Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A safe place to create

The brainchild of screenwriters Jim Uhls (Fight Club) and Aleks Horvat (Sweethearts), it's basically a chance for aspiring screenwriters -- writers at "a certain level", according to Horvat -- to workshop their scenes with actors. This kind of thing is incredibly valuable, especially for scripts/plays. Prose, not so much, but this ain't that kinda thang:
While the actors' attendance is free, the writers each pay $45 monthly dues (mostly to cover Horvat's loss of business on that night). Membership is at Horvat's discretion, with the main requirement being that a writer or actor is working — i.e. being paid — though the writers aren't required to have produced credits. A writer can also acquire an invitation by having a great piece of material that Horvat or Uhls has read and likes, plus a strong referral.

"We want to keep the bar at a certain level," says Horvat of a roster that includes Roger Soffer ("Slow Burn"), Meredith Stiehm ("NYPD Blue," "ER") and a bundle of writers who have sold pilots and specs or written low-budget independent films.

Any format is welcome for presentation — feature scripts, TV pilots, plays, short films, free-standing scenes or exercises, even potential animated material. Writers have brought in both spec work and studio assignments, and both Uhls and Herron attest to the necessity of working out certain dramatic muscles in this workshop environment that keep them from slipping into formula with their rewrite gigs.

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