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 mnscreenwritersworkshop@gmail.com 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
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/533859616?pwd=OWF5MTJkOFk3Y1Z4aHVVS0p1R3ZUdz09
Meeting ID: 533 859 616
Password: 848149
Dial by your location:
Meeting ID: 533 859 616
Find your local numberhttps://us04web.zoom.us/u/fQS5tVxSl

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
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/719267501?pwd=blBnNHkwOWx5SUNZQ3daS2xBMnpldz09
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
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/654925245?pwd=Sm1NYVdNZVFEZjN4OEQzNjlNdW1CUT09
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
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/641354194?pwd=WnU0QXV3OEVCU25XSW52ZEVidzNmZz09
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: mnscreenwritersworkshop@gmail.com.

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 February 1, 2020

A HUGE Annual Meeting on February 22nd from 1:00-3:00 PM
Yes, it’s a HUGE meeting, because it will be at the Huge Improv Theater (3037 Lyndale Ave. S, Minneapolis) on Saturday, February 22nd from 1:00-3:00PM, but it will also be AMAZING as well. Yeah, yeah, there will be the usual business and snacks and such, but there’s more…

Here’s the fun part… All participants are encouraged to bring a logline or synopsis of a screenplay (written or imagined). Improv actors will draw several from a hat (or large bowl or container of some kind, and… well, you get the idea). THEN, the actors will act them out for us, and the audience will try to guess the story. Once the actors read the actual logline or synopsis, they will give feedback to the writer about how well they were able to visualize a story from the description. Then the audience will vote on their smart phone for which writer had the best performance.

Everyone who enters a logline will get a small item of SWWag from our collection. Those whose loglines/synopsis are performed will get a book, and the winner will get one of our SWW t-shirts. But you must be present to win, so mark your calendar NOW!

Starting in March: “2nd Tuesday” Script Reading Will Now Be “2nd Sunday”…
Is it a warp in the space-time continuum? No, it’s just a scheduling and location change for one of our amazing programs. If you completed a script, we will now be reviewing these on the 2nd Sunday of each month at FilmNorth. Participants get to read and critique (and hear critiqued) amazing scripts written by our members.

Our reading on March 8th will be from member Joe Moses; David Buchanan will be featured on April 26th (rescheduled to the 4th Sunday due to Easter.); and Lucas Miller’s script will be read on May 10th. Don’t forget to show up to give Joe, David, and Lucas your support. If you have a feature-length screenplay, and it is ready for review, contact Karen Frank, our amazing, award-winning facilitator at frank007@umn.edu.

Are You Writing for Love or Money? Don’t Forget Our Shorts Contest!
In case you haven’t heard, Screenwriters’ Workshop is going to pay its members to write. You see, we really, really want you to write something new and fresh, so we will pay you $5 to enter our shorts contest this year. Here’s how it works:

  1. You write a script that fits the criteria on our website. It must be on this year’s theme: “For Love or Money.”
  2. Send it in according to the instructions on the website. NOTE: It must be in by midnight, March 15th, 2020.
  3. Our team of judges will review the scripts anonymously.
  4. The top five scripts (as rated by our judges) will be read at a free, professional public reading—and you can invite your friends to show them how talented you are.
  5. Everyone meeting the criteria gets paid $5 cash when they show up for the reading!

Note: Only one entry per member, and your membership must be paid in full by the time you enter.

Two, New Upcoming Program Events
As part of our effort to change things up a bit, Screenwriters’ Workshop is offering two new events:

“Where Do I Start?” is for members or non-members who are interested in screenwriting, but are starting from scratch. Led by SWW President Julie Meyer, this two hour session is designed to help people test the waters, ask questions, and talk about if screenwriting is something they would like to explore. We’ll talk about what support available to assist you in screenwriting through SWW and other Twin Cities organizations, online, or in other resources. This session will be on February 23rd at 6:30 PM at FilmNorth at 550 Vandalia in St. Paul.

“Feel the Beat” on March 29th at 6:30 PM compares and contrasts the beat structure of the American blockbuster with international films. Film aficionado and award-winning screenwriter Zach Jansen will guide participants through film clips that illustrate the principles of rhythm at play in various types of screenplays. This session will also be at FilmNorth.

