Monday, April 10, 2006

Scriptwriter's Showcase Coverage

I had a great time this weekend at the Scriptwriter's Showcase held at the Sheraton Universal. The activities started on friday and even though my panel wasn't until sunday, I decided to go down and attend a few of the panels. This whole writing is a learning process as well, and it never hurts to hear other writers' tales and techniques.

I got to hang in the VIP room which was a conference room on one of the lower levels. Bigwood grain and leather table with comfy chairs. Plenty of coffee and always someone to gab with. I had the pleasure of meeting both Stephen Susco (The Grudge) and Simon Kinberg( Mr. & Mrs. Smith). I was quite shocked when Fun Joel introduced us and Stephen said he read my blog. Both he and Simon were gentlemen, and said they would check out my blog for future posts. Simon has this perfect head of hair and an unnnatural affection for Miami Vice fashion and violence (not that he wears a linen suit and carries an uzi or anything), and Stephen watches everything on DVD. I mean everything. When I told him of some of the sets I've worked on his eyes lit up.

Both guys gave great panel along with Bill Martell and John Cox (currently writing the Sgt. Rock movie) on the elements of surprise and their conversation really gve us all something to think about. I got on the subway home excited about the upcoming panels. If they were all this good, I could really come away from this thing armed with some new perspectives and tools to get the script done.

Saturday, I dropped by to hear the videogaming panel. This is an interesting media that is ripe with opportunity, but it also doesn't have any rules set up like feature filmmaking does. It is the "wild west" of writing. I also started to get really nervous about my panel on Sunday - oy! I had better go home, brush up and polish my delivery.

Sunday, I got up early and got to the show just in time to hear Phil Morton and several others talk about pitching. Phil was great and he had them all rolling in the aisles with stories of how he has screwed up over the years and how he was there to make sure everyone learned from his mistakes. Wotta guy!

We had coffee later after the panel and chatted about life and writing and all that stuff. Phil and I, even though we have corresponded on the Scribosphere, have never met before. It was like meeting a long lost fraternity brother at a reunion - you pick right up at your last conversation.

Then it was time for my panel, DVD Extras. The moderator was Ray Morton, a writer for
Scr(i)pt magazine and my co-panelist was Dave Verini, their senior writer. We started off very well with easy questions and I launched into my spiel about how it shouldn't be called "extras" but "essentials" because they are part of the DVD experience. People understood where your mad, pulp bastard was coming from, and I began to relax. They weren't going to ask for their money back.

Tony Teofilo joined us and the panel really began to loosen up and field some good questions. We covered how we all got started in the business, how we broke in as writers, what was exciting about DVD, what the future held in store -- all those things that as writers we want to know about because quite frankly there are some days we think we're not going to make it.

I hope we put those fears to rest and gave people the confidence and the tools to not wait for things to happen, but get out there and make them happen. Things that we talk about here on the blog. All of us filed out for a lovely sunday lunch and coffee.

Later were several panels and people that I watched and enjoyed. One thing I came up against (and I say that not meaning there was a fight or anything) was a person on a panel who had it in her mind that there was indie film then there was that "cheap genre stuff on video". I didn't have the balls to stand up and take her to task then and there, because my parents raised me right, but perhaps I should have called her on her snobbery. Several people who knew me in the audience looked my way, but I let it pass. It wasn't the time nor the place.

That evening was the networking party where the attendees and the panelists mixed elbows and boozes. I met several very nice folks from all over the world so I'd like to give them a little shout out:

G. W. -- Dude, she's not going to sleep with you. You are way out of your league. Especially when she wears that top.

Gabrielle at -- I think a script reading IS in order.

Johnathan -I look forward to seeing the footage from that camera you bought. Shoot. Shoot. Shoot.

Fox - oh, Fox. It was a distinct pleasure.

Susanna - also a pleasure.

Frank - thanks for the software. I'll put it to good use.

Scott - say "hi" to Denis McGrath when you get back to Toronto.

Michelle from Toronto -- I never got your card. I am crushed.

Karl -- cheers, mate!

Tiffany -- your smile lights up the room.

Aaron - I've got to check into this videogame thing.

Paul -- once the proposal is set I will send it to you.

EDIT: Fun Joel has a breakdown on the specifics of the two panels he attended that you will want to read here.


Fun Joel said...

I was waiting for either you or Warren to check in on this. Good stuff. You can check my site for my own recap of less material but in more detail! ;-)

Glad your panel went well. Looking forward to catching up next week or something.

Grubber said...

Thanks for the rundown Bill, certainly sounds like a good time was had!

Fun Joel said...


Shawna said...

Thanks Bill -- wish I could have been there. Almost time for another Scribosphere get together, don't you think?

CD said...

Hey Bill --

Sounds like the Showcase was a rousing success.

I had the pleasure of meeting Stephen Susco at a pitch event at the Sonoma Film Festival. He's a super nice guy and even agreed to read one of my scripts (which he ended up me giving some nice notes on). Cool dude. I'll have to check out his web site.


Neal Romanek said...

Yo, that "cheap genre stuff on video" chick needed a smack-down. Word. But she was expressing the common - backward-looking and reactionary - viewpoint.

Good to see you and FunJ and other scribobloggagists over the weekend. The fact that a lot of us end up at these same kind of landmark info-exchange fests makes me think that we may indeed be ahead of the curve, while a lot of the established industry are sitting in the studio wondering if this whole Internet thing is going to pan out.

Bill Cunningham said...

The "indie-get-it-done-so-we-can-do-it-again" audience has always been ahead of the curve because we:

a) need the cash
b) are small enough to move efficiently and quickly.

It's time the studios realize that distribution is slipping out of their hands and into the communications' companies hands - the adelphias, comcasts of the world. They NEED to be making these strategic moves in order to hold onto product.

These networking events are great because it allows you to start putting all of the different pieces together...