About Amanda Jane Starr

Writer/Producer - Screen & Theatre; Author/Novelist; Photographer

BC Stack is Back!

There are deals and specials being thrown at us right and left, looking for our engagement and hoping to draw us in to further sales. But that, of course, is how business operates. What if you could make a small investment of time and money for a return that could potentially continue over a number of years? Check out the 2017 BC Stack – especially if you’re a writer or blogger – this deal is mind-blowing! Be quick – ends 26 July.


This is what Dan Morris (head honcho) has to say about this year’s stack:

BC STACK is not just ebooks, it’s lots of things like:
30 minute 1-on-1 session with the Jairek Robbins team
30 minute 1-on-1 session with Author Vernon Ross
$35 Gift Certificate to a PLR Store
Get your logo (or other image) animated
BrainstormTools.com for free for 6 months
Get your blog reviewed
Get your podcast edited
Get ready made marketing plans

. . . and that’s just 8 of the 65 products in this year’s BC Stack.

Want to grow your podcast?

See what your podcast sounds like when you get it professionally edited by Natasha Rivera.
Let Ani Alexander teach you how to accelerate the success of your Podcast.
And Kirsten Oliphant is going to teach you how to create a podcast course,
not to mention courses on WordPress, blogging, traffic and tech skills to drive traffic to your show and show notes pages.

Plus get a 30 minute 1-on-1 session with Vernon Ross to learn how to perfect your “voice” and that’s just 5 of the 65 products in this year’s BC Stack.

Feeling Overwhelmed?

We’re going to give you access to a live Hashtag Library so you can stop spending time searching.We’re going to teach you how to use Camtasia so you can make videos for your FAQ’s and stop answering so many emails.

We’re going to teach you how to use Camtasia so you can make videos for your FAQ’s and stop answering so many emails.
We’re going to give you Jessica Turner’s book “Stretched Too Thin” to help you manage overwhelm.

Tawyna Sutherland, leader of the largest VA training company in the world, is going to teach you how outsource the stuff you don’t like to a VA.

Do you love fascinating mindset and leadership insights?

Neal Shaffer teaches corporations all over the world how to influence, he’s going to share that with you.
Let Ann Smarty teach you how to make things go viral.
Kelly McCausey’s momentum intensive is going to teach you how to focus and get clarity without making you feel badly about yourself, but instead make you feel great about yourself.
Jessica Turner teaches moms how to overcome overwhelm and get serious about their business.
Ricky Shetty and Scot Paton travel the world as digital nomads and teach you the secrets.

Plus get a 30 minute 1-on-1 session with Tony Robbin’s son, Jairek Robbins, to clarify your success  – and that’s just 6 of the 65 products in this year’s BC Stack.


Get access to your stack here:




Sing Your Song


There are a number of things I’ve learned in my few decades on this big blue planet. Aside from the important things, like the benefits of making friends with the local baristas, that Sydney traffic is insane and dogs are the most incredible source of unconditional love, I am learning the significance of my voice.

It doesn’t matter what field or sector is your arena – you bring a unique (yes, that word again) vision and perspective. All of your life experience gives you a take on the world that no one else possesses, even if they’ve had a similar upbringing and training to your own. And not one person knows it all. No matter how shiny and brilliant your particular mentor or inspiration may seem, they are flawed and limited, just as we all are. And that, my friends, is fantastic.

It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I agree. It boosts your confidence to know that someone sees what you do or how you do something as worth emulating. It can inspire you to keep your own bar high and cause you to aim higher. Or, it can lull you into believing that you can just ‘maintain’ your level and that will be enough. But if you’re not constantly seeking to move forward, then a maintenance mentality is effectively a backwards slide into mediocrity.

I’ve learned that the pursuit of excellence can’t be just a slogan or tagline but needs to become a reality if I’m ever to explore the potential that resides within me. Success and fulfilment do not arrive with imitation.

What do we do? Learn to sing your own song. When I look at those who inspire me – no matter what arena – I see a common thread. These people know the value of their voice and follow the courage of their convictions. They’re not constantly looking at everyone else and trying to copy them. They focus on where they’re going and how to get there, taking note of and applying only what is useful. Of course, there are conventions and boundaries which are good to keep, because these benefit others overall. And while we follow our passion firstly for ourselves – we’re good at something, we enjoy it or we see results – ultimately what we do affects others.

We don’t all travel the same path. Some will follow the more traditional route, while others will carve their own trail to reach their potential. It all depends on what works for you. A good example is the art of filmmaking. Some will graduate from film school with diplomas and degrees, others will learn by picking up a camera and just making films. And yet both can produce something that not only makes the screen but also impacts audiences.

And remember, not everyone will like your voice or what you’re singing. There will be critics, those who are jealous or those who just don’t ‘get you’. No problem. Not everyone likes jazz music either. There would never be diversity if we relied on only what was popular.

So, sing your song. You don’t know who you’re influencing or who is listening. Your voice might just be the one someone needs to hear.


