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Been There, Done That

To the right of this notice, I've attempted to list credits that some may consider of some consequence, though it dawns on me that I haven't made my name famous,which could be considered a shortcoming in Hollywood circles. Frankly, I never gave it much thought. My goal, from the time I could hold a pencil, was to make my way in this world as a writer. Many moons later, when I learned that, according to some encyclopedia or other, only 10,000 people actually earn their living solely by writing, I was at last impressed with myself. I was one of 'em! Spraining my arm with all the back-patting and self-congratulations going on, I didn't bother reminding myself that a lot of those years were spent writing radio and TV commercials in which I touted the many wonders of Buddy's Steak House and Irving's Tire Headquarters. Never mind. I was writing. It wasn't actually until I started this website that folks began to say, "Hey, just who are you, anyway? How come we never heard of you?" "Don't feel badly," I tell them. "After all, my own mother sent me a Christmas card on which she misspelled my name. My first name. And I'm an only child."

If it matters a twit or a twiddle, I started writing for the Houston Citizen News when I was a teenager and became the teen correspondent for the now defunct Houston Post. From there, writing simply became a habit. I was named American's Most Promising Young Poet in a year I'm not about to divulge, I was Managing Editor of a tiny Midwest newspaper (a job for which I had no training and even less ability - or interest), and then I began to write educational and training films. Happily, I'd finally found my niche. I started with Centron Productions, an independent educational film company in Lawrence, Kansas. That experience led me to write for Encyclopedia Britannica's educational film division which, indirectly, led me to begin writing screenplays. At one point, I even wrote and produced six cable TV series, all at once.

Before I made the awesome leap to feature films, I was offered participation in a grant at the University of Missouri-Columbia as campus filmmaker. Actually, it was because of those educational films for Centron that the offer was made. While there, I wrote, produced, and directed films for the many foreign physicians studying advanced medical techniques at their outstanding research center. I also had the privilege of writing their School of Nursing texts and exams, as well as their teaching films. It was just a hop away to Arizona where the State Department asked me to come and write, direct, and produce a promotional film on the State of Arizona, which I did. Another inch or so on the map and I'd be in California, but that never dawned on me. Not then anyway.

Life circumstances, having nothing to do with career, shoved me to San Diego where I worked for Golden Broadcasting. Before long I was in Los Angeles. I'd had twelve years of educational film writing and producing, and a documentary or two along the way, but what in the world would I do in Hollywood? I mosied over to CBS and Lo! The little darlings hired me on the spot. I ended up in the script department - and welcome to THAT world!

I take it that if anyone is interested in anything, it'd be along about here they'd get curious. So, look to the right and see if there's anything there that is the least bit impressive. If you find it, tell my mom, will you? (That's Esther, with an "h," Momma.) Esther Luttrell


Tools of the ScreenWriting Trade
Textbook by Esther Luttrell
Esther, her workshops, her book.
Your Script Professionally Edited
by Esther Luttrell
Screen Writers News
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Whatcha Been Doin', Esther?

(Credit List under this article)

By the time I made it to Hollywood, the studio "golden era" had long since passed. Still, it's been a most amazing experience and I treasure it. If I'd had a clue the people I had long admired were just folks with feet of clay, I would have worked up my nerve to join them earlier in my life.

As an MGM studio employee, I worked for some of the best and most prolific writers and producers on the scene. When the Vice President of TV hired me, I acted as a script advisor since he wasn't fond of reading scripts and left it to me. In Comedy Development, I realized, after all these years of being paid as a writer myself, that I learned more from hearing what was said about writers behind their back than what was said to me in story conferences.

While I was working for the Vice President of Television, I wrote and sold my first original screenplay to Dick Clark Cinema Productions. He formed a company with Sterling Silliphant to produce my little picture. It went from being a feature film to a TV movie. By this time, I was working in Comedy Development at the studio. Next I went to work for Stanley Greenberg, who was my hero. Some time before I met him, he had written and produced "The Missiles of October," the finest TV show ever made--in my humble opinion. I learned valuable lessons from that harsh taskmaster who would not tolerate even one script error.

