You’re No One in Hollywood…

Show business legend, Bernie Brillstein titled his autobiography, “Where Did I Go Right: You’re No One In Hollywood Unless Someone Wants You Dead”.  I am beginning to chart the level of progress in this business based on those sage words, since it seems I am doing a fine job of pissing people off lately.   brillstein

Don’t get me wrong, I am not doing it on purpose.  I am just not giving them what they want, which makes me the bad guy, and I am okay with that.   It means I am growing a backbone when it comes to standing up for myself, something I never would have done when I was younger.  It was something I DIDN’T do when I was younger.  If I had, my career might have had a different outcome all those years ago.  Of course, I might not have learned the lessons I needed to if I came equipped with a spine of steel, and the one great advantage of getting older is recognizing that if things don’t work out the way you want them to, the world will not come to an end.

Hollywood is a small community and operates more than you might imagine on cooperation and people who are easy to work with.  There are exceptions of course, but for the most part, this is an industry of people who work together to achieve their goals.  Having said that, it is also a place where opportunities to advance are limited, and there are only so many big breaks to go around.  People can be vindictive, petty, and vengeful, and in the past year I have had more than my fair share of run-ins with folks who wanted something I had and when they didn’t get it….well, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.

So I must be doing something right.


A few days ago I learned the screenplay I wrote about the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, called LUCKY 13, was chosen as one of three winners of the Atlanta Film Festival competition.  Lucky 13 is based on the amazing true story about the young women who were recruited by famed aviatrix, Jackie Cochran, to replace male ferry pilots in the United States so desperately needed combat pilots could battle the air wars in Europe and the Pacific.  She established the only all female airbase in American history in Sweetwater, Texas, and for two years trained women pilots the Army Air Force way.  Thirteen women were hand selected to attend B26 Marauder school in Dodge City, Kansas as sacrificial lambs.  The B26 Marauder was the only airplane during World War Two to go directly from blueprints to production.  With the modifications the Army made, the plane quickly became known as the Widowmaker.  Because the B26 was central to the push on Monte Cassino in advance of the Normandy invasion, the military needed to find out how to get the plane airborne without killing pilots, or scrap the D-Day advance entirely.  The girls learned to fly the planes, taught male pilots (who quit when they found out they were going to have to train with “girls”) and their reward?  Congress disbanded the WASP in favor of male civilian pilots hoping to avoid the draft, because “girls can’t fly”.

Bessie and the Iron Horses.jpg

RIDE THE WIND; The Bessie Stringfield Story, is based on the life of African American motorcycle legend, Bessie Stringfield, who was the first woman to ride a motorcycle cross country, the only woman to serve as a motorcycle dispatch rider in World War Two, and who was celebrated in a “Heroes of Harley” exhibit shortly before her death.  A Timeline video on Bessie’s life was published in December 2016, and has received 16,000,000 hits, 300,000 shares and 5,000 comments regarding why a movie about Bessie’s life hasn’t been made yet.  The script is currently in submission to an A list actress, and with the outstanding (and not at all surprising) success of HIDDEN FIGURES, this is clearly  a story whose time has come.

I was also interviewed recently for a podcast with the amazing Laura Powers that says even more about why I am inspired to write about women, and I found out yesterday that a TV pilot I wrote about the all girl bands in World War Two was selected for inclusion in the Scriptapalooza TV writing competition, with 12 winners to be announced tomorrow in four categories.  I am currently re-writing the script for submission to the HBO Access program, which is open for four days at the beginning of March.


I am often told I am tenacious in the pursuit of what I want.  The actress who is reading the script about Bessie Stringfield is the actress I wrote the part for, and three years ago, when this project first launched, everyone told me I would never get anywhere near her.  She may not agree to do the film, but I kept at it until I got it in front of her (with a LOT of help, I might add).  Another project I just finished is on its way to another major league actor (again with a lot of help), and no one seems to understand how I am doing this from an RV park in Florida, and a house in Mars Hill, North Carolina, with no agent or manager, and I think its because I finally know myself and how to protect the only real asset I have; myself.

So I’d like to think Bernie Brillstein would be proud of me.   It turns out, pissing people off isn’t the worst thing in the world.  And I am a natural…..







