next stop, China’s Macau Venetian Casino.

The Remplacement
Genre: Comedy
Logline: When his long-lost identical twin brother shows up, an unhappily married father of two seizes the occasion to swap himself out of his own life.

It’s pretty self-explanatory. Every one of these ideas, save the drama, is marketable. I’m not saying they’re all good ideas (Hottest Ass Contest??). But the writers have made an attempt at creating something for the marketplace. We got four comedies, seven action scripts, a few adventure, a couple of horror, and a couple of thrillers. It’s not a coincidence that these are the genres being pushed by the agents. These are what studios want because these are the genres that have proven to create the best box-office return in the spec market.

This doesn’t mean you can’t write your semi-autobiographical tale about how you learned how to swim in Mexico. What it DOES mean is that you make your chances for selling a script exponentially harder by doing so. When I talk to agents and managers about scripts, I already know what they’re going to say when I tell them I found a feel good piece about a leper colony in the 1930s. They’re gong to ask, “Is it based on a book?” And when I tell them no, they’re going to say, “What else do you have?” Because action and comedy and horror and adventure and thrillers are the only thing they’re confident going out with unless you have the next American Beauty. And unless you’ve been writing for 20 years like Alan Ball had, you probably don’t have the next American Beauty.

I wrote this article as sort of a wake up call to writers because I have been reading a lot of material privately lately where the writers aren’t considering this part of the equation. They’re not asking, “Is this something that an agent is actually going to want to send out?”

Look, I’m not telling you you need to sell your soul. I believe that you should write what moves you. But you have to be smart about it. You can’t write some really low-concept drama with no commercial appeal and say, “Ohh, because it’s coming from that deep unique special place that only I can offer the world,” that everyone will want it. At some point, you have to look at the thing from an investment perspective, from the person’s POV who’s ultimately going to put their reputation and their money on the line. Are they going to buy something that’s going to keep their company in business? Or are they going to gamble on a slow introspective drama? Don’t walk around with your heads in the sand, guys. Be aware not only what’s selling, but what kind of material people are passing around.

And hey, I’m not saying those loglines above are amazing. The loglines themselves are not the point. It’s the TYPES OF SCRIPTS that agents are sending out there: thrillers, horror, adventure, action, comedy. You guys are smart. You can play in this space and come up with much better loglines than those above. Hollywood’s still a place where if you come up with an amazing concept and you’re a competent writer, you can go directly to the front of the line.

Also remember that just because you’re writing a marketable concept, doesn’t mean you can’t explore characters and themes on a deeper level. It doesn’t mean you can’t make your reader think. The concept and genre are meant to get you through the door. Once inside, that’s when you show off your skills. So write something with deep characters who are battling their flaws and fears, but do it inside of a horror movie, or an adventure movie.

And if this article sickens you? If you can’t believe this is what you need to do to get in the game? Don’t complain about it. Grab your camera and make your movie independently. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that and it’s actually one of the fastest ways to make a career, since you’re bypassing the “wait for someone else to like it” spec stage. In the meantime, if you want to play in the spec world, this is how the game is played. If you want an agent to take you on, give them something they can sell, dammit. Good luck!

  • DD

    As someone who works in film marketing, I couldn’t agree more. The movies that are hardest to sell to the public are the “tweeners” that don’t fully belong to one genre (e.g. dramedy, drama/thriller, period/action or period/comedy, etc.) Movies that are designed for a specific audience like horror, action, broad comedy, already have a better chance of success out of the gate. If the movie sucks, it’s still easy to market the recognizable genre parts to that genre’s fans. If the movie is amazing, yet hard to pin down who it’s for exactly, then you run into major problems.

    I would also like to add that STRONG CONFLICT elevates nearly any logline. If you can get a strong, clear conflict that anyone can recognize, you’re gonna have something worth selling. Look at Identity Thief. Pretty simple concept. But STRONG CONFLICT right on the poster and in the logline. Look at “This is The End.” strong conflict on the billboards and ads. It’s this stuff that gets people excited for a night at the movies. Not “that might be interesting.”

  • http://the-movie-nerd.com themovienerd

    Great article!

    And dovetailing this article with a previous article on taking risks and making choices that help you stand out, the scriptshadow argument goes something like this–

    When writing a spec, choose a “concept” or “genre” that doesn’t scare away players. But within that concept, within that genre, make choices that are different and unique, that have never been seen before. That make you stand out as a writer.

    This is certainly not a revolutionary argument, and it is MOST CERTAINLY more easily said than done. But that’s what separates the men and women from the boys and girls.

    Something to aspire to and aim for. And THAT is worth its weight in gold.

  • carsonreeves1

    Agents and Managers will work with out-of-town guys, but their material just has to be better than everyone’s else’s.

    • Illimani Ferreira

      I can’t find the article, I think it was written by Hal Croasmun. He made a survey among producers and agents asking this specific question. Producers mostly answered yes and agents were consensual about not wanting to work with writers out of California. Apparently they want the writers to sit down with producers during their meetings with producers. So yes, why should I send a query email to a professional who, first, usually doesn’t read query emails (apparently phone calls work better) and, second, who is likely to lose its interest when he/she notices that I don’t live in Cali? That’s a waste of time for a person in my situation.

      • Gregory Mandarano

        Nothing is a waste of time that attempts to network and further your career. Even if you fail.

      • Client

        Hello everyone, I’m from Ireland, live in Ireland and my first time in LA was to meet my agents at CAA. No, you don’t even have to live in the US to get repped at a big agency … (but i am planning to move over — mostly ‘cos the weather in Ireland sucks).

        • Malibo Jackk

          So, what logline caught the attention of CAA?

        • Illimani Ferreira

          How did you reach them before they invited you to meet them in LA?

          • Client

            I wrote a high concept script which my UK agent showed to a pal at CAA. she liked and the rest is history. Script sold to major studio and was actually reviewed on this site (which is how I found this site). Prefer not to divulge my ID.

          • Malibo Jackk


      • shaneblackfan

        Yes, they’d prefer you to be in L.A. but I know several writers who don’t live in the U.S. and are represented.

  • Zaike Airey

    Thanks, Carson! Just the words I needed to hear!

  • cjob3

    Lethal Weapons meets Beverly Hills Cop? Isn’t that kinda like Gremlins meets Ghoulies?

  • Neil

    Great Gatsby lost the studio money, actually.

  • John Bradley

    I live outside California and have an interview with a manager next week, who is reading my material now. Yes, it’s harder, but possible. Use the internet and really build connections with people in the community. I’ve met a bunch who bend over backwards to help people while asking nothing in return.

