Screenwriting Expo Review - a Banquet of Knowledge

They came, they saw and they conquered.  Nearly 2,000 strong thronged the LA Convention Center for this 7th year of the Screenwriting Expo.  Every year it seems to get better and better,  “Despite the economy,” said senior editor Jeff Goldsmith, “we were quite pleased at the turn out.  People came from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Italy, United Kingdom, and even Russia, not to mention from almost every state in the US.   Each of the writers – be they aspiring, advanced or professional received guidance from experts in the fields on the various subjects of writing.  

screenwriting expo - the Golden Pitch

Even those of who had been produced already found that they learned new techniques and networked with new people.

Screenwriting Expo: Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse

Linda Cowgill gave several seminars from her book The Art of Plotting - Emotional Patterns of Plotting, Plotting Tools and Common Problems in Plotting, while Pilar Alessandra, known for her On the Page lectures, iPods, script consultations and development gave five talks on such things as the First 10 pages, Genre Tricks and Trends, Creating Memorable Characters, The Female Driven Screenplay and Surviving Rewrite Hell.

Masters Karl Iglesias, known for his seminars on writing with emotion – Compelling Stories for Emotional Impact, Crafting Vivid descriptions for Emotional Impact,  Creating Fascinating Scenes, Complex Characters, and Vivid Dialogue, and comedic writer Billy Mernit – Writing Funny Love and writing the marketable Romantic Comedy shared the spotlight with Steve Kaplan – Creating and developing Your Comedy Screenplay and Katherine Fugate, showrunner from Army Wives.   Michael Hauge talked about the Hero’s Journey and How to pitch your story in 60 seconds.

Heather Hale, well known for her networking savvy, taught attendees how to use the internet to network and how to navigate Hollywood as well as how to break down the beat outline.  

Screenwriting Expo - Jeff Goldsmith, Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz

Saturday was “Television Day” in which episodes of Lost were reviewed as well as interviews with the writers and creators, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof and Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, writers and producers of Lost.  The morning had been taken up with TV animation panels and the evening proved to be one of the biggest draws as the show, Heroes was feted with a special appearance of Tim Kring, creator and showrunner.

Screenwriting Expo: Tim Kring, showrunner of Heroes

There was something for everyone.  Those who wanted to direct or writers who wanted to learn directing – a useful tool for any writer to have – there was Dov S S Simens and Jim Pasternak; those who wanted to learn more about webisodes, which some say are the TV of the future, listened to Joel Haber., who also had a seminar on the use of flashbacks and voice overs. Training for the various softwares as Movie Magic, Story View, Final Draft and Mariner were available for those who wanted that.  Those interested in spiritually uplifting films could hear the panel from the Kairos Prize Panel and even enter their contest.   Those who wanted to write for TV had Pamela Douglas, Mark and Jeanne Simon, and those who wanted to perfect their log lines had not only Ellen Sandler and Devorah Cutler Rubenstein but also the team from Script Brokers, which had set up a booth to help those wanting to pitch at the Golden Pitch.  

Screenwriting Expo - Melissa Rosenberg (Twilight)

Previously it had been thought that those at the pitch fest were only underlings and unable to make decisions on scripts.  However, Jeff Goldsmith assured us that every person coming to the event was verified that they did have money to spend on projects and had actively produced the previous year.  “The last thing we want to do is waste anyone’s time,” said Jeff.  At this writing, over a dozen scripts had been asked for by the companies and of the participants interviewed all of them felt their time and money had been well spent.  “Where else can new writers break in without having representation behind them?”  Of course each and every writer attempting to pitch had to sign a wavier indicating that they would respect the execs there and understand that the execs might already have something similar in production.  “After all, ideas float in the atmosphere and many people can have the same idea.  It’s the individual execution of the ideas that makes it

The whole four days was a constant tug and pull – so many good seminars were given at the same time and many times the decision was a hard one.  

Screenwriting Expo: Goldman, Donovan, Sorkin

No expo would be complete without William Goldman who interviewed Aaron Sorkin or without the evening networking receptions at the various hotels. 

The final event was the announcement of the Creative Screenwriting contest.  Rene Andre's Cardenio won over 3,000 entries.  The AAA screenwriting contest award went to Logan Coles and Chad Boseman for The End Zone and Suzanne's Prize Best Love Story of the Year was presented to Michael Ennis for Henley Henderson.   Other winners for genre were Maria Badin's Prima for low budge indie; Blake McCallister's horror Beast. Henderson Smith for the Ugly Princess, and Rick Fonte and Don Zolidis for Animation with North Puddle.

I am already anxiously awaiting next year’s event.  

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