The 2019-2020 Jewish Writers’ Initiative kicked off on December 8th in Los Angeles with a rigorous and enriching three-day seminar at the Andaz West Hollywood hotel in the heart of the Sunset Strip. Writers met with renowned studio executives, showrunners and screenwriters who shared their craft and business expertise. Below are some of the sessions from the program.
Mock TV Writers’ Room Workshop
Utilizing an assigned TV show, featured showrunners take our writers through the first stages of “breaking a story,” with an emphasis on utilizing the diverse voices and opinions in a room to be more inventive. The best creative teams are comprised of different types of people coming together to form one unit. Learn how to navigate working on a creative team and creating within a writers room setting.
Presenters: David Sacks (The Simpsons, Third Rock from the Sun), Jenny Klein (Cloak & Dagger, The Tick, Supernatural, The Witcher)
Showrunner David Sacks runs a mock writers’ room for HBO’s “Succession”.
Jenny Klein (center) runs a mock writers’ room for Netflix’s “Dead to Me”.
Television writer and comedian Carol Leifer shared insights for coming up with unique material.
The Art of Creating
Masterful dialogue is a crucial part of creating moving and relatable scripts. Guided by a world class dialogue writer, the writers explore methods in writing exceptional dialogue that brings characters to life.
Presenter: Carol Leifer (SNL, Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Modern Family)
Elevating The 3-Act Structure Using The Jewish Calendar
Sound story structure is a prerequisite for compelling narrative. Many of our most cherished biblical tales serve as exemplars of elegantly structured stories. Take a journey through the Jewish holidays, beginning with Passover and culminating in Purim, to reveal the unlikely romantic comedy between the Jewish people and God.
Presenter: Michael Borkow (Roseanne, Friends, Malcolm in the Middle, The Bernie Mac Show)
Screenwriter Michael Borkow discusses story structure.
Showrunner Jeff Astrof shares his secrets for a pitch that sells.
What Makes A Great
It all starts with a good pitch! An effective pitch tells the story you want to sell in a pithy, expressive way. Walk through strategies for a winning pitch with a successful showrunner, learning demonstrable techniques for communicating your story more directly and engagingly.
Presenter: Jeff Astrof (Friends, Grounded for Life, The New Adventures of Old Christine)
New Opportunities In Streaming Media For The Jewish Content Creator Panel Discussion
This panel explores the growth of niche programming in the new streaming media landscape, especially the exciting opportunities to develop and sell programs with Jewish content. Panelists discuss what they look for in a niche project, what makes one idea a “buy” and another a “pass,” and how content creators are adapting to this new model.
Panelists: Julie Goldstein (Proof, Finding Neverland, Old Man & The Gun, Looper, Grey Gardens, Dirty Pretty Things, Bridget Jones’ Diary), Laura Schwartz (Don’t Look Deeper)
Carol Kirschner (left) moderates a discussion on the rise of streaming services with producers Julie Goldstein (center) and Laura Schwartz (right).
Producers Lynn Harris and Matti Leshem explore meaning in commercial entertainment.
Creating Meaning In Entertainment Panel Discussion
Listen to two storied producers discuss their philosophy on what makes for meaningful entertainment, how they’ve explored and incorporated values into commercial projects, and how those projects were ultimately sold.
Panelists: Matti Leshem (Harry Haft, The Shallows) and Lynn Harris (Gravity, Magic Mike, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Clash of the Titans, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)