Screenwriters’ Workshop Newsletter for August 9, 2020

Gene Tsao (center, in cherry red T-shirt) with others from the Sunday Script Group in 2017

Don’t Miss Gene Tsao’s 2nd Sunday Script Reading Tonight
Tonight’s 2nd Sunday Script Reading will be of an episode of his made for TV script for Europol: Urban Operations, Season 1, Episode 8, “Sicily.” The series is about a happily married mother of two who leads a group of young paramilitary agents to catch spies, corrupt ministers, terrorism financiers, and leaders of organized crime all over the EU. Join us for an action-packed evening.

Congratulations to Our “For Love or Money” Short Script Contest Winners
With the pandemic afoot, it has taken the board awhile to announce the winners of the “For Love or Money” Short Script Contest. After all, the prize was a public reading of the script at a theater, and nobody wants a bonus prize of COVID-19. Rather than wait around, the group decided to offer the winners an online reading with hired actors but kick in a $25 bonus, because, well, online just isn’t the same as live. Since this was our first “reverse fee contest,” all who submitted a script will receive $5 as our fee to you for your writing efforts.

(Drum roll!) The winners are (in no particular order):

  • “The Finder of Lost Things” by John Gigrich
  • “The Day the Box Arrived” by Daniel Polsfuss
  • “Albert Wants a Shirt” by Tiffa Foster
  • “The Road Home” by KT Perleberg
  • “Caveat Emptor” by Kelly Lamphear-Dash

Still Time for Our Charlie Chaplin Short Script Challenge
If you haven’t started your short script for the Charlie Chaplin Challenge, there’s still time! These scripts are due on August 15th at midnight. Please follow the rules of our contest as outlined on the website (10 page, 4 character maximum, must be a member of SWW, etc…), writing a short film with no more than ten lines of dialogue. Scripts must be received no later than midnight on August 15th, and scripts will be read and voted on online on Sunday, August 30th at 6:30 PM. Happy writing!

Stay tuned to the newsletter for details on our next short script challenge for Halloween.

New Pilot Program in Fall—The Wednesday Writing Workout

Need a little extra push to get through hump day? On Wednesday, September 23rd from 8:00-9:30 PM, Screenwriters’ Workshop will host an online workshop offering simple, fun writing exercises to keep you going and stretch your skills. Unlike a script group, you don’t have to share what you wrote, but you can discuss how it might affect your future work. Since it may involve breakout rooms, you will need to sign-up in advance. A free will offering is encouraged. 2020 McKnight Fellow in Media Arts Karen Frank will host the first session. Stay tuned for further details and sign-up.

Mini Calendar Through the End of 2020
In addition to Saturday Script Groups, Sunday Script Group, and 2nd Sunday Script Readings, see below for a list of SWW events through the end of the year:

  • Sunday, August 15th—Charlie Chaplin Challenge Deadline at midnights
  • Sunday, August 30th—Reading and voting on Charlie Chaplin short script winners, 6:30 PM
  • Wednesday, September 23rd—”Wednesday Workouts” pilot 8:00-9:30 PM
  • Friday, October 9th—Five “For Love or Money” Script winners reading online
  • Thursday, October 15th—Halloween Short Script Challenge DEADLINE
  • Saturday, October 17th—SWW Board Meeting Online, 3 :00 PM
  • October 25th—Halloween Short Script Challenge Reading, 6:30 PM
  • Week of November 16-21st—Annual Meeting, specific date dependent on speaker availability
  • December—regular events only

Except for the Saturday morning script group, all online events are available at:

Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 533 859 616:
Call in: +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Passcode: 848149

Keep working on your script. It’s the wright thing to do!


Screenwriters’ Workshop Newsletter June 7, 2020

We Knew They Were Great. This Just Confirms It!
Screenwriters’ Workshop is proud to announce that the McKnight Foundation named two writers, long-affiliated with our group, as 2020 McKnight Media Artist Fellows. David Buchanan and Karen Frank were both awarded $25,000 fellowships. David was a panelist at SWW’s annual meeting two years ago on self-producing films, and his script was read at a table reading on April 26th. Karen is SWW’s 2nd Sunday group moderator, a member of our educational programs committee, a finalist in several national contests over the years, and a previous McKnight Fellow in Screenwriting.

