Script Writing 101: 7 Steps to Create a Compelling Screenplay - Careers in Film
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Female Cinematographer examines her shotAn actress in front of the cameraA writer works in a coffee shopFilm Producer works with teamA woman and a man edit a film in the studioPeople on an action film set
Female Cinematographer examines her shotAn actress in front of the cameraA writer works in a coffee shopFilm Producer works with teamA woman and a man edit a film in the studioPeople on an action film set

Why do the basics of great script writing matter?

Because a professional Script Reader might read eight or nine scripts in a single day.

That’s nearly 50 scripts a week. Over 2,000 scripts a year. And that’s not including the “favor” scripts they agree to read for friends and friends of friends on nights and weekends. Managers, Agents, and Development Executives have an endless pile of scripts on their desks as well.

These professionals are typically the gatekeepers through which Writers make it to earn fellowships, win contests and get meetings. So to truly stand out from the thousands of competing stories vying for the attention of these individuals, stellar script writing is key.

To help Writers perfect that stellar script writing, we’re breaking down the steps to creating a screenplay that Managers, Agents and Development Execs will be eager to read.

The 7 steps to script writing include:

  1. Craft a logline
  2. Write a beat sheet
  3. Flesh out an outline
  4. Draw up a treatment
  5. Create a first draft
  6. Make edits
  7. Get feedback

1. Craft a Logline

Before launching into a 100-page script, let’s start with a single sentence—the logline. A logline is a one-sentence synopsis of an entire script.

Why should a logline come before a screenplay? In short, because it can help a Writer truly hone in on what their story is about. Of course, tweaks to a logline can come and are often expected, but having a solid logline that clearly and compellingly conveys the narrative is a key first step in script writing1.

What is a Screenwriter responsible for?

Billy Ray (Captain Phillips, The Comey Rule, The Hunger Games)

The Screenwriter is responsible for the story. That means the structure, how the whole thing hangs together, the development of characters, the event choices. The Screenwriter is responsible for thematic material, which is what are we actually trying to say.

That can be something simple like there’s no place like home in The Wizard of Oz or it can be something complicated and dark like the rich get away with murder, which is the theme of Chinatown. It can also be something unbelievably nuanced like Annie Hall where Woody Allen is writing about a woman who’s a mess and then she meets a man who turns her into someone strong enough to leave him. That’s pretty incredible. That’s all writing.

Most people think Screenwriters are responsible for only dialogue. I would say that’s about five percent of it.

Ashley Avis (Black Beauty, Adolescence)

A Screenwriter is responsible for the creation of worlds. From the characters you dream up, the locations you explore, the journeys you pen, and emotions you elicit. All of that translates into how you hope to make an audience member feel when your screenplay is hopefully transformed one day.

It could become a film, a television show, a short, a documentary, or another form of media in our ever-changing world. You might like writing across different mediums, or you may have a particular genre that feels like home.

That is just a bit of the creative side, for there is a definitive business side to writing as well. A Screenwriter is responsible for pitching ideas (which is sometimes nerve-racking, but part of the job, and trust me–it gets easier over time), liaising with Producers, Directors, Actors, and other creatives–upholding your unique vision while also being open to suggestions.

For a film is more than a screenplay, it is a powerful collaboration of sometimes hundreds of people over the course of many years to realize a collective vision.

Matt Lieberman (Free Guy, The Addams Family, Scoob!)

Whether it’s your own idea, or you are adapting someone else’s into a movie or TV show–it’s the Screenwriter’s job to create a compelling story–and then to make sure the story tracks and the characters remain true to themselves while making the changes everybody else wants. The Director, Actors, Producers will all bring ideas to the table and you have to find a way to execute them while staying true to the story.

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2. Write a Beat Sheet

An intermediary step that many find very helpful in script writing is the creation of a beat sheet. A beat sheet gets its name from its intended purpose—to describe the major beats of a story2.

Who hasn’t heard some version of the phrase “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back?” That, in many ways, is a highly condensed beat sheet.

Longer than a logline but shorter than an outline, a beat sheet gives a Writer the chance to start fleshing out the major plot points of their script as they proceed to the next scripting step.

How do you write a screenplay?

Matt Lieberman (Free Guy, The Addams Family, Scoob!)

I think there’s no right way to write a screenplay. You usually want to have a sense of where you’re going. You probably should read a book or two. Save the Cat! . . . is a good resource for showing beginners how a movie is structured. It doesn’t have to be structured the way he does it, but it’s a good starting-off point to get you thinking.

Some people write their scenes out on notecards or white boards and piece it together like a puzzle before they start. Others like to outline. I like a rough outline, so I know where I’m going–but I like to leave a lot for discovery and surprise along the way. That’s the real fun part for me. Coming up with ideas and scenes that you didn’t even know were in you. Painting characters into a corner and figuring out an interesting way for them to get out of it.

I would advise against charging into the writing process for a beginner, because most of the time you’ll hit a wall and not know why you’re stuck. Then it’s harder to go back and try to untangle why you’ve gotten there.

I would also say, not to let anybody read your script until you’ve hit the end of your first draft. Once you’re done, give it to as many Writers or Teachers or industry people as you can. Everyday friends can’t give you real valuable screenwriting feedback–just because you like movies doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to quantify how a screenplay isn’t working or how to make it better. And when you get feedback, you have to let yourself be open to criticism and know that it’ll only make it better in the end. You need to be thick-skinned to be a Screenwriter and willing to kill your darlings. Writing is rewriting.

Ashley Avis (Black Beauty, Adolescence)

To me, you should start by reading as many screenplays as you can. Read the type of work, and the genres, you love and resonate with–and hope to stylistically write. You can Google search for screenplay PDFs, or order them online. Read books about screenwriting, such as Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, Screenplay by Syd Field, and Story by Robert McKee.

Learning about structure is essential, and will ultimately free you creatively once you learn more about how a screenplay is more formally constructed. Write spec scripts. You will probably throw out most of them later on, but that’s okay. You must work, and write, to develop your style. And that will take years. It is an ever-evolving process.

Personally, when I sit down to write a screenplay, I have gestated the idea for a long time. Before I put my fingertips to the keys, I do quite a bit of thinking, walking around in nature, listening to classical music (I have an ever-growing “writing” playlist). I work through beat sheets and outlines.

If I am writing something original, I spend hours upon hours imbuing meanings behind my character names. I have days where I feel like I’ve failed, others when I feel like I’ve succeeded. Over the years I’ve become less afraid to throw bad pages out or start all over again. Once I have a draft, I speak the dialogue aloud, feeling out how it sounds in the air–does it sound truthful, real, authentic?

That whole process can sometimes take a long time–weeks, months, years–every project is different. But once I am ready to write, it feels like a little bell going off. And then there is a settled feeling, and I personally tend to write a first draft quite quickly. After that initial draft is out, however (which is so exciting) the work has only just begun.

From there I re-write like crazy. Later, if I am lucky enough for that project to go somewhere and transform from a hundred or so black and white pages into a living, breathing film or another medium, and I begin working with the Producers, Actors, and other creatives, I re-write again.

Screenplays and stories are ever-changing, ever-evolving, and I love the collaboration that comes from that, especially getting to know the characters once they are alive and in front of me. I enjoy studying speech patterns and idiosyncrasies. And when you’re sitting in that first table read, hearing your words aloud for the very first time–it is truly surreal. All the hard work is worth it.

Billy Ray (Captain Phillips, The Comey Rule, The Hunger Games)

The first thing you need to do is decide what you want to write. You’re always going to have a lot of ideas competing for bandwidth inside your head and you have to pick the one that’s going to be the right one.

I apply a really simple litmus test. It’s the idea I wake up thinking about. If I don’t wake up thinking about an idea—if there isn’t something inside me subconsciously trying to claw its way out—I won’t do my most inspired work. So that’s the first thing.

Once you decide what it is you want to write, ask yourself, “What does that movie or TV show feel like tonally? Does it feel like an action movie? Does it feel like a drama? Does it feel like a horror?”

Once I’ve settled on a tone, then I think about other movies that have already been made in that tone. I will go out and get the soundtrack from one of those movies, play it and get myself in the emotional headspace of what that tone feels like. Then the ideas come to me.

As the ideas come to me, I’m constantly writing them down. I open a file on my computer where I start putting together a treatment. Just random ideas about scenes, characters, what the world looks like, what the theme should be. Any idea I can come up with at that moment gets thrown in there. I don’t edit myself during that process. I don’t judge myself in any way. I know some of the ideas are going to be dumb. That’s absolutely fine.

It’s just letting yourself have a certain consciousness about it at that time. Anything that sounds intriguing, just write it down. Once you’ve been doing that for a while–it takes a couple of weeks–then you step back.

Do you know how to do a sculpture of an elephant? You start with a block of granite and you chip away everything that’s not an elephant, right? All these ideas are your block of granite. You step back and say, “What’s the story in here? What’s the simple, emotional journey I’m trying to tell?” Anything that isn’t that just falls out of the treatment and now you’re left with your elephant, which is the story you’re supposed to be telling.

I never write a script without starting with a treatment first. It usually ends up being 30 or 40 pages with a bit of dialogue but it’s just scratch-track dialogue.

When I wrote the script for Captain Phillips, I was working off a treatment that was 65 pages because I had so much information I had learned about the Merchant Marine and how it worked. When I wrote The Comey Rule, the treatment was 144 pages. It was every note I had taken from every interview. It was every note I had taken from every book, the IG report, available recordings. So treatments can vary in size.

But when I start to write the script, I stay inside that same treatment. The scenes that I write cannibalize the ideas that I have in the treatment, so pretty soon the treatment stops being ideas and starts being scenes.

The reason I do that is that it takes the terror out of writing. You’re not going to start your screenplay by staring at a blank page and a blinking cursor telling you that you don’t have any talent. By the time you sit down to write the first draft, you’ve got 30 pages of treatment in front of you and it just makes you more confident.

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3. Flesh Out an Outline

Once a Writer feels like the basic plot is in good shape, it’s time to dive into the outline. The outline brings together several script writing elements, including locations, description of action, and even bits of dialogue–especially a dynamic line or two that they don’t want to forget!

An outline is often considered an absolute necessity before heading into the screenplay writing phase because much like an architectural blueprint or aeronautical chart, it’s the document that a Writer uses to guide their way as they create their screenplay3.

Is it hard to write a screenplay?

Billy Ray (Captain Phillips, The Comey Rule, The Hunger Games)

It is very hard to write a screenplay. It should be hard to write a screenplay. It’s a wonderful way to make a living–telling stories all day long. It beats digging a ditch. It beats working in an emergency room and getting COVID. It’s a great job and therefore it shouldn’t be available to everybody.

It’s hard because we collectively, as a culture, have seen a lot of movies and a lot of TV shows. We’ve seen many stories play out and so our standards are very tough to beat.

By that, I mean stories that surprise us. We’ve seen just about every twist there is. We’ve seen lots of different characters and lots of different conflicts, so what’s difficult is staying within the rules of good screenwriting and yet breaking them in a way that is unexpected and perhaps paradigm-shifting.

The fact that it’s hard doesn’t mean it cannot be done. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try. You become a writer by writing. You don’t become a writer by thinking. You have to sit down and do it.

What I would say to a 15-year-old wanting to write a screenplay is that a goal without a plan is just a wish. Start applying your plan to your goal, and that plan should involve reading screenplays. They are very easy to get online. Or watching movies that you’ve seen two times. Watch them three more times and see what makes them work.

Ask yourself at what point of the story do you become engaged or at what point in the story do you fall out of that engagement? When do you stop caring and why? It could be that a moment sixty minutes into the movie is supposed to make you cry and it didn’t. Ask yourself why. Chances are it’s because you weren’t engaged enough on page five.

When I was first coming up, I was interning for these two TV Producers when I was still at UCLA. It was a big internship and I read every script that came through that office. And I would ask myself, “This script is working. Why? This script is not working. Why?” And you start to do that kind of analysis and you learn right where you want to be.

Matt Lieberman (Free Guy, The Addams Family, Scoob!)

Writing a screenplay is a lot like golf. I guess it’s not hard to play golf–but it’s hard to play golf well. I would say the same thing for screenwriting.

You could probably get on your computer and write 90-100 pages of a screenplay. There will be characters talking and things happening but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be any good.

