Expo5 - Review - The Biz Game

You see them everywhere in Los Angeles.  You can't avoid them in coffee shops with their laptops open and concentrated looks on their faces.  It seems like at least 95% of all Los Angelinos are screenwriters or aspiring screenwriters, with a script in their car or a story idea jotted on a napkin and stuffed in their pocket. .  Well, this is an industry town.

Panel of Expo professionals

That is why I am surprised you missed the Screenwriter's Expo which was held Oct 18-21 at the Marriot and Renaissance Hotels at LAX.   Sponsored by Creative Screenwriting Magazine, the Fifth Year of Seminars started with an introductory bang. 

Networking party

You had a choice of  two sessions: The first was 'Take Back Your Career' with (screenwriter) Shane Salerno, (entertainment attorney) Peter Dekom, and (Nielsen Media Research representative [you know the ones that hook up our TV's and tell us who and what we watch]) Ray Yinger. In the other ballroom was 'Successful Pitching' we were treated to topics by Simon Kinberg (screenwriter of Mr and Mrs. Smith), Derek Hoffman (of the Donner Group), Robert Kosberg (aka The Pitch King) and Dana Brunetti (of Kevin Spacey's Trigger Street Productions).

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Spacey's group has a web site, where unattached screenwriters, those who do not have representation, as well as those that have agents, can get feedback on their scripts and short films.  The only cost for admission is that you critique other writers' material. 

There were a variety of classes that could benefit almost everyone looking to enter or already inside the industry there were lectures for beginners and novice writers and for the more advanced who'd like to think they are professionals. Sessions for the rest of the weekend were divided into numerous groupings. 

William Goldman and Tom Gilroy on panel

There was a long list of great guest speakers, including of William Goldman (Princess Bride), Oliver Stone (World Trade Center), Andrew Staton (Pixar Animation), Tony Gilroy (Bourne Identity), and Michael Ardnt (Little Miss Sunshine).

It was a hard choice as to what I wanted to pick up. So much to learn and so much to do.  I felt like I was on a cruise ship at the desert table and wanted to take a little bit of this and little of that.  Focusing is hard to do in a situation like that.  In the end, I divided my time between romantic comedy and horror. 

Robert Kosberg the Pitch King

Those who wanted to write horror got to meet the creators of the Saw series (Leigh Whannell) and the Grudge series (Steven Susco), had info on writing the horror characters from Sara Caldwell, tips of horror from Julie Marsh Nelson and the horror scenes from William Mantel, Ron Shusett (Minority Report), Rockne O'Bannon (Alien Nation), Robert Tobin, and Glen Benest. 

Oliver Stone speaking about filmmaking

Comedy and Romantic Comedy - a combined thread' had topics that included Writing the Marketable Romantic Comedy, Making it Funny, Comedy for TV and Film, Romantic Comedy Dialogue, and Romantic Comedy Characters.  The thread featured talented tale-spinners like Jeff Arch; Michael Hauge, Richard Krevolin, and Cynthia Whitcomb. 

Other groupings of topics included Producing the Screenplay  - How to Option, How to Finance, Going from Script to Screen, and How to Market;  One of the topics I attended, Directing Your Screenplay, discussed how a writer can be a director as well, creating floor plans and shot lists, working with actors and other crew. Writing Television had classes like Simple Sitcom Storylines, Breaking into TV, Adapting Life for True Stories, Writing TV Longform, and Creating and Selling Your Own TV Show with Elaine and Marc Zicree (Sliders.)

Trade show at Expo

There were also basic and advanced courses from favorites John Truby (Blockbuster Screenwriting) and Chris Huntley (Dramatica Pro founder).

Too few of the lectures were available on DVD but I bought up what I could and went to the classes of the ones who were not on tape. 

I learned a lot about the screenwriting process, especially on how to write linear scenes and it's really made a difference just since I went to the Expo. 

Those of us willing to give up precious lecture time got a chance to pitch directly to a wide variety of executives for a small extra fee.  Many people reported successful encounters and not a few sales. 

Pitching to Execs

And then there is always the bar where you can hang out with some of the speakers and some of the executives who were in between pitch times. 

Next year I might even go for the Gold Pass which allows me into all the events at one low price. 

For more information on next year's Screenwriting Expo contact Creative Screenwriting at 6404 Hollywood Blvd #404, Hollywood, Ca, 90028 or go on line to www.creativescreenwriting.org.

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