Back in December I wrote my first feature film called Evade. It’s a thriller and horror film with a feminist/queer plot line that’s full of twists and turns. Think Get Out but gay. I got it officially copyrighted by the U.S. copyright office. My next process is to be able to pitch it to some production companies when I go to LA for LA quarter for my school. I want to get this script optioned because right now I am not capable of making it happen with a low student budget. It requires a large cast, party scenes, and multiple locations. I wrote Evade in 2 weeks (seriously). I wanted to write this blog to show that you can too write a feature in 2 weeks.
Now before you begin, this requires determination, no distractions, and at least three hours of writing per day. I know what you’re thinking I don’t have the time…I have a girlfriend…I have kids…I work a 9-5. No excuses. It’s all about balancing everything. To help, you should break the three hours into an hour and a half of writing in the morning and an hour and a half of writing in the afternoon or at night. Here are the steps I advise you to follow.
Before you can even type one word, you need to come up with an idea. Grab your laptop or pen and paper (what I prefer) and ask yourself these questions.
2. Character Exploration
3. Outline your entire film
Now it’s time to open up Final Draft or Celtx or whatever screenwriting software you prefer and WRITE. I’ve created some rules to follow when writing.
5. Pat yourself on the back!
Once you’ve finished your first draft treat yourself to a massage, expensive coffee, or sushi at that boujee restaurant.
6. The Re-Writing Stage
Writing is really about re-writing and always improving your characters, dialogue, plot points, and whatever else you feel like needs improving.
7. title it.
I like to do this last so I can see what themes were created and try to create a title based on that unless before you write you have a title you really love. You do you. To me, memorable titles are very hard to create.
8. have fun!
Experiment. Have workshops with friends that are screenwriters. Explore a theme that you’ve always been interested in. If you’re not having fun while you’re writing, then your audience won’t either so choose something else to write about.
I hope you found this article helpful, if you did, please share!
Comment below your own writing tips and tricks.
Dreams are never too late to make happen!
Here's a short exercise to help develop your characters and get into their own mind. This is inspired by Scott Myer's Crafting Characters lesson on screenwritingmasterlcass.com
Imagine your character is next to you and you are interviewing them. Write in their voice. Just write. Don't erase anything you write until you look back. Here is the list of questions.
1. What is one goal you want to achieve?
2. What do you need to improve on? Emotionally? Physically?
1. Who is most important to you right now?
2. Do you have a close relationship with your family? Who in particular?
3. Who is your best friend and why?
4. Do you have any enemies or people you don't like? Why?
1. What is your occupation? Why are you happy/not happy with it?
2. What is the job environment like? Hectic? Relaxed? Anyone you can't stand?
3. Body type? Are you happy with your body image?
4. What's your personal style look like?
1. Philosophy of life?
3. General Mood?
4. Any phrases or words you always say?
5. What do you people know you as? The person who ____________
1. What's the worst thing that could happen to you?
2. Worst fear?
1. What's the best thing that could happen to you?
1. What stands in the way of achieving your goal? Internal and external?
2. What must you overcome/do to achieve your goal?
after you do this exercise:
Read what you wrote and highlight important things you want to include in your screenplay. Cross out/delete the things you don't like or want.
Like this exercise? Check out this blog post about how I wrote a feature in
Comment below what you thought of this exercise!
Dreams are never too late to make happen!
In the past year, there have been many films featuring LGBT+ characters, but their storylines revolve around conversion therapy, coming out, and relationships between an older woman and a younger woman. Booksmart represents a film that is not just an “LGBT+ film” but a film that includes complex and diverse characters. It’s not a film that’s only about being gay and the oppression of the LGBT+ community. It demonstrates great media representation of the LGBT+ community. It’s a realistic coming of age film that audiences of a variety of backgrounds can relate to. It’s about two best friends in high school that realize they haven’t experienced the cliché “high school experience” because they’ve focused on studying instead of partying, so they spend one night trying to go to a party and end up with their crushes. The main protagonists are both females that are complex and grow throughout the film. They’re also feminists. The side characters are diverse and complex. The film practices inclusion. This film doesn’t just offer great representation on screen, but also off screen. Most of the crew were females and from diverse backgrounds. Therefore, this film has changed the LGBT+ film industry and serves as a role model for future filmmakers.
