Experiencing, Inspiring, and Connecting at the London Screenwriters Festival
José Silerio reports after his recent teaching gig in London:
Several weeks ago I had the privilege to teach a couple of Save the Cat!® classes at the London Screenwriters Festival, which hosted the Great British PitchFest as well.
This was my first time in London and I was really excited to make the trip across the Atlantic and meet up with more writers eager to learn the Cat! ways. And I have to say, the experience was worth each of the 10,912 miles to get there and back.
There’s nothing better than being in a room filled with writers. It doesn’t matter if they’re vets or newbies, established or emerging. Once we’re in the room – we’re all writers trying to get better at our craft. And just because I’m the guy standing next to the big whiteboard, it doesn’t mean the learning is one way. I learn just as much from exchanging ideas and answering (to the best of my ability) any question thrown my way.
At LSF, their motto is EXPERIENCE, INSPIRE and CONNECT. It’s written right on the top banner of their website. It’s really a great battle cry — something all writers should live by — because this is what we always hope to achieve in our writing.
Provide our audience with an emotional experience they won’t forget. Inspire them to be “heroes” in their own lives. And, mostly, provide each other with a universal human connection. This is the essence of storytelling. Not only is this the goal we set forth in our written pages, it’s also a goal we must give ourselves in our own lives as writers.
At LSF, they also had a great line, aptly written on t-shirts and mugs where all great one liners can be found: KEEP CALM AND PITCH. There were also adds so people could buy zero fucks given shirts online. While it is the intention to get writers and their scripts in front of producers, agents, and studios, don’t forget that pitching is something writers must always do regardless of what stage you’re at with your own story. You don’t always have to wait for your draft to be “perfect” to pitch to an executive.
Does your idea have legs? Can it be turned into a story? Well, pitch it to a friend or spouse if you want to find out. Is the beat sheet working? Is the structure off? Pitch it to other writers, your inner circle of trusted and, hopefully, sane voices to get feedback. This is how you get your script “perfect” – and once it is, sign up for great events like LSF, where they’ll happily help your script finds its way to the right hands.
Like I said earlier, it’s always great to be in a room with other writers. It does wonders for the writing psyche – it saves you a few drafts and even more brain cells. If pitching is not part of your writing process, rethink your process.
Experience, inspire, and connect. It’s not just for our audience. It’s for us writers as well.
I’d like to especially thank Judy Goldberg, Festival Manager at LSF, for making Save the Cat! a part of LSF this year and making my experience truly inspiring. (Judy: I’m still waiting for my t-shirt and mug! :)) Thanks too to Chris Jones, LSF’s Creative Director, for the very warm introduction to the class. And, of course, to the staff and volunteers who made LSF a great event!
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