Aren’t We Working in a Visual Medium…?

Yes! Just about every script doctor and screenwriting book advises us to use cinematic language in our projects, to employ active verbs and paint a vivid picture of the story for our readers. And yet, we are also told, time and again, by most of these same sources to never, ever include any photographs or imagery within the actual screenplay itself. It’s as if it’s been chiseled in to the Ten Commandments of Great Screenwriting – Thou shalt include only the written word and let those words speak for themselves. This is especially true when dealing with a spec screenplay. The accepted wisdom is that to include anything other than the actual script is amateurish, distracting, and it suggests your need the crutch of a picture to tell your story. What’s more, this bias has some support within the industry because almost every agent, producer, actor or director has, at some point, been assaulted with that very unprofessional spec script that included shooting boards, wacky cover pages, stills of dream casts and even six-packs beer in order to garner attention. So I get it. I agree with the concept, for the most part. And realize there’s even an institutional aspect that frowns on this practice. The screenwriting software of choice, Final Draft, the industry standard, does not actually possess the programmable ability to cut-and-paste, insert, import or otherwise include any type of picture. Think about that. It means that even in our digital culture, where pictures are as ubiquitous as the very air we breathe, the world’s most popular scriptwriting program cannot actually execute an image-driven function. (To accomplish... read more

Exclusive interview with Voyage Producer Elizabeth Kushman

Elizabeth is a 10-year veteran of the entertainment business. She got her start working for Wes Craven and went on to become a dynamic producer with many notable credits in the horror / thriller genre (you’ve seen many of them). Here’s what you can expect from the video: At 30 seconds, you’ll hear Elizabeth tell a funny story about her first two weeks working for Wes Craven.  At minute 2, hear all about Elizabeth’s background and most notable movie credits. At minute 3, learn how “RAPT” is going to help you break into Hollywood (it’s Elizabeth’s acronym for the 4 most important things creators must remember when trying to break into the industry).  At minute 7, hear about Elizabeth’s most exciting projects that she’s currently working on (a few of them happened to come out of Voyage!).  At minute 8, hear what kinds of projects Elizabeth is always looking for… and determine if Elizabeth is the best producer for you to work with on your project. At minute 9, learn what makes Elizabeth happy and why she finds working with emerging writers so fulfilling. Check it out! ... read more

The Logline: a magical sentence that will make Hollywood want your book

A guide to understanding and mastering the logline  Maybe you’re an author who has been working on perfecting your logline for months (or years). Or perhaps you’re familiar with what a logline is, but aren’t quite sure how to write one for your own story… Or perhaps you have no idea what a logline is or the first thing about writing one… Whatever the case may be, we are here to help break it all down for you! An effective logline is a critical element of attracting producers and buyers to your book or story… What is a Logline? A logline is a one or two sentence description of your story that boils down its basic premise in a way that’s concise yet evokes emotion in your reader. It should not only convey the basis of your book, but also give your reader some poignant insight into the story as a whole. Here’s an example of a great logline…. Blacksmith Will Turner teams up with eccentric pirate “Captain” Jack Sparrow to save his love, the governor’s daughter, from Jack’s former pirate allies, who are now undead. (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN)  Loglines are an essential component to packaging and marketing any project – you can even think of them as the basic DNA of storytelling. If you have a compelling logline, you’ll have a much better chance of hooking potential buyers and leave them wanting more – and that’s what you want! Tell your reader exactly why they should take time out of their busy schedule to read your story…. Work on answering the question, “What sets my story apart from... read more

