If you caught our blog last Thursday, then you know we gave our five finalists one last task: to rewrite their short script. With notes they received from the Celebrity Judges, and with FiLMLaB mentor Randall Jahnson to guide them, they were given five days to improve their scripts, with a deadline of midnight tonight.
Why, you ask?
Because writing is rewriting. Not editing, not proofing, but rewriting. There’s a big difference. Editing is fine tuning; proofing is grammatical. Rewriting is hell (a space I am presently intimately acquainted with), and at FiLMLaB, because we seek to provide our contestants with ‘real world experience‘, it is our job to introduce them to it.
“The last three days have been instructive and interesting. I won’t go so far as to say it’s been fun, but it has been challenging.” Finalist Ted Blasche
And welcome to the Producers Circle, the lucky group that gets to perform the final evaluation and choose the Grand Prize winner. Each of these individuals brings a unique perspective to the contest and is a screenwriter in their own right. It will be up to them to review the original submission and Celebrity Judges notes as well as the revised script and determine how well the writer responded:
- Have the story weaknesses been addressed satisfactorily?
- Is the script more cinematic?
- Is the script produceable under the current budget?
- If not, how creative can we get to make it happen?
Here then, are the Producers.
In his seventh year as Conference Chair for the Willamette Writers Conference, Stefan Feuerherdt was a co-creator of FiLMLaB in 2012, and has acted as an Executive Producer on its first three films. Stefan has a special enthusiasm for the arts, serving also as President of the Board of Directors for Portland’s Post5 Theater. It was Stefan who coined the phrase, “At FiLMLaB, the experiment is you.” He has been an unwavering supporter of the program and strives year after year to create an innovative conference experience for writers around the country, lining up top agents, managers and producers to pitch to and providing a great roster of classes to reinvigorate your writing. Stefan’s unique perspective: he is a visionary with a deep understanding of the Willamette Writers organization and committed to providing services to writers of every creative stripe. (And he knows his way around a budget!)
Nick Hagen knows how to create something from nothing. Just ask him. He’ll tell you exactly how he did it and how you can, too. The director/creative genius behind the hit webseries, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, along with Mercedes Rose and Paige McKenzie of Coattail Productions, Nick did video production and social media campaigns in his day job. That is, until he quit said day job to manage his own hugely successful social media campaign and webseries, averaging five million views a month. It is so popular and so well branded it caught the attention of the Weinstein Brothers, who gave the trio a book deal (the young adult book is available everywhere) and optioned the film rights. Nick’s unique perspective: he understands the power of new media; how to focus and harness it and is an active supporter and collaborator with emerging talents.
Josh Leake knows how to be behind the camera; but his preferred role is in front of a seventy foot screen introducing new movies as Executive Director of the Portland Film Festival. A recent addition to the film festival scene, Josh dreams big, understands his market and doesn’t let set backs hold him back. Using his considerable marketing skills he is able to attract talented filmmakers, actors, writers, and musicians to fill his week long roster of movies, workshops, concerts and book signings throughout the Portland Metro area, earning a spot on Movie Maker Magazines “25 Coolest Film Festivals.” As a producer, Josh knows how to extend his market as evidenced when he contracted with Showtime to air the mixed martial arts documentary, Glena. His latest venture is a film option of the Chuck Palahniuk bestseller, Lullabye. Josh’s unique perspective: he understands and excels at marketing and community outreach.
If you were at the 2014 FiLMLaB premier last August, you will remember Portland based director, Martin Vavra. He was the one in the kilt, To say he is just a director is like saying he only wears kilts. Neither is true. I know for a fact that he wears pants and edits. I’ve seen him in shorts and know he produces. He wears a variety of hats (but that I’ve never seen him in!) as someone who has learned his craft from the ground up. His commercial work has included companies like Intel, Goodwill Industries and Microsoft. He has also created several documentary and narrative short films, spanning everything from marriage equality to a cat and mouse art heist. Martin is also the creator of three web series and has won multiple awards for his work. Martin’s unique perspective: as a former FiLMLaB Director and multi skilled filmmaker, Martin knows the tight schedule we keep from pre to post production and what we can reasonably expect to accomplish during the course of a weekend shoot.
And then there’s me, FiLMLaB co-creator. It feels stupid to write about myself and my ‘unique perspective’ let alone include a second picture of myself. My bio is at the bottom of the page, if you are so inclined. Suffice it to say I’m here because I have read and measured every script ever entered in FiLMLaB and believe deeply in the merits of the still evolving program. My unique perspective is probably the same as yours: an emerging writer, unproduced, struggling with rewrites, insecurity and doubt.
Thanks to Nick, Stefan, Martin and Josh for joining me in this last round of judging. I wish we could choose more than one winner.