Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Give Your Screenplay the Magic Touch with Script Wizard Michael Heartsong



Want a FREE seat?
Hint: Give us a tweet!
  ~
What does it take to make a good script great? Everyone seeks that frustratingly elusive magic formula, but to put it simply: you need to have a really interesting story about really interesting people, and you've got to tell your story in a way that grabs an audience's attention and never lets go. How exactly you do that is what this workshop is all about.

During this information-packed workshop with development executive and script consultant Michael Heartsong, a.k.a. Script Wizard, you'll learn:
    • Three simple techniques to overcome writer's block
    •  The three items a script MUST exhibit in order to be attractive to Hollywood (and they aren't sex, violence, or chases)
    •  The important and vital difference between a spec script and a shooting script
    •  Script blindness 
    • What the three-act structure really is, and why it is so important 
    • 7 specific techniques guaranteed to make your screenplay much more interesting, engaging, and entertaining than it is now
    •  Proper formatting and why this is important
    •  A few ideas on finding an agent or manager
    • A few tips on getting your script sold
    • The significant ways in which a screenplay differs from a theatrical play 
This will be a highly interactive event, so bring your questions, issues, and concerns. Michael wants everyone who attends to come away with specific knowledge and insight about how to write better screenplays.
  
Saturday, September 14th
1:00pm-3:30pm
General Admission: $15 
* FREE for Junction members * 
Limited Seats Available
RSVP here:
open to members & non-members
1001 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90401
~

About Michael Heartsong:
 
 For the past 10 years, Michael Heartsong has been a Development Executive and confidential script consultant, working with writers and producers to help make scripts MUCH better than they were when he first became involved. As an independent script consultant, he has always provided his help with an unconditional satisfaction money-back guarantee. If a client honestly feels he or she has not received abundant value, Michael's commitment is that he will cheerfully refund any money that was paid. No one yet has asked for his or her money back. His skill at helping to make scripts much better has earned him the moniker of "Script Wizard" by his happy, satisfied clients. You are encouraged to visit his website at www.scriptwizard.net.
 
Michael has been involved in the film industry for 30 years, and has an extensive background in production as a Director of Photography, cameraman, grip, electrician, sound recordist, editor, production manager, and projectionist.
 
From Michael's Clients:
 
"We'd been through six drafts and knew the project simply wasn't working. But no one seemed to know what was wrong or how to fix it. Your five pages of notes broke the logjam and made everything crystal clear. Now I understand what my film is really all about, and we are moving full steam ahead on a revision. Thanks!"
"Your viewpoint and comments on our project were enormously refreshing and insightful. I've never worked with anyone who comes at scripts from the perspective you do. Besides being innovative, your approach helped my partners and me better understand the film we want to make. Before your help, we were having difficulty getting a draft of the script we all liked. Now the project really sings! I look forward to engaging your assistance on future projects."

"I've directed or produced more than 50 films. I like to think I know something about this business. But, frankly, I was stymied with our project until you came along. Your extremely insightful and penetrating comments enabled us to break out of the blockages we were in, and understand how we needed to modify characters, plot line and story points to make the script and film work the way we wanted it to. I was initially very skeptical about your ability to be of help. You've made me a believer! I look forward to working with you on future projects. Thanks again for your help."

The Junction

Monday, May 20, 2013

3 Tried and True Tips to Block Writer's Block

by Jacqueline Fauni

We picked up lots of sage advice on combating writer's block from "Write Now with Corey Mandell" on April 28th. Here are a few tips Corey shared with us that can help you silence that inner critic, tap into your happy place, and churn out those pages:

(1) Dear, Dear Journal: Why is journaling different from screenwriting or novel-writing? Your journal presents no threats of rejection or failure because it's just for you-- not your manager, agent, spouse, or acquaintances-you-don't-like-that-much-anyway who barely contain their smirks when you talk about your "writing" (their quotations, of course). If you commit to it, your journal can be a safe space you can turn to time and again when you're feeling stuck and need to rediscover the pure, unbridled joy that got you writing in the first place.

