Newsroom

WRITERS GUILD FOUNDATION, AUSTIN FILM FEST TO JOIN FORCES FOR HISTORIC WEEKEND SYMPOSIUM

March 27, 2014 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 27,2014
Contact: Kevin Ott, Director of Communications – 323.782.4694

The Writers Guild Foundation, the charitable writers’ outreach organization associated with the Writers Guild of America-West, is combining its efforts with the Austin Film Festival to host a day-long symposium on the state of the feature film industry and current script sales.

Featuring a broad variety of screenwriters, producers and prestigious contest directors, the event will feature four separate panels – two organized by the WGF, and two organized by AFF. The WGF panels will focus largely on style and craft, and the AFF panels will be more marketplace-oriented, but topics will be somewhat fluid throughout the day’s discussions.

Click here for a complete list of the day’s panels.

Though a co-produced day-long event is a first for the two organizations, they have worked together in the past, when the WGF brought its SCRIBBLE TO SCREEN interview series to the Austin Film Festival in 2013. The series featured film and TV writers David Shore, Jenji Kohan, Ashley Edward Miller, Robin Swicord and Andrew Marlowe & Terri Edda Miller discussing the process of going from story notes to a completed final draft. SCRIBBLE TO SCREEN was coupled with an extensive exhibit of the WGF’s archive, which includes early production materials from those writers’ projects.

“It’s more than just an honor to work with the Austin Film Festival,” said Katie Buckland, Executive Director of the Writers Guild Foundation. “Two powerful voices advocating the value of great screenwriting are joining forces to offer emerging writers a picture of the current landscape. Our friendship is a friendship with benefits – and in this case, the benefits are being reaped by the community of emerging writers in Los Angeles.”

WRITERS GUILD FOUNDATION TO HOST FIFTH ANNUAL VETERANS WRITING RETREAT MAY 3-4

March 13, 2014 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2014
Contact: Kevin Ott, Director of Communications 323.782.4694

For the fifth year running, the Writers Guild Foundation will hold its Veterans Writing Retreat, a weekend-long event offering military veterans the opportunity to hone their writing skills with guidance from a collection of well-known television and screenwriters.

Since 2010, the Veterans Writing Retreat has offered vets the opportunity to improve their writing, learn the landscape of the entertainment industry, and network with both peers and luminaries in screenwriting. Past mentors have included Robert Ben Garant (NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM, RENO 911!), Peter Casey (CHEERS, FRASIER), Ashley Edward Miller (X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, upcoming TERMINATOR television series) and Winnie Holzman (WICKED).

Now in its fifth year, the workshop has had a positive impact on the lives of many vets, both professionally and personally. Many vets see a profound emotional impact from developing their creative skills, and some have managed to obtain professional employment after the Retreat. What’s more, two retreat alumni who have done so – Brian Anthony (ARMY WIVES, IRONSIDE) and Thom Tran (THE GIs OF COMEDY) are returning to the workshop to serve as mentors.

“The problems veterans face today are mounting ever-higher, and it’s powerfully rewarding for the Foundation to be able to use its unique skills and contacts to provide vets with this opportunity,” said Katie Buckland, Executive Director of the WGF. “These men and women deserve concrete, meaningful gratitude. What’s more, each of these vets has an amazing story to tell – and they deserve the chance to develop the skills it takes to tell those stories well. That’s why this program will always be an important part of our mission.”

Additional information, including a complete list of mentors, will be available in the coming weeks. 

WHO: 40-50 military vets, learning from 20 high-profile screenwriters

WHEN: May 3-4

WHERE: Writers Guild of America-West headquarters, 7000 W. 3rd Street, Los Angeles CA

Click here for more information

WRITERS GUILD FOUNDATION WELCOMES WRITERS, STARS OF THE WALKING DEAD TO WGA THEATER MARCH 11

March 4, 2014 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2014
Contact: Kevin Ott, Director of Communications 323.782.4694

The Writers Guild Foundation, known worldwide for its events spotlighting the minds behind some of the most watched shows on television, will welcome the writers and stars of THE WALKING DEAD to the Writers Guild Theater on March 11. Moderating will be Chris Hardwick, host of the TALKING DEAD chat show that airs after each WALKING DEAD episode.