These awards will enable them to study, reflect, experiment, and explore over a twelve month period with support and assistance from FilmNorth and the McKnight Foundation. In addition to the cash award, the program supports its fellows by creating opportunities to meet with local and national art professionals, by organizing a year-end McKnight Retrospective featuring the fellows, by providing assistance to attend the annual Film Independent Forum in Los Angeles, and by offering special class and workshop opportunities through FilmNorth.

2nd Sunday Script Reading
Speaking of Karen Frank, the 2nd Sunday Script Reading for June will feature her script Buried. The reading will be online on Sunday, June 14, 2020 at 6:30 PM. On July 12th, the 2nd Sunday reading will feature Fernando Almeida’s psychological horror script Pumpkin’s Abyss.

To join us on Zoom go to:
Meeting ID: 533 859 616
Password: 848149
One tap mobile: +16465588656,,533859616# US (New York)
By your location: +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

Congratulations to Our Social Distancing Writers!
On May 24th our group of writers and friends met online to read four fabulous shorts. Thank you to our writers who submitted the following scripts:

  • Contaminated by Kelly Lamphear-Dash
  • Local, Long-Distance Relationship by Michael Dugan
  • The Shell by Neal Patrick Peterson
  • Twinkle, Twinkle, ABC by Tiffa Foster

Those attending voted live on their favorite script. It is a testament to the quality of the shorts that all the entrants were within points of one another. In the end, Neal Peterson was the winner with his lovely short script “The Shell” about two phobic people who would never have met one another if it weren’t for social distancing.

Take Some Time for Yourself. Try Our Next Shorts Contest—“The Charlie Chaplin Challenge”
Yes, the world sucks right now, but you can channel your frustrations into your screenwriting. We’re waiting for the theaters to open, so we can have a staged reading for the finalists of our “For Love or Money Reverse Fee Shorts Contest.” Stay tuned on that! In the meantime, try our next, online mini-contest: “The Charlie Chaplin Challenge.”

Because screenwriting is a visual medium, it is important to convey as much of your story as possible through image. For this challenge, you will be asked to write a short script following the guidelines, eligibility requirements, and procedures for our regular short script contest (10 page, 4 character maximum, must be a member of SWW, etc…), but instead of a theme, entrants should write a film with no more than ten lines of dialogue. It does not have to be a silent film, however. Other sounds are allowed. Sign language is allowed as long as it is used for its visual beauty and not translated into subtitles.

Scripts must be received no later than midnight on August 15th, and scripts will be read and voted on online on Sunday, August 30th at 6:30 PM (see Zoom link below). The winner will receive bragging rights and an amazing SWWag T-Shirt. Guests are welcome to participate in the reading and voting. Email your entries in .pdf format to

Seminar on Screenplay Editing Tips
On June 28th at 6:30 PM SWW board member Ed Leschke will host a one hour seminar on screenplay editing tips that will improve your script’s readability and keep your reader’s focus on your story. This workshop is NOT about formatting, but tips that will make your script look more professional and polished for contest and production company readers. See the Zoom link below.

Quarterly Board and Committee Meetings
Our SWW Board and Committee Meeting will be Saturday, July 18th at 3:00 PM. All members are welcome to participate. See Zoom link below.

Mini-Calendar of Events
Until further notice, with the exception of Saturday Script Group, all SWW events will be online on Zoom at:

Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 533 859 616
Password: 848149
One tap mobile: +16465588656,,533859616# US (New York)
By your location: +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

Saturday Script Group—Online weekly. See the website for more information
Sunday Script Group—Online the first and third Sundays of each month (June 7th, June 21st, July 19th, Aug. 2nd, Aug. 16th, etc…)
NOTE: There will be no Sunday Script Group on July 5th.
Sunday, June 14th at 6:30 PM—2nd Sunday Reading of Karen Frank’s script Buried
Sunday, June 28th at 6:30 PM—Presentation on Copyright for Screenwriters (see above)
Sunday, July 12th at 6:30 PM—2nd Sunday Reading of Fernando Almeida’s script Pumpkin’s Abyss
August 15th at Midnight—Charlie Chaplin Challenge mini-contest due (see above)
August 30th at 6:30—Online reading and voting on the Charlie Chaplin Challenge scripts

And remember… When the going gets tough, write it down!