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

  • February 9th—Academy Awards night, no script groups or readings (we’re off dreaming).
  • February 22nd—Annual meeting at Huge Improve Theater (see above).
  • February 23rd—”Where Do I Start?” screenwriting orientation for newbies at FilMNorth, for anyone who is interested in starting to write screenplays but doesn’t know where to begin.
  • March 8th—2nd Sunday begins (see above) with a screenplay by Joe Moses. All are welcomed to a table reading of this feature length script.
  • March 22nd—Pop-up Writers’ Café at FilmNorth, the ultimate excuse to break out of your rut and join fellow writers in a writing jam session.
  • March 29th—“Feel the Beat” at FilmNorth as Zach Jansen compares the beat structure of American blockbuster movies with the rhythms of the movies in the rest of the world.
  • April 12th –EASTER! Because you don’t want to miss out on those chocolate bunnies, 2nd Sunday is now moved to 4th Sunday.
  • April 18th—Quarterly board and committee meetings at FilmNorth open to all who want to pitch in and plan some events with us.
  • April 26th—David Buchanan’s script will be read for 2nd Sunday, disguising itself by posing on the 4th Sunday (April only).
  • May 10th—2nd Sunday Script reading for Lucas Miller.

Yes, (Gasp!) Sunday Script Group Is Meeting on Super Bowl Sunday
Call us iconoclasts or simply nerds who just aren’t that into football, but the Sunday night Script Group will still be meeting at FilMNorth on Sunday, February 2nd. The Sunday group now meets on the first and third Sundays of each month, reading up to ten pages of a script at a time. Check here for a schedule and more information on all of our script groups.

Bragging Rights
Don’t forget, Screenwriters Workshop members get public shout outs for placing in major contests or production efforts. Keep us in the loop at: mnscreenwritersworkshop@gmail.com.

Screenwriters Workshop Newsletter December 31, 2019

This Year, We’re Really Acting Out!
Being a screenwriter can be a lonely existence. You go to work, come home, spend a little time with the family, and then it’s just you and the laptop. Together. For hours. With no internet and no distractions. Then when you’re done, it’s a long, winding road to market the script. Our goal this year is to bring a little more community and fun back into your writing—and to support you on the way to your goal.

We’re still working on plans for our annual meeting in mid-February, so plan to bring a logline or 3 sentence synopses to be acted out by our talented improv group. The loglines that inspires the best performance will win a prize (and a heck of a lot of admiration!). We’re also acting out in our new, short script contest with a staged performance for the winners. See below for details!

We’re Changing Things Up in Our Programs

We’re making some changes in our script group schedule. Saturday morning script groups will continue as always—reading scripts on a weekly basis, five pages at a time. The Sunday group, however, will review scripts ten pages at a time but ONLY on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month. As announced previously, non-members can try out script groups for up to three times before deciding on whether to become a member. Click here for more information on our script groups and check on any schedule changes.

We’re freeing up some time for new, innovative programs. By opening up the 2nd, 4th, and (sometimes) 5th Sunday in the month, we are looking to offer opportunities to engage with and advance your work, such as a night to review treatments, pitches, loglines, or marketing your script. We may want to push a board or committee meeting to a Sunday to offer speakers on a Saturday. We could have a group writing jam session or work together to plot a concept. We have a million (well, maybe not quite that many) ideas, but now we have a little more time to do them. We will be posting an events calendar on the website, so check it out if you’re in the mood for something new–or watch the newsletter for upcoming programs offerings.

Give Me the Treatment!
Our first new program will be reviewing treatments for presenting and marketing your screenplay. We will meet on Sunday, January 26, 2020 at 6:30 PM at FilMNorth (550 Vandalia Street in St. Paul) to share treatments in the same way we share script pages in our script groups. Bring a treatment for a script you have completed or one you have yet to write. See examples of treatments for the work of others. Treatments can be one to ten pages in length. Don’t know what a treatment is or what it’s for? Check it out here.

Minneapolis Community & Technical College logoWe’ve put 2nd Tuesday on hold to work out a few kinks. With the restructuring of MCTC’s screenwriting program, we are temporarily putting a hold on 2nd Tuesday. It might come back as 2nd Sunday or stay on Tuesday with a different venue. We’re still working on it, so stay tuned.

AND behind the velvet curtain… We’ve formed an ad hoc (that means, in Latin, for a specific purpose only) committee of dedicated board and committee members who are working with an operations consultant to improve the member experience. From websites to member sign-ups, our egghead crew is looking at ways to better systematize our processes, so look for more changes in the coming year.

We’re Paying YOU to Write: Our First Ever, “Reverse Fee,” For-Love-Or-Money, Short Script Contest (for Members Only)
You may think we’re crazy, but we’re going to pay you to enter our short script contest this year. You see, we really, really want you to write, so we are paying you $5 to enter. Here’s how it works:

  1. You write a script that fits the criteria on our website. It must be on this year’s theme: “For Love or Money.”
  2. Send it in according to the instructions on the 2020 Shorts Contest page on our website. NOTE: It must be in by midnight, March 15th, 2020.
  3. Our team of judges will review the scripts anonymously.
  4. The top five scripts (as rated by our judges) will be read at a free, professional public reading—and you can invite your friends to show them how talented you are.
  5. Everyone meeting the criteria gets paid $5 cash when they show up for the reading!

