Write Club: 5 Choices You Must Make Before You Start Writing

Welcome to Write Club. The first rule of write club is… just kidding. (Sorry, I had to.) We’re writers not fighters, so talk about write club all you want. The folks at ScreenCraft discuss five choices a writer must make before they begin writing their story. These five questions will help guide the writer through the development of their story as well as help the writer figure out how their story will influence the genre.

Read the full article here: Write Club: 5 Choices You Must Make Before You Start Writing

The Q&A with 9 Oscar-Nominated Screenwriters

Jeff Goldsmith with ScreenCraft sat down with nine of the 2016 Oscar nominees in the Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay categories to talk about everything from the best writing advice to favorite procrastinating methods – yes, you read the correctly, as well as battling the obstacles and demons. Enjoy.

 

Full article and podcast here: The Q&A with 9 Oscar-Nominated Screenwriters

STORY DEVELOPMENT: How Plot Can Kill Your Character

Tim Long at SCRIPT discusses three ways plot can kill your story’s character development. He discusses that a writer’s first focus should be on developing the character and making them compelling and engaging to the audience. Once that is done, the plot will be better to work with and easier to direct.

Full article here: STORY DEVELOPMENT: How Plot Can Kill Your Character

The ‘Jane Test’

Angela Watercutter at Wired magazine discusses the “Bechdel Test”, a simple three question test to gauge the level of gender bias (towards females in particular) that a film or story has. Watercutter goes a step farther and introduces what she calls the “Jane test”. The name is inspired by Natalie Portman’s character Jane Foster in the MCU’s Thor films. Following the lead of script reader and producer Ross Putnam, who began posting female character descriptions in scripts on Twitter, she adds three additional questions to consider. The point of the test is to evaluate how female characters are portrayed, not just onscreen, but on paper in the initial script so that female characters can be given the multi-dimensional qualities they deserve.

Read full article here: The “Jane” Test

Three of the Most Common Conceptual Mistakes Writers Make

Ken Miyamoto at ScreenCraft created a list of three of the most common mistakes writers make when developing the concepts for their stories and offers insight on how to correct these errors.

Read full article here: 3 Most Common Conceptual Mistakes Screenwriters Make

Secrets of Budget Filmmaking from the Masters

Graham Winfrey at IndieWire created a video essay with budget film making secrets used by the pros such as Christopher Nolan and Richard Linklater.

Full article and video essay here: Christopher Nolan, Richard Linklater and More Share Secrets of No-Budget Filmmaking in Video Essay

“The More is Inside”… A Celebration and Discussion of Women Filmmakers

Women, veteran and new, in film industry gathered during the Sundance Film Festival to discuss women’s roles in the film industry and possibilities of what the future holds for women’s place in the world. The article also opens up an important line of discussion as far as women are concerned: we need to have each other’s backs, regardless of profession, ethnicity, religion, or self-identifiers. We need to support each other now more than ever. We need to stop competing. Yes, acknowledge the problems. Absolutely. And there are plenty of them. But let’s work together to fix them. That’s the beauty of cinema; it provides a space for all people to come to the table, contribute, and learn about/from one another so that we can leave this world better than we found it. Perhaps that’s a dose of naïveté talking, but I’m optimistic about the possibilities of what people can accomplish when we learn to work together despite our differences.

Full article here: Perspective: Celebration of women filmmakers triggers heated debate among Salma Hayek, Jessica Williams and Shirley MacLaine

Introducing Summer 2017 Faculty: Linda Voorhees

Hollins University Summer Graduate Screenwriting & Film Studies would like to extend a warm welcome to Linda Voorhees! Linda is joining us for the first time this summer from UCLA. Read more about Linda and her career in her biography below. 

Welcome to the Hollins family, Linda! 