While working at MGM I continued freelancing, and wrote "An Evening with Charlie Chaplin," "Murder on the Oneida," "Final Approach", "Bojangles," and "The Second Wave," all of which ended up in development and in turn-arounds and all kind of things. I've worked on a Barbra Streisand film plus several episodic TV shows, and I was Production Coordinator on "CHiPs." I've been teaching screenwriting on the University of Missouri campus for the past three semesters, and more recently produced, and co-wrote, a feature film, "Lithium Springs" for Florida's Ocean Entertainment Group. the world premiere is scheduled for April 14, 2005. Early in 2004, I sold a screenplay, "Malice in the First Degree," a feature with a $20 million dollar budget, scheduled to go into pre-production in the near future. Knowing how these things go, I'm not holding my breath.

For three years, I was a freelance reader/consultant for Dick Clark while working for MGM. I've had the great pleasure of being hired by major production companies to advise them on what will or won't make a viable film.

When my young son, Dean, an aspiring screenwriter, died in 1994, I made the decision to help other writers--to do for them what I wish I had done for him. So, I stopped actively looking for writing assignments an began giving workshops around the country, and editing scripts for others. Having said that, here are a few projects I've recently undertaken:

"Murder in the Movies", author of this, my first novel; Port Town Publishing; released April 1, 2005.

"By Grace and Love"; feature film writer; underwritten by the Gifted Learning Foundation, 2005.

"Malice in the First Degree", Feature film writer; Puerto Rico & Hollywood Film Enterprises; 2004.

"Lithium Springs", Producer, co-writer, Ocean Entertainment, Carter Lord Executive Producer; 2004/2005 (World Premiere, Palm Beach Int'l Film Festival,April 16, 2005; Danville Film Festival, May 22,2005, San Francisco, CA; Forest Grove Int'l Film Festival, Portland, OR, June 12, 2005)

"Screen Writers Handbook", writer; current project (based on letters from aspiring screenwriters from around the world, asking every question imaginable, and my replies. A sort of Dear Abby for screenwriting hopefuls)

"Spearfinger", Writer-Director, Topeka Civic Theater play; Fall, 2003

"Blue Gardenia", Option, feature film; Blue Wave Productions; 2003

"Blue Gardenia", Twenty minute trailer; Blue Wave Productions; 2003

"Tomorrow's News", Ghost Writer, novel; 2002

"Sarah's Mountain", Option, feature film; PSO Entertainment; 2003

"Ghost Dancer", Writer, freelance assignment; TV Pilot; 2001

"Final Prophesy", Polish Writer, freelance assignment; feature film; 2000

"Colterville", Adaptation Writer for audio, from novel of the same name; Broadcast Club of America; 1999

"Ghost on the Haunted Ship", Audio Production Writer, Broadcast Club of America; 1999

"Spearfinger", Audio adaptation Writer, also talent; Broadcast Club of America; 1999

"The Shadow", Audio Adaptation Writer, live performance; Florida Dinner Theater; 1999.

"For the Love of Teddy", Audio Adaptation Writer, from a novel of the same name; 1999. The show was also performed before a live audience at the Huntington Theater, Huntington, West Virginia, 1998

"Tools of the ScreenWriting Trade", Textbook author; Oak Shadow Press;1998. 2nd Revision April 2003. Third Revision April 2005.

"The Howard Hughes Story", Writer; Stockton Briggle Productions; 1997

"The Pirate", Network Presentation Writer, from the novel, "The Pirate"; Stockton Briggle Productions; 1997

Workshops - 1995 to Present

I began conducting workshops, to honor my son Dean, the October after he died. That was in 1994. I took my ex-boss from "CHiPs" with me for the first workshop which took place in Kansas City, Missouri. After that, I often took Donald, but I also took along "The X File" Emmy-awarding producer Paul Rabwin; Anne Marie Gillen, Executive Producer "Fried Green Tomatoes", recently CEO of Morgan Freeman's production company Revelations Entertainment and now producing on her own; Jack Allen, a remarkable Vice President of Development and TV producer; Mark Schulmann, at that time the top story person at DreamWorks TV; Randy Torno, former Vice President of Production, New Republic Pictures; Randi Cushnir, who was once Vice President of Development for Tom Hanks Production Company; and Paul Mason, Senior Vice President of Viacom. A list of those workshops is on this page. If it says "independent," it means I was asked to conduct a workshop alone.