Note: Only one entry per member, and your membership must be paid in full by the time you enter.

January 5th is National Screenwriters Day
Did you know that screenwriters have their own special day? They do. It even says so on the National Day website which has some ideas on how to observe this day just for you. This Sunday, kick back, relax, go to a coffee shop or a quiet place in your house and start on your New Year’s resolution to just write. Or join us at a script group. We’re always happy to see you!

Bragging Rights
Even though there hasn’t been a newsletter for a while, it doesn’t mean our members have been resting on their laurels. Here’s some of the exciting things going on with our members:

  • Two scripts by Elyse Forbes advanced to the second round of the Austin Film Festival’s 2019 Screenwriting Competition. They are: Grace & Frankie: The Plot – Comedy Spec category and Project S.I.R.E.N. – Drama Pilot presented by AMC category. See here for details. Congratulations, Elyse!
  • Long-time SWW member Peter Groynom and wrote and directed “Jane’s Comet” earlier this year and screened at this year’s Twin Cities Film Fest. They were in “The Present is Female” block of shorts on Monday, 10/21 at 8:30pm and Tuesday, 10/22 at 12:30pm. Way to go, Peter!

Don’t forget, Screenwriters Workshop members get public shout outs for placing in major contests or production efforts. Keep us in the loop by sending an email to “Braggin Rights” at: mnscreenwritersworkshop@gmail.com. Thanks!

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!
Thanks to Beth Adams, Fernando Almeida, and Myrtle McGovern who each used their $500 employee contribution from Optum/UnitedHealthcare to donate to Screenwriters’ Workshop. Their company donates to organizations when their employees volunteer a minimum number of hours with a nonprofit.

If your organization has a matching grants program, consider making an end-of-the-year contribution to Screenwriters’ Workshop. As a 501c3 organization, all contributions are a tax write-off. Thanks again!

Screenwriters’ Workshop Newsletter: September 17, 2019

Check Out 2nd Tuesday Script Reading… But Wait ‘Til October!
At the annual meeting we talked about what an amazing opportunity you have as an SWW to attend a 2nd Tuesday Script Reading. Participants get to read and critique (and hear critiqued) amazing scripts written by our member, receiving written coverage by MCTC students. You can have your scripts read as well. Unfortunately, Karen Frank, our amazing, award-winning 2nd Tuesday facilitator, is out of town this month, but she’s scheduling out for the coming months. If you have a script that is already completed and ready for review, contact Karen at frank007@umn.edu.

Our Script Groups Meet Every Week—Do the Deep Dive With Your Writing…
Although 2nd Tuesday is on hiatus this month, Screenwriters’ Workshop’s script groups are the place to start for reviewing your scripts. To get a screenplay produced, you have to convince other people to invest a couple of million dollars in your writing. Even to win a contest, you have to see your work through the eyes of other people. With that in mind, consider attending our weekly script groups to get feedback from a variety of other people. Non-members can try out script groups for up to three times before deciding on whether to become a member. Click here for more information on our Thursday night, Saturday morning, and Sunday night groups.

Join Our Committee Meetings (with Lunch) to Plan for the Year Ahead
We’ve had many amazing events this year, and they were all made possible by our dedicated volunteers. From our annual meetings to our tee-shirts to our amazing summer events, we get things done by taking a little time on a quarterly basis with a broad group of people, so many hands make light work. It’s a great opportunity to meet people, network, and hone your creative skills. Our next committee meetings are Saturday, October 12, 2019 from 11:30 to 12:30. Then we hang out and talk over lunch for a half hour. If you like it, you can even stay for the board meeting from 1:00-2:30PM. The meeting is held at FilMNorth at 550 Vandalia in St. Paul. We know you are busy, so commit to only those things you can follow-through on. All members are welcome!

Speaking of Our Amazing Events…
Our Future of Story event on July 31st was a hit with standing room only at Playwright’s Center. Twelve panelists, including Minnesota’s own Tom Pope presented to packed seating. Sponsored by Michael Wiese Productions, the panelists discussed everything from animation to documentaries to pitching. They even offered opportunities for our members to practice pitching their own products, coaching them on how to be effective, and gave away books and other prizes. All said, it was a wonderful collaboration, and we hope to offer other events as authors make their book tours through the Twin Cities. A special thanks to Educational Programs Committee members Kelly Lamphear-Dash, Karen Frank, and Hafed Boussida, Member Services/PR Committee Member Beth Adams, and our board treasurer, Ed Leschke.

