Just came back from the 2009 Southampton Screenwriters Conference at Stony Brook Southampton. The setting was idyllic near the ocean and conducive for creative writing. The playwriting conference was going on at the same time so we were able to meet playwrights, actors and directors and learned how the playwrights were thrilled to watch their scenes acted out on stage by professional actors.
This conference focused on workshops and lectures that related to the structure and format of screenplays and how to create emotional depth of our characters through dialogue and actions. In essence, writing for emotional impact. Emotion is what is universal and how people are moved by stories.
In a small class of six screenwriters, I participated in Christina Lazaridi’s workshop on “Understanding Film Structure.” Christina is a screenwriter, Academy Award nominee and teaches at Columbia University’s Graduate Film division. See below Will Chandler’s blog on her class. She taught us with professionalism and gave us constructive criticism on all of our screenplays and ideas. As for myself, instead of focusing on an adaptation of my novel Laughter in the Canyon that I’ve entitled “Revolutionary Spirits,” I decided to present a new idea, i.e., a docu-musical comedy loosely based on the history of The Pen and Brush, an organization dedicated to women in the performing, literary and visual arts since the late 19th century where I’m a governing board member. Needless to say, it’ll be an interesting challenge. In addition, I enjoyed the story lines of my colleagues and hope that all of our scripts will one day be on the big screen.
If you would like further in depth information about the conference, please refer to Screenwriter Will Chandler and AMPAS Nicholl Fellow who also posted some great notes on Peter Hedge’s Q&A over at the ScriptMag blog. Also, look at Merrel Davis’s blog about the conference who wrote from another perspective highlighting different activities that were just as exciting.
Overall, it was an enriching and fun experience where I met many nice people.