FiLMLaB Turns Five


FiLMLaB Turns Five This January!

Yes, FiLMLaB is having a birthday.

January marks the fifth year of our little experiment in short screenwriting. The birth was touch and go, painful at times and fraught with panic as we were initiated into the lab. After many long nights and early mornings we survived our first year; found our legs in the second; improved communication in the third; and unleashed our imagination in the fourth.

[sh_content style=”top” color=”#555555″ readmorelink=”” readmoretext=”Please join us for our Short Script Workshop!” target=”_new” title=”” icon=” fa fa-film”][/sh_content]

Being five is going to be so awesome! We should have a party. With cake.

I suggest Tuesday, January 5th.

Our regular hangout, The Old Church, is closed for remodeling, so we’ve booked the Copeland Commons room at TaborSpace instead. We’ll still open the doors at 6:30 and get things going at 7:00, which means I will have to stand in front of you, in my new and official capacity as the Visual Media Director for Willamette Writers, and launch the 2016 FiLMLaB Contest.

Will there be writing prompts? If so, how many and what kind? Will the script still be limited to seven pages and four characters? Will there be a round of celebrity judging? Will they provide notes? Will there be a rewrite opportunity before the winner is chosen for the Grand Prize: production of their short script?

Nearly all of those questions can be answered with a Yes or a No. To find out which one goes with which, you’ll need to come to the party (or wait till the contest parameters go online that night).

FiLMLaB is a contained contest, meaning we have to have limitations on story. We can’t have you going full on James Cameron with loads of special effects and casts of thousands. We’re never going to have the budget for that! So we rein you in, give you a few rules to comply with and force your imagination to work harder. It is a good exercise for any writer, even if you don’t submit to the contest.

So please come! Like last year, you can help decide at least one of the prompts!

But that’s not all. We have some things to talk about, you and I. We don’t have to get it all figured out on the 5th, but I do want to know what you’d like to see in Visual Media (see what I did there?). This is a new position on your Board of Directors, created specifically to broaden our outreach and services to all writers. FiLMLaB is the most obvious to fall under the Visual Media umbrella, but what will keep it company? What does Visual Media suggest to you? Screenwriting? Playwriting? Graphic novels? Writing for web-series? Writing your book trailer or promotional video? Web content?

randall jahnson helps us celebrate as FILMLaB turns fiveAs I said, we won’t get it all figured out right away. Programs take time to develop and execute, but we can get a few things started. For example, one of my goals is to represent Visual Media in a series of monthly lectures, workshops or networking events. During the first quarter of 2016 while our contest is open, workshops will focus on short script writing to support our members interested in submitting. After the contest closes we’ll begin to offer different kinds of events to support different areas of VM. In the immediate future, keep an eye out for a trio of FiLMLaB workshops taught by our Mentor-In-Chief, Randall Jahnson. You may know Randall from his conference classes or his work with Steven Spielberg and Oliver Stone. Randall also mentored five finalists last year, when for the first time we offered our contestants notes from our celebrity judges and a chance to rewrite their script (based on those notes) before final judging. Irene Parikhal had this to say about him:

[sh_quote2]I just spoke to Randall who is like a Screenwriting Whisperer for his ability to intuit and guide us to dig deep for the changes we need to make to improve our scripts. What a gift.”[/sh_quote2]

Yep. He knows a thing or two.

Look for our first workshop Saturday morning, January 9th at TaborSpace (Dining Room) from 9:00-12:30. We will focus on short scriptwriting to support those of you considering entering our contest, with all proceeds going directly to FiLMLaB. I will be co-teaching with Randall and on hand to answer any of your contest questions. Last year’s workshop sold out, so I encourage you to register early. Then, keep an eye on The Dispatch for updates on additional workshops.

The 2015 creative year is nearly behind us as I write this and the holidays are closing in fast. Days grow more tumultuous, barreling down the calendar to their final oblivion. Yet there is pause in the days between Christmas and New Year’s. A chance to wrap up a chapter, consider the wins and losses of your creative year and contemplate 2016. What goals will you set? What new challenges will you embrace? How will your creative world expand?

I hope you’ll join me, and your fellow Willamette Writers, on January 5th at Copeland Commons to salute a New Year, weigh in on Visual Media, and perhaps embrace FiLMLaB as a new creative challenge for 2016. At FiLMLaB, the experiment is you.

Happy Birthday FiLMLaB.

Happy New Year, Willamette Writers.

Ruth Witteried

As Visual Media Director, Ruth Witteried works with all programs based in the visual arts, including screenwriting and film production. As Executive Director of the FiLMLaB competition and project, she produced the 2012 FiLMLaB short, Alis Volat Propriis, winner of the 2013 OIFF Best Comedic Short; 2013′s Coffee.Table.Book.; 2014's Unwelcome Guests, and in 2015, The Return of Bug Eyed Bill. She acted as Film Coordinator for the Willamette Writers Conference from 2011-2013 and occasionally teaches screenwriting at Clark College. She currently is Executive Director of Willamette Writers' FiLMLaB. You can follow her on Twitter @sityourassdown1 or Facebook at FiLMLaB. Contact her. (