YES, welcome, and we’re finally feelin’ pretty good about our site’s remodeled “look”! It’s taken much time and effort. But the reason we think this was (and is) so important is because attention to detail is one of the most-significant things you can show in your screenplays… so our “look” needs to show that we too maintain great attention to detail (which means our “remodeling” will never completely end).
For now, we hope the look is good enough that you can just focus on your script-improving needs and our script-improving experience and accomplishments — those matter much more than how “pretty” this site looks, even as we continue working to make it as attractive and user-friendly as we can.
Of course we both know the details that matter most are those that will make your script’s story rock-solid, and every one of your script pages POP with emotional and thematic energy! And we definitely know how to focus you on the details that will greatly enhance your screenplay’s chances in contests and the marketplace, so your movie story can rate among the best movie stories that today’s produces are reading.
Therefore, whether you’re writer or producer, “new” or “experienced,” welcome! And “come on in” to enjoy…
- The home of the “Cream of the Crop”/top 10% script doctor/consultant in the world (Creative Screenwriting magazine survey, 2010) — and we are determined to rise higher!
- Award-winning screenwriters ourselves, and advisers to multiple winning writers in multiple contests — The Indie Fest, 168 Project, Write of Passage, Gideon Media, and more.
- A broadly educated and experienced team, with advanced communications degrees and 50-plus years of professional writing and “doctoring” experience, especially in the inspirational/uplifting/laugh-evoking/thought-provoking/heartwarming/falsehood-exposing veins.
- On writing, among the most-demanding you’ll find — yet still personally affirming, caring, and seeking the best for both your writing and personality.
- Phenomenal “big-picture” breadth, melded with tiniest-detail meticulousness, for maximum-impact screenplays.
- Carefully mixing left-brained and right-brained, logical and emotional, mind, body and spirit.
- Featuring a) the renowned Dramatica Story Expert approach; and b) the one-of-a-kind Payton Proofread(guaranteed accurate or you get discounts on our fees!).
So hang around and click around, to learn more about our experience, services, endorsements, and unique approach to helping you make sure your movie story — including its logline version, its treatment version, and its screenplay version — attracts positive attention, makes great first (and last) impressions, and gets other investors and influencers running with you and moving it toward production!
KEYS2SCRIPTSUCCESS is a dedicated group of professionals committed to help aspiring and established screenwriters and producers in the conceiving, developing and polishing of compelling-and-excellent entertainments for all visual media. Here are its principal partners:
Key F. Payton (Founder, and Director of Script Diagnostics) is ranked as being among the top 10 percent of the script consultants in the world (out of 220 who were ranked), with respondents giving Key a 4.82 rating on a 5-point scale (from Creative Screenwriting magazine’s 2010 survey of more than 900 screenwriters and their interactions with professional script consultants.)
Possessing an honors M.A. in journalism and mass communications with a spiritual emphasis, as well as post-graduate certifications in acting, directing and state-of-the-art script consulting, Key has been a top-flight writing professional for 30 years, with his award-winning work appearing in various newspapers, magazines, Internet sites and films.
A script doctor and consultant for the last 17 years (more than 1,300 projects), Key has worked for Amblin Entertainment, The Family Channel, Promenade Pictures, FilmStew.com, Act One: Training for Hollywood, Canvas House Films, World Vision, CRU, Shelter Entertainment, Kingston Place Pictures, and several other established prodcos, to high raves on every hand.
He has also been a judge for multiple screenwriting and filmmaking competitions in Hollywood, including the AAA Screenplay Competition, the Screenwriting Expo Script Contest, the 168 Project, the Write of Passage Contest, and the Carl Sautter Competition of the Scriptwriters Network.
The raves from clients rating Key for the Creative Screenwriting survey included high marks for “respecting the writer’s vision”; aiding “morale” and giving “emotional support”; helping “significantly” with the opening, second act, ending, and markets/marketability; and commenting “in great depth” on “both macro and micro aspects” of characters, dialogue, and plot.
Further, Key has led several writer-training courses and seminars for colleges, professional conferences and filmmaking competitions, and has aided several other produced writers (see the “Who Likes Us” endorsements page).
Key’s own produced works (as either writer or consultant) include the stage plays Three Wise Guys and Live! From Jerusalem, and the screenplays Terrance Is Dead, The Marriage Dance, Award-Winning, Useless, and The Party (the latter three winning more than 20 filmfest awards).
Key is consistently meticulous and thorough, favors any story that ultimately uplifts the best of the human heart and spirit, and pledges always to give clients much more quality and value than they could reasonably expect.
Brennan Smith (Principal, Writer-in-Residence, and Chief Story Diagnostician) has an M.A. in English Education. New-York born, Brennan is a professional screenwriter and script analyst who has written and collaborated on several projects since 2001, including the award-winning comic adventure The Dueling Accountant and Wittenberg (a prequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet).
Bren has also written a real-life medieval adventure, Templar; a real-life child-soldier thriller, The Acholi Rescue; and an upcoming teen dramedy for the Christian market, Send.
A graduate of Act One: Training for Hollywood’s advanced screenwriting course, Act Two, Brennan has taught screenwriting sessions at The Haven, the Damah Film Festival, and the 168 Film Project.
Bren is also a frequent analyst for Act One’s Script Critique Service, known for his detailed story notes and expansive knowledge of the best in screenwriting perspectives.
We’ve happily worked with screenwriters and producers from all over the world, at all different levels of experience. Here are comments from just a few of our satisfied clients/friends, all with produced credits and projects we’ve helped on. So, some endorsements:“Key Payton is one of the most highly gifted story/script consultants I have worked with. His abilities at analyzing story structure, character development, plot, theme, tone and style — all with a constructive eye to making a screenplay the very best it can be — are second to none. Key is also an expert on script formatting, and a master proofreader. I would not send out a project before I had Key review it. His knowledge, wisdom and experience are invaluable. — William R. Ewing, co-writer and producer, End of the Spear, etc., former Sr. VP of Columbia Pictures Production Administration
“Key Payton has long been one of my top story advisors and script readers. His meticulous attention to story details, structure, and character development makes his input invaluable. His insights have helped me make all of my scripts better. Key is always one of the first people I have read my rough drafts, and — because of his unparalleled ability as a proofreader — the last person who reads my scripts before they are sent to my agents, the studios, or the networks.” — Dean Batali, TV writer-executive producer (“That ’70s Show”; “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”; “What’s Up, Warthogs?”; et al.)
“When brainstorming and writing a screenplay in just one week, you can really develop tunnel vision. Key provided that much-needed step back, that wider perspective to point out what was missing and how to fill it. Thankfully that perspective also included a detailed understanding of the story, characters, and theme, beat by beat — and in time for us to have a great story for this speed-filmmaking competition.” — Brandon Adams, writer-director-cinematographer on Useless, Best Film of the 2011 168 Film Festival
“When I was struggling to crack the story of an historical adaptation, Key Payton proved invaluable. Through patient questioning and strategizing, Key helped me hone in on the theme of the film and the arcs of my central characters. After meeting with him, I knew I was well on my way to creating a fresh, compelling and cohesive script.” — Nancy Sawyer Schraeder, novelist and screenwriter (Rivka; Magdalena: Released from Shame; Ready or Not)
“Key is one of our top script consultants. Not only do our alumni use him, but also some of our faculty — as well as other production companies and writers. Particularly skilled at working with highly-motivated-but-still-inexperienced writers, Key is our go-to guy when particularly complicated projects come in.” — Jack Gilbert, the late director of Act One Script Consulting (and for 20 years the head of the Warner Bros. Writers Workshop)
“Absolutely fine, a great thing, very helpful! Key did a superb job and we were extremely pleased. Our sincerest thanks for his help on the script for e’Lollipop 2: Tsepo’s Story.” — André I. Pieterse, former Executive VP of MGM, now writer-producer-CEO of Ma-Afrika Films (producers of the groundbreaking South African hit, e’Lollipop: Forever Young, Forever Free, as well as When the Lion Feeds, The Word of a Gentleman, and Zoyatchka)
“Key Payton has a great understanding of story, including how to flesh out the characters so your competing values are interfaced in the most-dynamic way. He asks all the right questions, and he’s also quite savvy at punching up a script when you get to that polish stage.” — Cheryl McKay, novelist and screenwriter (The Ultimate Gift; Never the Bride)
“Faith Happens is an incredibly complex multi-plot drama, and at the script level it was a massive challenge to sort out and prioritize the stories that really needed to be told. Key Payton not only was incredibly helpful at helping me organize the storytelling, but also offered a take on the ‘big picture’ that helped me improve the ‘voice’ of the movie. He was also a joy to work with, and it doesn’t get any better than that. Thanks, Key!” — Rick Garside, writer-director-producer on Faith Happens, as well as similar credits on A Beating Heart; The Trial; Alone Yet Not Alone; et al.
