Monday, August 26, 2013

Conquering Hollywood

A Screenwriter’s Blueprint for Career Success
By Gary W. Goldstein
Book Review by Ann Baldwin
Gary W. Goldstein is a highly sought-after speaker, consultant, author, award-winning Hollywood film producer, and the President of The Goldstein Company, a film and television Production Company based in Los Angeles. Prior to becoming a film producer, Gary was a lawyer in San Francisco and then ran his own literary and talent management firm in Los Angeles, representing writers, actors, and directors. He’s been instrumental in the success of many of Hollywood’s biggest box-office hits. His films have generated over a billion dollars in worldwide revenue and received numerous Academy Award nominations, People’s Choice Awards, a Golden Globe, and various other awards and nominations. Gary’s films include the critically acclaimed Pretty Woman starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere (which went on to be one of Disney’s highest grossing live-action films). Another of his film successes, Under Siege (Warner Bros.), starring Tommy Lee Jones and Steven Seagal, was followed by Under Siege 2: In Dark Territory. Also included is the much heralded adaptation of The Mothman Prophecies (Lakeshore Entertainment and Sony), starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney, which also helped to earn Gary a respected reputation within the ranks of Hollywood. In his new book, Conquering Hollywood: A Screenwriter’s Blueprint for Career Success (Big Picture Press 2013) Gary shares his unique, simple, and proven strategies for building a solid and long-lasting screenwriting career, while also raising it to a higher level of success.

Whenever you get in the driver’s seat to go somewhere, you usually know where you’re headed, why you want to go, and how you’ll get there, before taking the necessary actions of shifting into gear and venturing out towards your desired destination. Being in the driver’s seat of your writing career is no different as Gary will demonstrate before sending you on your way for a journey filled with more meaning, results, and satisfaction.

You will learn the importance of the relationships you foster through networking as he gives numerous examples from his own experiences, which include how he built rapport with one creative executive (assistant) who one day paved the way to Steven Spielberg. Gary devotes an entire chapter to assistants, the true gate keepers with the golden keys to open all the right doors; they’re your true allies, career partners, and collaborators.

You’ll gain the benefits that come from effective marketing, by knowing three simple things about yourself. He also helps you sharpen your marketing tools such as loglines, query letters, pitches, leave behinds, and table readings. He shows you how to create and work with your Top 100 List (your magnetic north), so you can point your career in the right direction and D.O. List, so you can accelerate your progress.

With the mind-set and experience of a lawyer, he briefs you on some very important insider tips to keep you smart, legal, and protected. His natural charisma, gift for understanding human nature, and passionate desire to help you succeed will connect you with your best inner-self that wants and deserves to shine.

Having the essential tools found in Conquering Hollywood is like having a powerful lighthouse of insightful, valuable, and useful knowledge that guides the way as you master the control deck of your ship-of-dreams and cruise to your ultimate landing-place. I highly recommend Conquering Hollywood for all screenwriters with a true passion for building a worthy and rewarding career.

To connect with Gary W. Goldstein you can visit his website at and purchase a copy of Conquering Hollywood at Amazon.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Be the Heroine/Hero of Your Life Story

An Interview with Jen Grisanti
by Ann Baldwin

Jen Grisanti is a highly respected script consultant, public speaker, author, and writing instructor. She started her career as an assistant to Aaron Spelling. Jen climbed the ranks and eventually ran Current Programs at Spelling Television Inc., covering all of Spelling’s shows including Beverly Hills, 90210; Melrose Place; and Charmed. In 2004, Jen was promoted to Vice President of Current Programs at CBS/Paramount where she covered shows including Medium, Numbers, NCIS, 4400, and Girlfriends. She served as a mentor in the CBS Diversity Program, which seeks out and nurtures young writers and directors. In 2008, she launched her own consultancy firm, Jen Grisanti Consultancy, dedicated to helping talented writers break into the industry. She is also a Writing Instructor for NBC’s Writers on the Verge, taught classes for the Scriptwriters’ Network, The Screenwriting Expo, and The Great American Pitchfest and served on panels for the WGA and Final Draft/The Writer’s Bootcamp. Her books include, Story Line: Finding Gold in Your Life Story (Michael Wiese Productions 2011), TV Writing Tool Kit: How to Write a Script That Sells, and her upcoming book, Change Your Story, Change Your Life: A Path to Success (Divine Arts 2013).

We’re all familiar with reading about heroines and heroes in books and watching them in films and TV, but most of us never consider ourselves as heroines or heroes. In my interview with Jen, she explains how to take the elements of story and apply them to your own life, so you can create the story of your dreams, turn them into reality, and be the heroine or hero of your own life.

Ann: What do you hope to teach your readers through your new book, Change Your Story, Change Your Life?

Jen: I was inspired to write by the simple thematic question that came up in my own life, can I take a personal or professional fall and turn it into a win? When I went through the actions and discovered that the answer was yes, I wanted to share it with others.

My intention with writing the book is so that readers can recognize that after their life takes a turn, they can create the story that they want on both a personal and professional level. It all comes down to choice. You can choose to be a victim or you can choose to be an active heroine in your own life. It all starts with defining what you want. By identifying a goal, you can learn how to take your personal or professional fall and through taking action, turn the fall into a triumph. By learning to be an active heroine in your own story through utilizing the story tools that I share, the reader will gage new insight on how they can change their story and their life in the process.

Ann: You state in your new book that "being active after a fall is one of life's greatest challenges"; how do we gain the motivation needed to take action after a fall and how can we be an active verses reactive heroine/hero in our own life?

Jen: In fiction and in life, there is every kind of heroine or Hero. You have the passive heroine, the reactive heroine, the reluctant heroine, and the non-heroine in addition to the active heroine. The active heroine is the one who creates their destiny through identifying a specific goal and taking action to get there. When you understand your emotional reasons for wanting to get to the goal, you can use this to motivate your pursuit. When we fall, we have the time to contemplate what we lost. We may recognize that the initial pursuit wasn’t what we thought it was because we didn’t strategically plan the internal side of our story. So, once we take the time to heal and understand what led to our fall, we can use the dilemma that we faced from the fall to fuel us forward into our new story. We have the choice of being the victim to the fall and becoming a reactive or passive heroine to our life or we can be the active heroine, learn the lessons from our fall, and plan our next victory with a stronger sense of spirit. By being the active heroine, we create the destiny that we want.

In my life, when I faced the dilemma of what to do after the loss of a job after 15 years with the same company, I knew that the choice that I made would define my character and determine what kind of heroine that I would be in my own life. I knew from having hit my goal of being Vice President that it was my actions that led to achieving this goal. So, I saw that being active brings the results. Now, I just needed to better develop the internal side of my story so that the external and the internal were in alignment. I choose to be active in my pursuit of creating my own business and shepherding my vision by helping others to achieve their goals and reach their destination through writing their story.

Ann: Most people are familiar with setting goals, such as buying a new car, graduating from school, getting a job promotion, purchasing a home, or winning an award, but many people are not aware of a key component needed to achieving their goals; what is your knowledge and/or experience with this aspect of success?

Jen: In my experience, the key tool to achieving the goal is connecting the personal dilemma or wound to the professional outcome. When we go through our “all is lost” moment, we lose something in the process. By redefining what it is we want through understanding what the internal desire is for the external reward, we will garner stronger results. If we use our pain to fuel us forward instead of hold us back, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

For example, one of the trigger incidents in my own life revolved around losing a job after 15 years with two sister companies. This trigger incident/turning point forced me into a dilemma. Did I want to continue to climb the corporate ladder and give into the idea of shepherding someone else’s vision or did I want to go out on my own and shepherd my own vision and take the risk of making a small business succeed? I chose the later. Then, my external goal that stemmed from this was to build the business into a big success. I used my personal wound; my fear that I wasn’t going to be able to do what I loved anymore for a living and I used it to drive my professional goal; to build a business that encompassed everything that I loved about my job. This is what I did. The book goes into my journey and uses it as a way to show how I used story tools in my own life to create the story that I wanted my life to reflect.

Ann: So, you'd say the key component to people achieving their goals is to not only know *what* they want externally (the car, house, or promotion), but *why* they want it internally (such as to feel happy, successful, free, or confident)?

Yes. I believe that you will find a greater sense of fulfillment at the finish line of a goal if you strategically think about how you want to feel internally from the external experience of achieving a goal. I’ve discovered that when we cross the threshold of our achievement without a sense of what we hope to feel internally, we often discover that it is not what we thought it was going to be. We feel let down by the experience. We do not attain true pleasure. If we think about what we hope to feel internally from the external journey, we cannot only use this as fuel to get us there, we will feel more when we do get there. In fiction, a strong writer understands the value of the why. The why represents why your central characters want what they want. This adds depth and meaning to the pursuit. We understand the internal motivation. We feel what is driving the character toward the goal line. If we can learn to do this in our own life, we will discover that when we do achieve our goals, there is a greater sense of satisfaction with it because our internal motivation will be in alignment with our external reward.

In my own life, I knew that I wanted to be Vice President and eventually run a studio or a network. I put everything into this pursuit. It took me thirteen years to go from assistant to being Vice President of Current Programming at the studio. I worked incredibly hard to get there. I didn’t anticipate that there would be anything except pure joy when I hit the destination. I attached the idea of “I’ll be happy when…” to this life experience and to the experience of marriage. When I accomplished both pursuits, the end experience wasn’t everything that I thought it would be; everything wasn’t perfect. There were costs that I had not factored into it. The problem with this is that I had never really thought about the internal side of why I wanted what I wanted; I just knew that I wanted it. By doing the emotional work after these falls, I was able to connect my internal desire to my external accomplishment. By understanding why I want what I want, every success that I have achieved since my turning points has had a deeper level of meaning.

Ann: How can you best describe what *turning points* & *dilemmas* are in someone's life and how is a person's character revealed through them?

Jen: A turning point simply put could be looked at as when one story ends or a trigger incident that starts us in a new direction. It could be the end of a marriage or a relationship. It could be the loss of a job. It could be the death of a loved one. It could be learning how to cope with a sudden disability. It’s the idea of moving from the old world to the new world. Life as we knew it takes a turn. Our reality shifts and we have to learn what actions we need to take in order to bring our life back into balance.

A dilemma is often when the turning point or trigger incident forces us into a choice. Do we want to stay single so that we can heal? Or, do we want to start dating so that the pain goes away? Do we want to start our own business and take the risk? Or, do we want to keep climbing the corporate ladder knowing that someone else could have the control of taking away everything that we built, again. We usually have two options with neither one being an easy choice. By doing the emotional work to make the right choice, we reveal character. Our reactions to our pain reveal character. It is when we are knocked down that we often come face to face with our ego. If we take the time to heal, it is our spirit that lifts us up.

Ann: Taking the time and doing the emotional work to heal is often avoided by most of us (at one time or another) and we usually end-up repeating similar scenarios, in-turn, creating patterns in our lives. What are themes, how can we identify them, and why are they important in our life as well as in stories?

Jen: Themes are invisible threads that weave the tapestry of our life together and unify our story arcs. By understanding themes in our life and how some of them are holding us back, we can learn how to use them to move us toward success instead of away from it. In story, we often see a character go from one side of the theme to other. For example, in the movie, “Up in the Air”, we see Ryan go from having the philosophy of being detached and non-committed (this is symbolized through his talk about going through life with an empty backpack) to being committed and attached. Toward the end, he can no longer give his talk on the empty backpack because he sees the flaw in his philosophy; it is not bringing him the kind of feeling that he hoped it would. The theme defined his journey and deepened his pursuit. By doing this in our life, we can think about the themes that are holding us back. We can identify how to use the theme to propel us forward by understanding if we can move from one side of the theme to the other. Do we want to go from detachment and non-commitment to the idea of being committed? By doing this, we can find a greater sense of internal fulfillment in our life and our achievements.

You can identify themes in your life by thinking of the blocks that get in the way for you achieving your goal. For example, some themes to think about are addiction, low-self esteem, ego, fantasy, disbelief, poor work ethic, low motivation, responsibilities and the list goes on. We can think about the wounds from our past that bring up more themes in our lives such as betrayal, divorce, end of a friendship, lack of achievement, lack of commitment, etc. We can think about positive themes to help us know how to go from one side to the other like love, happiness, fulfillment, achievement, ambition, success, spirit. By identifying what our own themes are that are holding us back and strategically thinking about how we can do the emotional work and take the external actions to get to the positive side of the negative themes that are holding us back, we can create the story of the life that we want to be living. We can use our identification of our themes to recognize a faulty life philosophy that we have that might be holding us back instead of moving us forward.

Ann: You're one of the few women who've worked their way up into a top executive position at a Hollywood studio and now you're the owner of a leading consultancy business within the film and television industry; what additional advice can you give to those who have dreams of achieving the type of success that you have in the show business?

Jen: My advice is to first define what you want in your life. Once you define it, be active in your pursuit moving toward your goal. Recognize that you will hit many obstacles, escalating obstacles, and “all is lost” moments. These are all part for the course. If you can get over them or through them, you will get to where you want to go. If you do get there and find out that it’s not what you thought it was going to be, set a new goal and create a new plan to redefine your direction. In my career, I learned that the word “no” didn’t mean anything. All it meant was I had to try a different angle to get where I wanted to go. You can do anything that you set your mind toward doing. It all comes down to knowing what you want and being active in your pursuit. You can do it. You will get there.

You can connect with Jen Grisanti at and purchase a copy of Change Your Story, Change Your Life at Amazon or MWP.
Ann Baldwin is a screenwriter (The Power of Dreams, Scent of a Trail, Dream Catcher) with several spec scripts in development. She reviews books on screenwriting and filmmaking, writes articles, interviews, and has several books (fiction & non-fiction) in-progress. Prior to launching her writing career, she was a special event coordinator and manager in the hospitality and entertainment industries for over 25 years. You can visit her website at and her blog page at

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bold Broads and Daring Dames

An Interview with Kim Krizan
by Ann Baldwin

 Republished from IndieWire May 17, 2013

Kim Krizan is an Academy Award-nominated writer of the films Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. She appeared as an actress in the films Slacker, Dazed and Confused, and Waking Life. She wrote the critically-acclaimed graphic novel Zombie Tales: 2061. Kim earned a Master's degree in literature and became an Anais Nin scholar. She teaches creative writing classes for UCLA Extension. Kim recently released her first book, Original Sins: Trade Secrets of the Femme Fatale (Los Angeles 2013).

Throughout history, any woman who stepped out-of-line or didn't abide by the man-made rules of society was shunned, ostracized, made an example of, removed from the clan/tribe, and sometimes, sadly, silenced forever.

With time though, more and more women have learned to not only fight back with a vengeance, but also realized their true powers, God given gifts, and natural talents; they woke-up, spoke-up, and stood-up, and have continued to put their intelligence, strengths, and abilities to work for them.

Yet, all too often, these women have been given negative labels: vixens, bad girls, tramps, hellcats, and yes, Femme Fatales. So, men beware because "God is coming and She is pissed" (author unknown) and women have moves that...well, you just don't see coming.

Ann Baldwin: What is the best definition of a femme fatale?

Kim Krizan: The best definition of a femme fatale is this: She's a woman who realizes she's captain of her own ship, full stop.

People go to all sorts of lengths to control others. They get particularly angry at women if they don't follow the game plan, because we have a long tradition of thinking of woman as a man's "help mate," a supporting character. If a woman doesn't play this role, guilt trips are employed -- name-calling, shaming.  But the femme fatale doesn't fall for it, she creates her own game plan, and as a result people say she's a "fatal woman," which is the literal definition of "femme fatale." Yes -- she's fatal to their plan. I like to embrace and co-opt the term and call her a Fatale.

AB: What do you think is the biggest misconception most people have about femme fatales?

KK: People don't understand that the femme fatale was not born, but made. Hey, she tried to play nice back when she was a naive lass, but people took advantage of her, wounded her, used her. Yes, the femme fatale has feelings. But instead of lying down and dying, or being cowed and conforming to their vision, she rose up and got smart. Now she's not so nice.

AB: What did you learn about them during your research that surprised you the most?

KK: Almost universally, femme fatales and the women who play them so brilliantly have been seriously hurt in childhood. Lana Turner's father was murdered and then she was shipped off to people who abused her. Rita Hayworth was taken out of school and became the family breadwinner was probably sexually abused as well. Pola Negri's father was banished to Siberia. Anais Nin was abused and abandoned by her father, who went on to live a life of luxury while his wife and children came to America and struggled in poverty. Louise Brooks was molested at age nine and when she told her mother, her mother slapped her. Mata Hari was sent to live with relatives who didn't want her, so she married a soldier who turned out to be an abusive drunk. The list goes on and on: abuse, abandonment, all kinds of trauma.

AB: What are some of the differences between & similarities of a femme fatale & a feminist?

KK: A feminist wants to have the same political and social rights men have. The femme fatale is not waiting for the powers that be to legislate or protect her rights and she really doesn't care what men have. The femme fatale also knows women aren't always her friends, her partners in some sisterhood. The fatale knows we're all in it alone; she's a truly independent person who knows fairness is an abstract concept -- that she's responsible for creating her own justice.

Sometimes I think feminists still make men the center of all things and continue to react against them, forever playing defense. The fatale plays offense on a team comprised of one. But to give feminists credit: Feminists work in the world of laws and politics and social networks (which the Fatale eschews), and she, the feminist, works for the person who may not have the tools or the strength to go it alone. The feminist is a team player. The fatale is a lone wolf. And they both pursue fulfillment.

AB: As you mentioned earlier, many women are given negative labels, whenever they step out of the box, break the mold, shatter the glass ceiling, don't conform, speak up, take a stand, or show any strength.  Femme Fatale is one of those labels that usually conjures up negative images and emotions. Who are some examples of women (real or fictional) that were given the label, femme fatale, that truly did good for our society and humanity or in a story?

KK: Hillary Clinton comes to mind. I don't believe she was ever called a femme fatale, but do you remember the things that were said about her? "Lower than a snake's belly"? Suggestions that she was evil, craven, even involved in murder? Now isn't that transparent? She is a powerful woman, so what's the best way to negate her? But she's flown all over the world encouraging people to consider the possibility that "women's rights are human rights." I saw her speak in Austin back when she was First Lady, both she and Ann Richards, who was governor of Texas at the time.  What I remember most about Clinton's speech is that it was so spiritual, almost transcendent. And she went on, even though she was being destroyed every single day on talk radio and in the hallowed halls of our government, to become a senator and then Secretary of State; so, maybe being lower than a snake's belly is not so bad.

AB: Who are your favorite historical & film femme fatales and why?

KK: I adore Eve. I suppose we could say Eve is the prime mover of the Western world's most pervasive folktale. Here she was, the mother of "mankind," living naked in paradise and surrounded by the beauty of untarnished creation. Her only job was to breed and stay away from a certain tree. She could've lounged around the pool all day, drinking margaritas and reading 50 Shades of Grey, but no -- she wanted more. She wanted knowledge. She wanted to understand good and bad. And for some strange reason, God didn't want her to know. I guess he expected her to go all of eternity without asking these questions or succumbing to curiosity about the value of things in a moral context. Interestingly, Adam wasn't curious. What the hell was he doing with his time? Was he playing with his Black & Decker power tools? Perhaps sawing down the jungle? So anyway, Eve got bored and ate of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Bad and -- well, my God. Because of her desire for knowledge, Eve and her husband were booted out of paradise and now we all die! You know, I was born in the Twentieth Century but as a child I was taught that Eve was selfish and weak, a sex kitten that lured man into Satan's trap, and because of her we all suffer and wait for God to rectify things at some future date. If that isn't a great femme fatale story, I don't know what is.

As for my favorite fictional femme fatale, I have so so many, but I really have a special appreciation for Mrs. Robinson from The Graduate. I find her to be Benjamin's hero in many ways. Yes, she has an affair with and thereby "corrupts" him. And yes, she's married to Benjamin's father's partner. But Mrs. Robinson is the only adult who sees the man in Benjamin; his parents and all of their friends infantilize him, use him as entertainment, their dancing bear. Benjamin has jumped through hoops to be a good boy and make them proud, and it has not made him happy. In fact, he's a nervous wreck. Mrs. Robinson takes him away from all that and after she deftly manipulates him into an affair, he goes from being a nervous child to being a cool, worldly man. Mrs. Robinson herself is quite bored with her life; she gave up art because she got pregnant and had to get married and raise a kid. Now that her daughter is off at school, she's like, "Screw it. I'm going to do what I feel like." She goes after Benjamin rather brilliantly and gives him the gift of manhood.

AB: There are two ends of the spectrum of a femme fatale, those that do good and those that don't; do you believe the image and characteristics of the current day femme fatale is going through a metamorphosis and transforming to lean more towards the positive and good side of the archetype's spectrum?

KK: I think our understanding of women and their roles is becoming less polarized -- things are becoming less black-and-white. We're incorporating more gray. This is why at the beginning of the Twentieth Century we had good girls (Mary Pickford) and bad girls (Theda Bara) and nothing in between, and at the end of the century we were (and are) idealizing porn stars. It's because we're trying to embrace sexuality and multi-dimension. We may be doing a lousy job of it, but we're trying.

You can connect with Kim Krizan at and purchase a copy of Original Sins: Trade Secrets of the Femme Fatale at Amazon.
Ann Baldwin is a screenwriter (The Power of Dreams, Scent of a Trail, Dream Catcher) with several spec scripts in development. She reviews books on screenwriting and filmmaking, writes articles, interviews, and has several books (fiction & non-fiction) in-progress. Prior to launching her writing career, she was a special event coordinator and manager in the hospitality and entertainment industries for over 25 years.
You can visit her website at and her blog page at

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Meaningful Quest of a Filmmaker

An Interview with Michael Wiese
By Ann Baldwin

Michael Wiese is a producer, director, author, and publisher with over 35 years of experience in film, television, pay TV, and home video. After producing the highly popular Hardware Wars (a Star Wars parody), Michael was an entertainment executive with Showtime and later Vice President of Vestron Video where he developed, produced, and/or acquired over 300 programs which earned over $100 million wholesale revenues. He was responsible for creating video lines for National Geographic, Smithsonian, NOVA, Audubon, and PBS. He has presented filmmaking seminars for Kodak (at the Cannes Film Festival), The AFI, The International Film Festival, TV workshops and many others throughout the world. Michaels films include Dolphin Adventures, The Beach Boys: An American Band, Diet for a New AmericaThe Sacred Sites of the Dalai Lamas: A Pilgrimage to the Oracle Lake, The Shaman and Ayahuasca: Journeys to Sacred Realms (Peru), and Talking with Spirits: Journeys into Balinese Spirit World (Bali). He has written eight film books to include Film and Video Budgets, and The Independent Film and Videomaker’s Guide. Today, he oversees Michael Wiese Productions (MWP) which publishes a line of over 150 professional filmmaking books that are used in the major motion picture studios and in over 700 film courses throughout the world; along with, his newest imprint, Divine Arts Media. Michael recently released his memoir book, Onward & Upward: Reflections of a Joyful Life (MWP 2013).

One gift of a great storyteller is the ability to take the common treads we all share and weave them into a unique design that gives us a new perspective on life. Michael does exactly that and more as he travels inward and abroad, as a filmmaker, writer, and spiritual seeker, in search for the ‘secret of life.’ His enthusiasm, wonder, and humor about life connect with the child in all of us and make for fun and interesting adventures in his stories.

Ann: You’ve travelled all over the world; which place did you find the strongest connection that spoke to your heart and why?

Michael: I first went to Bali in 1970 and lived in a remote village for nearly a year. I was in my early twenties and felt like I’d found a people that exemplified the best in what it means to be human. Spiritual practices made up half of their daily activities and they have a deep relationship to the invisible, unseen world of the spirits. Only after 20+ visits over 40 years was I able to scratch the surface with my film Talking with Spirits.

Ann: You’ve worked with so many talented artists; which ones did you learn the most from and who was the most fun?

Michael: That would have to be philosopher/architect Bucky Fuller because I am still learning from him. He was the first person that I’d ever met who said that the world’s population could be brought to a very high standard of living by employing Nature’s principles and design science. He was very inspirational in getting me to think big.

Ernie Fosselius is the funniest man on the planet. I probably had the most fun when we made Hardware Wars, a short parody of Star Wars. Audiences clearly shared in that fun because for the last 35 years it has been the world’s most popular short. Even George Lucas liked it and gave it an award.

Ann: What was your experience like working with actress Shirley MacLaine and what did you gain from it?

Michael: I directed and produced Shirley’s first video called Inner Workout which essentially is a meditation on the chakras. Shirley is very demanding and is a perfectionist. We worked together for several months on the video then went into a second audio project on the same theme. She is curious about everything and on her own spiritual quest and very brave. She was one of the first celebrities to talk about spirituality and she got a lot of unwarranted flack although she is sincere about discussing the deeper meanings of life. My work with her came at a time when I needed to get my own life on more of a spiritual track.

Ann: You’re a very brave and humorous soul. Can you share with us your creative pitch to filmmaker, Francis Ford Coppola?

Michael: “Brave” maybe, but “inappropriate” is probably more like it. To demonstrate let’s take an excerpt for Onward and Upward:

Steven Arnold and I attend the San Francisco Film Festival. The Godfather has just been released and director Francis Ford Coppola attends a question and answer session after the film. A young filmmaker asks, “If I want to pitch you a project, how should I do it?” Francis thinks for a moment and then says, “Do something different, show me some slides, surprise me.” Steven and I look at each other. Different? Slides? Come on, you want something different? We’ll give you different.

 By the end of the next week we had put together a synopsis of our Monkey film, storyboards, and a four-foot-high foam-core cutout of Kaisik Wong in his Monkey costume. It’s folded in such a way so that when you open the large envelope, out pops a large smiling monkey holding the script (and color 8" x 10"s) in one hand and an invitation card in the other with our phone number.

How to get it to Francis? Turns out we know a carpenter who is working on
Francis’ house in Pacific Heights. We give him the pop-up with explicit instructions. We knew exactly where he should put it for maximum effect.

We go back to Steven’s apartment and raise our glasses in a toast. This can’t
fail. We wait. One day. Two days. We have pizza brought in. Nothing. No call?
Impossible. He wants “different.” We gave him “different.” Why don’t we hear from him?

Flash forward two years later; my bookkeeper Rohanna takes me to her house in Mill Valley. When I walk in, there on the wall are the 8" x 10" color glossies of Monkey! “Where did you get these!?” (She previously worked at Zoetrope as Francis’ personal assistant.) She says, “One day Francis storms in and flings these photos on my desk, ‘Some freaks broke into my house and put these in my bed! Get rid of them!’”

Ann: What was it like swimming with wild dolphins during the shooting of your film Dolphin Adventures?

Michael: Another excerpt from Onward and Upward:

We were thrilled that playing music underwater to dolphins paid off with such a magnificent response from the dolphins. Our approach was to let the dolphins choose to be with us or not. It was the first time to our knowledge that anyone has recorded a human/dolphin encounter in modern times.

Being with these magnificent creatures brought out the best in everyone. Maybe it’s the incredible light on the water or the feeling in your brain from floating in the ocean, or the harmony of being with the dolphins, or succeeding in our mission, but whatever the reason, the experience opened our hearts and created a love for one another that sustains to this day. Maybe the dolphins were showing us our own potential for love and compassion as human beings. It is an incredible life-changing event and our film conveys that experience.

Ann: What was the greatest gift you received from your journey inward when you were in Peru with the Amazon Shamans?

Michael: The gift of myself and a Ph. D. in ecology (laughs). Ayahuasca, the plant teacher, taught me that I am bigger than I ever imagined. I am connected to the whole cosmos. She taught me this experientially which dumped my previously held beliefs in the trash bin and totally changed my world view. It was, by far, the most difficult and the best experience of my life.

Ann: What has been the most rewarding experience in your career as a filmmaker?

Michael: Making the four films that comprise the Sacred Journey Film Festival. Each film took me to a different power spot (Tibet, Bali, Peru) and pulled back the veil into other worlds and dimensions, both for me and the films’ audiences. I feel blessed that I was able to take these journeys and return with the elixir of insight.

Ann: Who was one of the most inspirational people you’ve met and/or worked with and what can you share about that experience?

Michael: Salvador Dali. He held a premiere in New York for my thesis film and invited several of the city’s most celebrated artists of the day, like Andy Warhol. He took me under his wing knowing full well the surrealistic stamp of approval he was granting me. Because of his generous attention, the film went on to a sell-out run in San Francisco and an invitation to Cannes. He taught me how to make something out of nothing!

Ann: What is the best advice and/or encouragement that you can give aspiring filmmakers (whether writers, directors, producers, or cinematographers)?

Michael: Don’t be in a hurry. Follow your own instincts. Make what only you can make, that which comes from inside you (and is not derivative). Avoid “being in development”. If you can’t raise your budget, redesign your film so you can make it for no budget. Keep working. Longevity counts and builds experience. What you plant today, will bloom in time.

Ann: If you had one insight to share with those seeking enlightenment and/or higher-consciousness, what would it be?

Michael: Listen and look within.

Ann: Do you have any current or future projects you can share with us that we can look forward to?

Michael: Watch this space!

To connect with Michael Wiese you can visit his website at and purchase a copy of Onward & Upward at Amazon and MWP.

Ann Baldwin is a screenwriter (The Power of Dreams, Scent of a Trail, Dream Catcher) with several spec scripts in development. She reviews books on screenwriting and filmmaking, writes articles, interviews, and has several books (fiction & non-fiction) in-progress. Prior to launching her writing career, she was a special event coordinator and manager in the hospitality and entertainment industries for over 25 years. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Drive Your Writing Career with the Pros: An Interview with Gary W. Goldstein

By Ann Baldwin

Gary W. Goldstein is a highly sought-after speaker, consultant, author, award-winning Hollywood film producer, and the President of The Goldstein Company, a film and television Production Company based in Los Angeles. Prior to becoming a film producer, Gary was a lawyer in San Francisco and then ran his own literary and talent management firm in Los Angeles, representing writers, actors, and directors. He’s been instrumental in the success of many of Hollywood’s biggest box-office hits. His films have generated over a billion dollars in worldwide revenue and received numerous Academy Award nominations, People’s Choice Awards, a Golden Globe, and various other awards and nominations. Gary’s films include the critically acclaimed Pretty Woman starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere (which went on to be one of Disney’s highest grossing live-action films). Another of his film successes, Under Siege (Warner Bros.), starring Tommy Lee Jones and Steven Seagal, was followed by Under Siege 2: In Dark Territory. Also included is the much heralded adaptation of The Mothman Prophecies (Lakeshore Entertainment and Sony), starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney, which also helped to earn Gary a respected reputation within the ranks of Hollywood.

While the creative process of your writing is non-linear, unstructured, and mysterious, your career path needn’t be so uncertain and unknown. In my interview with Gary, he gives you some simple formulas for success that take the guess work out-of-the-equation; he saves you precious time and brings about a focused direction. Gary shows you a plan of action that forecasts the predictable elements of the terrain through the understanding of a few key characteristics of human nature.

Ann Baldwin: Who are the real and true ‘Gatekeepers’ in Hollywood?

