Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Susan Interviews Nadia Dresti of the Locarno Film Festival

Susan's Interview with Nadia Dresti for SydneysBuzz/IndieWire

Nadia Dresti, Delegate of the Artistic Direction, Head of International at the Locarno International Film Festival talks to Susan Kouguell about Industry Days (August 10-12), Step In and Carte Blanche. 

Monday, July 1, 2013


Breaking into writing for scripted television is competitive and challenging. I know what you’re thinking: Is this news? You’ve all heard and read this sentence countless times. But -- this month’s column sheds direct light and insight on writing and working in television, with advice from someone with ties to New England.

Susan's interview with Emmy award winner Jeff Greenstein

Monday, June 3, 2013

Susan's June NewEnglandFilm.Com Ask the Screenplay Doctor column

Web Series Wisdom: An Interview with Anne Flournoy

How to succeed in the film business without really trying (but actually trying really hard)? More and more, people are recommending that aspiring filmmakers tackle a web series. Screenplay Doctor Susan Kouguell talks to Anne Flournoy, an independent filmmaker who's done so and lived to tell the tale -- her series The Louise Log was just successfully funded for its third season.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Susan's April ASK THE SCREENPLAY DOCTOR column...

Ask the Screenplay Doctor: Preparing & Navigating Screenplay Conferences and Pitch Festivals

This month, Screenplay Doctor Susan Kouguell heads to the Screenwriters World Conference as a featured speaker. Before she goes, she offers advice for how to get the most out of your visit to a pitch fest...



Tuesday, March 26, 2013


How to Succeed in Screenwriting Without Even Trying


Now that I’ve caught your attention with a spin on this infamous Broadway musical title — I must make a confession. This title is wishful thinking. How to succeed in the screenwriting world is not all about trying. It’s so much more than that. It’s about doing. And it’s about being brave, tough, having good manners, not being lazy or having a bad attitude. It’s also about perseverance, which is one major key to unlocking the film industry gatekeeper’s door. And the other major key to gain entrance into the industry? Write a great screenplay!

Succeeding in the screenwriting world requires dedication to your writing — and it demands rewriting your script and marketing package until they are the absolute best they can be. You must be diligent; follow the industry trade publications to learn who is taking on new clients, which company is accepting new projects, and then submit your work to the appropriate companies, agents, and managers, and script competitions that are the right fit for your project and for you.

How do you increase your chances of script success?

KNOW YOUR CRAFT: Crafting a successful screenplay means understanding and conveying a compelling story that will prompt the reader to turn the page; a solid structure (this holds true whether you are writing a traditional 3-act structure or nontraditional narrative); a consistent genre (follow the rules of the genre conventions); dialogue that rings true (stilted and dull words does not an attention-grabbing script make); and empathetic characters audiences will care about. Audiences must care if your characters win or lose, and the (narrative) voyages they embark on to reach their goals.

PASSION: Succeeding as a screenwriter requires passion. If the passion you feel about your project does not come shining through in your script, film industry folks will not be impressed, thus increasing your chances of your script getting rejected.

FEEDBACK: It’s important to have an objective set of eyes read your work. Maybe your script is brilliant and is ready to be submitted to companies and executives, but err on the side of the caution. Get feedback on your work from someone who is objective (preferably someone with industry credentials, such as a script consultant, screenwriting mentor, or professor) and will tell you the truth about what’s working, what’s not, and why. Listen to, and implement critiques on your work with careful consideration.

REWRITE: Screenwriting success is about rewriting and rewriting some more even when you’re tired of rewriting but you know in your heart, and you’ve heard the feedback from those in the know, that a rewrite is needed.

PROPER FORMATTING: Always submit a script that 1) contains no typos, no grammatical errors, and no sloppy mistakes like pages missing; and 2) follows the industry standard formatting rules. A script with formatting mistakes demonstrates that you are not respecting the reader’s time and that you are an amateur. There is too much competition to even get your script read by industry folks to make these types of errors.

MARKETING: Writing a great script is just part of the equation on the road to screenwriting success. Knowing how to market yourself and your work is also a vital step on this journey. Present yourself as a professional. If, for example, you have the opportunity to pitch your project, arrive on time and dress appropriately. This meeting is essentially a job interview. Check your arrogance at the door. Being argumentative and disrespectful will be an invitation for the door hitting you on the way out. The film world is small (everyone knows everyone else) and you will quickly gain a reputation, but not the good reputation that you must have to reach success.

One memorable anecdote that I’ve shared in my book The Savvy Screenwriter occurred when I was consulting for Warner Bros., seeking acquisitions and directing talent at the Independent Feature Film Market. The setting: the Angelica Film Center in New York City. Women’s Restroom. A woman asked me if she could pitch her project to me. Right there and then. As much as I empathized with this person’s desperation to get her project noticed by a film studio, you can imagine that this setting was not winning me over. But she kept pitching her project — even when I closed the stall door. It certainly left a lasting impression on me; but not the one she was looking for.
Marketing your work does not equate selling your soul or selling out. Invest the time and care that you did writing your screenplay into preparing your pitch (practice, practice, practice – with timers, with friends and colleagues, and fellow writers), writing your query letter, logline, synopsis and one-sheet.

Your script is your calling card to the film industry. But remember, the film industry is a business. It’s not for the faint of heart. While the road to screenwriting success might come with some bumps and bruises, there are no shortcuts. Always put your best work and your best self out there.


SUSAN is a featured speaker at Screenwriters World Conference in New York City April 5th

On April 5, I will be speaking at the Screenwriters World Conference in New York City, which is being held at the Sheraton Hotel April 5-7.

For more information about this event visit:


My two workshops:
Boot Camp: Screenwriter's Marketing Package
Congratulations! You have completed your screenplay (or are close to finishing it). You’re gearing up for the submission process—but wait! Your screenplay may be brilliant, but you still need to know how to get it past the film industry’s gatekeepers. This means preparing a winning query letter, synopsis and one-sheet. In this crucially important session, you will learn the essentials tools for writing a query letter, synopsis, and one-sheet, how to successfully present your screenwriting marketing package, do’s and don’ts to marketing your screenplay and yourself, and how to follow up with the industry pros after submitting your marketing package.


Writing Successful Query Letters, Synopses and Loglines

Grabbing a film executive’s attention is the key to unlocking the movie industry’s door. Getting your script read by agents, producers, talent, and so on, requires not only writing a brilliant screenplay, it necessitates knowing how to professionally represent yourself and your work. This workshop will offer the essential tools on crafting winning queries, synopses, and loglines.


Monday, February 4, 2013

New Piece with Annebarbe Kau, text by Susan Kouguell

Below is the German to English translation:

Annebarbe Kau their acoustic intervention


The Lent is - also - a time of longing and hope of spring. Midst of the former abbey district in Bonn-Vilich lies a small cemetery. A stone wall includes the cemetery and gives it its round shape. You follow a path that makes possible a full tour, a rarity. This way is my starting point for a sound collage that visitors can indulge. The path leads him around by the church on the school grounds at the cemetery so that it is covered in its entirety. The interplay of walking, seeing and hearing is the sensual theme of this work. It is set in motion by a collage of text and sounds that can be received via headphones - but the visitors must go to the Wall Trail, since only at selected points something is sent.

sounds from another (year) and time of other landscapes can accommodate you.

I want to see the visitor with the ears.

stooping us and look through our own legs to the world. She stands head, everything is wrong.

text: Susan Kouguell
voice: Elisabeth People
section: Said Suma



Here is my February ASK THE SCREENPLAY DOCTOR column...


Wednesday, January 2, 2013



This is PART 2 of my interviews about Film School. This month: J.D. Zeik - fellow SUNY Purchase alum, professor and screenwriter. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone!