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Richard Linklater Writing Boyhood 1Now that Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood has expanded to 771 screens across the U.S. and cracked the top 10 at the weekly box office, I had the opportunity to see this 12-year opus on its opening weekend here in Albuquerque. After watching this boy grow up on-screen in what feels like a blink of an eye — sometimes actually seeing him change dramatically in a quite literal blink of an eye over a cut — the screenwriter inside me wondered, “How do you write a movie that takes twelve years to shoot?” Here on No Film School, we’ve explored Linklater’s overall approach to filmmaking and screenwriting as well as his particular relationship with film and time via his Before trilogy (thanks, V Renée!). Now, thanks to many resources, we hear from Linklater himself on how he tackled the challenge of finding and writing the story of Boyhood over the course of its 12-year production. More »

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Making Sense of CENTS Lessons Learned on Set of My First Feature Film 1
Here at No Film School, my posts focus on screenwriting. I can honestly say searching for lessons from professional screenwriters, sharing those lessons with NFS readers and adding my own take on those lessons has made me a better screenwriter since I started writing for this site back in May 2012. But, by far, my biggest learning experience as a screenwriter to date happened this summer when I had the privilege of shooting my first feature film, thanks in no small part to many NFS readers who supported our CENTS Kickstarter campaign. Now that principal photography is complete and we’re heading into post production, I’m excited to get back to NFS to share with you 5 lessons I learned on the set of my first feature film as writer, director and one of the producers. More »

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Mac-App-Store-Explore-Your-Creativity-Screenwriting-Promotion-croppedApple is running an Explore Your Creativity promotion in the Mac App Store. That means for a limited time, you can buy several screenwriting apps at 50% off their regular prices. If you’re looking for more minimalist screenwriting tools, now would be the time to check out Highland or Slugline. If you’ve wanted to pick up Final Draft 9, but stayed away because of the sticker shock, 50% off may be the right price for you. You can even pick up Scrivener at half off. The Explore Your Creativity promotion in the Mac App Store is only for a limited time, though, and Apple is playing coy with the deadline. More »

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Rian Johnson Brick Script to Screen Austin Film Festival
If you saw the Internet in passing last week, you just might have caught wind of a small story about Rian Johnson joining a modestly successful sci-fi franchise to write and direct a future episode. For his sake, I certainly hope the first movie in the announced trilogy doesn’t tank, or Johnson may be out of a job. As I read that story, I was reminded of the Austin Film Festival Script-to-Screen panel I moderated with Johnson this past October to discuss his first feature film, the high school film noir Brick. Now only days away from principal photography on my first feature film, this feels like the perfect time to revisit our conversation to learn from Johnson and his experiences making this original take on the film noir genre. More »

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A Conversation with Jeff Nichols AFF part twoEarlier this year, I posted excerpts from my conversation with Jeff Nichols at the 20th Austin Film Festival and Conference, thanks to the generosity of AFF. Reading parts of the interview is nice, but I honestly believe you need to hear Jeff Nichols share his thoughts on writing and filmmaking in his own words. Now, thanks to AFF’s OnStory podcast, you get that chance. Using specific examples from his three films Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, and Mud, Jeff Nichols talks about his approach to characters and writing/directing, and he also hints at how his upcoming film Midnight Special will be different from his previous work. More »

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Final DraftIt’s time once again for another Final Draft 9 sale. If you are looking to upgrade to Final Draft 9 or purchase the full version, you can save 20% on upgrades, 30% on the academic version, and 32% on the full version if you buy from The Writers Store. But the sale ends today, May 31, 2014, so you don’t have much time if you want to take advantage of this sale. If you miss it, you’ll just have to wait until Final Draft 9 is on sale again a few months later. Check out the details below and find links to take advantage of the current sale at The Writers Store. More »

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Austin Film FestivalIf you already polished your screenplay for the Academy Nicholl Fellowship deadline earlier this month, you may want to consider one more submission. The final deadline for the Austin Film Festival Screenplay & Teleplay Competition is May 31, 2014 at 11:59 pm PST. Why submit your screenplay to AFF? Read on to find out the benefits of submitting your script to the one film festival dedicated to screenwriting. More »

