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What's New, BlueCat?                                          
The Official Newsletter of the

BlueCat Screenplay Competition   

June 26th, 2012 

Fade Out 



The light blue background, the white-on-blue article fields, the two column setup.... Yessir, it's a pretty nice newsletter we've got ourselves here. However, all things come to an end, and the same goes for our newsletter.


No, don't worry - the BlueCat Newsletter isn't going anywhere. However, starting next week it's going to look very different from how it looks now, because we're switching mass-email services and as a result will be abandoning this template for a brand new one. It's different from what you're used to, but we're all pretty excited about it, and we hope that when you see it, you will be too.


In this spirit of ending this stage in the newsletter's life and beginning a new one, we've got an article and a Gordy Video about endings and new beginnings that we hope will help those of you who are just now getting started on scripts you hope to submit in November. We've also got an interview with Andrea Dupree, who runs an awesome writer's workshop in Denver. It has nothing to do with endings or beginnings, but it's a great workshop and a great interview and we recommend you read it anyway.

So get reading, everybody, and take one last look at the layout - you'll hardly recognize us next week!

-The BlueCat Team 

A Beacon For Writers
Lighthouse Writers Workshop Offers Community, Creativity

Andrea Dupree is program director at the Lighthouse Writer's Workshop in Denver - a community of fiction writers that offers classes, hosts speakers, and encourages and develops the art of writing among its members. She took some time out of her schedule to talk to us about what Lighthouse is all about, which ought to be of interest to any aspiring writer looking to perfect the craft...

How did the Lighthouse Writers' Workshop come about?

The co-founder Michael Henry and I encountered a wonderful literary community in Boston while we were in graduate school, and it seemed like we were going to lose it when we had our degrees and moved on. The community fed our writing itself-it's so easy not to write, so being around other writers gave us fuel. We decided to try to create a community that would welcome people for as long as they wanted to be a part of it. We moved to Denver with that idea in mind, and started small with some free workshops in libraries and at our local indie bookstore, the Tattered Cover. It grew from there to the point where we are now-over 1,000 members and thousands more who participate in more limited ways. Over the past 16 years, we've had people involved for just a short period, for sporadic bursts, and then for the full 16 years. It's amazing. Some people have gone off, gotten degrees, and come back for workshops and community once their programs are over. Others have published books, made films, and published pieces in small and large venues. It's a true gift to be able to have a place where everyone is connected by that one thing: a love of literature, film, and story.


What do you think sets Lighthouse apart from other workshops?  

I think it's the community element. We're now in a 7,000-square-foot house with a huge wraparound porch and an actual yard in which to spill out and congregate. There's nothing better than the house bustling with writers of every stripe imaginable. It gets us giddy. At the same time, as one of our visiting faculty said recently, you'll never meet a group of writers more dedicated to their craft. People really push themselves here, which along with the fun creates a nice balance.


Lighthouse caters to all forms of creative writing - prose, poetry, as well as screenplays. How do you feel that the three are interrelated? Do you believe that a strong prose writer is necessarily a strong screenwriter?

The three are interrelated in the sense that you're always trying to build something that connects with people. You'll never write something that connects with everyone,but every poet I know wants to create a voice that engages people, makes them care. Same with screenwriters and fiction or nonfiction writers. All we have are words to work with. Sure, in the case of screenwriters and playwrights, their work on the page is ultimately transformed into something else-but all of us start with words on the page.


I think a strong prose writer could be a strong screenwriter if they are gifted at building character and creating story through image. Some people write transcendently beautiful prose that is hypnotic and lovely, but it's not heavy on story. You all probably know the type. One is not better than the other, but one kind of writer (the action, character, image writer) is better suited to screenplay, I think. I do studying screenwriting is one of the smartest things a fiction or narrative nonfiction writer can do. It teaches you so much about story structure, character building, causality, turning points, momentum, etc. Not to mention, it really helps with being concise and efficient with words, which may have come in handy prior to this interview. I'll have to review my notes!


You have a long list of distinguished faculty from a variety of backgrounds. How did you draw so much talent to one program?

So far we've been lucky that people mostly find us. It's a thing about a lot of writers: we seek each other out. It's almost like when you're in a foreign country and as much as you're trying to dive right in and learn the language and have some sort of authentic experience, you feel this kind of physical relief hearing English again. I think that's how writers-even those who have achieved head-spinning success-feel a lot of the time when they're mixed in with the general population, which tends to be pragmatic and put little value on the arts. It's like Junot Diaz said in a recent interview when someone asked if the Pulitzer Prize changed his life. He said something like: If you're walking down any street in America and announce you won a Pulitzer Prize, you'll get nothing but blank stares. So yes, it changed his life, but no, it didn't change his life. There's something nice about being in a roomful of people who cheer you on when you finally nail that poem or fix that sentence, etc. That's why writer-teachers come to us, I think. The reason they stay on with us, though, has everything to do with the quality of the participants in our programming. There's also a freedom here to work in a way you think is most effective (I do the hiring, and I encourage people to teach the way they feel best taught-kind of our version of the golden rule). No grading or administrative hoops to jump through here; all we want is for people who take our workshops to feel inspired to get back to work. And none of our instructors has ever done a reading in Denver without packing the house-the community is so loyal and supportive.


