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Friday, November 10, 2006

Review: Write A Movie in a Month

Write a Movie in a Month is the title of the latest writing CD from my publishers, WCCL. I was lucky enough to get an early review copy, and I've become addicted to it. It's even inspired me to start work on a screenplay myself - and while I've written over 50 published books, that's something I've never tried before...

So here's my review of what I confidently predict will become one of WCCL's top-selling products for writers. Apologies in advance for the length of this post, but it is a BIG product, and I really do want to do it justice. Plus, as you'll see later, I'm throwing in a few extra bonus items for anyone who orders Write a Movie in a Month via one of my links.

Write a Movie in a Month is written by three people who have enjoyed considerable success in the screenwriting field: James Lamberg, Steven Wanamaker, and Mark Lewin. The main, 156-page manual is by the Los Angeles-based James Lamberg, who has written (and ghost-written) over fifty screenplays that have been produced both in the US and the UK.

James has a highly readable and motivational style that really does make you feel that writing a screenplay is something you CAN do in a month or less. At the heart of his method is the five-part W.R.I.T.E. formula. I won't give too much away about this, but it sets out five essential tasks that (in James's view) every aspiring screenwriter must complete.

The manual puts particular emphasis on getting to know the characters in your screenplay. James is a development executive with Movie Works (a literary development and production company), and he has developed a special framework to assist writers in creating rich and complex characters. The manual explains this framework in detail, and I found it a fascinating process. In my view this technique could be of great assistance to novelists and short story writers as well as screenwriters.

James's manual also covers formatting your screenplay and marketing it to agents and producers. He is not afraid to point out that this is a very competitive field, and new screenwriters are likely to experience their fair share of rejection. However, as an insider in the industry, he reveals a range of techniques and tactics you can use to greatly boost your chances of success. I especially enjoyed his advice about creating "the elevator pitch". For those who don't know, this is a pitch that is short enough to make to a top producer as you travel betweeen floors with them in an elevator, yet compelling enough to make them want to sign a contract with you there and then!

James's manual is just part of this course, however. Top US screenwriter Steven Wanamaker has contributed a 30-page guide to plotting your movie that again is packed with useful advice. The main manual includes advice on plotting as well, but Steven's guide gives you a slightly different perspective on this crucial task. His approach is a bit more structural, a bit less character-focused.

UK screenwriter Mark Lewin has contributed two items. The first is a guide to movie jargon - this is useful but perhaps not essential. However, his other item, Formatting Your Screenplay Like a Pro, definitely is! There is a particular way in which movie screenplays have to be written and presented, and this is one of the best explanations I have seen of it. Mark reveals how scenes are set out, when to use lower case and when to use block capitals, what size indents to use, how (and when) to write instructions to actors, and so on. I've printed out this guide and keep it beside me while I'm working on my own screenplay. Needless to say, as I'm a newcomer to this field, I refer to it often!

Another invaluable bonus item is "The Screenwriter's Little Black Book of Movie Industry Contacts". I'm not exactly sure who wrote this, but again it's crammed with essential information. You'll find lists here of agents in California, New York, other US states and the UK, along with producers and production companies. But it's much more than just a directory. You'll also find in-depth advice on submitting your screenplay, along with a model query letter you can adapt. There is also a list of reputable screenplay contests you can enter - these can be a great way for a new writer to break into the movie industry.

Finally, there are two other bonus items. One of them is a fully featured screenplay-writing program that will take much of the hard work out of formatting your script. Just to emphasise, this is the full program, not merely a demo or shareware version. And finally, they have managed to squeeze over 850 sample screenplays on to the CD - everything from Ace Ventura to Young Frankenstein (nothing beginning with Z, though!). As well as movie scripts, you will find over 200 TV scripts and treatments as well. Reading these scripts and comparing them with the actual movies is an eye-opening experience in itself.

Write a Movie in a Month is supplied on CD-ROM rather than as an instant download. There is a very good reason for this: so much has been packed into it, even with a fast DSL/broadband connection, it would take hours to download. That means you will have to wait to receive it in the mail, but WCCL say they will deliver anywhere in the world. The CD will run on any computer, including Macs and Linux.

Overall, if you want to break into the big-money world of screenplay writing, this CD would be hard to beat. It combines inspirational and motivational advice with all the practical tips, strategies and information you need to get your first screenplay "in the can" a month after buying the course.

As you can tell, Write a Movie in a Month gets my highest recommendation. OK, even at the discount launch price of $97 (around 50 UK pounds) it's a bit more expensive than my courses Write Any Book in Under 28 Days and Quick Cash Writing. But - as WCCL say in their advertising - that's no more than the price of a couple of nights in a flea-ridden motel. And even if your script only gets optioned by a studio, you can expect to earn that sum back a hundred times over. If it gets made, of course, the sky really is the limit...

But still, I appreciate that 97 bucks isn't exactly a tiny sum of money. So if you order via one of the links in this review, I'm going to throw in a few extra bonus items of my own for you...

1. I'll send you my unique report "How to Make Big Bucks Selling Your Movie Idea to Hollywood". The truth is that you don't HAVE to write a complete screenplay to make money in this field. In my report I'll show you how you could earn up to $20,000 USD or more just by selling a movie IDEA of maybe two or three sentences.

2. One thing that surprised me slightly is that the main manual doesn't say a great deal about writing a treatment. This is an intermediate stage which sets out your movie storyline in prose form. It's not essential to produce a treatment, but some writers find it useful as a blueprint to work from, and some movie-writing contests require them. So I'll also send you my original mini-report on writing a treatment.

3. And finally, you'll get download details for a little-known program that will help you outline your movie and produce a treatment "automatically" for you. This isn't free, but it's shareware, so you can download it and try it out free of charge before deciding if it's right for you.

If you'd like to get your hands on Write a Movie in a Month PLUS all my special bonuses, all you have to do is click on any of the links to Write a Movie in a Month in this review and place your order at the sales site on that visit. Once you've ordered, just forward a copy of the e-mail receipt showing your purchase to me at NickDaws+movie-at-gmail.com (change the -at- in this address to the usual @ symbol). Please title your email BONUS CLAIM. I will then send you instructions on how you can claim your free bonuses from me.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Linda Corby said...

Hi Nick,
Nice one. I actually completed the screenplay of my life-story 'Come to Grief' in under a month. I did have an American screenwriting parter, in fact still do have.
I do have your write any book in 28 days and it is brilliant, although I had completed the screenplay before getting it, I feel I might well have finished the screenplay even more quickly had things been the other way around.
It took me two years to finish the book of my life story 'Bad Blod' which you can preview at http://www.lulu.com/lindacorby just wish I had seen your book earlier, it has been a great help with other books I have written since! Thank you and keep up the good work.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

reading this blog in 2012, does your offer still stand if I purchase movie in a month via your links?... that is can I still purchase using the links provided?

8:30 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks for the query. Yes, absolutely, my offer still applies.

10:27 PM  

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