Remember a bit back when I talked about the handful – maybe a few dozen? – #SixWeekSpec submissions that didn’t make the Top Ten but deserved an email from me because they were some measure of quality and caught my attention in one way or another?

Yeah, those aren’t going to happen. I’m sorry. It’s a fail on my part in no uncertain terms. I really wanted to find the time to write all these little encouraging sentiments, and this weekend I realized there’s no chance that time will be found. So I’m not going to do any of them.

Here’s what I will say: getting down to ten was more difficult than I thought it would be, and all in all there were around 40 entries that got some kind of serious consideration (including the Selected Ten). And at that point it came down to basic gut instinct. And while I picked the exact Ten I wanted, I feel guilty having to leave some of them out. But that’s how this shit works. And life! Life works that too. With the shit and everything. Sometimes.

I apologize. I know how terrific good feedback can feel and how buoying it can be to the spirit. Hell, it was buoying MY spirit just thinking about connecting with many of you. Though it might not seem so, I enjoy being encouraging. And this was a good opportunity for that. Anyway, if it makes you feel any better, I am a total crapface, as I overpromised and underdelivered, and there’s nothing in the world I hate doing more than that. And do you really want accolades from a crapface? No. You don’t. They’re meaningless. Trust me, as a crapface, on this very important point.

OK, so there’s that. In other news, if you’re going to start writing tomorrow, you are – as I believe the youthful parlance goes – “seriously bitching”. Go get it.


Monday. Labor Day, for us Americans. And for all our Six Week Spec writers: Day One. If they so choose. If not, then…erm…SOME OTHER DAY will be their Day One. I’ve…kind of left this unstructured. And now I’m finding that lessens the impact of a start date. Making said announcement somewhat anti-climactic. Schnarf.

Anyway, for most of the Selected Ten, probably, perhaps, Monday will be the day their script first goes from being Planck-sized electrical brain signals to something digitally tangible. They will put words to page for the first time, and thus begin one of the most harrowing-yet-satisfying journeys of their entire lives.

Or, it will be easy. I’m not omnipotent.

But what have they done since they were Selected to get ready? How have they been prepping or, perhaps, NOT prepping, to actually write? That’s the subject of this week’s Where Are They Now?, as I’ve decided to call it. So let’s check in with them, shall we?

Yes. Let’s shall.

(WARNING: THIS IS LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG. So carve out some time, because they’re all goddamned worth the read.)


“So I’ve finally waded into my outline. It looks a bit terrible at the moment – okay, a lot terrible – but I know that’s normal. Just gotta keep working at it.

This week, I’ve tried to pin down my alien and my human character. I’ve never written aliens before so this should be fun. No, really – it’s fun.

It wasn’t at the beginning because the fear got me. You know, I was thinking of writing along with #SixWeekSpec anyway because the deadline would light a fire under my backside. But really no one is going to beat me up if I miss that deadline. If I chose, no one would even know.

It’s a bit different to be suddenly held truly accountable. The FOS (Fear of Sucking) had me in its grip a while. But then I decided to put all the anxiety in a box (because let’s face it, all those scary possibilities are real) and keep it aside. Like I always tell myself, it’s okay to fall flat on my face as long as I give it my best shot. (Apparently it’s called compartmentalizing. They say only men can do it. I disagree. I know lots of men whose brains are a big jumble and I know lots of women who can focus in an emergency like a soldier.) I’d like to have some fun with this.

And really, this stuff is super fun. I’ve had crazy boring jobs before – admin, data entry – and even they’ve been a little fun. Screenwriting is really fun and I don’t even have to try.

My plan is to have a fairly tight outline I can be proud of by Monday and jam out 10-12 pages a day, so I have time to write a second draft.

Truth is, I don’t know if I’ll be able to achieve that. I’ve tried this method before as per the excellent Kevin Morales (@KevinMorales on Twitter)’s suggestion – it was exhausting. But we’ll see. Never say never, in the words of Bieber.

This is only my third screenplay so it’s unlikely to be professional reader-ready in the first draft. I need a little more time to whip it into shape. We’ll see how it goes.

As I said, screenwriting is fun. Yeah, it’s wicked hard sometimes, often gives me a headache and makes me cry quite often too – but lots of great things have that effect. Cooking. Love. Ski-ing. Video-games. Terrible movies you can’t stop watching. Great movies you can’t stop watching. Shopping sprees.

Peace out and happy writing, everybody.”

Sabina writes about something I’ve discussed a couple times here on the site – fear. It’s been a warm blanket, for me, finding out that it alternately mentally pummels and motivates writers. It’s finding a way to make sure it’s more of the latter that seems to be the key. Also, Sabina is the first to mention that she’s going to try to bang out TWO drafts in the six weeks. That’s a bold gamble. And I like it.


“Week 1 – Preparation

Whenever I have ideas for screenplays, I create a new note on my iPhone and begin writing a flushed out version of an outline. Every paragraph is pretty much a scene or a sequence. Once I feel I’ve got most of my tentpole scenes down, I’m ready to start flushing out my outline in Final Draft. I simply retype the paragraphs into a new screenplay template, adding slug lines for each paragraph/sequence. These are just guides, but I find this really helpful because the overall outline is then created in the “Navigator” pane and I can skip around if I need to.

As for the actual writing of my spec screenplay, my plan is to finish the first complete draft by October 1, leaving myself two weeks for notes, revisions and rewriting. In order to accomplish this, I would need to average around 25 pages a week, or five pages a day during the weekdays (I have to have non-writing days too!) My writing process, however, normally starts with the “vomit” draft, where I try to write as much of the screenplay as possible as quickly as possible. It isn’t pretty, but it gives me a solid head start on my story. I will, most likely, spend the most time writing, and rewriting, the first ten pages, because that sets the pace for the rest of the film!

