Thus far, I've completed three scripts. They're described below. I've also included some pretty good links (I think) related to screenwriting and screenplays at the bottom of this page. Also, check out my Art History in the Movies page.
My latest screenplay, which I completed in 2012, is called Three. It's sort of Lawrence of Arabia meets The Wizard of Oz. The logline: the three wise men battle earthly and supernatural forces in their journey to find the newborn king, learning along the way the true meaning of love, wisdom and courage.
Three has been:
The Raft of the Medusa
My second script, which I completed on my sabbatical leave during the Fall 2003 semester, is titled The Raft of the Medusa. It's based on the painting of the same name by the 19th century French Romantic painter, Theodore Géricault. We'll talk about the painting, and painter, in class. It's a great story of betrayal, love, cannibalism, death, obsession, incest...you name it.
The Raft of the Medusa has been:
If you want to read The Raft of the Medusa, send me an email.
Missing Mona Lisa
My first script was Missing Mona Lisa. It's based on the true story of Vincenzo Perugia, who stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911. He lived with his "love" for two years before smuggling it to Florence, where he was finally arrested. This script is currently in development at Larry A. Thompson Entertainment.
Links for Missing Mona Lisa:
Palomar College's newspaper The Telescope
Deadline Hollywood article
Film Buff Online
Wall St. Journal
If you're going to write a script, you should have a general idea about what's going on in Hollywood: who's buying what, what trends are hot and which stories have been "done" to death. These sites will help.
Deadline Hollywood (The go-to site for late breaking Hollywood news)
The Wrap (All of the unauthorized, but interesting, goings-on in Hollywood)
Variety (Variety's print edition was an icon of movie news)
Hollywood Reporter (Along with Variety, one of the old standards for show biz news)
IMDb (The Internet Movie DataBase: The most comprehensive, easy-to-use movie reference site around)
For Screenwriters (advice, online stores, script-swapping, etc.)
If you need help writing your masterpiece, or knowing who or where to send it once you've completed it, or which contests to enter it in to get exposure, check out the links below.
The Blacklist (For years, this list, circulated around L.A., represented the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood. Now it's online. Anyone can upload their script, but only industry professionals have access to reading them. Great way to get exposure and feedback!)
indieProducer (Like Facebook, but for screenwriters, producers, directors, actors, etc.)
JohnAugust.com (For me, blogs are usually a waste of time, but John August's site isn't just a good blog, it's a GREAT site with a ton 'o useful information from a WORKING screenwriter. Among his scripts: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Fish, Go and Charlie's Angels. A must-read for anyone interested in screenwriting.)
MovieBytes (Good source for screenplay contest info)
Screenwriter's Utopia (Lots of helpful links)
ScriptShark ("Tools for the serious writer")
Triggerstreet Labs (Free to join, and once you're in, you can read the scripts of others and have your uploaded script reviewed; the site is part of Kevin Spacey's Triggerstreet Productions)
United States Copyright Office (Copyright your screenplay here once it's finished; from their homepage, follow the links to Registration and download the "PA" form.)
Who Represents? (So you finished your script and want to send it to Tom Hanks' agent...but who is that? Check this site to find out)
Withoutabox (Gets you connected to competitions and festivals where you can enter your film or screenplay)
Wordplay (Advice and writers' forums)
Writer's Guild of America (west) (The official organization that represents writers for movies and TV; many helpful links. Plus, you'll want to register your finished script, or treatment, with them.)
Writer's Store (Good place to buy the software to write your script and the brads to hold your completed screenplay together)
The best way to learn HOW to write a screenplay is by READING screenplays. The sites below are a few that offer a good selection. But be sure you're getting a "screenplay" or "script," not a "transcript." A transcript is produced by someone watching a film, then writing down what happens and who says what. There's no artistry or craft in the writing. It's just a "recording." A script, or screenplay, is written by a real writer and may even differ slightly from what you see on the screen (which makes it even more interesting to read). But a real screenplay will have proper formatting, scene direction, settings, etc. Most of the sites below offer the scripts for free (as an educational tool), but some may charge a small fee.
Hollywood Book City
JoBlo's Movie Scripts
No "links" here, just old fashioned things called "books" that require you to turn the page instead of scrolling down. Of course, you can buy these books online at Amazon.com. Of my "how to" screenplay library (which isn't quite as big as my Elvis library), these are the books I've found most useful.
Blacker, Irwin R. The Elements of Screenwriting: A Guide for Film and Television Writing. New York: Macmillan General Reference, 1986. (Today, screenwriting programs will do all of your formatting automatically, but it's still useful to understand how a screenplay is structured and what its parts are called. This short, little book is a handy reference guide.)