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The Note Behind the Note Rewriting CENTS for Production

After several rewrites leading up to the Academy Nicholl Fellowship semifinalist status, then several more beyond, we’re finally gearing up to shoot CENTS this July. Now the rewrites are for production. We can’t afford that location, so can the scene take place somewhere else? Can we combine those two parts into one? Does that waitress have to say a line? It will cost us $268 plus fringes. While rewriting for these production logistics, I’m also rewriting the script as the director. With this in mind, my fellow producer sent me some notes she had solicited from her trusted sources along with her own comment. Paraphrasing, my fellow producer essentially said, “I couldn’t put my finger on it before, but now that I have seen these notes, I’m not sure I really like our protagonist.” Oh boy. Time to take another hard look at the script and address the note behind the note. More »

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The Black List NFL Company partnershipIf your passions for screenwriting and the NFL collide, this could be your big opportunity. The Black List has been announcing several partnerships with studios to find new, diverse talent among the screenwriting masses. Today, the screenplay discovery service unveiled a partnership with one of the largest entertainment companies in the world — it just isn’t a studio. Together, the Black List and the National Football League along with Charlie Ebersol and Mike Lanigan’s The Company are looking for writers to write the next great NFL-themed screenplay. Find out how you can get on the short list of writers by July 25 below. More »

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Film Independent Screenwriters LabAre you a screenwriter living in Los Angeles? Do you have a finished screenplay that could use feedback from professional screenwriters to get it into top shape? Then you should consider applying to the Film Independent Screenwriting Lab. Fellows in this 5-week program meet twice a week in September and October to get feedback on their scripts from a Lab Mentor, outside advisors and other Fellows. So, if you meet the criteria above, make sure to get your application into Film Independent by May 5, 2014. Check out more details about the fellowship and online application process below. More »

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BAFTAHeroes are fallible. Even superheroes must have their faults and weaknesses, and the screenwriters behind some of the most memorable portrayals of comic book heroes and real life heroes in recent years are certainly far from perfect. Yet, two long-time screenwriters, David S. Goyer and Susannah Grant, have both battled failures as writers to give us memorable scripts with complex heroes, whether pulled from comic books or ripped from the headlines. Thanks to the BAFTA Screenwriter Lecture series, both Goyer and Grant share their experiences as screenwriters with the rest of us so we can learn how to overcome our own obstacles to create memorable film heroes. More »

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Academy Nicholl Fellowships in ScreenwritingFor screenwriters planning to submit to the Academy Nicholl Fellowships this year, the clock is ticking. In fact, if you plan to take advantage of the Regular Deadline submission fee, you only have until this Thursday, Apr. 10 at 5 pm PT to submit your screenplay. So don’t wait until 11:59 pm PT on Apr. 10, or you’ll discover those few extra hours just cost you fifteen extra bucks. Check out the details on how to submit your screenplay and the current data from this year’s competition below. More »

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Richard Kelly Austin Film Festival Donnie Darko Script to Screen 3
For me, Donnie Darko is one of those films that needs to be found. Its Sundance premiere didn’t exactly set off fireworks and its subsequent theatrical release in the U.S. in the fall of 2001 was quiet. Thanks to DVD (and a healthy theatrical debut in the UK), though, many people did eventually find this debut feature film from writer/director Richard Kelly, turning it into a cult classic. But even after watching the film, you feel like you are still discovering exactly what Donnie Darko is. So, you turn to the Director’s Cut to find more. For me, I did find more — more questions and even more intriguing themes. Thankfully, all these years later, I had the good fortune to spend almost two hours in conversation with Kelly, watching clips from both the original and director’s cut of Donnie Darko, in front of a live audience during a Script-to-Screen panel at the 20th Austin Film Festival & Conference. Here are just a few of the lessons we learned from Kelly about his experiences with his enigmatic first feature. More »