As for the research portion of my preparation, this particular screenplay requires much less legwork then I have done in the past. I had to do some research into local laws and regulations, spoke to a few “vendors” regarding their services and digging up old books and newspaper articles on the general “setting” of my film. If that sounds really vague, it’s because it’s supposed to be.

I’m rolling up my sleeves. I purchased a new laptop (my first in seven years!) and I’m chomping at the bit to get started. Is it still August?”

And then Christopher quickly became the SECOND writer to talk about writing two drafts in these six weeks. God bless these guys. I love Christopher’s approach, which is much like my own (in theory if not in practice, as these steps exist in my head and not on paper) and also unique in the way he structures his “outline”. Very interesting. And lookee, research! This is some serious shit right now!


“Quick heads-up: for now, we’re sticking to this third-person conceit where we don’t identify which one of us is writing which words because, honestly, we are trying to cultivate some mystique. We will probably abandon it soon (never).

We spent the first few days of this pre-writing period just deciding on which idea to run with from our deep archive of feature-length script ideas (three). This began with a series of fun, exploratory emails and then QUICKLY ramped up into very intense text messages as days passed. Schedules were a complicating factor here: Jesse had family in town until Tuesday and Jerren left for Telluride on Wednesday. When we’re writing, we are fine working separately and sending scenes back and forth, and maybe even prefer it. But when we are breaking a story, it is absolutely better to be in the same room pitching ideas where we can more easily talk things out, gauge body language and tone, compliment each other, and eat. It also eliminates Jerren’s gross misspelling of basic words, which is an issue. We managed to get together a few times, which helped a lot.

Here’s our initial plan for this thing. We often come up with waaaay too many characters, ideas and gags to toy with, and what usually helps is to finish an entire vomit draft which attempts to include EVERYTHING. Then we go back and refine. As time will be tight for this experiment, we’re trying to talk out as much of that as possible and making sure each character’s narrative is focused and tight. We know from experience that we’ll still have just way too much going on, so we’re going to try to tightly outline each beat so we can hurtle through a draft in like three weeks, and then have the remaining three weeks to refine, hone and focus.

We hope you enjoy reading about “LASER PIGS” as much we have enjoyed discussing it.”

You’ve now seen the term “vomit draft” a couple of times here, and you’ve heard it from me often. Why? Because it’s SO important, in a first draft, to get out ALL your ideas. Once you’ve done that you can see the trees for the forest (fuck it, I don’t know) and get a better sense of what’s works simply as a one-off scene and what really fits in with your story. I think J&J’s plan to use the outline to pare down characters and ideas could either be feast or famine, but I’d have to guess more feast considering they’ve done this before. Will be a lot of fun, for me at least, to watch how a writing team goes at this.


“Geoff told us the subject of this week’s update was to talk about the preparation (or lack thereof) we’ve done in anticipation of our start date on September first. To begin to talk about preparation, I need to talk about why I love it. To talk about why I love it, I must talk about why I love screenwriting.

Screenwriting, to me, is the most creative point of a movie’s creation. I can literally write whatever I want on the page. Dragons? Sure. Talking butts? Alright. Plants that kill people with wind? You betcha. With this powerful combination of twenty six different letters and weird formatting, I can create anything. Now, if you want a screenplay that is coherent, competent, and might actually get made, dragons, talking butts, and plants that kill people with wind all at once probably won’t get you there.

And though Screenwriting is so freeing, preparation is even more so. It’s the place to vomit up every “plants kill people with wind” idea and worry if it actually works later. It’s the place to outline a thousand ways for my heroic talking butts to save their home of Buttopia. Or don’t save it! Who knows! At this point, I don’t have to worry about it! All I need to do is empty my brain of every solution and assemble the pieces later.

As for the preparation for this specific script, there’s a lot of stuff that excites me. Will it work? Again, who knows. But that’s what the next few weeks are for.”

Vomit again! But different vomit this time! I found it really interesting that Dan’s process is to vomit out all his ideas into an outline as opposed to a draft (closer to J&J than Christopher). I wonder how many writers who do notes and outlines and all that jazz see it this way? And that makes me wonder, really, how different an outline is from a kitchen sink first draft, at the end of the day. Also, it’s great to see a writer who admits to LOVING prep, which is a totally foreign concept to me, because I see it as something that expressly keeps me from ACTUAL writing. But hey, we’re all floating boats here, and that’s what matters.


“I am writing this very late at night in my bunk in a very wet, very cold big tent – the kind you saw on MASH – while trying to ignore the snoring, farting Croatian soldiers in the tents all around me. There is no mobile phone coverage in this enormous Tolkienesque forest, so I will send it from the 17 square inches of wifi coverage that exist in the mess hall when I go down there for breakfast in a few hours.

I have been embedded with the British Army this week as they exercise with their Croatian counterparts. It has been stupid busy with almost no downtime but I don’t think I have gone a whole hour without thinking about my script.

I can best describe it as as an ephemeral cloud punctuated with fragments of solidity that revolves slowly above my head and follows me everywhere I go. I was filming soldiers assaulting a “kill-house” this afternoon, close up and hand-held, when I was sideswiped by the realisation that what I had planned for my protagonist, in broad-brush terms, simply would not work dramatically. A brief spasm of panic ensued.

I need to get a grip. I have become consumed with the idea that somehow I am going to produce a work of such quality in the six weeks available to me that it is going to profoundly change my life. I have absolutely no doubt my nine fellow travellers are contending with the same affliction. How could it be otherwise?

I am back home this weekend and feel very ready to get on with it. My plan is to have an outline in place by the end of week 3, but as I have been told more than once in the last few days, no plan survives first contact with the enemy.

I am excited.

I have done some work on character bios, and before I left home on this assignment I cleaned up the spare room. I can hardly expect her to whisper in my ear if the place looks a shithole, can I?”

