The Screenwriting Thing

*This is for anyone wanting to know the real thing (otherwise known as: my opinion) about writing, selling, and producing screenplays if you are so inclined.*

First, I have to establish an understanding with the writers reading these words. You’re a real writer, right? As in, you get ideas and write every day? Or do you just get ideas and don’t write them down, or what? Some people call themselves writers and either don’t get ideas or don’t write them down (and the liars do neither I suppose).

While anyone can put words together and force “story arches”, “macguffins”, and “characters” to do things on paper, it takes a true artisans fertile imagination, with a philosophical point to prove– and maybe a dash of moxie-fueled ambition, to create an authentic screenplay the artists you admire will want to champion. That’s the script you need to write. If that’s not you, please be honest with yourself instead of flooding the market with cold, palmy, sub-par putrid piles of mess. You pollute our community and bring down the culture with unchecked cognitive bias written carelessly into your characters, your lack of originality, and the propagation of regressive formulaic storytelling.

*waits*

Okay, hopefully those who were going to overreact in defensive anger and close their browser window have done so, and now it’s just you and I, the real writers. Isn’t that better? 😀

You get ideas and write them down, excellent! Next, all you really need to know are the formatting guidelines that Hollywood expects, basic punctuation and grammar, and a strong story structure that holds your completely original and creative material in place. This site can help– In fact, I’ll help you right now. Here are the only two books you need to write a screenplay:

I’ll put a couple more things in blog posts to help you along structurally, and a few things here and there to jostle inspiration if you’re temporarily clogged (depression does that, and I know we tend to have a separate spectrum just for being maudlin; writer/alcoholic connection?), but this site is designed to and will only support and nurture true-blue writers, and cannot create one out of unlike kind.

You’re either a creator with lots of internal tension and write every day or you’re not and you don’t. It’s in the doing of the every day that makes up who you are… We’re going to move on, though I hope this is clear; take it up with me if it’s not: Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com.

I’m stating simple truths so you can recalibrate your perspective and adjust your expectations if you need to before we proceed. 

So, proceed if you are definite in your definitions of your Self (as a writer, comrade!).

Hemingway

After you complete the screenplay, trust that the cream rises to the top, in its own time; And! Be as nice and as gracious as you can with every single human being you come into contact with thereafter.

Being gracious with a powerful and original script under your arm is how you want to be discovered when others find you. It’s as much their experience of an artist as it is you experiencing the manner in which you move through your life.

I stay away from the negative personas, the ungracious, the lazy, the unoriginal, the hateful, the bitter, the incurably sad, the devaluers, and the victims. Do the same, follow your intuition. Forgive yourself for your honest mistakes and don’t ever stop trying to be better than you were a moment ago. Give and ask for second chances and don’t fuck them up and sabotage someone’s movie because you’re not honest with yourself and/or are selfish.

I’m attracted to original, independent and authentic personas: the strong, the idealistic, the creative, the noble, gracious, the loyal, the passionate, the magnanimous, the amusing, and the strategic. Look for the same. Always follow your intuition if it reacts to someone displaying these traits which are feigned, inconsistent, disingenuous, or inauthentic. Sometimes you have to work with horrible people, and when that is unavoidable respect them as much as you can before you’re forced to defend yourself. Be loud and clear about your boundaries and prove all points on how to treat you with either a profound and mature sense of urgency or with an immediate and obstinately quiet exit. Email me for follow-up strategy: Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com

Boundaries

It’s never too late to reinvest in your Self.

Fix your character flaws or be in the process of fixing them.

Walk into responsibility and learn from your mistakes, find trustworthy people, share work between yous, and keep writing. Let your work speak for itself and be gracious working with others.

Marge reads The Fountainhead

Essentially: Be like Howard Roark and if you’re not then quit. Read The Fountainhead if you don’t know who he is. For a free copy, email Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com.

What’s important is your perspective in the every day, the mind palace you create for your Self to live in all day every day. Is it a palace? Or is it an ugly prison bonded and built with the traumas of your past and fears of other people and the future? It’s your day thinking that soaks your soul at night. What do you immerse yourself in? 

You want to both deserve and offer value in the form of relationship and the quality of your talent. Follow your own flow; Businesses, collaborations, and relationships in all manners and forms may then unfold for you naturally. Act with integrity and honesty, because even though you may be misunderstood, secretly insulted, betrayed, repeatedly sabotaged, and experience long delays on your road to, through, and beyond whatever you consider success, the value you derive from operating your life with this artistic integrity will feed your soul for years to come and insulate you against regret when in old age. The High Road is high for a reason; money, fame, and awards mean nothing compared to those sterling moments at the end of your life when it’s quiet and you’re alone with your Self and you can feel good that what you created and how you treated people both defined your character and energized your sense of aliveness; that warm pride will bestow the gift of dignity at deaths time and that’s the moment worth building towards today.

Last Moments

Another over-masticated thought-post or just the right length this time? Let me know: Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com

TL:DR
Be talented, be good to your self and others, and let the cream rise to the top in its own time. Be very much like Howard Roark about your life and art and if you’re not then quit. Read The Fountainhead if you don’t know who he is. For a free copy, email Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com.

29 Loglines

It can not be understated the importance of a great logline. Keep in mind, even the best or rather simplest written loglines can still fall short conveying how creative the film will ultimately express itself. That’s not the logline’s job though, so put that aside.

The logline is about instant understanding.

So, what is the movie about? I initially have trouble boiling this down, so don’t feel bad if you do too. But boil, we must.

Get some scratch paper and a writing instrument. I say writing instrument because I don’t know who you are; Maybe you’re someone’s mom and the closest thing in reach is a soggy sugar cookie. Or maybe you’re backpacking Europe and are jotting your ideas down with eyeliner. I used to run out of paper and write ideas on disassembled Tri-X film boxes. 

My screenwriting philosophy is individual-focused and anti-formula. This is what worked for me, and it might for you. Read the list of 29 and as soon as you get a feeling, write something down. Anything. While anything can lead to something, nothing can’t lead to anything. So don’t judge what you write. Look away, come back. You’ll likely find you have something better to work with than you previously thought. 

Your logline makes the 30th, if it doesn’t read as good as the rest, keep working on it until it does.

Let me know how it goes: Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com

THE GODFATHER

The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.

TITANIC

A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard an ill-fated voyage at sea.

PULP FICTION

The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

THE MATRIX

A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS

A gentle man, with scissors for hands, is brought into a new community after living in isolation.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse.

FOREST GUMP

Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him.

SILENCE OF THE LAMBS

A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.

CASABLANCA

Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.

REAR WINDOW

A wheelchair bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

THE HELP

An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maid’s point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

ROCKY

A small time boxer gets a once in a lifetime chance to fight the heavyweight champ in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

THE ARTIST

Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break.

SAW

With a dead body laying between them, two men wake up in the secure lair of a serial killer who’s been nicknamed “Jigsaw”. The men must follow various rules and objectives if they wish to survive and win the deadly game set for them.

DJANGO UNCHAINED

With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

CLERKS

A day in the lives of two convenience clerks named Dante and Randal as they annoy customers, discuss movies, and play hockey on the store roof.

ONCE

A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story.

THE FULL MONTY

Six unemployed steel workers form a male striptease act. The women cheer them on to go for “the full monty” – total nudity.

THE LION KING

Lion cub and future king Simba searches for his identity. His eagerness to please others and penchant for testing his boundaries sometimes gets him into trouble.

ET: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL

A meek and alienated little boy finds a stranded extraterrestrial. He has to find the courage to defy the authorities to help the alien return to its home planet.

AMERICAN BEAUTY

Lester Burnham, a depressed suburban father in a mid-life crisis, decides to turn his hectic life around after becoming infatuated with his daughter’s attractive friend.

TAXI DRIVER

A mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, attempting to save a preadolescent prostitute in the process.

MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING

A young Greek woman falls in love with a non-Greek and struggles to get her family to accept him while she comes to terms with her heritage and cultural identity.

