What is a Fresh Voice & Why It Matters To Your Screenwriting Career Part 1) The Screenwriter's Voice

Written by Joel Mendoza (Producer & Founding Partner Fresh Voices LLC) on .

photodune-7762280-you-have-a-voice-mPart 1) What is the Screenwriter’s Voice?

I am often asked, what does Fresh Voices look for in a winning script? Can a character-driven script that isn’t very commercial still win? Can an awesome concept trump 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?

An Interview with 2015 Fresh Voices Headline Judge - Academy Award Nominated Screenwriter Hossein Amini

Written by Fresh Voices on .

Drive   Killshot   Snow White and the Huntsman Poster   The Wings of the Dove   

hoss aminiHossein Amini may not be a household name, but in the business of screenwriting, Hoss as he is known in the industry, is a name both recognized and highly respected. When you earn an Academy Award nomination for your second film, it certainly sets your career in the right direction. With such screenwriting credits to his name as Drive starring Ryan Gossling, Snow White and the Huntsman, Ronin 47, Killshot, Four Feathers, Shanghai and an Academy Award nomination for his adaptation of The Wings of the Dove, Hossein Amini has made a career of writing, rewriting and adapting projects for major Hollywood studios and independent producers. Hoss has recently directed his first film, which of course he also wrote. It is the adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Two Faces of January, starring Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst.

Screenwriter Interview: Chris Bowen - 2014-15 Fresh Voices Grand Prize Winner

Written by Fresh Voices on .

Chris Bowen HeadshotOriginally from Wilson, North Carolina, Christopher moved to Los Angeles in January of 2015 after earning his MFA in Screenwriting from Northwestern University and being named a 2014 Nicholl Fellowship Quarter Finalist. 

His winning screenplay, Travis 6, tells the story of a grieving man who has six chances to travel back in time and prevent an accident that killed the love of his life, each time interacting with and learning more from his prior self. But he soon discovers that he may not be able to change the past.

In the same week Chris was announced the Fresh Voices Grand Prize Winner, he was signed by his first literary manager and now embarks on his career as a professional screenwriter.

We sat down with Chris to find out what his experience was like winning the Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition, and what has been happening since winning.

Zeitgest: Is It Worth Chasing Screenwriting Trends In Hollywood?

Written by Arik Cohen on .

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When Twilight turned 13-year-old girls into the sort of franchise-obsessed herds that usually consisted of teenage superhero fans, it sparked a vampire trend that is just now, years later, beginning to fade.  We’ve seen a hit franchise (Twilight), other vampire films (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Vampire Academy), and hit TV shows (True Blood, The Vampire Diaries).  It also spurred a hunt for the next big young adult series, with Lionsgate eclipsing Twilight with The Hunger Games.  Although maligned by most critics and filmgoers over the age of 15, Twilight spurred a trend.  If someone was sitting on a vampire spec, it was a great time to get it out there.

But what if you didn’t have a vampire spec?  What if you weren’t that sort of writer?  What if you writing about Vampires would be like Eminem recording a country album? Should you still do it? Should you follow the trend? Do you chase a zeitgeist?

Crossing T’s and Dotting I’s before Submitting Your Script

Written by Joel Mendoza on .

Checklist imageHere’s a 6 point checklist every screenwriter should consider between the time you write “The End”, and the time you begin submitting your script to screenplay competitions and the industry at large. If you’ve spent a long time and a lot of energy writing your script, you owe it to yourself to ensure your hard work receives the attention it deserves with these simple reminders.

4 Character Traits Every Memorable Villain Must Possess

Written by Arik Cohen on .

SnidelyWhiplash#1 The Villain is a Hero in their Own Mind

Snidely Whiplash from those old Dudley Do-Right cartoons has a real psychological issue that he should get some therapy for:  He just can't keep himself from tying women to railroad tracks.  He doesn’t seem to have any real motive for this deed, nor is he coming from some specific point-of-view where women dying in railroad tragedies is going to make the world a better place.  He has no motive.  He's not just a literal cartoon villain, but he's a figurative cartoon villain as well.  This qualifies him to be the villain in a five-minute cartoon, but if you were to transplant him into a feature without any changes, the audience would reject him rather quickly.

Villains shouldn't be villains simply because they woke up one morning and decided to create evil.  They should be thinking they're helping the world.  They should be fighting for what they believe is right.  They can be aware that it flies in the face of normal society, but hurting people shouldn't be their end goal, it should just be a step towards a greater one. 

Speaking This Language Could Make or Break Your Career

Written by Richard Finney on .

Pelicula Veritas

Many people working in the Entertainment Industry were originally drawn to pursue their careers because of their passion and love for movies and/or TV. These passionate industry insiders are usually your first audience as a professional screenwriter.

Achieving a personal connection with an industry professional is best achieved by invoking an expert knowledge of past movies and TV shows. The way to prove this expertise is through your script by knowing what has already been done… what has been celebrated… what is tired… and what is prime for innovation. 

Having this knowledge is like learning a second language. I have a name for this second language -- película veritas. Pelicula veritas is Latin. The direct translation into English is “Movie Truth.”

When’s the best time to enter a screenplay competition?

Written by Arik Cohen on .

A Judge’s Guide to Navigating the All-You-Can-Read Buffet

Reader FatigueWhen it comes to the best time to visit a buffet, there are two competing philosophies:  1) You want to go when it’s not busy.  This way when a good dish comes out, such as delicious crab legs, you don’t have to fight a swarm of guests all trying to grab at it, and possibly leave with only one skinny leg on your plate.  2) You want to go to a buffet when it is busy.  When it’s busy, that means the buffet is in constant turnaround.  Platters are being emptied quickly, so they’re being refilled with fresh foods at a rapid pace.  You might have to battle for the crab legs, but you know the crab legs will always be fresh.   

Is it better to be one of a few or one of many?

Jade Shames 2013-14 Fresh Voices Grand Prize Winner Screenwriter Interview

Written by Fresh Voices on .


Jade Shames smallIn May 2014, Jade Shames screenplay Phoenix Empire! was selected the Grand Prize Winner of the 2013-14 Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition by a panel of industry judges headed by acclaimed film director Joel Schumacher. Phoenix Empire!, was recognized by all the judges as an exceptionally original screenplay, and Jade was touted as an equally unique voice.

In less than a month, Jade’s career as a copywriter in New York has begun to take more definitive shape as a screenwriter. Jade signed with his first manager and has already been contacted by a producer interested in him writing a new script.

Read more about Jade, his winning script, and what has been happening since winning the Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition.