Front row kneeling left to right: Christian Gonzalez, Kathryn Reyes, Maria De Jesus Garcia, Kevin Garcia 2nd row: Eric Escobar, Kevin Ramirez, Blake Snyder, Ayah Enverga, Producer Stephanie Austin, Final Draft Outreach Director Anne Lower, Camino Instructor Peter Cook, Francisco Calderon 3rd row: Gustavo Garcia, Edwin Cordero, JesseJoseph, Dustin Kim.

I spoke to a group of high school seniors this week, including the students of Peter Cook’s screenwriting class at Camino Nuevo, a charter school here in Los Angeles.

This event came about because Final Draft’s Anne Lower has been working closely with Peter and even arranged to donate Final Draft software to the class of budding screenwriters, and because Peter’s class has also read Save the Cat!

In addition we were joined in the auditorium by Stephanie Austin, a supporter of the school and producer of Fool’s Gold, Behind Enemy Lines, and Terminator 2, and who later was with us to hear some movie pitches from the students that blew us all away!

I almost didn’t make it through my talk because I was so touched by how I was introduced. Two students who had read Save that Cat! and were writing screenplays told the assembly what the book has meant to them. I was so proud of these young people, and so impressed with their optimisitic outlook and attitude; it’s clear this award winning school, supported by both public and private financing, has had a huge impact on their lives.

What an amazingly positive atmosphere they have at Camino Nuevo. The facility itself has a sense of calm and purpose I have not felt at any school, and can only be chalked up to a genuine feeling of love. Just a brief tour by Peter before my talk made me realize what a unique island of learning this is. Peter is one of several teachers I had the pleasure to meet and all share the same sensibility to make their school the best.

My mind was blown further when after my talk Anne, Peter, Stephanie, and I heard movie pitches from the class. Each would begin with “Here is my logline” and proceed to tell a clear, compelling, and imaginative story — each better than the last. My new best friends Jesse, who introduced me, along with his buddy, Francisco, are the kind of gentlemen and scholars I see succeeding big time! But that goes for the whole class. These are high school students! But their movie ideas were out of this world great.

We have donated Save the Cat! software to this class, and I hope that the next step is for them to work out their stories, write them, and send them to me! I want to see how they all turn out! And I look forward to returning to the school many times in the future.

My deep gratitude to Peter Cook and Anne Lower for arranging this great event. And thanks to the students and teachers of Camino Nuevo for making us feel so welcome. You guys rock!!

P.S. If you’re taking a lot of meetings (or you want to), our friend Stephanie Palmer has just published a book that I think you will find extremely useful.

Stephanie was MGM’s Director of Creative Affairs and her book, Good in a Room: How To Sell Yourself and Your Ideas and Win Over Any Audience, is in stores now. The book explains the pitching techniques used in the room by successful writers and directors and how you can apply them to sell spec scripts, set up TV shows, land directing assignments, and secure financing for independent films. I recommend it highly!

To read an excerpt or learn more, please visit