  • ripleyy

    Basically, you can write Drama ’till your heart’s content but don’t bother selling that shit or you’re condemning yourself to the lowest circle in Hell.

    Even though the article is great, my only nitpick is that if anyone’s tagged along to this site long enough, what sells and what doesn’t sell is practically beaten into our eye sockets with a cricket bat with every article and anyone with a drop of sense knows that selling Drama is like speaking Russian backwards – you can try all you want but you’re not going to get very far.

    That said, a Logline Contest might be good, though.

  • tobban

    Just printed this post out and put it on my wall. Will read every day.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Not fishing
    just curious

    what budget range do you normally deal in?

  • JL


    Think that’s a typo in the last logline, right? Should be, “THE REPLACEMENT.”

  • jaehkim

    I hate these re hashing of old ideas. sinbad, lewis and clark, beauty and the beast. I would not be seeing any of these in theater (if they’re made). the other day I tried to watch the new hensel and gretel, I couldn’t get past 8 minutes.

    I can see why Carson mentioned selling of one’s soul. should we all jump on the trend wagon and try to re write sleeping beauty?

    I’m glad to see some original ideas in the mix though. keeping time really stands out in this aspect.

    • Cuesta

      Oh god Hansel & Gretel was painfuly bad, one of the worst movies I ever seen, and it did make money, so probably you can answer yourself visiting box office mojo.

    • garrett_h

      “should we all jump on the trend wagon and try to re write sleeping beauty?”

      Already done… http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1587310/

      “Sleeping Beauty” told from the POV of the evil witch villain, Maleficent.

      Looks like they beat you to it!

      • Charlestoaster

        But it’s not set during a high school prom! There still might be a chance to catch that wagon! XP

    • Get Your Ass To Mars

      To be honest, even the original ideas in there don’t seem all that “original” to me. Several of them seem almost like rehashes of older films.

      Pirate Hunter sounds like Master & Commander.

      Criminal made me immediately think of Face/Off.

      Freefall is basically Fast & Furious with airplanes. They even admit it in the logline.

      Visions has a very vague and just boring logline IMO. That logline alone would get torn to shreds if offered up here as one of the potential Amateur Friday scripts. I’d wager that a lot of these would likely get ripped a new one on here based solely on the loglines.

      It seems as if Scriptshadow holds its writers to a higher standard than Hollywood.

      • Citizen M

        I agree. This list looks like a typical selection from SS submissions.

        But of course we only see what Carson puts before us. Back at the SS Command Center he might be swimming in the most God-awful scripts you can imagine, hoping for something decent he can promote online.

        • Get Your Ass To Mars

          Scriptshadow Command Center…?

          I’m trying to imagine what that would look like. I can’t decide if it would be more like the bridge on the Starship Enterprise or the big high tech war chamber in WarGames.

          • Citizen M

            The Scriptshadow Command Center. Sveta puts Carson’s latest dissertation onto the interwebs.

          • Get Your Ass To Mars

            Old school. I like it.

          • Malibo Jackk

            I see an Underwood.
            Is that other thing an X-9 computer?

          • Poe_Serling

            Here’s the funny thing… according to this week’s newsletter, you’re now suppose to contact Lauren via the old sveta email addy… so what happened to Sveta or was she ever a real person in the first place? ;-)

    • Zadora

      Which Hansel and Gretel did you watch? I watched the one by Asylum with Dee Wallace…Oh boy!!!! :D

  • Um Yeah

    There’s something I’m confused about and maybe one of you can explain. Speaking purely hypothetically, say your agents go super wide with your spec and yet it never shows up on any of these tracking boards?

  • Poe_Serling

    At first, I was thinking the logline for the horror/thriller spec Visions was a tad underwhelming and generic… so I did a bit of research and discovered this from Variety:

    “Blumhouse Productions acquires thriller spec script “Visions”… the story, in the vein of “The Others” and “What Lies Beneath,” centers on a pregnant woman moving to the wine country to be with her husband at their vineyard — a move which triggers terrifying visions.”

    The few added nuggets of info do paint a clearer picture of the project.

    • Citizen M

      Remember this from SS in October 2009?


      Genre: Horror

      Premise: A family takes over a vineyard, only to find out that it may be haunted.

      About: This spec was purchased by Craven/Maddalena Films in 2006. The sale allowed the writer to land the scripting job on the two Boogeyman sequels.

      Writer: Brian Sieve

      Seems to have disappeared into development hell.

      • Poe_Serling

        Hey Martin-

        Uhh, I’m drawing a major blank on that particular script. But thanks for pointing it out though – it does show that similar film premises have a way of recycling themselves.

        And I noticed that you and Garrett_h were two of the commenters back in ’09. I’m glad you guys are still rockin’ the site.

  • carsonreeves1

    Oh man, don’t get me started on The Master.

    • New_E

      Call me crazy, but I’d rather have THE MASTER, MULHOLLAND DRIVE, or THERE WILL BE BLOOD on my resume than any number of recent, empty, horror-porn [X] WORTH THE READ / IMPRESSIVE recommendations – but that’s just me.

      Who will remember, say, THE PURGE in a year? Will SAW IV and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 be remembered as great movies?

      Just watching the actors involved in interviews trying to defend those movies when it’s obvious they only did it for the paycheck is painful.


      • Citizen M

        I’m sorry, but if you’re a professional, doing it for the paycheck is what you do.

        If you’re an ARTIST, on the other hand…

        • New_E

          Yes, but hopefully, not just for the paycheck. Some people manage to get paid and make good, memorable movies.


          • wlubake

            If you are lucky, you get paid and get your backers paid. That’s how you get the opportunity to make the other stuff.

          • New_E

            True, it’s a business after all. But if “just doing it for the paycheck” is good enough, where does it stop? Would you write just anything for a paycheck?


  • ripleyy

    Carson’s crusade against selling Drama specs is the stuff of legend, but absolutely if you want to go and sell a Drama, you can, it’s just difficult and Comedy/Horror/etc is much easier (I think?) in comparison. Dramas are also good for Indies, because that you can most definitely write one and get it made.

    • IgorWasTaken

      ripleyy wrote: “Carson’s crusade against selling Drama specs is the stuff of legend

      Legend? Wow.

  • estrogendeprived

    FREEFALL is stupid. DB Cooper would be his 70’s by now.

    • garrett_h

      The D.B. Cooper thing is stupid, but I like the concept.

