Saturday, March 26, 2011


Learning From the Winners: Sideways * Shakespeare In Love * Crash*
by Dr. Linda Seger

Book Review
By Ann Baldwin

Dr. Linda Seger is a pioneer in her field, one of Hollywood’s top script consultants, and highly respected internationally for her expertise in script analysis. She’s written twelve books, nine on screenwriting. She has given seminars around the world and to many companies and professional organizations including ABC, CBS, NBC, Disney, Writers Guild of America, Directors Guild of America, American Film Institute, Sundance Institute and the Motion Picture and Television Academies. She’s been the recipient of numerous awards and her client list is long and very distinguished from Ray Bradbury to TriStar Pictures including many Academy and Emmy Award winners. In her book, And THE BEST SCREENPLAY goes to… Learning From the Winners: Sideways * Shakespeare In Love * Crash (Michael Wiese Productions 2008), she takes you on an in-depth study, sharing valuable insights, into the creative screenwriting process by examining the details of three Academy Award-winning films.

She explores a variety of elements and some rare techniques used in the creation of these honored screenplays such as: dialogue as a metaphor to reveal character, the Interweaving Structure, theme as the driving force, and connecting within yourself, with the audience, and through props.

While Linda analyzes these Oscar prized screenplays, she also refers to a wealth of other movies as examples. Following each analysis are revealing interviews with the writers and directors of the films; they explain the writing, directing, marketing, selling, and production stages they went through from the initial concept of their stories to casting to receiving the Academy Award.

Great screenwriting is achieved in large part through a keen observation and understanding of ourselves, others, life, and the successful films. I highly recommend And THE BEST SCREENPLAY goes to… for screenwriters who have a true passion for the art of film and want to be their best.

To learn more about Dr. Linda Seger you can visit her at and purchase a copy of And THE BEST SCREENPLAY goes to…at Michael Wiese Productions, Amazon, The Writers Store, and Barnes & Noble.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Coffee Break Screenwriter

Writing Your Script Ten Minutes At A Time
By Pilar Alessandra

Book Review
By Ann Baldwin

Pilar Alessandra is the director of the Los Angeles-based writing program On The Page and a highly sought-after speaker and script consultant. She’s worked as Senior Story Analyst for DreamWorks and Radar Pictures, trained writers at ABC/Disney and MTV/Nickelodeon and presented classes at The Great American Pitchfest. Her students and clients have sold to Warner Brothers, Sony and more. In her newest book, The Coffee Break Screenwriter: Writing Your Script Ten Minutes At A Time (Michael Wiese Productions 2010), she takes you on an interactive journey into the multi-dimensional, image-moving world of screenwriting, where you gain a firm grasp of time, laser-focused thought, an abundance of accomplishments, and self-confidence, by practicing Pilar’s approach to completing your scripts.

Whether we’re facing a hectic schedule, 120 blank pages, or a deadline for a final draft, the pressure on our creative right-brain can be overwhelming and cause procrastination, brain freeze (aka writer’s block), or mind racing; Pilar reveals her secret strategies for overcoming these obstacles.

As writers, we encounter a tornado of words, ideas, images, and scenes whirling through our mind, while creating a story; it can sound like an auctioneer in a bidding war or look like a bunch of wild scatterbrains on a high-speed chase in a maze or feel like the Tasmanian Devil in a rage of emotions. Pilar helps you to pause, gather, and organize your thoughts by getting them on the page.

Screenwriters are time travelers, jetting back and forth between this world and the ones we create in our stories; we often experience jet-lag and get lost in time. It’s easy to get distracted by all the visions, sounds, and activity around us, where we lose track of time and direction toward our goal; Pilar’s method is like a compass and watch that keeps you moving forward and on time with your writing.

She guides you through the screenwriting process in ten-minute sessions using her simple techniques, which focus on one element at a time from structure, characters, dialog, and rewriting to pitching, marketing, and networking. She uses over 140 films and TV shows as examples from Big, The Sixth Sense, Slumdog Millionaire, and The Departed to Monk, Breaking Bad, and CSI.

You’ll experience the creative aspect of writing in the moment (the present), as she shows you how to write here and now about everything there and then; it’s a balance of being in two different places at the same time. I highly recommend The Coffee Break Screenwriter for all writers who want to master their time in writing and writing in time.

To learn more about Pilar Alessandra you can visit her at and purchase a copy of The Coffee Break Screenwriter at Michael Wiese Productions, Amazon, The Writers Store, or Barnes & Noble.