By Jeanne Veillette Bowerman
Hello fellow screenwriters!
Next week I’ll be in Los Angeles for one of the best pitchfests and lecture opportunities – Screenwriters World Conference West (SWCW).
Networking, teaching, meetings, oh my!
Allow me to answer one important question I keep getting: “Why should a screenwriter attend a conference?”
My advice is simple: To advance your career, improve your craft and build your network. Really. These events are that powerful. I promise.
SWCW has amazing classes taught by the top instructors in the industry. This is your chance to pick their brains face-to-face. These professionals have a range of experience from reading thousands of scripts, helping writers get produced, and creating successful, original content of their own (one to mention is Erik Bork, writer/producer of HBO’s Band of Brothers and a personal hero of mine). Their expertise can help elevate your career and writing to a new level.
You can also connect with them as peers. A few years ago, I volunteered at a pitchfest event where I was Pilar Alessandra’s go-to girl, doing anything she asked of me to help her presentation. I remember lugging boxes from her car in awe of her beauty and knowledge. Who would have guessed, just a couple of years later, she’d be interviewing me for her On The Page podcast?
While rubbing elbows with gurus is appealing, don’t dismiss the writer standing next to you in line. Yes, they may be unproduced now, but some of them will break through those velvet ropes into Hollywood glamour. Trust me, any writer worthy of your friendship will remember those who climbed the wall with them. I know I will.
At SWCW you’ll meet agents, managers and producers at the Pitch Slam. There are several execs I’ve met over the years who are now my personal friends. In fact, Scriptchat would never have been created if I hadn’t pitched to Zac Sanford in 2007 and stayed in touch with him. The key to creating long-lasting friendships with execs is to be professional, show your personality, don’t stalk them, and write well so they have faith in your ability. Basically, don’t be crazy.
Improving your craft + building your network = successful career.
Did I mention that SWCW is fun? Sure, taking classes and pitching is exhausting, but we also have an incredible time together. This year, the session I’m most looking forward to is the Tips and Tricks of the Trade with Doug Richardson (Die Hard 2, Bad Boys, Hostage), Tom Schulman (Dead Poet’s Society, What About Bob?, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids) and Robbie Fox (So I Married an Axe Murderer, In the Army Now, Playing for Keeps). These three talented writers are amazing friends and dynamic storytellers. Hearing about their experiences in Hollywood is a not-to-miss opportunity. Maybe I can even get Tom to bring his Oscar.
Speaking of Oscars, the ever-humble and generous Ed Saxon, Academy Award-winning producer of Silence of the Lambs delivers the keynote speech on Friday afternoon, kicking off the event. Sharing space with talent like his is something you can’t get from home. Witnessing and meeting industry professionals in-person will improve your network, reenergize your outlook, and help you succeed in becoming the writer you dream of being.
Those are just some of reasons I go to conferences and pitchfests. For those naysayers who think I only go because I’m the ScriptMag Editor, please know, that’s not the truth. I have been attending these types of events for years because I love the screenwriting community and want to share my journey alongside all of you.
Screenwriting success is about relationships and making yourself the best writer you can be. While it’s comforting to stay at home and write in your pajamas, you will never make the necessary, in-person connections to elevate your odds of success if you won’t get out of the house and get to L.A.
If you still need added incentive, please use my Editor’s Discount Code JEANNE913 to receive $50 OFF of your registration. I always say life is short, and you’re never promised tomorrow. What are you waiting for? Get your career moving today!
Join me at Screenwriter World Conference West. I’ll be the one cheering you on in the halls of the Pitch Slam. Nothing thrills me more than seeing writers going after their dreams.
Now go make them happen!
Your fellow writer in the trenches,
P.S. On Saturday night, we'll have a post-pitching meetup where you can meet ScriptMag contributors and celebrate your big day! Stay tuned to our Facebook Page for details.
Helpful articles and tools to prepare you for SWCW success:
- Checklist for Pitchfests and Conference
- Pitch Tips
- Managing Expectations
- Pitching Insights and Tips for Before You Submit Your Script
- Pitch Clinic: Get Your Pitch in Shape with The Story Consultants
Jeanne Veillette Bowerman is the Editor and Online Community Manager of Script Magazine and a webinar instructor for The Writers Store. She is Co-Founder and moderator of the weekly Twitter screenwriters’ chat, #Scriptchat, and wrote the narrative adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Slavery by Another Name, with its author, Douglas A. Blackmon, former senior national correspondent of The Wall Street Journal. Jeanne also is President of Implicit Productions and consults with writers on how to build and strengthen their online and offline networks as well as face their fears in order to succeed in writing and in personal peace - a screenwriter's therapist. More information can be found on her blog, ramblings of a recovered insecureaholic. Follow @jeannevb on Twitter.