(2) Meditate: If you're still stuck, getting burnt out, or your journal just isn't a happy place at the moment, put down that pen and do something else! Try meditating, or doing something that gets you into a meditative state. Go for a walk, or take a bubble bath, or dance, or exercise, or sing, or paint, or play an instrument, or listen to music-- anything that gets you relaxed, recharged, and ready to resume the battle against the blank white page.

(3) "Triage": Desperately need to finish that script in 2 weeks? Write a $500 check to an organization that you absolutely abhor (e.g. the KKK, American Nazi Party, etc.), give it to a trusted friend (or annoying person that never fails to follow through), and tell him/her to mail it if you don't meet your deadline. Needless to say, a device as extreme as this is extremely effective, but please note this is NOT a method to be used on a regular basis. This is a temporary solution that merely fixes the symptom, not the problem, and is meant for emergencies only!

Many thanks to Corey Mandell and all the attendees for making the class such a great experience! Missed out and want to attend a future presentation? Shoot us an e-mail at info@writersjunction.com and we'll let you know when Corey's having another one.

Best of luck, and happy writing!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Rediscover the Joy of Writing with Brooke Berman!

Locating the Joy
A Weekend Workshop for Writers of All Disciplines


 Saturday, February 9th - Sunday, February 10th
1:00pm-4:00pm

$75 for each day
Package deal: $125 for the weekend
R.S.V.P. here:
http://joyofwriting.eventbrite.com
open to members & non-members
1001 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90401
~
From Brooke: 
Writers in Los Angeles face the unique challenge of writing in an "industry town." Many of us, myself included, look at Deadline, Facebook, The LA Times or New York Times before we sit down each day and actually get to work. We're writing for money or for the dream of earning more money-- and the baseline, why we started telling our stories in the first place, gets obscured. If you find yourself worrying about what's just sold rather than what you have to say-- or checking Facebook status updates instead of tuning into your characters and their idiosyncrasies-- this workshop is for you!

Spend the weekend rediscovering the joy of writing and creating multi-dimensional characters with playwright Brooke Berman. This two-day workshop is devoted to having fun while finding the authentic voice(s) of your characters and uncovering the story you most want to  
tell. Saturday's workshop will focus on the joyful writing process and Sunday's on the creation of vivid, rich characters. Both days will rely on in-class writing exercises designed to drop you back into your authentic voice and subconscious mind. Brooke has been teaching these exercises (or variations on them) since 1998, and they're drawn from her work with theater-makers Maria Irene Fornes, Anne Bogart, Deb Margolin as well as writer Natalie Goldberg and others.

Devote 2013 to your creativity!

About Brooke Berman:

Brooke Berman is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and memoirist whose work has been produced and developed at theaters including: Primary Stages, The Second Stage, Steppenwolf, The Play Company, Soho Rep, Williamstown Theater Festival, Naked Angels, MCC, WET, SPF, New Dramatists, New Georges, The Hourglass Group, The Bay Area Playwrights Foundation and the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center; and in London at The Royal Court and The National Theatre Studio. Plays include: Hunting and Gathering (Primary Stages); Smashing (The Play Company, The O'Neill); Until We Find Each Other (Steppenwolf, The O'Neill); The Triple Happiness (Second Stage), Sam and Lucy (SPF, Cleveland Playhouse), A Perfect Couple (WET), Out of the Water (Cape Cod Theater Project, ARS Nova), Casual Encounters (New Dramatists Creativity Fund) and others. Her plays are published by Broadway Play Publishing, Playscripts, Backstage Books and Smith & Kraus.

Brooke is the recipient of a Berilla Kerr Award, a Helen Merrill Award, two Francesca Primus Awards, two LeCompte du Nuoy awards and a commissioning grant from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. She recently completed a seven-year residency at New Dramatists, where she served on the Board of Directors and developed countless plays. She has received support for her work from the MacDowell Colony and the Corporation of Yaddo and commissions from Arielle Tepper Productions and CTC in Minneapolis.

Brooke's short film All Saints Day, directed by Will Frears, won Best Narrative Short at the Savannah Film Festival and played at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008. She has since written screenplays for Vox Films, Red Crown, Fugitive Films, and the Mark Gordon Company.

Her memoir No Place Like Home was published by Random House in 2010.

Testimonials:
 
"Brooke is a perfect, nurturing, inspiring and open inspiration. She is a superb teacher and a loving complex thinker."
~Erin Cressida Wilson, writer, Professor and Director of Writing for Performance, UCSB

"Brooke Berman is an exceptional teacher. She has an innate ability to generously connect to her students and help them deepen and strengthen their writing. She creates a supportive environment where writers can truly grow. I highly recommend her workshops."
~Anne Garcia-Romero, playwright and theater professor, University of Notre Dame

"A terrific artist and a compassionate & patient instructor."
~Robert LuPone, Artistic Director, MCC Theater, New York, NY

"It is not axiomatic that a fine playwright make a fine teaching of playwriting, or any other kind of writing, for that matter.  But Brooke brings the same sense of imagination, wonder and rigor to her work as a teacher as her writing so clearly manifests."
~Daniel Aukin, former Artistic Director, Soho Rep Theater

"Brooke Berman is a deeply generous and ardent teacher; her insightful attention to structure and construction along with her belief in writing-from-the-self creates an ideal learning environment for the unhindered exploration of the creative self."
~Lawrence Dial, Playwright, NYC

"Brooke is easily one of my favorite teachers, of anything, ever. When I first took her class I was completely unsure of myself, completely unsure of what I wanted, completely unsure of whether or not playwriting was something I could do. But she grounded me, showed me that writing is not so much an achievement as it is a practice--as something you grow and live with. Her classes are motivating, challenging, exciting, and inspiring. She encourages you to reach deeper, to use what you have and to open yourself up to what's ahead. Every day that I write I call on something she taught me, and I am terribly grateful to know her."
~Meghan Deans, Playwright, NYC

"Brooke Berman kicks your ass out of pure love for the craft."
~Holland Hamilton, Actress, Writer, Artist and Activist, NYC

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

NaNoWriMo Promo: 30 Days, 30% Off!



Attention Wrimos! With just one week left until NaNoWriMo, we here at The Junction support (and some of us will join you!) in your brave and ambitious undertaking of writing a 50,000-word novel in just 30 day.

For those of you who don’t know what we’re talking about:
What started in November 1999 as 21 Bay Area writers, National Novel Writing Month (affectionately, NaNoWriMo), has grown into a project that each year attracts hundreds of thousands of participants worldwide. The internet, in all its magic and glory, has enabled the communal experience of NaNoWriMo to translate on an international scale.

Still looking for a writing nook to churn out those pages? In the spirit of creativity that NaNoWriMo encourages, The Junction is offering a 30% NaNoWriMo discount on 1-month memberships during November. 30 days at 30% off. That's $209 for a 1-month membership at The Junction, regularly $299.  With this offer, there is no initiation fee and no required commitment to a 6 or 12-month membership. Let's be honest, if you are writing 50,000 words in thirty days, it helps to know someone else is subjecting themselves to the same.  So, we hope to see you all at The Junction commiserating, encouraging, and, most importantly, writing.

How do you get the discount?
1. Click here to apply for membership at The Writers Junction. 
2. Be sure to include 1-MONTH NaNoWriMo in the question that asks about your current writing projects so we know to give you the special price! 

Best of luck to all you Wrimos!

Cheers,
The Junction

Monday, October 15, 2012

Plug and Play: A 13-Step Story Idea Generator

by Jacqueline Fauni

Step 1: Pick a number from 0-2. (For example, I’ll choose the number 1...)

Step 2: Pick another number from 0-9. (... and 7...)

Step 3: Pick another number from 0-9. (... and 2...)

Step 4: Pick one last number from 0-9. (... and 8, I guess.)

Step 5: Pick a city, anywhere in the world. (How about Paris?)

Step 6: Arrange the numbers you chose in Steps 1-4, keeping them in that order, to form the digits of a year. (Okay, 1728, it is!)

Step 7: Congratulations, you’ve chosen a setting for your story! (Paris, 1728. Nice.)

Step 8: Do some preliminary research. As a starting point, find and peruse the Wikipedia article for your city (e.g. “Paris”). In its history section, you may be able to get a sense of what was going on during the era in which your story is set.

For example, here is a part in the Wikipedia article for Paris that is relevant to my story’s setting:
“During the Fronde, Parisians rose in rebellion and the royal family fled the city (1648). King Louis XIV then moved the royal court permanently to Versailles, a lavish estate on the outskirts of Paris, in 1682. A century later, Paris was the centre stage for the French Revolution, with the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 and the overthrow of the monarchy in September 1792.”
So my story is set in Paris, after the royal court was moved to Versailles, and before the French Revolution.

If your story is set in the future, you can study the history and current culture of your city, examine trends, and imagine the conditions of your city at that future date.

Step 9: Do more research! Let your curiosity lead you on a natural course to different and related links, articles, and topics. Jot down all the things that jump out at you. (Hmm, who is this King Louis XIV character? How was courtly life in Versailles, and how did it compare to common life in Paris? So who ruled France in 1728? What was the Fronde? Was that like a precursor to the French Revolution? What exactly happened during the French Revolution?)

Step 10: Take a look at your notes and map out all the events, places, facts, figures, people, conventions, ideas, etc., that have captured your interest. Circle or highlight the ones that you feel most strongly about. And feel free to “cheat” – if you find that you’re more drawn to the royal court in Versailles than Paris, or to a moment in time that is 20 or so years after the year you came up with in Step 6, then by all means, go with it! Think of this as a word association or stream of consciousness exercise, and your Step 7 setting as merely the first word or prompt that gets your juices flowing. Go ahead and branch out!

Step 11: Sift through your ideas and find the character(s) or perspective(s) that you feel compelled to portray. (Maybe a peasant girl? Or perhaps a courtesan by the name of Madame de Pompadour, chief mistress of King Louis XV?)

Step 12: Write a diary entry in your character’s voice. Do not edit or judge as you write -- just keep writing! (I woke much later than usual this afternoon, exhausted from last night’s revels. The King had been particularly insatiable... Tee hee.)

Step 13: Channel your character and read the diary entry aloud. What kind of life does your character live? What does your character care about? What might threaten that? What problems does she have to deal with? Do the building blocks of a narrative emerge?

Have fun, and happy writing!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Freewrite of the Week: Jury Duty Gets Interesting

by Jacqueline Fauni

It takes a lot of courage to speak up and stick to your guns when you’ve got a different opinion... especially when you’re stuck in a hot, stifling room with 11 angry men.


That’s precisely the predicament that Henry Fonda faces as Juror 8 in the classic courtroom drama 12 ANGRY MEN. Fonda plays a quiet, unassuming architect who manages to turn a nearly unanimous decision to convict into a “not guilty” verdict after leading his fellow jurors through a closer examination of the case. As each eyewitness testimony and piece of evidence are called into question, so is the reasoning of the jurors themselves as their true characters and moralities are brought out through the grueling process.

Subjecting your characters to a pressurized and contained environment, and truly upping the stakes to life and death (e.g. of a defendant), are sure ways of bringing out explosive dynamics and poignant moments that capture the depth and complexity of human nature.

The prompt: Write a scene in which your main character is on jury duty. How does he/she interact with the other jurors? What role does he/she play? The voice of reason? The bigot? The guy who just wants to get out in time for the game? What’s the case and how does your character relate to it?

Have fun, and happy writing!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Freewrite of the Week: Party Lines and Party Fouls

Everyday eavesdropping, ca. 1957
by Jacqueline Fauni

Still looking for a story gold mine? Try a crazy convention from a golden era!

In PILLOW TALK, arguably the best of the Hudson/Day movies, Rock and Doris demonstrated the hilarity that can ensue from an arrangement we’d probably find peculiar today, but was actually a commonplace reality in the 50s. The arrangement I’m referring to, of course, is that of the party line.

Back in the day, telephone subscribers in different households would share a line, and were consequently subjected to the pitfalls that came with sharing that line. If one co-subscriber wanted to make a call, she would have to pray that the other wasn’t tying up the line with one of his many flavors of the week. And if one co-subscriber was on the phone, the other could very easily pick up the phone and listen in on (and even participate in) their co-subscriber’s conversation. Imagine the infinite possibilities -- the frustration, the intrigue, the calamity, the comedy, the party fouls -- that resulted from such a simple device!

The prompt: Write a scene in which two of your characters have to share a party line.


Let the eavesdropping, gossip, and other delightful shenanigans commence!