“As far as screenplay proofreading, Key is one of the most thorough people I’ve ever met. He also has the keen ability to suggest fresh story solutions that stay logical while keeping perfectly in sync with the genre, tone, and style of your script.” — Amy Heidish, playwright (Say Goodbye, Toto) and screenwriter (Two Million Stupid Women)
“Key is one of the most insightful and articulate analysts Act One has ever had on board (and we’ve worked with hundreds of screenwriters). Key has the unique ability not only to recognize where each project needs development, but also to communicate to each writer his analysis — and the principles behind it — in a clear, compelling, and also affirming manner. Not only does each project get better; more important, each writer does as well. You simply could not hire a better screenplay analyst, writing coach, or small-group-workshop leader than Key Payton!” — Gary David Stratton, former executive director, Act One: Training for Hollywood, and professor of theology, Bethel University
“Key is a peach of a human being. He has that rare combination of deep understanding and concern, in conjunction with a fantastic grasp of his art. He has helped me tremendously to realize possibilities in my screenwriting efforts.” — John David Ware, founder and chairman of the annual 168 Film Project
“HUNKS was a good idea of a script, yet it very much looked like a ‘newbie’ had written it. Key gave it a professional finish so I could hand it to anyone in the industry, knowing it now read like the genuine article. And on my next project, Key was great at asking the hard dramaturgical questions that I kind of wanted to avoid… but answering them made the difference between it just being a good idea and becoming a great script!” — Jim Shores, screenwriter of HUNKS, which won Best Original Screenplay at the 2011 Gideon Media Arts Festival
Yeah, because contacting us won’t cost you a thing, and it’ll give you a quick taste of our personalized, custom-fitted approach to turning that screenplay you’ve written (or optioned) into a property to get investors calling and price-wars starting!
So basically, this form allows you to send a secure email to email@example.com. You can also securely attach screenplay files to your email.
And don’t worry, your email address will not be logged by this system, but will be attached to the message that is forwarded from this page. So please feel free to contact us, because we will not spam or cheat you!
We offer tons of professional, practical, award-winning credits and experience. Indeed, given our credits and experience, our current fees are already highly discounted. But you might be eligible for even greater discounts (up to 30%), depending on the “submission-readiness” of your project and your chosen consultant’s degree of experience. And no matter your consultant, founding expert Key Payton will have final oversight on all rendered critiques.
So once you’ve perused the following and found the script service that best suits your current needs, please go to the bottom of this page to learn how to contact us, then start a relationship with “the most committed-and-insightful script advisors ever”!
2012 SERVICES & FEE RANGES
First 10 Pages (and Logline) Evaluation: $60
This special “try-us-out” service is in every way designed to show you how extremely helpful Keys2ScriptSuccess.com can be. Of course you know you need a very strong logline (50-words-or-less summary pitch) to get people’s attention, right? And you realize that the first 10 pages of your script are its very-most-important pages, correct? Really, if you don’t “have” the readers with that logline and those 10 pages, you’re almost certain to never “get” them.
So email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll explain how to send us your logline and script’s first 10 pages and $60. Then, as quickly as possible, we put together and return our utterly thorough (and utterly at the lowest price anywhere) evaluation of that logline and enhancement review of those pages — showing you how to really “make the package pop,” and “opening your eyes” to the great value our other services could be. Try us out for really cheap!
Basic Proofread/Edit/Format Pass: $180
Getting the Payton Proofread means we will comb through every page of your script, finding and pointing out errors of (or possible issues with) grammar, punctuation, spelling, and formatting (for less than $2 per page, when the industry standard is at least $3 per page!).
We’ll fix all the “gotta-go” errors (but marking the changes so you can see them, in case you “meant that mistake”).
We’ll also offer alternatives for sentences that are too long or too difficult to follow, and suggest where and how you can replace passive voice with stronger “active-emotion” verbs.
And on formatting, our notes will include attention to 1) proper formatting of headings/slugs; 2) use of DAY, NIGHT, CONTINUOUS, LATER; 3) use of V.O. vs. O.S.; 4) consistency of headings and character names throughout your script; 5) effective ways to avoid on-the-nose dialogue; 6) proper use of parentheticals; 7) creating an appealing page with white space; 8) proper use of FLASHBACK, MONTAGE, SERIES OF SHOTS; 9) avoiding “camera terminology”; and more!
Extra Pages: For scripts over 120 pages, add $3 a page.
Quick-Response (and Affordable) Script Evaluation: $250
This two-hour phone, iChat, or Skype meeting is the closest you can get to a Hollywood story-development meeting at this price.
We give you the gut response, immediate feedback from a Hollywood perspective on what works and what doesn’t.
Then we work with you through your story’s strengths and weaknesses, brainstorming additional solutions to take your script to the next level. It’s like having a professional writing partner — only you retain all story rights, and may freely use any and all ideas developed!
Basic (But Not Really) Script Evaluation: $280 Yes, this is probably our closest service to what most other script analysts/consultants basically offer — a reading of your script, then a written summation of its current storyline/s and comments on its commerciality, general strengths and weaknesses, and a “recommend,” “consider,” or “pass” scoring.
However, our five- to six-page report will give you considerably more insight and practical help than you’ll find most anywhere else. Useful not only to serious screenwriters, but also to producers, directors, and executives who want to determine if a script is worth pursuing for consultation.
Sitcom scripts: $250
Hour-long scripts: $500
Series Bible: $230
Treatments six-15 pages: $40 a page.
Treatments 15-20 pages: $32 a page.
Treatments over 20 pages: $28 a page.
Recession-Special Script Overview (good through 2012): $400
A five- to six-page report, not focused on summarizing your story but rather on time-tested suggestions for needed additions, subtractions, or changes for a rewrite that will make the script more sellable.
This does not have the detailed analysis of the more-expensive services below, yet it gives a great guide to the rewrite, with specific suggestions for solving problems, as well as an analysis of the talent of the writer and next steps.
Script Overview: $960
Ten to 12 pages of precise and insightful notes, including an analysis of structure, story, character, and theme— plus comments on what works, what doesn’t work, and how to strengthen, tighten, and clarify the work.
Additional read, with polish notes, after rewrite: $400
Extra Pages: For scripts over 125 pages, add $4 a page.
Script Overview Plus Script Notes: $1200
Includes the above, plus written notations on the script. Script Notes includes suggestions for scenes that could be cut or condensed, dialogue that could be clearer, possible character changes, and where to insert story changes.
Additional read, with polish notes, after rewrite: $400
Script Breakdown: $2400
Includes 20-30 pages of notes, including conceptual notes, a graphic analysis of the script, and a page-by-page analysis.
Additional read, with polish notes, after rewrite: $400
Script Consultation from Early Draft into Production: $4000
This includes consultation on treatment and outlines, complete Script Breakdown service, plus top-priority status and availability through first week of production. Includes up to four additional reads, with polish notes, at no extra charge.
Extra Pages: For any scripts over 130 pages, add $4 a page.
Production Consulting: $6000
For consulting on a script through two or more drafts, then to rough cut of the film and availability in pre-production, production and post-production. Includes up to four additional reads, with polish notes, at no extra charge.
Script Integration: $1600
Sometimes producers or writers need to integrate two different drafts, choosing the best of both. But the minutia of integrating two scripts can make it difficult to see the forest for the trees. Our service includes integrative cutting and pasting — and, if necessary, restructuring to make sure the best of both scripts stays in, in an integrated way.
Script Cutting: $1200
Sometimes writers need to cut a script down to size, but have difficulty seeing what should be cut and what needs to remain. This service includes industry-savvy cuts on the script, plus annotations for any connective writing that will need to be added or rephrased.
Script Meetings: Each of the above services can also include a script meeting in Los Angeles, for $800 a day or $150/hour.
In-person or telephone consultations for $150/hour.
Adaptations: Reading Source Material: $2 per page.
Breakdown of Source Material: $2000 plus per-page charge.
Production: Attending staged reading, taking notes, one follow-up meeting: $400
Post-Production: Editing notes for a rough cut: $2000
HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR SCRIPT: First, email email@example.com to check for our availability (you can use the form on our CONTACT US page).
Once we confirm our availability (and work out whether you want us to sign an NDA or not), make sure you have all your contact information on the front page of your word-processed script document. Then email us with your script attached.
In order of preference, we most like 1) Final Draft files; 2) MovieMagic Screenwriter files; 3) Microsoft Word files; 4) PDF files; 5) CeltX files.
Once we’ve received your digital document/s, we will contact you regarding our price estimate — and further details, should you decide to go forward with us!
June 25, 2013
FOR THE SAKE OF better stories, I want to get everybody thinking about how important personal identity (or sense of self) is to all good stories — across the entire spectrum from farces to heavy dramatic thrillers!
Present in every enduring story, even if for much of the time they’re just quietly percolating off in some hidden corner, there are always clashes of two or more individuals whose identities are being threatened by one another’s worldview (and related behaviors).
Think about it: At some level, whether we realize it or not, we are all in some sense “riding on” a (more…)
March 23, 2013
AS I’VE WRITTEN elsewhere, there is a HUGE difference between mere fleeting “tales” and actual enduring “stories.”
Yet far too many writers, producers and even released films end up demonstrating a frustrating ignorance (or careless nonchalance) toward this difference — with much money and talent wasted on passing projects almost certain to be only “here today and gone tomorrow.”
Fact is, after a movie’s opening weekend and press push is past, mass audiences will always tend to toss aside or disregard any production that is only a chain-of-incidents “tale.”
The reason is, such tales have little “meat” to chew on, and little or nothing to evoke re-watching or telling friends about.
Meanwhile, “stories” offer opportunities for meaning and emotional resonance that extend far beyond (more…)
March 21, 2013
ENDURING stories (as opposed to passing tales) are always built on a problem-solving, argument-addressing, worldview-analyzing foundation that pushes storyformers to develop Grand-Argument Stories.
And what are “Grand-Argument Stories”?
Stories of contests (like those below and a few hundred other “classics”) involving “well-worldviewed characters engaged in active problem-solving, where the focused-on problem/inequity
February 5, 2013
WANNA KNOW a crucial key to designing great stories? Here it is:
In your current story, what is the “OVERALL-STORY PROBLEM”?
And is it complex enough — masked, multi-sided, arguable, twisty enough — that it will fully occupy the audience’s (and the characters’) attentions and energy for the story’s entire running length??
Is it an inequity that may at first appear to be easily solvable in one “act,” but actually is only sending up misleading “simple” symptoms from deep within its complex, lurking core — just awaiting naive “problem-solvers” who will quickly find themselves out of one or more of their “depths” (physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional) and in much rougher “water” than they have ever been in before???
Careful problem-building is essential
Indeed, careful problem-building is one of the most important things you can do when crafting the “big picture” of your story. (more…)
November 11, 2012
SADLY, THE DICTIONARY’S definitions for “story” begin with such dull descriptors as “a factual or fictional narrative,” “the plot of a novel, play, motion picture, or other fictional narrative work,” and “an account of fictional or factual events.”
Oh yes, some in Hollywood do settle for the above definitions of story — including many of the much-promoted screenplays that are still cycling in “turnaround,” are moving from agency to investor to agency to investor, or have been produced… to lackluster results.
However — based on audience turnouts, box-office results and audience-satisfaction surveys — far too many of this decade’s “hot” scripts (more…)
October 21, 2012
“TENTPOLES.” THAT’S WHAT all these movies were called in early 2012, back when their releasing studios were relying on — and pouring megabucks into advertising — these “coming-this-summer” films with much-vaunted casts, budgets, stunts, and CGI special effects.
Yet all these tentpoles and more, even with so many hopes, dollars, talents and expectations riding on them, pretty much went (and stayed) “saggy” from somewhere in Act Two onwards (if not sooner).
And so it has been with far too many “tentpoles” over the last 20 years. Ultimately, no matter how “big” their budgets or star “names,” far too many do not end up feeling like complete, satisfying or enduring stories. And I want (more…)