By Derek Ruth · February 12, 2010

Without a clear plan, writing a screenplay is a very painful undertaking.  Thankfully, Michael introduced me to The Formula which stressed the writing process and the importance of formulating a plan.  It all begins with character. You may have a great idea for a screenplay, but if your characters fall flat, the story will suffer.  The Formula provided great tools to get me thinking about how to develop believable characters with interesting personalities and real problems, then breaking down the three act structure into eight definite sequences highlighting all the major signposts along the way.

Thankfully, with a thorough plan outlined by The Formula, by the time I sat down to begin writing the script, I had a very clear idea of the beginning, middle and end of my story. I would never have been able to finish without following The Formula.  It just made everything so much more manageable.  

Of course, since all writing is rewriting, Michael did an outstanding job mentoring me with thorough feedback and analysis.  Again, he focused on character first, providing detailed notes on how to develop unique voices. He did a great job analyzing individual scenes and what needed to change, whether it was pacing, dialogue or characters’ actions.  Then he tackled the overall three act structure of the screenplay, focusing on particular sequences, and making sure the overall tone of the story was consistent.  All of his notes were specific, thoughtful, and extremely helpful.  Best of all, he stressed the positives, what was already working in the screenplay.

Overall, his excellent script notes and words of encouragement made me want to tackle that 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 15th draft.

– Andy S.


Michael’s expertise in screenwriting and script analysis goes beyond what is expected. His presentation and use of The Formula is succinct, insightful and unique. His mentoring provided industry insight while fostering and respecting my own creativity. His advice on story development in my script has enhanced not only my story, but my screenwriting skills in general. Michael is a true mentor.

– Noelle B.


Michael Schilf’s workshop on “The Formula” and experienced insight offered me a welcoming atmosphere and the open critique necessary for the development of my writing.  His evaluation and system is honest, genuine and unique.  His encouragement challenged me to become a better writer. “The Formula” offers the foundations of the creation and completion of a screenplay, from detailed character work, to outline and story concept, scene, act, and sequence structure, to the final printed page. Schilf’s high energetic style, openness in sharing his knowledge, skill, experience, and understanding of the field of screenwriting created a renewed inspiration for my writing and the storytelling process.

–Marisol T.


“The Formula” brings out the best in each project by insisting that the writer confront each aspect of the script, technical and aesthetic alike. As a mentor, Michael Schilf’s constructive and honest assessments, he helps you craft your script with detailed notes that acknowledge when the writing is good and when it needs work. Moreover, he has an uncanny ability of being able to tell what technical aspects are missing based on a story that mysteriously falls flat. Most writers know when their work seems off, but they might have difficulty pinpointing the exact things to work on. But Michael’s insightful analysis spots these problem areas and a carefully appliction of The Formula guides you through to the result you were looking for. His notes are detailed and concise; his approach is personalized, to the point, and effective. Not only will your script improve when you work with Michael and The Formula, your own skill in writing will as well. He’s a true mentor. I highly recommend working with him.

— Pam G.