Wow. It was such a busy weekend at the Screencraft Writers Summit in Atlanta. I left the hotel most mornings bay 8:30AM to get to the first event/panel/social event being held and didn’t get back to the hotel until midnight. That first night, Friday, I was back at the hotel at 9PM and that was the last time I was back before midnight. Lol It was such an AWESOME experience.
If you’re not interested in writing or doing anything like this, then feel free to read the next entry I will post later today. If you are looking to some insight on this event and others like it, please keep reading. I am going to give you the full 4-1-1.
I will do this by day, that way it’s not too confusing.
Since I arrived Thursday night, I was able to do some tourist stuff on Friday. I collected my badge for the event, nothing special from that, then checked out the Georgia Aquarium. It was the largest aquarium until 2016 when Singapore built theirs. It also has whale sharks. As I am a freak for whale sharks, I had to see this place. I’ve always wanted to see it since it opened probably 15 years ago. It was so cool. Next, up was the Summit Opening Reception.
I had no idea what to expect, but I figure it would be more of an intro, a little more talking, about what you were going to get out of the summit, but instead it was your first networking while at the summit. There was an open bar of wine and beer, some juice, too. I got myself a glass of Pinot and walked around. I met one of the staff members who is also a screenwriters herself. I also met a fellow book writer who was doing a screenplay on his already published work, and later that night there was another mixer, basically a continuing, at the bar in the hotel. It was a little more comfortable as there were tables and it was dark. The environment kind of loosened people up, too, I think. Maybe a mental thing. I met another screenwriter who also directs. And before I headed back to the hotel, a young man stood up on his stool at the bar and made a toast for the weekend. That we were going to have the experience of a lifetime and that we were going to meet wonderful people and be successful. When he was done, I, of course had to meet him.
HIs name was Chris. His writing partner, Corbin and friend Trey, were also there and they are all wonderful people. We exchanged cards, chatted, said goodbyes.
Addendum: I met Belle and Trudi before the bar scene. Ms. Belle is John’s, the co-founder of Screencraft and creator of WeScreenplay, mother. She was/is so sweet! The three of us chatted for a good while before I headed to the bar. Throughout the weekend we all saw each other and said hi when we could. Such wonderful women! 😊
Danny Manus, a script collaborator, writer and editor, I believe, gave us a briefing on how to do a good pitch for the Screencraft Summit pitch completion. I got some great notes and tips as well as some coffee from that session. Following that was the main talk open session. Everyone listened to life lesson sort of stories reagarding their industry career. A lot of morals to their stories at the end to learn and take in.
It was while listening to this, that I met now good friends, Verena and Jonathan, a married power couple.. We shared notes during the weekend and got to be really great friends, I feel. They are good peoples, in my book. Verena is not just a writer and director, but she has some acting experience, is someone you want in your corner. Lol Her networking skills are so on point.
I got to hear from Meg LeFauve, writer of Inside Out and Captain Marvel on the sciences in entertainment as well as other writers, including Doug Jung, a writer of Star Trek Beyond. More about this later.
After this, I went to do my pitch for the summit competition. I didn’t practice at all. Let me tell you why. I am NOT one to practice because I learned in high school that it just makes things worse for me. I used to do the whole prep work with notes, index cards, practice in front of the mirror and in front of my parents or a friend and here what usually happened: I would trip up frying to stay on track of the cards/notes. I would have a panic attack from all the stressing in the days/hours prior with practicing and I would make myself sick. When I actually gave my speech or presentation, I would have a panic attack DURING said talk. I would have to force myself to breath, try desperately not to pass out or hyperventilate. I almost always cried afterwards because of the pent up nerves and stress releasing at the end. So I stopped prepping. I would run it in my head once or twice or in this case, read the log line and know my story and that’s it. This go I didn’t practice whatsoever until I had lunch prior and a stranger sitting next to me got to talking with me and asked to hear the pitch. It was super simple, easy, fluid and natural. So that’s exactly what I did when it was my turn to pitch. I had two minutes and I was done in until a minute and a half and the notes I got back were two things I forgot to do but wont forget next time. They loved the story concept though and told me my ease and knowledge of my story was great. Those are all things you want to hear. If you don’t know your story, you can’t answer questions for what’s to happen in the series if it’s a pilot. People want to know that you are the only one who can write this and that you could be a potential showrunner.
Then we had a VIP only mixer with Elite badge holders (that’s me) and Paneists. We got to chat with everyone, professional or not, drink, share, exchange business cards. I met more new people, exchanged infos/cards. I was so glad I made new business cards before going. I think I passed out about 50 cards and exchanged social media contacts with at least 20 more. I had the courage to give cards to professionals/panelists.
Later that night we had another mixer at the bar across the street. It was packed! To be honest, the venue/location could probably have been somewhere else larger with how crowded it was. But I know this event is still rather new to Screencraft, so that might be something they adjust next year.
I sat with Verena and Jonathan, we met so many people that night, and squeezed between so many asses and elbows to make our way through the sea of people to talk to others. More professional hand shaking, cards/info exchanging. The greatest thing about this event was how many opportunities we all had to chat, shake hands, exchange info and do it a few times in hopes they remember your name and face at this summit. It was so personable.
That morning there was a last minute panel added. Meg LeFauve spoke more in depth about social science and stuff when building your story and the emotional journey your character must go through and the steps throughout said journey. It was sooooo good. I had to leave before she finished the 3rd Act part because I was starving and went to the Mimosa’s VIP Brunch. There I met even more people. Our table had some new and interesting people, both writers and directors of their own films. More cards and info were exchanged, I made another new friend I will be keeping in contact with for a long while, I’m sure.
Next up, we split up to head to the panels of our choices and promised to take notes for one another for those we would miss. As I headed for my panel, I ran into (not literally) the talented Ms. Julie Plec (writer/producer/showrunner: Legacies, Vampire Diaries, The Originals and MORE). I introduced myself, did my fan girl thing, she commented on how pretty my name was, and we parted ways. When I was in the Fellowship/Competitions panel I realized she was speaking at the opposite panel so I ran over there and caught the tail end of her panel when she started answering questions. She spoke at another panel about cable/streaming networks which was so great. The way she and Ben Cory Jones discussed needing to write a Spec script and why, made so much sense. It’s been on my list to write this year, but only when all my other projects are out of the way so I can really focus on it. I’m sure, like I’ve been saying, it will be my biggest challenge as a writer.
Afterwards, I managed to introduce myself again. Talk to her about an idea she had about bringing in a writers room program to Atlanta, maybe something along the lines of a writers lab or internship/apprenticeship. I hope she does that. I don’t live in Atlanta, but the idea of spreading the love that Hollywood has and offers for writers there into another state that is quickly building in the industry would really help other writers. Any progress outside of Hollywood helps us all. It means that you don’t have to limit yourself to JUST Hollywood. I probably wont ever move to Hollywood and therefore wont ever work in a writers room until I’m able to pull myself away from my family for months at a time. But I’m okay with that. I don’t think I’m ready to work in a writers room. I would love to, don’t get me wrong! But the way I need to plan my career from where I’m at in Washington state, it works out, the time I will need to find my way from here and not from within the industry in Los Angeles working from the ground up. I will have to work on networking from afar and travel to do in person networking a couple times a year, of course, but I’m able to plan, meet new people and be sure to keep in contact with people I meet and talk to along the way for when that day comes that I am ready.
Back to the summit. After that we had another panel, I honestly can’t remember when all the panels were, I may have even mixed them up day wise but it doesn’t effect the storyline, I promise. LOL Then we had a small break where I had to run to CVS for some Advil for a migraine and then a small group of us went to dinner at Mary Mac’s Tea Room for dinner. That place was so very very packed with people I couldn’t believe it. Imagine the busiest night at Chilis or Red Lobster and multiply it be ten. That’s the LINE outside of Mary Mac’s. They must have had seats for those waiting for tables for about 50 people inside too, lining the lobby area and the halls throughout the place. As our party had reservations, we didn’t have to wait, thank goodness. The food and people were soooooo good. I have never had macaroni and cheese like that before in my life. It had scrambled egg in it, which I’m sure sounds typical to some, but coming from So. Cal, it wasn’t for me. Very new experience. Met more people there. Exchanged more contacts and cards. We all walked over to where they were holding the Pitch Finals in a bar. The walk was good after such a heavy meal.
At the bar I met up with Chris, the gentleman who did the toast that first night. He was a finalist. I told him not to have another drink, he was debating it already, in case it effected his pitch and promised to do a shot with him afterwards. I haven’t ever heard so many talented and brave people speak like that in my life. It was like like nothing else. So many great ideas from creative minds. There were a lot of really good ideas. When Chris won, everyone went berserk! I congratulated his partner, Corbin, who co-wrote the screenplay and we all went up to congratulate Chris. Pictures were taken, hugs were had and Chris got handshakes from the judges, particularly Ben Cory Jones, who gave him his phone number. 😮 I know it sounds weird but I was proud of him, and I hadn’t even known him for more than a full 48 hours. Now a man who makes shows along Chris’ story just gave him his personal contact info, it was so exciting!
No shots, but drinks were had. My next drink was bought by a founder of Coverfly, including a round of beers, shared by a good number of other men, enjoying a successful writers summit. I met more people, more professionals, gave more people my card. One even asked for my cell number, friend reasons, not hitting on. If we had time, we were thinking of going to the aquarium again together. That was the most fun I’ve had in quite a while. I actually allowed myself to be silly, happy, enjoy being stupid, kicking the shit, making friends. I know I can sometimes be stiff at these things because I’m afraid to let loose. But I wasn’t that night and I was really proud of myself.
It doesn’t stop there! When I finally said my goodbyes, by the way, it was when the bar kicked us all out, I did go back to the hotel and sleep, but the next morning on MONDAY, I met with a group of women from the summit and had brunch, coffee and shared good convo about writing, movies, tv and babies. More cards and info was exchanged. I shared a Lyft with another writer to the airport and I barely made it there on time. That’s a horror story, but I won’t share it here because I don’t want to wreck how great the weekend was. I full FOUR days (Thanks to my husband convincing me to go early and stay late) of making friends, learning the craft and networking.
I honestly can not thank Screencraft, all of their people, staff, volunteers, Coverfly, SAGindie and I know there were more, for the wonderful experience. I will definitely be going to next years summit. I also feel like I’m ready to take on bigger events that are like strictly for networking, film festivals for instance. I wont wonder how to approach people and such.
I am off to get a couple more things done, I wanted to get it all writen down for anyone curious what the weekend was like in case they wanted to go to one in the future.
Hope you all have a fantastic Wednesday!