Who Are We?
PLEASE READ BEFORE APPLYING FOR MEMBERSHIP
The group accepts new members on a space-available, rolling basis. As we are now at capacity, please be patient.
As we grow, we are more selective in accepting new members. Here's what we are looking for:
a) Thoughtful, creative answers to our questions. Please put some time, and talent, into responding to the four questions that we ask of potential members.
b) People who are serious about screenwriting and/or acting. Our group is not for hobbyists, spectators, or fans. That's why we ask for professional credits, although a lack of professional credits is not a barrier to membership.
c) People who live in Los Angeles or visit frequently. See "About Attendance" below.
WHO WE ARE
We are a diverse group of writers, actors, directors and producers who meet to read scripts, get honest feedback, and improve our craft. We learn to be good collaborators. We invite other working professionals to visit and share their expertise and path. We support each other's projects by attending premieres, readings, and events together.
After almost five years, we have developed a core group of pros who are committed to each other's success and make up the bulk of our weekly attendance.
We are serious about our craft. There are two "R"s in the industry: Relationships and Reputation. Through mutual support, honest feedback, and personal integrity, we build our careers.
We read from 6:30-8:30 pm, then network until 9 pm when the restaurant closes. Most nights, the discussion moves to the outside patio for at least another hour after the doors are locked.
Membership to the group is free, although Meetup.com charges us $90 every six months to use their website. To raise the $90, we pass a hat around the table every six months and take voluntary contributions.
We require attendance at meetings because the best way to get to know each other, learn from each other, and stay connected is to meet in person. We request attendance at least once a month. We are not one of those large groups that exist only as a mailing list to sell you something.
We limit our membership. One reason is because, from time to time, we provide inside information and support that is too valuable to share with the larger world.
If you are new and do not attend a meeting within your first two months, you will be removed from our members list. Later on, if you do not attend meetings or check into the website on a regular basis, you will also be removed from our members list. We also remove people who RSVP two times without showing up. You are always free to re-join the group when you are able to attend.
If you live outside of Los Angeles, we welcome your visit when you are in town (send us a note). But the best thing to do is to start a group in your own area. Feel free to copy our format and materials. We have an affiliate group in Sante Fe.
ABOUT BRINGING SCRIPTS
Scripts are read on a first-come, first-served, basis as time allows. We usually get through 3-4 scripts per evening. Read the "SCRIPT QUEUE" section below for how we determine which scripts are read.
We have developed these rules to discourage people who come to a meeting only when they want their own script read.
1. New members must attend two meetups before bringing a script to the third. You'll see whether the group is a good match for you and whether your script is ready for reading (see #2 and #3 below.) A good idea is to bring a copy to your second meeting and ask a member to review. (If the member tells you that the script is not ready for the group, do not bring it in for a read anyway.)
2. Prepare your script properly. If your script is not properly prepared, it will not be read that night.
• Bring no more than 10 pages. If you are bringing the final pages of a script that we have already been reading, you may run a few pages over.
• Make enough copies of your script so that each character -- plus the narrator -- will have his/her own to read. Having an actor share a script, read more than one part, or read a part written for a different gender doesn't work. (Our sponsor, http://www.copyhub.net , is a great, inexpensive, copy shop nearby in Sherman Oaks.)
• Highlight character names on the script in color so that the part is easy for the reader to find.
3. No first drafts. If you have a first or early draft, ask a fellow member to read and give feedback during our networking time before you bring it in for a full table read.
If you are not sure about script format, if you are writing in English and it is not your first language, or if you think you need a copy editor (that's a person who looks for typos, misspellings, and other grammatical errors), have one of the group members take a look before you ask for a table read. You want us to concentrate on dialogue, character and plot, and not trip over format, spelling and grammar.
For some great, simple advice about screenwriting (including "Pixar's 22 Rules for Phenomenal Storytelling"), go to http://goodinaroom.com/blog/screenplay-writing-infographic .
4. Take note of our feedback. If you bring in 10 pages of a script, and the group points out major problems, don't come in the following week with the next 10 pages if you haven't addressed those major points. The group will just give you the same feedback and you will be taking time that another writer could have benefited from.
SCRIPT QUEUE SYSTEM
How do we determine which script is read on any specific night? Here is the program to follow to have your script read:
1. RSVP for a Monday night meeting.
2. AFTER THE MONDAY MEETING, and before midnight on the SATURDAY before the next meeting, post a comment on the event page that you have pages to be read.
3. Before MIDNIGHT ON THE SUNDAY BEFORE the meetup, we will email that night's line-up to all members. The top four are almost always going to be read. This is not the same as the top four in the comments page. How will we determine who gets to be in top 4? We will take into account:
a) RSVP times (Meetup keeps track)
b) the waiting list from the previous meeting
c) if someone is about to leave for an extended trip and has a script that has been wait-listed too long
d) if someone has had their script read the previous week and other people are waiting.
e) whether someone only attends meetings when their script is read
f) any gaming of the system (for example, someone puts themselves in the cue every week six months ahead of time.)
We do not "swap" places, e.g., Writer with spot #1 cannot exchange places with #6. If we don't get to a member's script that night (for reasons of time, illness, etc. ), we give them top priority for the following weeks.
As always, you can ask another group member to read your script and give notes off-line.
ABOUT PARTICIPATING AT MEETINGS
Speak loud and be proud! You never know who is attending. We have members who are casting agents, producers, and directors, so don't be shy. When we do introductions at the start of the meeting, speak up with confidence. When you are "slating" or reading a part, give it your best, and make sure everyone can hear. Our meetup is a place to develop confidence in both performance and writing skills.
After each script reading, we go around the table and give notes. The writer only listens. When it is your turn to give notes, speak about what worked and/or what didn't work for you as an knowledgeable audience member. Pitching brief ideas or jokes is okay. We are not here to re-write, impress, debate, pontificate, compare, fix, teach copyright law or movie history. We are not here to be Studio executives and write marketing plans and figure out demographics. We are here to get the best stories written. Each story is unique, each screenplay is unique, each writer's process is unique and our group respects that.
If you want to give more extensive notes, speak with the writer after the meeting.
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT OUR HISTORY
Screenwriters and Actors of Hollywood was founded in June 2013 by Yvonne Cowling. Suzanne Birrell became Lead Organizer in the fall of 2013, and Bill Weber became Lead Organizer in October 2016. Suzanne and Bill developed many of the standard operating procedures of the group. Today, the group has a leadership team of Bill, Aaron Coleman, Laura Willard, Derek Pietras, and David Halle. Suzanne now leads Screenwriters and Actors of Sante Fe with the support of the Sante Fe Film Commission.