Retreat! (Part Two)
At the conclusion of the afternoon session, the participants were allowed about three hours of free time. Some chose sleep. I chose to stop obsessing about my script by seeing someone else's movie, so Doug and I caught the 4:50 showing of Into Thin Air.
Saturday evening at 8:00 pm, a public reading of excerpts of the six winning scripts was held at the 14th Street Playhouse. The scripts were ready by a panel of actors, most of whom were recruited from an IMAGE acting workshop.
Photo by Charles Judson
Staged readings can be pretty rough on a screenwriter -- especially if the screenwriter is a control freak like myself. But the cast did an excellent job of flitting between horror, comedy, drama and various points in between -- with no rehearsal with the writers (though I'm told at least one managed to grab some prep time with the readers).
Photo by Charles Judson
In hindsight I should've chosen a better scene from my script (I picked a montage sequence that's largely a monologue). CHalk up one more lesson learned. This was yet another thing I discussed with Joy and other participants: how to choose a scene for an out-of-context scene (Don't worry about conveying the crux of the story, just pick a scene that has some inter-character energy). Will the learning ever stop?
No. But it was put on hold at 10:00 pm. At this point a few people peeled off to the hotel while most of the crew headed to Ponce for late-night pizza fellowship, and then a visit to the legendary Clermont Lounge.
Sorry, no photos -- yet. Apparently Yarrow Wayman (whose script Molewhackers was among the winners) managed to squeeze off a photos, with flash, on the Clermont dance floor without having her camera confiscated or her person ejected. In this photo you will no doubt see a group of aspiring writers and accomplished mentors sacrificing their dignity on a crowded dance floor in the name of camaraderie. Afterward, it was officially called a night.
The participants were marching a little more slowly as they made the treacherous crossing of Peachtree Road to the Mitchell House (not far from the very spot where the grand dame of southern literature met her untimely end on the grille of a taxicab).
To begin the final day's festivities, each of the mentors told about themselves and offered anecdotal advice about the business of selling scripts to studios, and preparing projects for independent investment. They discussed the twin-edged blade of pigeonholing (specializing in a single genre helps you create an identity and get repeat jobs, but it is nearly impossible to break out of a mold once you've carved a space inside one).
Turns out one of the winners, Jennifer Deaton (Pentimenti) is a script reader for several companies, so she was able to talk about what kinds of scripts stand the best chance of getting past the sentries. Mentor Michael Lucker (Wes Craven's Vampire in Brooklyn) shared some of his methods of establishing "heat" around a spec script. Traci Carroll talked about the process of straight-to-video development deals at Warner Home Video... and what it was like to be the resident Scooby Doo expert. Kent Osborne discussed life after Spongebob and the politics of mumblecore. Producer Molly Mayeux warned of the dangers of overextending yourself, among other pitfalls of independent film.
Day three: Joy Kecken and Bret Wood, running out of steam.
The conversation went on so long we had to abbreviate the repeat visits with our designated mentors. We had just enough time to confer about the staged readings and be sure that the previous day's avalanche of information had begun to be absorbed.
And then, after a group photo on the front lawn, the airport departures commenced.
Prostrate: IMAGE Communications Director Charles Judson. Kneeling (l-r): IMAGE Executive Director Gabe Wardell, winner Jennifer Deaton (Pentimenti), mentor Kent Osborne, mentor Doug Sadler, IMAGE Festival Director Dan Krovich. Standing (l-r): mentor Joy Lusco Kecken, mentor Michael Lucker, winner Caitlin McCarthy (Vera), winner Steven Brooks (Apparition), winner Yarrow Wayman (Molewhackers), mentor Traci Carroll, mentor Molly Mayeux, winner Avi Weider (Zeroes and Ones), IMAGE Managing Director Paula Martinez, me.