Welcome to the Tennessee Screenwriting Association’s Audio Library. Below you’ll find audio recordings of our weekly meetings from 2023. Follow along each week as we help our members work through their scripts’ log lines, outlines, and critique their pages. Just click on the “play” arrows to begin the meetings. Listen, learn, enjoy!
Note: Some recordings may take up to 60 seconds or more before any conversations begin.
Script-Com 2022 guest speakers included:
10:00 am CST Tom Schulman – screenwriter known for DEAD POET’S SOCIETY, WHAT ABOUT BOB?, and HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS. Tom also wrote, directed, and co-produced the soon-to-be-released thriller, DOUBLE DOWN SOUTH.
11:00 am CST Bob Saenz – screenwriter with more than 20 movies produced in multiple genres that include: horror, comedy, romance, Christmas and more. Bob is also the author of, “That’s Not The Way It Works: A no-nonsense guide to the craft and business of screenwriting”.
1/2 Hour Break
12:30 pm CST Dana Brawer – screenwriter and Script Coordinator on the final season of THE BLACKLIST. She also has worked on: BIG MOUTH, NIGHTFLYERS, NeXT, and FBI: MOST WANTED. Dana developed a feature with Automatik Entertainment that is currently being shopped.
1:30 pm CST Bob Giordano – screenwriter, director and independent filmmaker. He is a past-President of the TSA. Bob wrote and directed the horror mystery, THE ODDS, which is in world-wide distribution. He currently has several other independent projects in the works.
3:00 pm CST Aaron Mendelsohn – screenwriter known for co-creating and co-writing the successful AIR BUD family film franchise. Aaron is Secretary-Treasurer of the WGA West, and author of, “The 11 Fundamental Questions: A Guide to a Better Screenplay”
Links to the Recordings of the 2022 Virtual Script-Com sessions are on the TSA Script-Com page.
While much of the excitement about the Tennessee Screenwriting Association’s Script-Com Symposium this Saturday naturally revolves A-List writer James V. Hart and his master class, participants will also get to hear from industry professionals Mitchell Galin and Samantha Starr.
Mitchell Galin, who will head up the 11 a.m. hour, is a seasoned, multiple award-winning producer in the film, television and theater mediums. Through his over 30-year career he has developed and/or overseen the production of ten features, over 25 television movies and mini-series, three series, six documentaries and two theater productions.
Galin just completed production on the TV One television pilot Media. Concurrently he is producing his latest documentary on Kauai’s historic Lawai International Center, a non-denominational community project.
Among his current feature projects, Galin is currently developing and packaging the adaptation of Stephen King’s short story “Gingerbread Girl,” which will be directed by Craig Baxley, the family film Blue Lights and the suspense thriller The Disembodied, to be directed by Neville Page. Galin’s other recent productions include the series pilot for the reboot of his iconic series Tales from The Darkside. the Hallmark movies Norman Rockwell’s Shuffleton’s Barbershop, Wedding Planner Mystery and The Shunning and Paper Angels; the award winning documentaries Journey to Everest, Honoring a Father’s Dream: The Sons of Lwala, Survivor, Apostles of Comedy 1 & 2. He is also a producer/writer on the recently released feature documentary, Living Hope.
Included in Galin’s other television producing credits are Sci-Fi’s miniseries Dune; CBS’ miniseries A Season in Purgatory; ABC’s Stephen King’s The Langoliers and Stephen King’s The Stand. These productions earned Galin an Emmy nomination and collectively earned nine Emmy’s. He also produced the award-winning telefilm The Vernon Johns Story, which starred James Earl Jones and amongst its many awards netted him the prestigious Christopher Award, and the CBS series Stephen King’s Golden Years. He was executive in charge of production of the critically acclaimed series Tales from the Darkside and Monsters, the latter of which he co-created. Both of these series were well known for giving a substantial number of directors, writers and actors their first professional job.
Well-known for teaming up Stephen King, Galin was a producer on a number of feature films including the original Pet Sematary and Thinner, which were released by Paramount Pictures, and The Night Flier, a New Line Cinema release.
Galin serves on the board, for the multiple award-winning Kid Pan Alley, a non- profit curriculum-based music enrichment program that teaches grade school children creative writing through an innovative songwriting method. Among his other charitable works, Galin produced and directed a PSA for former Governor Bredesen and Andrea Conte promoting the First Lady’s Walk across Tennessee to raise awareness for Child Advocacy and was one of the producers of Project Restore, a Nashville-centric Tsunami benefit.
