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 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

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: