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.
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.
The Tennessee Screenwriting Association is a not-for-profit educational organization dedicated to the art and craft of screenwriting. Participation is free although paid membership allows writers to receive feedback on their scripts. Click here for more information or to join.
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.
Rom-Coms are back in vogue at the movies, so we’re throwing down another screenwriting challenge in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Write a five-page or less romantic comedy script to celebrate the occasion. Bring copies of your script to our Feb. 13 meeting at Watkins where we’ll read them aloud. See you there!
NOTE:TSA meetings open to all. Challenge open to paid TSA members only. Update your membership here.
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 Three 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 cartidges. On Day 2, paper. So, without further ado, Gift 3:
Red Pens and Highlighters
We hinted at this one yesterday. Yup, after you’ve printed out that glorious (ahem!) first draft of the script you’ve devoted your life to for the past several weeks or months, it’s time to tear it apart. Line by line. Scene by scene. No character, no line of dialogue is immune to the cursed red strikethrough! It’s time to, dare I say it, KILL YOUR DARLINGS! Eliminate the excess, trim the fat. Be merciless!
So, for all of that, you’ll need: Red Pens and Highlighters!
Ask for them in your stocking! You’ll be glad you did.
Welcome to Day Two 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. Yesterday we proposed ink as our first gift, so today’s gift idea makes perfect sense:
You can’t use up your ink cartridges or toner if you don’t have paper. And you need paper to print out your scripts! Yes, you can read your scripts on your computer screen. A lot of people do, especially those intent on saving paper (planet!). But honestly, scripts, like books, just read better on paper. And, added bonus, you get to mark up your scripts with highlighters and red ink pens (but we’re getting ahead of ourselves as those are gifts for another day).
Get yourself a Staples or Office Depot/Office Max reward card and you could get exclusive savings offers and rebates on paper. Buy in bulk, even when you don’t need it, because you will need it someday. And hey, use that toggle setting on your computer to print on both sides. You’ll get twice as much from your paper that way.
The Tennessee Screenwriting Association is overseen by a board of directors, who are elected each December. A president, vice president, treasurer and secretary are then elected from among the board. Three provisional members are also elected.
2023 TSA Board of Directors
President: Jeff Chase
Vice President: Irish Johnston
Treasurer: Dave Deverell
Secretary: Paula Phelps-Weaver
Provisional board members (will have the power to vote at board meetings should a regular board member be unable to attend):
Webmaster (non-board member):
Jeffrey Alan Chase – President
Jeff Chase moved to Nashville from Mesa, Ariz., to hone his talents as a songwriter and screenwriter after several careers, including advertising executive and commercial Real Estate broker. As a songwriter, he’s amassed a catalog of over 600 songs, many of which have been cut by country and pop artists and include songs licensed in movies and TV.
As a screenwriter, Jeff has multiple full-length feature screenplays and numerous short scripts under his belt. Two scripts were quarter-finalists in the prestigious Nicholl competition. His romantic comedy Grinder’s Switch took second place in the Tennessee Screenplay Contest. Country Songwriters won the LA Screenwriting Competition for Comedy Short.
Jeff is a SAG actor who has appeared in numerous commercials, videos and industrial films. He has appeared in numerous films including, Ernest Goes to Jail and When the Eagle Cries and co-starred with Robert Carradine and Chris Mitchum in the thriller Lycanthrope. He worked alongside Kathy Bates and Alfree Woodard in Tyler Perry’s hit movie, The Family that Preys.
He has been a board member and past president of Film Nashville, board member, past president and vice president of the Tennessee Screenwriting Association, board member and past vice president of Nashville Publishers Network. He is president of Chase Internet an IT consulting and web design company and president of Blue Drops Publishing Co. (ASCAP).
His interests include hiking, sailing, golf and rebuilding 1960s English sports cars. He’s a licensed pro and amateur boxing referee. He lives on a farm outside of Dickson, Tennessee with his wife and their dogs, cats and assorted chickens.
Irish Johnston – Vice President
Writer, actor, producer Irish (Burch) Johnston began as an actress in Los Angeles and Nashville. She currently spends most of her time writing screenplays, three of which have been finalists or won awards: Redhanded, Scents, and The Hole Truth, in several film festival competitions. Being a native Nashvillian, with a piano, she has finally surrendered to the siren call of song writing as well. She loves every aspect of the film industry, from writing and composing to acting, to her latest challenge, producing.
David Deverell – Treasurer
David Deverell is a Nashville screenwriter. He received his degree in Film and Television from Loyola Marymount University, and after graduating, wrote, produced and directed an award-winning 30- minute drama for Encylcopaedia Britannica’s Short Story Showcase Series, “The Hunt,” an adaptation of Richard Connell’s short story, “The Most Dangerous Game.” David went on to have a long career in the advertising industry and retired eight years ago.
In retirement, David returned to writing and has since written four feature-length screenplays. His first, The Shoe Box, won first place at the 10th Annual Tennessee Screenwriting Association Screenplay Competition in 2010, when he became a member. His other screenplays have been finalists in other competitions, including The Page Awards, Table Read My Screenplay, Emerging Screenwriters and Access Screenplays.
In 2015, David relocated to Nashville from Los Angeles and is actively involved in helping the Nashville Film Community develop a robust industry.