While living in New York, Galin delved into the theatrical arena by serving on the boards of the Atlantic Theater Company, founded by David Mamet and William Macy, which produced the multiple Tony Award-winning play Beauty Queen of Lenanne, and the New Dramatists, the country’s most prestigious dramaturgical theater organization.
Galin serves on the board, and was the past president of FilmNashville, the Nashville Screenwriter’s Conference, and was appointed by Gov. Bredesen to the Film Production Advisory Committee, which completed the report that served as the basis for the ‘08 Tennessee State sponsored film incentive program. Galin has served on the boards of the Nashville Film Festival and as a consultant to the Independent Features Project, the largest association of independent filmmakers in the country.
Galin is a member of the Directors Guild of America, Writers Guild of America, Producers Guild and the Academy of Television Arts. His writing and editorial work has been published both in the United States and England. He has served as a guest lecturer at Columbia University, NYU, New School of Social Research, Vanderbilt, Belmont University as well as a panelist at various film festivals including Sundance, IFP, Cannes.
Samantha Starr, who will kick off Script-Com at 10 a.m. Saturday, is a film and TV literary manager at Circle of Confusion Management, previously at Gotham Group and Columbia Pictures in development on films including 21 Jump Street and Moneyball. She transitioned to management at Principato-Young after a stint at One-Two Punch Productions.
Her clients have included TV writers Ester Lou Weithers (Pitch), Andrew Thomas (Henry Danger), Jeane Wong, Becca Rodriguez and Stan Wang; actress Elena Pavli; filmmaker Bennett Lasseter; and playwright James Wesley.
Circle of Confusion is a premiere management and production destination for actors, writers, directors, content creators, publishers and journalists. Circle is active in creating a broad spectrum of television series and feature films, and specializes in the discovery of original, unique and compelling voices, with offices in Los Angeles and New York.
When: Saturday, June 22
Location: Shamblin Theater / Lipscomb University campus
1 University Park Drive, Nashville 37204
9:30 a.m. — Doors open
10 a.m. — Samantha Starr – Circle of Confusion Management
11 a.m. — Mitchell Galin – Producer/Writer/Director
12 p.m. — Bob Giordano, Writer/Director & Tom Steinmann, Producer
1 p.m. — Lunch (off site)
2:15 p.m. — James V. Hart Master Class – Writer of CONTACT, THE LAST MIMZY, Spielberg’s HOOK & more.
By Tom Wood
Not only was Giordano the screenwriter, but he also directed, and had a hand in nearly everv aspect of the thriller/horror produced by Alan McKenna and executive produced by Tom Steinmann (Uproar Pictures) and Kelly Frey (Music City Films).
The story focuses on a woman who gets involved in underground game of pain endurance worth $1 million to the winner, only to learn the rigged game is run by the manipulative and sadistic man out to defeat her. It debuted on June 4 and is available on Amazon Prime Video and at Walmart stores.
Giordano and Steinmann will host a panel session to discuss the movie at the June 22 Script-Com Screenwriting Symposium at Lipscomb University’s Shamblin Theater.
“(The panel discussion will be) a good expression of the process from beginning to end and what you can expect if you’re a truly, truly independent filmmaker,” said Giordano, one of the principals of Uproar Pictures. “One of the things that I think is interesting about it is that, at least the way I went about making this film, you actually end up making the movie several times.”
Giordano then reeled off the ways in which he first conceptualized The Odds, then visualized it, then wrote, rewrote and rewrote some more, then … you get the idea.
“We’ll be talking about everything from conceptualizing it for a micro-budget film to all the way through the development, and even past that — to selling it and marketing it…”
— Bob Giordano, writer/director
“We’ll be talking about everything from conceptualizing it for a micro-budget film to all the way through the development, and even past that — to selling it and marketing it and sort of a number of things that people talk about in sort of general broad terms,” he said. “But our experience is definitely more focused … and it won’t be the same experience that everybody else has.”
Along the journey, he also pitched the idea and story at the weekly Tennessee Screenwriting Association meetings to get immediate feedback.
“Since I tend to do outlining, that’s kind of the first version of the movie. Then when you do the script and its subsequent rewrites, that’s the second version,” he said.
“And then when you go through the script with your production team and the actors, that’s another version that you do of it. And when it makes the transition from a piece of work on paper to something that you actually have to shoot, then you have to consider where all the actors are going to have to be, where the cameras are going to be, all these things.
“The way I did that most effectively was through storyboard,” he added. “Storyboarding it was another version of the film,” he added. “And then there’s the actual production of it, and then there’s the editing, then the sound design and the music — and these are all versions that are all slightly altered and slightly changed.
