Screenwriting for Beginners

Thursday, March 14, 2019

So you want to write a screenplay – now what? Hear from a range of filmmakers and writers about their experience creating, developing, and producing their work, and the challenges, tips, and advice they want to share. In this new boot camp from IFC Center, we’ll hear from a selection of screenwriters and moderators, sharing stories and examples from films they’ve worked on. Ticket price also includes admission to and a free drink at a post-boot camp happy hour networking session!

10AM-11AM From Story to Script to Screen: A Talk with Writers, Moderated by Producer Alex Cirillo
Producer Alex Cirillo has invited a few of her favorite screenwriters including Jenna Laurenzo (Lez Bomb), Emmett J. Lundberg (Brothers) and Jenn Wexler (The Ranger) to have a conversation around development, storytelling, and everything in between.

11AM-12PM From Theatre To Film
Screenwriters Cory Finley (Thoroughbreds), Ana Nogueira, and Lucy Teitler have their roots in the theatre, but now have successfully transitioned into screenwriting – hear how they made the turn, the similarities and differences in style, and why they’re now writing for the screen. Moderated by Jenna Bond. Panel co-presented by WGA East.

12PM-1PM Short Film Study
Some people may think writing a short screenplay is easier than a feature-length one – but consider creating a beginning, middle, and end of a complete story in just ten minutes. Hear from short filmmakers Sontenish Myers (Cross My Heart) and Kana Hatakeyama (Okaasan (mom)), as well as short filmmaker and short film programmer Natalie Gee (Brooklyn Film Festival, Indie Street Film Festival) about how to make a short film the best it can be. Moderated by Academy-award winning short filmmaker Mara Kassin (Curfew


2PM-3PM Case Study: After Louie with Anthony Johnston
After Louie, starring Alan Cumming and Zachary Booth as an intergenerational gay couple, played film festivals from the Hamptons to Nashville. Hear from co-writer Anthony Johnston about the unique challenges of this film, along with how Johnston has pivoted into tv writing for CBS’ Instinct
.  Moderated by Nick McCarthy, Director of Programming for NewFest.

3PM-4PM How To Write Your First Screenplay
Whether you’ve written, are writing, or just have the idea for your first screenplay, hear from a panel of screenwriters on navigating writers’ block, individual processes, and what to do after your script is finished. Featuring Amy Fox (Equity), Risa Mickenberg (Egg), and Amos Posner (After Party, B-Sid
e). Moderated by John Lee (former Manager of Scripted Programming at Tribeca Film Institute). Moderated by John Lee (former Manager of Scripted Programming at Tribeca Film Institute).

4PM-5PM Networking Happy Hour
Join fellow attendees and our industry guests for a free drink on the house at a nearby bar and talk about everything you’ve learned!


Jenna Bond engages current and future Writers Guild East members working in the areas of indie film, documentary, animation and new media. Each caucus convenes quarterly for programs ranging from career summits to peer roundtables. Jenna travels to festivals, from Nantucket to Austin, to engage screenwriters with produced work in conversation on career sustainability. She also manages the Made in NY Writers Room, the Guild’s partnership with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment to increase inclusive television writers rooms. Jenna is a graduate of Wellesley College and Columbia Business School. She loves living in Harlem and is a supporter of Maysles Cinema.

Alex CirilloAlex Cirillo is a Creative Producer and the Co-Founder of Big Vision Empty Wallet, an inclusion-focused film and media incubator for independent creators that feeds projects into her production company, Big Vision Creative.  Her most recent films include Lez Bomb (Gravitas, now available on Netflix), The Light of the Moon (SXSW 2017 Audience Award Winner) and Academy Award-Qualifying One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure (TNT/Refinery29, Sundance 2019). An active member of New York Women in Film & Television for the past decade, Cirillo currently serves on the Events Committee for Time’s Up and the Festival Committee for Women Independent Producers.


Cory FinleyCory Finley is a St. Louis-born, New York-based director and playwright. He is a member of the Obie-winning Youngblood playwrights group at Ensemble Studio Theater, has received a commission from the Alfred P. Sloan foundation for playwriting, and was the inaugural recipient of the Gurney Playwrights Fund for his play The Feast at The Flea Theater.

Amy FoxAmy Fox is an acclaimed screenwriter, playwright and educator, and an advocate for elevating women’s voices in the arts and the workplace. She was recently selected as one of the participants in Take The Lead’s: 50 Women Can Change The World in Media & Entertainment.

Amy wrote the screenplay for Equity, the female-driven Wall Street film which premiered at Sundance 2016 and was released by Sony Pictures Classics. Equity has been called a “suspenseful feminist thriller” by the New York Times and aims to tell a great story while furthering the conversation about gender in the workplace. Amy’s first feature screenplay, for the Merchant Ivory film Heights, starring Glenn Close and Elizabeth Banks, also premiered at Sundance (2005) and was released by SPC. Fox’s plays have been produced by theaters in New York, including the Ensemble Studio Theater and Clubbed Thumb, and have been seen in London, Tehran, San Francisco, Austin, and St. Paul. Her work has been recognized by The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, The Kilroys, and Women’s Image Network. Amy teaches screenwriting at NYU ‘s Graduate Film Program. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and two children. She is originally from Boulder, Colorado.

Natalie GeeNatalie Gee is the Director of Programming at Indie Street Film Festival and the short film programmer for the Brooklyn and UnLonely Film Festival. She’s previously been on the Oscar qualifying short film jury for the Bermuda International Film Festival, where she programmed a short’s retrospective for BIFF’s 20th anniversary. In addition, she’s on the screening committee for Telluride, Hamptons, Montclair & Tribeca. She is currently curating a Feminist Film night at the Brooklyn Museum. Natalie is an actor and filmmaker and her short film, All Is Not Lost, premiered at the Oscar qualifying festival, HollyShorts.

Kana HatakeyamaKana Hatakeyama is a Japanese-American filmmaker and actor based in NYC. Her short film okaasan (mom), for which she wrote, produced, directed and acted, marks her directorial debut. okaasan (mom) has screened at multiple film festivals, including New Orleans Film Festival (Audience Award), Nitehawk Shorts Festival (First Time Filmmaker Award, Audience Award), Brooklyn Film Festival, and more. Acting credits include Off-Broadway & regional theater, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Orange is the New Black. Kana grew up in both Japan and the United States, and has also spent time living in France, Argentina and Kenya. She is a graduate of Duke University.

Anthony JohnstonAnthony Johnston is a writer, filmmaker, and performer based in Brooklyn, NY and originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba. He is currently a writer on Instinct  (CBS). After Louie, his first feature film, starred Alan Cumming and opened theatrically in the Spring of 2018 after screening at film festivals over the world. Anthony’s original live works have been staged in NYC, Edinburgh, across Canada, and have been praised by The New York Times and The Times of London, among others. His heterophobic rap alter-ego “The Popinjay” has been seen at some of NYC’s hottest nightlife events, and has been featured in Out, The Advocate, Time Out NY, The New York Times, and Huffington Post. He is currently developing a number of television projects.

Mara KassinMara Kassin is an actress and producer. She has three films on the film festival circuit right now: Extra Innings, Ladies Lounge, and Friendly Neighborhood Coven. She co-produced Shawn Christensen’s Curfew, which won the 2013 Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film. Mara starred in and co-produced Grandma’s Not A Toaster, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and went on to win many other festivals.  She co-starred, wrote & produced her directorial debut, Now Or Later, which screened at dozens of film festivals last year. Recent film credits include Cul De Sac, Before I Disappear, Rootz, and Tiny Things.

Jenna LaurenzoJenna Laurenzo is the director, writer, producer and star of Lez Bomb. Lez Bomb made its world premiere this past May at Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival where it won the best narrative jury award. The film had a theatrical release in November 2018, and is now on Netflix. Lez Bomb was executive produced by Bobby Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary, Dumb & Dumber) and stars Oscar® winner Cloris Leachman, Oscar® nominee Bruce Dern, Kevin Pollak, Deirdre O’Connell, Steve Guttenberg, Elaine Hendrix, Brandon Micheal Hall and more. Lez Bomb was Laurenzo’ s follow-up to her short film, Girl Night Stand (directed/written/starring Laurenzo), an internet hit that garnered over 3 millions of streams and drove online cultural conversation for months. Jenna’s an alumni of Carnegie Mellon University, where she received her BHA in Drama and English with a focus in writing & directing, graduating with honors. Earlier this year, Jenna was selected for Shoot Online’s 2018 New Directors Showcase, and the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s 2018 Artist Academy. Jenna can currently be seen in Peter Farrelly’s Oscar® winning Green Book.

John D. LeeJohn D. Lee is a film consultant specializing in advising filmmakers with grant proposals, pitch preparation, PR/Marketing and festival strategy. Lee previously served as the Manager of Scripted Programming for the Tribeca Film Institute where he managed programs including Tribeca All Access, TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund, Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize and the IWC Filmmaker Award. He is a graduate of NY Institute of Technology with a B.A. in Communication Arts.

Emmett LundbergEmmett Jack Lundberg is the creator of Brothers, one of Indiewire’s 10 Best Indie TV Series, and a finalist for Scripted Digital Series at the Austin Film Festival. His first feature script was a Semi-Finalist in the Zoetrope Screenwriting Contest and a Finalist for the Columbus/Vague Award at NYU. He is an OUT100 honoree and received the “Triple Threat Auteur” award from the Toronto Webfest.

Nick McCarthyNick McCarthy is the Director of Programming & Operations at NewFest, New York’s LGBTQ Film & Media Arts Organization. Nick has been with NewFest since 2016, and curates and manages the annual New York LGBTQ Film Festival in addition to NewFest’s year-round programming. Prior to NewFest, Nick served as the Film Curator at The Tank, and worked in academic publishing and international media production. Nick has written about film and media for publications including Slant Magazine, Time Out New York, NBC News, and the Boston Phoenix.

Risa MickenbergRisa Mickenberg’s screenplay for Egg was made into a  feature film starring Christina Hendricks, Alysia Reiner, Anna Camp, Gbenga Akinnagbe and David Alan Basche, directed by Marianna Palka. It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, had national theatrical distribution and is on Amazon + iTunes. It won the inaugural Women In The Media & and Arts Coalition Collaboration Award. She’s written for HBO and has written several other commissioned screenplays, both original and adapted. She’s received screenwriting fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. She is a member of the WGA and SAG/AFTRA.

Sontenish MyersSontenish Myers is a writer-director based in Harlem, NY. She is a thesis student and adjunct professor at NYU’s Graduate Film program. Sontenish has written and directed 4 short films to date.  Her most recent short, Cross My Heart, made its North American Premiere at Seattle International Film Festival. Sontenish was awarded the Alexis Award for Best Emerging Student Filmmaker at Palm Springs International Shortfest for Cross My Heart, which was also included in Refinery29’s list of The Most Exciting Woman-Directed Films At 2018’s Palm Springs Shortfest. Cross My Heart is now a Vimeo Staff Pick, and Sontenish is currently an IFP Marcie Bloom Fellow in Film.

Ana Nogueira is an actor, playwright, and screenwriter who lives in Brooklyn, NY. Her off-Broadway appearances include: Engagements, Mala Hierba (Second Stage Uptown), Knives and Other Sharp Objects (The Public), I’m Pretty F*cked Up (Clubbed Thumb) as well as The First National Tour of In The Heights. Nogueira’s television appearances include: The Michael J. Fox Show, The Vampire Diaries, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, Baby Daddy, El Jefe (pilot). She recently starred in and co-wrote the short film We Win, which premiered at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival. Her play, Empathitrax, had its off-Broadway premiere with Colt Coeur in 2016 and is currently being developed into a feature with Berlanti productions. Nogueira is a recipient of a 2017 Elizabeth George Playwriting Commission and a 2015 Sloan Grant.

Amos PosnerAmos Posner is a writer, director, and occasional actor, whose work has shown from Palm Springs to Madrid. He studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before working as a PA, a costume assistant, and most extensively, as a script reader in New York. His most recent directorial feature, After Party, was released by Gravitas Ventures in 2018, and stars Laura Dreyfuss, Rachel Nichols, and Sean Kleier. When not trying to train either a script draft or his dog Marlowe, Amos can often be found in New York’s repertory cinemas. IFC Center’s Wim Wenders retrospective was a particular favorite.

Lucy Teitler is an American playwright, writer, and screenwriter. She has been a contributing writer at Vice’s tech mag Motherboard, a staff writer on the USA series Mr. Robot, and her plays have been produced at Ensemble Studio Theatre, Barrington Stage Company, Second Stage Uptown, and elsewhere. Her play Engagements has been produced widely and published in pink. Her feature screenplay The Good Time Girls, written with Courtney Hoffman, is set for production in early 2019. Lucy is currently working as a writer and Co-Executive Producer on teh upcoming Netflix series The I-Land. She is an alum of the Youngblood playwriting group at Ensemble Studio Theatre. Lucy lives in New York and is represented by George Lane and Nancy Jones at CAA and Alex Goldstone at Anonymous Content. 

Jenn WexlerJenn Wexler is the director of The Ranger, which world premiered in the Midnighter’s section of the 2018 SXSW Film Festival and will be coming to Shudder in 2019.  She is also the producer of Most Beautiful Island (SXSW Grand Jury Prize 2017, Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award Nominee 2018), Like Me (SXSW 2017), Psychopaths (Tribeca Film Festival 2017), and Darling (Fantastic Fest 2015).



  • Running Time 360 minutes

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