It’s not just about getting to the finish line. Screenwriting is a craft. Like anything else, it takes years and writing multiple screenplays to get better and to start to really understand how it works. I’m still learning. Every script, I’m learning.

Ashley Avis (Black Beauty, Adolescence)

Some days it feels like new worlds, beautiful dialogue, lyricism and art simply pour out of you. Other days you feel like you are a complete and utter failure and will never write a decent page again. Over the years, I’ve better come to understand those swings, but it still doesn’t make the hard days easy! But, I love to write. I love what I do desperately, so I push through for the days when the little bell rings true.

So if you are passionate about writing above all else, if you know in your gut there is simply no other path, if you are ready to put in years upon years of incredibly hard work, then dive in. For the potential rewards at the end of that long road are spellbinding.

Remember, too, that writing is a responsibility. If you are successful, your work could influence hundreds, thousands, possibly millions of people. If your screenplay is lucky enough to transform into a film–your words, characters, and messages could touch people, influence people, inspire people, make change! If you are successful…you might even create a legacy. Write wisely.

4. Draw Up a Treatment

A beat sheet or outline might make sense to the Writer, but would it to an outside person? To make sure that these materials are first and foremost telling a story, many Writers also draft a treatment to make sure their narrative is staying on point.

Told in third person and present tense–like a script–a treatment is a prose telling of the screenplay.4 While some Writers might be eager to jump from a beat sheet or outline right into the script, it’s important to keep in mind that some Managers, Agents, or Execs might ask first to read the treatment since it’s often a tenth or less of the length. So, do not underestimate the importance of a treatment!

What makes a screenplay great?

Ashley Avis (Black Beauty, Adolescence)

I think what makes a screenplay great is a Writer’s unique vision coupled with the collaboration of a passionate team. A screenplay is only as good as the other people involved in the process–because unlike a novel, or a poem, a completed screenplay still isn’t in its final form. It longs to take that next step, to metamorphosize, to become a film.

Your vision and hard work at the writing stage, bolstered by great Producers who believe in what you’ve crafted, a wonderful Director to bring the script to life, brilliant Actors to embody your characters, and a dedicated crew to help execute it–that’s what makes a screenplay great, to me.

Matt Lieberman (Free Guy, The Addams Family, Scoob!)

A great screenplay is lightning in a bottle. There’s definitely an extra something about it that you can tell when you read it, but can’t exactly quantify–as is the case with all art. Even great Screenwriters won’t succeed every time up to bat.

But beyond that, if you have a strong concept, great characters, and emotional themes executed well, you’ll have at least a really good screenplay. Is your movie about something interesting, compelling, emotional, or personal? Then chances are that will translate on the page.

That being said, I believe that perfect is the enemy of good, and you should not stop yourself from telling your story because you’re afraid it won’t be great. A great screenplay can be achieved in one draft or twenty. There’s no one way to get there but you won’t ever know if you don’t try.

Billy Ray (Captain Phillips, The Comey Rule, The Hunger Games)

There are a lot of things. One is the Writer having a unique voice. A screenplay that feels like only one person in the world could have written it. One thing that inexperienced Writers always forget is that there is no one in the world that has your voice. Nobody has your past, your history, your talent, your pain, your energy, your joy–that’s unique to you.

It’s like a snowflake in that way. No one can write the screenplay that you can write, including me. But I want to see that translate on the page. I don’t want to see a screenplay that anybody could have written. So that’s one of the things that I look at first.

Does the person develop characters in a way that’s interesting? Does the person pick a world that’s really specific and detailed? Do people behave in an idiosyncratic way? (Which is a very good thing.) Can they write a scene? Can they actually keep my interest for a scene?

The most important thing of all of it is, do they make me care? Screenplays are an intellectual exercise designed to elicit an emotional response. If I write a script and someone calls me and says, “This is the smartest script I’ve ever read,” I have failed 100 percent. Because I’m reaching them in their head instead of their guts. Belief and love are the ones that hit you in your guts. They’re the ones that make you feel. They make you root for something.

“God, I hope Dorothy makes it home. God, I hope Chief Brody catches the shark. God, I hope Rocky wins the fight.” That’s because you’re invested. The primary job of a Screenwriter is to make sure the audience is going to be invested. You want to do the thinking so they can just do the feeling. That’s the thing I’m looking for most.