“So when people talk about a director’s vision of a story, you’ve got to have a vision that’s a little flexible as a practical sense about how filmmaking works.”
He says that it’s essential for the writer to follow the director’s lead — but even more so when the two are the same person.
“For a writer, part of the job is being open to making all these changes. I was kind of lucky as the director; you don’t have to fight with the writer so much,” he said with a laugh. “But I was pretty lucky — at least as much as a person can be. I tried to be objective once I was mostly done with the writing aspect. I kicked that guy out of the room and tried to keep my director’s hat firmly on.”
Giordano said that while the writer can envision anything, the director has to see what works and doesn’t work, and see the finished product as the audience would view it.
“The thing is that when you’re the writer, you’re trying to express the idea of the story and anything you’re trying to say within that story. Your job and your intention usually tends to be trying to get that out as clearly and as artistically as possible,” he said.
“But once you are a director, you have to be far more concerned with how the audience is actually going to receive this information. Because it’s not a work on paper, it’s moving pictures.
“So the audience gets all this information and sometimes the information is portrayed in a way that the writer was not aware, either for good or for bad, how it would come across to an audience when it’s actually playing on the screen among actors.
And it’s the director’s job to really make sure that the story is going to be received by the audience, and really the first audience for the film.”
Giordano hopes to carry those lessons he’s learned into his next project, Gates of Flesh, which he says i much more of a horror movie than The Odds, with “elements of supernatural and end of the world stuff.” Then it will be a sequel to The Odds followed by a faith-based film.
Screenwriter James V. Hart will headline Script-Com, which is hosted by the Tennessee Screenwriting Association. Events kick off Friday with Hart at a screening and discussion of his Bram Stoker’s Dracula script at Full Moon Cineplex in Hermitage. Then on Saturday, Hart will headline Script-Com, discussing both his movies and the HartChart app and Toolkit he developed to help writers map stories and characters.
Besides 1992’s Dracula, Hart’s credits include Hook (1991), Bram Stoker’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), Muppet Treasure Island (1996), Contact (1997), Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (2001), Tuck Everlasting (2002), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider—The Cradle of Life (2003), Sahara (2005), August Rush (2007), Epic (2013), the 2014 TV series Crossbones, and 2019’s The Hot Zone min-series on National Geographic.
Script-Com: What to Know
Script-Com admission is $50 and includes the Friday night screening and Saturday’s symposium, plus a one-year membership in the TSA. Current members pay just $40. To register, go to https://tennscreen.com. To attend a buffet/mix and mingle with Hart prior to Friday’s movie, cost is $15 at the door.
The June 22 symposium will open with a 10 a.m., presentation by manager Samantha Starr, who has recently joined Circle of Confusion Management. Following Starr will be producer Mitchell Galin, who has been involved in a number of Stephen King adaptations including The Stand, Pet Semetary, Thinner, The Langoliers, and other projects including Dune.
“ScriptCom is going to be good whether you are a beginning screenwriter or you are an A-list screenwriter,” said Jeff Chase vice-president of the Tennessee Screenwriting Association. “There’s going to be something for everybody.”
TSA members are welcome to provide a bio about themselves for our Tennessee Screenwriters Directory. You can include writing credits, genres you write in, loglines for completed scripts, social media and website links. The idea is to help get the word out about who we are and what we do. Think of this as your imdb bio. (You can even use your imdb bio, if you’ve got one!). To add your name and info to the directory, just fill out the following information below and email your information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Jpeg photos of yourself are encouraged.
The writer’s directory is open to paid members of the TSA. Membership is just $25 a year. To join, go here.
Tennessee Screenwriters Directory
Bio (please provide 3-4 sentences about yourself, such as job, educational background, screenwriting credits or other accomplishments, etc.):
Skills (examples: screenwriting, scriptreading, directing, editing, sound editing, etc.):
By Tom Wood
He didn’t know it at the time, but the lessons that James V. Hart learned in the process of writing and re-writing his script for Bram Stoker’s Dracula are something he still sinks his teeth into even today.
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola and shot for $40 million, Dracula was one of the biggest hits of 1992, grossing $82.5 million nationally and $215.8 million worldwide — the ninth-highest grossing film of that year.
Hart will be in Nashville on June 21-22 to headline the Tennessee Screenwriting Association’s 2019 Script-Com Screenwriting Symposium. Events kick off Friday evening with an optional buffet/mix and mingle with Hart prior to a screening and discussion of his Dracula script at Full Moon Cineplex in Hermitage. Then on Saturday, Hart will be the featured speaker at an all-day symposium at Lipscomb University’s Shamblin Theater.
