Last month, from June 22 until July 1, the MFA program I run out of the New Hampshire Institute of Art held it’s bi-annual intensive residency in Peterborough, NH.
It was another jammed-packed creative gathering of student writers from around the country teaming up with our faculty of professional writers, SAG and Equity actors, and several other industry professionals. A stimulating time for all of us, we ran classes every morning and table readings and rehearsed concert readings of students’ full-length plays, screenplays, and tv pilots of new original series in the afternoons and evenings. With meals together in between.
In all we gave voice to 11 scripts–a marathon of story telling being lifted off the page for the first time. Writers had the opportunity to work with the actors before every reading, discussing how each of the major roles should be played. And then extensive directed feedback from the entire collected group of professionals followed each reading, giving every student writer the opportunity to see how and where his or her script might be improved.
A lot of attention in classes was given to the writer’s position in the industry–how to prepare for entering the field and once launched, how to sustain a career. Gail Currey, the former Studio Head of Dreamworks Animation and one of our Visiting Artists, gave an inspiring talk about what it takes to maintain and build a career in our industry and how to maneuver the inner workings of the film industry and the script development process.
Workshops on grant writing for writers, synopsis writing, rewriting, dialogue writing, screenplay story development, and more kept our mornings buzzing.
Also, all our student writers pitched new story ideas that they’ll be developing into working drafts during the fall semester (between now and the next residency in January 2018). Professional writer/mentors were assigned to each writer and who will be working closely with our students as they go through the process of creating their new script to share at the next residency.
Breathless as all this may sound, our ten-day residency was pretty much a non-stop creative exploration from beginning to end. Everyone departed charged and ready to get to work on their next project–hopefully wiser, with their skills and craft further sharpened.
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