Ray Brown (Story Sense)
Michael Ray Brown,
a top Hollywood script doctor and the founder of Story Sense, has
more than 30 years experience helping writers create successful screenplays.
A story analyst for seven major studios, Michael contributed to the development
of such films as Lethal Weapon, Braveheart, Red Corner,
Contact, Harts War, and many
more. Since leaving MGM in 1999, Michael has been much in demand as
a script consultant to writers and producers. A working screenwriter, he
has written more than 50 hours of prime-time television, including seven
Michael has lectured on screenwriting at Screenwriting
Expo, Sherwood Oaks Experimental
College, and the Hollywood Scriptwriting
Institute. Recruited as a contributing editor to the Independent
Feature Project/west newsletter, he wrote a series of articles on film
financing and distribution. He is a member of Story Analysts, Local 700S,
Alliance; Film Independent (FIND);
and the Production Executives peer group of the Academy
of Television Arts and Sciences.
magazine, in their March/April 2003 review
of script analysts, rated Michael Highly Recommended and their
#1 Best Buy. Brown writes intelligently and coherently, his
command of language helping to illuminate his command of craft.
Nancy Hendrickson (For her complete review, click here.)
A comprehensive evaluation of your script starts with its theme, and how
successfully that theme has been expressed in conflict and action. Michael
discusses your storys uniqueness, consistency of tone, depth of characterization,
quality of dialogue, structure, pacing, production values, castability,
marketability, and other qualities. Format errors are flagged, as well.
(For a sample analysis, click here.)
Michael understands the kernel of truth that lies at the heart of every
story, even those which are imperfectly rendered on the page. Believing
that a consultant should be a collaborator, not just a critic, he guides
the writer, proposing alternate scenarios for developing this truth into
a tale that resonates emotionally. He brainstorms with his clients, stimulating
them to create their best work.
Having run a story department and worked in development at most of the
major studios, Michael knows what producers and studio executives look for
in a script. When he consults with writers, hes able to inform them
what it will take for their script to survive coverage.
The Story Sense website
has several interviews with Michael, a checklist of what a good script should
have, and samples of all his services. It also has a complete guide
to screenplay formatting.
Development Notes - $495
A seven-page (minimum) evaluation of your screenplay, with detailed, bullet-point
suggestions for improvements. Line and scene notes are written on your screenplay.
Includes an hour-long personal consultation.
Oral Consultation - $215
A one-hour discussion by telephone or in person, exploring various
ways your screenplay or treatment can be improved. Its recorded and
sent to you on a CD.
Studio-style Coverage - $165
A cover sheet with a rating grid and a log line, followed by a one-page
synopsis and a half- to three-quarters-page comment on your script, written
as a studio reader might see it.
Selling Synopsis - $180
A brief synopsis promoting your screenplay, focusing on its most salable
qualities. It tells only enough to tantalize the reader, enticing them to
read your script.
WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Some script doctors try to shoehorn your story into a one-size-fits-all
paradigm. When you read their analysis, it's as if they've gone through
the script with a checklist, and reported whether it fits a certain formula.
This can lead to a cookie-cutter screenplay devoid of freshness.
Michaels approach is more flexible. Every story has its own unique
dynamics. What he does is identify the scripts theme, analyze how
well each story element serves that theme, and then show the writer how
to express it more dramatically. His clients usually come away amazed by
his insights and excited by the possibilities. Here are some of their comments:
Occasionally a script just stumps you. After 12 years of writing
professionally, this was my first experiment in turning to a consultant
and I wish I had tried it sooner. Getting a take from someone who doesnt
know you or your work, someone who will read the script without preconceptions,
just as any producer would, is invaluable. When you work on a script for
months, you can write yourself into a box and it takes the eye of an outsider
to help you break out of the box. Your feedback was most helpful in that
respect. I have, in fact, incorporated many of your suggestions.
Kat Smith, screenwriter
Your consultation was instrumental in my contest successes. I even
attended the Worldfest Houston, where my script won first place in the family
division. Erna Mueller, novelist and screenwriter
From the first e-mail to our final consultation, Michael provided
clear and intelligent input. He was a great help in getting me over the
rough spots in my story. All this, and he does it with great talent and
humor. Katherine M. Francis, screenwriter
I highly recommend the services of Michael Ray Brown of Story Sense.
If you need someone to help you develop your script, hes the guy.
His background is unbelievable, and yet he takes such pride and heart in
helping writers. After talking with him, I couldnt wait to start rewriting.
Before you show your work to anyone, contact him first! Phyliss
Esposito, playwright and screenwriter
Michaels Development Notes have proven invaluable as I head
toward a rewrite. His insights and guidance showed me blind spots and deficiencies
which I was having trouble seeing. More importantly, Michael offered constructive
and creative solutions which would work organically within the context of
my story. Its a good feeling to know someone of Michaels caliber
and savvy is available to help me develop my voice and craft.
Jay Caldwell, private art dealer and screenwriter
Technique of Screen & Television Writing by Eugene Vale, Prentice-Hall
1982. The absolute best book on structure for the movies, covering every
possible mistake a screenwriter can make.
Hunter's Screenwriting 434 by Lew Hunter, Perigee 1995. A practical
and inspiring guide by the former chair of U.C.L.A.'s screenwriting department.
Guide to Writing Great Screenplays for Film and TV by Dona Cooper,
IDG Books Worldwide 1994. A unique and refreshingly flexible examination
of films as roller coasters.
Creative Screenwriting (creativescreenwriting.com).
Voted best screenwriting publication by screenwritersutopia.com,
here you can read incisive comments on the scripts of current movies and
interviews with their writers.
The Writer's Store (writersstore.com).
The specialty source for screenwriting books and software, with a low-price
guarantee and free shipping on Web orders.
Hollywood Network (hollywoodnet.com).
A serious, heavily trafficked stomping ground for showbiz professionals
of all disciplines.
Screenwriting Expo (screenwritingexpo.com).
This not-to-be-missed annual event features workshops, a pitch fest, and
lectures by noted Industry insiders, including Michael Ray Brown. One of
Michaels most popular classes from the Expo, A Structure Checklist,
is now available
P.O. Box 3757
Santa Monica, CA 90408-3757
Tel.: (310) 394-0994
Fax: (866) 629-0199