Closing Time: Day Four at the ScreenCraft Writers Summit in Atlanta

By April 18, 2018 No Comments

Screencraft Writers Summit Day Four: You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here; unless you’re staying for the rest of the Atlanta Film Festival… and if you’re doing that, totally stay here, because it’s still going strong — yea! 

For West Coasters, the early mornings were difficult but worth it.

Today started devastatingly early at 10:30 AM EST (I’m from PST). Brutal. But the lovely and somehow chipper people putting on this shindig had warm biscuits and fruit and cheesy grits and all kinds of other stuff down in the Highland ballroom for us.

Everyone seemed extremely excited for 10:30 AM EST. Maybe it was the cheesy grits (that’s why my partner Gabe Diani was excited, he wants to make very sure I mention them) or maybe it’s because lots of people I talked to mentioned they feel like they have a renewed sense of direction. Not only because they feel inspired to write by going to a writing conference and being around writers, though that is an obvious outcome and a great reason to go to something like this; but because they feel like they know what specific steps they personally needed to take next. Maybe that means changing their script to take place in the country they live in to attract local money and distribution, or realizing that another rewrite is necessary to take their script to the level it needs to be at, or producing some short content to just get some stuff out there while the project with big attachments that take forever is taking forever.

Writers like phoenixes rising from the ashes.

Whatever that next step or renewed sense of direction is in their own work, people were also successfully building community like I talked about on the first day of the conference. People from different countries comparing notes on how film commissions operate and how regional Netflix works, dove into the intricacies of determining if something is public domain, how to figure it out with a tricky property and how to approach potentially difficult rights holders if it isn’t public, strategizing on how to be persistent, but also cool, and trying to internalize the lesson that it’s not a “no” unless someone says “no”. And even then, you should hear it twice before you give up.

Catching the last of the panels.

Since a panel on one of my favorite topics, genre filmmaking, was happening at the same time as the beloved cheesy grits I headed over to catch the end of it. Since the filmmakers on the panel had made everything from faith-based to sci-fi, to horror, the question of what isn’t genre came up. Eric Heisserer (the writer of Arrival) said he heard somewhere that genre was anything that made you suspend your disbelief. I thought about that for a bit. I might need to think about it a little more. But it’s probably the best description I’ve heard. 

I missed the next and final panel of the summit on Georgia specific producing because as much as I’d love to come back and make something here I have no plans to in the immediate future. But I did stay in the genre room for maybe an hour with a bunch of people talking about their projects more. Such a diversity of cool people who are all into what you’re into in one place is really special. I hope I’ll be able to come back to one of these soon and hear about where everyone is in their process on all the amazing projects I am now in love with. 

The Atlanta Film Festival is still going!

If you’re in Atlanta for a while longer be sure to watch what you can that’s showing at the Atlanta Film Festival. It’s easier than ever to make a movie because of the lower cost of production compared to the days when we didn’t carry computers in our pockets. It’s harder than ever to get those movies seen because of the glut in the marketplace and multiple other factors. Festivals might be where a gem of a film breaks out or where a gem of a film doesn’t. Sometimes a festival might be your only chance to hear about or see a film. We should all take as much advantage as we can. During the Q&A maybe ask the writer a question if they’re there. They wrote a movie that got made. It got into a film festival! That is a huge accomplishment. 

When your movie is showing, writers you met at conferences like these will be at your Q&A’s giddy with pride, so go forth and celebrate those around you.

Thank you, Atlanta! 

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.