Besides Dracula, Hart’s credits include Hook (1991), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), Muppet Treasure Island (1996), Contact (1997), Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (2001), Tuck Everlasting (2002), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider—The Cradle of Life (2003), Sahara (2005), August Rush (2007), Epic (2013), the 2014 TV series Crossbones, and 2019’s The Hot Zone min-series on National Geographic.
A great body of work, to be sure, but it is his HartChart — which he describes as “a decoding ring that allows you to create a character-driven narrative as opposed to plot-driven” — which is having the greatest influence on the next generation of screenwriters.
The HartChart has been touted in writer’s film festival presentations for 20-plus years with hand-drawn charts. In 2015, developer Guy Goldstein approached Hart at the Austin Film Fest with the idea of the HartChart app and Toolkit to help writers map stories and characters. It will be a major part of the Master Class he’ll teach at Script-Com.
“It’s hard to keep a good vampire down, so we’ll be revisiting Dracula in Nashville,” Hart said. “I’ll be doing a Master Class on Dracula using the Toolkit and the HartChart, which actually the first movie I ever charted was Dracula. That’s when I first applied all the stuff that I teach.”
Hart describes the script problems raised by Coppola and the ensuing chaos of the Dracula post-production and screenings that led to the idea — necessity — of a HartChart. He compares the HartChart’s basic questions to the fundamentals of journalism — answering who, what, when, where, why and how — to tell a story.
“They’re altered a bit from the … the big five,” Hart said. “Mine started with Coppola when we were doing Dracula. I got a call from him during post-production. We had some disastrous previews and I got a call from him about three or four months before the release.
“Basically he said, ‘Get on a plane, get out here. I hate you, I hate the film, I hate the script, I hate the cast, I hate the studio, I hate everything about this movie. And I want to show it to you.’ I was like, ‘Okay, I can’t wait to see that’ because I’ve spent 15 years of my life on that project.”
Hart caught the next flight from New York to California and got right to work.
“Francis, he set me up in the Godfather screening room downstairs at Zoetrope, and didn’t even come down to say hello — just said, ‘call me when you finish watching the film.’ And I sat there for the next 2½ hours getting drunker and drunker and hating viewing,” Hart recalled. “Oh my god, this is terrible.’ And he called me and said, ‘you didn’t call me after the film,’ and I said, ‘I hate it too, I hate you too, this is horrible.’ ”
So they got busy looking at all the footage, the cuts, everything over the next two weeks.
“And we found that it wasn’t reshooting the scenes, it was pieces of narrative that we had either lost or ignored or forgotten or cut out because we didn’t think we needed it,” he said. “The footage showed us where our needs were — the fallouts, the holes — so we went through and we actually did a draft of the script based on the film that was edited. And (we) only went back and shot pieces; we didn’t shoot whole scenes or new scenes, we went in and filled in the narrative.
“And I kept saying to Francis, ‘there’s got to be a way to head this off at the pass, there’s got to be a way to catch this before we’re in the editing room.’ ”
After Dracula’s success, they talked about how to fix a script before it needed fixing.
“He said, ‘why don’t you start with these three questions?’ And he gave me questions that are basically journalism-based, but they’re about character. “And I went, ‘why the hell didn’t we do this before we wrote the script and shot the movie?’ They’re very simple, and I’ve expanded them into another eight to 10 questions over the years, and it’s where I start all my work. It’s basic journalism.
“But it’s about character—not so much about who, what, when, where, and why—but it’s what do you want, what do you need, what do you fear, what are you afraid of? What’s your goal? Why now? They’re basic journalism patterns, but they’re about character.
“We developed this over the past 20 years and now there’s an app called the HartChart which follows the heartbeat, the emotional journey of the characters as opposed to plot. And I use it every day. It’s been used all over the world and directors, writers, editors — the ones that are devoted to it swear by it. And I owe it all to Francis…thank you Francis.”
Hart says it’s a useful tool for writers at all stages of their career, even for those who are attempting to break into the business in the later stages of life.
“Listen, I’m not supposed to have a career right now at my age (he’s 72) but I still kind of have one,” Hart said with a laugh. “But the good news is there’s more buyers now than there ever were before for television. That’s where they have to hire writers at the same times every year because they need new content. And yes, they all say they’re looking for IP (intellectual property), but they’re also looking for young, unknown writers who have good ideas who can put stuff on the page, who can write character, and yet there is an appetite for new voices whether you’re young or old.”
Hart also recommended that budding screenwriters take advantage of other opportunities like attending festivals and entering contests. He mentioned the Blacklist, Screencraft, the International Screenwriters Association, and a few others.
