Thursday, March 24, 2011

Monthly meeting and guest series with Dr. Bonnie Orr and Suzanne Weinert

Tonight's Reel Women Students meeting was a complete success! Our gracious speakers were Dr. Bonnie Orr and Suzanne Weinert. They enlightened us with the experiences of their lives and their successes.

Kat Candler, our moderator, did a great job of asking questions that pertained to our guests and to us as students. There was a good turn out of film makers that showed up for the UT Reel Women dialogue and they also came with an arsenal of questions that have been burning holes in all of our pockets! Some of the questions included the process of screenplay writing, and individual aspects as well as universal techniques of film making and script writing. We also got some insider information on what to do and what not to do when starting our careers in the film industry.

Orr, who studied screen writing at UCLA, encouraged us to take a few simple steps to ease through the pre-writing stages. She instructed us to "do our research".
She told us of one experience in particular where a director made a comment on her beautiful writing of Costa Rica. The ironic part of the story was that she had never been to Costa Rica. Her research on the topic made her an expert about the place, and the director could tell she had done her home work. She suggested that students should use the Internet to locate documents such as journals, shoot scripts and other information. The Internet was not a tool that was used when Orr first started her career, and she suggested that students should take full advantage of it. She also talked to the audience about creating a beat sheet. She instructed writers to begin a beat sheet by writing 12 phrases down, just phrases, not complete sentences. These phrases form the foundation for an entire script. Then the writer can break every beat down into 10 to 12 pages each, equaling the 120 pages needed for a script (9 beats = 90 pages for comedies).

Weinert, who went to Columbia University, talked to the students about her extensive career in the film industry. Over the duration of her career she has established a working relationship with Ron Howard and Julia Roberts, as well as many other well known film makers. She told us that she sharpens her writing skills by writing every day. She encouraged students to do the same and said that by the time a student graduates with an undergraduate degree, they should have completed two feature length scripts. Each script should be a different genre, and it is a good idea to always have that second script in the hole. It will serve as a back up just in case inquiring directors or corporations want to see what else a writer might have up their sleeve.

The students also learned some differences between short and feature film making and writing, the importance of budgeting, and some great tips for Indie film making. Some of these tips included; shoot during the day, and use as few actors and locations as possible. Another sensible tip was; if a student isn't sure what line of work they are interested in, they should decide now! This will save young film makers time and money in the long run!

Thanks to all who showed up for the dialogue! Feel free to bring your friends and remember Reel Women welcomes everyone, including men! The following are two of trailers that we watched from each of the two experts latest works:

Here is a link to a trailer from Bonnie Orr's latest script:

Also, here is a link to a trailer from Suzanne's Weinert's latest script and production: ExTerminators

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