      Maybe because I have almost the exact same concept written down in my notebook lol. Except I didn’t go the Fast & Furious route. And mine was called SKYJACKERS.

      Guess I’ll cross it off the list for now…

  • jaehkim

    at this point, I’d rather sell my script than get it made.

    • ripleyy

      At this point, I’d rather sell just something and get it made.

  • shaneblackfan

    Before I attempt to write a screenplay I fill in a basic questionnaire for myself to assess the commercial viability of a potential story.

    Logline: We know what that is.

    Premise: This expands on the logline. Read the back of books and jacket sleeves for inspiration. A short paragraph that excites the reader. Focus on character and the basic plot.

    Character bios: Just your main characters. Add some conflicts. Age etc.

    Intent: This is your vision for the story. Mention similar films.

    Treatment: Five pages will do. Make it exciting. Sell the story.

    After I’m done, I email it to others for their opinions.

    Make changes based on their thoughts and any new ideas I think of. The write an outline.

  • Evan Porter

    National Lampoon may as well just buy Hottest Ass Contest now. Not sure what they’re waiting for – we all know that’s the only place that script can end up.

  • Mr. Bundy

    Hey Bilo – would you be so kind as to share the concept of your drama that A-list producers were fighting over? Very curious to know….

  • gazrow

    “You guys are smart. You can play in this space and come up with much better loglines than those above.”

    Not me. I hate writing loglines. Hence, the reason I have several scripts currently gathering dust on my hard drive!

    For example the logline I came up with for my latest script (a contained supernatural thriller) goes as follows:

    A crippled teen sets out to discover who murdered his only friend from the confines of his bed.

    Is it me, or does “from the confines of his bed” makes it sound more like a comedy than a thriller?!

    Any thoughts/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    • wlubake

      I think I’m much better at writing loglines than scripts, actually (Carson seems to agree from the fate of my Twit-Pitch finalist). I’d need more than this to go on, but would be happy to provide some thoughts. If you are comfortable disclosing it here, go for it. If not, my email is my handle AT gmail dot com.

      • gazrow

        Happy to disclose – does any of the following help?

        The main protagonist is a lonely teen (doesn’t have a single friend on his Facebook page!) His legs are all busted up after he was the victim of a ‘hit and run’ and so is completely bedridden.

        He befriends a girl on line and starts to fall for her big time. During one of their webcam chats she thinks she hears a noise behind her, turns her head to see what it is – our hero sees the nape of her neck is peppered with stab wounds – the deep, penetrating FATAL kind! The girl he’s fallen in love with is a ghost!

        He learns from an online psychic that the girl’s spirit won’t rest until her killer is brought to justice. So he sets out to find out the perpetrator from the confines of his own bed.

        • wlubake

          One more question. How does he go about his investigation if bed ridden? The great thing about rear window is that even though our protagonist is somewhat inactive (physically), he can continually monitor the mysterious actions next door. This doesn’t seem to have that benefit. I’m sure he isn’t googling his way to justice. You’d want to make sure that your logline conveys some sort of action on his part.

          • wlubake

            I’ll also throw stakes/urgency into the question. What happens if he doesn’t catch the guy? Is anyone in danger? What happens to the ghost if he doesn’t help the girl’s spirit rest (this is a hard one to grasp for stakes, as no living person can relate to the goal)?

          • gazrow

            Yeah. Sorry – I’m a klutz!

            The girl’s murder is one of a series – the media have dubbed the killer “Lunar Loony” – he always strikes during a full moon – the next full moon is in three days time – so our hero has 72 hours to uncover the killer’s identity before he strikes again! :-)

          • wlubake

            Here’s a quick shot:
            “When a bed-ridden teen discovers his online crush is a ghost, he enlists the help of a psychic to investigate her death, leading him on a hunt to stop her killer before he strikes again.”
            I tried to include:
            1. Key characters – Teen, ghost, psychic, killer
            2. Stakes – this guy will kill again
            3. A sense of action
            To provide my thoughts on this, from a concept standpoint only, I’d say there are two competing concepts. The supernatural thing is cool, but doesn’t need the kid to be bed-ridden. The bed-ridden thing is cool, but doesn’t need the supernatural (as Rear Window shows). Personally, I’d strip out the supernatural aspect and go somewhere like this with it:
            “When an bed-ridden teen witnesses his only friend’s murder during a webchat, he finds himself in a race against the killer to discover the other person’s identity first.”

          • JakeMLB


            The original concept is very weak. It’s mixing too many genre-specific conceits and beyond that, having a bed-ridden hero isn’t a good idea for a motion picture. Can it be done? Probably.

            But this latter concept is far stronger. I’d simply remove the bed-ridden aspect — it’s unnecessary — and you have a marketable teen thriller.

          • Linkthis83

            As much as Carson dislikes people sitting at tables and talking, he will be less excited about one person lying in bed Googling (only one intended meaning here).

            However, that’s what I like about this concept. The challenge to make this readable/watchable.

            There are so many things we don’t know in a logline or premise. Maybe one of the things that happens is that the bed ridden teen goes mobile to try and solve this thing. That would be a cool twist I think.

          • JakeMLB

            Sure, if you remove the supernatural conceits and play it as a straight thriller, the bedridden stuff could prove interesting. But it’s a still a tough concept to work with. Either the killer is going to kill again. Or the killer is making his way to the teen’s house to kill him (for being a witness). Either way, there’s nothing stopping the teen from picking up a phone and calling the police. Any workaround would seem cliche.

          • wlubake

            This exercise has my gears turning. One concept that came up is Catfish meets Carrie/Reunion:
            “When an awkward teen discovers his online crush and only friend was a “Catfish” hoax put on by his classmates, he embarks on a bloody path of revenge.”
            Though that’s probably better written from the classmates’ perspective. Too busy at the day job to keep playing with it though.

          • JakeMLB

            A fun game indeed but I think you’re on a bit of a stretch here. No one would sympathize with the awkward teen here… HOWEVER… flip the script:

            Make the protagonist the ‘Catfisher’ — if you will — and you have a story. A socially outcast and lonely girl creates a false identity and starts an online relationship with the most popular boy in school (e.g., rising football star). The boy goes about bragging to all his friends, even the media, about his wonderful new girlfriend only to be horribly embarrassed when he — and the world — find out she’s a fraud. He’s now the laughing stock of America. Gone are his football scholarships. All that’s left is revenge. Think Manti Te’O.

            I like your original idea better but this could work.

          • gazrow

            Not sure how you can expose the flaws in a script without reading it first?! Say, you’re not the psychic in my story by any chance are you?!

            Seriously, thanks for your input! Much appreciated!

          • JakeMLB

            Hah, didn’t realize you had already written it. Thought we were merely tossing around loglines! Either way, that was the first thought that popped into my head so others may respond the same way. Something to think about when massaging that logline!

          • gazrow

            Ha – Know I understand! lol Thanks for sharing your thoughts regarding the logline! :-)

          • gazrow

            The challenge to make the script readable/watchable given the huge constraints (protag being bed-ridden etc) was exactly why I wrote it! (well, that and to hopefully get it filmed of course!)

          • Jonathan Soens

            I thought the same thing: it would be tough not to run out of steam on the concept of a bed-ridden main character. I think it would be really interesting to have the bed-ridden kid murdered halfway into the thing to shake up the story.

            You’ve already established the existence of ghosts in this reality. So have the murderer kill the kid, turning him into a ghost. He then continues his quest to stop the killer while in ghost form. It’d be unexpected and it would make the audience hate the villain even more if he kills the main character (a kid, no less).

            Just a thought.

          • gazrow

            Hey wlubake – Thanks for putting so much effort into this!

            I like your logline a lot better than mine!

            The kid being bed-ridden was partly because I wrote this to be filmed on a micro budget (hopefully to improve its chances of getting filmed!) thus the action takes place almost entirely in one location. Also, the girl being a ghost is one of a number of twists which make it more or less essential that the hero be confined to bed.

            So you can see what I ‘m talking about, I’d be more than happy to swap reads if you’re up for it?

          • wlubake

            Gazrow – I have an opportunity to provide logline coverage services for a fee and need to provide examples of previous advice. Do you mind if I include your logline above as a “before and after” example? It may be posted publicly on the coverage site. Thanks for considering.

          • gazrow

            Hey, wlubake. Go for it! Glad you’re putting your logline writing skills to good use!!

            Also, let me know what your rates are? I might need your services in a couple of weeks for my zombie masterpiece! lol :-)

          • gazrow

            Have to say I was blown away by the fantastic response I got from the SS community concerning my plea for help writing the logline for my contained supernatural thriller.

            Each and everyone one of the loglines submitted was way better than my own, rather sad, effort!

            That said, having just gone over them all again, I think your logline in particular best sums up my script.

            “When a bed-ridden teen discovers his online crush is a ghost, he
            enlists the help of a psychic to investigate her death, leading him on a hunt to stop her killer before he strikes again.”

            Thanks wlubake! You’re certainly a very talented writer of loglines that’s for sure!

          • wlubake

            Glad I could help. Good luck with the script!

          • RobertJ

            After reading some comments I have more questions:

            Ok, I get that’s she dead, hence, her being a ghost. Does she not know what he’s seeing in the video chat? If she does, from the depiction of “deep, penetrating FATAL kind”, she must know she’s dead. If she doesn’t, how can she not assume that given what he’s seeing? Being a ghost, she must think, “Well, that’s not happening right this second–so what is it he’s watching?” I get you’re going for a The Sixth Sense moment, but either she knows what he’s seeing or doesn’t–but–you have to prove that. Meaning, in a video chat, how can she not know what he’s seeing? OR she’s oblivious to it, but you have to prove WHY she doesn’t know this. Is it a beacon that’s repeatedly sent out hoping someone will see it? Probably not. She’s sending out this video depiction of how she died hoping someone will catch her killer.

          • gazrow

            Hey Robert –
            Good to see you getting involved! To answer your question – she has no idea she is dead – neither does our hero until he sees several stab wounds on the nape of her neck/upper back when she turns around momentarily.

            Thanks for taking an interest! :-)

          • gazrow

            He has to get as much information as possible from the girl – i.e; who her friends are – who her enemies are, without tipping her off that’s she dead!

            Naturally, the dead girl becomes increasingly suspicious of all the questions which leads to lots of conflict and tension.

            Thanks for your help – much appreciated! ;-)

        • Midnight Luck

          I fear the story might suffer from a SAVE THE CAT problem. Having 2 or more larger than life, or unbelievable things going on in the same script. Like a Aliens attacking and they are then defeated by Ghosts. A reader / viewer can suspend only so much disbelief.

          again, all depends how it is done. But doing a contained thriller, him finding the killer from bed, but also having him fall in love online with a girl, who also happens to be a psychic?, AND she is a ghost? got a lot of things to carry there and hope we can keep our disbelief going.

          Not saying it can’t be done, but it might be stretching it.

          • gazrow

            Thanks for you input – much appreciated! I see what you’re saying and think I need to clarify a bit more so hopefully it will make more sense.

            The hero is bedridden after a hit and run. Bored, he spends most of his time online which I think is pretty realistic – it’s something I would do! lol

            He meets a girl online and eventually falls for her. (again, people
            fall in love on the net all the time). Though I never have! lol

            During one of their chats he discovers the girl’s biggest fear is
            death – she’s afraid of dying! (perfectly understandable – (I’m not
            looking forward to my meet and greet with the Reaper!)

            Later he discovers that the girl is a ghost! (inciting incident) And not sure how to cope/react he rings a psychic hotline and asks “How do you tell someone terrified of dying that they’re already dead?!” (the dead girl is not the psychic!)

            The psychic tells him that the dead girl is one of a series (there’s a serial killer at large) and that the only way the dead girl’s spirit will rest is if her killer is brought to justice!

            The psychic urges our hero to somehow get as much information from the dead girl as possible – who her friends are, who her ENEMIES are etc – Without tipping her off that she’s dead in case she freaks out and goes offline for ever.

            Hope that makes things a little clearer? And thanks again for your input! ;-)

          • Gregory Mandarano

            That sounds cool!

          • gazrow

            Thanks! ;-)

          • Midnight Luck

            I am still sticking with what I have said.

            As a reader, we have to be OK with being asked all this

            him falling in love online (maybe), while trapped in bed (maybe), from a hit and run (ok), outside help from a psychic (not really), who informs him the girl is a Ghost (no), who then tells the Protagonist he must track down the killer (no)

            I think it is too much for the audience. Too many story / plot points ask us to suspend our disbelief, all while the Protagonist is not being active.

            An outside Psychic is doing the work, or telling the protagonist unreliable info, so we don’t have to see him work / learn / create the story.

            Meanwhile, on this blog, you are having to explain SO Much of the storyline.

            A storyline with a LOT of suspension of disbelief, or Magical elements (save the cat issues).