Several films that try to create LGBT+ characters do not represent the LGBT+ in a positive way. For instance, some characters in modern cinema that are queer are portrayed as villains, psychopaths, or cannot make up their mind between men or women. They usually end up dying, ending up alone, or going back to the “straight” life they once had. Booksmart breaks these negative stereotypes and storylines. The main protagonist, Amy, is queer but the storyline is not about her being queer. Her goal is to ask out her crush Ryan who’s a skateboarder. This is a typical Hollywood storyline no matter the sexual orientation of the characters. Amy does not come out to anyone in the film and it’s established that being gay is normal and accepted in this world director, Olivia Wilde creates. This is more realistic in high school today because being queer is becoming more accepted. Amy is a complex character who is confident in her sexuality, but it seems as if this is the first time she’s been with a girl. For example, in the end when Hope and Amy start to make out in the bathroom. The cinematography is composed of tight close-ups on each girl. Hope looks excited and fearless while Amy looks cautious. There is no music in the scene and long takes that add to the awkwardness of the scene. It represents the first time. It accurately represented it because it’s very awkward at first and most films don’t represent this authentically.
Booksmart offers an accurate depiction of high school that a variety of people can relate to. One can find themselves in each of the characters because they are complex. They’re not stereotypes. Sophia Mcdougall, writer for NewStatesmanAmerica, writes in her article, I hate Strong Female Characters, “I want a wealth of complex female protagonists who can be either strong or weak or both or neither because they are more than strength or weakness… I want to see women in as many and varied secondary and character roles as men: female sidekicks, mentors, comic relief, rivals, villains.” One of the protagonists, Molly, is very smart, a feminist, but has flaws in being very controlling over Amy’s life and being selfish. At the beginning of the film, the production designer chose to have pictures of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Michelle Obama, and a feminist poster saying “We should all be feminists” in Molly’s room as she listens to affirmations. She discovers how controlling she is throughout the film and changes by letting Amy go to Africa alone.
Amy’s flaws are she always listens to people instead of listening to herself but by the end, she decides to go to Africa and chooses to kiss Hope when in the beginning she had little confidence when flirting with girls. A scene that demonstrates that the female characters are both strong and weak are when they get in a fight at the party. There are reverse over-the-shoulder shots that reveal the character’s emotions. They are both vulnerable in this scene because they are both exposing harsh truths about one another. They later work on these flaws and develop as better people in the end. Gigi is the complex female sidekick who brings Amy and Molly on a crazy acid trip on Jared’s yacht. The other side characters are diverse and complex. Theo is Native American and struggles with getting girls which sometimes is not represented in Hollywood films. Miss Fine is a black female mentor that supports Amy and Molly’s dreams and rescues them by driving them to Nick’s party. She actually ends up hooking up with Theo which is complex because he’s a student and she’s a teacher.
This film has diverse cast but also diverse crew that’s made of mostly females. This is director’s Olivia Wilde first feature. It was written by Katie Silberman. The producers were mostly female. The main editor was Jamie Gross. The production designer was Katie Byron. Anna Purna Pictures, the production company that distributed the film is run by a queer president and develops queer content for younger audiences. Olivia Wilde gave very important advice to filmmakers in an interview with Variety titled, Olivia Wilde: ‘You Have to Look Beyond Resume’ to Make Casts More Diverse, “In order for casts to become more diverse and representative –– the same goes for crew behind the camera –– you have to look beyond resume. You have to hire people based on their talent, their skills, their ideas, their passion. If we keep hiring based on resume, we will just continue this paradigm, and everything will be the same as it’s been. We have to break the mold, we have to change the way we hire people. Maybe you could be a little bit nervous to hire an actor who’s never been on a film set and has a pretty sizeable role, but I found that pretty exciting,”. Therefore, if people were hired based on their skills and passion instead of past work or just for capitalism the film industry would be more diverse.
In conclusion, Booksmart is a realistic coming of age film that the queer community needed. The strong female characters are not just strong but also are vulnerable and weak. They are well rounded characters that change from beginning to end. The side characters are also female and diverse. It has a happy ending which most films featuring LGBT+ characters don’t have. The key department heads were led by females that hired other female crew members to be in top positions. It’s a feminist and queer film that expands to a variety of audiences. Booksmart will inspire future generations of filmmakers to hire more females to be a part of their crew, develop complex female characters, vulnerable male characters, and to write films that go beyond the cliché LGBT+ film tropes.
comment below what you thought of booksmart!
Senior year of high school, I went through a rough time in my life because the girl I thought was my "soul-mate" ended up breaking my heart over text. I was depressed for a while and then my best friend suggested trying to meditate. At first, I thought the ocean waves and calming voice saying affirmations were very cheesy. And sometimes they still are BUT when you find the right meditation for you, it will honestly change your life.
Now, meditation is not for everyone but I hope that you will open your mind up to new possibilities and try it. It helped me get through a period in my life where my passions of film and writing was hard to do because of how sad I felt. The worst part of it all was I was going through my first major breakup and I couldn't even tell my dad or family because I wasn't "out" during the time. Meditation was my escape and my safe space to know that everything would be okay and this period would pass.
Meditation has also helped me develop as an artist. Sometimes you get stumped and think: how should I finish this piece of work? where do I go from here? Once you begin to meditate and practice it. To me practicing meditation is different than just meditating. Practicing meditation is doing it daily with intentions of growing and learning about your true self. Meditating to me is doing it once in a while or only doing it when you are stressed or sad. Practicing meditation everyday will help you create ideas or get unstuck from a piece of work. Your intuition will start to develop and you'll get a random gut feeling of how to continue or finish your work or where to go after.
Some people believe meditation is only about listening to your inner voice and getting to know oneself. It is sometimes about this BUT it's also about clearing your mind of every thought. It's about embracing and enjoying the peacefulness of the moment of quiet and inner peace. Your body will sometimes tingle and don't be scared! I thought once this happened I was either going to float out of my body or pass out. That's actually your body telling you that you are very relaxed. This is the time where random thoughts that will just pop in your head matter. These thoughts to me are your inner voice giving you guidance or assuring you of actions you have taken. It's one of the best feelings when this happens!
the two best meditations!
Comment your meditation experiences and if you've tried the two I suggested! Remember to keep on smiling and to spread love! Have a great weekend!
DEDICATED TO ALL THOSE FILMMAKERS OUT THERE 😜
I'VE BEEN 1ST AD'ING ON SOME FILMS SO I DECIDED TO SHOW YOU MY PROCESS OF CREATING A CALL SHEET. FREE TEMPLATE ATTACHED!
Good morning everyone! Hope your week is off to a great start. Chicago's weather has been so nice lately so I went walking by Lake Michigan yesterday. I stumbled upon a sailing competition, the beautiful sun hitting the waves, and people enjoying the weather. I wish I brought my 35mm camera to take pictures. So, that's what inspired me to write this post.
1. A camera
No matter what medium your art is, a camera is a tool used to document moments. You don't need to be a professional photographer or have a fancy DSLR. You can even use your iPhone. Lately, I've been getting really into 35mm camera's because there's just something about developing the pictures and not seeing them right after you take them that excites me. Like my Philosophy of Film professor said, "When you get older that's less and less surprises", but developing film and picking the prints up is a little surprise. Photos can also be an inspiration for your art: drawings, paintings, books, screenplays, etc.
2. a notebook/sketchbook/computer
My partner likes to call me "old fashioned" because of the vintage long "detective-like" coat I've been wearing and how I dress very "proper". I also like writing all my ideas down in a notebook instead of on a laptop. When you start bringing a notebook everywhere, no matter where you are, you can jot down an idea you have. OR if you prefer a sketchbook, you can quickly draw something that you just saw. You can also use a computer to write down ideas, but again it's not the same. It's also a little weird to me when I see people on the train pull out their giant laptop and fancy airpods, so they can be in their own little world. To me, riding the train is a place to get ideas from.
3. a business card
You never know who you could run into. A potential client, an art collector, a producer, a publisher, etc. Business cards are important to have because they show professionalism, are a source for the person to contact you, and can develop your brand. The business card above is one I designed to promote my production company, but is not for clients. I designed another one with my phone number on it for clients. It has my company's logo on it too.
These three things will inspire you, document your ideas, and promote your brand. Comment 👇other things YOU think a creator should always have with them.
Have a wonderful week and remember to stay true to you and follow your dreams!
Synopsis: A heartwarming story about two incompatible roommates that must peacefully live together when one finds out the other has been hiding a life-altering secret.
Directed by Alexis Hester
Written by Julio Cortes
Cinematography by Bridget Johnson
Sound by Hal Barnes
Chase Nuerge as Daisy
Victoria Hooten as Faith
Tom Dacey Carr as Greg
Jackie Maria Seijo as Grace
coming out soon!
The Oscars started in 1929. Only one female director has ever won the Oscar for Best Picture: Katheryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker. The Celluloid Ceiling is an annual report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University that records statistics about women in film. Martha Lauzen, the executive director for the center and author of the article, “The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women on the Top 100, 250, and 500 Films of 2018.” reveals, “Women accounted for 8% of directors working on the top 250 films in 2018.”
Why are there few female filmmakers who are nominated and/or win the Oscars?
I interviewed three strong and talented female directors to get their perspective on this issue and discuss what it’s like for them to deal with gender discrimination in the film industry.
Charlotte Kennett is a comedy writer/director known for her popular Chicago LGBT+ comedy web series, Chapstick and Youtube Channel, Sleep Late. She moved to LA last year and worked for Starz as a Production Assistant on the TV series, Counterpart. Charlotte co-wrote a feature film alongside the well known LGBTQ female filmmaker Marina Rice Bader of SoulKiss Films this past year and a few months after wrapping Counterpart. The film, "Alien Jane at the Shangri La", is set to go into production in 2020.
Pushing onto another feature, Charlotte is currently co-writing a lesbian Rom Com alongside YouTuber, Jenna Larson, for Tello Films. The film is set to go into production in the Fall of 2019. Charlotte says about that experience, “It’s so exciting to be working with LGTBQ writers, producers and directors I’ve admired for years.”
Charlotte currently works part time as a writer and producer for a commercial production company in Los Angeles, and beyond that is working hard as a freelance writer, director and producer the rest of the week. Charlotte says about her current favorite projects: “The ones where I get to get behind the pen or behind the camera, I’m invigorated." Charlotte is currently in pre-production on her next LGBTQ comedy web series called “Hopelessly Homo” which you can look forward to within the next few months.
Follow Charlotte on Instagram and
look out for "Hopelessly Homo" on Youtube
Layne Marie Williams is an award-winning female filmmaker and founder of Women of the Now, a media production company in Chicago. They are focused on telling complex female-driven stories and providing networking opportunities and events for women identified folks in the film industry. She also created The Women’s Film Festival in Philadelphia that offers opportunities and support to female filmmakers.
Check out Women of the Now's Website and follow Layne on Instagram
Gigi Saul Guerrero is a Latino horror female filmmaker best known for her style of TEXMEX horror with a touch of grind house. She directed the mini-series "La Quinceañera" for Warner Brothers / Stage 13, and fan favourite "El Gigante". Her company Luchagore Productions has made over 18 shorts films including viral sensations like Evil Dead in 60 seconds, A Luchagore Christmas and many more. In addition, she just recently wrapped her first feature for Blumhouse on Hulu's Into the Dark Series.
