I'm Geoffrey D. Calhoun and I am a Top 100 indie screenwriter. Ask me Anything!

Geoffrey D. Calhoun
May 1, 2018

I am the founder of wefixyourscript.com and the Script Summit Screenplay Contest. I have a deep passion for screenwriting. This craft is near and dear to my heart. I can't wait to meet you and to chat about it.  Some of the topics we can discuss are:

  • Formatting
  • Structure
  • Character
  • Networking
  • Awards
  • My path to success
  • CRAZY stories I've had along the way
  • Act two woes
  • Online communities
  • Brand building

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At what point do you consider your screenplay workable material? In order words, ready to be seen by the industry?
May 8, 3:04AM EDT0

Hi Geoffrey. What misconception do you run into most when it comes to screenwriting contests, and how has it affected you and your work?

May 6, 5:36PM EDT0

What are your thoughts on crypto currencies, and have you used some of the bigger freelancing sites out there (how's your experience with them)?

May 6, 10:08AM EDT0

Crypto currency is out of my field of expertise so I don't mess with it. I have not used any freelancing sites to get gigs. 

May 6, 10:24AM EDT0
What is the most common problem script writers usually struggle with?
May 4, 3:38AM EDT0

I see a lot of screenwriters struggle with basic formatting. They just don't take the time to learn the subtleties. 

I also see a lack of dramatic action. Many beginners will leap into a screenplay with nothing really to say. They don't have a theme. So they end up writing long drawn out scenes that are boring and are about nothing. 

Last edited @ May 4, 9:50AM EDT.
May 4, 9:50AM EDT0
What is more important, characters or plot, or do you consider this a relative matter, and that they are mostly inseparable?
May 3, 8:28PM EDT0

Personally, I enjoy writing a character-driven story. I find them to be more satisfying when they revolve around a person that I can understand and feel for. That type of story leads me down a path toward an emotional "catharsis" which is something Aristotle believed is essential for a story to do.

There are plot-driven films out there, where the characters are sidelined for the overall story. These tend to be your genre heavy films such as Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elmstreet, Evil Dead. In these films, characters are fleshed out in a more superficial sense to make room for the exaggerated scale of the plot.

Last edited @ May 3, 9:12PM EDT.
May 3, 9:11PM EDT0
Who is your biggest role model in what you do and why?
May 3, 9:21AM EDT0

Syd Field. The guy is a legend. He inspired an entire generation of writers. He was able to breakdown screenwriting to its basic principles so anyone could understand it. He ended up winning a lifetime achievement award for his efforts. 

I love teaching and am actually developing seminars called the “Screenwriting Series by wefixyourscript.com” that I’ll be debuting at a Barnes and Noble

Last edited @ May 3, 12:47PM EDT.
May 3, 12:44PM EDT0
Besides the form of writing itself what do you think makes writing scripts mostly different from other kinds of writing?
May 3, 1:25AM EDT0

Thanks for asking! I feel (and have been told) that my voice as a writer makes my characters feel alive. They speak like real people that you end up having a connection with. I believe I achieve this by striving to pour as much of myself as I can into them. I try to take different aspects of me both the good and ugly portions and infuse them into my characters being. 

Another thing I do is interview people when I write a a specific genre character. Many times that will infuse a bit of who they are into the character as well. So I end up with crazy amalgamation of personalities in my characters 

Last edited @ May 3, 12:37PM EDT.
May 3, 12:35PM EDT0
What projects are you working on right now? How does if differ from your previous ones?
May 2, 8:37AM EDT1

I just picked up an adaptation of a Faith-Based Novel that I am super excited about. I can't speak any details on it as I am on an NDA. However, I can tell you that this is cinematically something that has never been done before and I can't wait to dive in.

May 2, 9:41AM EDT0
What is the harshest criticism you've received as a screenwriter? How did you respond to it?
May 1, 2:48PM EDT1

I've had readers completely destroy my work. One wrote 4 pages hating on my script. 4 pages! At one point and I'll never forget this, he said my work was ”so integrated that it was disintegrated.” I was like ”what?” It didn't even make sense. Then he went on to complain about what my characters were doing way after the script was over. That's when I realized I had hit an emotional chord with him. He cared about what happened to my characters.  I realized he hated the ending. That's what he was truly complaining about. He just couldn't express that.  Did I change the ending? No. But I did take a good long look at the script and tweaked it a bit. 

