Discover what's new for Fall 2024

Screenwriting Master Class

Learn the complete, step-by-step process of writing a marketable Hollywood screenplay from successful, working writers.


Learn to write a script Hollywood will want to produce

Every great movie is made from a great script. It doesn’t matter how big the budget gets, how authentic the actors perform, or how magnificent the visual effects appear unless the screenplay is engaging, dynamic, and believable. Films with high production values have been known to flop because the scripts couldn’t handle the weight of their own plots, structures or even main characters. Rarely has a bad script been made into a good movie. Writing a script is a craft that takes time to learn and a tremendous amount of discipline, and it also requires understanding story structure, psychology, human dynamics, and pacing.

In the FilmSkills Screenwriting Course, you will learn the step-by-step process of writing a script from top Hollywood writers.  From the very beginning stages of developing a marketable idea, creating dynamic characters, understanding story structure, and finally learning how to market your script. You will gain all the tools you need to write a professional Hollywood screenplay.

FilmSkills takes a real world approach to screenwriting by blending the art with the business.  A great script does no good if it’s sitting on your desk, so we help you write a script producers will want to make.

I’ve read so many screenwriting books, and nothing comes close to the depth and quality of the FilmSkills Screenwriting Course.     – Bill R. 

Lessons in the Screenwriting master Class

Developing the Idea

Strong ideas are the basis of a compelling story, if they are fleshed out the right way and appeal to a mass audience.  In this module, we’ll show you where you can look for creative, original ideas and how to determine their marketability with both studios and producers.

Story Structure

Stories have been told a particular way throughout human history, and movies are no different. Both the audience and filmmakers have agreed upon an unspoken structure for how the plot points in a movie are revealed.  In this module, we’re not only going to expose this underlying structure, but teach you how to incorporate it into your production.

The Three Act Structure

In this module, we’ll show you how to use the three act structure to properly pace your story, what should occur in each act, the length of each act, what happens at the beginning, middle and end of each act, and how to apply these techniques to your story.

A-Story and Subplots

If you were to describe a movie in a few sentences, you would probably give me a great summary of the main plot of the story- “Raiders of the Lost Arc is about an archaeologist who goes in search of the Arc of the Covenant.”  Or “Twilight” is about girl torn between two men – a vampire and a werewolf.” In both of these examples, you would be correct – but what you told me was what is part of what’s called the “A” plot, or the main storyline of the movie.  Movies can also include several smaller stories called subplots, which help reveal character, push the story forward and ultimately support the A-plot. In this module, we’re going to look at how to effectively write both the A-plot and the subplots.

Story Pacing

A good screenplay takes the audience on an emotional roller coaster, and one of the challenges facing each writer is how to keep the audience engaged through each and every minute of the story. In this module, learn literary techniques for maintaining strong pacing – especially through the second act.

The Protagonist

As you’re writing your screenplay, the most important character to write is the protagonist. But you have several choices – is he also the main character? Does the protagonist change or remain steadfast? How do you write a character the audience will care about?  How can flaws help the protagonist solve the story problem?
Knowing the answers to these question will help you craft a compelling character, so in this module, we’re going to explore techniques for writing a strong, multi-dimensional protagonist.

The Antagonist

The antagonist has been classically referred to as the bad guy, the villain, or the adversary.  But more properly defined, he, she or it is the literary opposite of the protagonist – the character who opposes the goals of the protagonist. In this module, we’re going to explore techniques for writing a strong antagonist, how to make him, her or it a real, multidimensional character.

Conflict Types

Conflict in a story is everything – it defines the very purpose of the protagonist. We can divide the types of conflict into one of several categories – each category helping to define the antagonist’s role in the story.  They are man vs. man, man vs. self, man vs. society, man vs. nature and man vs. the supernatural.  So in this module, we’re going to explore these various types of conflict and how you can use them to craft a compelling antagonist.

Supporting Characters

A movie is populated with dozens of other characters – many of whom have an influence on the protagonist and the antagonist.  These supporting characters either help or hinder, compliment or compete with our protagonist and antagonist. They add vibrancy and excitement to the story, all while serving as a valuable literary tool for you as you write the screenplay.  In this module, we’re going to explore the function of supporting characters.

Character Archetypes

All characters can be broken down into eight different archetypes – now these are the basic ingredients of creating a character, so of course you can mix and match them to create more complex, unique characters.  But every supporting character fulfills one of more of these roles.  The eight archetypes are the protagonist and the antagonist, Reason, Emotion, The Sidekick, The Skeptic, the Guardian and the Contagonist. So, in this module, we’re going to explore the six archetypes that make up supporting characters.

Personality and Backstory

The act of writing is much more than simply creating characters –  it’s about writing real people with real fears, ambitions, strengths and weaknesses.  But although you need to be able to create real, believable people, every choice you make when creating them needs to support the story. Who they are helps them confront the plot, learn more about themselves and ultimately succeed or fail. Their background gives them the tools and experienced they need to confront the conflict, and most importantly, their tragic flaw gives their story a personal arc. So, in this module, we’re going to discuss how to create personality and backstory.

Dialogue and Subtext

One of producers’ biggest criticisms of a script is the weak, cliche dialogue.  Learn how to make your script stand out with tight, engaging dialogue from working Hollywood experts. Emmy-winning Executive Producer of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Steve Skrovan, Writer/Producer Mike Emanuel, Writer John Anderson, Writer/Script Doctor David Freeman and Emmy-winning Director Jason Tomaric share valuable insight into avoiding cliches and writing tight dialogue.

From Title to Outline

The treatment and outline for a movie is literally the backbone of the story, and the quality of your work in this phase can either make or break your script. Learn how to write an effective treatment and outline and simplify the process of writing the first draft.  Working Hollywood writers teach you how to get the most out of this valuable writing tool.

The First Draft

Learn how to properly write and format the first draft of your script.  This module is a complete guide that walks you through every step of how to format a screenplay.


Once the first draft of your script is ready, the real work begins.  Learn what to look for in the rewriting process, how to identify problem areas that may adversely affect the story and how to get the most out of each plot, character and line of dialogue. Emmy-winning Executive Producer of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Steve Skrovan, Writer/Producer Mike Emanuel, Writer John Anderson, Writer/Script Doctor David Freeman, Emmy-winning Director Jason Tomaric and Jerrol LeBaron, president of the script brokerage site, share industry tips and techniques on how to effectively rewrite your script.

Marketing Your Script

You’ve finished the script, now what?  Working Hollywood writers and producers take you through the process of finding an agent or manager.  Should you approach a producer instead?  How do you deal with the studio Hollywood Reader?  How do you cope with rejection?  This  module takes you through the intricacies of the Hollywood system and how to manage it.

This is by far, hands down, no questions asked, the best screenwriting course I have ever taken. I’ve finished my first script and have already gotten it in the hands of agents.  Thank you, FilmSkills!    – Eric C.

How Audio is Recorded Digitally

Even though sound is the other half of the movie going experience, it tends to be the most neglected department on set. The camera, lights, and actors get all the attention, all while the audio is almost an after thought. This is a mistake, as recording clean on set audio will save you may headaches (and money) later in post. But how does audio work, and how do new digital recording devices convert sound waves into a series of 1s and 0s?

In this excerpt of the FilmSkills Audio Recording Course, Emmy-winning director Jason Tomaric, Head of Audio at Apple and inventor of THX, Tom Holman, and the VP of education at Audio Technica teach us how the digital recording process works.



CARS drive the weekend, but Shakur pic draws many EYEZ

Welcome to the Weekend Box Office Review



Pixar’s Cars 3 opened to a solid but unspectacular $53.7M, providing the biggest animated opening so far of 2017, but dropping about $10M from the previous two CARS debuts.


This one fell directly in the center of expectations. The CARS series has always been the black sheep of the Pixar family. The 2006 original was the first Pixar film to garner its share of truly middling reviews, and the much-maligned creative misstep that was CARS 2 (the first film was about preserving history and embracing old fashioned Americana, and the second film was a…spy spoof starring Mater?) soiled folks on the franchise. Add to that the public disclosure that the CARS franchise was Pixar’s top merchandising moneymaker (especially among small children), and the series was forever tarnished with the stink of capitalism over creativity. The announcement of a third film was met with eye rolls and loud groans from Pixar’s adult fans, as it seemed to stand for the ultimate in “we didn’t ask for this.” Add to that middling reviews that touted it as an improvement over Part 2, but still not worthy of Pixar’s higher standard. So with so much negativity (and/or indifference) for the franchise, an opening weekend drop from the previous installments ($60M and $66M, respectively) was to be expected.

So why didn’t it go even lower? THE GOOD DINOSAUR opened at $40M (proving the Pixar brand doesn’t GUARANTEE huge openings), so it stands to reason that CARS 3 could have followed the trend of underperforming summer franchise pictures and wandered in closer to $30-40M. But that’s where the merchandising angle comes in. As much as CARS is a shrug for adult Pixar fans, the franchise is hugely popular with kids. And with a G rating, the Pixar name, and a return to a story focused around Lightning McQueen instead of Mater, families filled the seats, offsetting the inevitable drop. I would gather that it is unlikely we will see a CARS 4 (also a longshot that this film will even match CARS 2’s $191M domestic gross), but the fact that this one didn’t outright BOMB makes it seem that there may be some gas left in the tank, and the franchise will likely live on in some form or another.


Outperformed even the most optimistic expectations with an impressive $26.4M debut.


Two words: Tupac Shakur. Three more words: STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON. The life of the prolific and beloved artist has taken on a near mythic reputation in recent years, with Elvis-like sightings (“He’s not really dead!”) to controversy (his holographic “performance” at Coachella in 2012), to seemingly never ending merchandising (unreleased performances and unfinished albums continue to pop up), so it was clear that the market was hungry for a biopic. And with the incredible success of STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON in 2015, this film had potential, especially as effective counter programming at the start of summer, during a weekend that saw films catering to primarily kids and women. So with all that going for it, why didn’t it even open higher? After all, COMPTON pulled in $60M during its opening weekend…

Marketing was low as compared to COMPTON – not too much was done to reach out beyond Shakur’s heavily black, male fan base. Also unlike COMPTON, which had producer (and one of the subjects of the film) Ice Cube promoting it at every possible opportunity, EYEZ was marred with many of the film’s living subjects keeping their distance from it, with others (Jada Pinkett Smith in particular) actively speaking out against the film’s creative validity. Finally, a Rotten Tomatoes score of 23% didn’t help sway anyone on the fence, and couldn’t compete with COMPTON’s 87%, which ended up leading to multiple end of the year awards and Top Ten lists. Fans clearly wanted to see EYEZ, and they showed up – but the mediocre buzz kept it from going as high as it could have. Next week’s hold will show us if the film has $100M potential (unlikely), or if it will top out around $60M – still turning a profit, but not shaking the marketplace.


Inexpensive indie shark movie did just fine with $11M – unspectacular, but not a bomb.


Not much to say about this one – expectations were low, as the film featured no bankable stars (sorry Claire Holt, Matthew Modine and Mandy Moore) and little selling it beyond “Hey, remember THE SHALLOWS last year? You like sharks, right?” The fact that it still found its way to $11M means the horror community was hungry for more water-based thrills, and the effective low key marketing (prominent standees in theaters for a little-promoted film has a sneaky way of suggesting a potential sleeper hit) did its job. Still, there’s not much heat on the film, and it should drift away shortly, turning a comfortable profit on its $12M budget.


With an bomb-tastic $8M opening, the title-based puns write themselves for this one.


Chalk this one up to a confused marketing campaign, and the continued success of WONDER WOMAN. Everything was just a mess: the print campaign centered around Scarlett Johansson, but the trailers seemed to hide from her – focusing mainly on the supporting cast. The ads pushed it as a younger BAD MOMS-meets-THE HANGOVER, but there was no specific sellable plot element outside of Kate McKinnon’s confusing and unfunny Australian accent, and the unpleasant suggestion of jokes surrounding a dead stripper. A heavily advertise, and similarly themed film (with a funnier trailer) called GIRLS TRIP opens in a month, adding confusion to the mix. The confusion obviously hurt ROUGH, but it should benefit GIRLS, which now has a full month to distinguish and distance itself. Mediocre reviews were the final straw – like BAYWATCH, if comedies have have an “unfunny” stink about them, people stay away. Movie prices are too high these days to pay for something that will play better on TV if word of mouth is bad.

The WONDER WOMAN factor might have played into ROUGH’s weekend too. The super-sized super hero hit had a huge $41M third weekend, and it’s safe to say that in this summer of massive female strength & empowerment on the big screen, the film’s target audience (women) wouldn’t necessarily be inclined to spend 2 hours with a bachelorette party gone wrong due to drugs, panic and manufactured lunacy.

That’s it for this week – next week we see how a 5th TRANSFORMERS film plays as the only new release in town.

How I Went from Film School Dropout to a Hollywood Director with a $10,000 Day Rate


Jason Tomaric, Emmy-winning director/cinematographer and founder of FilmSkills

Hello, I’m Jason Tomaric, and welcome to FilmSkills. I’m a working director and cinematographer in Los Angeles, California and the founder of FilmSkills.

I can imagine we have a lot in common. I grew up in a small Ohio town and started a production company shooting local commercials for bike shops, restaurants, and attorneys.  While I dreamt of shooting bigger projects in LA, I had no idea where to start. My family was a typical middle-income family with absolutely no industry connections, and film school wasn’t for me. But as fate would have it, our neighbors in the house behind us had a daughter, Johanna Jenson, who worked in the film industry in LA.  Our neighbor would send Johanna newspaper clippings covering my film shoots, and after a while, Johanna and I became pen pals. I would ask her questions about her life working in Hollywood, then anxiously await her reply. She was a lifeline between me and my career dreams in LA.  Her advice and kindness were instrumental in helping me move my career to the next level.

Eventually I moved to LA, where I built a successful career directing and shooting feature films, television commercials, and documentaries. If it wasn’t for Johanna’s kindness in helping an ambitious kid in Ohio, I may have never taken the plunge, and for that I am forever grateful.

As I continued to grow professionally, I was disappointed at the opportunities to learn– film schools were outrageously priced and had inexperienced – often bitter – instructors, books seemed too academic, and self-proclaimed experts on youTube were sharing what limited knowledge they had… from their bedroom studios and a webcam.  I didn’t want any of that; I wanted to learn from the pros.  And with that thought, FilmSkills was born.


Say Hello to FilmSkills

Johanna had a huge impact on my life and career. Afterall, it’s not every day that you can connect with a working Hollywood filmmaker. There isn’t a career day where you can follow around a director, producer, cinematographer, or editor like you can a police officer, doctor, or architect. Hollywood seems like a good old boys club where you have to know someone to get in, and once you’re in, no one on the outside matters.  But I found the opposite to be true.

Hundreds of successful and talented filmmakers from all parts of the business partnered with me on FilmSkills to share their knowledge and experience with you. We take you step-by-step through the hard-learned lessons on how to build a career from scratch. FilmSkills is about real world knowledge from real world filmmakers.


“Film professors do not teach the real world. That’s why our instructors are working Hollywood filmmakers.”


Widely adopted

FilmSkills has quickly grown into the film industry’s largest film training site.  Tens of thousands of students have learned from over 150 leading filmmakers.  FilmSkills has also been widely adopted by over 70 film schools, including UCLA, Yale, NYU, Columbia College Chicago, and Full Sail.  Why?  Because at FilmSkills, you learn from the best people in the industry.

  • James Cameron’s Assistant director team teaches you how to schedule and budget a film shoot
  • Steven Spielberg’s producers teach you how to produce a film
  • The directors of Castle, Star Trek, The X-Files, and The Fugitive teach you how to direct actors and the director’s craft
  • Judd Apatow’s audio post-product team teaches you about ADR, sound effects editing, and Foley
  • Emmy-Award winning Executive Producer of Everybody Loves Raymond and Seinfeld teaches you how to write a script

…and we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface.  Our 150 instructors have won, or been nominated for, over 70 Emmy, Academy Awards, BAFTAs, and Golden Globes. I bet you can’t find a film school with that caliber of instructors, and at FilmSkills, they are all here for you.


Get the Jobs and Day Rate You Deserve

By the end of the day, you want one thing– to get the jobs you want and earn the paycheck you deserve.  That is the core goal of FilmSkills.  You will learn the process and techniques in the safety of your own home so when you get on set, you’ll have the edge.  We are here to dramatically shorten your learning curve so you can accelerate your career. You may be wondering who am I to teach this?


 I went from a film school drop out to earning $10,000/day as a director and cinematographer in Hollywood.


I went from directing local bike shop commercials in Ohio to an Emmy-winning career in LA earning a $10,000 day rate. I’ve shot documentaries that span 20 countries and TV commercial campaigns for major companies like Toyota, McDonald’s, and Microsoft.  While my passion has always been filmmaking, a close second is teaching. I’ve seen a handful of people succeed in this business and hundreds fail.  The ones who succeed all have some of the same traits– as do the people who fail.  FilmSkills is about guiding you through the career minefield so you can improve your chances of being one of the success stories.

At FilmSkills, we’re not here to teach you the art. That’s your talent and gift.  We are here to show you the tools, process, and industry techniques to harness and shape your creative vision into a career.

We’re so excited to have you with us and are ready to help you take your career to the next level.  Let’s get started!

Join FilmSkills




18 Rules for Surviving (if not necessarily thriving) in Hollywood

OK, take all this with a grain of salt. After all, I haven’t made it big yet, either. Still, I have learned the following hard lessons:


If this guy can raise five million dollars to make your movie, then why the hell can’t he spring $12.99 for your tuna melt?


For those of us who haven’t been to film school, a film’s “palette” is the combination of dominant colors that is used in a film. It’s also the favored conversation topic of anyone who doesn’t really know what they’re talking about, since you can never be wrong. “I feel red is so precious don’t you? And Blue is so overused. I do like Green, however. But Burnt Umber would have been a stronger choice.”

If any wannabe director starts talking palette to you, run away.

EXCEPTION: Production designers, who are supposed to worry about this sort of thing.


If they’re name dropping, then they’re trying to impress you. And if they really are important enough to know Tom Cruise and Michael Eisner, then why the hell are they trying to impress some peon like you?


People with a real resume can condense it into one sentence. “I’m the guy who did STAR WARS. Maybe you’ve seen it?”

If it takes them more than thirty seconds to explain who they are, then they aren’t.


The following credits can be easily checked in a few seconds on the Internet Movie Database,
“I am the guy who directed…”
“I am the guy who wrote…”
“I starred in….”
“I produced….”
On the other hand, the following credits are completely unverifiable, and a sure sign that the guy delivering them is a Big Fat Phony (BFP). “I’m the guy who gave so-and-so the idea for…” “I originally set up the deal for…” “I’m the guy who introduced so-and-so to what’s-his-name.” “I’m the guy who came up with that line from….” “I’m the guy who gave what’s-his-name his big break”


Instead, go ahead and make your own little breaks. Want to shoot a movie? Don’t wait for someone to hand you a hundred million dollar budget. Instead, scrape together a friend with a video camera, some actors, an i-mac for editing, and shoot a five minute film.


If your friends are always talking about that great movie that they’re going to shoot someday, the important book that they’re going to write, or the hit song that they’re going to sing– dump them. Find friends who are actually shooting short movies, writing stories, and singing in a band. In doing this, be sure to observe RULES 8-12.


Because Lord knows, you’re going to be calling in favors from all your friends down the road. Need someone to recommend a screenplay to an agent, do makeup on your film, or just move heavy lighting equipment? It helps if you already took care of their cat, gave them CPR, and moved their refrigerator.

This rule can be also be substituted against RULE #10, and must be balanced against RULE #11.


If you don’t have enough money to pay people, at least try to show your appreciation with food. Buying your DP lunch while you work on the shot list is a cheap way to say “thank you”. Similarly, good food on the set is a MUST. If you’ve got actors giving you their time for free, then the least you can do is feed them well.


So don’t cast your best friend, just because he thinks he can act, or let your sister DP just because she thinks she knows how to hold a camera. That kind of favor can fuck up a film, and worse, ruin the hard work that everyone else puts into it. Which means that the talented and smart people from the crew won’t work with you in the future.


So when someone tells you that he/she is a great DP/Writer/Actor/Musician, DON’T BELIEVE THEM. Ask to see a demo reel or script. And even then, make sure that it’s actually theirs.

A corollary to this is RULE #13.


Write a script, direct a short, compose a score. Whatever it is that you want to do, prove that you can do it on a small scale so that people will believe you can do it on a big one.

(See RULE #6.)


I know, the odds are good that the person you’re facing is either a phony (see RULES #1-5), an idiot (see RULE #12), or a hopeless talker (see RULE # 7). However, he just might be a kindred spirit that will make your life out here a lot less unbearable. And you never know. That guy you’re throwing attitude at might just be an agent.


People like to talk about themselves. So stop bragging about yourself long enough to ask the other person what they do for a living, and what their hopes and dreams are. You might find out that you can help each other, or that they’re a fun person who will make your life more interesting.


Don’t waste your own time, and don’t let anybody else waste it for you.


Really. I’m not kidding. I know someone out there is telling you, “I really love this script, and I can get it made if you’ll just give me a free option…”

Stop right there. If this guy really has any chance of raising $3-5 million dollars to make your movie, then why won’t he spend $10K now to secure the rights?

When someone asks for a free option, what they are really saying is “I have so much faith in my ability to get this movie made, that I am unwilling to risk A SINGLE DOLLAR of my own money on it.” Think about that, and don’t let your desperation get the better of you.

You can’t get your work in front of the right people if it’s tied up with the wrong ones.


It’s one of the weird facts of life out here. Your agent will never read any of your scripts. Yes, they will give you notes on your scripts. Yes, they will tell the studios how great your scripts are, and how each one is easily worth a million bucks. But they will never actually read one.

At best, they will read a one paragraph summary written by some underpaid wanna-be rockstar that they pulled off the street.

Weekend Box office analysis: WONDER WOMAN rules, MUMMY drools. Everything else is just garnish.


The Mummy underperformed even at the more modest expectations, pulling in only $31.6M and garnering the poorest reviews among the summer blockbusters so far.

Why: God, where to begin? The warning signs were everywhere.

The Concept – In an effort to build their own interconnected monster-based “Dark Universe,” Universal made the unwise decision of attempting to launch it with the one Universal monster that had been recently played out in their own popular Brendan Fraser film trilogy. Audiences simply were indifferent to more of the same. Also, and I keep going back to it: There are pitfalls involved in announcing your franchise before audience demand has been established. Universal made a big deal about this “Dark Universe” (the film even features a LOGO for it!) even though there is no evidence audiences will turn out for it. When you get cockily ambitious about an iffy franchise, it can tend to implode before it begins (I’m looking at you, PAN, POWER RANGERS and KING ARTHUR).

Tom Cruise – Let’s face it – outside the MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE films, Cruise is pretty consistent with his box office openings. Films centered around him tend to open in the $15-$25M range, and that’s fine, but not great. To be fair, his films containing an alien/supernatural element (WAR OF THE WORLDS, OBLIVION, EDGE OF TOMORROW) open a little bit higher, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Adding him to the mix may have added intrigue at first, but in the months leading up to the film the lack of excitement around CRUISE/MUMMY was noticeable, and audiences could tell this was not something special (he seemed to do more enthusiastic press for his lackluster JACK REACHER sequel last year…). Add in the marketing, which featured a ton of him up front, but downplayed him as they approached release date, and you had a film that wasn’t sure how much they wanted to commit to their star.

Mummies – The Brendan Fraser films opened to $43M, $68M, and $40M respectively. THE SCORPION KING opened to $36M. Are you seeing a trend here? This franchise has a $40M average opening (not counting the second film, which was highly anticipated and riding the goodwill of the popular first film and therefore is a bit of an anomaly), and that’s pretty much the range that could be expected for this one, especially considering MUMMY 3 closed on a franchise low both critically and financially and there was nothing in the years since that suggested renewed interest in the concept. Changing the gender of the mummy felt like a studio choice rather than a creative one (shades of TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES), and having your central female character a screaming banshee who is chained up and tortured for long stretches of your film was not appealing to audiences in this summer of WONDER WOMAN. Which brings us to…


As predicted, the superhero film held up well (an encouraging 43% drop) with a strong $58.5M second weekend, and positive word of mouth eclipsed any interest in MUMMY shenanigans. Diana faces some tough competition in the coming weeks (cars, minions, transformers and one friendly neighborhood spider-man will give her a run for her money), but the continued goodwill and enthusiasm for the film will carry her to a final gross that should rival or surpass those of her DC Universe counterparts to date. Universal could not have predicted the sheer amount of WW enthusiasm, but their timing couldn’t have been worse.

17% Rotten Tomatoes – If the film had been critically acclaimed, with upbeat word of mouth, we likely would have seen a $5-$10M bump in the weekend’s take. Sadly, it’s 17% RT score is a low across the board: Lower than Universal’s 2014 monster attempt DRACULA UNTOLD, lower than all but the third previous MUMMY films (and SCORPION KING), lower than any of the 2017 summer tentpoles to date (lower than even KING ARTHUR, BAYWATCH, and PIRATES) and lowest of Tom Cruise’s entire filmography if you don’t count the cult bad-movie favorite COCKTAIL. With all the other factors in play, it was never going to open HUGE, but if it had been good it would have at least had a chance to hold its own in the upcoming weeks. As it stands, it has 0% chance of making back its $125M budget domestically.

The upside: Even though the film will be lucky to finish with $70M in the US, overseas it is a smash hit and has already begun to turn a profit for the studio. The US failure would normally be the end of any future “Dark Universe” films, but the overseas success might just convince them to try once more with another property.


The weekend’s only other “major” release was this critically acclaimed indie horror flick. It’s hard to really analyze this, because at $5.9M it didn’t do well by any stretch of the imagination, and certainly doesn’t have the breakout indie horror buzz of a film like IT FOLLWS, THE WITCH or YOU’RE NEXT, but it performed in line with most expectations and should more than double its $5M budget by the end of the summer run without really being noticed.


There was one more weekend “also-ran,” featuring the true story of an American soldier and her dog. If you even knew this film came out over the weekend, you were the targeted demo, as marketing reach was low, and audience interest was minimal. Inexplicably opening in 1950+ theaters, its $3.8M gross suggests this would have been better as a VOD exclusive, or an art house release.

Prepare Your Body for Production

Shooting a movie is a very demanding and exciting culmination of months of work and preparation. It’s also gruelling, with each shooting day a minimum of 12 hours and often running longer, some productions shoot 6 days a week.  When you add travel time, many crew people barely get enough time to sleep, let alone find life balance outside of work.
Shooting a feature film is a lot like running a marathon – it’s all about pacing yourself and having the stamina to make it to the end. When getting started in the production phase of a movie, be ready for what awaits you.
  • Long hours–  Shooting a movie often leads to long, tiring hours. Be sure to eat healthy food and get enough sleep before the production begins. You’ll need as much energy as you can muster, so avoid sugary junk food from the craft services table, opting instead for solid, protein-rich meals to help carry you through your day.
  • Stress–  Be prepared for problems and stressful situations on set – equipment will break, actors will have bad days, locations will fall through, it will rain and you will go over schedule. The better organized you are in preproduction, the easier it will be to overcome problems as they arise. Remember Murphy’s Law: If something can go wrong, it will. Assume there will be problems, keep a professional, level head and rely on your crew – everyone on set has the unified goal of producing the best movie possible.
  • Keep organized– The secret to a smooth-running production is to be as organized as possible during the entire shoot. From organizing the equipment to keeping the office paperwork in order, always maintain a clean, safe work environment.
  • Be prepared – You are responsible for yourself, so be prepared with an extra pair of socks and shoes, rain gear, a flashlight, the necessary tools for your job, a first aid kit, extra sweatshirt and jacket in the even you shoot into the night, mosquito repellant, and sunscreen.
  • Do your homework – Always review the script for the next day so you know what to expect. Take some time to review the next day’s schedule, shooting requirements, and location, so you can mentally and physically pace yourself for the day’s challenges.
  • Know where you’re going – The easiest way to get fired is to be late to set. If you’re early, you’re on time.  If you’re on time, you’re late.  If you’re late, your’e fired.  Always Google map the directions to the location the night before and allow plenty of time to arrive.  It’s never good to start out the day stressed because you miscalculated your travel time.
  • Don’t drink – As tempting as it may be to join the crew for a beer after a shoot, avoid alcohol whenever possible during a shoot. You are already taxing your body, eating unhealthy foods, and falling behind on your sleep. Drinking will only dehydrate you more and make you hate life the next day.

Production is an intensive process that can take its toll on your health very quickly.  Take care of yourself so you can make the best film you can.