Weekend Filmmakers

We were inspired by the keynote delivered by Mark Duplass on making $3 movies. One of our goals this Spring is to produce a new short film every week, filming on the weekend and posting during the week.

If you are interested in participating in filmmaking, email info[at]bridgeportfilmclub[dot]com.

We are looking for writers, directors, directors of photography, location sound engineers, costume designers, make-up artists, actors and improvisers.



Here you can see some of our films for free. Our work can also be seen at:



Decision Maker

A man makes a new resolution on life!

Starring: Dennis Episcopo

Directed & Edited by Lance Eliot Adams

Song “Danse Morialta” by Kevin MacLeod



iPhotographer, a short film

We’ve been working on iPhotographer for the past two years, and we’re excited for you to see it.

iPhotographer is a mockumentary about Kurt Band, a professional iPhone photographer. Depending on festivals, iPhotographer will premiere Spring 2017!



little dog


Lisa Hunter – Cindy
Joseph Verstynen – George
Teddy – Mr. Bogangles


Writer / Director – Lance Eliot Adams
Director of Photography – Robert W Robbins
Pom Wrangler – Natalie Lira
Production Assistant – Harry Waldman

Song: “Sun Session” by Josh Spacek

Special Thanks:
Gregorio Gomez

Bridgeport Film Club


Todd & Agnes

A mockumentary style short about a young couple who decide to try anything and everything.


Todd – David Weiner
Agnes – Sammi Esterman


Writer / Director – Lance Eliot Adams
Make Up Artist – Jessica Hillery

“Taj Kal Mein Dhal Gaya”
sung by Lata Ji & Rafi Saheb

Thank you for watching.

We rely on word of mouth. If you liked this short, please share.

Get involved: info[at]bridgeportfilmclub[dot]com



Cassandra talks about her requirements for an acceptable male companion. Many Thanks to Denise and Carolyn at Mitchell’s Tap. We lost our location the morning of filming, and Mitchell’s tap saved our day!

Cassandra – Brittany Ellis
Sylvia – Jaclyn Whitehair
Guy – Eric Edwards Abud

Writer / Director – Lance Eliot Adams
Director of Photography – Scott Thiele
Production Coordinator – Katie Sink
Location Sound – Jim Schiller
Gaffer – Sean Smith
Grip – Omolara Alao-Aboko

Song: “Ding Dong” by Simon Panrucker

Special thanks to Mitchell’s Tap.

My second short film as writer & director. I couldn’t have completed this film without the kindness and patience of my cast and crew.


Harold in the Zone

Harold in the Zone is here!

A series of three short films about a guy and his failed attempts to meet women.








We are building a collective of filmmakers who live in the Chicago area to give them a forum to express their passion for film.

Bridgeport Film Club

With the democratization of filmmaking it’s becoming more evident that good acting and an engaging story should be at the forefront of any film production.

Founded in Bridgeport in 2012, we shot our first short film on March 3rd, 2013.  We have continued to make films and collaborate with other like minded filmmakers.  We are looking for short film projects for 2015 and are looking forward to connecting with filmmakers living in the area. We have a full slate of short films to produce in the coming months and are actively seeking new members.

If you’d like to join Film Club contact:

info [at] bridgeportfilmclub [dot] com


The Guidebook

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset


This guidebook is meant to aide filmmakers of all levels through the different stages of the filmmaking process. This first edition of the Bridgeport Film Club Guidebook can be seen as an overview of the primary stages of turning an idea into a film. The guidebook is broken down into four sections – Development, Pre-Production, Production and Filming, and Post-Production and Distribution.

For this first edition, our goal is to release a new chapter each month and the complete book by December 2017. As the seasons change, we will move into a different section. Depending on the stage we are discussing, a section may be of particular interest to filmmakers who focus on a specific field. Pre-Production and Production may be of more interest to Producers and Directors. Development may be of more interest to screenwriters.

If you read a Chapter or a sub-chapter and have questions, we would love to hear them. You can reach us at info@bridgeportfilmclub.com.

This guidebook will evolve over the course of the year and as we receive your feedback. Filmmaking is a journey and we hope that this guidebook will help you along the way.



“…Run for mayor.

Live in a barrel.

Break your head with a hatchet.

Plant tulips in the rain.

But don’t write poetry.”

  • Charles Bukowski, from Friendly Advice to a Lot of Young Men, The Roominghouse Madrigals: Early Selected Poems 1946-1966.


We tell stories because there is nothing else we would rather do. I stopped writing for about a year and tried to live without writing. I couldn’t. I have a need to tell stories. When life gets me discouraged or I think I haven’t arrived at the success I would like to achieve, it can be difficult to keep working. Then its time to recharge. I have to tell stories.

We believe that in the rush to create more entrancing special effects and finding new ways to destroy the planet on screen, that the importance of story has become minimized. When you see an action movie where cities are destroyed or planet extinction is threatened, there is no real sense of stakes. We cannot emotionally respond to that kind of loss of human life. But when we watch a well crafted story and see one of the characters we’ve been following on a journey fail, we identify with that set back.

We tell stories because we want to connect with others. Film is the most powerful way to connect with other people. We have all experienced struggle or loss and we want to explore those themes through film.

We tell stories to share our experiences. This isn’t always a one to one comparison, sometimes it is about sharing the feelings we have experienced. Or taking our experiences and re-mixing them in a new way.

We tell stories to share and test our beliefs. Every film has at some level an underlying theme. By making films we get a chance to explore the themes that we find important in our own lives and on some level share those beliefs.

Why do you want to tell stories thru film?


When I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing and directing, I stuck to writing short film scripts. By writing scripts in the four to five minute range and one location, I was able to keep on set time to four or five hours. When making your first short films, it is a constant learning process. There is blocking, framing, and making sure you have the coverage you need to tell the story of your film. (We will go into more detail on production in future chapters). By writing short film scripts that only required one location and a short production schedule, it was easier to find other filmmakers willing to volunteer to make my first films. Writing a short film can make it easier for you to produce your own film, or find people to take a risk of making your film.

I wrote several film scripts and after meeting my Director of Photography, Scott Theile, we decided to make a short film I wrote called, “Really, Seriously? Really!” about a guy who was trying to get together with a woman by helping her with her taxes. Really, Seriously? Really was five pages long and took place in a coffee shop. I knew two actors who I thought would be good for the production. Because the script was so short, I was able to find a coffee shop that was willing to host us (Thank you to January Overton and of Jackalope Coffee and Tea House).

On March 3rd, 2013 we showed up at the coffee shop and took over their back room. After around five hours of filming, we had all the coverage I would need to edit the film together.

After that, I was able to use Really, Seriously? Really as a calling card when meeting and talking to other filmmakers. That film eventually led to the creation of two more short films involving the male lead character.

Making your first short film can help show that you have what it takes. It is one thing to get an idea for a script. It’s another to actually write the script, and producing the script can take a lot of planning and a lot of work. Your first short film can work as a calling card. With Vimeo, you can post your video with a private link or with a password so only the people you want to share it with can see it.

A short film can work as a proof of concept for a larger project. With my own work, Really, Seriously? Really led to the production of two more short films. One short became a short web series.

Writing a short film script or making a short film can give you an opportunity to learn the form, experiment with the form, and play with concepts you might have for films.

When you’re ready to submit to festivals, a short film is a great way to network with other filmmakers and to get to know your colleagues in film. In 2017, we are looking forward to submitting iPhotographer to the major festivals, as well as any festival that we feel will fit the story of the film. This will be a new adventure for us and we plan on sharing our journey as we test out the festival circuit.

Writing a short film script is a great way to learn screenwriting without becoming overwhelmed by the idea of writing a 90 – 120 page script for a feature.

My background was writing for the theater. I had a full length play produced and a one act play produced in Chicago. When I first started learning screenwriting, there was a learning curve as I went from a medium that was dialogue driven to a medium that was image driven.

Writing short films helped me make the cross over from writing for the stage to writing for the screen.

Why do you want to write a screenplay?


Your reasons for wanting to tell stories thru film or writing a screenplay are as important if not more so than the themes you will explore, or how good your script is. Writing a screenplay, whether it is a short or a feature all comes down to time in the chair. Time in the chair when you are outlining your story. Time in the chair when you are writing character biographies. Time in the chair when you are writing your script. Time in the chair when you are editing and re-writing your script. Time in the chair when you are writing your next script.

Sylvester Stallone is said to have written around 20 feature length scripts before he wrote Rocky.

My first feature length scripts are unfilmable. One of my feature film scripts did well in screenplay competitions, but on one re-write I ended up revising a third of the script, and on another re-write I revised half of the script. All of this takes time. For me it takes about an hour to draft four script pages. It usually takes around an hour to edit four to six script pages.

If you are starting out, I recommend writing for twenty five minutes without distractions, taking a quick five minute break, and going back to writing. It is difficult for anyone who isn’t able to write full time to set aside four hours to writing and to stay on task.

For any writing project, I recommend outlining. That way you know what the story events will be and you can work on a beat or a scene in a shorter chunk of time. I have written script pages while taking the train to work, I have set aside one or two hours after work at the coffee shop to write, and I have scheduled a full day of writing on the weekend.

Find the time frame that makes most sense for you and for your schedule. But find the time. Your script will not be written unless you put time in the chair. This is also why it is important to consider the reasons you’re interested in writing or telling stories thru film. This is a time consuming process, from development to scripting, to re-writing, to production, and distribution. One of the greatest rewards is writing something that speaks to you and that will speak to others. There is an army of writers who have been writing for years and who have just started. Don’t expect to earn a living from screenwriting for the foreseeable future.

We write and develop scripts that we believe we can take thru to production, because if you rely on trying to sell a script or striking gold, even if your script is optioned it could end up on a shelf.

This isn’t meant to discourage you. If you sit down today or tonight and start to write, you have already set yourself on a path that is far beyond a lot of day dreamers out there. Depending on how much time you put in the chair, it could be a few weeks or a few years before you have a script that is ready for production.


What is the first image you want to see in your short film? If you are thinking of starting with your character sleeping and then waking up, think of something else. Take ten to fifteen minutes to describe the first thing your audience will see when they watch your film. It starts with a simple slug line:

INT. for interior or EXT. for exterior, a place, and DAY or NIGHT



What do we see in your opening scene? What are the smells? What do we hear? Be as detailed as possible for this exercise. Please stop reading for now, go WRITE!

10 – 15 minutes, describe the opening image of your film.



Screenplays are made up of actions lines that describe what the viewer sees and lines of dialogue. Both of these elements should reveal character and move the story forward.

This guidebook is not meat to be a complete style guide. As we mentioned earlier, we can recommend the Screenwriter’s Bible.

Here’s a brief rundown so you understand what makes up a screenplay.

Each scene starts with a slug line. This include INT. for interior or EXT. for Exterior. Followed by the location of the scene and then NIGHT or DAY.



After the slugline, there is description of what the viewer sees or the action that takes place in the scene. Action lines are single spaced and left justified with no indents. New paragraphs should be indicated by a double space. I generally use new paragraphs whenever there is a new action being described or a new element in the scene being described.


JOHN (50s) the well worn bartender of Bull Moose Bar washes a glass with dirty dishwater and a white rag that’s turned grey.

The baseball game plays on the TV. When one of the teams gets a hit, he looks up at the TV from the noise of the crowds.

John looks at his patrons sitting at the bar and the hit seems to have barely registered with them. John goes back to washing beer glasses.

Whenever a new character is introduced, their name should be in ALL CAPS followed by their age range (20s), (30s), (Late 40s), etc.

Each time a character speaks their name should be x from the left of the page. This is why we recommend using Celtx, Final Draft, or other screenwriting software to ensure you have proper formatting.

After the character’s name their dialogue should be on a new line, X from the left of the page.



There’s finally some action in this game, too bad its

for the other team.

Bringing these elements together, a screenplay will look something like this:


KATHY (30s) sits on her plush overstuffed couch with pillows. She holds hands with DON (40s). She gazes at him expectantly.


Kathy, I have something to tell you.


Oh, it’s so good to see you Don. You don’t know

how much you mean to me.


(rubbing his chin)

I slept with your cousin, Rebecca.

Kathy stands up in shock and stumbles a few steps away from him.

Don rises and tip toes towards her.


(reaching out to touch

her shoulder)

Kathy, I…

As soon as Kathy feels his fingertips, she spins around and punches him in the jaw.


We wouldn’t film anything that melodramatic, but it gives you a sense of the format. In addition to checking out Screenwriter’s Bible or online resources, we also recommend reading a lot of screenplays. We will talk more about professional screenplays later.


The driving factor of any scene is conflict. In Really, Seriously? Really!, Harold wants to get to know Arlene. He meets with her at a coffee shop “to help her with her taxes.”  Arlene has no interest in Harold and is there because she hates doing her taxes, and hopes Harold will just be able to do it for her.

Their differing motivations quickly lead to conflict.

Each scene in your script should have some kind of conflict. Character A wants something that Character B wants or Character A wants to prevent Character B from getting something.

When writing a scene there is usually some set up required. You want to establish the scene and the characters. One tenant of good screenwriting is starting a scene as late as possible and ending the scene as early as possible. Every page of a script costs money to produce so the writing needs to be tight.

One of my short films, Strange and Desperate, started with a short scene where Harold and his date meet at a park bench. They greet each other and briefly talk about what they plan on doing that day. The problem with this opening is that in the next scene we see what they were talking about.

It took about two hours to film the first scene and about three or four hours to film the second scene.

Through the process of editing the film together, it became clear that the first two pages of the film weren’t necessary and I ended up cutting that footage from the final film. While two pages or two minutes might  not sound like a lot, it added to the cost of making the film. We could have saved two hours on set, if the script had been cut before production.

This is why screenwriting is so important if you want to be a successful filmmaker. If you don’t put in enough time during writing the script and re-writes, you won’t find a producer for your script or you could film something that no one wants to watch.

Start your script as late in the scene as possible so we get the basic set up for the conflict of the scene. How your characters deal with conflict will reveal their character to the audience.

When preparing to write your short film or even a feature film script, you need to understand the central conflict of the story. There should be an external goal that the protagonist is struggling to attain and an internal misbehavior that they are fighting to overcome. The external goal and the internal misbehavior can offer two kinds of conflict to each scene and the screenplay as a whole.

In our short film Dead White Rabbits (currently in development), the protagonist, Violet struggles with her desire to be a gracious guest and her moral objection to eating veal. The way her hosts talk and think about veal start to make her worry how they are as parents. She is introduced to their newborn and becomes disturbed by the jokes they make about their own baby. Her concerns heighten the tension in the scenes. She starts to wonder if they would hurt their own baby.


When you are writing a script with the intent of going into production yourself, one important thing to think about is your resources. Resources can include locations, props, film equipment, crew, actors you know, and anything else that could go into the production of a film.

When I started writing with the intent to direct what I wrote, one of my resources was my experience as a writer and my ability to write dialogue that people found interesting. Another valuable resource was my theater background because I had gotten to meet a great number of really good actors.

As we built our camera kit and got filmmaking equipment, always having those resources available made it easier to make short films. There was no longer a need to scrounge for a camera or head to the rental house for the gear we would need to film.

By taking the resources you have available into account, it makes it much easier to realize your script. If you don’t know any actors, you’ll need to hold auditions (either in person or digitally). If you don’t have a camera, you’ll need to find someone who does, or rent one.

On one of our films, Little Dog, I wanted to cast a Pomeranian. I like the majestic look of Pomeranians in miniature and a Pomeranian would fit the story better than any other small dog.

Having this specific vision in mind made it more difficult to go into production. It took a couple months to find a Pomeranian and a dog owner who were a good fit for our needs. For the most part, we operate on minimal budgets and we don’t have $200 or $300 for a professional dog wrangler. This also means that we rely on craigslist, Chicago Artists Resource, Facebook Groups and the Bridgeport Film Club website to get the word out about our needs for production.

The more characters in a script, the more actors you will need to cast. The more pages and locations, the more days you will need for filming.

Many of our short films involve one location, two actors, and a run time between two to five minutes. This allows us to film everything in one day.

You should let your imagination run wild. You should write your film script as complicated or as simple as the story you are telling will dictate. Screenwriting is a great way to express your imagination. Give yourself space to do whatever you want.

Filmmaking is a collaboration where those dreams are brought into the world. The director, crew, and cast will need to find a way of bringing what you wrote on the page to the screen. The Duplass brothers made their first successful film with an answering machine, one actor, one crew, and a shitty DV camera. Keep your resources in mind if you plan on going into production. Or if you are working with a Director or Producer, discuss what resources you have available when you sit down to break story ideas.


One thing to consider when you start writing is what is your favorite genre of film. Sci-fi, Action, and Horror are three special effects heavy genres. Sci-fi may require special props or special effects in post-production. Action may require fight choreography or stunts. And horror may require make up effects or special effects in post-production. Of the primary genres, horror has the benefit of a strong and devoted fan base. If you succeed in writing a good horror script, it could help you build your fan base. One problem with genre films is that as you are learning the craft of screenwriting, it can be difficult to tell a compelling story within genre film. In addition, going into production at the no-budget level can be problematic when it comes to fight choreography, casting, and special effects.

There can be creative ways of writing a genre script without the need for heavy special effects. A script will likely be stronger if it doesn’t rely on special effects to tell the story.

When we started making films at Bridgeport Film Club, we focused on Comedy and Drama. Both of these genres are dependent primarily on the script and the acting. As long as the comedy is funny and the drama is engaging, you can create an interesting short film script. We wanted to focus on the story and the acting. Luckily, we are blessed with a strong actor talent pool in Chicago.

By sticking to comedy and drama shorts, we were able to focus on the craft of filmmaking without having to worry about special effects or fight choreography. We were also able to produce eighteen short films over the course of four years. Ultimately, I love to write so while I enjoy watching action and horror movies, I do not regret writing a lot of short action or horror scripts up to this point. Now that we have gotten to this level of filmmaking, we can always start exploring other genres.

Writing drama can help you learn the essentials of storytelling for film (i.e. conflict, character development, rising action, etc.).

As a screenwriter, you should explore the genres in which you find the most interest. When you write your scripts similar to writing to your resources, you should consider what it will take to put the story you are writing on screen. By focusing on one or two genres, it may help you hone your craft and understand the tropes of the genre. Also, by focusing on one or two genres, it will help you when it is time to research for your script.


With today’s technology just about anyone can film a short on their smartphone, edit it, and distribute their content online. All of us have a voice in a medium that was once exclusive to big studios. Everyone has a story in them. Anyone can be a screenwriter or a filmmaker. All it takes is hard work and patience.

With this access, it is likely more important than ever to think about your audience. It is ever more difficult to get attention. All of us live in a constant stream of TV, streaming media, social media, internet, and a world full of distractions.

Once you have someone’s attention, it will help you as a filmmaker if they actually like your content. When there are no budgets to film, we rely on word of mouth to market our films.

  • Who do you think would want to see your films?
  • What kinds of movies do they like?
  • What kind of music do they listen to?
  • What other short films share the same genre as your project?
  • What kinds of movies do your friends like?

By thinking about these questions and watching other movies that share your preferred genre, you can better understand what might connect with your audience when you sit down to write your script. With the vast amount of content available it is important to have a sense of who might want to see your films.

We rely heavily on word of mouth and social media. We are always attempting to post interesting content and engage the audience. Your fiends and family as well as the friends and family of your cast and crew should also be considered as part of your audience. If you keep them in the loop about your film and let them know where and when it will be available that can help you reach a wider audience.


Cinema is told through images. You can tell a story through the images you show on the screen or heighten a dialogue scene. Sometimes an actor’s expression negates the need for dialogue.

Some of us think visually. This can put you at an advantage when you’re conceiving of a film. I happen to think and solve problems with words. It is always a stretch for me to conceive of my stories in terms of images. I usually feel more comfortable moving the story forward with dialogue. If you are a visual thinker, story boarding could be a way for you to work out a script. You could also compile a look book of images from other films or photography that speaks to you. Whatever it takes for you to work out a story and start getting words on the page, do it.

For both of these reasons, it may be helpful to you as a screenwriter and filmmaker to keep a bank of images that you find interesting.

Maybe an image has interesting framing or has a compelling composition. Maybe you feel something looking at the image.

Whether planning for writing a script or planning for production, finding images that you feel connect with the story you are trying to tell can make it easier to tell that story.

There have been a couple occasions in my own work where I started to rough out storyboards before sitting down to write the script. When you first start writing screenplays, it can be difficult to avoid relying on dialogue.

Wall-E does a great job of telling a story almost entirely through images. Barry Lyndon by Stanley Kubrick is an example of the power of strong imagery. A good film tells a story through dialogue paired with powerful imagery.


When writing a short film script, a web series, or a feature length screenplay, I highly recommend outlining the plot. The plot are the story events that happen in your screenplay. The longer the project, the more work that should go into breaking down scenes and outlining.

For a short film, an outline could be as simple as a list of scenes. The primary questions you may want to answer for each scene are:

  • Who are the characters?
  • What are their motivations?
  • What is the conflict?

Scenes are driven by conflict and how characters deal with that conflict.

For example, in Die Hard, McClain wants to save his wife and his marriage. The criminals want to keep her hostage until they can gain access to a secret vault.

In Inside Out, Joy wants to finder core emotions. Sadness wants to give up and go home.

These overarching conflicts drive each of the scenes and the entire script.

During a scene there may be several beats. A beat is a turn in a scene when something changes, but the conflict of the scene hasn’t been resolved. Maybe one of the characters finds out something new or information is revealed.

A beat is also when the course of the scene changes or the conversations shifts. In our short film Little Dog, the conflict remains the same throughout the short, Cindy wants to find out why George hasn’t called her after they had sex and George doesn’t want to admit his childish reasons. The scene changes from one beat to another as Sandy tries different lines of questioning to get the information she wants, and George continues to deflect because he is embarrassed by his reasons.

An outline could start with your opening image. With some of my early outlines, I would simply write down which characters were in a scene. Now, I usually write two or three sentences about what is supposed to happen in the scene. The more information usually the better.


What happens in your short film? What are the steps? Take 15 – 20 minutes to outline the plot of your script. If you are using bullets, your outline should have a bullet for each scene and notes or sub-bullets for each beat.

This can be as detailed or as loose as you want, as long as what you write down is enough to prompt you for when you are ready to sit down and write the script.

Each bullet could have a two to three sentence description for what happens in the scene. You can include motivation and the primary point of conflict. Or you could keep your outline as sparse as you like. The important thing is that you lay out the main story events and know what will happen in your script.


You’ve done, x, y, and z. If you haven’t already started, it’s time to sit down and write your first draft. On average, it can take about one hour to write four screenplay pages. When you first get started, we recommend setting aside at least an hour to write. This should be uninterrupted time. If you’re writing on a computer, you might want to turn off wifi to help limit the impulse to jump on the internet to search for something. If you run into something you feel you need to research for your script, it’s better to write a brief note in your actual script about the question you have than to stop writing. You will want to shut off your cell phone or put it in airplane mode.

When I’ve worked on a larger project, like a feature length screenplay, after work I would go to a local coffee shop and find a quiet spot. I would sit with my drink, put on some music and start writing. If staring at the computer screen isn’t working, you can always use pen and paper.

When you sit down for a writing session, having your outline handy can be helpful. The outline acts as a guidepost for where your script needs to go.

Whether your are writing your first script, or you’ve been writing for a couple years, we recommend over-writing your first draft. Give yourself the room as a writer, to explore different paths of dialogue in a scene. If you want your short film script to be five pages when you are finished, aim to write a first draft that is seven pages long.

With writing it is always easier to cut dialogue or edit scenes down than it is to expand on what you’ve already written. Sometimes without even realizing it, you can write in redundancies in the script. If two characters are talking about something and then we see what they were talking about in the next scene, it becomes redundant. It is much better to show an audience what happened than to tell them. And you never want to tell an audience what happened and in the next scene show them.

Sometimes I will keep writing dialogue for a beat even if the idea has been introduced and exhausted. As a general rule, it is better to overwrite a scene and cut back on the dialogue or action in the second draft.

You’ve probably read or heard something like this before. The reason being is that when it comes to writing, I feel that writers has an innate aversion to sitting down and actually getting words on the page. Rituals can help, as mentioned before, but they can also be a distraction. A writer quickly learns all of the reasons to not write – I need the right music, I want to make a cup of coffee first, I really want to watch this video, I need to do more research, I’m not ready to write this scene, I’m not good enough, I need to make something for dinner, I want to meet someone. That is just a sampling of the tools of procrastination. You can write. If you’ve done the free writing exercise, you’ve already shown that you can write in fifteen minute spurts. Recently, I’ve been trying to utilize the Pamodoro technique – twenty five minutes of intense activity / focus on the task at hand followed by a five minute break.