So basically we have a writer here who, embedded in the thick of real, honest-to-God War Games, has been thinking about his script and only his script. I have never felt less like a man. Otherwise, I’ll be honest: I worry about Damian’s plan to outline into Week Three of the challenge, leaving himself only three weeks to write a first draft. That feels like it’ll cut it REALLY close. But, alternatively…maybe that’s the best motivation? We shall see. STAY ALIVE DAMIAN I CAN’T HAVE ONE OF YOU CROAKING ON MY WATCH.


“In the past (not that I HAVE much of a past with this stuff), I’ve always started writing scenes as soon as an idea came to me. Usually jumping in somewhere in the middle and working my way out. Coming up with characters and plot points as I went along. Grinning like an excitable idiot the whole way through. And always ending up with a steaming, jumbled pile of just awful awfulness. But the parameters of this challenge prohibited me from doing any of that. Saint Geoff, in his wisdom, slowed my roll.

So for the past few weeks, instead of tossing every terrible idea and every horrible first instinct into the boneless mushpuddle of a new screenplay, I’ve been jotting them down in a notebook, to be sorted out later. And that later is finally NOW! I’m sifting through all these little notes—discarding the ones that are the mental equivalent of petrified cat turds (and the grocery lists that slipped in…was there a scene where someone eats hummus? Or did I just really want hummus? Because that word keeps popping up…) Anyway, I’m shaping what’s left into an actual outline that makes actual sense and hopefully tells the story I want to tell. ‘Is this what it’s like to stop and THINK about what you’re fucking doing before you fucking do it?’ I wonder aloud to nobody in particular. Because it feels great.

Just imagine if I’d polished all those cat turds straight away like I wanted to. So shiny and smooth…they probably would have been harder to recognize. And a lot harder to throw away.

My outline is almost complete. These characters have been bickering in my head for so long—I KNOW them and I love them and I want to punch them in their imaginary throats. And they’re going to want to punch me back when they find out how much trouble I’m sending their way. But I’m feeling prepared and confident. To quote one of the affirmations l scribbled down in my notebook: as long as I do smartness and use my words good, everything should be work right… Or something like that. God my handwriting’s rough.”

And here we have our first writer admittedly going out on a limb, trying to retool a process that, in the past, they didn’t feel worked for them. I’m VERY interested to see where Rachel’s mind takes her, and I’m curious as to whether or not she’s going to completely figure it out in this six weeks. My guess would be “not”, but that’s OK – she’s still (admittedly) green to the form, and here’s a little secret: no one has it fucking figured out. Ever. You just continually go with what you think works for you and you tinker with it ad infinitum. Like George Lucas. Though hopefully not like George Lucas, because step away from the goddamned computer already, you had it the first time.


“This week kind of started with panic. I had an idea, but it was set in a world that I’m not super familiar with, so it would’ve required a lot of research to pull off. Not to mention, the more I fleshed out the story, the less it felt like something I wanted to write. So I gave in a little, and decided to commit to an idea that I’ve been thinking about for months. Like, I keep hearing the characters talking and arguing with each other in my head (should I seek help?). I had been fleshing them out, imagining possible scenes, and feeling the tone of the whole thing without even being totally aware that I was doing it. The world of the story is something that I know well, and I’m confident that I can get a solid draft done on this tight schedule. After all, that’s all this is: a draft. I keep reminding myself that. My goal at the end of this is to have a solid first draft. One that I am proud of, and one that is ready for criticism, but I don’t expect it to be perfection. And remembering that takes some of the pressure off.

I am committed to having it outlined in detail before putting anything on the page. I want a well structured screenplay, above all else. I can make the jokes funnier, the scenes more concise, the characters more realized in drafts 2-5. But a first draft with spot-on structure is a good place to work off of. I don’t believe in “figuring it out as you go”. Mostly because I’ve tried it, and I get discouraged about ten pages into act 2. So, I’ve deactivated my Facebook, I’ve warned my friends and family that I will be less available than usual, and I’m working this week on a very detailed, scene by scene outline of the story. I’m doing the whole notecard thing, and for the first time, I am liking it. It helps to see it all laid out in front of you, and it gives me a much needed break from my computer screen.

At this point, it’s feeling very doable. I think I’ll be ready to dive right in on September 1st. But if I don’t have the outline totally finished, I’m not going to start until I do. I want to find and solve all the possible problems with my story now, so I don’t run into them on October 10th, realize I have to re-write a huge chunk of the thing, and have a nervous breakdown.”

I’m very impressed with Emily this week, and I’ll tell you why: first of all, I think she made a brilliant decision to NOT write something it sounds like she thought OTHER people would like, but instead to write something that was in her comfort zone and that SHE liked. Huge difference there, and not one many novice writers can make. Emily is choosing to write what she knows – a common philosophy that, as I discussed with one of the Selected Ten last week, can be as vague or as specific as you want it to be, and anywhere in between. Point is: Emily is now writing for HER, and not for anyone else. This is always the path to one’s best writing. Always.


“I love prepping. Potentially more than writing. Actually, definitely more than writing. It goes Prepping, Rewriting, Writing. Writing sucks.

Well it doesn’t, obviously. But out of the three, it’s certainly the hardest I think. That’s why I prep so much, to make the writing part as smooth as possible.

For me, I love coming up with the ideas. Always writing notes on my iPhone when i’m out and about, or when i’m just about to fall asleep. After a buddy of mine (@zackgutin) convinced me to go paperless, I now create these vast Word documents, full of potential scenes and bits of dialogue. I just like to get everything out and onto the page. And then I stop.

You see, I work at a big professional services company. I have spent the last 7 years working with consultants. Process is my bag. Process is my bitch.

Because of that, I have a process for prepping. It goes:

Ideas, ideas, ideas. (Fist pumping a lot as these ideas are WICKED).
Identify similar movies (I watch / read the movies, make notes, and understand how those stories ‘work’ (sorry for gross quote marks)).
Build out the characters based off my ideas, those movies, and how I want to play with the standard model. Then I write character bios for them all.
Laying out the cards, using the characters to drive the story. (3×5 cards and different coloured pens are crucial for a career in writing to my mind).

For a lot of people, Process is a bad word. It implies staleness, or an inability to think creatively. I get that, I totally do. You’re just wrong. Idiot.

And before you start getting all ‘writing is art’ and ‘you shouldn’t limit your creativity’ and ‘be one with your Mana and Gaia’; in the end, Process for me is about confidence. It lets me know I’ve done the homework I need, and that I’m as ready as I can be.

When September 1st rolls around, I’m going to be bricking it. Guaranteed. But all the prepping allows me to smash that first draft out as fast as possible. Then I can start rewriting, and that’s where the magic happens. Like on Cribs. In the bedroom. With the sex.”

First of all, I found out this week that Louis once worked in a shoe shop in London with two members of The Boxer Rebellion, who are featured in GOING THE DISTANCE. That’s awesome. Second, what I really love about what Louis wrote this week is that he knows *exactly* what works for him, and he knows *exactly* why. I also think it’s very interesting that he finds prepping and rewriting more fun than writing the first draft…which is something I hear a LOT from other writers, and befuddles me as it’s the polar opposite from what I experience. Bottom line: he knows how to get what he needs to get out of himself, and the confidence he has in his process is the key. That’s fantastic.


“Most of the feature ideas I have laying about have been devised specifically to be shot here in Tasmania on no budget. Nothing was
really suitable for the Black List, and I am not too proud to admit some fairly serious freaking out occured. Ultimately I thought about
what I really wanted to see on screen and that just flat out wasn’t there. I think the concept I have settled on is potentially quite silly, but
I’m hopefully going to have a whole bunch of fun writing it.

My preparation so far has included begging people to take my children away, hammering my writers group with half-baked concepts,
and a not insubstational amount of nervous drinking. I have beautiful colour coordinated index cards with extremely vague statements
on them (eg: “Something happens to make them like each other”), and pages of character work that contain more questions than
answers. The main reason I have not been successful writing features in the past has been that I write very sparse and concise. I write 40
pages and feel like there is no more story. So an important part for me this time is writing on my index cards how many minutes I think
each scene is. I can then easily see that it’s not a 90 page script in its current form and I need to develop it more before I actually start
writing. I’m hoping this will stop me from writing the exciting scenes and then just giving up.

My day job is already mostly typing, so another potential showstopper is crippling desk related pain. @SiFoulaReel suggested regular
dance parties and being a giant dork I decided to write a python program to enforce them. I have included the code in case you want to
use it for your own Six Week Spec, but you will probably need to change the screensaver lock out command if you run Windows or

import os
import random
import pygame
import time
minutes = 30
dance_dir = “your directory of banging tunes”
dance_files = os.listdir(dance_dir)
while True:
song = random.choice(dance_files)
while == True:

Apart from that I’ve read a couple of scripts and watched some films in the same genre. Once this week I got out of the shower with
shampoo still in my hair because I was thinking about my characters. I’m taking that as a sign that I am ready for this madness. Oh god,
hold me.”

I will admit to not having the first fucking clue what that computery gobbledygook is, but it sounds FASCINATING. Other than that, I want to point out a decision that I’m disappointed Claire made: she chose to eschew a concept that she might have turned into a terrific script because she deemed it not “really suitable for the Black List”. The goal here isn’t to write something that bows down to someone else’s standards – it’s to tell the story that YOU want to tell. As this will be Claire’s first feature-length script, I’m concerned that she’s going into writing with such a mindset, because writing what you think other people want to see never works out as well as writing what YOU want to see. Hopefully, this script IS something she’s been wanting to write, or something she just discovered she really wants to write. But I’m concerned that she’s hamstrung herself with this artificial notion of what’s “good enough” to be read by others. Will be curious to see how this pans out. Fingers crossed.


“I honestly didn’t do a ton of prep work this week in terms of prewriting, which I didn’t do for a few reasons. First, I’ve had this spec idea tattooed in my mind for quite a while now, so I figured it would be just as fine hanging out in my head as it would be manifested onto a piece of paper. Second, when I sit down to write, I have a tendency to go on and on and on until my brain implodes so I had a feeling if I worked on this too much I’d be tempted to go ahead and start writing. And since y’all are such nice people, I didn’t want to be the one that cheated.

But I did start planning on how I’m going to organize my time in the next six weeks. I’m a visual person, so I wanted to have something besides my tiny little planner to note how many days I have left to write and such. I considered for five minutes making one of those construction paper ring chain things we made in elementary school to countdown the days until Christmas but then I remembered 1) my dog, cats, or brothers would probably tear it to shit and 2) I’m 22 years old and there must be a more adult way to go about this. So I’m drawing a giant calendar on a piece of poster board and hanging it up in my writing room.

Speaking of writing room, I established a writing room in my house. I can’t use my bedroom because it’s small as shit (it was designed to be a second laundry room) so I called dibs on the dining room for the next six weeks. I made my family verbally agree to never bother me while I’m in there unless 1) the house is on fire or 2) someone’s dying or 3) mom made one of my favorite meals for dinner. Up until now I just usually wrote in whatever room was quietest and least occupied so it’ll be cool to have my own little corner for a while.

As of right now, I’m not establishing a certain amount of words or pages I’m going to write each day. I figured I’ll wing it for two weeks or so and then, if I feel like I’m behind, I’ll implement something. I’m lucky to be in a position where I don’t have any other obligations (work, kids, etc.) so I can dedicate as much time to this as needed. I am going to start substitute teaching soon, but the beautiful thing about that institution is that I can say, ‘Sorry, I can’t today,’ whenever I want and no one can hold it against me.

I also stocked up on things that I consider absolutely necessary to have on hand while writing, which are: an assortment of teas for the morning, and whiskey, beer, and wine for the other times of the day. I even found a bottle of Petite Sirah called ‘Writer’s Block’ that I thought was funny and needed in large quantities.

