Audio classes

Audio classes

Why do producers, agents and managers usually not respond to queries to read a script, even if they are open to receiving them?

It’s because the logline and synopsis in the query does not strike them as being the basis for a screenplay they could do anything with, business-wise.  In other words, someone looks at the query and decides “pass” – even if they never tell the writer this.

And the problem is generally not in the writing of the query itself.  It’s in the basic idea and structure for a movie that it describes.

I see the same thing in scripts I read as a consultant. 90% of my notes deal with the basic underpinnings of the story, which would be found in a logline or synopsis.  This is where most projects fail.

I have seen so many common issues in writers’ approach to story concept, main character, and three-act structure, that I have developed a set of keys to getting things right in each of these areas, which I’m now offering — in the form of five half-hour audio lectures.

I didn’t come at any of this easily, or quickly. This is the result of 20+ years of study and practice, and a lot of “trial and error” in my own writing – and what I’ve learned in the business as a professional. I really believe that if you can master what’s in these five half hours, you will conquer 90% of what leads to major “notes” from people like me – and “passes” from buyers and representatives.

These audios are geared for repeated listening via computer or smart phone (or burned to a CD) — so you can absorb the material while driving, or engaging in other activities.

They’re priced at $11.95 each, or $49 for all five — just use the discount code “5” at checkout, after adding all five audios to your “cart.”

Check out the free one-minute samples below. I hope you find them eye-openingly useful!

When you purchase, a secure link for each 15-20 MB file will be e-mailed to you. Clicking on it initiates a download into your web browser’s “Downloads” folder. This might take a few minutes, and I suggest waiting until it’s complete to start listening — to avoid having the playback stop partway through.

 

STORY CONCEPT

Covering such topics as…

  • Why managers and agents consider this the most important part of the process
  • The point and function of loglines
  • How entertainment value is often the missing piece
  • The need to use an established genre, with originality
  • What high concept means, and why it matters
  • How the SAVE THE CAT story types can help

Movie examples include: PRETTY WOMAN, THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, WEDDING CRASHERS

Listen to a sample:

 

 

 

MAIN CHARACTER

Covering such topics as…

  • Using point-of-view to get the audience inside the story
  • How failure and struggle but active persistence are key
  • Do you need a single antagonist?
  • How relatable problems create audience connection
  • The role of character flaw and arc
  • How ensemble stories work, using multiple “main characters”

Movie examples include: ERIN BROCKOVICH, LIAR LIAR, JERRY MAGUIRE, GONE GIRL

Listen to a sample:

 

 

ACT ONE

Covering such topics as…

  • Getting your main character “up a tree”
  • Why hitting the ground running can be counterproductive
  • How to get the audience caring about the main character
  • Why jumping around in time can be counter-productive
  • The all-important Catalyst or Inciting Incident
  • Why the genre elements need to be present in the first act

Movie examples include: DIE HARD, THE MATRIX, LIAR LIAR

Listen to a sample:

 

 

ACT TWO

Covering such topics as…

  • Creating a “punch-counterpunch” dynamic
  • The importance of a passionately active main character
  • The different types and levels of character stakes
  • Constantly “changing the game” of the story problem
  • How much of a “story” does the “B Story” need to be?
  • How “lost” do things have to get at the Crisis?

Movie examples include: BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, LEGALLY BLONDE, THE HANGOVER, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

Listen to a sample:

 

 

ACT THREE

Covering such topics as…

  • Keeping the outcome uncertain and the energy ever rising
  • Mixed emotion endings
  • Does the main character have to change?
  • The role of Dramatica’s “Influence Character” and 4 throughlines
  • What it takes for a “hero” to finally resolve their problem
  • The need to create a huge emotional rush for the audience

Movie examples include: THE GODFATHER, JERRY MAGUIRE, STAR WARS

Listen to a sample:

 

9 Comments

  1. Robin Brantley

    WOW! This is probably the most valuable set of screenwriting information I have found yet (and we’ve been studying for a solid year now). We have been working on story outline for months, making sure to get all things structurally lined up before we write the script. I had just started writing the script, and then- WHAM! I found Erik’s audio classes and it set us completely straight. We have a complex and original Sci-Fi adventure story. Initially, we had the set-up in Act 1 include the characters as kids. Turns out a prologue situation should not go more than 1-3 pages. So, we re-worked the intro and now have the protag and others come on scene as adults on page 4. This gives ample time for readers/viewers to connect to them as twenty-somethings before the inciting incident shows up on page 12 =) Thank You, Erik, for being the compass we have been searching for! We fully intend to use Erik’s consulting services for theme/ story, and then script as we move forward.

  2. Hi Erik,

    Just finished your lectures on CD last night and as I listened, I kept saying to myself, Wow! I did that in my script and didn’t even know I had done such an important thing. You have a gift to communicate what the creative process is. I’ve read a lot of screenwriting books. But, none have put into words, so well, the real underlying thoughts needed to create a viable story, i.e., the vision first. Thank you for providing these lectures. I learned many important criteria for a successful story. I want to utilize your gift more with my screenplay in the future.

    I purchased your manager list and send email queries to the top ones that have sold scripts. Guess what! Zero Gravity Management requested my script, Fire From The Gods. They’re reading it! Thanks for your vetted list.

  3. I’ve been reading all the books about storytelling from McKee to Snyder, but when it’s time to come back to fundamentals Erik’s audio classes are unbeatable and a source of great advices. I’ve strongly suggested him to write a book !!

  4. Tobias Mehler

    I’m loving working with Erik, and these audio classes demonstrate why. Not only does Erik know his stuff, he’s full of passion and expresses with clarity. If you’re looking for a grounded viewpoint full of enthusiasm, check these out. I’m confident you won’t be disappointed.

  5. Michael Hahn

    Erik tells you exactly what you need to hear. He’s clear, quick, smart, and efficient. A lot of people say, and I tend to agree with this more times than not, that many books on screenwriting have a few pages or even chapters worth of great ideas but then they get bogged down with filler chapters full of fluff or endless, repetitive examples to prove points that have already been made. Erik’s audio lectures are like those initial great book pages– but for the whole time. His talks are just the good parts. His examples are fast and ring true. He’s condensed a wealth of knowledge into bite-sized portions and his teaching is like good writing– simple, which is not easy to do. The bottom line is if you follow his advice, your story will work.

  6. Richard Wells

    I found the audio classes to be very useful in clarifying the goals and processes of writing a screenplay. Most notable for me was the information about the supreme importance of having a good initial concept,and what one needs to do to achieve this. This step is so important, yet seldom discussed, except superficially, in screenwriting books and classes. Just one example of the type of incisive, critical analysis these audio classes brought me, even after having read a ton of books on screenwriting.

  7. Jeff Atkinson

    If you have an idea for a movie and want to grasp the essential concepts in of good storytelling these hip-pocket audio primers are just the ticket.

  8. Erik knows the principals that make a great script. These audio lessons are a pleasure to listen to. They are are a refreshing way to teach writers to implement the correct techniques that go into designing an emotionally charged story.

  9. As Editor of Script Magazine, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing Erik’s words with our readers for many years. Every bit of advice he offers is derived from his experience as a professional writer and producer. His understanding of the business helps screenwriters think on a larger scale, beyond their stories, pushing them to make their ideas marketable and career-changing. I’ve listened to his lectures and sat at dinner with him, discussing the industry and our passions for writing, and it is without hesitation I highly recommend Erik as a script consultant. He delivers the advice you need to hear in a compassionate, intelligent manner, allowing you to raise the bar on your work to a level you only imagined possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *