Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday, November 10: Marc & Elaine Zicree

Screenwriters Association
of Santa Barbara


Writers & Producers

Marc & Elaine Zicree

Thursday, November 10, 7 pm

Brooks Institute
27 East Cota Street
Downtown Santa Barbara
(805) 617-4503

FREE and open to everyone!

Writing both individually and as a team, Marc and Elaine Zicree have over 100 credits to their name, including series such as Star Trek - The Next Generation, Sliders, Deep Space Nine, Lazarus Man, Beyond Reality and Babylon 5, plus multiple pilots for NBC, ABC and Showtime. They have written for virtually every major studio and network, and their work has been nominated for the Humanitas Prize, Diane Thomas Award, and American Book Award.

Marc and Elaine served as Executive Producers on Real Story, a pilot presentation they wrote and produced in association with OZ's Tom Fontana, starring Buffy's Armin Shimerman. They also co-wrote Two Sisters, a MOW for Warners, to which director Tony Bill was attached, and Magic Time, a two-hour pilot for Henson, which was spun off into a best-selling series of books published by HarperCollins from 2001-2005.

Author of The Twilight Zone Companion, Marc Zicree has written 15 screenplays and over 100 teleplays. He has been a guest on over 100 radio and TV shows, including The Today Show, All Things Considered and Entertainment Tonight. He currently writes best-selling novels, writes and produces TV series, network pilots and feature films, and has also been a commentator on NPR's Morning Edition.

Elaine Zicree has served as a writer, actress, director and producer Off-Broadway and in LA. She is currently working on Caesar, an independent feature she has written and will be producing. She and Marc have also recently written multiple episodes of PBS's Liberty's Kids, a dramatic series about the American Revolution starring Walter Cronkite, Michael Douglas, Billy Crystal, Dustin Hoffman and Arnold Schwarzenegger, which garnered them the Humanitas Prize nomination.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Meeting minutes for Thursday, October 13, 2011

By Adrienne D. Wilson

Jamie Fleming
, Director of the Ojai Film Festival opened the lecture by encouraging the packed audience to attend the upcoming movies and the festival in Ojai. There will be 77 films shown this year. He smiled, saying that Ojai was another universe but just a stone’s throw from Santa Barbara and well worth the trip especially for the festival. A listing of films can be seen at on their website. The festival runs October 20th through the 23rd. Fleming mentioned that the film Jolene would have a special screening at the Matilija Auditorium with a question and answer session afterward with Greg Laemmle and the filmmakers. Watch the trailer for Jolene to get an idea of the caliber of the Ojai Film Festival. “We’ve got oranges, great restaurants and the pink glow of the mountains just a few minutes away,” Fleming laughed. Arrange for tickets, and it sounds as if a wonderful weekend can be yours.

A screenwriter’s hands. That’s something to watch, because those hands produce magic on the page. Walter Halsey Davis has a magnificent pair of hands and they were in constant motion, sculpting the air itself as he talked to the audience about writing. “People think we write dialogue, but it’s like building a house,” he said. “You have to create a world before you can have anybody talk.” You can build that world from the very first shot, he added. “A world, a time, a certain set of expectations...”

Every scene has to be a mini-screenplay. “Start at the top of a scene and get out as fast as you can.” Davis said he learned this credo from Waldo Salt, screenwriter for the film Midnight Cowboy. You can take a look at the screenplay to see how fast it moves. “Start at the top of a scene and get out as fast as you can.”

“All you have to do is be brilliant.”

Like say, the film Network. Davis used this film classic as an example of “emotional events” in movies. He strode over to the board and wrote this line: “I have nothing to say.” You can watch the scene Davis referenced on YouTube to see how dialogue shapes everything about drama and character.“When you do your plotting you have to make each scene a surprise, but it has to seem completely inevitable.” On cutting, Davis told the audience that every frame either adds or subtracts -- no frame is neutral. “Every word adds or subtracts from the screenplay itself.”

“Each scene has to change the condition of the story, and that action is not always physical, it can be psychological.”

“Anything that makes a bad dream makes a good movie,” he said.

What you want are noble characters with flaws. This makes characters unforgettable to the audience. “Put the main character into a scene where the character has to do something that is the hardest thing in the world for that character.”

“Comedy and drama work by the same rules,” Davis cautioned mentioning Socrates -- “the unchallenged life is meaningless.”

Your writing is like a metronome going in a symphony in terms of the volume, colors of the instruments -- your screenplay can’t be loud the whole time or stay intense the whole time. “Study acting and get in plays,” he said. To learn about dramatic pacing and how actors work the material.

Davis has long been on the faculty at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference and it was an honor to listen and watch the hands of such an accomplished writer and playwright as they flew through the air, sculpting the lecture. He has won the following awards for his work: An Emmy, a Writers Guild of America Award and two Nominations, an Edgar Allan Poe Award, two Christopher Awards, the Lucille Ball Comedy Writing Award, the Goldwyn Writing Award, the Texas Bicentennial Playwriting Award, the Red Cross Prize at the Monaco International Television Festival, The Peabody Award, The Humanitas Prize, a Golden Globe nomination, and the American College Theater Festival Playwriting Award (Region V).

To see some of his work you can check Netflix, and a list of his films are on IMDB.