“You have forums now that we didn’t have when I started out. You have these portals where writers are posting and putting up their material, and there actually are people in the business — 200, 300, 400 people in the business — who are paid to read everything … to canvas these contests at film festivals where awards are given. There are these platforms that didn’t exist when I started. And they’re being paid attention to. … And I would urge everybody there (in Nashville) to take advantage of that.”
Scroll down to order Script-Com tickets:
2019 Script-Com Tickets – Non TSA Members
Includes admission to June 21 screening of Bram Stoker’s Dracula with screenwriter James V. Hart, all-day admission to June 22 Script-Com conference, plus one-year membership in Tennessee Screenwriting Association.
2019 Script-Com Tickets – Current TSA Members
Discounted price for current TSA Members. Includes admission to June 21 screening of Bram Stoker’s Dracula with screenwriter James V. Hart and all-day June 22 Script-Com conference.
So now that you’ve gotten some of the essential tools out of the way for the screenwriter in your life (see our previous entries in the Tennessee Screenwriting Association’s highly practical 12 Days of Screenwriting Gifts), it’s time to round out the list with some other must-haves. The prior list of gifts, with the exception ink cartridges, were all pretty inexpensive and perfect as stocking stuffers. Today’s final gift selections can be a bit pricier on the gift-giving scale.
For starters, your screenwriter needs screenwriting software. Now, there are free versions you can use, such as Celtx or WriterDuet, which are perfectly fine for just getting started. But eventually your screenwriter will need a more savvy version. WriterDuet is proving to be increasingly popular among screenwriters who wish to collaborate on scripts. And, of course, the industry standard continues to be Final Draft.
Once you’ve reached Fade Out on your screenplay, you’ll want to register it with the WGA or, more importantly, with the US Copyright Office. Check out their websites for all the details. They probably don’t offer gift cards, but you can always drop some cold hard cash on your screenwriter in a nice card or stocking.
Speaking of film fests, you can’t go wrong with a cash gift for contest entries. There are tons of them and the entry fees can range from under $50 to over $100, depending on which one and when you decide to enter. Passes to film festivals or conferences like Atlanta or Austin are also welcome gifts.
Finally, don’t forget to gift your screenwriter with an annual membership in the Tennessee Screenwriting Association. It’s super cheap at just $25 and provides your screenwriter with constructive feedback from fellow screenwriters, educational tips and tricks, friends and fellowship with other screenwriters and filmmakers. It may be the best $25 you’ll spend.
Whatever you choose, we hope you’ve enjoyed our list of highly practical screenwriting gifts and have a great holiday!
Now that you’ve got a stack of index cards on which to plot out your story beats, you need something on which to display them. That’s where our latest gift idea comes in, in our exclusive Tennessee Screenwriting Association 12 Days of Christmas Gift Ideas. Today’s idea:
These come in a variety of sizes, but you’ll want one big enough to display your three acts. That could mean as many as sixty index cards, give or take. The cool thing about this is the ability to put up, take down or rearrange your cards as needed until you are satisfied with the story you are telling. The bottom line is, all your key scenes and pivotal moments are easy to view as you type your opus into your software program.
Like we promised when we started this list, all of our gift ideas are highly practical and useful to screenwriters. They may not be glamorous or have much of a wow factor to them, but they are essential tools to use.
Welcome to Day Six of the Tennessee Screenwriting Association’s 12 Days of Christmas Gift Ideas. Each day until Christmas we’ll feature another terrific and highly practical gift idea for the screenwriter in your life. On Day 1, we proposed ink cartridges. On Day 2, paper. And on Day 3, Red Pens and Highlighters. On Day 4, we suggested a trash can for your discarded pages. And on Day 5 we suggested you gift the screenwriter in your life with three-ring binders to hold their printed masterpiece.
We’ll be the first to admit that these may not seem like very exciting gifts to unwrap on Christmas Day, but remember, this is a “practical” gift list. In other words, this is stuff screenwriters really need. Not some mug or bookbag or T-shirt, which admittedly are much cooler gifts. No, these are more useful gifts.
So, with that in mind, let’s continue. Today’s suggestion is another essential must-have for screenwriters.
Yes, index cards. Of course, you can plan your script on paper or you could use the “on screen” index cards in your screenwriting software, but there’s something to be said about using old-fashioned index cards to plan out the scenes in your script. You can even get index cards in a variety of colors to track different characters or subplots.
There’s just something about holding onto something tangible and realizing that “This is your story.” Your brainchild. It’s real.