Posts tagged ‘Michael Ferris’

March 8, 2013

Script: Surrogates


Surrogates was written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris based on the graphic novel, “The Surrogates” by Robert Venditti.

August 11, 2011

A Few Reasons to Give Script Consultants a Shot

I’m trying a script consultant this month for the first time ever. I’ll let you know how the experience goes, but in the meantime, here is an article (written by the service I’m trying — Script A Wish) outlining some reasons why you might want to consider using a reputable script consultant as well:

Before we start, I have to make a confession… I’m a script analyst. I know, I know – I have a conflict of interest here. Feel free to take this with a grain of salt – but I promise you, this will be a balanced and insightful article on story notes, and why they are a vital component in every serious screenwriter’s arsenal.

There is one key to success that I want you to keep in mind while reading this article: all it takes is one champion of your script to make your dream of becoming a professional screenwriter a reality. Write that above your desk – it will get you through those nights where you question what it is you are doing, and it will be a happy reminder once you’ve “made it”.

First, let’s talk about the professionals – the big league players everyone here wants to be. They don’t often use script analysts for their story notes. What? That’s right, they don’t. Why? They don’t have to. They have managers, agents, producers, and studio executives who give them story notes all the live long day. They don’t often use script analysts, but they rely on story notes to guide them to the final draft.

It’s an important point, because as we all know – writing is rewriting. So while they may not take every story note from every single person and integrate it into their draft, they use all of them to help winnow down what needs to be done to get the ball across the touchdown line. Why is that? Because, and this applies to all writers – aspiring and accomplished alike – we don’t have fresh eyes when it comes to our screenplays. We live them, we breath them, we write them – thus we don’t have an unbiased, objective eye to see exactly what works, and what needs work. So that’s point number 1:

#1 FRESH EYES: All Writers Need At Least One Pair of Fresh Eyes to Read A Script

Professional screenwriters get the added bonus of having managers, agents, producers, and other people who know exactly what makes a script work take a gander at their screenplays and tell them what it lacks.

But aspiring writers don’t have the same luxury – their family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and people they bump into every day are usually not highly knowledgeable industry professionals. Sure, you could have a friend who went to film school or another who’s an intern for Brett Ratner – but are they experienced and acclaimed analyzers of the golden brad-ed 120 pages? Most likely not.

What can those accomplished and experienced “fresh eyes” bring you?

Read more here.

May 9, 2011

3 Tips for Getting Your Script to the Studio Level

Here’s another great article from Michael Ferris (THe NPH picture will make sense once you read the article). When you get to the end of the article you’ll notice that Michael includes his email address in each of his articles. I would highly recommend taking advantage of this resource. I once emailed Michael with a question about one of my scripts, and he got back to me within two days with a thoughtful, in depth response that was extremely helpful.

But on to the tips:

1. Make White Space Your Best Friend

In today’s spec market, unknown writers can impress by doing one thing: writing a “fast” read. Sometimes, this can compensate for lack of things like character arcs, or the occasional on-the-nose dialogue. Mind you, this won’t fix poorly plotted or structured stories, but writing a fast or “quick” read can make you seem like more of a seasoned pro than you might be. If you read scripts from the 50s, for instance, it will be light years different from the type of scripts written nowadays, and one of those key differences is how the physical pages of the script look. Back then, they looked much more like novels.  Now, they look like someone took a chop shop to a novel, and left the body of the car on bricks.

Whether it’s a consequence of our shorter attention spans or not, industry people have even less time than ever to read spec scripts from unknown writers. One of the ways to set yourself apart and become their best friend is to give them a “quick” read. So what does that mean?

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April 14, 2011

Writing a Killer Query Letter

Michael Ferris, a writer for and an industry vet, recently posted this article on writing a query letter that will get your script into the right hands. The article also has a few things to say about who to send your query to and tips on writing a great logline. Here’s what he had to say:

First, some terms defined:

What is a Query Letter?

A query letter is usually a one page letter or email that you send out to agents, managers, and producers, etc. to try and entice them to read your script.

What is a Logline?

A logline is usually the first thing in a query letter and is the most vital piece of the message. It is usually 1 or 2 sentences long.

Okay, so let’s talk about query letters. First of all, the most important question is: are they still relevant? Do people still read them? And in what format? It’s important to first understand this aspect of the process in order to better write the query, and better your chances of a response.  And as with everything else, it all depends on who you’re sending it to, and what your goal is.

First, are they still relevant and do people still read them? Absolutely. If you send them to the right types of people. Let me give you an example: if you email a query letter to a Steven Spielberg or Scott Rudin, it’s more than likely not getting past the assistant or intern, who upon seeing the email, will more than likely delete it without reading. 

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