Saturday, June 6, 2009

P.S. from the SCSFe

I kept a running list of "learnings" from the Screenwriting Conference at Santa Fe (SCSFe) on a left-hand page in my large black notebook. These are the top 8:

1. Don't write a TV spec.
It's harder to break in, TV writers have to live in L.A., and if you're lucky enough to get an assignment, you get worked to death.

2. Don't be afraid to set something in the Twin Cities.
I've always avoided this, because some annoying voice always tells me that no one wants to buy or see a film shot in the Midwest. Problem is, I love the Midwest and I've lived 95 percent of my life there.

3. You have no choice but to do a passion project that's fun for you to write.
I'll start this in the fall after a final Deadbeat Boyfriends rewrite. I define "passion project" as something you do with no commercial aspirations. I have a basic plot for this that I developed at the conference. In keeping with #2, it's called "Twin Cities."

4. "If you don't love it without the money, you won't love it with the money."
A quote from one of the mentors. It isn't just relevant to writing; it basically applies to everything.

5. You haven't worked nearly hard enough to expect success.
Meeting working screenwriters who have written more than 100 scripts and didn't break in until #10 or so is both inspiring and humbling.

6. Put your main character where they would least like to be.
That's what forces you to figure out who this person is. (Question: What's the place I would least like to be?)

7. Conferences are a great way to break your patterns.
This is a huge realization. Perhaps no force is more powerful or harder to break than the tyranny of day-to-day inertia. If you have an interest in something, give yourself a chance to get totally immersed in it. It's a wonderful feeling.

8. You're a writer.
Sometimes I need to be reminded of this.

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