The Art of Waiting

clockPatience was never my forte.   Don’t get me wrong, I’ll spend months working on a project to make sure every aspect of it is right, whether it’s a piece of art, or the first act of a new screenplay.  The last screenplay I wrote was part of a thirty-day challenge.  The goal was to write three pages  a day.  I did, without ever going back once to look at what I’d written.  I spent the next few months writing and rewriting and writing and rewriting the first thirty pages until I wanted to scream.   This true story culminates in one of the worst mass murders in American history, but it starts as a love story, and every note had to be just right.    Once I was finished, I sent it to the producers, who came back two weeks later with notes.  I spent the entire weekend in front of my computer to get the new draft out immediately.  I am nothing if not a true Type A personality.

Then, I waited.

The entire film business is about waiting.

You wait for someone to return your emails, phone calls or texts, you wait for someone to read your script, you wait for the “no” that never comes (because no one in Hollywood wants to be the one that told you no if your project becomes the next Star Wars), you wait for the results of a screenwriting contest, if you win a screenwriting contest, you wait for agents to contact you, and if you have a produced film, even a short one, and you reach out to agents armed with evidence that other people believe in you enough to make your script a reality, you wait for them to decide if your project has merit over the thousands of other emails, and phone calls and contest winners who are also waiting.

Not long ago, I saw a photograph taken in an agent’s office of scripts stacked on top of one another from the floor to the ceiling in row, after row, after row that filled an entire wall.  They were deemed scripts worth reading, if the agent in question lived to be at least two million years old I suppose.  Agencies and production companies used to hire readers to shift through stacks of screenplays in search of a gem or two, but now overworked assistants, unpaid interns and mail room staff read scripts when they aren’t writing their own in the hopes of advancing their own careers.


So I wait.

I hate waiting.

You want to know what I hate worse than that?  The fact that waiting means working a nine to five job that would take the stuffing out of people half my age.  My husband and I have an RV repair business.  I am 57 and he is 63.  In Hollywood years that makes me a fossil.  Which doesn’t exactly help with the waiting part.  My expiration date, at least as far as Hollywood is concerned, was over twenty years ago.  I do my best to keep that tidbit from folks, because if waiting is hard, being discounted as a writer based purely on my age would be devastating.  So I lift air conditioners that weigh almost as much as I do over my head onto a scaffold (then climb onto the scaffold to lift the air conditioners over my head onto the top of a coach), I help take refrigerators that DO weigh more than I do out of their cabinets to work with my husband on replacing  failed cooling units, I submit warranty claims, schedule appointments, help replace toilets, and go in and out of and up and down the stairs of RV’s bringing my husband tools in sometimes brutal temperatures while people tell you how to do the repairs they have hired us to complete because they read about them on the internet.

Whoever said “if you want to hear the sounds of God’s laughter, tell him your plans” got that one right.


I came back from the high of working on a film in Baltimore with Robin Wright, Leslie Bibb and Sam Rockwell, and you know what happened? I found myself laying on my back under a fifth wheel trailer on the concrete in a pool of cold soapy water, holding a sewer pipe and my nose so my husband, who has no business spending what should have been his retirement years crawling around an RV on his hands and knees, worked to replace a black water valve.  A black water valve, for those of you who don’t know, is the valve you pull to empty the contents of your toilet into the sewer.  In order to replace the black water valve, you have to disconnect it, and put a bucket under the two parts of the pipe to catch whatever might be left in the tank that collects the contents of the toilet.

The man who owned the RV, and who is probably my husband’s age, stood over me in a pair of khaki shorts, and said, “your husband tells me you are a screenwriter”.  “Yes I am” I told him, and hoped a fissure in the concrete would open up just enough so I could disappear into it.

People keep telling me to slow down, that my time is coming, that “these things take time”.  They are right, of course.

But I have been waiting since I was 23.


Maybe my time will come, and maybe it won’t.  For the first time ever I feel like I am in the right place in order for the right time to become a reality.  A Timeline video on African-American motorcycle legend, Bessie Stringfield, appeared on Facebook a few weeks ago and has over 15,000,000 views, 300,000 shares and 3000 comments about why a film hasn’t been made on her life.  I wrote a script about Bessie Stringfield two years ago when no one had ever heard of her, and everyone told me no one would EVER be interested in this woman, and now Hidden Figures has just outpaced a Star Wars movie for first place at the box office several weeks running.   Another script I just finished could be on its way to Brad Pitt or Leonardo diCaprio before long.