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WriterDuet Outliner 1Note cards and cork boards may be the most ubiquitous outlining tools among screenwriters. Together, they’re simple, they’re visual, they’re movable. In short, they work. Now, what if you collaborate with another screenwriter in another time zone? Or even just on the other side of town? How’s that note card covered cork board working for your collaboration? Maybe you like to work on your own in the coffee shop down the street. I bet everybody loves it when you drag your cork board through the door. Now, thanks to WriterDuet, the online collaborative screenwriting app, we have an intuitive outlining tool that you can share in real-time with your writing partner — or use solo, if that’s how you write. And WriterDuet is still free. More »

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Veronica Mars movie Rob Thomas OnStory Austin Film FestivalExactly one year and a day since launching the Kickstarter campaign that raised $2 million in twelve hours and ultimately raised over $5.7 million in 30 days, the Veronica Mars movie hits the big screen day-and-date with its VOD digital distribution. While Veronica Mars changed who uses Kickstarter to fund films and introduced many new people to the crowdfunding platform, series creator and film writer/director Rob Thomas explains that this movie simply would not have happened without the crowdfunding support of its ardent fans. Now with the film’s release, OnStory TV from Austin Film Festival provides an in-depth interview with Thomas to learn how he, Kristen Bell, and their collaborators solved the mystery of how to make the Veronica Mars movie. More »

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Writers Guild Foundation 101 Greatest ScreenplaysOver the past several months, we’ve shared links to several of the award-contending screenplays (only six months to go until awards season begins!). Reading an entire screenplay can certainly help when you’re studying story, structure and tone. Sometimes, though, we only need a little inspiration, just a few pages of a great script to motivate us to stop procrastinating and get back to writing. Throughout 2014, the Writers Guild Foundation is giving us just that — select pages from the WGA’s list of the 101 Greatest Screenplays. More »

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theOffice 6-month FellowshipAs screenwriters, we all have to find places to write. Some are lucky enough to have an office in their own homes. Many of us find ourselves at the local coffee shop, enjoying the caffeine, avoiding the free wi-fi and ignoring (or absorbing) the chatter. We’ve all picked up a sixth sense for identifying an available power outlet in the most unlikely locations. If you are a new writer living in LA and you are looking for a quiet place designed specifically for writers to write, then you should apply for a free 6-month fellowship from theOffice. Oh, and the application fee? That’s free, too. Learn more about theOffice and get details about the 6-month fellowship below. More »

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Weekend Read iPhone script reader app Quote-UnquoteHave you ever tried to read a screenplay on your iPhone? It’s awful. You struggle with pinch and zoom in a vain attempt to read the stupid thing. The iPhone just isn’t meant to read screenplays. Or is it? Thanks to Weekend Read, a new iPhone app from Quote-Unquote Apps, screenplays now actually look good on your iPhone. In fact, the next time you’re stuck in line or riding the subway to work, you may actually want to read a screenplay on your iPhone with Weekend Read. And it’s free. More »

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15th Story Beat More Lessons Learned from CENTS Kickstarter
If my research of Kickstarter campaigns for film and video taught me anything, I learned the final days of most successful campaigns are wild rides. The Kickstarter for my upcoming feature film CENTS was no exception. Near the end of our Kickstarter, I shared lessons learned from the 15 story beats of our campaign, but since our campaign wasn’t finished, the 15th story beat had yet to be written. Now that our Kickstarter is done, allow me to take you behind the scenes of our final week to share more lessons learned from the exciting conclusion of our crowdfunding campaign. More »

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Black List TNT TBS Partnership New WritersI was a little busy last week, so we’re a bit behind on this announcement. In case you missed it, on Feb. 3, Time Warner announced a partnership with The Black List to find new writers for TNT and TBS in an effort to increase diversity. Considering The Black List already has a diversity initiative partnership with Warner Bros. for new feature film screenwriters, this announcement is a natural progression in the relationship between The Black List and Time Warner. The agreement should also draw attention to The Black List’s recent expansion into hosting original television pilots. Got a spec pilot script? Find out how you can opt into this new opportunity on The Black List. More »