Closer to Home

Remember the glamour and wonder of old Hollywood? When the personal lives of the silver screen stars were a mystery and the glitz and glitter seemed a world away from our mundane lounge room existence.

Now, we are treated to celebrities and their lives – in glossy detail – on social media platforms, websites and newsfeeds, whether we’re looking for it or not. This generation of entertainment consumers seems to aspire to the dizzying heights of fame and followers, rather than being inspired by talent and character. Although there are plenty of artists in all areas of the entertainment industry who offer both in bucketloads.

So what makes those celebrities so popular whose main claim to fame is, well, being famous? Are we so destitute of our own dreams and purpose that we begin to live vicariously through these people who seem to ‘have it all’? Or is it that the fear of failure halts us in our tracks before we even begin to try?

No matter our position in life, perceived or otherwise, those dreams we harbour deep in our souls are the keys to our fulfilled lives – not just existence. While I am seen to work in the creative industries, I believe that we all operate in a level of creativity no matter in what field or profession we are employed.

So take a look closer to home. What are your passions? Where do you excel? Make your life count by pursuing those things that make your heart beat faster, stir your energy and put a smile on your face. You will find meaning and purpose in your own life and in the lives around you, and look less to the shooting stars of fame whose light glimmers for a moment until the next one comes along. And the people who matter will cheer you on.

Invest in yourself. You’re the only one we have.



Pilar Alessandra – Sydney Screenwriting Seminar

In February 2014, I had the pleasure and privilege of organising and enjoying LA-based screenwriting instructor Pilar Alessandra’s Screenwriting Intensive One Day Seminar – one event in Sydney and one in Melbourne. Pilar was kind enough to give some of her time to an interview with fantastically talented actor, presenter and writer, Kristy Best.

Head on over to Vimeo to check it out. And remember to visit Pilar’s website, http://onthepage.tv for great screenwriting tips, podcasts and courses.

Romancing the Story


Their eyes lock across the crowded room. Inexplicably, they are drawn to each other by some invisible force, a magnetism that no wall of humans can inhibit. Entranced by each other’s company, the bond steadily grows, developing until it blossoms into a ceremony of public declaration of love. A writer meets the one, the story that opens up the mysterious catchment of creativity, dwelling deep in the soul which means that the writer and writing are now one. They are compelled to be together until death parts them.

Over the top? Maybe. But really, if we are not ‘in love’ with writing then how do we convince our audiences to read – or in the case of film, watch, our stories? If our characters aren’t evoking an emotional response in us, then where does that leave our audience? They are sitting in the dark for a couple of hours wondering what else they could have done with their money, and even more importantly, their time. More than likely, it will be: I wonder what I could have watched on VOD tonight instead? Our movies should be evoking a visceral response from the audience on some level. If not, then we have failed. We have lost the soul of our story. Could it be because even we don’t like our characters or we’re not moved by our own story?

Has formula replaced creative storytelling in an effort to secure ROI? Many would – and do – suggest that this the case. And to a point, I agree. It would seem that we have lost our way and sold out to the demands of the studios in writing scripts that are almost guaranteed success – the sequels, the prequels, and even adaptations because the story and characters are established. In that way, the movies have become like episodes of an ongoing story or series, like television or even a book series. And while that concept is not wrong, it becomes tired and jaded when it is being pumped out just a little too often.

And so now we see a resurgence of television with the emergence of binge watching, the ability to watch up to a whole season in one sitting via the Netflix or Quikflix or any other VOD company. And with that, we have seen the quality of television programs available through this method rise dramatically in excellence – House of Cards being the prime example.

And what has made these programs so successful? It’s not just accessibility or the viewers’ ability to control how much they watch at a time. These programs are great stories. The characters are engaging and we want to know more, every episode.

So it may be said, cinema has lost the plot. And yet there are some wonderful films being made by both the indie film crowd and the studios. But most of these are not original stories. It’s like we have fallen out of love with storytelling. We have become so clever in our efforts to ensure the ROI for investors (don’t get me wrong – this is important!), we have lost our love for storytelling, engaging, fun, dramatic, adventurous, edgy, storytelling.

romancingthestory1We must find our own romance with our stories, rediscovering what drew us in to this amazing craft that enables us to create worlds and characters that we can share with others. Telling stories that expose and explore human nature and teach us a little about ourselves. Of course, to do that, the writer must also be willing to bare their soul to an audience who may not share the writer’s POV. But still, the stories must be told. That is how humankind operates. We are the only species that tells stories. So why have we lost the romance of storytelling and replaced it with scripts that are more in line with an accountant’s calculations and demographic assessments than whether an audience will be moved emotionally, stimulated mentally and even inspired to change their own world.

12 Point Guide To Creating A TV Series

Great foundational screenwriting tips on creating a TV series from Jim Sarantinos on his blog, Gideon’s Way.


Gideon's Screenwriting Tips: Now You're a Screenwriter

Carole Kirschner  gives a step by step guide to creating a TV series.


This is the overall idea of the series. e.g. Lost is about a group of people stranded on an unknown island following a plane crash. After this, explain how you came up with the idea. What was the inspiration behind it? Why does it resonate so well with you? Why do you love it so much it has to be on the screen? Why are you the best person to tell the story?


Protagonist – This is the main character who’s actions and decisions drive the season arc. Describe their backstory, drive (motivation), measures of failure and success, goal, obstacles, source of conflict. Find two adjectives to describe your protagonist.

Antagonist –  The bad guy/girl. What do they want? Why do they want to thwart the protagonist?


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Pilar Alessandra in Australia

teaching 2012

Fabulous news for Australian screenwriters – aspiring or professional: Pilar Alessandra will be teaching one day seminars in Sydney and Melbourne on 15 and 16 February, 2014. This is an exciting opportunity for writers to get up close and personal with someone who knows what it takes to get your script into shape for competitions and pitching – and how to do it.

If you are struggling with the logline – let alone get the first five pages done – or can’t quite get your characters right, or your dialogue is ‘on the nose’, these seminars are perfect for you. Pilar has a wonderful teaching style to match her impeccable resume, so I can only recommend you invest in yourself and your screenwriting by signing up for your place today.

Pilar’s website has all the information you need on her background, as well as access to her podcasts – a wealth of screenwriting riches.

I have the pleasure of organising her visit, so hit the link here to the Eventbrite site for more information and secure your booking.

Meanwhile, enjoy this short video from the London Screenwriter’s Festival 2012.

Crafting the Pitch with Pilar

The Value of Real Life Heroes

CameronCroweDirector_reallifeOne of the best things about writing fiction – in whatever form, is that we create a world with its own set of rules and parameters and people who live in that world. We then put our unsuspecting characters through all sorts of dramas and impossible situations after setting them goals which they probably should never achieve. And our audiences travel on the journey with them, enduring the emotional rollercoaster, danger and heartbreak that is a part of a great story. But this is the magic of fiction. Of course, we claim to make it all up, but the truth be told – it is those people around us – friends, family, neighbours or even across the other side of this ever-decreasing globe who influence and inspire us more than we often admit. Unless we say, ‘based upon the true story of’ . . . And so it should be – these really are the best stories.

However, the current glut of remakes, reboots and comic book hero adaptations, primarily by the studios, has led our audiences to think that we filmmakers have run out of ideas and that they are only worth rehashed stories with a 21st century tag to make it contemporary. Now I enjoy a good adaptation and the likes of Marvel and DC comics stories, but it seems the studios have decided that this is what makes money. There have been many articles, speeches and conferences about the state of the industry and its outdated model of both creation and distribution in recent times, so I will keep my comments minimal. The model needs to change, it’s that simple. But the dynamic of that change may well be determined by the audiences themselves. What about the real-life heroes?

I endorse Cameron Crowe’s point. In these times, more people than ever have access to the technology that allows them to make – and star in – their own movies. And get an audience. And in some cases, a sizeable budget with which to do it all, thanks to the crowdfunding platforms. I think, well go for it. Why not? The challenge then returns to the screenwriters, directors, producers and the whole gamut of fantastically creative people dedicated to their craft to conceive, carry and deliver their stories to screen to entertain our audiences. Because despite the lack of respect that the entertainment and creative worlds might endure as ‘real jobs’, the reality remains that the arts and associated industries provide essential components to any healthy society. They bring the opportunity for the soul to soar and be expressed through both artists and audience. Our emotions are given time to be explored and touched and our hearts inspired. Even a good horror flick can give you an adrenaline rush and a chance to have a laugh at our own expense as we shriek along with our fellow audience members. Just for a little while, a bunch of strangers sit together sharing an experience that no other would ever have connected these people.

Ultimately, the arts are about connection – with ourselves, with others and with the artists. And while escapism into impossible situations and miraculous escapes seems to be quite the opposite to connection, the experience of stepping into that realm for even just a short while can change someone’s perspective and maybe give them a way to cope with whatever real-life situations they may be facing.

If this can happen with the ‘possibly-might-happen-stretching-the imagination’ type of film, how much more when we create characters and stories around real life and actual events? Now there’s real connection. Nothing gets to me more when the movie is not only well-crafted, performed and produced but it has the elements of an authentic life lived encased in the story. Sure, the details may not be completely accurate, but the essence of the story is there and each person can draw from it whatever they need. Where historical fact and detail is necessary, then be true to it but otherwise, be inspired by the real life heroes and write your own story from their experiences, adding your own flavour to journey. After all, isn’t that what story-telling is all about?

We can wax lyrical about movie-making models and distribution, but no matter how it gets to our audience, let’s give them cracking stories to engage and entertain. Society, in general, seems to have become a generation of observers. I believe that cinema and media have the power to contribute to a move to stir us to participate again.

Your Value as a Screenwriter: How Much Are You Worth?

Your Value as a Screenwriter: How Much Are You Worth? | My Blank Page.

Successful screenwriter and producer Christine Conradt guest blogs for Scriptcat on the reality and the potential of life as a screenwriter. Invaluable advice.