Black List Praises Indigenous Sci-Fi ‘Kindred’

Indigenous Australian sci-fi story Kindred impresses critics!

Great feedback continues to roll in for our Indigenous sci-fi feature-length screenplay, ‘Kindred’!

The prestigious (and notoriously hard to please) film industry website, The Black List, had this to say:

“Kindred is imaginative, action-packed, and exciting… filled to the gills with obstacles and action, never letting the stakes or danger let up for even a moment… a thrilling story in a world with an interesting mythology and plot that doesn’t stop moving.”

We’re thrilled the reader gave ‘Kindred’ a much sought after and prayed-for score of 8/10! Less than 5% of scripts on The Black List get that!

When you combine that with the great feedback we got, and the fact that producers are already requesting the script, we’re pretty pleased.

Set in the Australian Outback – and with Indigenous Australians in several lead roles – Kindred is a rollicking adventure in the vein of District 9 and Star Wars. It tells the tale of one man’s failed alien abduction and how he must work with his would-be captor to save humankind from extinction before the monsters from his past catch up with them.

Other Indigenous sci-fi has made the news recently with the exciting new series, ‘Cleverman‘ showing on the ABC in Australia and being picked up for a second season by SundanceTV in America. We’re on the lookout for interested producers and agents to help bring our sci-fi tale to life, too. If you know anyone that might be right for us, we would be super stoked if you shared this post with them. Or feel free to contact us directly 🙂

Kindred – written by Phil Parker, story by Josh Bryer


Script Writer Phil Parker Earns High Praise for KINDRED

Off the back of his multi-award winning screenplay, ‘The Third Bomb‘, screenwriter Phil Parker was hired to write ‘Kindred‘ – an action/ sci-fi story by director Josh Bryer. Set in the Australian Outback – and with Indigenous Australians in lead roles – Kindred is a rollicking adventure in the vein of District 9 and Star Wars. It tells the tale of one man’s failed alien abduction and how he must work with his would-be captor to save humankind from extinction before the monsters from his past catch up with them.

Already, high praise for Kindred is coming in from industry sources:

“(Kindred is) fantastic, adventurous, and loads of fun as it takes readers across The Outback, introduces them to uncommonly featured peoples, and manages to tell a story of grand proportions… The action and conflict were absolutely awesome… The stakes were high, the energy was great, and the fights were thrilling to read.” – reader

Indigenous Australian sci-fi has made the news recently with the exciting new series, ‘Cleverman‘ being picked up for a second season by SundanceTV. The brains behind ‘Kindred’ – Josh Bryer and Phil Parker – are also on the lookout for interested producers and agents to help bring their action/ sci-fi tale to life. Your help in spreading the word will surely be appreciated 🙂


Script writing job complete. Client thrilled!

After being selected from a short list of script writers, I was hired to turn the outline of a great story into a great script. But only pages 15 to 85! The client was to write the rest.

However, once I finished – the client was so happy with my work – we renegotiated, and I was commissioned to write the entire script.

The result?

‘Kindred’ – a feature-length, action/ sci-fi script. Kindred written by Phil Parker story by Josh BryerWritten by Phil Parker. Story by Josh Bryer

Logline: After a failed alien abduction, a headstrong Indigenous Australian must join his captor in a fight for humanity’s future, before they’re destroyed by the monsters from his past.

“Kindred is unique, fun, powerful, meaningful and kick-arse because Phil challenges your Story to be the most potent it can be. He really knows structure and how to write with economy, flair and versatility. Your script is in great hands.” – Josh Bryer (client)

Needless to say, I am also thrilled! I cannot wait to see this exciting and timely story reach the big screen one day.

I’m also looking for another great project to sink my teeth into. If you, or someone you know, is looking to hire an award-winning writer to make their story kick-arse – let me know.

Feel free to use the social-media buttons below to spread the word. 🙂

Many, many thanks!


SCRIPT WRITING: How to introduce your main character.

In screenwriting, you’ve only got the first 10 to 15 pages to make people care about your hero. Make them count! #screenwriting #amwriting #storiesbyphil #writerforhire


On a recent day off, I realized I had a problem – I had two movie vouchers that were about to expire, but a glance at my Flixster app revealed there wasn’t much on that was worth seeing. What’s a script writing cinemaphile to do? Loath to waste the vouchers, I went for the two best rated films I hadn’t seen yet. Their ratings weren’t high, but I figured, hey, sometimes everybody else is wrong and I’m right, right?