PROFESSIONAL STATUS:

WGA  Member in good standing

EDUCATION:

Received Master of Fine Arts Degree from UCLA / TFT 1991

TEACHING & PROFESSIONAL LECTURES:

1992 to Present  UCLA
Graduate Advanced Screenwriting Workshop 434
Undergraduate Advanced Screenwriting Workshop
Graduate Screenwriting for Non-majors
Large Lecture Undergraduate Screenwriting Fundamentals
Undergraduate Screenwriting Workshop
Graduate Screenwriting for Directors

1992
Women in Film — Lecture Series
Screenwriting Basics
Female Characters
Heroine

1995
Chapman University
Graduate Advanced Screenwriting Feature Film
Graduate Screenwriting Short Film

1995
WGA Lecture Series
Women in Writing
Female Characters
Development Process

1996 to Present
UCLA Professional Program Screenwriting
Screenwriting Workshop — On campus
Screenwriting Workshop — On line
Advanced Screenwriting Workshop
Screenplay development and critique
Skills Lecturer

1996
WGA Committee Presentation
Women in independent film
Writing the Indy Film

1998
WGA Panel Independent Film Writing

2001 to Present
Pixar Animation Studio — Pixar University
Short Film Writing
Web Series Writing
Feature Film Writing
Rewriting
Lecture Series

2007
Victoria University, Wellington New Zealand
Graduate Advanced Screenwriting Workshop
Graduate Lecture Series
Graduate Overview of Development Process

2007
Aukland New Zealand Writers Guild — Lecture Series
Structure
Character
Rewriting

2007
Wellington New Zealand Film Commission
Presentation of Women’s Place in Film
Development Process
Rewriting

2013
UCLA International Filmmakers — Iran and Italy
Screenwriting Basics
Structure

2014
UCLA Performing Arts Camp — High School
TV Writing
Playwriting
Screenwriting
Short Film writing

2015
UCLA Filmmaking by Design — Lecture
International Participants — Australia and Nigeria
Pitching
Development

PROFESSIONAL WORK:

Received the IMAGEN award for my produced script, “Crazy from the Heart.”  The story centered around issues of racism in a Texas border town.

Recognized by GLAAD for my produced script, “Two Mothers for Zachary.”  A story that illuminated the struggle of lesbian partners who fought the legal system to maintain custody of their child.

Received the Jack Nicholson Award for Screenwriting for portraying a positive image of feminism and women in leadership roles in my script, “Mother Earth!”

Over the course of my professional writing career, I’ve worked as a screenwriter or a script consultant for the following organizations:

ABC Network
CBS Network
Columbia Sony
Disney Animation Studio
Disney Touchstone Studio
HBO Cable
Lifetime Cable
NBC Network
MGM
Paramount Pictures
Pixar Animation Studio
Showtime Cable
TNT / SPIKE Cable
USA Cable

Meet the Blogger!

I’ve come to the realization that I’ve been running this blog page for Hollins University for a year now and I have yet to properly introduce myself. Where are my manners? Allow me to ameliorate this.

Name: Amanda Hobbs

Hometown: Richmond, Virginia, USA

How long at Hollins? I’ve been a graduate student in the summer graduate screenwriting & film studies program since 2015.

What made you chose this profession? Long story short, this place feels like the right place. This industry has given me more chances than others. I believe in following the yes’s. So this is where it’s lead me. 

Favorite films/directors/writers/scores/composers/costume designers? Favorite films: Chicago, A League of Their Own, The Sandlot, just about any Disney film, The Princess Bride, Invictus, Long Strange Trip, Midnight in Paris, The Dark Knight, Charlie Wilson’s War, Elizabeth: The Virgin Queen… Directors: Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen, Alfred Hitchcock, Susanna Bier… Writers: Joss Whedon, Aaron Sorkin, Quentin Tarantino… Composers: Michael Giacchino, John Williams … Costume Designers: Colleen Atwood, Alexandra Byrne, Jenny Beavan

Goals for this blog: To reach as many people as possible and be a valuable tool for as many people as possible. I strive to include articles about multiple aspects such as filmmaking and production, the atmosphere and culture of the industry, women and minorities in the industry, and perspectives from the actor’s or director’s points of view. I seek out multiple – if seemingly unusual – sources for inspiration, creativity, and anything else I think could be of value to anyone working or hoping to work in the film industry. Since this page is sponsored by an actual living, breathing university, I also like to showcase the work of our students and professors in hopes that you will come spend time with us so you can become better at your craft and become a part of this incredible family of creatives and artists.