Gary W. Goldstein: The true ‘gatekeepers’ in Hollywood are the heavily vetted assistants who sit as guardian to every agent, executive, producer or director – the very people charged with keeping the trains running on time, answering and responding to every caller, logging in and reading most all materials that come through the door, scheduling every meeting, keeping at bay as many as possible, limiting access and guarding their boss’ precious time. For every assistant a writer befriends, they measurably move the needle of their access to influencers and their career momentum. There are magically effective keys to winning any given gatekeeper as your ally, each of which I share in full in my book. This chapter alone has the power to shift any creative career into high gear within as little as one year, if not much quicker.

Ann: In your new book, Writer’s Guide to Hollywood, you talk about the “Top 100 List”, what can you tell us about this?

Gary: In any industry, it only takes 100 carefully researched and wisely chosen successful people to lay the foundation for your own success. Knowing the key strategies to use in selecting your ‘top 100’ (what to look for when researching them, how to track or measure your progress by way of a simple spreadsheet) will accelerate a writer’s success exponentially and spare him or her from two of the greatest miseries that befall most creatives: (1) feeling confused or that the process of success in their chosen field is somehow mysterious or random, and (2) wasting precious time (usually years), before achieving whatever level of success is theirs to achieve.

Ann: What do you believe are the three most common mistakes screenwriters make, while pursuing their career?

Gary:  1) Not being excited, accountable, & engaged daily with marketing themselves. 2) Asking favors (not advice) from total strangers through impersonal email queries or immediately upon meeting someone for the first time. 3) Not investing daily in building relationships with their “top 100 list” or otherwise consciously seeking rapport with those who can make a positive difference over time.

Ann: How can writers market themselves effectively?

Gary: A writer needs to be self-aware, know his or her ‘brand’, be able to define and articulate their brand in a phrase, and communicate brand-consistent goals to producers, executives, directors, and the world at large.

Ann: Can you give us a few examples to illustrate what you mean by a writer’s brand?

Gary: The late Nora Ephron was the acknowledged queen of the rom-com. Did you know that early in her career, she wrote a regular column for Esquire magazine on women’s issues? Her first major screen success was Silkwood, which made it clear she could write strong roles for women. Then she began her string of successes with When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail. Her brand, which she recognized early, and then made deeper and wider, is writing about and for women.

Quentin Tarantino’s reputation is rooted in his capacity to make extreme violence entertaining– from Reservoir Dogs, to Pulp Fiction, to the various installments of Kill Bill. Only he could extend his brand into comedy with the still violent, but funny, Inglourious Basterds. Try to imagine another filmmaker pitching that one.

Ann: What is the value of Persistence in regard to building a solid career?

Gary: Persistence is the stuff of success and the single quality most common among the truly successful in any field of endeavor. The inability to hear the word ‘no’, the attitude that says “nothing will stop me, drop boulders on my head, send your armies against me, I will not surrender and I will succeed”. That’s the attitude that steels you to live your dharma, fulfill your mission, and achieve your destiny as a creator. It will carry you through the valleys of rejection, doubt, insecurity, and frustration. Yours is but to stay in the game, with a genuine and infectious attitude that announces to your self and to the world that the game is yours to win. And the more you do, the more natural that winning attitude becomes, to the point where no self-talk is needed because it simply becomes who you are and underscores your personal and professional habits, language and mindset. Sadly, the vast majority of otherwise truly gifted people lose the game by their own hand. They defeat themselves by quitting, often when it feels hardest or darkest, which is when they are closest to their goal (just three feet from gold). So, wake up everyday with the same excitement and commitment to consistent persistence, ignoring your inner ‘doubting Thomas’ or others around you who may question your choices or be skeptical by nature. It’s your life and you deserve to live your passion. Persistence is the key that unlocks your dreams.

Ann: Your film, The Mothman Prophecies, was rejected by every major Hollywood studio; what was your deal-clincher, after hearing your last “No”?

Gary: Understanding that ‘no’ is just a conversation starter, and that while persistence is the only thing that wins the day, sometimes a ‘no’ is a clue or signal to take a deeper cut, tell a richer, more persuasive or moving story that comes more purely from your heart, guts, viscera (your truth zone) and less from your intellect (your ‘above the neck’ zone). Focus less on the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ or other less personal facets and shine your brighter light (the ‘who’ and ‘why’) – why this story so deeply moves you, why you had to write it and are the only one who could’ve written this story, why it’s so emotionally powerful and will be so alluring to actors, audiences, and filmmakers. Tell the story behind the story.

Ann: How can being in the present moment and being a good listener improve the quality of a writer’s business relationships? What does it do to help a writer, when meeting with studio executives for the first time?

Gary: Building meaningful relationships and going beyond the sort of business acquaintances that satisfy most, assures and accelerates career success; especially in the creative space where who you know can be more important that your craft or talent. The most talented writer in the world is at a massive disadvantage if they live in the equivalent of a social cave. The most powerful tool to grow rapport, learn valuable information, allow the other to feel heard and valued, sew the seeds of rapport that will blossom into long-term relationship (if not friendship) is the one thing most everyone fails at miserably: the ability to listen, and listen deeply, to another person. This is true in person and no less true over a phone line. The corollary is the art of asking smart, thoughtful questions, then sitting silent, while making eye contact and simply listening. What you learn will naturally lead to yet another sincere, thoughtful question. As long as it appears natural (i.e. you’re relaxed and your questions are based on their personal or professional revelations) and your questions do not come across as ‘scripted’ in advance, you’ll win the day. It’s not necessarily a conscious affair, but the truly good listener is often complimented on their excellent conversational skills! So, make a list of the folks you desire to know and research them online to learn little known details that prepare you well as you confidently go forth to arrange conversations or set in-person meetings with those executives or others. Knowing the art and science of asking authentic questions, followed by deep listening is the single most flattering and intelligent strategy for allowing others to bond to you more quickly.
You can connect with Gary W. Goldstein at and learn more about his new book, Writer’s Guide to Hollywood, at Kickstarter

Ann Baldwin is a screenwriter (The Power of Dreams, Scent of a Trail, Dream Catcher) with several spec scripts in development. She reviews books on screenwriting and filmmaking, writes articles and interviews, and has several books (fiction & non-fiction) in-progress. Prior to launching her writing career, she was a special event coordinator and manager in the hospitality and entertainment industries for over 25 years. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Screenplay Design with Diane Drake

By Ann Baldwin

Republished from IndieWire March 21, 2013

Diane Drake is a professional screenwriter, creative consultant, and screenwriting instructor with the UCLA Extension Writer's Program. Her produced original screenplays include Only You, starring Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey, Jr. and What Women Want, starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. Diane grew up in Los Angeles and began her career as a script reader and producer's assistant working for companies such as Warners., Fox, Columbia Pictures, and PBS/American Playhouse among others. She landed a job as story editor for Academy Award-winning director/producer Sydney Pollack and worked her way up to become the Vice President of Creative Affairs, before turning to screenwriting full-time.

Creating a successful screenplay starts by building a strong foundation and then adding essential elements for the framework of your story. In my interview with Diane Drake, she discusses where to begin laying the groundwork for your script. Diane shows you where and how to include key components that will give your story direction, movement, and depth for a more satisfying experience for your audience and one they will remember.

Ann Baldwin: What is your definition of a movie & why do we go to see them?

Diane Drake: I love a line from Christopher Walken: "Movies are about the moment where somebody's life changed." It's about as concise and accurate a description of what makes a movie as I've ever come across. As for why we go to see them, I believe it's something deep in our DNA. We all love a good story; we crave them from a very early age. Perhaps because it helps us to vicariously live a bit more outside our own limited mortal experience. 

AB: When we last spoke, you said that you've read thousands of screenplays; what kind of scripts do you recommend that your students read and what should they be looking for and paying attention to as they read them?

DD: I think, first, they should read scripts that are in the same genre and ballpark as what they're trying to write. Read the best stuff, and read them more than once -- at least three times. If you read them enough, you'll start to get a more intuitive feel for how the writers are doing what they do. You'll start to absorb those rhythms of pacing, dialogue, even structure. That said, sometimes the best stuff can be a little daunting and so, ironically enough, sometimes it's good to read some not-so-great stuff too, if for no other reason than to boost your confidence as well as remind yourself of what not to do.

Back in my early days as a reader, I felt I was learning from both the bad and the good material. After slogging through a few hundred bad scripts though, you start to feel that you're no longer learning and just doing brain damage. I wouldn't really recommend it unless you have to do it to pay the bills. Still, I read many bad scripts past the point where I would've stopped, if I could have afforded to, and I think that experience taught me something as well.  

AB: Writers are often told to 'Write What You Know', yet most writers often write about things they haven't experienced. What do you tell your students and clients about this very important aspect of writing? 

DD: Obviously, you are your material in a sense. There's simply no getting around the fact that when you create something original you are pulling it from somewhere out of your own heart, mind, life experience, and imagination. Given that, it's helpful to pay attention to whatever inspires strong emotion in you. What do you love? What do you hate? What scares you? What makes you laugh? But, at the same time, it's also important to remember that you don't have to and usually shouldn't necessarily write the literal truth of things; that's what poetic license is about. There's a quote about exactly this that I like, "It's better to write about things you feel than about things you know". L P. Hartley

Not too long ago, I saw the amazing Florian Von Donnersmarck, of The Lives of Others, speak at the Writers Guild. He mentioned the importance of writing what you know emotionally and how much he admired The Talented Mr. Ripley, the film directed and adapted from the Patricia Highsmith novel by Anthony Minghella. In the director's commentary, Minghella specifically talks about how he identified with the emotion of Tom Ripley, the feeling of being an outsider, the poor relation yearning for a more privileged life, from experiences he'd had as a child. 

AB: Are there specific questions you ask yourself to help you come up with the basic idea of a story? How do you go about creating your stories, once you have a basic idea? Do you start with characters, plot, theme, or a rough outline?

DD: It varies, but I think I most often start with a concept. Before I invest the time it takes to write a script I want to feel the core idea is something which is somehow fresh and compelling in the one-liner. Then, I refer to the Christopher Walken quote I mentioned above and begin to ask myself who might the main character start as and how might they change? Who might have the furthest to go and how exactly could their life change as a result of taking the journey of the story? What sorts of things might happen and what obstacles might they encounter along the way? 

From there, you start thinking in terms of the building blocks, the larger structural pieces. 

AB: How do you integrate the structure of a story with the creative aspect of story writing? What process do you use and/or teach?

DD: I think first you build yourself a very good, solid story outline within which you identify the signposts of the major plot points. Use that for your structure and then play as much as you want within that sandbox. If I may extend this metaphor just a little further, allow yourself the freedom to go outside of it as well, if you have a very good reason; if you discover a better looking toy out there on the grass, go get it, but you may have to rearrange your structure.

AB: What tools do you use, when creating and writing a script? Do you create your own storyboards, character boards, or sketches, gather pictures, use computer software for visual imagery, or listen to music? 

DD: Out of all of these, the only one I can lay any real claim to is listening to music, though now I'm thinking I should try some of the others! But I think music is a great tool; it can get to your subconscious, be a mood-altering experience, and help get you into the right frame of mind. A tip I came across a year or so ago was to get the soundtracks of movies that are similar in tone to what you're working on. It's really helpful. I'm writing a script now that has more action in it than anything I've written before and listening to the rousing soundtrack from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, which helps your head slip into that frame of mind very quickly and easily.

AB: In one of your UCLA Extension screenwriting classes, you mention what Sydney Pollack called "The Spine", what can you tell us about this?

DD: The spine is what your movie is really about, more in thematic terms, and can be a helpful guiding principle and useful yardstick against which to measure the importance and validity of your scenes. Being able to identify and refer back to it can assist you in keeping your story on track. For example, Sydney felt that the spine of Tootsie was "Being a woman makes a man out of Michael." That, to him, was the overall point and subject of the movie and he held the individual scenes charting Michael's character arc up against that yardstick. 

AB: What is "The Engine of the Plot"?

DD: I believe your main character's pursuit of his goal is the engine of your plot. If you feel you're losing momentum and find your script, as a friend used to say, "Going off to Honolulu," it's helpful to check this. 

AB: Where do you usually include your 'Inciting Incident' in your scripts?

DD: The inciting incident or what Michael Arndt, the writer of Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3, calls 'the bolt from the blue' happens at about page 10. Ideally, it somehow changes the status quo for the hero. It shakes things up. 

AB: In the three Act Structure script, where do you usually put Plot Point #1 and what is its purpose?

DD: I put Plot Point #1 at page 25, give or take, and have my own, admittedly rather wordy, but I think quite useful definition of it:   Plot Point #1 is the ACTION the main character takes to try to solve what he perceives his problem to be, which then results in unexpected consequences.  

By the way, some people consider the Inciting Incident, which happens at about page 10, to be "Plot Point #1"; but, this is just semantics. I call the plot point that happens on page 10 or so the Inciting Incident, and use the phrase "Plot Point #1" to describe what happens at the end of the first act. Regardless, these are both critical elements, and intertwined. The "problem" that the main character seeks to solve is by taking action at the first plot point, which is usually an outgrowth of the Inciting Incident.  

Here's an example to illustrate those two points: 

In Toy Story, the main character is Woody and the inciting incident is the arrival of Buzz Lightyear. Buzz is almost literally a 'bolt from the blue' and represents a significant change in the status quo for our hero. His arrival creates a problem for Woody who has, heretofore, always been the leader and favorite. But Buzz is stealing his thunder and Woody grows increasingly jealous, so Woody decides to 'get rid' of him. Woody's intention is simply to knock Buzz behind Andy's desk, but things go awry and Buzz is accidentally knocked out the window and into the evil neighbor kid's yard, setting the stage for all sorts of further predicaments and action in Act II. So, Inciting Incident:  The arrival of Buzz. Plot Point #1: the ACTION Woody takes to try to get rid of him, which results in unexpected consequences.

Just a few more examples of Plot Point 1 to help illustrate my point:  In Tootsie, Dustin Hoffman puts on the dress. In Thelma & Louise, Louise shoots the rapist. In The King's Speech, Colin Firth's King George VI & his wife hire Geoffrey Rush, the speech therapist. You get the idea. It's usually pretty drastic action, taken to solve a specific problem, which then has all sorts of unanticipated consequences and side effects in Act II. 

AB: What is the 'Murphy's Law' Act?  

DD: I call Act II the 'Murphy's Law' Act. Whatever can go wrong, will and usually at the worst possible time. You know, the monster's coming and the car won't start. Keep the obstacles and threats coming, pile them on, and let your lead create a way out of it. ("If I can't find a way, I'll make one.")

AB: Do you have any tips for keeping your story moving in Act II?  

DD: Act II can be a slog. I think there are two things which are helpful in dealing with this challenge. First, the midpoint, which as plot points go is probably the most nebulous. There are lots of different definitions for this out there, but the one I like best is that something is different after this point; there's no going back. As Thelma in Thelma & Louise says, "something's crossed over in me".  
The thing to remember about Act II is it's about twists and turns, hills and valleys, and the lead's encountering and figuring out ways to overcome unanticipated obstacles. And generally, the more obstacles a character faces on the road to achieving their goal, the more invested we become. If it's all just easy, a cakewalk, well, then who really cares? Where's the story in that? Action movies do this in very obvious, big, and loud ways. But all stories benefit from, dare I say, require it. 

A great example of these principles in action in a more "quiet" movie is Sideways. There's hope for Miles, there's no hope, there's promise, and it's dashed. Up and down, up and down. I've recently realized that, from a certain angle, the reason we go to movies is to watch people struggle and, more importantly, to see them overcome their challenges and in the process somehow transcend themselves. So, Act II should be filled with moments of triumph and moments of despair, the greatest of which is Plot Point #2, at which point all should look lost and leads to Act III.

AB: What can you tell us about the 'Or Else' Act?

DD: I call Act III the "Or Else..." act. What's the 'or else' for your main character if they don't succeed at whatever it is they're after? Another way of putting this is - what's at stake? A clue to the answer lies in the fact that I believe Act III should come down to either a literal or figurative matter of life or death. So, in what way will your lead's life be over-- at least in their eyes-- if they don't manage to achieve their goal? What exactly is the 'or else'? What's to become of them? Why must they succeed or die trying? 

AB: Do you try to incorporate symbolism into your scripts?

DD: No, it's not something I set out to consciously do ahead of time, maybe because I think it might wind up too precious. But if it happens organically, if something occurs along the way, then that's great.

AB: Any secrets for writing dialogue?

DD: It's helpful to have a sense of rhythm and I think to a certain extent you either have an ear for it or you don't. But you can certainly improve and train your ear. Again, I recommend reading work that is similar in tone to what it is you're trying to create, particularly if it's comedic. Get those rhythms in your head and they will bleed into your own work. Another suggestion is to allow yourself to forget trying to be clever, trying to be profound, etc. Instead, simply ask yourself, under the given circumstances-- and ideally the circumstances you've set up are inherently somewhat interesting-- what would someone actually say? 

AB: Do you have any helpful editing techniques?

DD: I love editing. It's one of my favorite parts of the writing process. If I can make something better and stronger by simply cutting out what's extraneous, by eliminating the chaff, I'm a happy camper. In order to be able to do this most effectively, sometimes it's helpful to take a break from your work and/or to get fresh eyes on it. 

Regarding editing the script as a whole, remember that, ideally, you want your scenes to build a cause & effect chain, one pushing into the next. The more you can do this, the better the flow and the stronger the forward momentum will feel.
As for editing within a scene itself, I tell my students it's like a party where you want to make a cool impression, "Arrive fashionably late and leave early". Get into the scene at the last possible moment, do what you need to do, and then get out at the earliest opportunity, unless you have a very good reason for sticking around. Don't wear out your welcome.

AB: Who are some of your favorite heroines or strong female lead characters in past films and what about those characters do you feel made them strong, likable, and memorable?

DD: Thelma & Louise -- there is something still so liberating, real, and potent about that movie. Thelma's line, after she robs the liquor store and jumps back in the car, "I think I've got a knack for this shit." is probably one of my all time favorite lines of dialogue. Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich; Sigourney Weaver in Aliens; All the women in Enchanted April; Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday; Angelina Jolie in Mr. & Mrs. Smith; Jamie Leigh Curtis in True Lies. I love that these women are willing to really FIGHT for what they want. And of course, Scarlett, in Gone with the Wind; for all her faults, she is the personification of Winston Churchill's dictum, "Never, ever give up". 

AB: Can you share any current or future projects you're working on that we can look forward to?

DD: I'm currently working on a book on writing, a screenplay which is set at Christmastime, and plan to offer an online course soon. Please check my website for updates at . You can also find me on Twitter at or Facebook at

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Ann Baldwin is a screenwriter (The Power of Dreams, Scent of a Trail, Dream Catcher) with several spec scripts in development. She reviews books on screenwriting and filmmaking, writes articles, interviews, and has several books (fiction & non-fiction) in-progress. Prior to launching her writing career, she was a special event coordinator and manager in the hospitality and entertainment industries for over 25 years. 

You can visit her website at and her blog page at