Letters from Past ScreenCraft Winners

By February 27, 2020Blog, Success Stories, Testimonials

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We asked a few of the ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship‘s past winners to write letters to our audience about their ScreenCraft Fellowship experience. And wow! It was so gratifying to revisit the ScreenCraft Fellowship experience through their eyes. Take a look at their letters below, and if you have any questions, you can reach out to us directly by email: support@screencraft.org

 

Letter from Lucy Luna (winner 2019)

Dear Writer,

I’ve been there.  Staring at the screen, at the blank page, or at a finished script. The pages where I’ve put all my love and all my hopes left me wondering what else do I have to do, wondering when will it be my time?

The answer I kept getting from friends and mentors was to keep writing.

The advice I wish I got is, “Lucy, focus.”

The truth is, I wasn’t focused. I was trying it all: entering all the competitions because I didn’t know which one would be ‘The One’, accepting unpaid or low-paying assignments, and saying yes to the first manager who showed interest. When all our hopes and dreams rely on someone opening a door for us, well… we tend to bang loudly on all the doors looking for that someone. This takes a lot of time and energy, much more than I realized at the time.

What I know now is this; a gentle knock on the right door is louder.

I was giving up but decided to submit one last round, this time submitting only to the top 5 fellowships and contests. If the big ones didn’t want to take me, then maybe I could move on and focus on a different door.

Today, I am a 2019 ScreenCraft Fellowship recipient, and I can say that it changed my life and jump-started my career.

Read the full text of Lucy’s letter HERE

 

Letter from Elie Choufany (winner 2019)

Dear Screenwriter,

I know you. You have a clear goal in mind; a specific vision of the career you want as a storyteller in the spellbinding world of film and television. And it all lies just beyond that door if only you can get a foot in.

But how can someone from middle-of-nowhere Lebanon even come close to a door like that?  How can you?

Winning the 2019 ScreenCraft Film and TV Screenwriting Fellowship did not just get me a foot in the door, it gave me the key.

The ScreenCraft Fellowship is a roller coaster that involves meetings with executives, producers, managers, and studios from all over town. But it is more than just that: it is a support system.  The team at ScreenCraft took the time to understand who I am as a storyteller and helped me pave a unique path into the industry that compliments my specific sensibilities.  The meetings I took with Dreamworks, Bad Robot, and Warner Bros, to name a few, were not randomly generated, but instead, they were curated in an attempt to help me find where I best fit in such a diverse landscape.

It is with that kind of support and that kind of dedication from the ScreenCraft team that I was able to navigate what can easily be a confusing and overwhelming process.

Read the full text of Elie’s letter HERE

 

Letter from Davia Carter (winner 2018)

“I can always teach.”

This became my motto the weeks prior to learning that I had been named a ScreenCraft fellow. Having spent the last six years in school, I was terrified of what my next steps would be. What was I going to do, be a real writer? Yeah. Right. At this point, however, it was too late to turn back; my bags were packed and I was days away from moving to Los Angeles with little more than a dream and a laughable amount of savings. But it was okay, because I had already accepted that once Hollywood rejected me, I would try my hand at teaching (which I loved).

Then, I got the call that I was one of the winners of the 2018 ScreenCraft Fellowship. I couldn’t believe it. This was more than a win. It was more than an opportunity to meet with top industry executives – as amazing as that was. More than anything, what this win gave me was the belief that (just maybe) I could actually make it as a writer. Never before had this felt like such an attainable reality – especially by the time fellowship week rolled around.

This week and a half of meetings was invaluable; I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have a career without it. I had the opportunity to sit down with executives at Netflix, Universal, and Bad Robot (naming a few), and although Netflix has yet to call on me to write a YA movie, the dozen-plus meetings I took taught me something that would have taken years to learn without ScreenCraft:  meeting etiquette. By the time I took my final meeting, my palms had stopped sweating and I was more confident pitching myself as a writer.  Learning how to navigate a meeting was a skill that I hadn’t realized was so important, and as someone who gets nervous going to the grocery store, I’m in awe of how comfortable I am in meetings now. I have ScreenCraft to thank for that.

Read the full text of Davia’s letter HERE

 

Letter from Georgina Love (winner 2018)

Hi there and Hello,

My name is Georgina Love and I was one of the three 2018 ScreenCraft Fellowship recipients. As the first international fellow, I believe ScreenCraft provided me with a truly unique and universally beneficial experience. For an Australian writer, going to LA in and of itself is a career milestone that most are unable to achieve until gaining some serious traction back in Australia. ScreenCraft was proof that there is an immense amount of untapped talent in Australia and it allowed me to further my career, sit confidently in writer’s rooms and be self-assured in my own ability to thrive in my home country, as well as in the United Kingdom and LA.

ScreenCraft truly jettisoned my career into that of an international writer. They organised meetings with incredible development executives from big-name studios, and being able to refer to the meetings and connections I had made in LA when requesting meetings with production companies in Australia meant doors that were normally firmly closed began to miraculously open.

More than just the career benefits was the personal growth I experienced – both during Fellowship week and afterwards. I gained confidence, not only in my ability as a writer, but also in my ability to articulate my viewpoint in meetings and to foster creative relationships. It is impossible to quantify all that ScreenCraft has done to further my career, but I look at it as the stone that started a ripple that will travel throughout my career in the screen industry.

Read the full text of Georgina’s letter HERE

 

Letter from Anna Klassen (winner 2017)

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 (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.

Read the full text of Anna’s letter HERE

 

Letter from Mark Stasenko (winner 2015)

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.

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.

Read the full text of Mark’s letter HERE

 

Letter from T.A. Snyder (winner 2014)

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.

Read the full text of T.A.’s letter HERE

Learn more about the ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship by clicking here.