Follow Gigi on Instagram and check out Luchagore Productions' Website
Bridget Johnson: Why do you think there are very few female filmmakers in the past 10 years who win Oscars?
Charlotte Kennett: I think this would be because the largest budget films or ones with the largest producers attached choose notorious male directors over taking a chance on a newer, maybe less experienced female director. I think it’s hard for certain people in the industry to see beyond numbers. It’s a business at the end of the day. I think men trust men more than they trust women. There’s no exception when it comes to a big film. Like I said - people seem to have more faith in a man at the helm of a big film than they do a woman.
Layne Marie Williams: I think it goes back to “Oscar So White” it’s all in that same playing field. The patriarchy and who’s taking up space at the table for the longest. It needs to change.
Gigi Saul Guerrero: There’s still going to be politics no matter what kind of award, field, craft, industry we’re talking about. People are favored. It’s hard to say why there haven’t been enough women, but not enough women have been hired to direct and that’s the problem. Not enough women have been given those Oscar-worthy films to direct that we can all remember by.
Bridget Johnson: What is the result of having few female filmmakers?
Charlotte Kennett: The result is less interesting, honest stories being told from unique POVS. We are losing big stories, or they are being told by the wrong people. We have to remember our vantage point. We should want people to go into the movies to escape, but also feel like they see themselves - or could see themselves. Without more representation behind and in front of the camera - we lose that.
Layne Marie Williams: There’s power in numbers so I think that there’s few of us at the helm of who’s work is really being seen in like a demographic level. I think it’s a shame because it’s keeping our audience from seeing all the different voices of this world that the world has.
Gigi Saul Guerrero: The result is not just the fact that not enough of us are getting hired or recognized or that this problem is slowly being brought up and recognized. I think women have looked at each other as a competition when that’s not how it should be. Film is family. Film is support. It’s not a competition and I think that is the result of why there is so few of us is because we compete too much, and we complain too much. Why not just get up, work hard, and do your thing. That’s the only way to stand out in this business.
Bridget Johnson: What changes would you like to see within Hollywood to help elevate women in the industry?
Charlotte Kennett: More resources I would say. The more opportunities we can give women like labs and fellowships etc... we will be on the right path. Mentorship programs - women supporting other women. And men in the industry- it would be nice to see them support us more.
Layne Marie Williams: I would like to see more grants, more scholarships, more funding opportunities given to female filmmakers especially in the indie world, so it doesn’t have to be so impossible to reach that level. I’d like to see women directors directing big budget films.
Gigi Saul Guerrero: Hollywood has to also take the responsibility of recognizing more women, but also not just recognizing women for the sake of it, recognize them for their work. I just don’t want Hollywood to hire for the sake of having a woman or a minority or someone different to direct this film, to make this film. They have to really earn it.
Bridget Johnson: What advice can you give a young female filmmaker?
Charlotte Kennett: Keep making films and art in any way you can - keep getting better at your craft so that when they are asking more female filmmakers to direct projects that you are at a place to throw your hat in the ring. Do everything to create. And demand to be seen and heard by the higher-ups. They are finally starting to listen.
Layne Marie Williams: Make work! Have fun with it. Tell stories that excite you. That makes you want to wake up in the morning and work on your project.
Gigi Saul Guerrero: Don’t be afraid of failure. If you’re not afraid of failure, you can definitely take the mistakes that you’ve been doing and learn from them and grow. From there you’re just going to get better and better. This industry is very cruel. It’s hard. It’s competitive, but it’s all about being yourself and it’s all about working hard and not giving up.
I am so grateful to have interviewed these talented female filmmakers that strive for positive social change in the world. They inspire me to keep following my dreams no matter what and to not let gender discrimination in the industry stand in the way. Support them by following them on social media and keeping up to date with what films they're working on.
Comment below a female filmmaker who inspires you!
never forget to dare to dream!
Don't forget to share this blog post to support these female filmmakers!
Bridget Johnson is the president and co-founder of Dare to Dream Productions. She writes and directs thought-provoking films that inspire others to follow their dreams.
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