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Not-So-Famous Writers Of Famous Movie Scripts

Not-So-Famous Writers Of Famous Movie Scripts

By a new guest author…

Katie Porter is an aspiring writer, movie lover, and part of the team at Seatup.
The screenwriter is the often overlooked creator of the world we experience when we take our seat in the movie theater; ready to be dragged into the adventure, intrigue, comedy, and tragedy. The anonymity of the screenwriter is part of the attraction for many – living in the spotlight, under the scrutiny of the swarming Twitterati and critics isn’t that appealing to everyone.

There are lots of incredibly famous screenwriters whose work goes beyond the typewriter to other, more glamorous and more famous roles – Quentin Tarantino, Billy Wilder, Woody Allen, the Coen Bros, Francis Ford Coppola.

But there are just as many guys and gals who create the expansive world of our favorite movies – sending us to the extremities of the universe or the stories of friendships and achievements – who are just getting on with their normal lives: putting out their trash, cleaning their windows, and simply enjoying the luxury of being anonymous.

So buckle up, for this is quite an unexpected ride – our list of not-so-famous writers of movies that had big impacts at the box office.

Melissa Mathison

Melissa Mathison wrote the screenplay for one of the all-time favorite family movies – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), in which she also played Elliot’s school nurse. She also wrote the screenplays for The BFG, and The Twilight Zone: The Movie, but lived a relatively anonymous life, out of the spotlight – despite being married to Harrison Ford. Unfortunately, she died at the age of 65 in 2015, but her stories continue to spread joy across the homes of millions of families all around the world.

Ted Tally

Ted Tally is responsible for the screenplay adaptation of one of the most notorious thrillers of the 1990s – The Silence of the Lambs (1991), rated number 23 in the IMDB Top 100. Based on the novel by the more widely known, Thomas Harris, Tally managed to extract every possible tension, bringing this classic monster movie to a climactic forte on the screen.

The real skill of the screenwriter is to give us enough to maintain our interest and hold off the climax until we can’t bear it – and The Silence of the Lambs is a perfect example of a man in control of the page. Ted Tally is also known for All The Pretty Horses (2000), Mission to Mars (2000), and Red Dragon (2002). After a sixteen year hiatus, he’s back with 12 Strong (2018).

Robert Rodat

Robert Rodat wrote the screenplay for Saving Private Ryan (1998) – currently rated number 28 in the IMDB Top 100. Very much the action writer, he’s also created the screenplays for Thor: The Dark World (2013) and The Patriot (2000). Away from the typewriter, Rodat has been the Executive Producer and writer responsible for the TV series, Falling Skies (2011-2015).

Michael Blake

Michael Blake’s finest movie hour was Dances With Wolves (1990). The screenplay was based on his own novel, and the movie is currently ranked at the number 59 spot in the IMDB Top 100. However, his movie zenith fizzled out almost as quickly as it began – but when one movie wins 7 Oscars, including Best Writing (Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium), and 36 other recognized industry awards, I guess it’s fine to pull out at the top.

Calder Willingham

Calder Willingham was one of two writers responsible for the screenplay to the Hoffman / Bancroft classic, The Graduate (1967). His other screenwriting exploits didn’t really shake the world; unlike his writing partner for the movie, Buck Henry. Henry went on to pen the screenplays for Catch-22 (1970), Grumpy Old Men (1993), and Get Smart (2008).

Larry McMurtry

Larry McMurtry is probably better known as a TV writer, having created many TV movies, and mini-series – none of which are particularly notable. However, he wrote the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain (2005) and the novel, Terms Of Endearment – which was brought to the screen in 1983, starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, and Jack Nicholson, and won 5 Oscars.

David Franzoni

David Franzoni wrote the screenplay for Gladiator (2000). His writing credits since have been few and far between, with a single screenplay for the rather mediocre King Arthur (2004). However, his mantelpiece is adorned with an Oscar for Best Picture, and a nomination for Best Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen), so you could say that he quit while he was ahead. More recently Franzoni has been the Executive Producer for Black and White Stripes: The Juventus Story (2016) – a documentary series.

Nearly all of these writers have been crowned with the glories that all writers strive for, but are happy to remain in the background. And sometimes, that’s for the best, isn’t it?

Being a screenplay writer might not necessarily get you a table in a restaurant, or spotted in the street, but who needs that anyway? For some, the satisfaction of having their work brought to life on the screen is all the recognition they need – as they can drift back into their blissfully anonymous lives.

Katie Porter is an aspiring writer, movie lover, and part of the team at Seatup. In her free time, she enjoys exploring her home state Colorado and plays in women’s amateur rugby league.

Winter 2018 Screenwriting Contest Winners Revealed!

Winter 2018 Screenwriting Contest Winners Revealed!

The results are in… Winter 2018 Screenwriting Contest winners are revealed below!

Another contest complete, another group of winners revealed. We’ve seen the growth and improvement in many writers who have submitted – something that is reflected by the results! Thank you to all of you who entered for making our jobs of judging the scripts enjoyable.

We strongly encourage you to take advantage of our script consultancies to find out why your script placed where it did. Our top 3 now get those for free for the next year!

Here’s what our Top 3 win…

  • Cash prize of $2000 for our Grand Prize Winner
  • The 3 winners will receive one year free of script development and mentoring.
  • We’ll also pitch and promote the scripts to the top of the film industry. Remind yourself what makes for winning writing HERE.
  • Plus, exclusive prizes from InkTip – an InkTip Script Listing and the winning scripts’ loglines will be featured in InkTip’s Magazine, read by thousands of writers and producers.

CONGRATULATIONS to SLAVE SHIP by Tyler True for winning the Winter 2018 Screenwriting Competition!

A great win for Tyler for this excellent script about harrowing history and inspirational change. Tyler now takes home those wonderful prizes listed above. But we must also congratulate…

Second Placed Winner, CHARMER by David Kurtz – David has improved on his Third Placed finish in our Summer contest and was so close to taking home the main prize! Good job, David!

Third Placed Winner, INSURRECTION by Simon Bowler. Another win for Simon following on from his “Best Teleplay” win – another script that has continued to improve over multiple submissions!

And, of course, a special congrats to our Honorable Mentions: NEW REALITY by Carolyn Kras, MAGIC MAN by Norma Hickox, THE CRAWL-UP by Gabriell DeBear Paye, VALENTYNE by Dashiell Finley, THE DAWN OF EVE by James Bingham, A Shadow in Space by Bryan Reilly, and THE FOURTH COURIER by TIMOTHY JAY SMITH.

A very well done to everyone named here and the many other impressive scripts we read this time round. It’s been a tough field to choose from!

We’ll be telling you all about our winners in the coming weeks, and getting their script development phase underway.

Head to our Facebook page and our Twitter feed to congratulate our top three winners and Honorable Mentions yourself!

Winter 2018 Screenwriting Contest – Semi-Finalists

Winter 2018 Screenwriting Contest – Semi-Finalists

We are delighted to announce the Semi-Finalists for our Winter 2018 Screenwriting Contest.

We are delighted to announce the 26 Semi-Finalists for the Winter 2018 Screenwriting Competition! Selecting the scripts with the strongest claim to join our winners has made for a tough but enjoyable task for us the past couple of weeks.

Check out the full list of 26 Semi-Finalists below.

Head on over to our Facebook page and our Twitter feed to congratulate the Semi-Finalists yourselves!

The final results will be announced in two weeks’ time – Friday, March, 16th.

At this time, we try to only include scripts that we’re still considering as a potential winner. Having made the Quarter-Finalists shows that a script or writer already has some clear potential, and a Semi-Final place means that with more development this script could become a contender. Keep that in mind as you think about what to do with your script next. These results should give you a good guide to the current state of your idea, writing and script.

Next, we refocus our attention to the book and television entries as we wind up to next week’s TV and book awards announcement!

Here are the Winter 2018 Screenwriting Contest Semi-Finalists…

THE DAWN OF EVE, James Bingham TO DIE IN TAJOUTE, Virginia Bola INSURRECTION, Simon Bowler
BLACK SHEEP, John Hunter WHEN WE FALL BEHIND, Dan Hutchinson NEW REALITY, Carolyn Kras
CHARMER, David Kurtz THE LOCKSMITH, Jeffrey Morales BAD DOG, Phil Olsen
THE CRAWL UP, Gabriell DeBear Paye A SHADOW IN SPACE, Bryan Reilly SAVIOR, Bo Sanders
STAR BLUE SOLDIER, Donahue Silvia THE FOURTH COURIER, Timothy Jay Smith THE FIRSTBORN, William Smith
SLAVE SHIP, Tyler True LAST PRINCE OF WALES, Ethan Westgate COLD FOOTED, Tanya M. Wheeler
THE REALM, Tanya M. Wheeler LEGACY OF THE GODS, Tim Wong
Winter 2018 Screenwriting Contest – Quarter Finalists

Winter 2018 Screenwriting Contest – Quarter Finalists

We are delighted to announce the Quarter-Finalists for our Winter 2018 Screenwriting Contest.


