Last Chance for Regular 2015 Moondance Entries & Tips On Writing for Actors!






For your best chance to win, send in your entry early!


See our submission categories HERE!

Read our submission guidelines HERE!

Entry Form HERE!

Moondance now also accepts scripts for judging in these languages:


Our foreign-language readers are award-winning screenwriters!

Withoutabox for Moondance International Film Festival is now fully active for this season’s call for entries:



Contact Elizabeth at for more info.

Moondance International Film Festival dates:

September 7th & 8th,, 2015

Boulder, Colorado USA

Check out the website for more info:






 “In 2013 my stageplay ‘Stitched Up’ was awarded a finalist placing in the Moondance International Film Festival 2013, and now that play is going to be staged at the Christchurch Centre of Performing Arts from October 1st – Oct. 10th. Auditions are being held now and the booking office for my play is already open!!

I am so excited, Elizabeth, and I want to thank you and Moondance so much for believing in my work and giving me the confidence and support to push it out there to a wider audience. To finally hear actors speaking my lines….there are no words for that.

Once again, many, many thanks to you and Moondance – it’s the Moondance name and the significant prestige that it carries with the name that has got me this far. Be assured Moondance will be given all the recognition and fanfare it deserves when my play steps from the curtains and takes centre place of stage.” ~ Celine Gibson, North Otago (the headquarters of Steam Punk), New Zealand


“We have finished our film The World Is My Country!  We are having a WRAP PARTY weekend at our beach house in Playa La Mision in Baja California, Mexico, only an hour’s drive south of San Diego.” ~ Arthur Kanegis, director, producer, Moondance award-winning screenwriter for the script to this film

“This film is a must see for anyone who believes in personal freedom” Rowland Perkins, Founding President, Creative Artists Agency

“Elegant and delicious storytelling!   A riveting heroic tale with resonance for our time:  a troubled war veteran using his thespian skills in a nonviolent battle to save his soul, the planet, and all humanity.” — Mimi Kennedy, actor in “Midnight in Paris,” “Dharma & Greg,” Erin Brockovich

“I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen … wow! … inspiring & entertaining, the direction & production values are very good & it has fine editing. At the end of the film I just had to rush online to order my own World Passport.  This film can inspire us all to join together to build a better world.”  —Elizabeth English, Founder, Moondance International Film Festival

Our successful crowd-funding campaign raised $42,000 from 149 donors – enabling to further improve and finish the film.   Now we are seeking further funds for our film festival run and to line up a distributor so we can bring this important story to a wide audience. Check out to see few short clips, & to catch the vision.


The film “10 Days in a Madhouse” will have its world debut at Cannes. I play police officer Tom Bockert. It is the story of Nellie Bly, an investigative journalist who feigns mental illness so she can get inside Blackwell Island insane asylum for women and record the abuses. I escort her to her sanity trial and then the nut house! ~ Mark Lysgaard, 2012 Moondance winning screenwriter




“An actor, entering the room through a door…you’ve got nothing. An actor, entering the same room through a window…now you’ve got a situation!” ~ Billy Wilder

You should always write your scripts for the actors! The actors, directors and the audiences will appreciate it. Give them action, give them crises and conflicts to deal with, give your lead roles the best dialog and actions, write visually, giving them interesting and memorable things to do. Make each actor’s role and character distinctive, and have them react and relate to each other in the way that particular character would do, in that situation. Give each lead and secondary actor a specific personality and back-story. And show it; don’t just tell it! Actors and directors despise exposition and explanations in dialog. Have them act it out, in real time or in flash-backs.

Get briefly into the actor’s character, situation, personality, circumstances, needs, problems, fears, preferences, style, past, demeanor, and so on, and why he or she is in this role, in this story…and do it early in the first scene in which the actor appears. A good actor, such as Anthony Hopkins, Meryl Streep, or Dustin Hoffman, can create (and become) this unique character in a flash, sometimes with just a glance, an accent, a grimace, a smile, body language, or a slight twitch.

Keep the physical description of the actor simple, though. You may want to have a character be in his late sixties, for example, and tall, thin, elegant, neatly bearded, wearing a designer tuxedo, speaks with a British accent, and having blue eyes and handsome. This limits whom the director can select for that role. Maybe you were thinking of the late Peter O’Toole for the role? But perhaps Tom Cruise, Samuel Jackson or Bill Murray (or even Julia Roberts or Linda Hunt!) have expressed great interest in the role!

Create unique, but relatable, situations for your actors.

If writing a comedy, like a Western, you might have an actor, instead of riding his or her horse up to the saloon and tying it up at the ol’ hitchin’ post, have him or her ride the horse right through the swinging doors of the saloon and up to the bar!

In a drama, what if the character, male or female, walks alone and sadly along a boardwalk by the ocean, but is wearing a wedding dress, and it’s raining cats and dogs?

How about this: it’s a thriller, and the character fearfully walks down the stairs of a dark and gloomy old mansion, and as he or she passes the ancient family portraits, each one speaks to him or her with a dire warning, but the character just laughs, and goes out into the brilliant sunshine of the beautiful spring garden.

In a character-driven film story, again, show, don’t tell. Let’s say a character is severely depressed, and maybe even suicidal; He or she paces the floor, and then looks into an old, ornate mirror, and the mirror (symbolically) cracks!

Make your characters unique! A child is in the scene, but in a wheelchair, and is playing with his toy airplane, swooping it in the air and making airplane engine sounds. A blind teenage girl is having a tea-party with her dolls, or an obese and homeless old woman is wistfully listening to a twirling-bride music box at the Salvation Army store. A young black boy plays jazz on an out-of-tune upright piano that’s been abandoned on the sidewalk in a slum area. A ragged and dirty homeless person planting flowers in the park where she sleeps.

Are you writing a script for a documentary film? (Yes, doc films always need a script!) Limit “talking-heads” to an absolute minimum, or, preferably, none at all. Script mostly voice-overs while showing whatever the person is talking about. Audiences relate to and remember more of what they see, not as much as what they hear spoken.

Writing for an animation film? The lead character, an altruistic green dolphin, sees a rowboat capsize in the stormy seas, and silently enlists other dolphins, sea turtles and a Mermaid to help save the floundering person from drowning.

Writing for the stage? What if it’s the 1890’s, the character is a playwright, too, and sits typing away at a big black typewriter in an old Victorian mansion? As he writes, he speaks the lines and different characters walk into the scene & act out the role, but, frustrated, the writer then rips the paper out of the typewriter, balls it up and tosses it onto the floor, while the character disappears from the stage.

Writing a story for radio, comedy or drama? Make sure each character speaks distinctly from the others, sighs, laughs, interrupts, slurs, has an accent, groans, hesitates, clears his or her throat, is sarcastic or sweet, or whatever…since radio is an audio play, and the listener must visualize each character.

Writing a short script for a music video? Don’t just show the band playing and singing, and with the audience reactions. Even close-ups and odd camera angles can get boring. Tell an interesting and visual story that works with the band’s style and lyrics!

But don’t tell the actor how to play his or her role (in parentheses below the character’s name) in the script. That’s the job of the actor and the director. 

Each of these visual, cinematic scenarios show the audience who the character is, and without a single word of dialog or exposition. As the late, great director, Billy Wilder, states, above, create interesting situations for your actors!

 “Being a writer is a strenuous marriage between careful observation and just as carefully imagining the truths you haven’t yet had the opportunity to observe. The rest is the necessary, strict toiling with the language; for me this means writing and rewriting the sentences until they sound as spontaneous as good conversation.” ~ John Irving, intro to “Trying to Save Piggy Sneed”

ezine box



“For anyone who has never attended a Moondance–it’s very special! Small town style, with top-of-the-line people both running the event and there to provide guidance, teach classes and hear pitches, coach novices and seasoned screenwriters into production. Elizabeth Engllish did a session on TITLES! How a Title can make or break a script, and we workshopped titles until something that works happened! It’s more casual with more interaction with great people–I’ve had breakfast, lunch and dinner and “socialized” with dozens of the best in script coaches, trainers, teachers, producers, directors, agents, and all facets of the FILM BIZ, but all the while having a wonderful, relaxing time in a country setting. I have volunteered to help out a few times, and thoroughly enjoyed the feedback on my scripts and the entire event. ~ Vera Holman



Three Planets

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, one discovers that it is attached to the whole world.” ~ John Muir



“While you are dreaming of the future, or worrying about it, or regretting the past, the present, which is all you have, may slip away from you and then it is gone.” ~ Hilaire Belloc


“The Ridge” video,

“The Ridge” video,

“The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done at all.” ~ Arnold Palmer


“Life is nothing less than telling stories. We are hard-wired to communicate. Hard-wired to listen, participate, exchange ideas, and entertain. When we stop telling new, fresh, stories…we cease to engage in the “mix”. Our lives become smaller…Hyperbole? Hell yes. But sometimes only hyperbole suffices to speak the truth… breathe, be alive and keep telling stories.” ~ Duncan Payne, screenwriter/ & lawyer,


Dominique Browning photo

Dominique Browning photo

“People do not seem to care how nobly they live, only how long, despite the fact that it is within their reach to live nobly, but within no-one’s reach to live long.” ~ Seneca


Mahatma Gandhi's glasses

Mahatma Gandhi’s glasses

“Silence becomes cowardice when the occasion demands speaking out the whole truth, and acting accordingly.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi



Please forward this news-blog to your creative artist colleagues!





No trees or natural habitats were harmed

in the creation of this news-blog!

wavesonly copy