Max Adams

Max Adams

Independent Contractor, Baby

Screenwriter in Austin, Texas

About Max

Max Adams is a screenwriter, author, mentor, and teacher. Recipient early in her career of an Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting, an Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Award, and an America’s Best Screenwriting Award, Max was dubbed “Red Hot Adams” by Daily Variety for selling three pitches over a Christmas holiday. Max’s produced feature films include Excess Baggage, The Ladykillers, One For the Money and she recently appeared in Tony Tarantino’s Underbelly Blues. She has worked on concepts and pitches with industry luminaries including pitch king Bob Kosberg, producers Robert Evans (The Godfather), Gale Anne Hurd (The Terminator), David Valdes (The Green Mile) and Wendy Finerman (Forest Gump, The Devil Wears Prada). She is the author of The New Screenwriter’s Survival Guide, is a former WGA online mentor, is the founder of two international online screenwriting workshops and the founder of The Academy of Film Writing. Her students and workshoppers have been featured on The Black List, have won three Academy Nicholl Fellowships, two Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Awards, a Stage 32 Happy Writers win, and most recently a Tracking Board 2015 Launch Pad Feature Award. Many of Max’s students are working professionally in the industry today.

Please have a bio if you request a connection here. You don't have to be Spielberg, but you do have to be more than a blank page.

Name: Max Adams

Lives in: Austin, Texas

Company: Independent Contractor, Baby

Occupation: Screenwriter

Unique traits: She who dies with the most shoes wins.


  • Debris & Detritus

    Debris & Detritus (2017)
    Print by Story Spring Publishing, edited by Patricia Burroughs Author, Contributor "Debris and Detritus," the lesser-known Greek gods running amok.... These words launched over a dozen alternate realities and histories, invaded existing universes, and even inspired a book or two with Debris and Detritus running amok through every world they touch. With nothing else to go on, writers from various genres created deities that might or might not actually be Greek, might or might not be of any particular gender, might or might not be of this Earth but they always wreak havoc in ways that range from darkly horrific to brightly comedic. Join in the fun, but be forewarned about reading at night. Some of these compulsively readable tales will give you nightmares, while others will have you startling the parakeet by hooting with laughter. Debris & Detritus Unpredictable, Unbelievable, Un-put-down-able

  • One For The Money

    One For The Money (2012)
    Film by Tri-Star Pictures/Lakeshore Entertainment/Kimmel Entertainment/Julie Anne Robinson Writer One For the Money is a feature adapted from the Janet Evanovich novel of the same name about Stephanie Plum, an out of work out of cash New Jersey lingerie sales rep who blackmails her bail bondsman cousin into giving her a job as a bounty hunter. First assignment? The guy who took her virginity in high school and didn't call back. [Get him, Stephanie!] The final film starred Katherine Heigl. There are so many stories behind this project... let's just say I worked on it and didn't fight for a screen credit on this one.

  • The New Screenwriter's Survival Guide

    The New Screenwriter's Survival Guide (2012)
    Print by The AFW Author The New Screenwriter's Survival Guide is the updated new edition of the original Screenwriter's Survival Guide: No one had ever won the world's two hottest amateur screenwriting awards, The Nicholl Fellowship from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and the Austin Film Festival screenwriting award, in a single week. No one else had ever sold three pitches back to back over the Christmas weekend. And almost no one else had ever made her first sale as a complete unknown from outside California and gone on to get it produced starring the then hottest young actress in Hollywood. People just don't do that. But Max Adams did. From guerrilla meeting tactics to finding (and firing) your agent, from maintaining "voice" to pitching and getting paid, the screenwriter crowned "red hot" by Variety who has been there, done that, and lived to talk about it tells you how to sell and get your screenplay made. And, more importantly, stay alive and successful for a long time afterward. "This is an accessible, smart, funny, insightful book that I would and will recommend to all scribes who come my way." ~ Richard Walter, UCLA Screenwriting Chairman "Before you even think of marketing your script, read this book and change your screenwriting life." ~ David Trottier, Author, The Screenwriter"s Bible "If you want to understand how Hollywood works, this is the book to read." ~ Greg Beal, Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting "Every writer should have Max Adams' advice in their arsenal." ~ Jeanne Veillette Bowerman, Editor, Script Magazine

  • Underbelly Blues

    Underbelly Blues (2011)
    Film by Sugar Factory/Tarantino Productions/Phil Messerer (Comedy, Crime and Film-Noir) Cameo Underbelly Blues is a noirish black comedy about underworld denizens of Los Angeles who by hook, crook, or accident or betrayal, come into possession of a case containing a whole lot of cash. It's a fun piece conceptualized by Phil Messerer and Seamus Read staring a number of Los Angeles comics who created their own roles within the story parameters. I didn't create my own character. I got a call saying, We need a hot blonde in short shorts, can you do it? I did my best as Rowena Ruttcliff, pissed off suburban blonde in shorts and heels sharp enough to cause a car accident. Woohoo!

