Posts tagged ‘Danny Manus’

November 4, 2013

24 Tips for Pitching Your Script

AFF_Logoby Angela Guess

At the recent Austin Film Festival, Danny Manus and Pamela Ribon were on hand to teach all the shy, introverted, socially-awkward writers in the room (myself included) how to pitch. Danny’s experience with pitching comes from the executive end. He’s currently running No BullScript Consulting, but he admits that he is a “recovering development executive.” Pamela’s experience comes from actually doing pitches for both film and TV projects, and she has sold numerous ideas and scripts to the likes of ABC, Warner Bros., Disney Channel, and 20th Century Fox.

Pamela and Danny had a lot of wonderful advice to dispense. In no particular order, here are their top 24 tips:

  1. A logline is key. Hook them up front with your big idea, your main characters, and your conflict.
  2. Don’t get bogged down in the details. This leads to coming to the end of your time and only covering the first five pages.
  3. Think about how you would get your friend to see a movie you like. Build your pitch with that in mind.
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August 2, 2012

50 Dead Giveaways That You’re an Amateur Writer

Danny Manus of No BullScript Consulting has written a new list, 50 signs of an amateur screenwriter. As he puts it,

There are probably hundreds of signs that the writer of that script I’m screaming at is an amateur. But today, I’d like to give a mere 50. Most of these may seem like common sense, yet you’d be amazed at the sheer number of projects plagued with these issues. Some of them may make you worry about your own work. But hey, at least you’ll know for next time and you’ll be one step closer to making sure your work is at the highest of professional standards.

The following is in NO particular order and covers a broad range of script issues.

  1. Writing CUT TOs, FADE TOs, FADE OUTs, or any other Transition between every scene.
  2. Telling us instead of Showing us.
  3. Description is in past tense instead of present tense and does not use the active form of the verb. For example, John drives – not John is driving. Danny stands – not is standing. No -ING verbs.
  4. Not using pronouns or articles in your sentences. THE room, HIS dog, HER chair. You don’t walk into room – you walk into THE room or A room.
  5. Having wordy description paragraphs longer than 4 lines on a page without a line break.
  6. Not CAPITALIZING your characters names the first time we meet them in your description. Or capitalizing characters names every time they’re seen or mentioned.
  7. Capitalizing every noun and/or verb in your description.
  8. Not having a new scene heading for every new location or writing things in your scene heading other than the location, time of day and relation to the previous scene
  9. Your description tells us exactly what your characters are thinking or are about to discuss in dialogue, or tells us backstory the audience cannot see.
  10. The script is written in Microsoft Word, Notepad or Celtx.
  11. Not knowing the difference between a Montage and a Series of Shots. A Montage condenses numerous scenes, locations and the passage of time while progressing the plot and character arcs. A series of shots is a visual style to show many different actions or specific visuals all from one scene or a short time span.
  12. Having Camera Direction in your description (“we see”, “shot of”, “camera pans” etc)
  13. Writing parentheses before dialogue on every page explaining the emotion or how the line should be said.
  14. You are not using “Intercut With” when going back and forth between two scenes instead of restating the scene heading each time.
  15. Lengthy location descriptions or too much production design – we don’t care what color the couch is.
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July 10, 2012

Fix Your Writing Mindset

Danny Manus of No BullScript Consulting recently shared this list of advice for getting in the right mindset about your writing and your career:

Two weeks ago, I attended a very special 4-day seminar given by Brendan Burchard, the NY Times #1 best-selling author, motivational speaker, and the expert’s expert. It wasn’t about screenwriting per se, but instead was about being a high performer – in life and in business. Whatever business you might be in.

Much of what I took from the seminar was about making sure you are in the right mindset for success and that you are looking at your daily routine and plans for the future in terms of productivity, energy, clarity and courage.

I realized how many things I was doing that were sabotaging me, and took away some great soundbytes that have helped me get back into the correct mindset. So  I thought I’d share them with you…

First… Delete these sayings from your vocabulary:

-I know how to do that already, I read a book about it.

– I know enough about how to structure a script and write a logline.

– I don’t need to know spelling or grammar, I’ll just have someone edit it.

– I don’t need professional feedback, I know it’s ready.

– The only reason I’m not an A-List screenwriter is because I don’t have an agent or manager.

– I can’t do that, because I don’t have ______.

– I know it’s just a first draft, but I can make it good enough by this weekend to enter it into this contest.

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July 2, 2012

Crafting Subplots and B-Stories

This is something that I struggle with, and I imagine I’m not alone. That’s why I’m grateful that Danny Manus of No BullScript Consulting answered the following question for Script Magazine: “How many subplots should I have and how do I make them work with the overall story?” Danny responded thus:

A man can’t live on ‘A’ storylines alone – and neither can your scripts. If you’re not crafting and interweaving compelling subplots and B stories into your script, your story will probably feel flat and won’t sustain for 100 minutes.

Your subplots and B stories are what add new dimensions to your script and flesh out your concept and story. Most stories have at least 2 or 3 subplots, and can have more. But you don’t want them to take AWAY from the main storyline, only add to it!

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