Elbert, Lorian Tamara (edited and photographed by). Why We Write: Personal Statements and Photographic Portraits of 25 Top Screenwriters. Los Angeles: Silman-James Press, 1999. [Not a how-to book like the others listed here, but nonetheless a very enlightening, and fun, read. It's also great to see what screenwriters LOOK like. (We all know what the actors, and many directors look like, but a writer? Turns out they have faces, too.)]
Field, Syd. Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting. Third edition. New York: Dell Publishing, 1994. [There's probably later editions, but this is the one I have. So, you've probably thought that the Big Question was, "What is my purpose in life?" Nope. The Big Question is: "Why is Syd Field such a god to screenwriters?" And I don't mean that question with any lack of respect to Mr. Field. He IS the god of screenwriting. I just don't know why. He hasn't written any movies that I know of. He makes a living giving seminars and writing books about HOW to write a screenplay. And he's the best there is at giving that advice. Field will break down a screenplay for you into its proper, three-act structure, and tell you where all of your plot points are supposed to be. Like any creative endeavor, if you just copy what Field tells you, you'll turn out a robotic script. It's OK to depart from his instructions (you won't get sucked into a black hole if your second act starts on page 25 instead of page 30 as he suggests). But, it does pay to understand and internalize his logical deconstruction of the properly formatted script. An art analogy: Picasso didn't start painting abstractly, and brilliantly, right out of the gate. He first studied and practiced the fundamentals of art in a very realistic style. With that knowledge as a base, he went on to be a founder of Cubism.]
Field, Syd. Selling a Screenplay: The Screenwriter's Guide to Hollywood. New York: Dell Publishing, 1989. (In this book, Field examines the various people who buy scripts, so you'll know who to target once your masterpiece is finished. He then presents stories of successful writers and how they got their big breaks.)
Hauge, Michael. Writing Screenplays That Sell. New York: HarperPerennial, 1991. (Good advice on stories, structure and characters, but what I like best about Hauge's book is he gives good examples of his points. He SHOWS you what a proper title page looks like, and what you call all of the different "parts" of a script's page.)
Hunter, Lew. Lew Hunter's Screenwriting 434. New York: Perigree Books, 1993. (Hunter has been teaching the "434" screenwriting class at UCLA for a number of years, thus the title. This is another good overview of how to organize your story and create interesting characters. Hunter illustrates his points by writing a sample script, or at least passages of one, throughout the book. Very helpful.)
Lent, Michael. Breakfast with Sharks: A Screenwriter's Guide. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2004. (There was criticism of the author because his writing credentials were so few. But, he had written a column for years in Creative Screenwriting, a very good screenplay magazine, and I found his book to be a good overview of navigating Hollywood as a writer. Lent won't tell you how to write a script, but he'll tell you what to do with it once you've written it.)
Vogler, Christopher. The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers and Screenwriters. Studio City, CA: Michael Wise Productions, 1992. (This is a fantastic book. Vogler, who has a lot of experience with the Hollywood system, analyzed the many scripts he'd read, as well as successful films, through universal, mythic storytelling. Around the world, there is a "typical" structure to stories of heroes: they start out in an Ordinary World, they get a Call to Adventure, they Meet a Mentor, they go through a Supreme Ordeal, etc (think Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, and many others). I don't want to outline his entire thesis here, but it's a VERY enlightening book. Understanding how other stories are structured will help you with yours. The book is a little hard to find, but it's worth the search!)
Wharton, Brooke A. The Writer Got Screwed (But Didn't Have To): A Guide to the Legal and Business Practices of Writing for the Entertainment Industry. New York: HarperPerennial, 1997. [The title pretty much says it all. Tells you all you need to know about contracts; copyright; the Writer's Guild; the roles of agents, lawyers and managers (oh my!), etc.]
Whitcomb, Cynthia. The Writer's Guide to Selling Your Screenplay. Waukeshna, WI: Kalmbach Publishing Co., 2002. (A comprehensive, well-organized, easy read. Whitcomb takes you from your "calling card script" to pitching stories to executives to producing and directing your own scripts. There's also a good list of resources in the appendices.)
Wolff, Jurgen and Kerry Cox. Top Secrets: Screenwriting. Los Angeles: Lone Eagle Publishing Co., 1993. [This book consists of a series of interviews with famous screenwriters, as well as each writer's choice of a few pages from his or her well-known script. Included here are Michael Blake (Dances With Wolves), Jim Cash (Top Gun), Stephen De Souza (Die Hard), Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost) and Tom Schulman (Dead Poets Society), as well as a few others.]