Tennessee Screenwriting Association held its 2019 Script-Com Symposium over two days in June, beginning with a special screening of Bram Stoker’s Dracula at Full Moon Cineplex in Hermitage with screenwriter James V. Hart. Photographer Thom King helped us commemorate the event:
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.
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.