Social Distancing Script Contest Reading TONIGHT at 6:30 PM

Social Distancing Short Script Contest and Online Reading

Join Us Tonight, Sunday, May 24, 2020 at 6:30 PM

Join us and our four talented writers for a script reading of shorts submitted for our mini-contest on the theme of social distancing. Vote for your favorite script and help its writer win the coveted SWWag T-shirt!

Topic: Social Distancing Script Reading & Contest

Time: May 24, 2020 06:30 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 826 9085 8114

Password: 967763

One tap mobile:

+16465588656,,82690858114# US (New York)

Dial by your location:

+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)


Screenwriters Workshop Newsletter March 30, 2020

Screenwriting Through the Shelter-In-Place
There is a lot of turmoil in the world right now.  Whether it’s dealing with a job loss, furlough, loss of income, or just loss of toilet paper.  We all have our stressors.  We all feel isolated right now.  Writing is a way to deal with that.  It helps us process our fears and keep us focused on our dreams.  To help you in this time, Screenwriters’ Workshop has put together some online resources:

Goal-Setting During the Confinement
Set your goals by clicking on this link.  Screenwriters Workshop will send you periodic reminders of your goal, so you don’t get off track during what might be a productive time.  If you want, you can request an accountability partner through this link who might help keep you on track.

Social Distancing Script Contest and Online Reading
If you write a short script (10 pages or less, 4 characters or less with limited locations) on a theme related to the COVID-19 response (e.g. social distancing, home confinement, working with kids around, relationships growing together or apart, loneliness, etc…) send it to no later than April 17th at midnight.  We will assign you a time for an online reading of your script and have online voting for our favorite.  Winner(s) will receive an SWW t-shirt.  It’s like a script group, but online, informal, and with a prize!

Script Groups Are Now Online
Saturday and Sunday Script Groups, as well as 2nd Sunday Script Readings are now online according to their usual schedule.  For Saturday Script group, contact group leader Chris Velasco for meeting procedures.  For Sunday Group use the following instructions for Zoom Meetings on the 1st and 3rd Sundays starting April 5th:

Topic: Sunday Night Script Group
Time: This is a recurring meeting for the 1st and 3rd Sundays in each month
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 533 859 616
Password: 848149
Dial by your location:
Meeting ID: 533 859 616
Find your local number

See the calendar below for instructions for specific, 2nd Sunday readings.  Thursday night script group is postponed until further notice.  We will notify you as soon as we are able to meet live.  For instructions on using Zoom meetings, see this YouTube video on Zoom or the many others online with cool features on how to automatically enhance our lighting or project yourself on a beach in Hawaii (very therapeutic, but requires a lot of processing power)!

Are You Waiting For Love or Money?
Of course you are!  March 15th was the deadline of our For Love or Money Shorts Contest.  Thank you to everyone who entered.  We will contact you about getting you the $5 cash, as we know you will need it for toilet paper and wipes!  The scripts are now in the hands of our judging committee, so we will inform you as soon as we have scripts that will be read professionally in a theater (as soon as the theaters open up!).

Mini-Calendar of Events
Outside of regular script group meetings, here’s the short list of what Screenwriters’ Workshop has planned in the months to come:

April 18thQuarterly board and committee meetings at ONLINE open to all who want to pitch in and plan some events with us.
Time: Apr 18, 2020 01:30 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 719 267 501
Password: 975274

April 26thDavid Buchanan’s script will be read for 2nd Sunday reading (moved from Easter) will be ONLINE unless otherwise notified.
Time: Apr 26, 2020 06:30 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 654 925 245
Password: 747622

May 10th2nd Sunday Script reading for Lucas Miller.  Hopefully we’ll be back at Film North by this time, but if not, but as a back-up or if you choose to remote in.
Time: May 10, 2020 06:30 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 641 354 194
Password: 960295

