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© 2019 By JWI

LA Seminar

The Jewish Writers’ Initiative is a year-long, non-exclusive, creative endeavor supporting the development of scripts that tell diverse Jewish stories, with the ultimate goal of launching these scripts into the mainstream media marketplace.

Featuring three seminars in Los Angeles, New York, and Israel, the Initiative provides participants with the opportunity to learn from high-level industry professionals,  educators, and project-related experts, to enhance their craft and develop their projects. Travel and other expenses are included.

Between seminars, writers develop their scripts, supported by experienced, one-on-one mentors, with access to additional resources provided by the Initiative.

Each member of our group of up to 15 writers will receive a stipend of $36,000 in a non-exclusive relationship to create their product, affording them – within a set schedule and with output milestones – the comfort, means, and time to develop their projects. Writers will own their scripts or screenplays when the program concludes.

Sunday, December 8th

6:30 - 8:00 PM | DINNER: WELCOME TO THE JEWISH WRITERS’ INITIATIVE
A casual setting to meet and get to know your fellow writers as well as JWI Staff. You’ll get an
overview of the Jewish Writers Initiative Program and learn what to expect during the next three
days. You’ll also get the opportunity to  pitch the log line of your JWI project. 
Moderator: Carole Kirschner


8:00 - 9:00 PM | LECTURE: JEWS AS STORYTELLERS
Since time immemorial, Jews have been referred to as “People of the Book”. From our ancient
biblical roots as storytellers to the modern moguls that founded Hollywood, this talk explores
how Jewish culture, history and character have combined to elevate storytelling as a way of life.
Presenter: Rabbi David Wolpe

Monday, December 9th

7:30 - 8:30 AM | MEDITATION: THE JEWISH PRACTICE OF LISTENING
Using the radical call of the Sh’ma (Listen), we’ll learn a listening meditation practice to place ourselves firmly in the present tense. We’ll deconstruct the first line of the Sh’ma and investigate this important prayer, word by word, to uncover the secrets of the Sh’ma, and experience the power of listening beyond and within ourselves.
Presenter: Alison Laichter

9:00 - 10:00 AM | LECTURE: 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 hiding within.

Presenter: Michael Borkow

 

10:00 - 11:00 AM | PANEL DISCUSSION: CREATING MEANING IN ENTERTAINMENT 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 and Lynn Harris

 

11:15 AM - 12:15 PM | LECTURE: DEVELOPING UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS

The art of creating compelling characters requires the application of creative principles and specific techniques that make characters at once universally appealing and uniquely interesting. Learn from one of the premier screenwriters in the industry how he creates compelling characters and balances deeper meaning within their journeys.

Presenter: Randy Brown

 

1:15 PM - 2:45 PM | WORKSHOP: WHAT MAKES A GREAT PITCH?

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

 

3:00 - 4:00 PM | LECTURE: THE ART OF CREATING GREAT DIALOGUE

Masterful dialogue is a crucial part of creating moving and relatable scripts. Guided by a world class dialogue writer, our group will explore methods toward writing exceptional dialogue that brings characters to life. Presenter: Carol Leifer 7:00 - 9:00 PM | WORKSHOP: IMPROV FOR WRITERS This two-hour workshop, lead by a renowned improvisational theater coach, takes writers through a series of classic and unorthodox exercises designed to help writers stir their creative juices, think on their feet and open their minds to become more spontaneous when creating ideas.

Presenter: David Razowsky

Tuesday, December 10th

7:30 - 8:30 AM | MEDITATION: MODEH ANI AND THE PRACTICE OF GRATITUDE

Using the morning prayer of gratitude, modeh ani, this session will explore the holy Jewish practice of “faking it ‘til you make it.” We’ll learn and practice contemplative Jewish text that will deepen and elevate our experience of the everyday aka Jewish mindfulness. This is a foundational practice that can be a super sweet day to start the day.

Presenter: Alison Laichter

 

9:00 - 10:00 AM | PRESENTATION: YOU HAD ME AT PAGE ONE

Most decision makers form their opinions about a script within the first  few pages, compelling a writer to make the reader fall in love on the first page. This class teaches writing techniques that make your script hit the ground running. Through examples from well known projects, we take a hard look at word choice, scene direction, dialogue approach and the nuances of the page, including tone, genre and subtext.

Presenter: Pilar Alessandra

 

10:15 - 11:15 AM | LECTURE: WHAT IS A JEWISH THEME, ANYWAY?

Expand your perception of what is “a Jewish theme”, through an interactive discussion and presentation highlighting themes from film and tv that push the boundaries of what is commonly perceived as “Jewish”.

Presenter: Saul Blinkoff

 

11:15 - 12:30 PM | WORKSHOP: FEATURE STORY DESIGN

This workshop teaches a specific step-by-step process for story structure that's easier, faster and often far more successful than how most people go about it. Understanding how to Design (as opposed to merely outline) a story allows writers to end up with a script that's not just entertaining and engaging, but also meaningful, impactful and memorable.

Presenter: Corey Mandell

 

1:30 - 2:30 PM | PANEL DISCUSSION: NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN STREAMING MEDIA FOR THE JEWISH CONTENT CREATOR

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 will 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, Ashley Levinson, Zoe Friedman

 

2:45 - 4:30 PM | WORKSHOP: MOCK TV WRITERS’ ROOM

Utilizing an assigned tv show, these featured showrunners will 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 something within a writers room setting.

Presenters: David Sacks, Jenny Klein

 

7:00 - 9:30 PM | SCREENING & DISCUSSION: REBEL IN THE RYE

Join filmmaker and top screenwriter Danny Strong for an intimate screening and Q&A surrounding his career and journey in creating his passion project, REBEL IN THE RYE.

Screenwriter/Director: Danny Strong

Wednesday, December 11th

9:00 - 11:00 AM | BREAKFAST AND YOUR BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM THE SEMINAR

An informal debriefing session to discuss your experiences over the past three days and an opportunity to give feedback on the presentations and workshops.
Moderator: Carole Kirschner

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