Writing is hard. When I first started writing, it took me about a month to write my first short story. As time progressed, I learned how to focus better and increase my output. I’ve drafted three novels, two stage plays, and four feature length screenplays. All of it came down to carving out the time to write the first draft.


We’ve given you some of the basic tools for getting started and you should have an idea about your script. Stop reading this Chapter. Take at least fifteen minutes and go write your script. If you can stop doing anything else and write for an hour, you get a star.

After your writing session, we’d love to hear if you have any questions, or what you found out when you actually put fingers to keyboard or pen to paper to write your script.


Reading this book doesn’t count as writing time. Reading a book on screenwriting doesn’t count as writing time. Watching a movie that’s in the genre you want to write in doesn’t count as writing time.

There is a place and a time for research. When you are first starting out as a screenwriter, you should write to what you know. That doesn’t necessarily mean your knowledge base or your occupational experiences, but you should write from the feelings you have experienced as a human being. Whether it’s disappointment, or excitement, or hatred, or apathy, or love. Write to the feelings you have experienced and write with the intent of eliciting those those feelings in others.

By an large for the no to low budget filmmaker, it is better to write to you knowledge base and your skill set. If you know carpentry, write about a couple building their first house. If you know CPR, write about a woman who saves another person’s life and ends up saving herself. If you have access to an apartment, or a location you likely know that place very well and can write something for that setting. This is similar to writing to the resources you have available.

Research by and large should be carried out by you fully experiencing life.

The reason we say this, and the reason this form of research is so important, is because to an independent filmmaker this is where you have access.

You could be fascinated by Rome. Maybe you want to write a feature about the leadership of Nero. As writers we can write about Rome burning while Nero plays a musical instrument watching the city burn, but as filmmakers what resources would it take to capture those images? If you are writing a feature to learn the craft of screenwriting, it can be about anything you want. When you get a polished script, you can send it to competitions and use it as a calling card script.

Our focus is creating work that we can produce ourselves.

If you love screenwriting, it would be a good idea to write both. Write short film scripts to your resources available and write bigger scripts that you can use as a calling card. One thing about the professional filmmaking industry is that you never know when something is really going to hit and get made.

We’re not waiting for anyone else to give us a green light.

If you do decide to put time into research, whether you are reading something, searching via the internet, or watching something, you should be mindful to put aside time to get to the actual writing of your script. Research won’t get your script written. You can research as you write, or if you have a question about something, you can research it after your writing session to make sure you haven’t made a mistake.

Your research should be the things you experience, so go live your life and when it’s time sit down and write.


As Good As It Gets and The Princess Bride – Modern classics

Eastern Promises – worst action lines I’ve read in a script.

Wall-E – Poetry in screenplay format

If you’re not spending time in the chair, if you’re not writing, reading screenplays can be a good way to improve your screenwriting. Especially when you are starting out, it is a good idea to read the scripts from your favorite movies. Most film scripts are available online as a PDF download. Some screenplays (like a few by Quentin Tarantino) have been published in book form. When you can, it is better to find a PDF of a final draft or a shooting script from a film. An easy way to tell the difference between a screenplay and a shooting script, is that the shooting script with have numbered scenes running along the left and right margins on the script.

By reading produced scripts, you can hopefully avoid some of the mistakes that a writer can make when writing your first screenplays. A lot of times, I will see a script that has the phrase, “We see…” We don’t need to tell a reader what the audience will see, we just need to show them:


WALTER (late 50s) stands at a street corner waiting to cross the street. From age and the struggles and disappointments in his life he stands hunched over like a dog that cowers when it’s master is near. The light changes and checking traffic he shuffles across the street.

The level of detail is ultimately at the discretion of the writer. In his screen play Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich, etc.) crafts this action lines like a detailed portrait with blocks of text showing what the audience will see.

In the screenplay WALL-E, the script and the dialogue reads like poetry. There is one or two lines describing each action and the dialogue in the beginning is very minimal. By leaving so much of the screenplay open, the writer has left the script open for interpretation by the director and the creative team. Pixar scripts are a little different in that they are written in house and they are developed (at least in part) by the creative team. Because all of them work so closely together, it allows for a level of shorthand that you won’t see in a lot of screenplays.

When I was first writing my scripts, I would spend a lot of time crafting the action lines. I would do everything I can to make the descriptions of what the audience would see interesting. Also, I would use the way I described a scene to show how I saw the camera moving in the scene. For example, if I was describing a character and I thought it might be interesting to see a pedestal shot from their shoes to their face, I would describe the shoes, the pants, the shirt, and then their face. Similarly you can describe a wide shot when you open a scene and then bring the reader to on fine detail in the scene.

I would recommend refraining from calling Wide shot, close up, etc. unless you are closely working with a director because ultimately, it’s up to the director to set what coverage will be needed to tell the story of your screenplay.

There came a moment when I read the screenplay for Eastern Promises. The action lines were written horribly. It was like reading a VCR instruction manual from 1983. I was completely stunned that this script that had gotten produced had action that was written so poorly. It was like reading word salad. But then I realized that as an audience member, you would never see the script pages. You would only see the images that they would film for the script. That was when I learned that action lines are for the most part irrelevant. At least when you go out to film them.

As a beginning screenwriter or filmmaker, you need to do everything you can to help your script stand out from the other scripts out there. Even thought an audience will never see it, I think you should make you action lines palatable to a reader.

When I write a script that I don’t plan on directing, I include all of the information that I feel is important to give a director and a cast and crew a blueprint for the vision I had when I set out to write the script.

Reading a variety of scripts will help you learn what goes into a solid screenplay. A lot of successful screenwriters started out as readers, they would work for a production company or a manager and read stacks and stacks of screenplays. Through reading so may scripts they quickly learned which scripts they could cut after the first ten pages and which scripts they would put in the top ten percent for sending up to their boss. When a script is really well written, it can be like reading a movie.


If you haven’t already, set aside at least an hour and get started on your first script. If you’ve gone previous practicums you will have some text you could use for the opening of your script (don’t start your script with a character sleeping or waking up) and you should already have an outline.

See how much writing you can get done in an hour, either straight through or with a break in the middle.

When you are done with the script, whether you finish it in one sitting or over the course of a number of sittings, take a look at the questions in Appendix A.

Appendix A

– How long did the first draft take?

– How close is it to the original idea?

– What’s your next script?


