Sunday, March 17, 2019

March 17th, 2019
Los Angeles, CA

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  🍀  May the road rise up to meet ya today and always.

I attended the AFF in LA all-day session this weekend.  This is the fourth year for this popular writers gathering.  Even in the middle of Los Angeles, the AFF shines with Texas charm.
The day's focus was Guiding Your Writing Journey.
Writer Chuck Hayward answers industry questions
In the morning, writers gathered at roundtables with industry pros Karen Kirkland, Adam Kolbrenner, Chuck Hayward, Jayme Lemons, Eric Tovell and Gesumino Rulli.

These intimate roundtables are always high in demand and fill up fast, so if you decide to attend AFF in LA next year -- sign up early!  Some other folks chose to only attend the afternoon session (panel talks).  Trust me, the roundtables are worth your time and extra $.

Some key takeaways from industry pros to writers:

-Have"stand out" writing.
-Have a unique voice.
-How does your life inform your writing?  Personal insights will add authenticity to your work.
-Stick to your themes and brand yourself as a writer.
-Be social and get out there to meet people, other writers (this AFF event, for example.)  Don't stay isolated writing in Starbucks with headphones on forever.  Get out there!
-Less is more.  Be cognizant of your page count.  Don't overwrite.  Revise.
-Build a community of writers (writer's groups, online connection, meets ups.)
-Be massively ACTIVE and never quit.
-Write consistently and not just when you feel like it.  Consider it like a job.
-Write fast.  Get drafts done.  Set deadlines for yourself and KEEP them.
-Write with emotion on the page and tap into universal themes.

The afternoon panels were excellent.  Topics: Finding The Time (To Write) and Overcoming Obstacles.  
Moderator Karol Hoeffner and writers Carly Wray and Wendy Calhoun
Panelist/writer Wendy Calhoun (writer for TV shows EMPIRE, JUSTIFIED and NASHVILLE) advised TV writers to be problem-solvers, have manners in the writer's room, be kind and friendly to EVERYONE in the room (don't be a brown-noser), know why YOU are at the writer's table.

Writer Carly Wray (Co-EP of the upcoming adaptation of WATCHMEN, formerly of Mad Men and Westworld) suggested writers never shoot down another writer's pitch without having something strong to replace it with and to remain collaborative.  Be positive in offering your opinions to other writers and constructive.  Calhoun added, "be the glue in the room".  In other words, be a team player and be known as a fixer, not a disruptor.

Oscar at Linwood Dunn Theater
Finally, there was a Networking Reception (writers love a good mixer!)  Thanks to the Academy Education Program and Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting for the complimentary drinks and Mexican food.  We networked and ate/drank in the lobby of the Linwood Dunn Theater, with Oscar literally towering over us.  If that doesn't inspire you to finish your script, nothing will.

Until next time...

The AFF Screenwriting Competition deadlines are coming up:
Early - March 29th
Regular - April 19th
Late - May 15th

Academy Nicholl Fellowships Competition Deadlines
Early - March 7th
Regular - April 10th
Late - May 1st

Sunday, March 03, 2019

 February 2019
Blake J. Harris and Joseph Chen
I love attending local events at my library here in Burbank, CA.  The Buena Vista Library Branch often invites top authors and filmmakers to discuss their latest creative projects, sell and sign books, and meet with the community.  Young students attended with their parents, getting school credit and meeting authors face to face. 
Blake J. Harris' new book
Recently Blake J. Harris stopped by to promote his new book The History of the Future: Oculus, Facebook, and the Revolution that Swept Virtual Reality.  He chatted with Joe Chen, one of the first employees at Oculus VR about the early days of that company.  Chen worked on the hardware development as Product Lead and led non-gaming developer relations. Chen brought along early prototypes of the VR hardware to show the audience.

The History of the Future book delves into the real-life story of a  teenager named Palmer Luckey, living and working in a camper trailer parked in his parents’ driveway, and how he created a device that could deliver a high quality immersive and affordable virtual reality experience to fellow gamers.  Luckey’s revolutionary device, the Oculus Rift went on to enormous success. 

Within two years, Facebook bought Luckey's company for over $2 billion dollars.

I was sure to get my signed copy of The History of the Future.  It was great to chat with Harris after.  He lives in my old neighborhood in New York City (Astoria).  Small world.

For more about Blake J. Harris, check out his website at

Q & A
Joe Chen one-on-one
While you're at it, check out your library's monthly calendar of events and support these talks with writers, filmmakers and other storytellers.

It's a win/win.

Until next time...

Be sure to Follow The New York/LA Screenwriting Blog on Facebook.