          • gazrow

            I see I’m not going to change your mind! lol. I think it’s next to impossible to judge a story/script’s merits/flaws without actually reading it first.

            That said, I’m truly grateful that you took the time to give me your input! :-)

            p.s. The hero informs the psychic that the girl is dead – not the psychic informing the hero! (why else would the hero contact the psychic in the first place?!)

          • Midnight Luck

            ah, sorry, I must have read that part wrong.

            I would read it to get a true idea of it, if you are passing it out.

            m *at* blackluck dot.t com

            not trying to rain on your script, just trying to give you my impression from what I got from your logline and what else you are posting.

        • garrett_h

          OK, so now it looks like The Bone Collector meets The Lovely Bones? But there’s no mention of the supernatural angle in your logline. It sounds like a straight whodunit. I think you should add a hint of it to the log, and not just leave it up to the “genre” line of your script info to tell them it’s supernatural. The logline should be a reflection of the tone of the script.

          • gazrow

            Guess you’re right about adding a supernatural hint in the logline.

            Dammit! – You know how we writer’s like to keep our twists close to our chests! lol

          • wlubake

            I’d say that if it is your inciting incident, you can’t hide it as a twist. 2nd and 3rd act twists should be kept close. If it is part of the set up, let that out there.

          • gazrow

            Good point, thanks!

          • garrett_h

            wlubake nails it. If it’s in the set up, it’s fair game for the logline. I’m guilty of this too when writing loglines, but my rule of thumb is that most readers will give you 30 or so pages, so if it takes place by page 30, throw it in the logline.

          • gazrow

            Yeah. Good advice. Thanks! :-)

        • sweetvita

          Hey gazrow, hope I’m not taking liberty with your story, but after reading your additional info below, here’s what I got for you.

          Logline: After a lonely, bedridden cripple teen learns from an online psychic that his only facebook friend was a ghost, whose spirit won’t rest until her death is avenged, learns how to astro travel back in time to bring her killer to justice.

          It kind of sounds like you have a supernatural love story. The protag has a great motive for wanting to help the ghost find peace. After all, she was his only friend, which I’m sure that endured her to his heart.

          Astro travel will enable your bedridden protag to be proactive in his quest to find the killer. And along the way, in the heavenly places (outer darkness) he can encounter his antag in the form of an evil spirit not wanting him to succeed in “freeing” the girl’s spirit by making it next to impossible to for him to astro travel back in time to discover who the killer is. Just brainstorming here – hope it helps.

          • gazrow

            Hey – thanks for the input!

            I really like the first part of the logline: ” After a lonely, bedridden cripple teen learns from an online psychic
            that his only facebook friend was a ghost, whose spirit won’t rest until
            her death is avenged!”

            However, without giving anything away, the astro travel aspect, while sounding cool, wouldn’t work in this script.

            Also, if he can astro travel – then the story no longer takes place in one location and would bump the budget up quite a bit. i’m just looking to get this filmed to be honest – not really looking for a huge spec sale!

            But thanks for giving this some thought – much appreciated! ;-)

          • sweetvita

            You’re welcome. Glad you got something out of it. As you’re endeavoring to get his produced yourself, may the road rise up to meet you ;)

        • RobertJ

          That premise sounds very familiar. Like it’s a combination of SVU’s Valentine’s Day:


          and CSI:NY’s Unfriendly Chat


          And although many concepts have been used regarding our use of technology (Minority Report, Oblivion, etc) I’m interested in the psychic element. Is this spychic correct in their visions? Is the psychic really an accomplice with the killer to divert attention?

          Also, I’m a little confused by the above–has she been a ghost all along? Did she reenact the crime online to garnish interest in solving it? “The girl he’s fallen in love with is a ghost!” makes me think she’s already dead. That she didn’t die in real time, meaning when our bed-ridden lead saw what happened. So she’s making it seem like it just happened so that he will help her? Or is it explained to him that she’s already dead?

          • wlubake

            I interpreted that she was always a ghost. He doesn’t see the crime, just the wounds on her neck. Apparently it’s obvious that those wounds are bad news.

      • Panos Tsapanidis

        Good Guy wlubake.

        • gazrow

          I agree! ;-)

    • Gregory Mandarano

      Sounds a little like Rear Window to me! That’s all thriller.

      • gazrow

        Can see what you’re saying. However, unbeknownst to our hero the love interest is a ghost! And his mother appears to be a total psycho to boot!

        So if I was going to compare it to something I’d say it was Rear Window meets Misery meets The Sixth Sense!

        Not that I set out to emulate any or all of those great films! I just wanted to write a script that takes place almost entirely in one location with lots of conflict and a minimum of characters to give it a shot at being filmed!

        • Gregory Mandarano

          “Unbeknownst to our hero” = “Little did he know”.

          So it’s Rear Window meets Stranger than Fiction.

    • MWire

      I like the concept. Doesn’t sound like a comedy to me.

      I’d like to know a little more about how the crippled teen is going to accomplish this task. Who is going to do his ‘leg work?’ Is he a computer whiz or have some skill set that helps? Otherwise the murder would have had to occurred in his room.

      • gazrow

        Yeah, he’s a computer whiz and enlists the help of a psychic.

        • MWire

          OK, now it sounds like a comedy. My comedy.

          Logline – A man is haunted by the ghost of his murdered boss. Framed for the crime, he must evade the real killers while enlisting the aid of a hottie spiritual adviser and the
          ghost himself to solve the mystery and prove his innocence.

          Small world. But I don’t think that we have to worry too much about competing with each other.

          • gazrow

            lol Small world indeed! ;-)

    • Angel film investor

      I enjoy contained thrillers when they are smartly done, you can email your script to me if you want me to take a look at it. angelfilminvestor@outlook.com

      • gazrow

        Thanks, will do!

        • RobertJ

          I’d like to read it too. I have a quadriplegic brother and I’m always thinking of a way to incorporate him into a story. Suspense thriller where time is of the essence? Sing me up!


    • Midnight Luck

      Being “Confined to his bed” makes you think it can’t be entertaining. It all depends on the execution. Misery made it work, and it was entertaining.

      One point though: you are missing punctuation. How it reads now, it sounds like the murderer murdered his friend from the confines of his bed. Not that the main character is trying to discover who murdered his friend, from the confines of “his own” bed.

      Of course, maybe the murderer did kill the friend from his bed, but then he would know who the murderer was already.

      • gazrow

        “you are missing punctuation”

        oops! Thanks for pointing that out!

