Clive Owen
Clive Owen stars in Spike Lee’s Inside Man.

1. People make it to the top of this business because they refuse to compromise or settle for less than the best finished product.

2. Even more people fail in this business for the same reason.

3. If you come up with a great commercial hook for a film, it still helps to write a great story.

4. If you come up with a great story, it still helps to have a great commercial hook.

5. Don’t start out thinking you have to fill 120 pages. (I constantly ignore this rule.) Write the story. If you do it properly, you’ll go over 120 pages and will need to make choices about what to trim or cut.

6. If the main purpose of a scene is to establish that Joe is the biggest drug dealer in the city, don’t use the words “biggest,” “drug,” “dealer” or “city.” Joe and the other guy already know this fact, so they wouldn’t have to say it. Just try to imagine what they actually would talk about. (It’s okay to use the word Joe.)

7. Don’t worry about fancy transitions, camera angles, etc. unless it’s crucial to the purpose of the scene. You’re trying to sell a script, not film a movie. The director will do that.

8. Even if you somehow manage to write the world’s greatest screenplay, remember that you can’t make a movie all alone. You still need actors, producers and a director. And they get to have their input. When you sell your house, you don’t tell the new owners where to put the couch.