The Skimmable Screenplay

Writers create screenplays to be viewed.  At least theoretically, no movie script was ever written for the purpose of being ‘read’ by an audience. Actors, producers and directors, of course, read scripts all the time, and they are a key audience for young, up-and-coming screenwriters, but these professionals are also viewers too, right? They, like general audiences, want to see, view or watch a script, not be forced to read it. We all want it visualized for us, largely, because it’s just easier. There’s less work involved. It takes time, concentration and energy to read a screenplay, but anyone can collapse on a sofa, turn on a movie and watch it… just kind of skim through it. So doesn’t it make sense that a script should share that essence and be designed for skimming, and not reading? I think so. Especially since we’re talking about an industry that’s famous for not always reading material cover-to-cover. When any written document makes for a skimmable read, it rolls off the page. It’s digestible. You see it in your mind and understand it immediately. Ironically, it’s kind of like watching a movie. Yet a large majority of scripts, even those by working professionals, are constructed in a way that hinders the visual flow of the story, and I’m not just talking about using more active, visually potent language. Although it’s rarely written about in the best screenwriting books, avoidable words, grammar and even punctuation often obstruct both clarity and dramatic impact, yet screenwriters go back to them time and again because that’s the tradition. Why? Why create a screenplay using the tools... read more

Agents vs. Managers vs. Producers

  Your guide to choosing the right people to be on your team If I had a dollar for every time an author asked me, “What’s the difference between Agents vs. Managers vs. Producers?” I would have a ton of dollars! Seriously, I could go on a tropical vacation 🙂 But instead of going on vacation, I’ve decided to break it all down for you right here… So I’ll start off by saying that each of these types of dealmakers exist in their own way to make arrangements that kickstart the process of creating movies, TV shows or webseries from conception to completion. But that’s pretty much where their similarities stop… Agents   I like to think of the Agents as the gatekeepers to Hollywood… They control what projects high-end talent take on… They also do all they can to protect / improve their clients’ value by making it tough for a newcomer to break in. Typically, agents work for actors, directors or writers and are highly transaction focused. As a rule, Agents only seek out known talent with pre-existing track records. They are interested in sales and final-products which means that they very rarely take risks on ideas that ‘aren’t a sure thing.’ And while this mindset is necessary to keep Hollywood running smoothly, it can be frustrating to newcomers like self-published authors who don’t have a preexisting reputation. Managers Managers are ‘in it for the long haul’ in terms of their clients’ careers. They are generally more focused on the long-term overall career development of their clients (whereas agents are more short-term-transaction focused). The good news for you is that... read more

5 Ways Tony the Tiger Will Help You Write a Winning Logline

  What does gorging on sugary cereal have to do with loglines? The last time I strolled down the cereal aisle, bold lettering, bright blue coloring, and Tony the Tiger himself jumped off the Frosted Flakes box and grabbed my attention. Why would I choose the Safeway brand lamely boasting “Sugar-Coated Corn Flakes” when I could have a cereal that tasted gr-r-reat? Cereal boxes and loglines are both pitches, advertising themselves to win over the hungry shopper or potential script buyer. The purpose of a logline is to succinctly and clearly convey what your script is about to a producer, studio, executive, etc. who is looking to buy scripts to make into movies. A badly written logline (no matter the quality of the script) can turn away buyers. There are lots of tips for writing a good logline, but these are the ones I found most applicable as I noted which loglines sparked my interest…and which ones stayed on the shelf at Voyage. These tips, along with our logline template found below, can help any writer assemble an appealing logline. Attention To Detail  If you saw a box of Cocoa Puffs where ‘Puffs’ was missing a letter, would you still buy it? Maybe. But you might be less confident about the integrity of the product, whereas a grammatically sound competitor will instill trust in the buyer. It takes as little as a misplaced comma to take the reader out of the pitch and away from the story. Find the “Shiny Object” Every kid’s cereal brand has that shiny object, whether it’s Tony the Tiger or “Trix are for kids!” A... read more

2015: A Year In Review!