NAPOLEON DYNAMITE

A listless and alienated teenager decides to help his new friend win the class presidency in their small western high school, while he must deal with his bizarre family life back home.

HALLOWEEN

A psychotic murderer institutionalized since childhood for the murder of his sister, escapes and stalks a bookish teenage girl and her friends while his doctor chases him through the streets.

RESERVOIR DOGS

After a simple jewelry heist goes terribly wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY

After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence.

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT

Three film students go missing after traveling into the woods of Maryland to make a documentary about the local Blair Witch legend leaving only their footage behind.

One Writers Revisions Process

 

How do you do your revisions?

I’m a fountain without a valve:

I gush on or shut off. 

 

After I frenzily finish a script, I completely ignore it for a few weeks. I put my attention elsewhere to cleanse my palette thoroughly. I make sure I have a lot of time with myself so I can hear my intuition.

Then, I dive back in. I’ll read and write and change pretty obsessively until I get it to where it “feels” right. Then I’m pretty exhausted again and I shut it all down, go to sleep, or go off to do something else.

This is me formalizing a structure to my natural creative process for your benefit incase it also happens to work for you.

The key is to trust your Self. Follow your intuitive desires, thoughts, curiosity, and inklings. I trust in my own timing as creator. I trust that when the time is right, this intellectual property will finish itself the way it wants to be, at completion. It always does.

It could be in the middle of a conversation with a new person, waking up thirsty, finally falling asleep after fighting against it, driving on the open road, walking, or doing any of the things I do in my life–  but my next moment of inspiration will strike. And the faucet whirls back “on” for it. Or for something else, and I follow that through, too.

It goes on in this cyclical manner for quite some time, again always until I get it to where it feels “right”.

 

The important things to remember are the things that SUPPORT your creation and the things that THWART your creation.

 

Fear, self-doubt, hating your self, hating your life, deep regrets, shame, and guilt will all THWART your efforts to create. If you’ve gotten as far as to have written and completed a screenplay there must be some part of you that is attempting to break free. If you’re being harassed by the above saboteurs, work on controlling your thoughts. It’s really hard. So work hard.

 

For those who live in and support themselves on the quality of their intellectual property, it’s of the utmost sincerest importance that your mental, creative, and emotional faculties remain unobstructed to creative genius and favorable decision-making.

 

So now that you’re creating or maintaining a safe place inside yourself where you’re loved enough to allow your individuality and creativity reveal itself, these are the simple steps to produce your best revisions (according to Moi):

  1. After completion of the first draft of the script, leave it alone for a minimum of two weeks. If you have any genuine changes, insights, or epiphanies during the two weeks or more, write them down to get it out. Put them in the same place, like an envelope with the script in a drawer or folder, before directing your attention elsewhere immediately. The point is to get it down and move on as quickly as possible: spend only as much time as it takes to transfer the idea to physical paper. Do not linger on the story seeking new inspiration! 
  2. Do things to continue to put distance between you and the story: Meet, find, see different people. Try things outside of your comfort zone; if you stray too far be sure to nurture yourself with comforting activities, food, and alone time. Watch movies, read books, drive, walk, re-focus on important relationships, help someone else, travel, re-enforce your boundaries, redirect attention to other revenue streams and businesses, and my favorite thing: learn. This is the best way to put distance between you and the story, stretching another brain map area by continuously trying. It’s in the trying. Get yourself “into” something else. Pick a new “thing”.
  3. Okay it’s been two weeks, what now? If it’s been two weeks or you’re ready to come back and comb the script with your revision (whichever comes first), you will find that along with your script when you come back to it, you will have LOTS of changes to make!! Beautiful assortments of papers will not only re-inspire you, but further validate confidence in yourself. You will feel pride and appreciate that the time and care you put into taking care of yourself was instrumental in nourishing you to finish what you started at the quality caliber you initially wrote it. It will basically have revised itself.

What if I don’t have any notes? Have received no inspiration or insights? Can’t stop the thwarting thoughts crippling me with insecurity, fear, and unworthiness?