Hardwick will interview Robert Kirkman, creator of the ongoing comic on which the television series is based; Scott M. Gimple, the showrunner; and stars Lauren Cohan (“Maggie”) and Steven Yeun (“Glenn”).

In the past, the WGF has hosted entire writers’ rooms from hit shows like THE MINDY PROJECT and BREAKING BAD. This is the organization’s first event featuring a blend of writers and actors on stage.

“Creating movies and television shows is always a collaborative process, with many voices contributing to the final product,” said WGF Executive Director Katie Buckland. “Writers craft ideas into stories and characters into real people we can all relate to. And the right actor can help to develop that character further through performance. We’re proud to host an event where writers and actors can chat productively about how they work together to bring a fictional world to life – or, in this case, walking death.”

Panelists will be available for press interviews.

WHO: Robert Kirkman (WALKING DEAD creator and writer); Scott M. Gimple (showrunner); Lauren Cohan (actor, “Maggie”); Steven Yeun (“Glenn”). Moderated by Chris Hardwick (host, TALKING DEAD).

WHEN: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 – 7:30pm to 9:00pm

WHERE: The Writers Guild Theater, 135 S. Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills

Click here for more information.

WGF Blog To Spotlight WGA’s 101 Best Screenplays in 2014

February 25, 2014 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 25, 2014
Contact: Kevin Ott, Director of Communications 323.782.4694

The Writers Guild Foundation is reaching into its extensive archive to bring pages from the Writers Guild of America’s 101 greatest screenplays of all time – as determined by WGA membership – to life.

A few pages from each script will be featured on the Writers Guild Foundation blog each Tuesday and Thursday in 2014.

The list was chosen in the summer of 2005, when the WGA-West and WGA-East sent ballots to Guild members around the world. In the #1 spot is CASABLANCA (by Julius J. & Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch); the list includes older films like that and THE THIRD MAN, as well as more recent classics like GROUNDHOG DAY and MEMENTO.

Each post on the WGF blog will focus on a single screenplay, with a small selection of pages from the script included as images.

“The script pages remind us of the words that became the blueprints for some of our most beloved films,” said Joanne Lammers, director of the WGF Archive.  “The exhibit represents a rare focus on the writing behind the past 80 years in the history of cinema.”

The WGF stands alone in its efforts to increase the visibility of these works, she continued, adding “No other archive or library has offered a peek at the script process in this size or scope or format.”

The exhibit can be found on the WGF blog, along with a wealth of additional information on the history and process of writing for the screen.

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CAPTAIN PHILLIPS screenwriter billy ray to speak to emerging writers at writers guild foundation

November 4, 2013 

Billy Ray, the writer of CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, BREACH, FLIGHTPLAN, STATE OF PLAY and SHATTERED GLASS (which he also directed) will meet with two groups of emerging writers at the Writers Guild Foundation headquarters.

First, Ray will lecture to a broad group of writers as part of the WGF’s WRITERS ON WRITING series, touching on his career as a sought-after screenwriter, his early draft of THE HUNGER GAMES, and his motivation to become an Oscar-winning screenwriter.

The following week, Ray will meet with members of the Writers Guild Foundation’s Veterans Writing Project as one of that program’s mentors. He’ll give a more in-depth lecture, and field specific questions from vets about breaking into the industry.

“We’re thrilled to have Billy on board with our ongoing event series and our outreach program for military vets,” said WGF Executive Director Katie Buckland. “His chats give these writers exactly the kind of encouragement and motivation they need to develop their individual voices.”

Members of the Veterans Writing Workshop will be available for interviews.

WHEN:
Wednesday, Nov. 6
7:30 pm
Tuesday, September 12 (Veterans Writing Project)
7:00 pm

WHERE:
The Writers Guild of America West
7000 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048

CONTACT:
Kevin Ott
Director of Communications
323.782.4694
kott@wga.org

More 2013 High School Screenwriting Winners

May 7, 2013 | PROGRAM NEWS

The next round of High School Screenwriting Workshops, held at the Los Angeles Leadership Academy, has finished, and congratulations are due to all the students who participated. Pictured here are the winners of this year’s competitions. Each winner gets an iPad and a gift card with which to purchase their own copy of Celtx.

Finding Mom by Maria Rivera

Maria Rivera

Long Live Miles by Jac Russell

jac.russell

My Irrelevant Sexuality by Paola Melena

paola.melena

Presenting the 2013 High School Screenwriting Workshop winners

December 12, 2012 | Program News

We at the Writers Guild Foundation offer our most emphatic, enthusiastic and ebullient congratulations to all the students who have taken part in our High School Screenwriting Workshops. Pictured here are the winners of this year’s competitions. Each winner receives an iPad and a gift card with which to purchase their own copy of Celtx.

In addition, we also send our most exuberant and enduring thanks to Matthew Weiner, for providing the generous donation that made our scholarships and iPad awards possible.

  • Flawless by Elsy Avarado of John Muir High School
  • RIP by Stephen Apaez of John Muir High School
  • Untitled by Maia Joseph of Olympic High School

  • Solely by Jonathan Panameno of Fairfax High School (pictured here with HSW instructors Marie Weiss and Kendell Shaffer)

Jonathan Panameno and HSW teachers Marie Weiss and Kendell Schaffer

Daisy Juarez and her new iPad

Bringing Veterans’ Stories To The Fore

October 30, 2012 | PRESS RELEASE

The Veterans Writing Project began as a way to help our nation’s veterans develop their voices as writers – to give them the tools they need to tell the stories they need to tell – stories the rest of us need to hear.

Nobody could have predicted that those stories would come before such a broad audience. Brian Anthony, an Army vet who joined the workshop as part of the inaugural 2010 workshop, recently joined the staff of Army Wives, where he’ll be able to bring his experiences as a soldier to the screen.

“Creatively, (my time in the Army) created an endless pool of characters and experiences to draw from and incorporate into my work,” Anthony told the Foundation in an email exchange. “Practically, it laid the backbone of discipline that writing requires.”

But the Veterans Writing Workshop helped Anthony direct his voice as a writer. “The monthly workshops provided a wonderful opportunity to gain feedback on my work from a cross section of professional writers,” he wrote. “The personal relationships I made with both veterans and mentors, and the support derived from each, became (and remains) invaluable to me.”

The Veterans Writing Project will continue in 2013. Applications will go live on February 1, so sign up for email updates (in the green box on the right-hand side of this page).

The Writer Speaks: Selected Clips

October 23, 2012 

We recently compiled a brief selection of clips from our The Writer Speaks series. It includes, among others, William Goldman, Fay Kanin and Frank Pierson.

Inside the Veterans Writing Project

September 18, 2012 

Curious about the Veterans Writing Project? Here’s what you can expect if you attend.

Want to support the Project? Please give.

High School Workshops: Creating Opportunities, Crafting Friendships

August 2, 2012 

In 2009, when Cheryl Arkliss was still attending Crenshaw High School, she won a scholarship as part of the Writers Guild Foundation’s High School Workshop program. Without it, she wouldn’t have been able to complete her first year of college at Tuskegee University.

Today, she’s a junior there, with an eye toward graduate school at Valdosta State University and a career as a high school guidance counselor. She won the scholarship with her short script, The Love Hopeful, about a high school crush.

“It motivated me even more to perform better in school,” she said. “It really proved to me that I really do have some kind of talent.”

Recently, Arkliss returned to Los Angeles for a visit, and met with Kendell Shaffer, her HSW instructor and mentor. They’re still friends.

“Cheryl’s still stepping outside herself, starting her third year of college, questioning everything,” Shaffer said of her protege. “She now loves life, and she’s hopeful.”

This year, the Writers Guild Foundation awarded high school junior Keyana B. Hayes a $250 Screenwriting Workshop Scholarship for her excellent script, Never Give Up, written in the workshop at Susan Miller Dorsey High School.

The workshop, taught by veteran instructor Fred Rappaport, ended with a thrill for those selected: Professional actors came to the school and performed Keyana’s screenplay as well several other outstanding scripts from the workshop. Her scholarship will be applied towards tuition at the college she will attend.

The Manulis Collection: Preserving Television History

August 1, 2012 

In the late 1950s, producer Martin Manulis created the TV program Playhouse 90, an unprecedented experiment in broadcasting. Each installment was a 90-minute teleplay… broadcast live.

The award-winning show ran for 133 episodes. Today, a treasure trove of Playhouse 90 scripts is archived at the Writers Guild Foundation, thanks to a generous donation from the Manulis family. Stephen Danley, the Foundation’s current Rosenthal Fellow, has been organizing the collection, piece by piece.

The collection contains scripts and production materials spanning from 1956 to 1985, including the first two seasons of Playhouse 90. 

Rod Serling penned seven scripts in the collection, including the notable Requiem for a Heavyweight and The Comedian. Other distinguished writers featured in the collection are William Gibson (The Miracle Worker), Paul Monash & Leonard Spigelgass (The Helen Morgan Story) Garson Kanin (The Right-Hand Man), and Aaron Spelling (The Last Man).

Several episodes are adapted from source material by writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Last Tycoon, Winter Dreams, The Great Gatsby), Clifford Odets (Clash by Night), Cornell Woolrich (Rendezvous in Black), and Brandon Thomas (Charley’s Aunt). The collection also includes development materials for the anthology series Climax! (1955-1956) and scripts for The Day Christ Died (1980 TV movie), Chiefs (1983 mini-series) and Space (1985 mini-series).

All in all, Danley has added 68 scripts and 3 binders of historical production and development materials to the WGF Archive.  The scripts have also been added to the Library’s catalog.

“This was the first collection of historical materials that I’ve ever arranged and described from start to finish, which was a really rewarding experience as an aspiring archivist,” Danley said. “Handling and preserving original scripts and production materials from the late 1950s really took me back to that era – from the immediacy of the live-broadcast format to the amusingly-scripted cigarette and toothpaste commercial break inserts – the Playhouse 90 experience really came to life through working on the collection.”

 

Screen Shot 2012-07-30 at 4.59.03 PM

“The feedback that I got was incredible:” The 2012 Veterans Writing Retreat

 

“I became more and more comfortable, to the degree that I found myself telling things about my experiences in combat that I had told only my wife.” — Chris Sweeney, Marine

It began early on a Saturday morning, with coffee and bacon and stacks of yellow legal pads waiting to be filled. Veterans from every branch of the armed forces and every part of the United States filed in: Army field commanders from Culver City. Naval surface warfare officers from New York. Marine combat engineers from Pennsylvania.

All of them had one thing in common: They had come to write.

For two days in late April, the Writers Guild Foundation played host to more than fifty such vets at the 2012 Veterans Writing Retreat, an annual weekend-long event that provides access to a wide spectrum of film and television writers serving as mentors.

Robert Kugler, a Marine staff sergeant and Iraq vet from Pico Rivera (but originally from Nebraska), arrived at the retreat with a profoundly personal story: His brother, also deployed to Iraq, was killed by a roadside bomb while serving there. He had a script – a first draft, at least – but wasn’t sure where to go next.

“I haven’t been really sure whether or not it’s worth reading,” Kugler said during a break. “This weekend really confirmed that. I was really supported by my mentor, who said that it’s something that should be written about.” Kugler spent his weekend with Ken LaZebnik, a playwright and television writer, and Tim Wurtz, a feature writer who produced Brats: Our Journey Home, a documentary about military brats.

Army vet Yvonne Fleming arrived at the workshop hoping the experience would make her a better comedy writer. “I’ve always been a closet writer,” she said. “When I saw this, I thought, ‘I have to get in.’”

She came away satisfied. “The feedback that I got was incredible. I have some work to do, but I feel very confident.”

Vets who attend the retreat have the option to continue the experience over the following year, meeting once a month with a small group of mentors who offer guidance across a broad spectrum, from script readings to career advice to the occasional beer session.

Wicked writer and My So-Called Life creator Winnie Holzman has been involved in the program since its inception in 2010, attending all three workshops and meeting with a small group of vets for over a year. Like many mentors, her dedication to the program stretches beyond simply offering story structure guidance and advice on character creation. She has also been a major financial sponsor of the project.

“Part of writing is teaching,” she said. “It’s about expressing something and going out there with your words and making a difference.” The 2013 workshop will take place on April 16-17. Applications will go live in early 2013. Join the Writers Guild Foundation mailing list to keep current with ongoing developments.

fairfax-high-school-workshop

High School Screenwriting Workshop – Student Scripts

April 27, 2012  |

VETERANS WRITING RETREAT 2011

April 3, 2012  |

VETS RETREAT REPORT – 2011

“It’s pretty much like putting a basketball player, who’s trying to come up, on the court with Michael Jordan, and being able to pick his brain for a minute about his skills. They were very open to us.”
- DeAndre Robinson, Marine

For two days in mid-April, the Writers Guild Foundation hosted the 2011 Veterans Writing Workshop, a weekend-long event that brings military vets of all ages and backgrounds to meet with a wide spectrum of television and film writers (as well as a few novelists, poets and writing coaches). They came from all over: Most from southern California, but some from Arizona, Louisiana, Nevada, Utah, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania. They came to write.

When Army vet Yvette Foy sat down with her bacon and eggs Saturday morning, she wasn’t sure what to expect. Sure, she was brimming with enthusiasm. Sure, she was surrounded by television writers who have achieved a level of professional success she could only dream of. But she arrived knowing what a taskmaster the empty page can be.

By the end of the day, Yvette was trading email addresses with Friends writer Alexa Junge, one of her mentors for the day. And Alexa was giving her the encouragement and guidance she needed to break through a prickly patch in her script. Today, they’re Facebook friends.

“I think sometimes we take for granted what a little inspiration can do,” Yvette said after the workshop. “When you’re on the grind seven days a week with a full-time job and writing and networkingâ?¦ it can become exhausting. The workshop recharged my battery. It said, keep going, you’re on the right track.”

“Literally,” she said. “I hear voices.”

After a brief intro to the mentors — and a (hopefully playful) argument over which of them created Frasier, the vets broke into groups of about five each, to meet with two and sometimes three mentors per group. It was those groups where the real work took place: Six Feet Under and Supernatural scribe Larry Andries and his partner Jan Oxenberg (Parenthood, Cold Case) sent their students on assignment to the Farmer’s Market, to create characters based on people they saw. Script consultant Sharon Wertheimer met with individual students to discuss writing techniques. Peter Casey and David Isaacs — television writers extraordinaire — quickly formed an easy bond with their group, and laughter poured forth from their conference room all day.

But for this group, it’s just the beginning. In its second year, the Veterans Writing Workshop is rapidly creating an ongoing sense of community among graduates and their mentors, and everyone involved wants to find a way to keep that magic going through continuing workshops. If the past is any indication, there’s reason for optimism; a small group of vets from last year’s workshop has been meeting regularly with a team of dedicated WGA mentors who showed up for the event each year. Some even served this year as volunteers, offering their own advice to attendees as well as general assistance.

L. Michael Black, who meets regularly with the ongoing group, saw a level of camaraderie that was matched only by last year’s event.

“I was very impressed by the participants’ level of knowledge,” Michael said. “Especially the ways they pushed the mentors to ‘give it up.’ And the mentors delivered so much to the hungry mass assembled.”

When Sunday’s closing session came to pass — and all hands had been shaken and all business cards traded — the import and impact of the weekend was clear. But it was equally clear that the job wasn’t done. So planning for next year’s workshop has begun — along with planning for the ongoing workshops to come in the mean time.

You can be a part of this valuable program: sponsor a vet.