What genres do you like to write? Is there another genre or aspect of the industry you’d like to explore more? I’ll admit my brain tends to go into a Hallmark/Lifetime kind of place. But, I do have an incredible fascination with history. It’s really not as boring as people think. History is all about people and their stories. As far as the film industry goes, I want to learn about anything and everything I can get my hands on: writing, directing, acting, film scoring, or costume design. My skill set, however, is an entirely different discussion – ha ha. Anything can be learned if you’re willing to be a student.

Where do you find inspiration? History and real life stories fascinate me. I also find myself gravitating towards stories about women. Women have stories just as rich and compelling as anyone else. I’m not the sort to condone or resort to man-bashing; I think it’s neither necessary nor appropriate and contradicts the goals of gender equality. I just think women deserve to have the credit for their contributions, respect for the abilities of their brains, and deserve to have their stories shared and celebrated.  

Tricks for sustaining/maintaining creativity? How do you fight creativity blocks? When I write, I like to lock myself in room with a big window, stick my earbuds in and listen to classical music (which is also not as boring as people think). The Beethoven station on Pandora does the trick for me. It’s nice to have something in your ear that will block out the outside world for a bit while also stimulating your brain enough to keep your attention. Whenever I find myself struggling to write, I realize that it’s time to take a break. The brain needs some rest. So I’ll find something else to do like go for a walk – fresh air does wonders, find a craft to do, read a book, or exercise. I like to think of it this way: when you hit a block, the creative fuel tank is empty. So in order to keep going, you need to refuel. I find it enormously helpful to go find something else to do because staring at a blank page all weekend accomplishes nothing. Go socialize, enjoy a meal with people, have conversations… I’m an introvert and I’m saying this. Yes, private time is important. But humans are social creatures and require interaction with other humans for a multitude of reasons. That’s neither an accident nor a fluke. Also, pick a writing time and defend it like mad – this is something I struggle with immensely.  

Fun facts/favorites/interests/hobbies: Fun facts: I attended the Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City for the first time this year and volunteered with the Richmond International Film Festival. Both wonderful experiences. Interests: outdoor activities, travelling, gardening, music, cooking/baking, crafts, reading

Bio: A little bit about me. I’m Amanda, your humble blogger. I grew up in Chesterfield, VA (just south of Richmond). I received my Associate’s in Arts degree from Richard Bland College, my Bachelor of Arts in History from Virginia Tech, and I’m currently working on my MFA at Hollins University. As far as my involvement with the film industry, I’m slowly but surely, making my way. I was an active member of the music community as a band student in high school and wanted to pursue a career as a music teacher, but eventually realized it wasn’t a good fit for me. However, I did become a sister of Tau Beta Sigma, the National Honorary Band Service Sorority. I considered pursuing a theatre major, but opted for history because I felt it would be more versatile, it was subject I was genuinely interested in, and I still thought I wanted to be a teacher. After teaching preschool for several years, spending a semester in a teacher licensure program, and not satisfied with where I was headed, I decided to take another direction and go after something that I really wanted. I came upon Hollins University after doing an online search for film programs in my home state of Virginia. I stewed over it for some time before applying, but once I did I never looked back. I’ve continued to pursue work in this industry because it’s given me opportunities that others wouldn’t. And, plus, there’s more than one way to be a teacher. 

 

Amanda Hobbs - photo 2
Amanda Hobbs

Martin Scorsese’s Go-To Film Editor Thelma Schoonmaker on the Secret Behind Their Epic Collaborations

Carolyn Giardina with Hollywood Reporter sat down with Thelma Schoonmaker to discuss Thelma’s incredible career (she recently received a career achievement award at the American Cinema Editor’s 67th Eddie Awards), her collaboration and friendship with Martin Scorsese, and what it’s like working as a woman behind the camera in Hollywood.

Read her full interview here: Martin Scorsese’s Go-To Film Editor Thelma Schoonmaker on the Secret Behind Their Epic Collaborations