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But in the meantime, I wait.

And I really hate waiting.

Don’t Tell Me No. Seriously. Just Don’t Do It.


I started my film career in 1983, a few months after graduating from college.  I knew exactly two people: a woman I had met through the mail who worked for Michael Douglas, and, coincidentally enough, his brother Joel, who was the unit production manager on “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest”.  I met Joel when I was 15.   We were reading “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest” in my psychology class in high school, so I decided to call the production office one day and ask if anyone would mind speaking to us about the film.  Joel Douglas showed up a few days later, and after class, invited me to visit the set any time.

They were filming at the Oregon Mental Hospital where the severely deranged were housed on the third floor.  The first two floors were no longer in use.  I showed up day after day to watch filming, until one afternoon, Joel tried to have sex with me in his office on a pile of coats in one corner of the room.  It makes for a funny story now, that my first real kiss was in an insane asylum, but the truth is, I was fifteen, and I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t want to “show my appreciation” on floor of his office.  I even sent HIM a card to apologize for refusing him, and never went back to the set again.

I was 23 when I got a job with Judy Scott-Fox, a literary agent, at the William Morris Agency. I honestly thought I could get to the top through hard work and determination, but Hollywood isn’t built that way. I was not and never have been the “fuck my way to the top” kind of girl , and besides, I was living with another assistant at the agency so I was “off the market” anyhow.  Even if I had entertained the idea of becoming an agent trainee at the time, the men who ran the agency thought it was “cute” that girls wanted to do jobs that were clearly meant for the sons of their friends.  Some women did become agents of course, but most became “D” girls (development girls) and that was the end of that.

I started writing screenplays as a way to get ahead, but I wrote about women, and no one wanted to take me on as a client.  Actresses, back then, were easier to get to, and I had enough contacts in the industry at the time to get my work in front of Demi Moore,  Molly Ringwald and Meg Ryan, but I also wrote a lot of ensemble pieces, and actresses (back then, anyway for the most part) didn’t want to share the screen with another woman.

After 12 years in “the film business” I shifted gears and became an artist.  My medium of choice were gourds, and I was told right off the bat that I clearly had talent as an artist, “but why on EARTH gourds?”  I’m sure the feeling was that I went out of my way to pick the hardest thing in the world to do, but I didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing. I had myself to answer to at the end of the day, and that was what mattered to me. It made for some rough years and more than my share of self doubt AND self abuse along the way, but telling me no is a surefire way to get me to do what people feel can’t be done.


I became the top selling gourd artist in the nation within the first five years, and eventually sold a single piece of gourd art for $22,500.  My work was in books and magazines, on TV and in museums, and when the economy started to turn, I switched gears to become a wildlife artist and then a handbag designer.  I auditioned for “Project Accessory”, and even though I didn’t make it through the first interview, let alone the first round, I went on to sell my one of a kind handbags for up to $2500.


Then the economy bottomed out, and I took every job I could get my hands on just to survive.  The dream of a career in film was further away than ever, and my passion for art all but died along the way.

I went back to writing screenplays without much hope it would ever amount to much.  By then I was “too old”, I lived in a fly over state, my “connections” in the film industry ran things now, but I couldn’t get a single person on the phone.  And then, I won an eight week screenwriting scholarship at the New York Film Academy, and even though I was the oldest person in class by a long shot, I finally felt as though I had matured enough as a writer and a person to be able to write the way I always wanted to.


I still wrote scripts about women, but I did it with conviction.  I also “grew a set” and backed away from a shopping agreement with a huge producer because he wasn’t that interested in the script I’d sent him, and his director of development didn’t have any real power to make it happen.  I recently told the head of a motion picture literary department who has been stringing me along for months and who made it clear he would never promote my passion project even if he did sign me as a client because he has a “competing project” of his own, that I was going to look elsewhere for representation.  And then, I got a movie made thanks to Nini Le Huynh and Robin Wright.

I am not where I want to be yet professionally. Not by a long shot.   I work a 60 hour week at another business and write when I can, sometimes on the way to and from my job, or late at night when the house is quiet.  I don’t have an agent, or a manager, but I’ll be goddamned if anyone is going to tell me I can’t do something.


This is my life.  And I am going to lead it the way that I please.  So go ahead and tell me no. Because proving people wrong is what I do.