Anyways, I’m excited and ready to get started! And I’m also a little nervous, mainly because I’m going to be at the Lake of the Ozarks (Missouri’s only other redeemable quality besides the St. Louis Cardinals and Jon Hamm) for Labor Day and won’t have the opportunity to start writing until late Monday evening. I feel like it’s very bad omen-ish, but oh well.

Good luck to everyone! Not that anyone really needs it… (:”

As you see, Delaney is doing a completely different kind of prepping than anyone else…and there’s nothing wrong with that. Specifically, I think the idea of having a place – wherever you live – that’s just for you and just for writing is a brilliant one. Even if it’s just the corner of a space or you lock yourself in the bathroom. You do whatever works. I also think it’s a big positive that she already knows she’s willing to course-correct after a couple weeks if she’s not firing on all cylinders. Sometimes, for some of us (me included), less is more, at least up front. Again, I’m interested to see how her expectations line up with reality.


As for me, I’m still doggedly trying to finish up an assignment, so I’ve done no prep and might not even be able to start my spec on time with the others – and that’s OK. The spec I’ll be writing is called UNCLE DAD and will be based on time my girlfriend and I had to take in my toddler niece for an entire Summer, both of us with ZERO experience raising children. So not only do I have a few pages of scattered notes lying around, but I lived the goddamned thing. So I figure I’ll be ready to go once I actually get going, as it were.

How’s YOUR prep going? Let me know – perhaps I’ll throw down a midweek update for those of you playing along at home.


These guys? These guys are pretty good guys. So for you guys, here’s these guys, in no particular order (OR IS IT SO PARTICULAR THAT YOUR HEAD IS NOW SPINNING?):


Claire d’Este

“Claire has had six short films produced in the past four years that have been all over the world and won audience and jury prizes. Despite enjoying this immensely it hasn’t led to a successfully completed feature script (or any money) so far. She has written in a range of genres (comedy, drama, horror, action, and science fiction) focusing on female characters who actually do meaningful stuff, and usually pretty disturbing stuff too. In her spare time, Claire is a mother of two and a research scientist in robotics and artificial intelligence.”

So Claire is one of my Intrigues, and I deem her as such in the absolute best possible way. She has a lot of experience telling stories and telling them well, but little so far in the realm of writing features…which, I must admit, was a daunting factor in considering her. But I chose her anyway. She feels…steeped in nerd wisdom and life experience to me. Also, did you see that she works in robotics and AI????? SOLD. I think this is going to be a great challenge for her and I think we’re all going to learn a lot watching. You can find her on Twitter at @clairedeste.

Emily Bolcik

“Hey, I’m Emily. I’m a recent grad of Emerson College. Well, it was over a year ago, but if I keep saying ‘recent’ I feel less stressed about where I am in life. I live a glamorous existence in LA, meaning I live forty miles outside of LA in my parents’ house. We have cable, though. This past year I’ve been writing a little bit of everything: depressing journal entries (one of which ended up as the first draft of the one-pager I submitted to Geoff), Facebook statuses that my parents’ friends like to comment ‘Are you okay?’ on, and scripts. Lots of scripts.

In my spare time I enjoy not going outside, complaining to my parents that there’s nothing to eat in the house, and thinking about Chris Pratt.
My twitter name is @emirrybolswick. But I am used to having zero followers and using it as a place to write things that are too weird for the Facebook crowd, so feel free to never look at my page. Really. Don’t look at it.”

In her Submission, Emily spoke pretty openly about being 23 but still feeling like she was 8, sort of feeling the urge to APPEAR an adult while simultaneously feeling that she has nothing in common with grown-ups. As I’m 35 and often feel the same way, this was a shot right to my heart. She also spoke about this time in her life when she has no idea what to do or who to be, and again, I remember that time of my life very well. I think it’s an easily-dismissed but fertile breeding ground for ideas and emotions, and as funny as Emily is, I think she has a great shot at capturing that in a VERY entertaining way.

Jesse Federman & Jerren Lauder

“Jesse Federman exploded onto the scene in 2nd grade when his short story ‘Murder King’ (about an evil fast-food restaurant) was awarded 3rd place in a district-wide elementary-school writing competition. He then retreated from the public eye to focus on his other passions: becoming a member of the legendary Bones Brigade skateboarding team and professional soccer. Due to faulty equipment and politics, he eventually abandoned both pursuits and returned to writing. He later attended film school at Boston University where he earned a degree in Screenwriting which, if you don’t have one, you should get one. He lives in Los Angeles and can be found on Twitter (@jessefederman) or at his Peabody Award winning blog,

Jerren went to film school in Fullerton, CA, thinking he would be Terrence Malick. Years later, after several NON award-winning short films, he can confidently say about that period of time: ‘Whoops.’ Along the way, he interned at Sundance and made zero networking connections. Now he reads and re-reads the book How to Make Yourself Better: an Introduction to Android Robotics while working in post-production, mainlining any and all movies he can. He’s honored to now be writing with Jesse (author of ‘Murder King’). They’ve made several internet shorts together, including ‘VGPD: 8-Bit Detectives,’ an original animated series for Machinima. Jerren cannot be found on the internet.”

The first thing I noticed about these guys is that they’re genuinely funny. But even more impressive than that…it’s tough to tell where one stops writing and the other starts, which is exactly the kind of thing you’re looking for with a writing team. Which is strange, considering their Submission talked a lot about how much they initially hated each other. I feel like these two are on the cusp of really breaking through. They feel more “ready” than anyone else in the group.

Rachel Woolley

“I’d never even considered screenwriting until a few months ago, which is surprising because I’ve always naturally been drawn to jobs that 1) seemed too interesting to be real, and 2) would probably never pay my bills. Previously I’ve been everything from a paid audience member of a reality court TV show to the manager of a porn store. (Favorite skin flick title? Gotta say it’s a tie between ‘Pacific Rimmers’ and ‘Saving Ryan’s Privates’.) For a brief, terrifying while I was actually selling knives door to door. (Friday is Casual Bring-the-Instrument-of-Your-Own-Demise-to-Work Day.)

Part of me feels like I really only have a month to write this spec. My in-laws from the UK will be visiting the first two weeks in October, so I’ll be pretty busy doing my American Wife shtick – aggressively clapping everybody on the back, not cooking, etc. But I have no life whatsoever to distract me in the meantime so I’m confident I’ll be able to finish anyway. I did warn my husband I might not be talking to him very much for the next few weeks. He took it hard, poor guy. He couldn’t even bring himself to remove his headphones or look in my direction.

Wish me luck everyone! My twitter handle is @RachelWoolley83. Because my name is Rachel Woolley and I’m 83 years old.”

So listen: Rachel terrifies me. This is as blankly a shot in the dark as firing a bullet in a non-lit area can be. She’s admittedly not been interested in screenwriting for very long, which rarely ends well as far as first scripts are concerned. She wrote this really weird Submission about how she’s obsessed with signs and how she was once attacked by a monkey at a zoo. I tried, honestly, like  ten times to sort her Submission into the “Reluctant Pass” folder, but I never could. Why? She’s too entertaining and too untarnished by typical screenwriting bullshit and she just makes me laugh. So fuck it. Feels well worth a go-round to me.

Damian O’Neil

“Damian O’Neil, 48 year old broadcast journalist living in North-East England with partner, 2 cats and elderly VW Bus. Regional reporter for BBC TV and Radio. Some of the biggest stories to emerge in the UK in recent years have happened in my patch and I was there to cover them.

Grew up in UK, communist Europe, Middle and Far East. Done more job-type jobs than I can remember. Playing Guitar, fishing for salmon and climbing Cumbrian Fells are just three of the many honeypot distractions that line up to stop me from doing my Work. Sometimes I win, more times they win.

There is an itch that cannot be scratched by the wrong hand any more than a starving dog can be fed with a rubber bone.”

There is something hardscrabble and grizzled and decidedly British about the way Damian writes, and God help me if I didn’t just fall for it head over heels like a bob-haired tween at her first sight of the Beatles. In his Submission, he spoke openly about a failed first marriage, the highs and lows of globetrotting, and the specter of pushing age 50 without having attained that one thing, that only thing, you really wanted to. Though I’m not sure he feels the same himself, he gave me the feeling that he’s *just* in the right frame of mind to finally write something that ties his hefty collection of life experiences together. And I can’t wait to see what he comes up with. He can be found on Twitter at @DamianONeilBBC.

Louis Bennett

“Hello all, I’m Louis, lovely to meet you. I’ve been asked by Geoff to provide a short bio of myself. I work at one of those places that use that icebreaker where you have to say a few things about yourself, and people have to guess which one isn’t true. Because I am a creature of habit:

A. At the moment of my birth, the tallest tree in the local cemetery split asunder.

B. When I was 9, I won a school art award. For my prize I chose a dinosaur book, because I’m not a fucking idiot.

C. When I was 17, I put on a big show and dance production for the entire school. I came second. Out of two. I lost.

D. By the time I was 28, I had moved to New York from London, I had got married, and I had four scripts to my name.

E. When I found out I had been selected, I ate a shit ton of $2 tacos.
Follow me on Twitter @Lou_Bennett to find out the answer…it’s not A…

It is.”

Some of you on Twitter may remember me cackling about a Submission I received that basically said, “Here’s why I want to write this script: revenge.” Well, that was Louis’s. Here’s the thing, and maybe I’m the only one willing to admit this: I think wanting/exacting revenge is healthy and a worthwhile expenditure of your time on this Earth. So kudos, Louis. His missive stuck with me through the whole process and continued to crack me up. If he can script as funny as he writes prose, he’ll be in damn good shape.

Christopher Hills Eaton

Christopher Hills Eaton believes there is nothing wrong with cultivating a little character. Experience breeds knowledge. So Chris picked strawberries and filed legal briefs. He’s washed dishes for a sorority and sold framed artwork out of the back of his car. He’s an artist and an acrobat. But storytelling, and writing, has always been Chris’ passion.

With a handful of spec scripts under his belt, Chris is eager to explore this creative challenge while navigating a newly established life in Los Angeles.

Twitter: @TheMysteryTin
Instagram: @MysteryTin

Here’s the thing: Christopher wasn’t crazy forthcoming in details about himself in his Submission, but that’s OK. Because what he spoke to about his life and his experiences was more than enough to make believe that he can tell one hell of a story. He’s led such a varied and, it seems, hyperambulatory life that he has several human existences worth of travels to pull from. His bio is, I think, almost tantalizingly short. I have no idea where he’s going to go with all of this but I’m totally fascinated to look through his lens on the world.

Dan Johnson

“Dan Johnson is a recent Radio, TV, and Film graduate from Northwestern University. While there, he spent his time focused on screenwriting, student filmmaking, and leisure. In the fall of 2013 he interned for the Onion, America’s Finest News Source, and now works as the Onion News Network’s Writers’ Assistant, where he is surrounded by immensely talented people that, deep down, truly scare him. In his free time he enjoys college basketball, Malört, and shopping for office supplies. He’s extremely excited and humbled to be a part of this adventure and is really hoping this was supposed to be written in the third person.

You can find him at his newly-minted Twitter account, @DanSHJohnson.”

Dan reminds me of a younger me, although for his sake I hope he’s on a decent diet and much better looking. They don’t hire just anyone to work at THE ONION, and Dan’s Submission did nothing to sway me from the notion that he deserves to be there. Maybe he’s a little green, sure, but again…I like the notion that, as far as writing a screenplay, he’s probably not had cynicism beat into him so wretchedly. Yet. There are a lot of ways that Dan feels like the “safe” choice of the group to me, and I couldn’t mean that as a higher compliment. He’s just flat-out funny, which is only going to be a problem if he’s writing a script about baby cancer. And even THEN maybe not.