    • Elaynee

      Replace “the confines of his bed” and “crippled” with “bed-ridden” ??? Says the same thing and avoids repetition?
      Some hint at the mystery? You say it’s supernatural? But none of this is suggested in the logline.
      Identify his friend by something more dynamic than “only” perhaps.
      Think of Carson’s GUS? You have a goal – but where are the urgency and stakes?

      • gazrow

        Funny – it was originally bed-ridden but I didn’t want “bed” appearing twice in the logline:

        A bed-ridden teen sets out to discover who murdered his best friend from the confines of his bed. (not sure it works as well?)

        As regards urgency and stakes – thanks for pointing that out! Should have mentioned it!

        The serial killer responsible is known as the “Lunar Loony” He always strikes during a full moon – the next full moon is in three days time – so the hero has to get the information he needs from the dead girl before the killer strikes again!

        Thanks for your input! :-)

        • Citizen M

          Tough one. The best I could do is still a bit long.

          “A teen confined to bed discovers the girl he met online was killed by the Lunar Loony and he has been speaking to her ghost. To identify the killer before the next full moon he must question her without revealing she is dead, or she will go offline forever.”

          • gazrow

            Thanks for taking a crack at it! Have to say your logline’s better than mine! ;-)

    • garrett_h

      Sounds like a H.S. version of The Bone Collector, starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. That was a pretty cool movie, based on a novel I think. Have you seen it? Was it an inspiration?

      • gazrow

        Yeah – have seen it. Loved it until the last five minutes when we learned who the killer was – as it wasn’t foreshadowed at all! Could have just as well been the cleaning lady!

        Oh and no – wasn’t really an inspiration – I’d forgotten about it! lol

    • Linkthis83

      A crippled teen confined to his bed has only a few days to discover the identity of his first love’s killer before she realizes she is already dead. (or something similar with those elements)

      • gazrow

        Hey – that’s pretty cool! Thanks! :-)

    • Kay Bryen

      Hey Gazrow; I’ll take a “stab” at it :-)

      Mine is a bit long in the tooth, but bear with me:

      “When a bedridden crippled teen discovers his solitary online friend is an oblivious ghost, he must navigate the treacherous labyrinth of deception that is cyberspace to hunt down her murderer within 72 hours before he slaughters again. Torn between freeing her ghost to a peaceful afterlife and losing his only friend in this life, he is haunted by having to betray her trust — like her murderer did.”

      – I added ‘solitary’ just to reinforce how imprisoned they both are in their own ways.
      – ‘navigate the treacherous labyrinth’ makes your protag seem more active, and also hints at the dangers lurking at every turn.
      – 72 hours: the urgency absolutely must be part of the logline. Because eternity is kinda a long time, so what’s the rush otherwise?
      – I added the irony and tension of him battling his inner ghosts: by freeing her soul through an act of love, he loses his only love.
      – And finally for the twist factor, I added the element that he has more in common with the murderer than he’d like to admit (and can’t be ruled out as a suspect himself…)

      All the best!

      • Citizen M

        I’ll take a “stab” at it

        Ha-ha. You’re killing me.

      • JakeBarnes12


      • gazrow

        Hey Kay –

        Thanks for your input – much appreciated! As regards:

        “I added the irony and tension of him battling his inner ghosts: by
        freeing her soul through an act of love, he loses his only love.”

        ” for the twist factor, I added the element that he has more in common
        with the murderer than he’d like to admit (and can’t be ruled out as a
        suspect himself…

        All I can say is you’re either very smart or psychic! lol :-)

  • gazrow

    Forget the number. Just give me a starring role!! I’ll even work for free! lol

    • mikeymike

      Good question. What has a more viable career? The film industry or the adult one?

      • carsonreeves1

        You know, this is actually a good question.

    • carsonreeves1


  • Brian Lastname

    “Hollywood’s still a place where if you come up with an amazing concept and you’re a competent writer, you can go directly to the front of the line.”

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Sounds like a topic for a Thursday article.

    • Anonymous Smith

      You’re the one that asked the question!

      • Malibo Jackk

        Didn’t mean that in a bad way.

  • Citizen M

    OT. Just saw this tweet on Kristy’s twitter feed.

    A staffing season stat, from a prod company exec tonight: he read 500 scripts, chose 20, and 7 of those got staffed on 3 shows. — Leonard Chang

    • GeneralChaos

      That’s the reality for everyone. There can be dozens interviewing for a job position but only one person will get it. The advantage writers have is that Hollywood is always hiring.

  • garrett_h

    Great article, though I wouldn’t call Gatsby a “non-preexisting franchise.”

    It’s a classic novel, one of the best in American literature. It’s been read by just about every high school student since World War II (at least they were SUPPOSED to read it, not the Cliff Notes). There have been numerous movie, radio and stage adaptations. It has also been translated into several languages.

    I’d call that a franchise…

  • Citizen M

    Speaking of going wide, Carson, any news of Kristy Lowrey whose spec went wide in May? (It’s not one of the above.)

    For those that don’t know her, Kristy used to do script analysis like Carson does now. In fact, I discovered SS from a link on her blog which is now dormant. She moved from southern USA to LA to write. This is what she said about LA on her blog (my bold):

    And now that I’m in LA I’ve noticed that I am setting the bar higher for myself and my expectations for my own work have increased tremendously. I think being out here seeing a lot of good writers trying to make it, makes me realize that good isn’t good enough — good only makes you average. You literally have to be great or write something great to stand out. It’s not easy and it’s fickle as hell to achieve.

    • sweetvita

      I read her twitter feed now and then – she’s funny – a real hoot. She also seems like a sweetheart of a gal.

  • Poe_Serling

    Did you catch the recent 2-hour River Monsters finale on Animal Planet?

    Here they tried to connect the dots to solve the mystery of the world’s most famous lake monster… and they threw in everything but the kitchen sink… Vikings, Icelandic creatures, green sharks, boat wake patterns, and more.

  • Midnight Luck

    This is a great article Carson. Thanks.
    Meat we are all looking for.
    Though, oddly, inside, I think we all know this info already. We do need to be reminded of the realities from time to time.

    My favorite movies tend to be Dramas. Most of what I write isn’t a drama however. Though some of them are.

    Knowing what is selling in the grand scheme, definitely is something to keep at the forefront of our minds while writing and coming up with new ideas.

  • New_E

    Thank you!

    I should have all bases covered with my new Action/Thriller/Horror/Adventure/Sci-fi/Romance/Comedy based on a famous book aimed at the 18-40 crowd, hopefully starring Channing Tatum and the Rock.


    • Citizen M

      Crazy mixed-up people should enjoy it.

      • New_E

        Of course they will. I’ll make sure of it and hire Vinny Bruzzese and his WorldWide Motion Picture Group. Targeting the most important demographic. No room for error.


  • sweetvita

    not positive, but i think so. i recall reading something about it awhile back.

  • Michael

    Yes, Andrew Hilton, a.k.a. The Screenplay Mechanic.

    • sweetvita


  • garrett_h

    “Hollywood’s still a place where if you come up with an amazing concept and you’re a competent writer, you can go directly to the front of the line.”

    So true.

    Almost monthly it seems, something sells and the amateur screenwriter community cries in outrage, “How did THAT piece of junk sell???”

    9 times out of 10, it sold off of CONCEPT. The typos didn’t matter. The thin characterization didn’t matter. The bold sluglines didn’t matter. The poster on the title page didn’t matter. It was a kick-ass concept. That’s why it sold.

    If it’s a great concept, but shoddy execution, the studio can bring in a vet to polish or re-write it. They have reason to believe it’ll pull in at least 3x it’s budget (the break even point). If it’s a script with beautiful prose, a great story, great characters, but unmarketable, they’ll pass. Why? Because if it doesn’t make money, the exec doesn’t make money. He’s FIRED.

    So it’s better for them to hedge their bets and pick the next SAW over the next AMERICAN BEAUTY. The odds are higher for a low budget horror flick to make some coin. A drama? It’s a coin flip… Matter of fact, those odds are too high. It’s a dice roll.

    And who wants to roll the dice with their career on the line? With the livelihood of themselves and their family? Other than Mike Matusow, of course…

    So remember, before you sit down to write that next spec, CONCEPT IS KING.

    • GeneralChaos

      High-concept and great writing aren’t mutually exclusive.

    • Client

      Not true in today’s market place. A good concept alone will not get you a sale. For a spec script to sell today it needs to be “Camera ready”.

  • Ryan

    I think what Anonymous Smith is trying to say is that he is looking for screenwriters specially tailored to his line of work…lol.

  • cjob3

    D’oh! Right you are. Gooooo reading comprehension skills!

  • Citizen M

    Only one stoner comedy. Are they considered passé now? I hope so.

    • gazrow

      Me too. I hate them with a passion!

  • Panos Tsapanidis

    I have a confession to make. I like it that writers still see this kind of “compromise” as anathema. Less competition. lol

    Also, putting Ari’s photo was one hell of a move. It was impossible for me not to click on it when it showed up on my RSS feed. Oh, and great article.

  • Bobby

    Nice insightful article. A lot of the above wouldn’t be for me but a couple made me raise an eyebrow. Then there’s the ones that are plain lazy! I totally agree with creating compelling characters and placing them within a genre landscape. So sick of just eye candy movies these days. So much that I just don’t bother going to the movies and I love going to the movies.
    I’ve decided to take the “El Mariachi” route for my first feature. Get the script as good as it can be. Cast hungry up and coming actors and work with a small talented crew. Can’t wait!

  • Citizen M

    Deleted. I’m keeping this for myself.

  • JakeMLB

    CRIMINAL is basically a re-imagining of Whedon’s spec, AFTERLIFE.

    • Bobby

      I got a Face-Off with memories vibe from the logline. But the more I think about, the concept feels thin. How much mileage can you get from downloading someone’s memories/skills to another person? Unless the script IS packed with emotional depth.

      • JakeMLB

        Well there’s no Face-Off aspect because the original CIA operative is dead. So there’s a psycho with his memories and skills. And that’s where things get a little confusing. Who’s the protagonist? Will the protagonist be a hybrid of the inmate and the original CIA operative? If so, it will play very similar to AFTERLIFE. The CIA operative probably had a wife. Now the pyscho will have feelings for her. But he’s unstable. Maybe he’s a rapist? And so on.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Ever considered you’re a huge exception to the rule, B?

    How many other spec dramas have sold in the last few years?

    Very, very few.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Thing about having a manager (which I’ve had) is that you pitch your next project to the guy and he says “there’s been five scripts with a similar idea out there in the last year and none of them have sold.”

    That’s six months to a year that you’re not wasting writing an unsellable script while some other poor sap who isn’t connected is.

    Though I guess the more common problem is not working on a good idea that’s been tainted, but working on bad to average ideas which would stand no chance in the first place.

    Then again there’s Hottest Ass Contest, so what do I know?

    • wlubake

      Studio exec:”We’ve seen lots of tits movies, but an ass movie? That’s something new!”

      • Citizen M

        Oh dear, I seem to have misunderstood.

        I thought they lined up a row of donkeys and stuck thermometers up their butts.

        • Get Your Ass To Mars

          Ass Fever?

      • Get Your Ass To Mars

        Tits Vs Asses

        Whoever wins, we also win.

  • NajlaAnn

    “Keeping Time” That’s it.

  • Todd Walker

    I hope Lewis and Clark gets made because I don’t think there has been a movie about them, has there? Criminal looks interesting, but I am wondering if they executed the script well enough to pass mustard. Is it just me or does Pirate Hunter sound like half a logline? What finds him? It kind of sounds like Pirates of the Caribbean except changing the perspective to the British Commador.

    I like the sound of The Do Over, who wouldn’t want a chance to do that,lol?! Freefall…why not just use the actual story of D.B Cooper, I don’t get it?

    • Jonathan Soens

      I like the inclusion of the DB Cooper angle, actually.

      I suspect it’s handled horribly, but it’s still such a fascinating story that I’m almost always interested whenever a TV show or movie try to appropriate it for their own uses.

      The DB Cooper thing was the part of the premise that interested me the most, really.

      • Todd Walker

        Well, me too Jonathan, I just would like to see a straight up story of D.B Cooper and not a re-imagining of it.

  • rsuddhi

    I don’t feel like dramas are generally impossible to sell – some studios are looking for that next Oscar-bait film, and of course these are almost always dramas. Biopics, historical events, heavy dramas, character pieces, etc. These types of film aren’t usually cash cows at the box office, but often bring in lots of attention from film festivals and award ceremonies. I guess this is why a lot of amateur writers write dramas – they dream of winning an Oscar, and just based on past Oscar winners, sci-fi, horror, and comedy films rarely ever win. I’d imagine some producers and studios think similarly and just want to make a great film that will rake in the awards. Just an example, I wrote my script in the vein of a classic monochrome film noir, and after the success of The Artist imitating a classic film style, who knows?

    • Jonathan Soens

      I don’t feel like they’re impossible to sell, either. If it reads like it can be shot cheaply, you’re helping yourself. If there’s a main character who has an excess of red meat to interest “name” actors who want to show off their acting chops, you’re helping yourself. If it has an easily digestible conflict that will work well in a trailer, you’re helping yourself.

  • Will Vega

    I really really like the last three loglines. I really wish I could read those.

  • ximan


  • Poe_Serling

    I didn’t know there was an Irish lake monster on the loose… but I guess it’s easy to be overlooked with such a famous neighbor on the block.
    Plus, that youtube video was indeed interesting footage of ‘something’ moving in the water.
    On a more personal note: Is your lake monster project and your Nicholl’s script one in the same? And if it is – you gotta tell me that Jaws was your inspiration and the structural template for the script.

    • grendl

      Yes, its my Nicholl script.

      And yes “Jaws” was in part an inspiration, but the “Commitments” played a big part in coloring the tone. It’s more of a comedy/drama with thriller elements and the monsters appearance aren’t the plot points.

      Its a story about a father and daughter at the core, with the cotton candy caramel coated monster story as the hook. The past movies like “waterhorse”, “Loch Ness”, and “Magic in the Water” made the mistake of making it all about the magical creature. My story deals with people who rely on it for their livelihood and the gullibility of tourists as well.

      Thanks for asking.

      • Poe_Serling

        You’re right… less ‘Jaw”-ish in nature and more lyrical and exhilarating … much like John Sayles’ The Secret of Roan Inish.

        Another wonderful story using the rugged landscape of Ireland as a backdrop.

      • Lisa Aldin

        I would like to read this. Have you submitted it here for AF?

  • Acarl

    The Hottest Ass Contest sounds like a real gas.

    • GeneralChaos

      That’s very cheeky of you.

  • TheRealMWitty

    I saw that Hottest Ass Contest went out this week. Good to know that if I just wanted to write directly for Cinemax, I would go through the same process and channels as I would for trying to sell an action or comedy spec to a major studio. Thanks.

  • carsonreeves1

    I talked about this before. Great Gatsby was anything but a guaranteed hit, a la a comic book or young adult novel franchise. It was a huge gamble. Yes, it’s technically a novel adaptation, but one from forever ago. Just like there’s no way to know how a modern day To Kill A Mockingbird or Moby Dick adaption would do, there was no way to know if audience’s would accept Gatsby.

  • lisap

    Would be interested in others thoughts on Now You See Me….I thought yes it was original (actually…it was just original enough), and it was well written…up to the third act…and then I thought it got incredibly lazy. Would be interested in others thoughts though.

  • Zadora

    I’m happy my natural likes are thrillers and horror. I just need to get better with the story telling itself. Meanwhile, I just keep writing. :)

  • Malibo Jackk

    Is there anything Irish in your background
    — other than the yelling and the drinking?

    • grendl

      No, just the yelling and the drinking.

  • Jerry Salvaderi

    As an aspiring screenwritier just beginning to learn the craft, this type of article gives me the jitters. Not because I feel the advice is unsound – quite the opposite, actually – but because it pulls me in different directions. It seems on one hand there’s the belief that if somebody writes something truly brilliant, Hollywood will come knocking on his or her door; on the other hand, it seems that some scripts will inevitably wind up at the bottom of the proverbial pile due to a concept that isn’t seen as “hot” by the people calling the shots.

    I have a high-concept idea for a screenplay with a basic hero’s journey, which I plan on filling with all the trappings of a solid story: strong character development, set pieces that advance the story, fatal flaws, etc. However I can’t help but feel a bit of trepidation that after all of that, my finished screenplay will not have a crack at being sold because the story is set in Ancient Rome.
    I realize I’m aiming a bit high here, going for a “faux masterpiece” with my first screenplay and not using it strictly as a learning experience, but I feel the idea is a winner. It’s a bit disheartening to realize that after all the work I put into it, the thing may never see the light of day. I guess I have much to learn about the plight of the screenwriter still :)

    • Poe_Serling

      Hey Jerry-

      No reason to get discouraged… just yet. ;-) If this is your first script, I would just go with your ‘high-concept idea’ and knock out the first draft – and make sure you have some fun in the process. Remember the first steps on the learning curve are just as important as the ones as you near your goal.

      And by chance it is a ‘masterpiece’ someday soon, then kudos to you and, if not, then you have a writing sample to share with others and can start getting some valuable feedback on its strengths and weaknesses.

      Good luck.

      • Jerry Salvaderi

        Thank you Poe.

  • Poe_Serling

    Haven’t seen a 200+ comment day in a long time… chalk it up to the agent post striking a chord with a lot of people and gazrow’s logline lovefest. ;-)

    • MWire

      And the fact that Carson posted it much earlier in the day than usual.

      • Poe_Serling

        True. ;-)

    • gazrow

      Ha Ha! “gazrow’s logline lovefest” indeed!

      Only just saw your comment. Poe! Certainly made me chuckle! :-)

  • Poe_Serling

    Yeah, I had the same thought.

    According to this article:

    “Toronto porn executive (or as I call him, an “XXXecutive”) says, “A good porn movie takes one week to make and costs $25,000.” And by “good” porn movie, he means “big budget.”

  • Poe_Serling

    “…it doesn’t have a dominatrix or any amputations in it.”

    No wonder Carson is so reluctant to give you an AF shot. Ever consider adding an Irish version of In-and-Out to the storyline? ;-)

  • carsonreeves1

    You’re talking about the director of Australia and someone who hadn’t had a hit in, what, 12 years? It was far from a guaranteed hit. Not even close.

  • fragglewriter

    The word INVESTMENT speaks volumes. As much time that we put into investing in the appropriate college choice, major, career and job, we should take that same motivation and research and invest in what sells and how we as writers can write that one script, even though it might kill us in the inside, just to get our foot in the door, to write our passion.

  • fragglewriter

    Are you going to write a movie review about “The Internship?”

  • wlubake

    That’s not how I viewed the move. I saw it as “this movie isn’t good enough to win Oscars.” And that is probably right. Leo could maybe see a nomination, Edgerton, too, but not much else there. And I loved the movie.

  • http://www.phantomlightmedia.com/ Shayla

    Thanks for the article, very informative, going to have to sign up for that website you recommended!

  • Citizen M

    Nice to know you’re still hanging in there.