Letters from Past ScreenCraft Winners

We asked a few of the recent ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship‘s recipients to write letters to our audience about their ScreenCraft Fellowship experience. And wow! It was so gratifying to revisit the Fellowship experience through their eyes. Take a look at their letters below.

Here’s what Anna Klassen, Mark Stasenko and TA Snyder had to say:

Letter from Anna Klassen:

Hi there,

My name is Anna Klassen and I am a winner of the 2017 ScreenCraft Film and TV Screenwriting Fellowship. I’d like to take a moment to share with you how valuable this experience was for me.

Before winning the ScreenCraft Fellowship I had won and placed in a handful of contests. It was exciting to be able to say I had won something, but the worth of winning basically stopped there. Yes, it was something I could put on a resume, but that was pretty much it. Sometimes the win came with award money (which is, as any writer knows, hugely appreciated), but there was no tangible way in which winning contests helped me further my writing career.

Enter, the ScreenCraft Fellowship. The ScreenCraft Fellowship is a jam-packed week of meetings with execs, producers, managers, and successful (and even Oscar-winning) screenwriters. Before my fellowship week I met with ScreenCraft founders Cameron and John to prepare. They told me what to expect in meetings and they asked me to send them my other scripts. ScreenCraft gave me detailed, thorough, and thoughtful notes as well. We practiced my pitch, and they answered all of my questions (which I assure you, there were many). When the actual week rolled around, I knew what to expect, and I felt prepared to meet with a dozen powerful execs who were anxious to speak with me.

I took meetings with Warner Bros., Sony, Fox Studios, STX, Vertigo Entertainment, The Combine, and Covert Media – to name a few. I had breakfast with the writers of Die Hard and Face/Off (and tried not to fan-girl too hard), and ate dinner with the Oscar-winning writers of Brokeback Mountain and Precious (and definitely fan-girl’ed too hard). Many of the meetings I took that week led to subsequent meetings, and one of the Oscar-winning screenwriters I met at the ScreenCraft Fellowship dinner recently recommended me for a writing gig.

I can’t begin to express how beneficial the ScreenCraft Fellowship was for my career. It put me in rooms I would have never otherwise gotten into. It gave me valuable experience pitching my projects. It helped land me a manager. And the ScreenCraft staff, specifically John and Cameron, have been my relentless cheerleaders ever since. Winning the ScreenCraft Fellowship is unlike winning any other contest because the people behind it really, truly, care about your success. When you join the ScreenCraft family their team will fight tooth-and-nail for your projects, and for you.

I recently signed with four agents at WME, and this past December my latest script, When Lightning Strikes — a J.K. Rowling biopic — placed in one of the top spots on The Black List. I would not have accomplished either of these things if not for The ScreenCraft Fellowship. It’s what jumpstarted my career.

If you’re on the fence about applying, let me just say… it’s the best career move I’ve ever made — full stop.

Happy writing,

Anna

 

Letter from Mark Stasenko:

You know that scene in the film Back to the Future II where Doc Brown explains that the time continuum had been disrupted creating this new sequence of events that resulted in some sort of alternate reality? And then he gives us visual movie exposition of that complex thought by drawing a line on the chalkboard representing their timeline and then showing that at some point they split off onto a new line on the chalkboard.

Remember that? Well for me, the point where I split off onto a new line on the chalkboard, that was winning the ScreenCraft Fellowship back in 2015 when I was an aspiring screenwriter.

Let’s start at this point on my timeline today — Right now I just finished a staff writing job on a critically acclaimed Netflix series, a studio just acquired my TV pilot script, I have 3 agents at UTA (two TV and one feature agent) who worked hard to make that happen, and one incredible manager at 3 Arts who has been behind me 100% to make every little success possible. My manager has developed my voice, been a creative champion for me, and has fought for me and my writing every step of the way. And if we trace the timeline back, we can see that it is John Rhodes and Cameron Cubbison of ScreenCraft who discovered this writing sample I had submitted for the Fellowship, chosen me as one of the winners, and made the introduction to my manager.

The ScreenCraft Fellowship week was insane — we met with studio executives, Academy Award-winners, managers, agents, everyone. It was also an incredible learning experience. It honed my pitching, gave me insights into the business of Hollywood, and gave me confidence in the room. But for me, what really put me onto a different timeline, one where I was going to be a working writer, was that introduction to my manager. But that was no accident or coincidence. John and Cameron spend so much time reading the ScreenCraft Fellows, working with them to put together a specific plan, and making critical introductions to the industry. For them, it’s not about if they’re going to connect their writers to that person in the industry who can carry them to the next level, it’s how. It’s why you may have seen emails going out saying “Every ScreenCraft Fellowship winner signed last year.” It’s why two years after winning I decided to join John and Cameron as a partner at ScreenCraft to be a resource for writers.

To anyone who loves writing and is committed to telling stories, there is going to be that moment where the timeline splits and it puts us down that path of being a working, professional writer. And there are so many fantastic ways writers create their own futures where their stories are told on the screen. For me, the ScreenCraft Fellowship was what made that possible. And for you reading this letter, it will be the ScreenCraft Fellowship that makes that possible. From one ScreenCraft Fellow to hopefully the next, I’d highly recommend you give it a shot.

Happy Writing,

Mark Stasenko

WeScreenplay Co-founder, 2014
ScreenCraft Fellowship Winner, 2015
ScreenCraft Partner, 2017

 

Letter from TA Snyder:

There are very few months in my life as pivotal as January 2014. I was down and disconnected in a dark Midwestern winter, binge-watching television during a furlough from a construction job where I built stone patios with some of the hardest-working, non-Hollywood people on the planet.

Though psychologically restless and ready for adventure, I was physically bound to the couch as I recovered from a surgery and post-operation infection that nearly killed me. As friends and family celebrated the New Year and all its possibilities, I felt outside myself, wondering if I would ever find the way back in. Two years prior to this bleak time, I had recommitted my creative life to screenwriting. I entered many screenwriting contests with the little spare cash I had, placing in the finals of a couple, and winning a few. Nothing changed except my resume.

Then, on January 27, 2014, I received a call from John Rhodes. He congratulated me on winning the inaugural ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship, explaining that Don Handfield (longtime producing partner of actor Jeremy Renner) had personally chosen my script from the finalists. Validation feels good, and I hung up the phone feeling a ping of possibility. But the uncertainty soon followed as I cynically wondered if this would pan out to be another digital award that led nowhere.

A week later, I was sitting in the Edison Ballroom in New York City, watching David Simon, one of my writer/producer heroes, give an inspiring acceptance speech at the ScreenCraft-sponsored 2014 Writers Guild East Awards Ceremony. John, Cameron, and the rest of the ScreenCraft team personally showed me around, and told me that the fun had just begun. And they kept their promise.

Following several rounds of helpful development notes on my screenplay, the ScreenCraft team flew me to Los Angeles the final week of April for a full week of meetings. Managers, agents, producers, working screenwriters — it was a whirlwind experience that opened my eyes to the business side of screenwriting and the industry. The experience revealed a critical truth: the business side is only the beginning, and if you’re not in the trenches making connections and building relationships, your words are only characters keeping you warm at night.

Through the people I met during the ScreenCraft Fellowship, I signed with a literary manager, moved to Los Angeles, and began to connect my creative instincts to people who actually make movies as their day job. It accelerated everything. The ScreenCraft Fellowship week also introduced me to a development assistant at a major production company who, after he was promoted, and based upon his love for my ScreenCraft-winning script, brought me in three years later to pitch for a feature film writing assignment that I just landed this past week.

The old poet was right: anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity. If you can harness it and keep writing, writing, writing your way back to yourself, then put that creative voice out there, life is waiting to surprise you. The world needs fresh voices fighting to tell stories that bring us together, and challenge us to examine what continues to divide us. I tell you with all sincerity, ScreenCraft is seeking to not only discover those voices, but help nurture and connect them to the world. I will be forever grateful to the ScreenCraft Fellowship and the pivotal role it has played in my creative life.

Best,

T.A. Snyder
Winner of the 2014 ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship