This past week I attended the SCSFe (Screenwriting Conference in Santa Fe) and I had an amazing time. I love learning about writing in any format and I learned many things that will definitely improve my novel writing as well as give me a new creative outlet in screenwriting.
First of all, screenwriters are so cool. Seriously. Unlike introverted thin-skinned novelists (unlike me!) they are tough, funny and determined. They have ideas coming out of their ears, more smart-assed comebacks than a roomful of teenagers and they are willing to be shot down again and again in the hopes that someone, somewhere will like just one of their ideas. I came out of that week tougher, funnier and more determined to be determined!
The conference seemed a little expensive when I registered, but I had no idea that the week would entail exposure to such amazing professional screenwriters and Hollywood producers. I went in confident about my ability as a writer in general but open to new ideas. I was very frank about the fact that my entire screenwriting experience consisted of the assignment I had to finish for the conference itself.
First, we submit the first 10 pages of our screenplay and join a mentor group. Every day in class we'd rip each other's stuff apart (more or less anonymously) and put it back together--all in a friendly but ruthless way. After lunch, there were seminars for all levels, provided by experienced teachers. In addition, one-on-one critiques were made available. Then we broke for dinner out in the city of Santa Fe--and then the fun began.
Okay, I'll just say it. Screenwriters really know how to party! Drunken Karaoke, anyone?
Fortunately for me, my mentors were very patient and (once I had been thoroughly spanked for my lousy formatting) were very encouraging about my ability to tell a story on screen. So I buckled down and listened and wrote and learned and I started seeing movies in a way I'd never understood before. I learned an entirely new language in a matter of days!
So a big fat thank you to Ian Abrams, Darren Porter, Wendell Thomas, Ken Rotcop and everyone else who taught me more than I thought was possible to stuff into my overworked little brain. SCSFe is the best conference I have ever attended.
I can't wait until next year!