Then you need support! No shame, my friend. I might be able to assist you overcoming this intellectual property debacle, or it might be beyond my capacity to help you. You can give me the important details after the jump if you’re interested in trying something different. There’s only honest and confidential information shared between us, so if I asses that something else might work better, you’ll receive the benefit of my suggestion at no charge.

Try it, it might work for you. Let me know how it goes: Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com

 

12 Spec Script Deal Favorites of 2017

There were 61 spec script deals last year as reported by blcklst.

I read them. These below are my 12 personal favorites! I’ve written a comment under each one as noted by the bullets.

To read the entire list, click here.

Infinite 

Logline: A schizophrenic discovers his hallucinations are actually memories of past lives that he can access as well as the skills he possessed in those time periods. Writer: Ian Shorr Genre: Science Fiction Agency: UTA Management: Bellevue Productions Buyer: Paramount Pictures Date: 3/15/17 Notes: The spec is based on The Reincarnationist Papers, an unpublished novel by D. Eric Maikranz.

  • Schizophrenics! Past Lives! Love it.

 

Body Cam 

Logline: Several LAPD officers are haunted by a malevolent spirit that is tied to the murder of a black youth at the hands of two white cops… all of which was caught on a body cam video that was destroyed in a cover up. Writer: Richmond Riedel Genre: Supernatural Action Management: Bellevue Producer: Brian Robbins Date: 3/31/17 Notes: Four outfits bidding. Mid-six figures. First-timer.

  • Highly original, I would love to see this on screen.

 

This is Jane 

Logline: A Chicago woman founds and maintains the underground abortion service “Jane,” a group of women who taught themselves how to perform abortions in the years before Roe V. Wade. Writer: Dan Loflin Genre: Historical Drama Agency: ESA Management:Heller Highwater Buyer: Amazon Studios Date: 5/6/17. Notes: Reported six-figure deal.

  • Chicago. Women. Abortions. History. What’s not to love!? This reads like it’s going to be one of my favorite historical dramas.

 

Courage 

Logline: Described as being in the vein of Inception and Edge of Tomorrow. Writer: Karl Gajdusek Genre: Science Fiction Agency:Verve Management: Management 360 Buyer: 20th Century Fox Date:6/27/17. Notes: Gajdusek is executive producer of the Netflix series ‘Stranger Things’.

  • One word that got me: INCEPTION O.o

 

Untitled Hill Project 

Logline: Described as a supernatural “Se7en” with a female lead. Writer: Brian Edward Hill Genre: Supernatural Horror Thriller Agency: ICM Partners Management: Heroes and Villians Entertainment Buyer: Voltage Pictures Date: 7/11/17. Notes: Preemptive purchase.

  • “Supernatural ‘Se7en’ with a female lead”, say no more! I’m on board.

 

Untitled Supernatural Thriller 

Logline: Has been described as being in the vein of What Lies Beneath Writer: Bragi F. Schut Genre:Supernatural Thriller Agency: Verve Management: Realm Management Buyer: Original Films Date: 8/22/17.

  • Anything “in the vein” of What Lies Beneath deserves a chance.

 

We Interrupt This Program 

Logline: The script explores the chaos of creative genius that resulted in the infamous radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, narrated and directed by Orson Welles before he made his directing debut on Citizen Kane. Writer: Sean Sorensen Genre: Drama Management:ROAR Buyer: Echo Lake Productions Date: 9/18/17.

  • Creative genius + Orson Welles = “Yes” from Natalee.

 

Dorothy & Alice 

Logline: Haunted by nightmares of Oz’s impending destruction, Dorothy Gale finds herself in a home for others like her with troubling, vivid dreams. While she is there, she meets a mysterious girl, Alice — who involves her in a perilous quest to not only save the worlds of imagination — those which we come to realize are real and not just dreams — but the world as we know it. Writer: Justin Merz Genre: Fantasy Drama Agency: Paradigm Management: Gotham Group Buyer: Netflix Date:10/13/17. Note: Described as a “competitive bidding situation”.

  • This is so wonderfully creative and imaginative! I hope I hope I hope it makes it to screen!! Fingers are crossed.

 

Skyward 

Logline: True story about two families in 1979 who secretly build a homemade hot air balloon in their garage in a plan to escape over the Berlin Wall. Writer: Joe Ballarini Genre: Historical Drama Agency:Paradigm Buyer: 20th Century Fox Date: 1/26/2017

  • I’ll almost always go with anything having to do with the Berlin Wall <3

 

Marian 

Logline: After a conspiracy to conquer England in which the love of her life Robin Hood dies before her eyes, Marian picks up the cause to lead her people into a pivotal war. She comes to power, charging into a battle that will not only decide the fate of the kingdom but will see her don the mantle of the man she loved. In the process, she rises as a legend herself. Writer: Pete Barry Genre: Action Drama Agency: Paradigm Management:Pannon Entertainment Buyer: Sony Pictures Entertainment Date: 3/6/17. Notes: First-timer. Preemptive purchase.

  • THIS is going to be SO badass!!! Built in audience, everyone rooting for Marian. Courage. Bravery. Friendship. Loyalty in Love and Death. Womanhood. (At least, I hope Pete Barry gets it right!)

 

Twin Blades 

Logline: Zoe, an American tech entrepreneur who relocates her company to China, and Maylin, a local female bodyguard hired to protect her struggle to coexist in their daily routine. When Zoe’s life is threatened, the two must put aside their differences and join forces to survive. Write: Ingrid Eskeland-Adetuyi Genre: Action Comedy Agency: APA Management: Zero Gravity Management Buyer: Cristal Pictures, The Donners’ Company Date: 3/13/17 Notes: First-time writer. Recent graduate of Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.

  • I hope this is really funny. Like stitches in your side funny. If it is, it has potential to be a modern day buddy-comedy classic a la Coming to America meets Miss Congeniality.

 

The Best of Adam Sharp 

Logline: A man (Adam) on the cusp of fifty is restless as his marriage has gone stale. He can’t quite forget a romance he had twenty years ago with an intelligent and strong-willed woman named Angelina Brown who taught him what it meant to find — and then lose — love. Out of the blue, he gets a one word email from Angelina. He responds and his life takes a significant turn. Writer: Graeme Simsion Genre: Romantic Drama Agency: ICM Partners Buyer: Vocab Films Date: 5/23/17. Notes: This is an option deal.

  • Oh come on. You know I’m a hopeless romantic, right?

Story Structure Checklist

 

This is laughably simple, yet so freaking helpful! Let me know if you have any questions, but before you send, make sure to re-read and simplify. You’re probably just over-thinking. Sometimes staring at something so simple is grounding during stressful times.

Before you begin a script, fill in the following headings. Then, connect the dots, with your story. Boom!

End:

Beginning:

Plot Point One:

Mid-Point:

Plot Point Two:

 

Don’t forget, you love writing stories.

  1. The End
  2. The Beginning
  3. The Middle
  4. Plot Point One
  5. Plot Point Two

 

Let me know how it goes: Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com

Update from the Mountain

Hey Babes!!

I’m happily writing and working hard from the road to bring you the fullest digital expression of my creative Self as possible. Imagining futures, recalling memories, reading, traveling, philosophizing, writing it all down– and snacking constantly, I’ve made incredible leaps in understanding regarding my own personal Art of Living.
I will of course share my insights and humor on such things; there’s a considerable amount of additional work I’m very proud to show you when the time comes.


Right now I’m traveling for relationships: investing my time and energy visiting with old family, new family, old friends, new friends, good friends, far friends, while checking in with my business partners making sure we all get enough quality face time, and lastly meeting new people and building new relationships.

Processed with VSCO with m3 preset

I write constantly, manage my finance portfolio from the road, and take bigger life decisions into deep consideration while traveling between everyone. It’s been the breather I need after excitedly coming off of a substantial writing project. I need to organize all my thoughts and news and projects so I can share it fully with you, and I am so looking forward to it!  I’ll still be traveling for the rest of the summer and early Fall before settling down at my place, so check back mid-August for the next level of this website to enjoy everything along with me, in step!

Yours,
Natalee