Grand Prize Winner 3

HOLLYWOOD, CA.            4/08/21

Wigham Foothill, better known to his friends as Josh Durst-Weisman, was crowned the Grand Prize Winner of the 2020-21 Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition for his 1 Hr TV Pilot, PONZI, the first TV Pilot to be Awarded the honor in Fresh Voices’ twelve-year history. The script was selected from over 1,300 entries.


Deus Ex Machina

By Devon Forward & Joel Mendoza

Deus Ex Machina: When To Avoid It and How To Make It Work 

While many writers are likely familiar with the term “deus ex machina,” many may not know what it means, where it originated, or more importantly, how it can help or hinder your screenplay.

In literary terms, deus ex machina (Machine of the Gods) is a plot device where a seemingly impossible conflict or problem is solved by the sudden appearance of an unexpected person, object, or event. Deus ex machina does not have to refer to a literal machine—it can be the emergence of a new character, a surprising use of magic, or even the realization that “it was all just a dream.”

While every writer wants their story to smoothly close by wrapping up loose ends and giving their characters happy endings, deus ex machina is viewed by many as an easy way out. It’s a decision many creators feel forced to make when they write themselves into a corner and have no way out, except the hope of a miracle.

Generally, it’s something you want to avoid, and it’s certainly not something you want to rely on to finish your stories. Is there a way to steer clear of using this plot device, and is there a way to implement it successfully? The simple answer: Yes and yes.


Red Herrings

By Devon Forward

From one writer to another, there have been times I’ve read my own work and thought, “this needs something more. Some mystery, some misdirect. It all just feels a little too obvious, too straight-forward.” Sound familiar?

Every writer wants to bring their audience on a journey full of twists and turns that they don’t see coming. But what if you’re having trouble bringing in more intrigue and mystery?  Well, that’s the perfect situation in which to use a Red Herring.

 

What is a Red Herring:

A favorite literary device for writers of all kinds, a Red Herring is an element introduced into a story with the intent to mislead or distract the audience and lead their thinking in one direction, away from the truth.


4 Screenwriting Trends Worth Capitalizing On

 

Written by Devon Forward

When you begin to outline your script, it’s always a good idea to consider what’s currently popular in Hollywood and identify the trends that are most marketable and most likely to sell. You can be sure this is what your potential producer is thinking about. The entertainment industry is constantly changing, and it can be hard to keep up with what audiences like and producers are looking for.

For example, right now the streamers — Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO — hold a lot of power. They are establishing huge production/first look deals with writers, directors, and all types of creators, to make sure they are getting a constant influx of the best content. While there are of course still plenty of studios to sell to, writing with the streamers in mind should be a focus for writers.

But what if you don’t have any idea what story you should be writing? Well, look at what’s being produced right now. Notice any patterns? There are a few specific trends we can see currently moving through Hollywood, and it is incumbent upon every writer to consider how they can position themselves and their material to capitalize on these trends.


Ticking Clock

By Devon Forward

Successfully crafting tension is paramount to writing a salable script that entertains audiences. Being able to sufficiently raise the dramatic tension will make or break your story. Whether you are working in a genre that depends on tension, like action and adventure, or something slower, like a character driven period-drama, crafting tension and escalating the narrative stakes are essential to good screenwriting. One plot device that writers often use to create high stakes and ramp up tension is the Ticking Clock.

A Ticking Clock is essentially a time limit or deadline that adds constraints, obstacles, and a very definitive moment in time in which our protagonist must act. It’s generally an if-then scenario. If something doesn’t happen, then this will happen. Simple, right? It gives your protagonist a problem to be solved, and clear consequences if they don’t succeed.

The Ticking Clock plot device is a common mechanism writers’ use to move their story forward, ratchet up the tension and build emotion for their characters. There are plenty of different ways this shows up in movies and television, and you’ve seen it often, whether you realize it or not.


5 Step Recipe For Writing A Rom Com 1000x400

By Devon Forward & Joel Mendoza

Writing a script isn’t easy, but of all the genres to write, a romantic comedy is perhaps one of the most fun and painless processes to work through. In my experience, once you have a handful of key ingredients in place, the script practically writes itself. It’s true! Take two great leading roles with an abundance of romantic chemistry, a ‘third-wheel’ character that spices up the humor, and a unique set-up that challenges convention, and you are more than halfway there.

Most follow a well-established, tried and tested formula, with a multitude of variations thereof, and most if not all rom-coms see one if not both of their protagonists come to a realization and undergo a fundamental change in order to move forward. And lastly, in order for your rom-com to be truly satisfying and resonate with your audience, the story must end on a positive note one way or another, whether the couple end up together or not. It can be bitter-sweet, it can even be a little depressing, but ultimately there must be some kind of light, some kind of positive change, that will ultimately lead to happiness.

Here are a few tips for writing your next romantic comedy that practically writes itself.


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