The Dark of Night


I’ve never been very good at taking no for an answer.

As a screenwriter, I wrote about women way before  it was a thing, back when Jodie Foster and Michelle Pfeiffer and Demi Moore were box office draws and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences struggled to find enough actresses to nominate for Best Actress year after year. I wrote period pieces about women in the mistaken belief that if women knew what women had done, as a gender we wouldn’t waste so goddamned much time reinventing history with each successive generation.  Instead of young women fighting their way up the corporate ladder, we would start with the same building blocks men take for granted.  We have been  inventors, scientists, astronauts, pilots, doctors, mathematicians, welders, loggers, musicians, and firefighters, but most girls grow up thinking Kim Kardashian is the most they can hope to aspire to.

I am too old to be a screenwriter, I don’t live in Los Angeles, I don’t have an agent, a manager, or a publicist, and I was recently told that a script I wrote about the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots had two strikes against it; 1) “No one cares about the WASP.  It’s old news” and b) Exactly ONE film will be made about women pilots.  Unlike the hundreds of movies about the male experience in World War Two there is room for just one film about women, and its isn’t mine.  I still encounter people, some close friends, who tell me to give up writing period pieces because no one makes them anymore (fifty percent of all Academy Award nominated films are period pieces and close to forty percent of TV series are period pieces, but what do I know?).  And while I am at it, it might be a good idea to quit writing about women all together.

Two years ago, after my 10,00th draft of LUCKY 13, I signed up for a short film competition just for something to do.  I was given a genre, a character and a setting, and eight days to write a twelve page script.  I wrote the first draft of THE DARK OF NIGHT in an hour and a half.   Two days ago, that script became a short film directed by a woman whose work I have admired as much, if not more, than Meryl Streep.  She is easily as good an actress (in my opinion at least) and now, I know she is not only an amazing director, she is a remarkable woman and one I am grateful to know.

Robin Wright agreed to direct my short film after an angel named Nini Le Huynh brought it to her attention after Beau Gordon brought it to Nini’s, and Denise Hewitt brought it to Beau’s.  Nini is an outstanding actress and one of the most generous people I have ever met.  Together these wildly talented women brought my script to life with the crew of House of Cards (who volunteered their time) and a cast I could have only ever dreamed of. Leslie Bibb, Sam Rockwell, Callie Thorne, Michael Godere and Nini Le Huynh star in THE DARK OF NIGHT.  And that is how THE DARK OF NIGHT came to be.

Stick around for more.  Because this is not the last you will hear about THE DARK OF NIGHT.

How to become an overnight success in thirty years or less

I graduated from college in 1982 with a degree in liberal arts.  My father didn’t want me to go to college because he didn’t think I would be able to use my degree when I got married.  I never walked down the aisle, and I never used my  degree because, as it turns out a liberal arts degree is completely useless (no matter what anyone tells you).  Instead,  I packed up my 1972 Volkswagon bug and  headed to California to make it big in moving pictures.


If the decision to get a liberal arts degree was misguided, pursuing a career in Hollywood, writing screenplays about amazing women doing remarkable things, on my own terms was downright pathological.   I actually thought that if I wrote scripts about women, with strong female leads, every actress in Hollywood would beat a path to my door.  Between the fact that its next to impossible to get a script to anyone in Hollywood unless you are already part of the Hollywood elite, and the fact that I wasn’t a very good writer (at the time,  anyway) my tenure in Hollywood came to an inglorious end when I set my belongings on the curb, packed a moving van, and headed north to Utah to pursue a much more successful career as an artist.


Twenty years later, I am back in the Hollywood game.  Things are worse now than they were thirty years ago.  Women make up over half the film going audience, yet are represented both in front of and behind the scenes at less than 15% of their male counterparts.  A movement is underway to change all of that, but it seems the constant lament the lack of good roles for women is a bit precious considering the fact that the Meryl Streep funded Writers Lab for female screenwriters over 40 brought in 3500 submissions.

3500 screenplays.  By women, about women.

But there aren’t enough women writing screenplays and not enough women to direct them, right?

Well, Melissa Silverstein and Kathryn Kolbert are working to change all of that.  They are the co-founders of The Athena Festival, a four day celebration of women in film, a highlight of which is the Athena List.  The Athena List is to women screenwriters what the Black List is to the rest of male dominated Hollywood; the best unproduced screenplays about women, by women that should be movies yet, but aren’t.

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I recently won a coveted spot on The Athena List with RIDE THE WIND; The Bessie Stringfield Story, about the first African American woman to be inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.  RIDE THE WIND has an award winning producer (Cheryl L. Bedford), and a director  (Craig Ross Jr) and is currently making its way through the Hollywood labyrinth.  With any luck, we will get Lupita Nyong’o to star.

LUCKY 13, about the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots and the crucial role they played in training male combat pilots how to fly the B26 Marauder before the D-Day Invasion of Normandy is a finalist in the Nashville Film Festival, and PEARL HART, THE BANDIT GIRL, about the only known female stagecoach robber in American history, placed in the top 15 percent of nearly 8900 screenplays submitted to the Nicholl Fellowships last year.20150121_142128

Hollywood is a tough business and I am not picking out my Oscar dress just yet.  But amazing scripts about remarkable women DO exist.  And thankfully, I am a MUCH better writer now than I was then.  Maybe this time I will make it big in moving pictures.  And so will a lot of other women.



Dear Jennifer: How is pay inequality your fault because you aren’t a good negotiagtor?

jennifer lawrence

“Dear Jennifer:

Let me start by saying, I adore you.  You are smart, funny, unpredictable, awkward, goofy, charming, and in a different universe I think we’d be amazing friends.  But as much as I admire you for taking a stand on pay inequality in Hollywood, it bothers the hell out of me that you have decided getting paid less than your male co-stars was your fault because you weren’t a good negotiator.  That’s like saying it your fault your boyfriend cheated on you  with your best friend when you were out of town because you shouldn’t have left the two of them alone. 

Trust me honey, you  didn’t create wage and gender discrimination.  When was I your age, I met the first woman to bring a sexual discrimination suit to the Supreme Court.  She had a Masters Degree in economics from Harvard University and she lost an associate professor position to a man with a bachelor’s degree because “when you get married and have kids, your husband will take care of you”. 

By assuming responsibility for receiving less pay than your fellow actors,  you are also assuming they got more money than you did because they were tougher than you are.  “Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper all fought and succeeded in getting powerful deals for themselves” you wrote in your recent New York Times essay.  “If anything I am sure they were commended for being fierce and tactical, while I was busy worrying about not being a brat and coming across as not getting my fair share.” 

I seriously doubt anyone thought they were being either fierce or tactical for one very simple reason. Your co-stars did not negotiate their salaries themselves.  If they had, you might have a point.  Instead, their agents, managers and lawyers made sure their clients got as much money as possible, because the more money a client makes, the more money an agency makes.   If Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner got more money than you did, could it be that their representatives went to the bargaining table confident that their clients were worth whatever they were asking?  

What about the studio, who offered less money to Amy Adams as well?  Is she at fault for neglecting to get paid the same as her co-stars?    The producer and director both knew the two of you were being paid less than your male co-stars, yet they did nothing to rectify the situation.  In fact, if it hadn’t been for the email hack, everyone would have gone on paying you less because that’s just the way it is in America.

If you want to take responsibility for anything, it’s for believing in the people who were supposed to have your back.  It’s their job to protect you and they didn’t do it.   I will never understand why there is a price to pay for being a woman with the guts to ask for what she wants, to stick with what she believes in, and to refuse to take responsibility for the actions of others, and while  I stand shoulder to shoulder with the actors and women who applaud you for standing up for yourself by writing that essay in the New York Times in the first place, I hate the fact that you think that because people took advantage of you it’s your fault they felt within their rights to do it. 

I hate the fact that people think, since you make millions, you have no right to complain about wage inequality when the man standing beside you made twice what you did because he has a Y chromosome and you don’t. Most of all, I hate the fact that thirty eight years after I first discovered that women make thirty percent less than men, an incredibly gifted young woman thinks she is to blame for making less money than a man because she didn’t negotiate fiercely enough.

Whether you make $100 a day, or a million, you shouldn’t have to apologize for centuries of systemic inequality because you were afraid of being seen as a brat.  You didn’t create the rules that corporate America plays by.   Stop blaming yourself because you weren’t a better negotiator and demand some accountability from the society you live in.  And if you ever need anyone to remind you of your worth, give me a call.  Because I think you are awesome.



THE BEST LAID PLANS Or Why Being a Screenwriter Makes You Want to Rip Your Head Off and Throw It Across the Room

When I wrote my first post on this site, I had dreams of making regular entries about my experiences at the New York Film Academy during the eight week screenwriting intensive I was participating in at the time.  My plan was to walk people through the screenwriting process from an academic perspective, to provide aspiring writers who didn’t have the opportunity I did to benefit from the experience I had been offered, and answer questions about why there are so many bad movies out there.

Like the saying goes, if you want to hear the sound of God’s laughter, tell him your plans.  Before I knew it, the eight weeks was over, and the rarified experience of being able to talk about writing, attend seminars about writing,  critique movies as homework,  then, write, all day, every day, was gone.  I finished the screenplay I wrote at school, and somehow, miraculously, made the Second Round at the Austin Film Festival with the script and even found a producer.  This past winter, I had the chance to start writing again and used everything I learned at NYFA to rework  two of my favorite scripts; LUCKY 13 about the Women’s Air Service Pilots in World War Two, and PEARL HART, THE BANDIT GIRL, about the only known female stagecoach robber in American history.

After eagerly submitting both scripts to every major screenwriting competition; the Nicholls Fellowships, the Austin Film Festival, Slamdance, Scriptapolooza, the Nantucket Film Festival, and the Page Awards,  I realized those competitions, for the most part anyway, don’t announce the winners until October.

It’s the end of April, and I have to do something to get the scripts out there right?  So I signed up with a company that bridges the gap between new writers and production companies or studios,  sent the script to The Black List, and hunted down a list of actresses with their own production companies who could get these movies made.

That’s when things got really frustrating.

One of the people I sent the scripts to, an Academy Award winning actress who started her own production company after seeing six of her favorite actresses “fighting over a really crappy role in a movie,” threw the scripts, the release form and the query letter in the trash because “we don’t accept any unsolicited material”.  An agent I sent the script to said he wasn’t legally allowed to read it because he didn’t ask for it, so I told him to ask for it, and he said he wasn’t legally allowed to do that either.

I started submitting written pitches of LUCKY 13 to several major production companies through a paid service that costs $45 every time you send it out.   A written pitch is a short, two page synopsis of the story, characters, character arcs, and resolution as well as the actors or actresses you would like to see cast in the film.     It’s difficult to include every nuance of your script in two pages, so the value of your material is judged by how well you write the synopsis, not how well the script itself is written.  The pitches are selected about half the time, and right now LUCKY 13 is with some VERY good agencies and producers, but it can take up to three months to get a response, if they bother to respond at all.  Even so, some major players have passed on the script for what I think are some pretty hysterical reasons:

“This is a very interesting and mostly forgotten piece of US history to tackle and I think Denise did a good job of crafting a story based on the pioneering lives of these women.  With that said, the film does not feel like a big studio film to me and I wish there was some larger role the female pilots played in the war itself in terms of actually being in combat.  While their role was very dangerous as well, the finale lacks a certain build when they are just paving the way for the men to get to war.  Ultimately, cool part of history, but not quite something for me. Pass”

“The plot, as outlined, feels TOO derivative of A LEAGUE OF HER OWN.  What sets this narrative apart?  Specifically looking for more details about the character arcs of Gwen and bunny – what about their individual experiences make this journey unique and compelling?  Didn’t connect with the concept enough to want to pursue.  Pass”
 “Like the female lead cast, but historical pieces like this are a tough sell. Look into the making of Red Tails. Mirroring this model will give this project a better chance of getting made. Currently, I worry about the budget to recreate this time period. Pass”
So its back to the drawing board, right?   I mean, there is more than one way to crack this particular nut.
The Black List is the industry standard for undiscovered talent and well respected but unproduced screenplays.  You pay $25 a month to host your script on the site in the hopes someone will find you and read your script, and $50 each time you have one of their readers review your material.  Scripts are rated on a scale of one to ten, and only scripts with a rating of eight or higher are included in regular weekly emails to all the producers, studios and industry professionals looking for screenplays.
This is the first review of the script from The Black List.  This review got an overall rating of 7.

