THE SCREENWRITER’S LOOKBOOK

The key word in “lookbook” is “look.” For an artist (“artist” means you, writers) that means something someone may look at that conveys a sense of the film. Imagery, tone, big story moments that will be powerful on a screen — the entire purpose of a lookbook is to show someone what that movie will “look” like. What the movie will feel like. To demonstrate tone, genre, imagery, action — impressions watching the movie on a screen.

I think there is a lot of bad information about lookbooks on the internet. (Okay, I don’t think, I know. I’ve seen what’s out there.) Lots of sites telling writers to put together, essentially, a production packet. Yipes. Who is circulating this sash? It is sure getting parroted a lot. And. It. Is. Wrong

A production packet is a folder of material that talks about casts, about budgets, about locations, that outlines a story (in text, usually intended for someone who hasn’t or may never read the actual script, the money people often don’t), says something about players already attached to material if someone is attached. Or players who might attach. That hopefully contains some solid photos. But that also contains a lot of text and a lot of dry production details that are all about the “project,” not the film.

That’s not a writer’s lookbook. That’s a production packet.

When a writer puts together a lookbook for a script, the goal is to represent, in an easy to just “look” through, layout that shows someone the movie. The “film.” The visuals, the action, the exciting bits, the tone, what’s hot on the screen, what the movie will “look” like. What the movie will feel like. What someone will experience watching the movie.

Not to explain story. They can get story reading the script. Not to designate cast or budgets or projections. That’s not the creator’s job. That’s the producer’s job.

To SHOW someone the movie.

I see a lot of lookbook attempts. Writers I’m working with on scripts often send a lookbook along with. Most of them are not good. It’s not the writer’s fault. There’s a lot of bad information on the internet about what a “lookbook” is supposed to be. Or a pitch deck. Or whatever they are calling it today in hot buzz word jargon.

Whatever they call it, it’s definitely not what a lookbook representing a script coming from an artist representing the film is supposed to be.

A lookbook I got recently was 20 plus pages, mostly text, and it was page 18 before I saw any hot photos that looked like the film. And they were small. Three photos all crowded onto one page together.

That’s not right.

Don’t make someone slog through 18 pages of prose text and thumbnails to even get to an image that looks like the movie.

Sometimes I try to explain what’s going off about a lookbook I get but that is rarely as effective as showing someone. (Irony, doing exactly what I’m telling someone the “look” book is supposed to do.) That’s what I did this last time. I put together a mock lookbook to show the writer what a lookbook is supposed to do: “show” someone the movie:

 

 

Did you click it? Crazy person. Click it!

Okay.

That’s a short mock up design for a lookbook for Despina Moraitou’s feature fantasy script The Kiss of the Gorgon. It’s a hot script. It’s got beautiful fantasy imagery and action and big high points. It would be a kick ass film on a screen.

Does the mock lookbook tell you the story?

No. It doesn’t have to. The script will do that.

Does it show you what the movie will look like, will feel like, what’s big and beautiful about it, does it give you a sense of the tone and feel and look and what someone will experience watching the film on a screen?

Fuck yes.

That’s how you show someone the movie.

Stop putting together production packets. That’s not your job.

You are an artist. You are world building. Show someone that world.


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Ratings and Reviews

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What's your experience? We'd love to know!
Michele Koop
Posted 8 months ago
So glad I took this lab!

If you want to learn how to make a cinematic lookbook to promote your script and help it get read by the industry by helping them to see’ the movie, sign up for this lab. Not only does the lab cover the elements of a cinematic lookbook, with valuable tips, including where to find the best images, but Max demonstrates how to create one in real time. Invaluable.

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Maegan Langer
Posted 10 months ago
How to create a polished look book to get your script read

Creating a look book for your script doesn't have to be intimidating - it's fun! Max's lab breaks down the elements of a successful look book: what it needs, where to find it, and how to put it all together in a way that conveys the tone and spirit of your film and will make people want to read your script. It's also a great way to organize images and ideas to inspire you, the screenwriter.

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Diana Hunt
Posted 10 months ago
Learned a ton about presenting story in Max's lookbook lab!

The lab was fantastic! Learned about different platforms and new sources for art and presentations. Attending the lab will certainly help my rewrite, since creating the lookbook requires you to focus on key points/major conflicts/tone and genre. Thank you Max!

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Mike
Posted 10 months ago
A great learning pathway to a valuable tool

This lab brought me from no understanding of look books and how they are put together, to a solid foundation and skill. What should be there. Where to find it. How to get a template that works. How to assemble the look book. The final checklist. I feel confident I can put a look book together -- a very professional one.

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Mary Albanese
Posted 10 months ago
A visual treat to Lookbook creation

I had taken a different lookbook course a few years ago, but my content wasn't standing out. I needed a new approach. Max's visual eye shows you what a great lookbook should look like. Arresting image is EVERYTHING, and it was a real delight to watch Max create one right before our eyes and walk us through the process. Thanks, Max!

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