Delaney McNeil

“Hey guys, I’m Delaney McNeil. I’m 22 years old and recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a major in English and a minor in Film. I currently live with my mom, step-dad, two brothers, two cats, and one dog in Mexico, Missouri. Yes, Mexico is a real town in the state of Missouri and yes, I really live here. I’m super excited to be representing MexMo in this Six Week Spec… And I know I’m representing Mexico because I unfortunately know every single person in this town and none of them are involved with this. Recently, I’ve been working a lot and saving up money to move literally anywhere else. And by ‘working a lot,’ I really just find money in my brother’s truck or I offer to run errands for my parents and then ‘forget’ to give them their change back.

Other random things… I don’t know if I’ll ever like a movie as much as I like Rear Window. I’m allergic to everything. I dyed my hair once and spent two days in the hospital. Strange things like that happen to me all the time, which is why self-deprecating humor is kind of my thing. It’s all too easy for me. Also, I have this insane, irrational fear of birds. I have no idea where it came from. Maybe Hitchcock? All I know is they scare the living fucking shit out of me. When I was eight, I was the lead singer and songwriter of a band called ‘Zero Gravity’. We broke up after my band mates didn’t want to practice at recess anymore. I’m still getting over the disappointment. My parents and brothers have unanimously voted me the ‘Black Sheep’ of our family. I have no idea why.

Oh, and I can be found on Twitter @anirishwhiskey.”

Honestly, I think Delaney held back in her bio a bit, and just as honestly, I’m tickled pink because I don’t think you guys are going to see her coming. I wrote on Twitter about how she basically threw out margins in order to get nearly 1000 words into her Submission, which made me giggle on its own, but what I didn’t write then was how wickedly, meanly funny her piece was and how much I enjoyed getting it at nearly the last minute. She’d apparently just pulled some kind of redneck sorcery to get her parents to agree to float her while she submitted to screenplay competitions this Summer. I begged her not to do so and to write for this experiment instead. I’m exceptionally glad she decided to come along with us.

Sabina Giado

Marginally impressive stuff:

–Born and raised in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Sri Lankan by ethnicity. Studied at University of Melbourne, Australia. Married a Sri Lankan. Now living in Colorado.
–Was a member of the first all-female stand-up comedy troupe, Funny Girls.
–Was a member of the first improvisational troupe in the Middle East, Improv Revolution
–Eight shorts, four ‘finished’ but not ‘polished’ features (I’ll finish at least three of those, I promise). One short produced, but died in post-production.
–P.A’ed on a reality TV show, a TV commercial; was assistant director on the failed short.
–Was in corporate communications for money and sometimes for love.

Coolest things that have ever happened to me:
–Making the second round of the Sundance Screenwriters Labs (currently ongoing)
–Being among Geoff LaTulippe’s Selected Ten.

Not so impressive but interesting stuff:
–Favorite movies (for now): The Odd Couple. Death at a Funeral. Alien. Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back (of course).
–Frighteningly good at baking.
–Cries at the drop of a hat (so don’t drop a hat).
–Awfully nice, until someone mentions gender or racial politics.

Also, I can speak four languages at varying levels of proficiency (English, Tamil, Hindi, French).

Twitter handle: @SabinaGiado
Blogs here:”

Sabina kept it light in her bio, which is great, but her Submission stuck out to me more than most. She’s basically a unicorn in the writing world – a non-American Muslim woman – but beyond that, she expressed something that I found at once both upsetting and all too personally familiar: that not writing this script would mean she was a coward. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, but it’s a sentiment that all writers stare down the barrel of at one time or another, and Sabina hesitated not one iota in expressing it. She also made a point that, where she used to run from the highs and lows of life, she’s now embracing them. If she channels all of that into the right script, you’re going to be hearing a lot more from her.


While I admit that some of you may possibly be interested in this little (very early) postmortem, I hesitate to say that it’s anything less than completely necessary for me. I have been so perpetually blown away by the response to this…whatever it is that this thing is…that I need to decompress from it all. So, look – you’re getting a numbered list, and I honestly don’t care how much of a hack you think that makes me. Also, my hackery could blow your mind no matter how little you think of me. So suck on that butt, buttsucks.

1. I received 423 Submissions in total. I cannot even begin to tell you how giddy I am that the number ballooned to that many. Never in my wildest feverdreams did I think I’d hit those numbers. I thought *maybe* a hundred, tops.

2. It must be noted, in all perfectly honest humility, that I probably wouldn’t have crested even that first 100 without the generous contribution from Franklin Leonard and the wonderful people at The Black List. This includes those of you who discussed the experiment and offered each other support on The Black Board. I am not at all ashamed or embarrassed to know that most of you entered for those two months on the Black List. I would have too.

3. As to those Rules. Oh, how the Rules seemed to vex so many of you so much. I have to admit it was a *little* fun watching some of you dance and fret. But only a little. To wit, the Rules were Rules for a few main reasons:

–I wanted to see how well you paid attention to detail.

–I wanted to weed out those that couldn’t pay attention to detail…and also cut down on the net number of Submissions I’d have to read. All in all, about 50 entries were deleted without being read. And that was AFTER several Twitter/Facebook/Blog warnings that some of you were fucking up. Hell, I even sent out a few personal emails to alert some writers when they’d missed something. I’m a kind, kind man in that way.

–I wanted to see if any of you would bother to break the Rules in a way that kept me interested. Very few did, which is a bummer, but was not at all unexpected.

4. Of those 423 Submissions that met my seemingly-random standards, I read every single word of every single one. If you made the effort to enter, I owed you the read. Simple as that.

5. Some Submissions I discarded after the first read. In fact, the vast majority (over 250) went this way. At the end of the day, the numbers played out, and the maxim stays true: most of the people who want desperately to be writers are never going to be employed or recognized in any meaningful way as writers. It doesn’t behoove any of us to gloss over this or say it in a potentially less offensive way. It’s just bone-dry fact.

6. What disappointed me most were the Submissions that read like job applications. And there were WAY too many of them. Especially after the one update I made on the site flat-out BEGGING you guys for more passion. It rarely came. Again: many aren’t meant to write.

7. The second most disappointing were the Submissions that basically just said, over and over again for an entire page, some iteration of, “I need a kick in the ass and this would provide me with it.” Wow, really? No shit. That’s more or less the bare minimum I’d expect of you. I could write paragraphs describing how not shocked I am that you procrastinate. But if telling me that was all you had, you were firing blanks. I’m not interested in spending my time on writers who need ME + $250 to get them writing. If you can’t be arsed to ever write it on your own, you’re probably never going to write it. On the flip side, I was REALLY impressed with the handful of writers that realized this and turned the pressure on themselves.

A NOTE: That’s not to say that if you talked in ANY way about motivation/procrastination you were dismissed out of hand; far from it. But if it was your only expressed motivation, it wasn’t enough.

8. Anyone who said, “I’ll be writing along no matter what.” I believe you. And I hope you believe you. And I hope you write along. You owe it to yourself to do so.

9. Why “The Selected Ten”? I think I covered this before, but I just thought it sounded cool, like a group of characters we’d have met on LOST. Of COURSE I know it’s patently pretentious and cringe-worthy. That’s part of the fun!

10. At the end of the day, by nature, who I picked came down to my personal tastes and instincts. I am POSITIVE I passed over a couple people who would have written great scripts. I am POSITIVE that another writer in the same position might have made wholly different choices. I am NOT in any way, shape or form claiming that the eleven writers I’ve selected for this are now industry game-breakers. They simply wrote the one-page declarations I believed the most in.

11. If you wrote a comedic piece, I was really hard on you; some funny people wrote funny entries that just missed me in one way or another. If you admitted it had been a long time between scripts or that you’d just started writing, I was almost entirely dismissive; too few of you are ready and almost none of you have read enough scripts to take a legit shot at a feature. If you announced or gave the indication that a move to Los Angeles was impossible for you, I held it against you. A couple of you were, by your own admissions, *very* pregnant; I hope you resubmit when your schedules are a touch more stable. If you were currently living or had lived in Cleveland, bonus points.

12. I think eleventy billion people named “Emma” submitted. It makes me sort of sad to have picked none, though several were close.

13. Only three – ONLY 3 – writers’ Submissions were in screenplay format. I thought there’d be WAY more. I’m flabbergasted there weren’t more.

14. Eight writers, for one reason or another, mentioned Scarlett Johannson in their Submission. As far as I recall, not a single other celebrity, male or female, was mentioned in the other 415. I have no fucking clue what conclusion to draw from this data.

15. What was I looking for? Passion. Engagement. Differentiation. What I consider to be “It”. My definition of “It” is, by its very nature, different than anyone else’s definition. Again, I’m POSITIVE I missed someone with “It”, either by my definition or someone else’s. That said, I’m 100% confident in the Ten I chose. These are the Ten I wanted. They all had something that struck me on a deeper level. That’s it.

16. That said, I think I’m taking some HUGE chances here, chances that I’m taking knowing full-well that I may have passed on a safer option. Safer, in this case, meaning a writer who I was confident could and would complete the script in the allotted time and not have produced a steaming pile of cowflop. Often, I went with “potentially exciting” over “seems dependable”. There are some VERY green writers in this group. There are some who I don’t think have what I would consider a working knowledge of screen story. There are some that seem to think this could be their last shot. And there are those that I think are already in the pocket. But getting to work with writers who are on different levels of experience and plans of attack? Holy shit, that energizes me.

17. In short, I have NO IDEA how this is going to go and how it’ll end up working out. I *think* that these writers will finish a script, and I know they all have the potential to write something that turns heads. But it could all implode and turn out to be nothing. I haven’t the foggiest idea what to expect, but MAN am I excited to get rolling and see where this goes.

18. To everyone that submitted: I find myself truly humbled and even more impressed with your gumption to fire off even that one-pager. Trust me: if you can write that page, you can finish a script. You just have to overcome that initial barrier again. And then do it 90-119 more times 🙂

19. Please, write along with us. Let me know how it goes for you. Yes, I’ll be working on my own script and working closely with the Selected Ten, but I will still be available to all of you now and again. If you have a question or something to share, email me. I’d love to hear your battlefield tales as they unfold.

I think that’s it for now. Some of you Not Selected (aw) will, as I stated before, be receiving emails of encouragement in the coming days; this just means you showed me something and I want to encourage you further. And, while I won’t answer emails about why I didn’t select your particular Submission, questions and comments are always welcome.

In just a few days I’ll be introducing you to “The Ten”. Stay tuned.


A much, much more in-depth reaction to this whole nutty shebang forthcoming this afternoon, but there’s no reason not toget this out of the way first. And so I’m very happy to announce that the Selected Ten are:

Christopher Hills Eaton

Claire d’Este

Damian O’Neil

Dan Johnson

Delaney McNeal

Emily Bolcik

Jerren Lauder & Jesse Federman

Louis Bennett

Rachel Woolley

Sabina Giado

Cliched, I know, but…this became a REALLY tough cull at one point. For the longest time there were  a couple Submissions that were a  lock, but filling out the rest of the field caused me quite a bit of consternation. Honestly broke my heart to finally file away the last five or six. Thus, a couple handfuls of you who DIDN’T make it will be receiving an email from me anyway, because you were right in the pocket. Will burn through those in the next couple of days.

To the Ten: It feels a little conceited congratulating you for meeting my schizoid and totally insular expectations, but for what it’s worth…you know, congratulations 🙂 You’ll be hearing from me soon as well.