Monday, May 19, 2008

Back to our regularly scheduled posting

The first draft of what ended up being a monster script for my assignment is now done, printed, and delivered. Maybe someday I'll have deep insights as to the drafting process and working with producers etc. But not today.

Naturally, I took my first free weekend in ages and used it to . . . write! Well, not the whole weekend. But Saturday afternoon was spent with the fabulous Julie Gray at her inaugural writing salon for The Script Department. As I've noted previously, if you aren't keeping up with her blog, The Rouge Wave, it's essential reading. She is a reader for several big production companies out here and knows story inside out.

Along with her writing partner, Jeff, Julie was gracious enough to welcome me and three other Rouge Wavers into her home for an afternoon of analysis and rewriting in a fun and encouraging environment. Emily, of Bamboo Killers, was there, along with Vicki -- who just optioned a script she co-wrote to a company here in town -- and Kim, who drove all the way down from the Bay Area to participate. That's dedication.

Julie plans on having more sessions in the future and I can't recommend them strongly enough to any writers here in L.A. (or outside of the area with the ability to attend). After introductions were made, we got down to the business of diagnosing one area of the story that each of us wanted to focus on improving or fixing. By way of dialogue with the other writers and Julie and Jeff themselves, we really dug deep into elements of character, story, plot, and theme. What was particularly helpful for me was not coming up with all the answers, necessarily, but making sure I was asking the right questions about my script. That and the nummy cupcakes Julie served.

Screenwriting, for all the isolation of locking yourself in a library, office, or coffeehouse with your computer to knock out pages, is ultimately a collaborative effort. If you are working professionally at any level in the industry, you will get notes. If you are lucky enough to get a company interested in your script, you will take (multiple) story meetings with development executives before the script ever has a chance at being shot. Writing salons like Julie's are great not only for helping writers develop their stories but also becoming that all-important "good in a room" and learning how to take notes and break story with the suits.

So keep reading the Rouge Wave, if you weren't already, for details on the next session. And Julie will also be teaching her class " Top 10 Things That Readers Hate" at the upcoming Great American PitchFest. The classes themselves are F-R-E-E and the PitchFest happens at the Burbank Marriott on June 20-22. Check it out if you are in town.