Monday, March 23, 2015

13 Things I think I learned at Santa Rosa Story Expo

Committed to keeping my foot on the gas in turning my screenplay Pink into a feature film, I attended three-day weekend storytellers expo in Santa Rosa.
What the Storytellers Expo lacked in star power, communication and polish, it made up for in intimacy. There is not one reason any attendee should have left feeling like their questions were not answered by real writers, publishers, script consultants, or producers.
It's wasn't cheap, but you'd pay four times that much for the same offerings online.
The following are 13 thoughts, lessons or reflections from the two days of classes and day of pitching Pink at Storytellers Expo produced by the Santa Rosa-based "Northern California Writers" group:

  1. The Sacramento film community would be smart to shift some instruction towards writing for television and web series. 
  2. Breakdown episodes of television shows I liked, then follow the formula to write a spec episode.  
  3. I'm well ahead of the curve in term of branding, social media and the business of film.
  4. Re-read/edit scripts with different lenses: think like director, actor, producer
  5. People love the true story/premise of Pink.
  6. Write your first logline at the idea stage. 
  7. Thanks for the instruction on how to write a film query letters, but what's the point if agents don't read them? 
  8. Tension = hope v. fear.
  9. Seek rising and falling tension through each mini movie. 
  10. Author Dale Brown spent a lot of time in Sacramento and is a nice dude.
  11. Practice funny by jotting down one funny thing a day. 
  12. In packaging start with directors and talent with production companies.
  13. In seeking agents and production partners, look to those judging screenplay contests, those are the people open to finding material in unusual places. 

When Sunday's pitch session came, I was at ease and confident. Participants stood in line for five minutes of one-on-one time with the assorted (8) book and film experts.
Making the best of meetings means setting reasonable expectations of learning something, building rapport, and achieving a small "ask."
And while I wish script consultants would use their connections more liberally to help non-clients,  I totally understand the folly of their ways. All of the pitch recipients were willing active listeners who surely would have benefited those at the early stages or those with a polished project.
Now time to email Pink to a Los Angeles studio.


  1. What do you mean they don't read the query letters? Do you know how much time I spent on mine getting them 'just right'? Is this just a ploy to get some comments on your blog? I really would like you to elaborate a little more please. I'm really curious.

  2. While in the print publishing world query letters still work, many or most large agencies and agents won't even read query letters. They need to come with a recommendation from someone they already know. From what I understand it's easier to get a lower rung production companies to (pay you very little) make your movie than to get an agent without a feature screen credit.