Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Art Within

Well, I spent that last weekend (Wed - Sunday, actually) at Art Within's 4th Annual Symposium and Showcase, an invitation-only screenwriting conference for writers of faith.

Mornings consisted of "think tank" sessions, wherein we engaged each other over issues of faith representation in our work (and in films as a whole), our greatest fears, and other issues. I can't overstate how valuable these sessions are. Though I end up keeping my mouth shut most of the time for fear of sounding like a moron around all these writers I respect so much, I thrive on the interaction with like-minded people. Not only that, but it's the sheer joy of getting to spend several days thinking and talking about art.

In the afternoons and evenings, we attended readings of several screenplays commissioned by Art Within over the past year. Several people who I met last year had scripts read, and they were really interesting takes on traditional genres. After each readings, there are "talkback" sessions, wherein the assembled writers pause to praise the work before pointing out any and all weaknesses and problems. I'm not being sarcastic here; while I would probably implode under the pressure of one of these talkbacks, they provide invaluable feedback.

Late evenings (as in, after 11pm) consisted of screenings of films made by participants, including mine (unfortunately, the disc was corrupt and crashed about 2/3rd of the way through the film). I also saw a terrific as-yet-unreleased film starring Christian Slater, He Was a Quiet Man. Excellent and original film.

A great weekend. I rekindled some friendships with folks I haven't seen in a year (and one person with whom I went to grad school and who I haven't seen in over 10 years!). And I met some new friends. And I met several producers/executives of some stature. It surprised and impressed me how down-to-earth these people were. We were swapping stories about our kids, pulling out our wallets to share pictures, and talking about the state of modern film. I was trying mightily to sound articulate, erudite, and intelligent -- quite a struggle. I was sure I sounded like a total idiot as I tried to describe my writing (I don't fit into easily defined categories, so I end up rambling when I describe my work).

The nice part was that I got to put copies of my award-winning feature film into their hands. Maybe it'll amount to something, maybe not.

All in all -- this is a great experience that I feel lucky to have. I hope to be invited back next year.

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