You’ve taken the first step, congratulations! You now have your first short script or at least a section of a longer screenplay. If you did write a short, what will your next script be about? If you’r writing a feature, do you know what your next writing session will cover?

After you’ve completed your first draft, the best thin to do is put it aside. Every description line might seem like the best prose you’ve read and each line of dialogue might read like poetry, but by and large it probably isn’t. No first draft is great.

When you’ve just written a script, you have a close emotional connection to what you’ve written. By and large, you are likely blind to the flaws in your plot, dialogue, or how your characters act. The first draft is too important, too precious.

I try to put a month between a draft of a script and the next rewrite. After I received feedback on one of my feature length screenplays, I ended up revising a third of the script. I sent it out to competition and received additional feedback on the newer draft. After the additional feedback, I ended up rewriting half of the script. If you are emotionally tied to your script, it makes it hard to cut pages. Even when the dialogue is beautiful or your action lines are fantastic, if your scenes don’t move the plot forward and show character, you need to cut pages.

While you give yourself a cooling off period after writing a script, it is best to start on the next script you have in mind. Sylvester Stallone wrote over thirty scripts before one weekend he wrote the screenplay for Rocky. Writers write.

With every script you write, you have an opportunity to become a better writer. Writing scripts also:

  • Allows you to explore an idea
  • Learn the craft
  • Establish your voice

With the more scripts you have in your portfolio, the more likely you are to create something that a director will be interested in making. You want to build a portfolio of at least five scripts. It all comes down to the odds. The more you write, and the more time you put into writing the better writer you will become and the better your chances that one of your scripts will be produced.

When I first started writing, I would send my screenplays to competition only to be rejected. Then my fifth script would go to the quarterfinals, semi-finals, or finals of respected competitions. When I watch the shorts we made ten years ago, I cringe a little because of the dialogue.

If you’ve written your first draft, it’s time to get started on the next screenplay.


The fallacy of waiting for inspiration.

If you want to be a screenwriter, you can’t wait for inspiration. You set a time and a place for when you will write. You find your inspiration and you start writing. Whenever I’ve worked on a larger writing project, I set aside one or two hours after work at a coffee shop and I start writing. I give myself a goal (i.e. a page count, a scene, etc.). I get my favorite drink, I get something sweet, I put on some inspirational music, and I start writing.

Preparing to write can be meditative and when it is going well, you find yourself in another world.

I work a regular job from 9 to 5. Despite that schedule, there is always time. I’ve written during my commute, I’ve written after work, and I’ve worked on writing projects over the weekend.

When I’m having  a hard time getting started, free writing can help. Sometimes I will write long hand because it can be easier for me to work that way. It all comes down to what will work for you.

Once you’ve started, you’ve won. Don’t wait for inspiration, just start writing.


If you haven’t finished your first script, now is the time. Go Write. Set aside one or two hours to get your first draft done.

If you’ve already finished your first script, then take this as a chance to write your next script.





On September 14th, 2016 I woke up around 6:15AM. This was a little earlier than I usually get up. I was dreaming. I checked my phone the way I instinctually do whenever I wake up. I checked my email and found an invitation to participate in a fundraising event called Drinking with Experts for Tuta Theatre in Chicago. One of my friends had nominated me to participate and the host invited me to talk about filmmaking.

Seeing this email as I came out of my dreams and thinking about the friend who nominated me made me think of a dinner I went to years ago. Remembering that dinner, I started to get the idea for a story for a short film. What if there was a young woman trying to protect her innocence (only she didn’t know it)? In a couple of weeks I drafted the script. It’s been a couple months and a few more drafts since then and we held a table reading for that script in January.


One of the key factors to becoming a creative, is simply becoming open. I feel that a lot of people who have never sat down to write a story before think that they don’t have any talent for it. I would argue that its not talent that gets a screenplay written, it’s patience. When you decide to become a storyteller, everything you experience can inspire an idea for a story. Maybe you meet someone at a party and they would make an interesting character in a film. Maybe you read an article and it sparks an idea. Stop being critical of the ideas that you do receive. Walking down the sidewalk you might stumble on an idea. When I was writing stage plays, I got the idea for a play about a woman named Rochelle Sandman who wore red lipstick. The image of her lips was vivid in my mind and I was inspired by her odd sounding name. The story of the play would revolve around her. That initial image and name gave me something concrete that I could start building upon. It led to the other characters in the script and their inter locking stories and the mystery that would be unsolved during the course of the show. One of my friends posted a photo of a woman in a creme colored dress holding a bunch of blue balloons a couple years ago. I was inspired by the image and thought it would look great in a film. Using that image as an anchor, I started to develop a story around the woman in the picture and through the script gave her a reason for her to be in that moment. If you want to be a screenwriter, you can find ideas in your own life. Sometimes it’s the absurdities that we run into with the bureaucracies in our own daily lives. Sometimes it’s the misbehaviors of people we see in public. Or the foibles of our friends or co-workers.


One of the early techniques I learned for getting in the mode of writing and discovering ideas is free-writing. Set aside fifteen minutes without any distractions and just write. I got used to writing long hand. If you know how to touch type – writing on a computer or with a keyboard will likely be better for you in the long run. The basic idea of free-writing is to write down whatever pops in your head. You are not writing for publication or to necessarily find an idea for your script, free-writing is an exercise to help you overcome the inner editor that many of us carry with us. By writing down whatever comes in your head as quickly as you can, the inner editor doesn’t have time to judge or criticize what is being written. You put on do not disturb on your phone, turn off your internet browser and start writing whatever comes into your mind. If you have an impulse to do something else, you can write about that. If you don’t have anything in mind, you can write that over and over, “I don’t have anything to write about,” or you can write the last sentence you wrote over and over until something else comes to mind.

If you already have an idea for a script, you can use free writing to work out ideas for the story of the script, or to write a bio for one of the characters in the script.

The primary goal of free-writing is to overcome the blank page. Every writer at some point may have trouble getting started. When I’ve had a lull with my own writing, free-writing once per day has helped get me through it. A few months ago, I started a practice of free writing for fifteen minutes and then setting down to write a feature length screenplay for twenty five minutes. Free-writing helped me to get in the zone of writing.

Whether you are new to screenwriting or you’ve been writing for years, free-writing is a good exercise to keep in you repertoire. Just like stretching before a marathon, this is a good practice to get into writing. Free-writing can help you shut off the inner editor so you can blow.  The goal of this exercise is simply to get used to putting words on the page.


Similar to meditation, having some kind of ritual before you write can help you get in the proper mindset of writing. The only thing to watch out for is if the rituals become too long. If you have a desire to write, and you decide to sit down to write, your workspace should be set up so that it only takes you five or ten minutes to start writing. Making coffee can be an excellent ritual before you sit down to write. A good ritual can often involve something physical like making coffee or writing long hand.

In my own life, some of the rituals I have partaken in are, lighting incense, making coffee, espresso, or tea, puffing a tobacco pipe (no longer recommended), and playing music. This morning I had a good writing session and I was listening to a particular album, so in the evening I listened to the same music. After I got my fountain pen, I found that the simple act of unscrewing the pen cap from the pen slowly could help me get into the mindset of writing.

Because much of my writing has been composed long hand, I tend to prefer writing long hand. For a feature length screenplay or anything that’s longer I like Cambridge Mead Notebooks. They are yellow with a stiff binding and I’ve found the pages in these notebooks to be very soft which makes them easier for writing. In my day-to-day I usually carry a moleskin soft leather notebook with a grid pattern on the pages.

When it comes to writing long hand versus writing on the computer or with a keyboard, if you can touch type and get used to writing on a computer, your process will be much more efficient. I have written the first draft for a few scripts on the computer, but whenever I get stuck I go back to writing long hand.

Sometimes working on a script at a coffee shop can be a good way of getting out of your normal routine. There have been a couple times when I was working on a longer project, like a novel or a feature length screenplay and after working 8 hours at my day job, I would go to a coffee shop to write for one or two hours before going home. By going to the coffee shop first and getting my script pages written, I didn’t have to fight any of the distractions at home, like TV, Netflix, or worrying about my normal day to day problems.

The act of writing becomes meditative. You are conjuring characters and dialogue and sometimes another world out of your imagination. One of the most exhilarating things about writing is peering into this other world, you can go from writing the dialogue to feeling as though you are taking dictation from your characters.

Creating a ritual isn’t an act of superstition, creating a writing ritual is another tool to help get you in the proper mindset to write. While I do recommend having a cookie, sweets, or coffee during a writing session, I do not recommend any alcohol or any kinds of drugs. If you begin to believe it takes you four or five beers to get in the mindset of writing, that goes from being a ritual to being a crutch.

The only reason to write whether its for a script or anything else, is because you can’t not write. You feel a need or a desire to write. When you write for that reason the writing in itself will be the reward.

Some of my happiest moments have been picturing a scene and writing it or writing a monologue and coming to tears.

No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Batty has a section on totems – similar to ritual – he suggests having a special writing pen or a special writing hat.

Ritual can help you make the most of the time you set aside to write, whether you make a point of using a special notebook to write in or you listen to a particular album, those cues can help you get started and clear out the clutter from daily life. Your ritual could be as simple as free-writing for five or ten minutes and then setting down to write your script. Whatever it takes to help you get in the mindset, start writing. Having a ritual that has some physical element can help you get in the mindset to write.


If you plan on working on a script with a team, one good way to get started is to host a brain storming session. You should have a ball park idea of what the script should be when you go into the session. To prep for the session, have a series of questions you can ask the group. Some sample questions for the brain-storm could be:

What images would you like to see in the film?

How should people feel when they watch the film?

How should people feel when the credits roll?

A good brain-storming session should have a meeting room with a white-board so that while everyone in the group throws out ideas, there is a way to capture them.

For one film project, I was working with a creative team to make the film. I pitched them several ideas for the subject of the film and they chose suspense / thriller. I had never written a suspense thriller before so after our meeting I listened to an album by Godflesh (an industrial band) and started writing down all of the images I could see happening in our suspense thriller. By the end of my bus ride home, I had six pages of images that could take place in the film.

I typed all of my notes up and shared them with the creative team so everyone could comment and make suggestions on what I had written.

While it is much more common to write a script on your own, Brain-storming can be a good way to involve a creative team in developing the basic idea of the script. When I’ve had a hard time titling a script, brain-storming has helped me to generate a long list of titles so I can pick one.


When you are searching for ideas for screenplays, reading the news paper or reading news articles online can help you find inspiration for a screenplay. There is always new research in science and articles about new developments can give you an idea for a sci-fi screenplay.

I’ve probably been inspired by half a dozen news articles in my own writing. There are stories everywhere and newspapers sell papers with the stories they tell. That is not to say that you would take the particulars of a news article and turn it into a script. News articles are copyrighted. But an idea you might get from reading the paper is not copyrighted.

In early 2016, I was interested in working with improv actors. I wanted to develop a bank of ideas I could present to the improv actors I would be directing. I happened to be visiting my Dad and he had a large stack of local news papers. I started flipping through the papers looking for story ideas. Within about an hour or ninety minutes, I had twenty different story ideas broken down that I could propose to my improv actors to use to build their scenes.

Ideas can not be copyrighted, so if seeing a film or if hearing a story from a friend inspires you and gives you an idea, you can use it. If you read the Hero of a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell you will learn that many of our stories are reworked, remixed, and repurposed.

I’ve read articles about the difficulties blind people have faced when regaining their sight in adult life, and that has inspired a short film script. I read about a medical procedure to remove the pleasure center from the brain, and that inspired a script idea.

If you’re not sure where else to start, flipping through news articles can give you inspiration for an idea.


Simply asking what if can help generate ideas. What is a lawyer who relies on bending the truth couldn’t lie for 24 hours? (Liar, Liar) What if a Military Industrialist survived injuries from his own weapons and decided to stop making weapons? (Iron Man) What if a man became famous for taking photos with his iPhone? (iPhotographer) What if a man learned the importance of fatherhood talking to a Hulk Hogan doll? (Hogan and Me) What if a group of teenagers gained superpowers when they discover an underground cave? (Chronicle)

There are an infinite number of scenarios that can be imagined by answering what if. Asking this question in your own life can give you story ideas. What if a woman regained her sight in adult life? What if cowboys faced off against aliens? (Cowboys Vs. Aliens)

When you are developing a script or already have a script drafted, asking what if can open doors to new scene ideas or alternate ways of tackling the story beats in your script.

While we were developing the script for iPhotographer, the Director and I talked about the story of the script. We would go on photography walks and discuss the script. iPhotographer is about a man who becomes a professional iPhone photographer. As we went on our photography walks elements from photography would turn into ideas that could be added to the script. We would often ask what if, which always led to new jokes and story beats to flesh out the script.

Asking what if can also help you when you get stuck while writing a screenplay. When searching for story ideas or developing a script asking what if is another great tool for discovering new ideas.


One thing about idea creation is that you never know when you will be inspired to write something. I usually keep a writing journal with me at all times. This can be a small spiral notebook, a moleskin notebook, or anything that you prefer to use for notes. Sometimes I will use the notes app in my smartphone or Evernote. Sometimes I will keep my writing journal by my bedside as well.

Whenever an idea or observation comes along, I will write a few sentences about it or key words about the idea. Sometimes I might even make a sketch. Anything that will sufficiently capture the idea for when I look at my notes later. I have gone through a stack of moleskin notebooks in the past four years.

In the past year I’ve been using the bullet journal technique to keep better track of what I write in my notebooks. The first few pages in the note book are dedicated to an index with every even page numbered. Any time I write something new in the journal, I add a few words to the index. This has been especially helpful when I’ve developed an idea or a script over a couple of weeks. For more information on bullet journal, I recommend checking out (website). I just use a regular notebook and add the page numbers to it.

You never know when inspiration will come, so it is best to always be prepared to catch the ideas when they come.


We have offered you a few ways to catch ideas and get to the initial work of writing. Now, it’s time for you to catch some ideas!


Using free-writing, brain-storming, or researching news articles find four or five ideas for scripts that speak to you in some way. Whether there is a strong image, you connect with a character, or you think the story idea would be interesting write them down. You want to capture the basic premise of the idea five or six sentences or fifty words for each idea should be enough so that when you’re ready to break the story you have a good starting point. Set aside at least a half hour to do this exercise. If you can set aside an hour that will likely be better, but you should take a brief break halfway through.

The goal of this exercise is to get ideas on the page. Your first idea may not be your best idea. By generating four or five ideas you can choose the best one to turn into a script.


Bridgeport Film Club Members

Lance Eliot Adams founded Bridgeport Film Club in December of 2012. With some savings in the bank he set out to write and direct Really, Seriously? Really! That film was shot on March 3rd, 2013. Since then Bridgeport Film Club has released twelve short films and currently has six short films in Post-Production. He looks forward to broadening the mission of Bridgeport Film Club in 2017 and seeing the short films of his colleagues to production.






bridgeportpicDennis Episcopo is an artist that loves to perform, write, and produce creative content. Originally from Brookfield, Illinois, he grew up all over the place. Dennis uses art as a way to grow spiritually and stay engaged in life. Bridgeport Film Club initially had the chance to work with Dennis on an improv based short in December of 2015. Since then we are proud to say that we have collaborated on five short films and we look forward to what 2017 has in store.



William Ray is a talented writer and filmmaker. He wrote a web series called Brother about two brothers and and the philosophical arguments and comedic shenanigans they have together.



Robert Robbins seeks to tell a story with each of his images. When he takes a photo, every fraction of the frame is there to support that story. He gained an early interest in photography taking photos on a Kodak disc camera. The film came in the form of a disc which could take twelve pictures.

This passion for photography and storytelling stayed with him through the years. He found himself taking still photography on film sets and for music bands.

This early appreciation for film and his understanding of light makes him a methodical and deliberate photographer. When he takes an image with his Nikon D800, he knows how the photograph will look in camera. He doesn’t need to use photoshop to get the photo he wants.

Robert was Director of Photography on Little Dog last year. He Directed and worked as Director of Photography for iPhotographer which will be submitted to the festival circuit this year.


Cast and Crew


We are looking to fill a number of character roles. If you have experience with sketch comedy or improv, we’d love to hear from you. We currently have five sketch films to cast. We are also reading scripts. If you are a sketch writer and you have a script for film, we’d like to read it.

These projects won’t pay your bills.  It could lead to more film work and build your reel.  You’ll have fun.


Currently seeking a Production Manager and First AD to keep our short films in pre-production on track.





Filmmaker Work Exchange

Bridgeport Film Club has a work exchange program.  If you are a filmmaker looking to put together a short film production, we’d like to collaborate with you.  We have experience developing screenplays, story boarding, directing, filming, and casting.  We have produced four short films in the past year.

Anyone can learn filmmaking.  Whether you go through the traditional route of going to film school, or self-educate through the various resources on the internet.  What we can offer to new filmmakers is on set experience where the principals you learn via school or self study come face to face with the real world.

For more experienced filmmakers, we are offering a group of passionate creatives with the potential to help your film ideas become realized.

Similar to bartering, work is done for work in lieu of regular compensation.  If you’d like to be part of this program, send your resume, the pitch for your film, an estimated budget, and funding source to:

info[at]bridgeportfilmclub[dot]com with the words “Work Exchange” in the subject line.

If you are an experienced filmmaker and don’t have a short film to pitch or a budget, and would still like to get involved, we’d love to hear from you.  You can send your reel and resume to:

info[at]bridgeportfilmclub[dot]com with the words “Work Exchange” in the subject line.

If you’re new to filmmaking and you’d like to gain experience and advice on how to get started we can offer you a role as a Production Assistant.  Need advice on how to break a story or write a script?  Want to learn how a film set runs?  Send your current resume to:

info[at]bridgeportfilmclub[dot]com with the words “Work Exchange” in the subject line.

If you are a screenwriter, you should know that Bridgeport Film Club members have been on both sides of screenplay contests.  One of our members has made it to the finals or Quarterfinals at a number of prestigious contests while another was a contest judge and script analyst for USA Films (now Focus Features.  If you’re willing to come out and work on a film shoot, we’d be happy to write coverage for your script or organize a table read.  Send your resume and a writing sample to:

info[at]bridgeportfilmclub[dot]com with the words “Work Exchange” in the subject line.


Current Projects



Enter the Room

A man struggles to maintain his sanity, haunted by a horrific event from his past.

Currently in Post-Production.






Kurt Band was a simple guy from a small town in Missouri until he came to the big city of Chicago and saw his first iPhone. iPhotographer is a mocukmentary documenting Kurt Band’s rise as a professional iPhone photographer.

Currently in Post-Production.






Dead White Rabbit


New short film project currently in script development. This is an open studio project. We plan on releasing regular updates as this goes through the process of production.