May 1, 8:21PM EDT1

Thank you for the great questions, everyone! I had a blast answering them and I hope you enjoyed it as well. We are looking to host another AMA next month with one of our consultants. Stay tuned. Please feel free to follow us on Social Media  @wefixyourscript , join our online writer group and check out the Script Summit screenplay contest

Thanks again!

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Last edited @ May 1, 1:12PM EDT.
May 1, 1:12PM EDT0

When did you know you wanted to be a screenwriter? 

May 1, 12:45PM EDT1

Hi, Kristen! Thanks for asking :)

I had been a hobbyist of sorts with my screenwriting. I had written for a handful of years but never really did anything with it.  I had a day job as an MRI technologist at the time. I was helping one of my patients, She was the sweetest old lady ever. She looked up at me with wise aged eyes and asked me if "I loved what I do?" That's when it dawned on me. "No" I replied as I stood there with a sudden realization. Without a beat, she comforted me and said that I needed to find my passion. I already had found it I just didn't realize I could make a living out of it. That's when everything changed.

Last edited @ May 1, 12:59PM EDT.
May 1, 12:53PM EDT1
If you were to partner up with another screenwriter and work on a project together, who would that be and why?
May 1, 12:09PM EDT1

Great question! I have collaborated several times and I have loved it. If we are talking about living writers then I'd say, Jonathan Nolan or Guillermo Del Toro. These are some of the greatest creators out there. I love their work and it would be amazing to collaborate on a project.

If we're talking in history then I'd like to collaborate with Syd Field. The man was a master of his craft. I'd pick his brain like crazy.

Last edited @ May 1, 12:16PM EDT.
May 1, 12:15PM EDT1

Hello, everyone! I am here and am excited to answer all of your questions.

May 1, 12:06PM EDT1

Where do you get your stories from people, family or as your walking down the street?

May 1, 9:04AM EDT1

Hi, Chad! Thanks for asking.

Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes. Sure you get the brilliant creative thought in the shower here and there. But I also do a lot of people watching. I even keep a book that I scribble odd people quirks I see so I can use them as inspiration. For instance yesterday I saw a guy fight with the subway clerk because his sandwhich was slightly more expensive. He's screaming "Its $7.41 it's always $7.41...everyday. It never changes!" I jotted that down and I promise you, I'll do something with it.

I also challenge myself. I'll sit down and pick a genre then I'll decide to write something in this genre that's never been done. Then I'll go through multiple permutations until I settle on an idea that gets my creative juices flowing. Once I get excited about it I move forward.

Last edited @ May 1, 11:57AM EDT.
May 1, 11:13AM EDT1

Hi.. I am Anu.. a freshman screenwriter from Detroit Michigan. Please advice how to get writing gigs? Like i dont want to pitch my scripts but want to approach producers for working as their script writer. How can I proceed in here?

May 1, 8:45AM EDT1

Nice to meet you, Anu. It's great to bump into a local writer!

I'd suggest you build your network. Join writers groups and go to mixers as well.  Script Summit hosts a local writers group in Troy, Mi. Here's the link. I'd also suggest the Royal Starr filmmaker mixer in Royal Oak. They have a surprising number of attendees and meet the second tuesday of every month as well. Lots of great networking opportunities there.

You can also try mandy.com and the ISA. Both of these offer gigs online and are worth checking out. We also have an online writers group where I post gigs. Check it out, here.  A word to the wise when looking at online gigs. Make sure you do research as there are a lot of people out there who just want you to write for free. Which is ridiculous. You don't walk into Target and expect to walk out with your groceries unpaid for. Neither should a producer expect to receive a script for free.

Now, you mentioned you are a "freshman" screenwriter. I want to make sure you have a good understanding of this craft before you try and sniff out gigs. Write at least a dozen screenplays and submit to a few to contests. If you place as a finalist or win then you are on the right track.

If you feel you need to brush up on your skills then check out my screenwriting seminar here. Fist seminar is on May 16th. Hope to see you there.

To make sure you have a good handle on networking, I want you to check out this link.

Last edited @ May 1, 12:03PM EDT.
May 1, 10:03AM EDT1
What does it mean to be a Top 100 indie screenwriter?
May 1, 6:26AM EDT1

I'm completly honored by it. When I got the call that I'd be listed in the book I was shocked and a bit speechless. It's funny when I get news about a gig that went through or a project I worked on is moving into production I instantly feel the need to not  think about it. I know that sounds weird. Most people go out and party, hit the club, go on a shopping spree, or celebrate over dinner. Not me. I'm just not built that way.