  • The Ladykillers

    The Ladykillers (2004)
    Film by Touchstone Pictures/Hollywood Pictures/Jacobson Company/Joel & Ethan Coen Writer The Ladykillers is a black comedy about an elderly Southern woman who innocently rents out a room to a crime gang and then accidentally kills them off (when they are not killing each other fighting about who should kill her) one by one and ends up with all their loot. It's based on the 1955 Ealing Studios Oscar winning film penned by Billy Rose starring Alec Guinness. I was the original adapter on the filme, going up against the Coen Brothers (directors/producers) in arbitration. Guess who won that baby? Oops. I did convince everyone they were insane for trying to steal credit from Billy Rose though so at least he stayed in the credits. Yay!

  • The Screenwriter's Survival Guide

    The Screenwriter's Survival Guide (2001)
    Print by Warner Books Author Are you looking for one of the secret decoder rings owned by all successful screenwriters? Or at least a map with a spot marked X? Sit down with Max Adams. She'll tell you all about the writer's place in Hollywood. Adams courteously assumes that you can already write or that you can at least get your hands on one of the zillions of books about writing techniques. She concentrates on what you really want to know. For example: The screenwriter's uniform is (and this is unisex): jeans, high top sneakers, a plain T-shirt, and a loose casual jacket.... And the sneakers are always frighteningly clean, as in "they may be sneakers, but by gum, they glow like they just came out of the box." Guys? No ties. No suits. I'm not kidding. If you wear a suit and tie to a meeting, people will mock you. Girls? No dresses. Actresses wear dresses. Screenwriters wear sneakers and jeans. Her authority is unmistakable. After scooping up the prizes at a number of prestigious screenwriting contests, like the Nicholl Fellowship and the Austin Heart of Film Festival, Adams launched her Hollywood career with a big spec script sale (Excess Baggage). The Screenwriter's Survival Guide delivers 64 pithy chapters, such as "Don't Write Batman" and "What You Really Get Paid." Other topics include pitching, the etiquette of "getting read," and the care and feeding of agents. Adams also provides lists of screenwriters' directories and organizations, a generic release form, format examples for cover pages and query letters, and other useful resources. The book shines with Adams's streetwise attitude. She shares her worst Hollywood memories--the cold calls to producers, the credit arbitrations, and the meetings, meetings, meetings--as well as her victories. Do successful screenwriters ever stop feeling insecure? Check with Adams: "Every time I turn something in, I have this feeling of doom, like, Well, that's it, my career's over now." Max Adams has the inside story and she tells all. -- Blaise Selby

  • Excess Baggage

    Excess Baggage (1997)
    Film by Columbi Pictures/Marco Brambilla Story by, Written by Excess Baggage is a dark romantic comedy about a young woman raised by the family enforcer who stages her own kidnapping to get at her very wealthy father, only to end up stuck in the trunk of her own car when it's stolen by a hapless car thief with no idea what he's in for when he opens that trunk. It stars Alicia Silverstone. The original spec won the 1994 Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Award. The script was purchased by Columbia Pictures and the resulting film went through a few different writers and came out -- an ugly baby, but still my baby. [I can't believe Columbia doesn't have a link up for it, I am hating on IMDB right now and don't want to put up their link - let's put up Wikipedia instead.]

  • Plan 10 From Outer Space

    Plan 10 From Outer Space (1994)
    Film by Leo Films/Trent Harris Lights, Wardrobe, Star Comforter, Duct Tape Supervisor, Girl Wonder This is a whacky fun scifi musical feature directed and written by Trent Harris about the enraged return of an an alien woman who made the mistake on Earth of marrying a Mormon leader. It stars Karen Black. I showed on the project because someone at the film department at U or U where I was a college student called and said, "Max, this film in town needs more women on the set." I said, "Is there pay? I'm kind of busy." They said, "Yes, just go." There really wasn't, but I stuck around because Karen demanded they cut me a deal memo and it was a fun project. Also Mr. Butts The Dog in his space helmet is incredibly cute. Also Trent's mom made a mean lasagna and someone was going to die on set if no one taped those cables down. Do not miss Mr. Butts in his rocket pack:


  • College of Fine Arts Distinguished Alumni Award, Film, University of Utah

  • Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting

  • Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Award

  • America's Best Screenwriting Award


  • University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)

  • Orange Coast College (Costa Mesa, CA)

Desert Island Movies

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