Taking Time-Travel To Another DimensionFour Tips to Writing Time-Travel Screenplays that Sell

In my experience reading and evaluating screenplays, I’ve noticed an obvious trend amongst so many science fiction and fantasy writers:  You really love time-travel!  As a genre fan whose written a few scripts myself, I always found time-travel to be one of the most daunting subjects in speculative fiction.  So much research and thought must be put into an exciting time-travel story that makes sense to the audience, just thinking about it makes my head spin!  Which is why I’m surprised so many young writers insist on jumping into the complex dimensions of our space-time continuum. 

Here are four tips all future science-fiction writers must consider if you're hoping to sell the next Terminator or Back to the Future.


Joel Mendoza    Co-Founder Fresh Voices/ CEO Attraction Ent.

Break in 2First the depressing news! Hollywood is rapidly changing and the rules for screenwriting success are changing with it. Gone are the days of a Hollywood flush with development money, first look deals and discretionary funds. Agents only have time for established talent that earn top dollar. Managers are less likely to invest their time and energy trying to break new writers.  Producers want fully developed, high quality material, and financiers want to know the whole package before committing any cash. All this has placed an incredible burden on writers already straining to break in. 

And now the good news!


expendables posterDave wrote the 2010 summer blockbusterThe Expendables, which has so far grossed over $270m at the world box office. Dave's past credits include the video game adaptation Doom for producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Horsemen produced by Michael Bay, and Tell-Tale for producers Ridley and Tony Scott

Most recently, Dave was hired by Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures to write the 2014 summer tent-pole Godzilla and he sold an original pitch to Twentieth Century Fox and Producer/ Director McG.

Here we discuss Dave's approach to the business and art of screenwriting in Hollywood. What's worked for him, what hasn't, and what he's learned along the way. An invaluable conversation for any aspiring screenwriter whether you are writing a high concept studio movie or a low budget, character-driven indi.

tell tale posterhorsemen posterdoom posterexpendables poster

photodune-7762280-you-have-a-voice-mPart I) What is the Screenwriter’s Voice?

I am often asked, what do you look for in a winning script? Can a character-driven script that isn’t very commercial still win? Can an awesome concept beat out great execution?

The answer goes well beyond what we look for in the competition. The answer is the key that sustains a long and successful career as a screenwriter.

Fresh Voices was founded on the belief that the single biggest factor in building a successful screenwriting career is the writer’s “Voice”. We’ve heard this term used in all artistic endeavors, but what does it mean for a screenwriter to have a fresh voice?


Part 2)   What Makes Your Voice Fresh?

What is a Fresh VoiceIn Part 1 we brought a better understanding to what the Screenwriter’s Voice is, and equally important is understanding what makes the screenwriter’s voice Fresh. Every writer has their own unique voice, but what makes their voice fresh? For a voice to be considered fresh, it needs to connect with and excite an audience.

Film is one of the most powerful forms of communication known to man. Why would somebody make a film just to keep for themselves? The point of film is to show, and for the viewer to share the experience. The very purpose of film is to reach, entertain and sometimes even influence the public.


Key To SuccessPart 3)  Why a Fresh Voice is Your Key to a Successful Career?

As a literary agent, manager and producer, selling writers and their screenplays for eighteen years before becoming a founding member of Fresh Voices, I have learnt that the paramount quality you need to establish yourself as a successful screenwriter is to find, develop and hone your own unique voice.  It is on this guiding principal that Fresh Voices was found.

Let’s face it. While many writers aspire to launch their careers in Hollywood by selling a spec script, the odds of success this route are pretty low. WGA does not provide precise data but I would venture to guess that only a slim minority of writers jumpstart their career by selling a spec screenplay, even a finely executed one. The vast majority of in-demand screenwriters build their careers by taking on writing assignments, work-for-hire jobs and commissions (rewrites, adaptations and first drafts based on pitches, treatments and synopses). These writers are not household names. They are not the A-list. They are diligent, dedicated writers who work tirelessly to bring words to life. I’ve heard them referred to as blue collar writers. They are the lifeline of the film and television business. But as an unknown writer, how do you even get such an opportunity to be considered for one of these coveted jobs, and once you are, how do you stand out among all the other writers and how do you seal the deal?


Part 4)   How Do You Hone Your Voice And Keep It Fresh?

Fresh Ideas

All the old adages on how to write and develop your voice are true: Write from your experiences, write what you know, write the story you want to see. We’ve heard these all before and they are all tried and tested methods for advancing your voice.

We have seen why this advice plays such an integral role in developing your voice throughout our three previous articles on “What is a Fresh Voice and Why it Matters to Your Career”. The number one piece of advice I can add to this is to be passionate about life. Be conscious and aware of what’s in your head and your heart and what it wants to say. Be inquisitive and be observant, of people and events from the past and future. Be well-read in literature, and be well-versed in cinema. But most importantly write, write, continue to write and then rewrite. 


2015 Fresh Voices Headline Judge, Hossein Amini, in His Own Words...

Hossein Amini HeadshotFor me a fresh voice is something we all have. It’s our unique view of the world and our unique emotional response to it. The tricky thing with screenwriting isn’t necessarily how to find that voice but how to free it from all the other acquired voices in our head. That’s not to say being influenced by other people’s work is bad, just that our inspiration from that work should also be fresh and singular. Nobody reads a book or watches a film in the same way. Tarantino’s writing is hugely influenced by other filmmakers yet it still feels original.


Hollywood type writerAspiring screenwriters share a big dream: Selling a screenplay.  That’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it?  It’s with that in mind that most put pen to paper – or more likely put fingers to keyboard.  As such, writing a screenplay that’s un-filmable seems like a fool’s errand.  Why would you write a screenplay that no studio would want to purchase?  Well because it’s sometimes these screenplays that get attention and become your calling card to the industry. The following are five types of un-filmable, not-likely-to-get-purchased screenplays that are still worth writing!


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