The first thing you notice about Leah is she is a no-spin zone - the good kind. Ask a question and she gives you a straight and honest answer. It's a reflection of her years in the industry reading and evaluating scripts. But more than that, it's a true reflection of an industry pro; someone who has seen what being disingenuous can lead to - unrealistic expectations and misunderstandings that becomes heartache and heartbreak as you try to navigate an industry (Hollywood) that you don't understand.
She does understand it oh so well.
The amazing thing about Leah is that this honesty can make some people sound cynical and mean-spirited and Leah is nothing of the sort. She is open, always smiling, always ready to give someone a great tip. That was abundantly clear at our event before, during and after. (more after the jump - hit CONTINUED below)
WE LOVED HER!
Our group on Saturday at the Claim Jumper in Fountain Valley loved her like she was a puppy - only we were the ones who wanted to lick her face. Uh, well, okay maybe not that (sorry, Leah) but you get my meaning I hope; we just adored her.
Leah's presentation involved a slide show that she used as a starting point to reflect her insider knowledge about how a script works best. And she was spot-on with her insights. The odd thing - or perhaps not so odd considering her scope - is that Leah doesn't write scripts. She's gained these insights and concepts from reading, evaluating and finding the (real) threads of stories over a career that started at Imagine Entertainment (Ron Howard's company) and continues into many and varied production companies today.
The really fun thing was she analogized the trinity of what a script needs to cooking. Called the mirepoix (in cooking) it involved a ven diagram of what every script should do. It was fantastic to hear it put that way and to see the sense it made.
Rather than cover in detail what Leah said in this first part of her presentation I will put up her PPT (see below) that she generously provided.
Once Leah did an hour-long lecture, we broke for lunch and then came back to get Leah's insights into our story pitches. She listened, considered and then went right to the core of what worked and didn't. She asked questions and shaped the pitches into incisive loglines that any producer would resonate to.
Honestly, it was incredible to see how masterfully (and effortlessly) she did this. I have been in the business for more than two decades and I was astounded at how good she was.
Her answers to some of the questions she got were equally masterfully handled. If you've ever been involved with someone who knows something cold, you can understand how we all felt. It was like she just picked us up and carried us easily over the treacherous ground of the quicksand of our story lines that become muddled as we try to express them in brief. A master of her craft indeed - like a maestro flawlessly performing a difficult Beethoven piano sonata both hands flying over the keys to make gorgeous music.
We hope (pray) that she will agree to come back in 2017 - I for one cannot wait.
In addition to our wonderful speaker I'd like to acknowledge the OC Screenwriters board of directors who made the event work without any issues. And the staff and administration at Claim Jumper who always provide incredible service.
We would also like to tip our hats to Final Draft who gave us two licensees to give away during the event.
All in all, this was a fantastic morning/afternoon and the buzz is still resonating with us all.
Thanks to SCWA and everyone who attended.
See you all again...soon!
Thanks to Robert Rollins for the photos.
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