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Monday, November 17, 2008

2008 Screenplay Retreat Finito

It's hard to believe, but it's been two months since I wrote this on the blog: "The fundamental element of 99 percent of all narrative filmmaking is the screenplay. You can say the director is the beating heart of a film. We're going to adamantly say it's 110 pages of paper and ink. The power a well written script can have to attract talent and to inspire passion isn't the stuff of legends, it's the truth."

Well those scripts did attract some serious talent to Atlanta this weekend. From our industry mentors who have been involved in some of the most influential projects of the last 30 years, to our winning screenwriters whose varied backgrounds, scripts and awards ensure that the world of film, hell, media in general, will never be bereft of great stories.

Also on display this weekend was the power these scripts had in bringing 12 strangers from around the country to the ATL for an experience that created new friendships and networking opportunities. You know you're in friend territory when you...okay me...have had your ass spanked by both fest director Dan and Miracole, wife of our Perfect Pitch operator Chris Burns (pictured below in uniform), on the dance floor in front of the screenwriters. Or, enter into a can't-be-repeated conversation with both a screenwriter and a mentor that starts innocently with a pants leg zipper being unzipped. (Again me) Yes, we kept this prestigious retreat respectful and above board the entire weekend.

The entire weekend moves much too quickly.

I'd like to name everyone involved with this weekend, but unfortunately, the list is way, way too long. It takes a small company of soldiers to pull a weekend like this off. When it's all said and done, by my count, there's literally over a 100 people who were involved in this competition and retreat. From the script readers and folks who provided coverage, to the folks who helped promote it, to the actors who read.

I'd like to thank Sandy Corley (pictured on the right) for hosting the Friday night reception at her home for the screenwriters and mentors. You know the night's a success when the writers and mentors opt to walk back to the hotel together as a group. It's that kind of Southern hospitality that sucks people right in and makes them comfortable enough to let their guard down (which is a must, because the next day is when the critiquing and mentoring happens in earnest).

I'd also like to thank Drew Fransen and Hotel Midtown for hosting our group again this year. Having a host hotel that you know will do whatever it can to make your guests feel welcome is key.

As a venue, the weekend wouldn't have been what is without the Margaret Mitchell House and staff. Gracie Gummere and her crew were accommodating, friendly and again, demonstrated what Southern Hospitality is all about. Working hand in hand with the Margaret Mitchell House just reinforces how much writing is at the center of this weekend. And having our reading in the space couldn't have gone better. Is it no surprise that our collaboration continues into the New Year with some of our Winter/Spring screenwriting classes?

Huge thanks to Chris Burns who hosted Perfect Pitch: Elevator Edition. Believe it our not, we added this easily 15 minute component to this year's reading and we actually had an event that was almost 20 minutes shorter than last year. Between our mentors, who were definitely game, Dan and Burns, it was an event that was not only fun, but added an injection of energy that kept the show flowing.

Shout out to the actors at the reading. The list is entirely too long, so what I'm going to do is upload the program and link to it. As usual, Atlanta's talent brought their "A" game.

Other thanks to Turner; Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment; Delta; Georgia Council for the Arts; Fulton County Arts Council; National Endowment for the Arts; Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs; Metro Atlanta Arts Fund; Atlanta Convention & Vistitors Bureau; and the members of Atlanta Film Festival 365.

Lastly, thanks to Joel Zwick, J.T. Petty, Anne Hubbell, Stephen Israel, Morgan J. Freeman, and Carly Hugo. These mentors where gracious with their time and advice. Without them this weekend wouldn't be what it is.

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