I believe when I got the news about being on the list, I immediately went outside and began chopping firewood. I'm not sure why. It just felt like I had to process it. Being honored as a Top 100 Indie Writer isn't something I've ever expected nor did I ever seek out. I just want to be the best writer I can be and help people along the way. There have been other times, I've received great news and went to work on the yard or fix something around the house. I try to find something that grounds me.

I love history and like to think back to the great Ancient Roman General, Marcus Aurelius. After a major victory, he would be paraded down the streets of Rome. People loved him and would cheer him by the thousands. He would be decorated in gold. Flowers lined the streets as they were tossed at him. Think about that. He must have felt like a God among men. To keep his ego in check he would have some one stand quietly behind him and whisper in his ear "You are just a man" That has always stuck with me.

I'm not going to lie, it feels great. But I'm just a dude. For me it's easier to move foreward and think about my next screenwriting project then get lost in my "achievements."

Last edited @ May 1, 12:08PM EDT.
May 1, 10:48AM EDT1
What advice do you recommend to a writer that's experiencing writer's block?
May 1, 3:26AM EDT1

Great question.

I believe writers block can stem from not properly flushing out your outline. If you're a seat of the pants (pantster) then writers block can be a real concern. Or by not truly knowing your character.

We get too excited and jump in early. We need to know who these people are and where we want them to go physically, emotionally, mentally, even spiritually in order to craft a story to get them there. So I'd ask you to first look at what are your characters motivations, limitations, desires... Answer these questions: 

  • What do they want?
  • How do they get it?
  • What do they fear?
  • What do they need in order to change? This should conflict with what they want.
  • How does their fear stop them from getting what they need
  • Where do they go in order to change?

Notice I used the word change not grow. Many writers use the word grow. How do I grow my character. The secret here is that a character doesn't need to grow and become a better person. They only need to change.

Here's a couple of questions to help you with direction:

  • How does the path your character travels on change them?
  • What are you trying to say to the audience/reader about that change?
  • Is it a cautionary tale?
  • A story of hope?

Hopefully this helps you. Now I have a secret weapon for you. If you get really stuck and no amount of research helps you then I'd recommend a mind map. All you do is write the problem in the middle of a bubble and branch off solutions it until you figure it out. Here's an article I wrote Power through Act 2: Tips and Tricks for finishing your story.

You've got this!

Last edited @ May 1, 11:19AM EDT.
May 1, 11:06AM EDT1
How did you become a screenwriter? How long have you been doing it?
Apr 30, 10:08PM EDT1

You want to know my origin story! I feel like a superhero :) I appreciate you asking.

It all started with a bet over a decade ago. Seriously. I had a co-worker who was a part-time editor for a local PBS station. He bet that I couldn't write a better screenplay than him. He was using this as a way to motivate himself. I, of course, accepted the challenge (I'm secretly very competitive. Don't tell anyone. Our secret.) I went home and bought some really old books. As well as a friend gave me an ancient screenwriting book on top of that and I wrote my script. After the allotted time we compared stories and I won. I put it away and my wife ended up reading it. She loved it. I then thought about how much I enjoyed the process and never stopped since. Oh yeah, that script ended up being optioned as well.

Last edited @ May 1, 9:41AM EDT.
May 1, 1:15AM EDT1
Who are some of your favorite screenwriters in the world?
Apr 30, 4:29PM EDT1

This is a good question! Thank you!

Last edited @ May 1, 1:34AM EDT.
Apr 30, 6:29PM EDT1
What are some of the common mistakes screenwriters make when working on their stories?
Apr 30, 2:09PM EDT1

I'm so glad you asked! Let me list you a few.

  1. An unfocused story.
    1. Caused by a poor outline or lack of a well thought out theme/concept.
  2. A passive/reactive central character
    1. Caused by the central character not moving the plot forward. Instead, the action happens around them.
  3. A long script.
    1. No one wants 120 pages anymore. Come in around 106 tops. 86-96 is a nice sweet spot to aim for as well.
  4. Camera Directions.
    1. don't use them
  5. Ease up on the Parentheticals!
  6. Leave out scene numbers
  7. Drop the orphan danglers also called widow words.
    1. They unnecessarily fluff your script.
  8. Action blocks should be 4 lines or less
  9. Leave a lot of white space in a script. A script should appear spartan in nature.
  10. Grammar needs to be correct.
  11. Go out of your way to properly format your script.

Last edited @ May 1, 11:21AM EDT.
May 1, 1:31AM EDT1
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