A Day in the Life of a Mentor: Day Three at the ScreenCraft Writers Summit in Atlanta

By April 16, 2018 No Comments

You guys. There is water falling from the sky??? This is VERY strange for all of us who came from California where the grass is brown like it’s supposed to be. I’m very excited about the rain but also my hair looks terrible so it probably made it hard for anyone in the Mentor Sit-down panel to take me seriously.

The Mentor Sit-Downs

These sit-downs are always cool, I’ve done them at the Austin Film Festival, but I haven’t ever been in the mentor position before. I was pleasantly surprised to actually hear some great advice coming out of my mouth a couple times. For those of you who haven’t ever done one of these before: everyone sits in little groups and panelists/guests move from group to group every 20 minutes or so. So each group gets a chance to ask questions specific to them or discuss things the individual panelist has done.

I wish I had an hour with every single group I sat down with. They were all amazing. From the woman who ran for state senate, to the MULTIPLE people who had “just written novels before,” to the veterans with pilots, and the grad student who directed a feature last year… everyone was so incredibly accomplished and interesting. 

All the logistical problems were fascinating too. Some of them I could absolutely suggest something for! Thank you experience and friend’s experience! (“Check out Series Fest for your 10×10, volunteer at a film festival and you’ll learn all kinds of stuff, check out Veterans in Entertainment, you have to cut 50 pages or people won’t read it this isn’t the shooting script it’ll be okay.”) For others I could just acknowledge that it’s hard and they seem smart and they’re probably on a pretty great track even if it’s not ultimately the right one.

Other Places Are Special Too

I think a lot of people from not Los Angeles or New York underestimate the specialness of place they have going for them. Everything is set in NY and LA because that’s where most people who make movies and TV live and it’s traditionally where things could be made. Lots of cool big story type stuff happens there! (You too London.) Nobody is moving a Wall Street story to rural Maine.

But if you’re a writer who lives in a place you haven’t seen in the movies, you have a great opportunity to take us there and let us fall in love with your local weirdos. People will say you’re an “authentic voice” and “totally unique” and stuff like that. You can turn your sense of being removed from the action that many people see as a detriment to an asset. Honestly, you can live in Hollywood and not be any closer to the action you feel you’re missing. You’ve had more Hollywood action this weekend in Atlanta than you might have in a year in LA. I live walking distance to a major studio and sometimes pretending not to notice Tony Shalhoub at the post office is the most Hollywood thing that happens all month.

The F Word: Failure Panel

What I’d really LOVE to tell you about is the failure panel about learning from mistakes and failures. But I can’t. It was a cone of silence panel. And it was fantastic. They did not fail at the failure panel.

Happy Hour

The Happy Hour back at the Highland Ballroom where everybody signed the cool “Just Be Cool” code of conduct sign and I got to chat more with some of the great people I’ve met this weekend. Everyone kept asking if I was going to Dad’s Garage later. I didn’t know what that meant but kept saying, “Yeah, I’ll see you there,” because I’m a people pleaser and I wasn’t going to not do something expected of me just because I didn’t know where or what it was. Unlike many other times in my life, this totally worked out! 

I talked to more cool people there and had some lovely local Georgia cider. 

The rain was replaced by air that felt like the air conditioning got turned up too high? It was very strange. I expect some exciting new weather tomorrow but you guys did not have to provide this variety just for the festival. You’ll spoil us. 

The Writers Summit begins to end bright and early Monday morning. Mimosa’s here we come! 

Etta Devine is an actor, filmmaker, and writer with a script on the 2017 Blacklist and one of 2017’s Movie Maker Magazine’s 25 Screenwriters to watch. With partner Gabriel Diani she directed, wrote, produced and starred in the feature film “Diani & Devine Meet the Apocalypse” which premiered at the 2016 Austin film festival and won awards from the Mill Valley Film Festival, Spokane International Film Festival, Omaha Film Festival, San Luis Obispo Film Festival, and many others. She co-produced and starred in the horror comedy “The Selling,” ruined classic literature by creating “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Robotic Edition” and is a member of the Antaeus Classical Theatre company in Los Angeles and the Film Fatales. She recently recorded voices for the popular Frederator cartoon “Bee and Puppycat” and wrote multiple episodes of it’s upcoming second season.