Is the Lighthouse curriculum more oriented toward people looking to make a career in writing, or ordinary people looking to strengthen their own writing skills?

There's a real mix, here. It's really hard to make a career in writing. That said, many of our students have gone on to publish even best-selling books. So there's a tier of writers here who end up getting high-profile book deals, etc., but then the majority just feel better about themselves and their lives when they're writing, and we're here for them. I'd say there's a small percentage of people who have never read a book and think they're going to write a multi-million-dollar screenplay or novel in the next few months. We don't tend to draw many of those ones back. The people who come here, no matter their level of talent or experience, tend to be in it for the process. When the product gets notice, we all cheer together.


Does Lighthouse have any distinguished alumni we should know about?

There have been quite a few. I hate to make it sound like we're trying to take credit, but we do like to talk them up! One person on the current best-seller list is Eleanor Brown (The Weird Sisters). She took workshops with William Haywood Henderson over the past few years. David Wroblewski (The Story of Edgar Sawtelle) attended many of our events and "reading as a writer" courses-and now he still does, along with guest teaching. Sarah Ockler (Twenty Boy Summer, Fixing Delilah, and two more books coming out) wrote her first book in our workshops, then got a two-book deal in a pre-empt with Little, Brown. She now teaches YA novel writing for us. Gary Schanbacher (Migration Patterns, winner of the Colorado Book Award and PEN/Hemingway finalist, and the forthcoming novel Crossing Purgatory) took workshops while he was writing the stories of Migration Patterns, then worked on the novel in one of our master novel classes, and met his agent through our Lit Fest! There are tons of other happy stories like that.


Lighthouse has beginner, intermediate, and master level classes. How would you describe the differences between them? Do students usually progress from level to level and 'graduate', in a sense?

They're as you would expect-we introduce people to writing and the process of giving/receiving feedback at their own pace. The advanced classes have people taking them for years if they want. What the advanced classes do that people tend to need is provide deadlines and accountability for the writers, and a really high level of discussion among the group. I never had a graduate class that was as consistently excellent as the advanced short story group I teach. They're so articulate and well-read. No one ever truly 'graduates' unless they find that it no longer helps them or it's no longer a priority for them to use the classes to support their writing. We offer a ton of non-workshop classes that are suitable for all levels. People with MFAs and even PhDs in writing enjoy the Reading as a Writer courses, in which they focus on someone like Elizabeth Bishop or a topic like "speculative fiction" for four weeks together, doing exercises but mostly just reading and discussing the pieces as writers. When we're lucky, we get to invite students back to teach (and five on our current faculty started out by taking workshops-then got publications and had a talent for teaching, so now they teach). A lot of them, to this day, still go back and take workshops, which to me is the greatest testament of all.


At present, the workshop focuses primarily on 'literary' works as opposed to mysteries or thrillers. What do you feel constitutes literature in the context of a screenplay?

We have a lot of what I guess we'd call "crossover" works, and on occasion we'll run a genre fiction course (both Reading as a Writer and actual workshop classes). I always talk to my students about how every story is a mystery-if it's a good story. There's always some big question we're reading to try to understand, even in the most literary work. From the screenwriting instructors at Lighthouse-Alexandre Philippe, Matt Ferner, David Mulholland, and others-I've heard there's a huge diversity among the genres people work on in each of their classes. There are Westerns and romantic comedies; horror movies and animated shorts. I suppose on its face, the literary equivalent for screenplay would be some sort of artsy, character-driven indie film, but I think that oversimplifies both the literary and the well-done genre story. Annie Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain" was an inarguably literary story, and it became a mainstream movie. But maybe what you're talking about is the more artistic sensibilities in a screenwriter versus someone with a more commercial focus. I think at the end of the day, a good story is a good story. If the writer or filmmaker makes me care, I'm a fan. Sometimes all I "care" to do is laugh and escape. Other times, I want more depth and to have my first level of perception challenged. I think for writers working on, say, a romantic comedy versus a soulful art film, those are two different projects, and there are many projects in between. You have to ask if it's useful to make the distinctions, and in this way it really is: Not every piece has the same ambition, and it's really important to know what each writer's project is before you respond and try to "fix" it. (I think, if we're talking about workshops, here, that going into a workshop with an eye on "fixing" other people's work, in general, is a terrible idea.)


So I guess this would be a good dissertation question for someone a lot more concise than I am. J


You're a nonprofit organization funded primarily by grants. Why does Lighthouse operate like this as opposed to a for-profit model?

Our biggest priority has always been to support writers. We feel we can do that more easily by keeping our tuitions low (as compared to a writing program or a typical conference) and providing financial assistance for those who need it. Our version of a nightmare would be having classrooms full of only the type of person with the discretionary income to be there-we want diversity, and most of all, we want quality writers in our classrooms, regardless of socio-economic status. So we use fundraising and grants to help us make up the difference between what we charge and what it costs to run this place. Also, we don't want to adopt the adjunct teacher model of so many universities-where you're working long, hard hours for a roomful of students who have paid perhaps $2,000 each for your class, and you get $2,000 for teaching the whole class. Not that we can pay much higher than that, but our faculty know that they're making around half of what we're bringing in for the classes, which seems much more equitable, and which we can do because we don't have the bureaucracy of a university to worry about. Also, we were founded by a fiction writer and a poet. If we were left to our own devices to run this thing, it would have hit the rocks in fairly dramatic fashion ten years ago. Our board of directors brings so much wisdom, heart, and passion to the running of this place-we wouldn't be able to do it without them.


If you could have people know one thing about Lighthouse and its programs, what would it be?

It sounds corny, but the reason we didn't change our name when we came from Boston was because we truly do want to provide that beacon. We want people to be able to find their writing "home," no matter who they are, how much money they have, or how much experience they have. There's a place for you if you care about writing. It's right here!


Thanks, Annie, for taking the time to tell us about Lighthouse. Interested, BlueCat? If so, take a look at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop website, where you can find dates for workshops both in Denver and online!   
BlueCat Alumni Corner: Jeff Seymann Gilbert
Where Are They Now?  
2008 BlueCat finalist Jeff Seymann Gilbert hit the jackpot with his script El Flaco, which secured him a finalist spot and the $2000 prize. But the success of El Flaco didn't stop there - the same script earned him the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Screenwriting Fellowship as well as the NYFA's Geri Asher Grant, and went on to take home the Marta Munoz Award at the Latino Screenwriting Competition. Gilbert received the Film Independent fellowship for writing, producing, and directing, and El Flaco was one of ten scripts invited to the Fast Track program at the Los Angeles Film Festival. In case you didn't believe it before, believe it now - all it takes is one good script to get your foot in the door!     
Selected Script: Fight Club
Talk About Endings...


Here's hoping that the end of our current newsletter format goes a little more smoothly than things go for Tyler Durden and the nameless Narrator at the end of Fight Club. If you want to know how to write a twist ending that knocks peoples' socks off, though, look no further. This is a cut and dried case of the writer knowing the ending before he started (it helps that the screenplay was adapted from a book) and you can see it in the in media res opening and the hints scattered throughout. I am Jack's newsletter, telling you to give this a read.           
Write Faster!
Looking for an excuse to get your script finished early? Look no further! Scripts submitted by July 1st, 2012, will receive their analyses by July 15th, 2012 and will be automatically entered in our Title Contest! Our entry fee is $60. Click here for more information!      
The Clock Is Ticking - Yes, Already

Title Contest Deadline

Scripts submitted by Aug1st, 2012 will receive their written analyses by September 1st, 2012 and will be automatically entered in the Title Contest.

$60 entry fee.   


OCTOBER 15TH      Regular Deadline 
Our Regular Deadline is October 15th with an entry fee of $65.

Final Deadline 

Our Final Deadline is
November 15th with an entry fee of $70.

Gordy Video: Getting Started
Finished With Your Script? Start A New One!

Nothing - save for maybe a charging rhino or Dolph Lundgren at the height of his career - is as intimidating as the blank page. That's why BlueCat founder Gordy Hoffman takes some time to talk to us about how to start your script off on the right foot.     
Endings And Beginnings
Before You Start, Know Where You'll End
Everything comes full circle - or if it doesn't, we'd at least like it to. That wisdom can help your screenplay. If you know how your script is going to end when you start it, you can write it in such a way that the ending refers back to the beginning, implying that the protagonist has gained experience over the course of his adventures that prepared him for his final showdown. The folks at TheScriptLab explain it far more eloquently.  

"I don't begin a novel or a screenplay until I know the ending. And I don't mean only that I have to know what happens. I mean that I have to hear the actual sentences. I have to know what atmosphere the words convey."