Screenwriters’ Workshop also sponsored a booth at Dakota County Arts-in-the-Park on Saturday, August 3, 2019 from 1:00-4:00 PM at Thompson County Park in West St. Paul. Our “Build-a-Story Workshop” inspired kids from ages three to eighty-three to write scripts by building a story off a bare bones script with randomized prompts, then encourage them to create videos at the park. Everyone who participated had a lot of fun, and we hope to partner in the future for similar events. Thank you to Member Services/PR Committee members Dick Zonneveld and Julie Meyer, and Grants and Fundraising Committee member Noukou Thao for making this event a success!

Bragging Rights
Don’t forget, Screenwriters Workshop members get public shout outs for placing in major contests or production efforts. Keep us in the loop at: mnscreenwritersworkshop@gmail.com.

Screenwriters’ Workshop Newsletter: July 8, 2019

“The Future of Story” National Event on July 31st at Playwright Center
Screenwriters Workshop is teaming up with Michael Wiese Productions to offer a spectacular social hour with 9 nationally renowned panelists—including Minnesota’s own Tom Pope. The event will take place at Playwright Center on Wednesday, July 31st, 2019.  We’ll kick off the evening with a meet and greet at 6:30 PM followed by the panel discussion from 7:00-9:00 PM.  Tickets are $10 for members and $15 for non-members on sale at Eventbrite.

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.

“Build-a-Story Workshop” on August 3, 2019 at Dakota County Arts in the Park
Screenwriters Workshop will be sponsoring a booth at Dakota County Arts-in-the-Parkon Saturday, August 3, 2019 from 1:00-4:00 PM at Thompson County Parkin West St. Paul.  Our “Build-a-Story Workshop” will be an outreach effort to inspire kids and their parents to write scripts.  Our booth will allow both kids and adults to build a story off a bare bones script with randomized prompts, then encourage them to create videos at the park.  Please email us at mnscreenwritersworkshop@gmail.comif you are interested in volunteering. If you have kids, bring them to the event and engage with a variety of arts activities and, of course, Mother Nature.

SWW Team’s 48 Hour Film Screening at the Riverview
For the second year in a row, SWW fielded a team for the 48-Hour Film Project, an annual contest that challenges filmmakers to write, film and edit a short film in 48 hours. The SWW team, composed of several of our screenwriters, talented local actors and crew members, successfully completed their short film,  “Watch Over Me,” on June 2. The film, a suspense/thriller involving a misunderstood flooring repairman,  starred the intrepid 6-year old Savanna Adams, daughter of SWW member Beth Adams. It premiered at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis along with other competing films.  If you are interested in participating in this or other similar projects in the coming year, please email us at mnscreenwritersworkshop@gmail.com.

Myrtle Says Why Screenwriters Should Make a Movie
For the second year in a row, Screenwriters’ Workshop has sponsored a team for the 48 Hour Film Project. Below, first time 48’er Myrtle McGovern shares her take on why this is a valuable experience for any screenwriter:

“Whether you are a novice, emerging or established screenwriter , the 48Hour Film Fest challenge has something for you. The Fest brings together a team of creatives to work over one weekend creating a 5-7 minute short film.

For me, a novice screenwriter, I learned:
1. How my voice contributes to the writing team ideation process
2. How a genre/topic can generate so many diverse stories
3. How working to storyboard the elements visually is so important for flow and consistency
4. How different your words are interpreted by the producing, directing and editing teams
5. How important it is to have someone from the camera crew and/or director be a part of the writing team
*Note: Those great words may not translate to the proper angles
6. Teamwork, compromise and trust are key

I created new relationships with my team and as a novice screenwriter making these connections were just as valuable as the writing and film process.  I look forward to having a chance to work with my great team again in the future.

P.S. For the emerging and established screenwriter, the fest pushes you in a controlled span of time and limited resources to push the creative envelope on thought and execution.  No better way to keep your skills sharp!”

You Really Should Join Us on a Committee (It’s Fun!)
If any of the activities and events of Screenwriters’ Workshop intrigue you, come to a committee meeting and help us plan.  It’s a great opportunity to meet people, network, and hone your creative skills. Our next committee meetings are Saturday, July 13, 2019 from 11:30 to 12:30.  Then we hang out and talk over lunch for a half hour.  If you like it, you can even stay for the board meeting from 1:00-2:30PM.  The meeting is held at FilMNorth at 550 Vandalia in St. Paul.  We know you are busy, so commit to only those things you can follow-through on.  All members are welcome!

Bragging Rights
Congratulations to SWW Board Member Kelly Lamphear-Dash who (for the second year in a row!) has made the quarter finals of the CineStory Foundation Feature Contestwith her script Slumming It.

Don’t forget, Screenwriters Workshop members get public shout outs for placing in major contests or production efforts.  Keep us in the loop at: mnscreenwritersworkshop@gmail.com