Newsletter #29 – March 2011


It’s been 5 years since I started giving story and script advice (and almost that long since the last newsletter, too). 

I’m very pleased to say that today my clients are not only emerging screenwriters but also multi-credited writers and highly successful producers.

Monday 21 March 2011

Interestingly, most clients live outside NSW and those with the biggest credits actually live outside Australia. Most of the work is done via Skype but I do travel, too.

I have just returned from a frantic East/West trip that brought me from Queensland for the first time to Western Australia, where I conducted a Cave Workshop and lectured on The Hero’s Journey. The trip earned me some nice feedback.

I’m ready to venture to South Australia now… Anyone?


5th AnniversaryTo celebrate the 5th anniversary of my consulting work, I launched a web site specifically to promote these services. You can book sessions or workshops directly from there and for a limited time the entry level service will be available at the cost it was 5 years ago: $75 (in stead of $99).

More reason to celebrate as The Story Department closed last year with 100,000+ unique visitors and 250,000+ page views. The US based company Movie Outline republished our Syd Field interview in their popular Script Tips newsletter. I conducted the interview with the help of Niels Abercrombie and Dave Trendall, two members of the ever increasing team of talented and dedicated volunteers, to whom I am immensely grateful.

I’m still listed in the Top 5 of most influential people on Twitter for screenwriting and when Amazon Studios launched, it listed The Story Department as one of only 5 blogs on their Getting Started page (they’ve added more now).

More workshops?

Logline it!I’ve been asked when there will be more workshops here in NSW. This year I am organising a seminar or workshop in Sydney every other month. Right now, I am preparing ‘Logline It!’, in which I will bring all my experience with good and bad loglines together in one helluva workshop. Loglining is a rare skill (see “The Judges” below) and one that is indispensable for screenwriters. The workshop will be held in three weeks time and if you book now, you can enjoy the discount rate of $99, irrespective of whether you qualify.

In May I’ll conduct a one-day private workshop for the lucky 11 of Metro Screen’s First Break program. After the wonderful experience of last year’s collaboration and the amazing short films resulting from it, I am looking forward to working with the new teams on their scripts.

If I am not lecturing anywhere near you anytime soon, there is always the online workshop The Next Draft. I am currently repurposing this course for the students of the Advanced Diploma at International Film College on the Gold Coast. Later this year I will be offering my Hero’s Journey seminar in an online version as well.

The Judges

Have you seen our weekly item on The Story Department: The Judges? Ten film lovers from Australia and overseas, pros and amateurs, critique the loglines of feature projects that received development funding from Screen Australia last year. Some really intriguing material in there, but some of the loglines are really, really bad. Hopefully they disguise better stories.

In my workshop on 10 April I will demonstrate exactly how a simple logline can accurately predict when a concept is not mainstream and how the demise of some Australian films from recent years could have been foreseen – and avoided.


IFC ScreenwritingThis is my third year at International Film College in Queensland and this year I’ll be coaching the Advanced Diploma students through an intensive online workshop, teaching them how to develop storylines and – in the next term – how to write screenplays.

I’m proud that after my work for IFC in Queensland, SAE in Jordan and CSU in Wagga, recently Duncan Thompson of the International Film School Sydney called me in to consult on the students’ screenplays. I love the energy of this place, which under the guidance of Duncan is very much a story and script-driven school, so I find myself a kid in a candy store. I am working with students from Tiers 1 and 3.


The CaveThe Cave Workshop is gaining notoriety, with a first client coming back for the second time with a new screenplay. Her earlier screenplay was optioned after taking the workshop the first time around.

Some people have applied for funding in order to be able to take this service but I heard from at least one agency spokesperson (and as reinforced by subsequent application rejections) that they really want to see stories to have gone through a similar process before applying.


Congratulations to client Melina Marchetta, author and screenwriter of Looking For Alibrandi, who was accepted into the Screen NSW Aurora Workshop with her latest script. Also to Scott Murden and Brendan Sloane, whose film The Dinner Party (which I worked on as a consultant and co-producer) has been selling out Canberra theaters lately.

Finally, kudos to producer Cassie Kelly, writer-director Claire Phillips and writer-director Alexandra Edmundson for their wonderful short films The Boys and The Burnt Cork, both I had the honour of working on. (I know – and I’m sorry – I’m forgetting YOU – but as usual I’m forgetting many others, too.)

Prima di partire…

I’ve been pretty slack in sending out newsletters so if you would like to be better informed about my actions and opinions, it’s probably not a bad idea to follow me via Twitter or Facebook.

I hope to be back with a next newsletter in no more than a month or two.



Leave a Comment