MWP hosted a Future of Story event a few years ago and at the encouragement of my mentor, Kathie Fong Yoneda, I went to Los Angeles to participate. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect at first. They were having a few panels with brilliant people in the film industry as well as some time to network with the panelists. I was worried that I would be so green that I wouldn’t be able to strike up much conversation other than small talk but was determined to make the most of it anyway.
I approached the door to go in and gave my ticket to a man, Ken Lee. Ken set the tone for the entire event for me. It turns out he was (and still is) the Vice President of MWP and no kidding, he was taking tickets himself and welcoming people to the event! It made a really big impression on me. People in Hollywood are so often stereotyped as sharks or too important to talk to you, but that was the opposite of my experience. Not just with Ken but with everyone from Ken Rotcop, Ellen Besen, Chris Vogler and Pilar Alessandra, to Pen Desham! I found, to my delight, that it was easy to talk with everyone because of their genuine enthusiasm for the industry. No one seemed put out by ‘having’ to network with aspiring screenwriters. Rather, they were all cheerfully delighted to answer everyone’s questions.
The first year I attended FoS, I built a lot of relationships with people who are my heroes. Industry experts that you normally don’t just have access to. People who have become mentors to me and even friends. These relationships are the reward of attending FoS, and they are what brought me back the second time MWP held the event; this time in Chicago. I was able to foster relationships I had built the year before and meet more idols of mine as well.
The panels the second time were incredible. The energy in the room was palpable. I will never forget the panel moderated by Pen Desham where he described a first draft of a script (or novel, etc) as the “Lewis & Clark draft. Any fucking way to the coast works!” It was empowering to hear the man who wrote Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves express how even his firsts drafts were garbage and not to let that stop you from pushing through.
Not only did I get amazing insights into my writing and the elusive film industry, I also won one of the door prizes; a free hour long consultation with Jen Grisanti! It was great to build on the network of relationships that I had started the year before.
This year when Ken announced the fourth Future of Story event, I let him know that I was going to fly out from Chicago to be there. Ken is such a genuine person! He emailed me and asked if I would blog about what it is that makes me want to travel so far for one evening of networking and pitching. I wrote him right back saying how excited I was while my inner dialog was along the lines of, “EEP! Oh my God! Ken Lee wants me to do a write up for MWP!” Fist-pump and then I had an internal Happy Gilmore moment hearing the voices in my head say, “You will not make this shot…jackass!” It was intimidating and wonderful at the same time.
I asked Ken Lee what is the overall goal of Future of Story and I love his answer to me, “We created the
Future of Story events to create a strong link between the filmmaking community and our authors. MWP is not the kind of publishing company that builds walls or makes it difficult for the community to connect with us. We want people to tell us about their projects and we do our level best to provide them with the most helpful feedback possible.”
Which is exactly what I’ve been talking about in this post. The relationships are what it’s all about. I went from not knowing who Ken is, to enjoying meeting him for the second time, to being friends on FB, to him reading my blog and wanting me to speak up as a veteran of the Future of Story and even doing an interview with him over the phone so that I could get a better idea of the inner workings of FoS. It was a big honor to be asked to do this. I’ve been on a cloud since Thursday, even if every now and then when it gets quiet I hear “Jackass!” in the back of my brain. 😉
The bottom line for me is this: Future of Story is fun. The enthusiasm is amazing, it’s incredible to meet all these industry pros and get their feedback on my work and questions. It’s informative and enriching. I hope you will join me in Vegas this year at FoS on August 1st.
Finally, Ken Lee adds “In keeping with spirit of Las Vegas, we’ve created a large number of prizes for attendees including Final Draft Software, Script consultation, and even career consultation.” It’s only $30 to come to the event and if you are already in Vegas because of UFVA it is actually free to you (included in the UFVA package rather). There will not only be a panel on filmmaking with over 15 experts in the industry but they will be breaking into mini groups and letting us (the attendees) pitch our stories to their experts for immediate feedback! At this point a pack of wild dingos couldn’t keep me away!
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS AND DETAILS. Come say hi to me! It’s Vegas baby, and I’m ALL IN!