John’s professional critiquing services started as a result of the encouragement he got from writer/producer Ken Rotcop who he was working for at the time. John answered his mail, returned phone messages, read scripts, set up meetings and workshops, directed showcases, et cetera. When John read the script submissions, he wrote “coverage.” Ken was impressed enough with John’s analytical skills to introduce him to agents, who referred screenwriters with promising talent and ideas that had not been sufficiently developed. And it grew from there. But, John had a huge background in the performing arts field that led up to this path.
John started as a professional actor. Between engagements, he studied acting in professional workshops and at universities. He graduated from California State University, Long Beach summa cum laude with a B.A. in acting and directing. While at CSULB, he had the great honor to study with one of the finest acting teachers in the country, Libby Appel. From her, John learned how to go deeply into character behavior. Also, he studied with Michael Finlayson, and crossed paths with Patrick Stewart and Ben Kingsley. They were on sabbatical from the Royal Shakespeare Company, and although John had already spent two years acting in a Shakespeare company, from them he learned the secrets of bringing Shakespeare to life for contemporary audiences. John continues to encourage writers to take acting classes so they can understand the process of embodying their characters.
After Long Beach State, John was whisked away for a three-year fellowship to Cornell University, where he worked toward a master of fine arts degree in directing. At Cornell, he happened to be in all the same classes with Jimmy Smits. Even then, it was universally acknowledged that Jimmy had a special gift, and it was a pleasure working with him as both an actor and a director. He also directed Jane Lynch in Moliere’s “The Imaginary Invalid. Jane was a first-year M.F.A. candidate at the time and already a brilliant comedic actor!
In 1987, John started writing screenplays. The acting background gave him the facility to develop characters and write effective dialogue. His directing background enabled him to see the larger picture, the scope, structure, and through-line of a story, as well as tone and thematic development. His life experience of working in almost every type of service employment available gave him stories for a lifetime of writing.
Then John became the associate to Ken Rotcop, who had produced many Hollywood features and TV movies. He had been a writer in the film industry for 35 years and won the Writers’ Guild award for best script. He had also been head of the creative department for three different studios. He is the author of the best-selling book, “The Perfect Pitch.” He tutored John on how to write screenplays that sell, and all of John’s acting and directing experience gave him the ability to analyze dramatic writing with a fine eye and ear.
In the March/April 2003 issue of Creative Screenwriting (vol.10; #2), John’s deeply closeted script analysis service was outed when he was rated the # 1 analyst in the country. Overnight, he was flooded with work. What an astounding experience! Instead of screwing up his courage to call producers, they were calling him! And there is nothing better for learning the craft of screenwriting than to analyze lots and lots of scripts and explore ways of fixing the distractions. John started getting the reputation as a great script doctor.
As a result, he not only became a script consultant in high demand, but he has also taken numerous options (deals) on many of his own spec screenplays. He is told frequently that his scripts are easy reads and he attributes that to the writing style that he has developed, which he shares with his clients, as well as his stories. Even if producers turn down one of his scripts, they frequently ask for other scripts that he has written. He has been through many development (rewriting with producer) processes. Taking assignments and doing rewrites have been exciting creative measures of his craft. Currently, he has two scripts in preproduction.
Sharing his knowledge with others as a lecturer on campuses, in writers’ workshops, festivals, seminars, and screenwriters’ expos, as well as in private consulting, is always a great pleasure for him. There’s room for anyone who wants to work hard to become a professional screenwriter, and John wants to help those who are willing to do the work to get their stories on the market. His greatest joy is watching someone he has assisted become a professional screenwriter.
Although John lives by the ocean in Redondo Beach CA., he has clients around the world that have proven that one does not need to live in Los Angeles to be a professional screenwriter. Whether you live in Los Angeles, New York, Florida, Texas, Europe, Asia, or anywhere else, John can work successfully with you. He looks forward to reading your script.