Paula Phelps-Weaver – Secretary
Paula Phelps-Weaver is a relative newcomer to the world of screenwriting. After a career as an internal medicine physician and then some years as a stay at home parent, she is finally pursuing her love of writing.
Though her academic background is in science, she has attended several writing courses and workshops, and will begin submitting her work to contests in 2019. She is currently working on a dramedy TV pilot.
Her interests include horseback riding, kayaking, hiking, soccer, jazz, and growing things. She lives on a farm with her husband of thirty-nine years, her horses, and her dog.
Bob Giordano is a principal of Uproar Pictures, based in Nashville, TN. He is the 2017 Grand Prize Winner of “The Poe Contest” for his script, The Odds, and the director of The Odds feature. He has been a quarterfinalist, a semifinalist, a finalist, and/or won several of Hollywood’s most prestigious screenplay contests, including The Southern California Screenplay Competition (The Odds), Nicholl Fellowship (Sicko), Fade-In (Uprise), The Writer’s Network contest (Resistance), the Hollywood Symposium (Grendel) and Script Open Door.
Over many years, Bob has worked on numerous short films and independent features as a writer, director, assistant director, camera operator, and editor. Since coming to Nashville in the1980s, he has continuously taught screenwriting and filmmaking to adults, teens and children, including his ongoing screenwriting courses at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film. He is also a past president and current officer of the Tennessee Screenwriting Association. As a prolific writer of dozens of completed scripts, he often says, “Daylight’s burning.”
Elvis Wilson was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., and grew up in Cleveland, Tenn., where he was raised on a healthy dose of TV like The Twilight Zone, Gilligan’s Island and his favorite TV show, Space 1999.Like most folks his age, Star Wars rocked his world in 1977.
Inspired by a steady dose of Coen Brother’s films and Monty Python reruns over the last three decades, he has written over ten screenplays, produced four short films, and directed scores of music videos and industrial films. In 2008, he and his wife produced an award-winning feature documentary, Being Lincoln: Men With Hats (which had a two-year run on the now defunct Documentary Channel and also aired on Showtime). In 2015, he started principle photography of his self-produced, award-winning feature FOGG. FOGG had a great festival run and was picked up by RedBox.
Elvis is currently working on FOGG 2 with Executive Producer Kelly Frey. He’s also written a TV pilot called Strawberry Plains, which was in the top 30 scripts in the prestigious AMC’s Drama Pilot category at the 2018 Austin Film Festival (over 10,500 scripts were entered). While still not able to quit his day job, Elvis writes almost every day and is happy to hang with his brothers and sisters of the TSA.
While working in Nashville’s TV and film production industry in the 90’s, Mark Naccarato‘s first TV spec script caught the attention of producers at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and he was invited to pitch to the hit series. Even though he didn’t make a sale, the first story Mark pitched to them was nearly identical to a story that was already in production.
Encouraged by that experience and then by a near-sale on Star Trek: Voyager, Mark decided to make his first “real” film. The Crusader, a superhero movie disguised as a true-crime reality show was a cult hit at comic conventions across the South and punched above its weight with a budget of less than $3,000 using a cast and crew of over a hundred volunteers. Mark’s current short film, The Romulan War, puts a spin on the sci-fi effects movie by using a documentary format and “found footage” from an interstellar war in the 22nd century.
Mark’s pilot script The Exodusters – an historical drama set during the Kansas Exodus of the 1870’s – has landed a finalist slot in the Nashville Film Festival and he’s a co-producer on several independent films, including Potter’s Ground and Gates of Flesh – both of which were filmed in Tennessee.
Pam Tate grew up in Indiana, took a bus to Greenwich Village, sang in bands, acted in shows, wrote songs, paid standing room for Broadway, got a tan on her roof, released 3 CDs, gigged in famous clubs, drank espresso, and raised two kids who love Shakespeare. She played around with writing and ended up with a degree in film studies and screenwriting. Was Associate Director of The International Cabaret Conference at Yale – instructor, performer, producer.
Pam writes historical dramas about women who make waves, especially during times of social change, full-length plays and screenplays, numerous shorts of both. She won a national women’s playwriting contest for her play about Leni Riefenstahl. Pam writes a monthly column about innovative women in film, for Reel Lumiere, a magazine focused on women’s filmmaking.
Pam loves to act and teach acting. Favorite roles: Zelda Fitzgerald in The Last Flapper, hard-boiled Lorraine in Sam Shepard’s A Lie of the Mind, pill-popping Violet in August Osage County, and sweet, kooky Mary in A.R. Gurney’s Crazy Mary. (typecast as unstable women?) Among others, she’s been in the musical Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, twice.
Nashville was an unexpected detour five years ago. Bought a house on a hill, started co-writing, performing, made a CD with her band, Pam Tate & Her Men In Blues. Pam joined Nashville Women in Film & Television and serves on the Board of Directors. She’s proud to be a new Board Member of the Tennessee Screenwriting Association.
For fun, she watches any historical drama she can find, often over and over, she takes pictures, makes videos, hangs out with grandkids, is a great cook when she feels like it, gardens when she feels like it, throws the ball for Piper, her terrier, and takes drives with Harvey, her husband.
Proud member of SAG-AFTRA, AEA, The Dramatists Guild, and BMI. Her music is in all the usual places – Spotify, Amazon, Apple. http://www.pamtate.com.