Well, kiss my grits! Everybody else was right.


character intro - low ratingsThere was plenty wrong with both films, but I’m not here to bash the blood, sweat and tears of fellow filmmakers. Instead, I want to muse in general on a critical part of screenwriting that I think could have been done better.  To that end, I will talk about the beginning.

The first 10 minutes of a screenplay (and thus a film) is the most critical part of the whole enchilada. This is where the everyday life of a hero is revealed. This is their world. The writer is inviting the audience in to have a look around… and to give a shit. To care. To get emotionally invested in the hero before their world is turned upside down by events in the film.character intro - first 10 minutes

Have you ever walked into/ turned on a movie more than 10 or 15 minutes into it? Bet you felt lost, huh? Of course you did. I bet you didn’t really end up caring that much about the hero, even if there were specials effects and boobs.

What about walking OUT of/ turning off a movie after 10 or 15 minutes? Ever done that? Bet you did it for the same reason: you just didn’t care about the hero.

character intro - inciting incidentUsually around that point in a film is when the crapola hits the fan. Something big happens to the hero and they end up spending the rest of the film trying to make things hunky-dory again. If the writer hasn’t done their job properly – or if you missed the first 10 or 15 minutes of the film – you won’t really care. Oh, you might care on some kind of primal level (gee, I hope that baby doesn’t die) but you won’t understand the beating heart of the story that was setup (or was supposed to have been setup) in those vital first minutes/ pages.

Screenplays and films that do succeed in making you care by that point are the ones you can watch over and over again. The ones that win awards and people talk about many years later.

This terrific video by Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) reveals how Pixar does it:


Listed below are a few examples of what some great movies/ tv shows did to introduce their heroes. Maybe it’ll give you an idea of some of the things a writer needs to do to capture the hearts of their audience.

Breaking Bad – Walter is left out in the desert in his broken down caravan dressed in his underwear. We see how he’s passionate about his job and loves his wife and handicapped son. That’s when he gets hit with the news he has cancer. By then we like him, so WE CARE.

Gladiator – Maximus is liked by his soldiers for being a skilled general who cares about and inspires them. He is liked by the emperor’s daughter and makes the emperor’s son jealous. He misses his family and keeps wooden carvings of their likeness. Then he’s betrayed and must flee for his life. WE CARE.character intro - classic movie 2

Casablanca – Rick is the owner of the hottest café in town. People want to know him. Women want to sleep with him. He says he “sticks his neck out for no one”, but he has a warm relationship with his black piano player and helps a young couple desperate for money to win at his casino. Then the old girlfriend who dumped him walks into the bar. WE CARE.

Rocky – He’s a blue-collar everyman, struggling to get by. He gets his face bashed in boxing for nickels, but he loves it and he’s pretty good at it. He collects debts to pay his own bills but doesn’t like being the bad guy. He has a crush on nerdy girl at the local pet store and he loves dogs and turtles. He’s such an underdog, that when the world champ gives him a shot, WE CARE.

The Godfather – Vito Corleone holds a lavish party for his daughter’s wedding. He is feared and respected by all who seek his favors. He holds loyalty above all else and rewards those who show him the same. His love for his family and his status in life makes us (God help us) CARE. Oh, and he likes his cat. So he can’t be all bad, right? (*choking on fur ball)

character intro - classic movFor some in-depth tips on how to create great characters like these, I recommend having a look at Michael Hauge’s book “Writing Screenplays that Sell”. You can read it online here:

After reading the examples I’ve given above, the techniques in Chapter 3 – Character Development – will make more sense. They’ll definitely get you excited about making your own characters come alive.

SCRIPT WRITING: Is your hero too perfect?


I’ve seen The Martian twice now. The first time I really liked it. Gave it a 8.5/10

The second time, I liked it, but not as much. Gave it a 7.5/10

And now, looking into the future I’m wondering… will this be one of those films I watch again and again?

This is coming from a guy who has watched other films, like Aliens, probably 15 times over the years and will watch it once a year till the end of time.

Both films have smart heroes doing smart things trying to survive and outwit something that is trying to kill them. They’re ultimately survival stories, primal in their universal appeal to an audience. But The Martian is not grabbing me the way Aliens did. Why is that?


What made The Martian a lot of fun the first time – besides the great VFX and cinematography – was watching a really smart guy figure out really smart ways storiesbyphil on martians 1to outsmart death. It was like watching an interplanetary episode of CSI, except in this show the investigator dies if he doesn’t solve the puzzle. It was definitely a cinematic version of ‘competence porn’.

But I liked it less the second time because the hero’s struggle lacked an emotional component beyond just that need for survival. Once I knew how he solved all of his problems, I lost a bit of interest. He didn’t seem to have a flaw that would prevent him from reaching his goal and thus increase the drama and the emotional stakes  He was almost too good at everything.

aliens sci fi screenwriting 2With Aliens, despite knowing every second of the film, I keep coming back to it because it makes me feel something extra. Why? Because I admire Ripley’s courage and heart. She has to overcome her instinct for self-preservation and go out on a limb to help others. Mark Watley, the hero of The Martian, is courageous in the face of death but he mainly just cares about his own survival. He’s alone, so that’s fair enough. But we’re never given a real chance to connect with who this guy is on the inside.

The humans back on Earth care about him, but does that mean I’m supposed to see humanity as the hero? Because they care about something other than themselves? The old US Marines’ credo of “no man gets left behind”? Yeah, ok, that made me care about him too. It did make me feel like, “I AM that guy! Come save me!” But ‘humanity’ is such a large (and ironically) impersonal concept to cast as your hero. I need something smaller, more identifiable and emotional to help me connect with a protagonist.

In Tom Hanks’ movie Castaway – another survival story – at least the hero has his anthropomorphized volleyball ‘Wilson’ to care about (though I never felt the need towilson screenwriting storiesbyphil watch that movie again). Same goes for Cruise in MI5: Rogue Nation: he didn’t have an inner flaw but he had people close to him – the girl and Simon Pegg – to care about, so we cared about him.


The fact that Matt Damon’s character in The Martian didn’t have a flaw didn’t bother me the first time. The film put me in his shoes. I cared because I WAS him, struggling to survive out there all alone. I just liked it less the second time BECAUSE he didn’t have a flaw and I knew all of his smarty pants tricks. I wouldn’t bother watching a CSI episode twice for the same reason.

martians sci fi screenwriting 3In the end though, is it relevant to talk about the effect a movie has on you the second time? Shouldn’t initial reactions be enough? If you enjoyed it, you enjoyed it, right? Well, I have Aliens on Blu-Ray. I will probably get MI5, too. I doubt I will get The Martian.

Hey, I still enjoyed it. But I kinda wish I’d only seen it once. And yet I’m happy the filmmakers got me to buy two tickets. They deserve every penny.

AUTHOR’S NOTE – if you enjoyed this article, or if you disagree with it, feel free to leave a comment and join the discussion. Please use the social media buttons below to share the article with your friends. Cheers!

Donald Trump’s popularity: Is it so shocking?

storiesbyphil POSTER politicsMaureen Dowd is a great writer and a biting satirist for the New York Times, and today her article about the popularity of Donald Trump was particularly good:  However, this time, I think she failed to dig deep enough, and maybe it’s because the extra navel-gazing it would require on the part of many people would make ’em squirm.

From all indications, the “fed up” attitude that folks in America have is not just directed at a grid-locked political system, but towards the rampant political over-correctness that permeates our culture today.  It’s a touchy subject, and possibly an older vs younger generational issue, but I think it’s a notable factor.  Trump personifies this attitude, and it’s appealing to people from the far right all the way to just left of center on the political spectrum.storiesbyphil copywriter donald trump

I would hazard a guess and say that most of the educated and open-minded people in the fat middle of that political bell curve don’t want to go back to the days of female bottom-pinching and gay jokes.  I do suspect many of the rest, though, would like the freedom to not walk on egg shells when they’re trying to just be themselves and not hurting anyone (as they see it).

How else can we explain the swath of comments Trump has made that would have storiesbyphil copywriter sell the sizzleended the career of any regular politician?  He’s venting what a lot of people are feeling.  He embodies their frustrations at many levels and gets away with avoiding most serious conversations about policy substance because he is a master salesman selling the sizzle, not the steak.  All the good, bad and ugly of Trump is wrapped up in his no-nonsense celebrity personality, a packaging that defies attempts to demonize him for any one particular ingredient.