5. Create a First Draft

All right, we’re ready to start on that script! With these initial steps completed, writing a screenplay becomes incredibly easier. Not easy, but easier. And if a Writer has done their homework to create a solid narrative foundation, these screenplay elements should be part of the first draft5.

Unique Premise

Every great script begins with a compelling premise… A shark terrorizes an east coast community over the Fourth of July. An adventurous Archeologist searches for the lost Ark before the Nazis find it. A young boy tries to hide and protect an alien left behind on earth.

The above concepts might all belong to Steven Spielberg films, but they’re also some of the most iconic movies ever produced. Why? Because at the time, those stories had never been seen before. Spielberg–and his Screenwriter collaborators–found a hook in each story that got people to not only pay attention but also want to know more.

Memorable World

Let’s go back to those concepts. Beyond hooking the audience with a unique premise, each story was brought to life through the creation of a believable, three-dimensional world—and that world begins long before a camera shoots it. It always starts on the page.

It’s important to note that a screenplay is not a novel where lengthy, and sometimes flowery, descriptions of the world are common. In a script, economy of space is vital…which makes it all the more essential that a Writer knows how to describe and build a world with minimal words.

Distinct Characters

When deciding on characters for a story, here’s a good rule of thumb for Writers: you should know who is saying what even if you remove the character names from the script.

Characters should not be interchangeable. Each one must have a distinct voice that is separate from every other character in that story. But how to develop those distinct voices? While not mandatory to create a memorable cast of characters, many Writers choose to write backgrounds for each of their characters.

Others have a list of questions that they answer for their protagonists and antagonists. Both exercises serve to provide more specificity for their characters, which helps to make them more distinct.

Gripping Plot

A logically and thematically sound plot is crucial to any script. Writers should keep in mind, though, that logic doesn’t necessarily mean what makes sense in the real world. They can make up any rules they want for their story, but those rules need to both fit together and build upon one another. Whatever the logic, it must make sense for that particular world.

Another question to ask… What is the story really about? Is it just about an Archaeologist finding a piece of history or is it about the forces of good overcoming evil? While the plot should move along the action and progress of the story, it should also be continually building upon the larger themes of the story, whether that’s love, redemption, independence or any other human experience.

Because, while a fast-paced race to find the Ark of the Covenant can be fun to watch, it’s the larger themes of Raiders of the Lost Ark that make the audience care about whether or not Indy will be successful.

Cathartic Climax & Resolution

When the audience does find out what happens—that Brody blows up the shark or that E.T. does go home—how will they feel? Will they think the outcome was warranted? That there is satisfaction in how the final climax leads to the resolution? It’s up to the Writer to give the reader not necessarily what they want but rather what the story needs.

A Writer should always be looking for the climax and resolution that makes sense for the story and characters, and sometimes that means going against what they think the audience wants. For instance, Rhett doesn’t stay with Scarlett. R.P. McMurphy never escapes the psychiatric ward. Jack dies before he and Rose can be rescued.

They’re all bittersweet yet ultimately satisfying endings precisely because they adhere to the way the final climax was executed.

What else should beginner Writers know about screenwriting?

Billy Ray (Captain Phillips, The Comey Rule, The Hunger Games)

I would add this. Never let anybody outwork you. Never let anybody out-hustle you. I am not more talented than the people I’m competing with, but I outwork them. I work harder at fifty-seven than I did at twenty-seven and it’s not even close–and I worked hard at twenty-seven.

I go into every meeting as if it’s an audition. Even if it’s with someone I’ve worked with for twenty years and written three scripts for, I still pretend it’s the first time they’ve ever met me. I literally do this. This is my chance to make a first impression. That first impression is “you have never worked with anyone who is going to work harder, be more open to notes, be more collegial and be more energetic.” You have to mean that.

I don’t think my first drafts are better than anyone else’s. Where I separate myself as a Writer is when we’re on the fifteenth draft, most Writers would be burned out, pissed off, and out of energy, but I treat it as if it’s the first draft. I approach it with that same level of energy. That’s why I’ve been able to get in the doors I’ve gotten into and that’s why people know they can trust me.

For inexperienced Writers–this is going to sound so much like the old man on the mountain, and I don’t mean it to–but make sure that your scripts don’t have typos. Make sure that it doesn’t have words misspelled. Make sure that it doesn’t have “is” where it should be “are.”

When I read scripts, if the person can’t get their act together enough to even proofread and spell check their script, I don’t feel like I’m in the hands of a caring storyteller. I don’t feel as if I’m in the hands of someone who sweated the details. It may not distract other people, but it really distracts me because I work really hard on that stuff.

And I know that I’m not in the hands of someone who read it five times to make sure it was ready. That script is your calling card. That’s your headshot. You’ve got to make sure it’s bulletproof before it goes out.

6. Make Edits

Got a finished first draft of a screenplay? Congratulations! Now it’s time to make it better. As the adage goes, “writing is rewriting.” No first draft is the last draft6. That being said, how a Writer chooses to edit can vary from person to person.

Some Writers may go through their scripts page by page and make edits to whatever element they think needs tweaking. Others read through a script with a specific task, such as sharpening the dialogue or making the action lines more concise.

Speaking of dialogue and action lines, now is the perfect time to bring up proper script formatting. While a first draft with formatting errors isn’t so much a cause for concern–only because a first draft should never be sent out!–once a Writer is polishing a script to be read, having spot-on formatting is a must.

When it comes to the editing process, whatever a Writer’s preference may be, the only misstep is not to edit their script at all.

A few refreshers on some major formatting rules…

Font and Text Size

Remember the industry standard. A script should always be written in 12-point Courier.

Scene Headings

Scene headings are always written with fully capitalized words. With few exceptions, they begin with either EXT. or INT. to let the reader know if the scene takes place inside or outside a particular space. Then there’s the brief description of that space such as AMITY BEACH, as well as a description of time like MORNING or NIGHT.

Character Names

While a Writer can technically name their characters whatever they want, it’s important to keep in mind that two characters with names that have similar spellings such as TIMMY and TOMMY can be confusing to keep straight for someone else reading the script. The point being, it usually helps to use distinct names.

As far as formatting goes, character names are also always written in full caps. And if a Writer introduces a character as TIMMY, it’s important that they remain consistent. No TIMMY to TIM to TIMOTHY. Choose a style of the name and stick with it.

Action Lines

While not necessarily a hard and fast formatting rule, action lines are typically most effective when they’re concise. If it’s necessary to provide a lengthier block of text, it’s recommended that Writers break it up a few sentences at a time for greater ease of reading. Hence the saying “keep a lot of white on the page.”

Dialogue

The element of dialogue doesn’t come with as many standard formatting rules, but there are still a handful of industry recommendations that Writers should keep in mind. For instance, spelling out numbers. This typically stems from giving the future actor speaking that line the exact pronunciation of the figure. Think 9-1-1 versus 9-11. If it’s spelled as nine-one-one, there’s no room for confusion.

And to reiterate, just as character names should be distinct, so too should their dialogue!

7. Get Feedback

Sometimes it can feel like a Writer is creating in a void, which is why it’s essential to find trusted individuals from whom to get feedback7. For some Writers, that means joining a writing group.

For others, it’s finding one or two objective colleagues who agree to read their material. But whatever the relationship, having someone to read drafts is critical before a Writer tries to submit to a contest, fellowship, or development professional.

In the end, Writers should remember that excellent script writing is a marathon and not a sprint. It takes time, persistence, and energy to hone the skills that will make for a great read. It’s not uncommon for Writers to get the attention of a Manager or have a script optioned only after they’ve written a dozen or more other stories that never see the light of day.

Just as with any other trade, practice and patience are key. But with a dedication to evolving and improving their script writing, any aspiring Screenwriter can stand out from the pack.

Screenwriter/Director Ashley Avis
Ashley Avis

Ashley Avis is an award-winning American filmmaker. She recently wrote, directed, as well as edited the feature film Black Beauty for Disney+ starring Oscar winner Kate Winslet, Mackenzie Foy (Twilight), and Iain Glen (Games of Thrones). Disney debuted the movie worldwide in November 2020.

Black Beauty will mark Ashley’s fourth feature film, in addition to writing, directing, and producing hundreds of commercials and branded content to date.