Since that Bonus Extension in January, we have had a lot of interesting and high-quality scripts to get through – but it’s been another great judging period!

Congratulations to the 51 Winter 2018 Quarter-Finalists! All of them had some special spark that caught our eye and we’re looking forward to giving them new eyes as we consider our Semi-Finalists and winners…

Those who didn’t make it this time were an equally fascinating set of submissions too, and showed a lot of promising qualities. We hope that you will stay in touch with us: we’re currently confirming details for our next contest and will keep you informed.

If you want to know why your script didn’t make it, or where to take it next? Has a revised edition of your script come out short yet again? We recommend that you consider getting a mentoring service or consultancy, too. That way you can find out what we currently feel is holding your script back. And as a sweet bonus, you’ll get free entry into our next main contest!

See the full list of Quarter-Finalists below…

Congratulate the Quarter-Finalists on our Facebook page and our Twitter feed.

STRANDED, Christopher Andre STEVE DEUCE, Justin Andreas BUSHIDO BASEBALL, Charles R. Astone
MEGABALL$, Marc Baron THE DAWN OF EVE, James Bingham TO DIE IN TAJOUTE, Virginia Bola
ADIONA, Ian Causer DEAD MAN’S HEAD, Ronald Ecker ICE CREAM DON’T MELT IN ENGLEWOOD, Richard Ehrenreich
VALENTYNE, Dashiell Finley ENDANGERED SPECIES, Mark Flood THE OATH, Axel Gerand
SHAKESPEARE OF AVON, James Hanson MAGIC MAN, Norma Hickox BLACK SHEEP, John Hunter
WHEN WE FALL BEHIND, Dan Hutchinson BOMMY!, Boim Hwang A SECOND CHANCE, Manny Jimenez Sr.
MATANZAS, Piotr Kaszuba NEW REALITY, Carolyn Kras CHARMER, David Kurtz
TALK THERAPY, Thomas Moore THE LOCKSMITH, Jeffrey Morales PROJECT ΩMEGA, P. James Norris
BAD DOG, Phil Olsen TREE HOUSE, Chris Ossman FINDING ATLANTIS, Katherine Panzella
AMERICAN REBEL, Sydney Parran THE CRAWL UP, Gabriell DeBear Paye GATEKEEPERS TO THE STARS, Thelma Pickett
A SHADOW IN SPACE, Bryan Reilly 2020AD, Mike Rogers SAVIOR, Jerome Sanders
STAR BLUE SOLDIER, Donahue Silvia THE FOURTH COURIER, Timothy Jay Smith THE FIRSTBORN, William Smith
TIMBER, Patricia Stevens, Marian Mathews Clark CUL DE SAC, Charles Stock SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, Charles Stock
SLAVE SHIP, Tyler True THE VENUS SYNDROME, Lynee Vincentnathan LAST PRINCE OF WALES, Ethan Westgate
COLD FOOTED, Tanya M. Wheeler THE REALM, Tanya M. Wheeler ISOLATION, Brian Whiteman
How we’re pitching our winners…

How we’re pitching our winners…

How we’re pitching our screenwriting contest winners to the industry…

Since our relaunch in February 2016, we’ve gained a wonderful, varied slate of award-winning scripts and writers, many of which have now completed their year of free script development as we prepare them and their writers for the pitching process. As our campaign to pitch them gathers momentum, I thought now would be a great time to show you what we’ve been doing for our winners and the great responses we’ve been getting. We can’t reveal the confidential details of course, but there’s plenty we can show you as this gains pace.


Even our winners’ fine scripts usually have a few important question marks in them, from a producer’s point of view. (If you would lose your job and your reputation for greenlighting a project that bombs, you’d feel the same.) So we use all our expertise and industry experience to feed back studio-quality reports and guidance for our winners, for a year, for free. It often takes that long – sometimes even longer – to get the script so sharp and convincing that producers can’t use easy excuses not to greenlight.

The process can even go beyond the one-year mark. One of our early winners has been very ill for much of the time since his prize; another – who is aiming high – decided to give the script a big review when I fed back to him my concerns that the things I felt producers would be wary about when I gave him the prize, still hadn’t noticeably progressed in his script. The writer’s approach to feedback, and their general responsiveness and promptness of redrafts, makes more difference than the guaranteed year-long timeframe: some scripts and writers are ready far sooner, others never convince us they’d reply promptly enough to a concrete offer from a serious producer.

Remember, WriteMovies have been pitching scripts to the industry for twenty years, and launched two Oscar-nominated writers into the industry. Things are ready when they’re ready. We don’t take any cut of option fees whatsoever – so we’re prepared to put in as long as it takes to give our winners the best chance of breaking through. When we succeed in doing that, everyone wins.



We’ll show you more about these and why you might want to make one, in another article soon. But these are meant to be a short, snappy, visual teaser of what this script would FEEL and LOOK like to the viewer. In an industry where the real decisionmakers are often hard to get on the phone, it’s important to present your script in the most professional way possible – that clearly shows how this movie could be SOLD to top talent and audiences. Getting our one-page pitches right is an important way to show that we, and our writers, mean business.

In the Terms & Conditions of entering our main contests, you’ll see a promise of ‘intensive pitch coaching’. This is it. We coach our winners to prepare their logline and one-page pitch, guiding them through multiple drafts as we get this right with them. At the end of it, the writers are far better placed to present and pitch their scripts in future.

And you know what else? More than a few have found that the process of presenting their script in a one-page pitch, has made them sharpen and focus and intensify their script more effectively. Everyone wins.

Meanwhile, we often give our Elite Mentors the chance to feed back on the scripts on our slate – and the writers love getting feedback from top industry pros like them. Sometimes the Elite Mentors even get involved and help push the script forward towards production themselves, which is the best of all worlds.


From quite an early point, we’ve already warmed up the industry to the projects on our slate, because of the promotion we give our winners in the weeks after their win, and consequently when their logline is promoted extensively to the industry through InkTip. We also sometimes use our dedicated Industry Newsletters (which go out to hundreds of producers and agents) to promote scripts more widely too. But these methods are only a small part of the real pitching process. The world is busy and full of competition, and everyone you want to reach out to needs treating as an individual.

Lots of writers take a scattergun approach, approaching as many producers, directors or actors as possible. Lots of writers think the world OWES them for creating their scripts, and should now bow down before them. Good luck with that. If you don’t understand the real life of producers and talent, you’ll need a totally world-changing script in order to break through with that attitude. And, if you’re so oblivious to the individuality and business needs of the people you’re approaching, you almost certainly won’t have achieved a script that good anyway.

So, between us and the writer, we compile SHORT lists of producers or talent who we think could really go for this project (exploring all sides of my motto: Aim High, Use Allies, or DIY – Do It Yourself). We research them properly, their track record and preferences, and how best to reach them. We then make our approach on whatever platform, opportunity or situation is the one they’d be most likely to favour. With our track record and polished scripts and one-page pitches, we’ve got a good chance of getting in the door. If we’re then invited to send the whole script, awesome. From that point, it’s up to the writer and producer/talent: we keep the line open and follow up until there’s a result, for better or worse. And then seal the deal or get proper feedback that we can use to improve the script or our understanding of its prospects, and then move on to the next on our shortlist.

Wherever possible, of course, we pitch in person, or failing that on the phone. Most people prefer doing business with strangers by email, but building their trust and their image of us gets us in a lot of doors that writers alone couldn’t. Our in-person pitching in the last two years has got many of our scripts read by leading players and has earned us important new allies, some of whom put us in touch with other people who’ll read the script now it’s been recommended by someone they trust and rate.

Getting a ‘no thanks’ often isn’t a closed door, if we’ve handled the approach right. It’s just a no to this script at this point in time. But with the range of our slate – now and in the future – and all the other services we offer, we always look to keep the door open for mutual support in the future. We keep in regular touch with all producers or agents who are happy for us to, such as through our industry newsletters.

It’s often frustrating how little of all this activity we get to share with you publicly. For obvious reasons, producers and talent wouldn’t want us to share the detail of what we discuss with them. But believe me, if you become a winner in one of our main contests, we’ll be working furiously behind the scenes to take your script as far as it can go.

While many agents and writers would be annoyed to learn that the company we approach have already got something similar on their slate (maybe worried they’ve been plagiarized!), personally I welcome it. Why? Because it shows we really did get this to the people who’d be interested in it. And the praise we often get back from them is great momentum to take into our next approach.

Enter our latest contest now, or enter our next one early by purchasing a consultancy service, to get the benefit of our decades of industry experience into YOUR project.

© WriteMovies 2017. Exclusive to WriteMovies – To syndicate this content for your own publication, contact ian (at) writemovies dot-com.