Get Con-tested!
While you’re at home, working in Zoom meetings or corralling the kids, don’t forget that upcoming national contests that are out there.  Here are a few that are coming up:
The Stuck-at-Home Film Contest—put on by the 48 Hour Film Project, various deadlines
The Nicholl Fellowships—international screenwriting competition sponsored by the Academy Awards, deadlines April 9th(regular) and May 1st (late)
Script Pipeline—deadline April 15th
Page International Screenwriting Awards—last minute deadline April 20th

Bragging Rights
And if you do have success in contests or other sorts of film-related or writing ventures (literary, not your Master’s thesis), don’t forget, Screenwriters Workshop members get public shout outs for placing in major contests or production efforts.  Keep us in the loop at:

For Hope and Resilience 
Finally, these are times when we all need inspiration to make it through.  Consider subscribing to the Poetry Foundation’s Poem of the Day.  You get a beautiful, daily poem every day to your inbox, such this one “The Promise” by Jane Hirschfield about the need for stability in a changing world.  Lovely.


Screenwriters’ Workshop Newsletter, April 9, 2019


Big News: Shorts Contest Winners, National Conference Coming, Opportunity for Pitching

As You Read On, Think of Getting Involved in Board Committee Meetings
With all the exciting events and opportunities you will read about below, know that you can be a part of it. Join an SWW Board Committee to pitch in to plan, meet new people, and learn more about screenwriting. There are opportunities on our Educational Programs, Member Services, Marketing & Public Relations, and Grants & Fundraising Committees. Our next committee meetings will be on Saturday from 11:30-12:30 followed by lunch and casual conversation. You can even stay another hour for the board meeting—but only if you want to. Meet at:
Saturday, April 13, 2019 at 11:30 AM at FilMNorth, 550 Vandalia

Congratulations to the Winners of Our Shorts Contest
The results are back on the Screenwriters’ Workshop 2019 Shorts Contest, and our judges came back with a tie! The two first prize winners are Tiffa Foster with her script, “Wait, What?” and Karen Frank with her short screenplay, “You are Here.” Congratulations to both of you and a great thank you to all the writers who submitted their short scripts.

National Conference Coming to Minneapolis This Summer
The 2019 University Film and Video Conference will be at Augsburg University in Minneapolis and will run from Tuesday, July 30 through Friday, August 2, 2019. The theme of the conference is “Land of 10,000 Tales.” The UFVA Conference and members will be showing and telling, analyzing, and explaining their stories in the screening rooms and classrooms of the Augsburg campus. Screenwriters Workshop is working with the conference to create special opportunities for SWW members.

The Educational Programs Committee is coordinating a panel discussion on the second night of the conference entitled, “The Future of Story.” This will include Minnesota’s own screenwriting guru Tom Pope. Watch future newsletters for times and locations.

Prepare Your Pitches!
As part of “The Future of Story” event on Wednesday, July 31, 2019, members of Screenwriters’ Workshop will have the opportunity to pitch to the panel. Five members will be able to have there best pitch critiqued by the presenters. You never, know, there could be some secret scouts in the group (but the important thing is that you learning, right?). To make it fair and square, a board member will draw the five names from those interested and attending The Future of Story event. You have to be there, though, be a member of SWW, and be ready to throw out a game-winning pitch!

48 Hour Film Project
Again this year, SWW will sponsor a team for the 48 Hour Film Project. The team will compete with other local teams in the Twin Cities to create a film in 48 hours the weekend of May 31-June 2, 2019. There will be an information session later in the Spring, so watch for details. If you are interested in being a part of this event, email us at:

Longtime SWW Member Interviewed, Gives Shout Out to Screenwriters’ Workshop
Member Russ Meyer was recently interviewed on the St. Paul FilmCast podcast. In the interview, he discusses screenwriting and his new novella, After the Fedora (available from and about a private investigator who, after being knocked out by a home run ball, must save the life of a street musician who stole his beloved fedora. Thanks, Russ, for the shout out you gave to Screenwriters’ Workshop!