Upcoming projects include writing and show running the television series Breyer Hollow for Imagine Entertainment’s Executive Producers Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Stephanie Sperber; as well as directing and producing the documentary Wild Beauty: Mustang Spirit of the West (2021).

Commercially Ashley is known for the elegance and storytelling of her short-form work. She has directed for clients such as Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, Pfizer, Footlocker, Asics, Red Bull, Coca Cola, Cali Burger, and dozens of independent brands.

In 2016, she won the Mercedes-Benz Award for her auto-fashion fusion spot “Bespoke,” and in 2019 she directed as well as edited Chevrolet’s fourteen-part “Goalkeepers” campaign featuring Olympians Mia Hamm, Hilary Knight, and Laurie Hernandez, encouraging young girls to stay in sports.

An Editor of over a decade, she cuts the majority of her own work–and is the co-founder of Winterstone Pictures, a boutique production company in Marina del Rey, California.

Ashley’s visual style has been called “timelessly romantic,” (White Lies Magazine), while Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times has said her work on Black Beauty is “beautifully uplifting… writer-director Ashley Avis and her production team have created a gorgeous, sweeping epic.”

In the fall of 2020, Ashley founded and launched The Wild Beauty Foundation–a new organization to help illuminate key issues wild and domestic horses are facing today through entertainment, youth-focused educational programs, and on the ground rescue efforts.

Ashley lives near the ocean with her husband and producing partner Edward Winters. When she isn’t working, she can be found passionately rescuing horses in need, and recently adopted two wild horses of her own.

Screenwriter Matt Lieberman
Matt Lieberman

In a span of about 2 years, Matt Lieberman has had seven screenplays produced by major studios. These include his Black List Free Guy script due May 21, 2021 (starring Ryan Reynolds with Shawn Levy directing), Scoob! released on May 15, 2020 (starring Will Forte, Zac Efron and Mark Wahlberg), Playing with Fire (starring John Cena) released November 2019, The Addams Family (which grossed over $100 million dollars domestically in 2019) and Rumble due to release May 14, 2021 (starring Will Arnett). In addition, he wrote The Christmas Chronicles (2019’s Netflix holiday hit from his spec script starring Kurt Russell) and its sequel, released November 25, 2020 (directed by Chris Columbus).

Matt sold his spec script Meet the Machines to Lionsgate.  He is currently writing The Jetsons and Rin Tin Tin for Warner Bros.

Originally from New Jersey, Matt is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, daughter and French bulldog.

Screenwriter Billy Ray
Billy Ray

Billy Ray wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Captain Phillips, for which he won the WGA award. He also wrote, directed, and executive-produced Showtime’s The Comey Rule, which had the biggest debut of any limited series in that network’s history.

Ray’s films as Writer, Co-writer, or Writer-Director include The Hunger Games, Richard Jewell, Shattered Glass, and Breach. His current feature projects include ’68: the true story of Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos, and The Silent Wife for Nicole Kidman. Ray is a member of the AMPAS Board of Governors. He believes in democracy, justice, and the Dodgers.

  1. 1Unitas, AJ. "How to Write a Logline Producers Won’t Pass On [with Logline Examples]". Studiobinder. published: 8 March 2020. retrieved on: 19 January 2021
  2. 2Industrial Scripts. "How to Write an Awesome Beat Sheet for Your Screenplay". Industrial Scripts. published: 6 December 2019. retrieved on: 19 January 2021
  3. 3Final Draft. "How to Outline Your Screenplay". Final Draft. published: 2021. retrieved on: 19 January 2021
  4. 4Script Reader Pro. "How to Write a Screenplay Treatment That Gets More Requests". Script Reader Pro. published: 2 June 2015. retrieved on: 19 January 2021
  5. 5Lee, Michael. "Screenwriting First Draft Tips From Acclaimed Screenwriters". The Script Lab. published: 8 May 2019. retrieved on: 19 January 2021
  6. 6Script Mag. "How to Edit: Editing Tips to Help you Sell your Script". Script Mag. published: . retrieved on: 19 January 2021
  7. 7Storment, Gabriel. "3 Rules for Getting Feedback on Your Script". LA Screenwriter. published: 2015. retrieved on: 19 January 2021
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