Appalachian Film Festival, Huntington, West Virginia, June 2005 & 2004 (two days; independent)

Kansas City, Missouri, Communiversity, a division of the Univ. of Missouri-Kansas City campus. Three semesters, 2004-2003.

Topeka, Kansas, Tools of the ScreenWriting Trade 6 week workshop (independent)

Charlotte, North Carolina (Mint Museum of Art, with Don Gold, two days)

Raleigh, North Carolina (Art Space, with Don Gold, Jack Allen, two days)

Denver, Colorado (Trivoli University Center, with Colorado Film Commissiioner Michael Kline, Don Gold, two days)

Jupiter, Florida (Burt Reynolds Ranch, with Don Gold, Jack Allen, three days)

Dallas, Texas (Dallas Screenwriters Association, with Don Gold, Mark Schulman, two days)

Charleston, West Virginia (West Virginia Writers Conference, independent, three days)

Providence, Rhode Island (East Coast Screenwriters Conference, with Anne Marie Gillen & Paul Mason, two days)

Orlando, Florida (KVG Studios, independent, two days)

Winter Park, Florida (Art Museum, with Don Gold, Jack Allen, Paul Rabwin & Randy Torno, two days)

Miami, Florida (Business Women's Center, with Jack Allen, Randi Cushnir, two days)

Austin, Texas (St. Edwards University, with Texas Film Commissioner, Don Gold, two days)

Kansas City, Missouri (UMKC campus: 1995-thru present; independent, one day)

Tampa, Florida (FMPTA, Tampa chapter, with Don Gold, two days)

Orlando, Florida (FMPTA State Conference, with Jack Allen, three days)

Cripple Creek, Colorado (Cripple Creek Film Festival, with Colorado Film Commisioner Michael Kline, Don Gold, Anne Marie Gillen, two days)

Colorado Springs, Colorado (Master Class. Independent, two days)

Concord, MA (independent; with Don Gold & Anne Marie Gillen, two days)

Mr. Dora, Florida (independent, one day)

Pittsburgh, PA (Pittsburgh Writers; with Don Gold, two days)

Pittsburgh, PA (Pittsburgh Writers, Master Class. Independent, two days)

Colorado Springs, Colorado (Pike's Peak Area Screenwriters, with Don Gold & Paul Rabwin, two days)

Mr. Dora, Florida (independent, six weeks)

Cocoa Beach, Florida (independent, two days)

Ocala, Florida (Brick City Square, independent, one day)

Daytona Beach, Florida (Daytona Community College, independent, one day)

Tampa, Florida (Barnes & Nobles, independent, four hour workshop)

Palm Springs, California (independent, six weeks)

Greenville, NC (Eastern University, independent. Guest lecturer)

Raleigh, NC (St. Augustine's University, independent, four hour morning workshop)

Raleigh, NC (Screenline, Raleigh Community College, independent, two days)

Columbia, Missouri (Rag Tag Cafe, independent, two days)

Topeka, Kansas (Shawnee-Osage Library, independent. Guest lecturer)

Topeka, Kansas (Thoroughbred Systems, independent, six weeks)

Raleigh, NC (Quail Ridge Books, independent, four hour workshop)

Yucca Valley, CA (Water Canyon Coffee Company, independent, six weeks)



CRYSTAL REEL AWARDS, Florida Motion Picture & TV Assoc., Excellence in (Florida) Films (Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, etc.), 2000

C.A.S.T. Project, Screenwriting Contest,Hollywood, California, 2003

Kansas City Screenwriting Contest, Kansas City, Missouri, 2003

Recipient, SPIRIT OF HUMANITY AWARD for outstanding contribution to beginning filmmakers and screenwriters, 1996