Let’s face it, Trump is popular for a reason, even if some Americans are loath to admit it. storiesbyphil copywriter face palm
But here’s the rub.  If I were to equate the Republican presidential race to a movie plot, I’d equate it to a film where the sidekick character is so funny/ quirky/ crazy that they completely overshadow the main character. Nobody expects the court jester in a movie to defeat the villain and save the day, though.  That’s the hero’s job, the guy who has the real solutions, the person who should be elected President.

storiesbyphil copywriter court jester

Problem is, life is not a movie and politics are a popularity contest.  If everybody loves the clown, the clown wins and the people get what they deserve.

Stranger things have happened.  After all, George W. Bush was elected twice, right? And Tony Abbott was elected in Australia.  Shit, anything can happen if you ask me.


Quick Food Review: A real life Kitchen Nightmare!!

WRETCHED FOOD ALERT: Paris Seafood Cafe – La Perouse, Sydney.

“I feel like they’ve just reached into my wallet and stolen my money!”

storiesbyphil POSTER foodComing out of the bathroom at this place, I overheard the cooks angrily telling off a customer who had the temerity to complain about their food.

“Well if you don’t like the food, we’ll give you your money back. Why do you have to say this in front of our customers? There’s nothing wrong with your food. You’re an idiot. Go away! We don’t want your business.”

It was like a scene from Gordon Ramsey’s TV show ‘Kitchen Nightmares’! I went back to our table, apprehensive.

“I got a bad feeling about this place,” I told my girlfriend. She pointed at our water glasses. They were filthy. Oh, great.

So, in this outdated, uninspiring fish & chip shop we waited, and waited, fearing the worst…

…and our fears weren’t disappointed.

When the food came out, I was aghast! It was piled (and I do mean PILED) 6 inches high off the plate! You might think, “Great serving size!”

Wrong, it was awful.

20150829_144256The grilled barramundi tasted off. One side was so rock hard it looked like the seafood delivery truck had backed over it a couple of times. Underneath that piece of roadkill, was a gigantic heap of boring salad drizzled with some tasteless dressing. Buried still beneath THAT, were some french fries cooked in oil that must have been squeezed from Moses’ olives 2000 years ago! My stomach turned.

My poor girlfriend fared no better. If the overcooked garlic prawns on her plate had not already been dead, they would have drowned in the swimming pool of oil and limp spinach they sat in. We quickly left after a few bites, a horrible taste in both our mouths.

“I’d rather eat the cardboard box a Big Mac comes in than eat another bite of that sh#t.”

That was DEFINITELY the first and LAST time we go to the PARIS SEAFOOD CAFE.

Oh my, and that name!

Don’t get me started…


And in case you don’t believe me, have a look on TripAdvisor…

Quick Food Review: Kepos Street Kitchen

We found this little gem of a restaurant, Kepos Street Kitchen, through TripAdvisor while passing through Redfern (Sydney, Australia). People and tables are packed in pretty tight, but it was worth the claustrophobia. It’s light, clean and friendly.
There are lots of people on TripAdvisor who ordered the salad with the lamb cigars. The name alone is intriguing, but we went against the grain and ordered something else. Thankfully, we weren’t disappointed
kepos kitchen storiesbyphil 21. WOOD-FIRED SMOKED SALMON SALAD. Maybe the best salad I’ve ever had! With green olives, kipflers, a soft boiled egg and dukkah, it is not only HEALTHY but DELICIOUS.
2. SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICH. I’m from the South in the US, so I was skeptical they could pulls this off, but I tip my hat. It was a fusion of America and the Middle East, with a tangy coleslaw and chermoula marinade, and it was DELICIOUS, too. A bit greasy compared to my girlfriend’s healthy salad, but worth an extra trip to the gym.
The place gets very busy, even during the week (we went on a Thur), so get there early, or late. Parking on the residential streets behind the restaurant is free and relatively gettable, i.e. you don’t need to catch a bus there. You also don’t need to steal your grandmother’s silverware to pay for a meal. By Sydney standards, it was reasonable, considering the quality. Two meals (no drinks) for $36.

A Warning to New Screenwriters by Billy Ray

Brilliant bits of wisdom for new screenwriters from Billy Ray, screenwriter of Captain Phillips and The Hunger Games. This is an excerpt from his speech to the winners of the 2012 Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting.

“The only variable you will ever have any control over is your willingness to work hard.”