John Irving

BlueCat Interviews    

Miss an interview? Don't sweat it! All of our interviews with 2012's winners - along with some other interviews from BlueCat's past - are available on our website. It's a great opportunity to tap into the psyches of our winners and figure out what makes them tick - and, more importantly, what makes them write good screenplays! 
Free Entry To BlueCat 2013!
Details Below!

The 2013 BlueCat Screenplay Competition is getting closer and closer, and to celebrate we're going to be giving away free submissions to a few lucky contest winners over the next three weeks! Keep an eye on our Facebook page and Twitter feed, where we'll be announcing the contests and giving you a shot at entering BlueCat, getting two pieces of feedback on your script, and a shot at a $10,000 prize all for free!      
BlueCat Workshops   


We've got four new workshops open for registration----Phoenix, Wichita, New Orleans and Kansas City.  


  We're coming back to New York on Sunday, July 1st for one day only. If you've attended a workshop in NYC in the past, you can register at a discount price.  


Are you in Philly? We still have room on June 30th.  


Can't make it to a workshop? Try our online workshop!      

      About Our Workshops    




We write screenplays for people.    


The relationship between the story on the screen in the theatre and the people sitting in the seats makes or breaks the artistic and commercial success of the movie.


What does a screenplay do to authentically engage an audience? What compels a reader to keep turning the pages? Why do specific elements elicit stronger emotional reactions to our stories? How does a writer write this into their screenplay? Where does this come from within the writer?


An award-winning screenwriter, Gordy Hoffman founded the BlueCat Screenplay Competition in 1998, having since presided over the evaluation and adjudication of over 10,000 screenplays. This unique combination of writer and reader of screenplays has allowed Gordy to develop and evolve a keen eye and feel for how a screenplay works successfully, and the intuitive, personal ways to address the  problems of a screenplay through a writer's approach.


Full Script Workshop (Limit 7 Writers)

Participants read seven screenplays in advance of the workshop. Screenplays can be first drafts or rewrites, with first time writers and veterans all welcome. During the workshop, Gordy provides direct and in-depth feedback on each screenplay, with everyone encouraged to contribute his or her own thoughts and concerns. Gordy provides brief written notes to each writer after the workshop. Audit option available.


What if I don't have a script ready, but I'd like to attend?

Do you want to participate, but do not have a script to submit at this time? You can audit the workshop, which allows you to attend without submitting written material, read the scripts in advance and still participate in the discussion.



The BlueCat Workshops
Head for
New Zealand and Australia!

Inspired by our recent Joplin Award Winner (Best International Script outside UK, Canada and USA), BlueCat is traveling down under to lead a few workshops and have a staged reading of our Joplin winner in Wellington, NZ.

We hope to see you when we come in August! Have any places we need to visit while we're there? Like us to visit you somewhere? Let us know. We want to meet and talk BlueCat with you.


Full Script Workshop (Limit 7 writers)
Saturday, June 30th, 9:00 AM-6:00 PM 
Full Registration $225 (FOUR SPOTS OPEN!) 
Audit $45 
Register Now

New York City
Full Script Workshop (Limit 7 writers)
Sunday, July 1st, 9:00 AM-6:00 PM 
Full Registration $245
Workshop Returnee $215 
Audit $45  
Register Now 
Full Script Workshop  
Saturday, August 25th, 9:00 AM-6:00PM 
Full Registration $395 USD 
Audit $75 USD 
First Ten Pages Workshop (Limit 12 writers)
Sunday, August 26th, 9:00AM-6:00PM 
Full Registration $150 USD
Audit $75 USD
Register Now

September Online Workshop
Full Script Workshop (Limit 7 writers)
SCRIPTS DUE: September 6, midnight PST
COMMENTS RELEASED: September 23rd, 6:00 PM PST
Full Registration: $195
Audit: $40  

Register Now

Full Script Workshop (Limit 7 writers)
Saturday, September 15th, 9:00AM-6:00PM
Full Registration $225
Audit $45

First Ten Pages Workshop (Limit 10 writers)
Sunday October 21st, 8:00AM-5:00PM
Full Registration $115
TFA Member $85 
Audit $45
TFA Member $30  
Full Script Workshop (Limit 7 writers)
Saturday, September 29th, 9:00AM-6:00PM
Full Registration $225
Audit $45
Register Now

New Orleans
Full Script Workshop (Limit 7 writers)
Sunday, September 30th, 9:00AM-6:00PM
Full Registration $225
Audit $45
Register Now

Kansas City
Full Script Workshop (Limit 7 writers)
Sunday, November 18th, 9:00AM-6:00PM
Full Registration $195
Audit $45
Register Now   
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