New This Year At The Conference

by Ruth Witteried

Ruth Witteried, Film Coordinator

Ruth Witteried, Film Coordinator

With no new FiLMLaB updates to report I’m going to take this opportunity to write about what’s new at  the upcoming Willamette Writers Conference, August 1-4 at the Airport Sheraton Hotel.

First off, notice I refer to four days of conference, not the traditional three. That is because things are happening on Thursday, August 1st. Traditionally, those of us on the conference committee use Thursday to set up the command center at the hotel; coordinating volunteers to make ready the registration desk, PDX  and VIP rooms; to network computers, printers, and AV equipment, to do all the prep work that can possibly be done before the big kickoff on Friday.

All of that is still happening. A veritable hive of activity. But there is more. If you are one of those people who like to avoid the lines on Friday morning by picking up your Registration Packet Thursday night, you can do that an hour earlier; the Registration desk will be open from 5:00 – 9:00 pm.

Raleigh  Sebastian visiting the FiLMLaB set

Raleigh Sebastian visiting the FiLMLaB set

And there are some of you, a few crazy kids, that I know take the day off  to polish your draft, practice your pitch, find your moment of zen before the busy weekend unfolds.  Why not hangout with us?

This year, from 3:30-4:30, we’re offering three new classes to help you maximize your conference success: John Ellis, of Portland Internet Design, will host The Web Is Made For Writers, to prime you for the series of Web Warrior classes he is teaching over the course of the weekend. You know you need to get it in gear and develop your online presence (don’t you?); let John help. I was part of the beta group for these classes over the summer and they are definitely worth your time.

If you already know how to do that stuff, kudos! Come hang out with me, or our Literary Coordinator, Cornelia Seigneur. We are hosting (separately) Meet the Expert style Q & A classes for Film and Lit. This is an opportunity for you to pick our brains about which agents, editors, producers or managers might be a good fit for your story. Throughout our many conversations, emails, and text messages, we’ve developed a pretty good feel for who’s who in a ‘behind the bios’ kind of way. Ask us a question; we just might have the answer. But be fair—come prepared with your logline or single paragraph description (genre, general setting, protagonist and her problem) because we only have one hour. If there are thirty people in the room with questions and you need to read six pages before we can make a recommendation—you are not prepared to pitch.

Instead, watch and learn at the Practice Pitch With the Pros, starting at 7:00 pm. This is a terrific, fun and informal opportunity for nervous Nellies to practice the art of pitching in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. For Film, this will take place in Mt. Adams and Cascade this year, while Lit remains in the St. Helens rooms. A sign-up sheet will be available at 6:30 pm. Pitching will be limited to the first 8 attendees to sign up and please DO NOT sign up for both rooms. We have 16 spots available. Please respect your fellow conference go-ers and give them an equal opportunity.

When that concludes, take a little time to congratulate the brave souls who stood up and shared their imperfections with you. Thank your volunteer moderators who have the unenviable job of limiting the process to two hours, cutting people off in mid-sentence sometimes, so the next person can have a chance.

Stick around. Say hello. Make a friend. We are after all, a community of writers.

Can’t wait to see all y’all (which director Christopher Alley says is plural for y’all).

There’s my FiLMLaB reference!

Ruth Witteried is the Film Coordinator for the Willamette Writers Conference and teaches screenwriting at Clark College. She Executive Produced FiLMLaB’s 2012 short, ALIS VOLAT PROPRIIS written by Haley Isleib. You can follow her on Facebook at SitYourAssDown; Twitter @sityourassdown1, or as RH Cohen on her Young Adult website

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. ( 


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