Pictured above from left to right: Glenn Cockburn, Meridian Artists and founder of the TSC, Vince Deiulis, Caroline Godin and Michael Coutanche, Professor at Ryerson University and TSC Advisory Board member
Thanks to our partners at the Toronto Screenwriting Conference, two lucky Torontonians won a pass to this year’s conference. Read on to hear their experiences over the inspiring weekend which featured headliner, Paul Haggis.
WINNER 1 – Vince Deiulis
I first attended the TSC back in 2015, over at the Daniels Spectrum in the east end of Toronto. The headliner that year was David S. Goyer (of The Dark Knight and Man of Steel fame) who spoke about creating mythos with your writing. I remember listening to him speak and fantasizing about the worlds and characters I could create with my MacBook Pro, a little research and imagination. Fast forward to 2017, when I see that the Screenwriting Conference is coming to town. I see on Twitter that First Weekend Club is offering a free pass to the TSC for providing a brief, one hundred and forty character, script idea. I respond, and much to my delight, I win. The TSC this year is on the weekend of April 22-23. My birthday happens to fall on the Saturday, and I can’t think of a better way to spend a birthday weekend.
April 22, 2017 – Arrive at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and enter the beautiful John Bassett Theatre. As other delegates enter, there is a definite buzz of excitement in the air. Kim Robinson (TSC Producer) enters and introduces Chris Rogers and Chris Chatwell (creators of Halt and Catch Fire) who give a humourous masterclass on their personal rise to showrunner-dom. An inspiring and light-hearted way to start the conference. After some jazzy set-up music, the cast and crew of The Beaverton step onto the stage and give the audience a glimpse into a typical “punch-up” joke session. The team do well to inform us on the process while they deliver some humourous material. Noon-time and a panel I am very excited for hits the stage, I AM: A DISCUSSION ON THE FEMALE GAZE.
Katrina Saville (writer Saving Hope, Rookie Blue) enters with a mimosa, and defines the “male gaze” then informs us that the “female gaze” is still up for interpretation. The panel then discuss how femininity and their own experiences as women shape their work, as well as their ideas on how we may move forward as a media-making culture if we are to have a lasting impact on how women are depicted on-screen. I then move closer to the stage for the Kim’s Convenience Writers Room panel. Having a background in theatre, I am interested in how Ins Choi is able to stretch his successful Fringe Festival play into a serialized comedy. Ins and Kevin White keep us entertained as they discuss a typical day in the writer’s room on Kim’s and how keeping the dialogue open with the writers is integral to their process. Ins and Kevin even demonstrate a Korean-version of Rock, Paper, Scissors. The afternoon begins to take on a more serious tone as Christina Jennings (Chairman & CEO, Shaftesbury) leads a panel discussion with Producers from the United States. I found this panel particularly uplifting, as the producer’s discussed how important it is to see interesting and passionate writing projects. The day finished up with Adam Reed (creator of Archer) and Dennis Heaton (showrunner on Motive) perform a comedy routine in the form of a conversation about Adam’s experiences leading up to the creation of Archer. After day one, my brain and notebook are full.
April 23, 2017 – Day Two of the Conference started out with a bang as Marti Noxon (showrunner of Sharp Objects) gave an emotional, yet humourous, masterclass on her experiences entering the industry. Noxon was inspiring and engaging as she discussed the importance of finding your own voice as a writer. I then ran to room 101 for a Coffee Talk with Final Draft representative, Philip Galasso who raffled off a couple free copies of Final Draft 10. After a couple cups of coffee, I hustled back to catch the beginning of Corey Mandell’s (professional screenwriting guru) story design lecture. Corey’s tips were impactful and delivered with honesty. After Corey, the stage was set for Rick Olshansky (Co-Head of AMC Studios) and Steve Hoban (Founder of Copperheart Entertainment) to discuss AMC’s current strategy for creating original content. Rick was honest and open about the changing landscape for film and television. Then the auditorium filled as Elan Mastai (The F-Word) discussed Paul Haggis’s (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) varied writing career.
Overall the experience was easily quite inspirational and motivating, one of the best qualities of the TSC. As great as it is to hear about craft and experience, I always find that what I like most about the conference is its ability to drive me to get writing. Many thanks to the First Weekend Club for the opportunity and experience.
WINNER 2 – Caroline Godin