LUCKY 13 is so obviously a passionately researched and written script, the characters and history is alive and jumps off the page. The dialogue is snappy and feels both a part of its time and everlasting. The story it tells is one that rivals similar films like A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN and TOP GUN, basically taking bits and pieces of both of those films, but marrying it to a real historical event. The interplay between the two leads, Gwen and Bunny is heartfelt and achingly real, and Gwen’s desire to fly planes, her fiery character, and her spunky wit is so accurately drawn, its easy to imagine that she’s based on a real historical figure, even if she isn’t. The action scenes are well written and detailed, and the only thing that would make them more exciting is if they were combat scenes, which historically they cannot be.


This is an excellently told story, and it is a true story that many people might not know. The characters are great and the action is as well. The only things that might hinder its prospects are the fact that, while it contains great action scenes, there is no threat of combat, which might turn some viewers off, although there was no stated threat of combat in TOP GUN either. Additionally, films with strong, well-written female leads are staggeringly hard to come by, and this should attract a strong cast (whether that leads to box office results is, however, hard to say). It has the potential to be a film people watch again and again because its fun, its informative, and its an enjoyable story to follow.

The second review got an overall rating of 6.


Full of action, suspense, and female empowerment, this script does an excellent job dramatizing the story of the Lucky 13 without sensationalizing it with salacious details or overdramatic events. Gwen is the perfect protagonist to lead the story: she has all the traits–glamour, strength, and confidence–that will resonate with a young female audience, as well as just enough flaws to make her seem real and relatable. Her neverending zeal for life and her lust for adventure contrasts against the rigid and sexist society she comes from in provocative ways, and the group’s ability to break away from the mold is empowering and cheer-worthy. The script perfectly addresses the world in which the story is set: the blatant, unapologetic sexism the women face is dramatically startling, and also creates the level of authenticity the story needs to set the stage. Gwen and Bunny’s relationship allows the script to show a softer side to Gwen, and Bunny’s death is poignantly heartbreaking and a great catalyst to launch the events of the third act. Gwen and Bryant’s relationship also develops nicely as well–it’s somewhat predictable; however, they remain a couple to root for, and their relationship is a great place to explore each character individually and strip away the layers to reveal the strong souls underneath tough exteriors.


US audiences love heroic war stories such as this one, and the unique twist that comes from having a female-centric, home-grown cast makes this script stand out immediately. Given the high-octane action, the compelling protagonists, the brewing forbidden romance, and the patriotic spirit, this story could easily attract a good director and make its way into production. This is a huge opportunity for any actress looking for a strong role to take on, and audiences across the board will definitely appreciate the story being told here. The story is similar to FLYBOYS, but much more modernized and relevant. With all the strong female-driven leads in today’s culture–Katniss leading the pack–this story definitely could find a home on screen. It’s refreshing to see the women challenge conventions in a male-dominant world, and these heroines have the cleverness and vibrancy to compel a widespread audience. The fact that it’s based on true events makes it even more compelling, and given the current climate and social issues taking over today’s headlines in the feminist movement, the feeling persists that this film would be hugely embraced.

Now, I’ll be honest with you.  A few close friends of mine in the film business tell me I have no right to me frustrated by these rejections because I am wasting my talents writing period pieces with female driven leads.   I do have that right though.    I wrote screenplays about characters I want to see on the silver screen, and they are really good scripts.   LOTS of good writers with material better than mine get turned down all the time, or there wouldn’t be a VERY lucrative cottage industry in offering  screenwriting contests for writers, or pitch meetings for writers, or writing workshops, or coverage for writers.  It gets frustrating, and discouraging and demoralizing and EXPENSIVE to put yourself out there over and over again, only to be told, “this script is GREAT, its a PASS.”

So yes, I do have the right to be unhappy about that.  But I also know that it only takes ONE person to see what I see in these scripts.  And while its considered REALLY bad form in Hollywood to share your rejections with “the outside world” I also think its a bit precious to think writers are supposed to take their licks and keep their mouths shut about it.

I have a voice, and like the characters I write about, I want it to be heard.  I worked hard for a seat at the table.  I’m not owed one because I wrote something I am crazy about. No one is.   I love this journey, even when I don’t always like it.   And having been on both sides of the film-making experience, as some one who once loved going to the movies, and as someone who has practiced her Academy Awards speech at least a million times, I think screenwriting really ain’t for sissies.

But isn’t it fascinating to see behind the curtain???