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how to write a selling screenplay


This is an excerpt from my writing website, Christian Blake...

How I first discovered the seven moments

(cont)...When I returned to Southern CA I wrote a second script about a traveling drug dealer. I submitted the script to an online company who provided what is called "cover". Their review of my script was not favorable to say the least. I decided to improve my working knowledge of screenwriting and bought every book imaginable on how to write a script. None of the books impressed me. Even the so-called guru's of screenwriting did nothing more than talk in theory and subjective perspective. I wanted a roadmap; something that clearly dictated what needed to be on the screen and in the dialogue. But that roadmap didn't exist.

In 2000 I decided the best way for me to learn what belongs in a script was to study the highest grossing films over the past ten years. Reverse-engineering, so to speak. Why bother figuring out how to write a script when I could simply disect the best movies Hollywood had to offer? I reduced my weekly working hours to only 16 hours a week which earned me enough money to pay my rent, utilities, and buy a few groceries. The rest of my time I devoted to studying movies. On an average day I would watch two movies. Some days I would watch five.

Understanding why a movie worked and was successful at the box office turned out to be a lot harder than deciphering the stock market. There was so much subjectivity within a movie that it made it very difficult to pinpoint exactly what factors compelled people to spend their money at the box office. Consequently, this independent study of film turned into an eighteen-month obsession.

At around fourteen months of movie-watching I found myself extremely frustrated. I had not solved the mystery. I had glimpses of the truth but could not quite put the puzzle together. My lack of progress annoyed me to such an extent that I took things to a new level and started dictating the movies as I watched them. Every action and every word of dialogue on screen I would type into my laptop and later review. I hit play/pause so many times that I eventually burned out my DVD player and had to buy a new one. After a few months of dictating the movies, I began to see similarities between movies, or rather similarities between scenes.

I remember the exact moment I deciphered the first piece of the puzzle. I was eating breakfast at a greasy spoon restaurant in Fullerton called George's Hamburgers. If you're ever in Fullerton, grab a bite to eat there. They have great food. Anyway, I was eating bacon and eggs and reviewing my notes for L.A. Confidential when the first of the Seven Moments jumped off the page and slapped me. The discovery was that shocking and that obvious. I stared at the page for several long minutes before I finally accepted what I had just figured out. Then I flipped through the rest of my L.A. Confidential notes and found the same moment, repeated quite often. I remember thinking, "This can't be that easy".

A few short weeks later I had seven clearly-defined moments that are repeated hundreds of times throughout the course of every movie. I would later track these moments when they occurred in some of the highest grossing movies. To be fair, I also tracked the box-office flops. The results only further convinced me: the box office winners typically had over seven hundred instances of the seven moments! The movies that were mediocre or were outright failures ranged between 300 and 500 occurrences.

I wrote the seven moments on a piece of paper and kept it tucked away inside my wallet. I've gone through four wallets without losing those notes. Over the years I realized that these seven moments are all around us in every day life. Everything we experience can fit into one of these seven categories. These moments are the sum of our experiences. That's why people go to the movies; where else are they going to experience that much humanty in such a short period of time? I've tried to invalidate my own findings. I've even tried to find additional moments that really matter in life (and movies) but I haven't found any that are significant enough to rival or replace the original seven.

Life: The seven moments that really matter.

In December of 2005 I decided it was time to share my discoveries with the rest of the world. I made a commitment to finish the book within 12 months and have it available for others to read. By September of 2006 I had not only completed the version that applies to every day life, but I also wrote an edition specifically geared towards screenwriters, actors, and filmmakers.

If you want to improve your daily enjoyment of life, then Life: The seven moments that really matter is a must read for you. This book will make you aware of the seven moments so you can actively appreciate them when they occurr. It will also show you how to automatically generate the seven moments by performing only one specific action. This book is an invaluable read for mature and young readers. It also makes a great gift.

If you're a screenwriter, filmmakaer, or actor, you need to read Screenplay: The seven moments that will captivate your audience. The screenwriter edition of this book focuses on how to apply the seven moments to keep your audience interested. It even has sub-categories for two of the moments. If you write screenplays, this book will help you write your story and help you spot the weak scenes and strengthen them. If you're a filmmaker, it can help you determine which script to move forward with and which scenes to bypass shooting altogether. If you're an actor, this book will help you choose between scripts; you'll be able to spot the winners from the losers. Regardless what part of the film industry you work in, this book will save you time and money and help you focus on the scripts that are worthy of your best efforts.