It’s been a successful year here at Voyage and we have a lot for which to be grateful. First and foremost, we want to thank you for being a part of our incredible family of creators! Without you and your hard work, none of these wins would have been possible. Before we get swept up in 2016, we want to take a moment to reflect and highlight some of our wins from 2015. BREAKING NEWS We’re thrilled to announce that our Original scripted feature, THE GOD HELMET, has obtained 50% financing (yes, actually in the bank) and fingers are crossed it goes into production in Q1. Also, our feature documentary, VALLEY UPRISING, had a huge run theatrically screening in over 45 countries with total attendance in excess of 100,000. It also attained a primetime release on Discovery, and is now available in a premium Vimeo window. Finally, it attained over 5 Grand Prizes at all the major adventure festivals including the prestigious Grand Prize at Banff. THE NEW WEBSITE We set some lofty goals for 2015, and none bigger nor more important than building our new website. The goal was to create an online platform where you could Get Connected with experienced producers such as yourself, Get Educated with over 400 video trainings on how to create marketable projects that will sell, and Become an Original. The site is a huge success! Hundreds of creators like you are ordering, booking, and uploading materials to the website for their strategy sessions. And hundreds more have have enrolled in our LAUNCHpad program, a monthly subscription service where you get on demand access to all... read more

[Checklist] How To Advance Your Career During The Holidays

  It’s that time of year again! And this year is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of all that downtime you’ll have (between eating and decorating, of course)… After all, a creator never rests! The time off work and away from other commitments that comes with the holidays can and should be utilized to help advance your career and get your project noticed. One of the easiest (and most effective) ways to do this is to improve your online presence. It’s free and can only help your cause… So we’ve come up with a checklist of all the things you can be doing online to improve your reputation and social following. Before you begin to tackle this checklist during your holiday break, make sure to zero in on your goals of creating an online presence…. Do you want to sell more books? Do you want to connect with screenwriters in your area? Are you hoping to get the attention of a key Hollywood player? Do you want to establish a local writer’s circle? There are so many different things that can be accomplished by setting yourself up with an online image, so it’s important to hone in on what you want, and why, so you can focus on that goal. o Build a Website Your website should be the heart of your brand and the message you want to put out to the online world. Your website should to be easy to use, explain who you are and what you do, and have a clear message. Wix.com is an easy-to-use, free website hosting platform and a great place... read more

5 Tips To Pitch Producers Like A Pro

  Deliver Your Best Producer Pitch You already know how important it is for newcomers who want to break into the Hollywood market to get their story in front of the right executives. But we haven’t really touched on what happens when you finally do land a meeting with that big-shot producer at that high-powered studio or network? You only have a few minutes, at most, to capture their attention… So what do you say and do to get that producer interested in your book or script? Here are 5 tips to help you craft your perfect pitch and blow that Hollywood exec out of the water with your movie or television show idea: 1. Be The Expert Of Your Story Prove that YOU are the perfect writer to tackle your concept. In order to do this, you must have confidence in yourself, your project and where it’s headed. You should also establish your specific connection to this story. What inspired you to write this specific story in this particular way? Insert your personality, voice and/or experience into your pitch. 2. Keep It Simple Don’t try to do too much with your pitch. You need to boil your story down to the most important elements by highlighting the big picture concept of your story. Include your hook, main concept, and a couple of sentences about your main character so it’s clear whom the story will follow. Establish why the producer should care to connect to that specific character. 3. Your Characters Are The Key Conflict drives a story and keeps people interested. So keep your characters at the forefront... read more

Work smarter, and a little bit harder

How rethinking your writing can help you bounce back from rejection You don’t need me to tell you that rejections are tough. The stories we tell, the ones we really care about and want to see come to life, are our darlings. They’re the result of hard work and tough love. When you’ve got a story that you’ve slaved away on for weeks, months, or even years of your life, it can be crushing to take that project to a producer and be told it’s not what they want. Worse—they might not even respond to you at all! So how are you, as a writer, expected to traverse the minefield of rejection and criticism we call “Hollywood”? You only have a few minutes, at most, to capture their attention… So what do you say and do to get that producer interested in your book or script? First: don’t panic. Rejection is just as much a part of writing as hand cramps and eye strain. Even the greatest writers can get rejected at the height of their established careers. By nature of marketing to the changing landscape of film, not everything you write is going to find its audience on the first go around. It’s what you do next after your script gets sent back to your doorstep that really counts. Before you plan your next move, it’s important to understand the two types of feedback you can get from a producer… The useful… And the unreliable… If you’ve gotten critical feedback from a producer who’s read your script, you’re already a step ahead on the road to improving your writing’s marketability.... read more

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