Monday, March 31, 2014

Focus is on New Media at the Willamette Writers Conference

By Mary Andonian

As this year’s film coordinator for the Willamette Writers Conference, my goal is to bring in new managers and producers, perennial favorites from years’ past, and crossover “hybrids” who accept both book and film pitches. The new trend in Hollywood is to find projects that contain “storyworlds,” worlds that can transcend platforms: movies, television, books, gaming applications, tablet/phone apps, merchandise, and internet content. Portland is the perfect place to find these worlds! Not only do we house a vibrant graphics novel industry, the Northwest contains more writers/authors per capita than anywhere else in America!

Genres these managers and producers are looking for include: Action/Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy, Horror/Supernatural, Mystery, Sci-fi, Romance, Television, Spiritual, and Thriller. These are just the basics! Consider all of the blends and subgenres these categories offer and you’re bound to find someone from LA who will want to learn more about your script/project at the conference.

Here’s the complete list of Who’s Who this year: ADAM BLUM –Producer, Panay Films; TAI DUNCAN –Producer, Zero Gravity Management; DANNIE FESTA –Producer and Manager, Festa Entertainment; KIM GUIDONE –Independent Producer; ANDY HORWITZ –Producer, Atlas Entertainment; SETH JARET –CEO, Content Engine; SCOTT KROOPF –Producer, Evergreen Studios; MIKE KUCIAK –Producer and Manager, Samurai MK; MARC MANUS –Manager and Producer, Manus Entertainment; KAILEY MARSH –Manger and Producer, Kailey Marsh Management and Production (and founder of the annual BLOOD LIST); LUKE RYAN – CEO, The Alchemists; PATRICK SANTA –Director of Development, John Glenn Entertainment-Universal Studios; MITCH SOLOMON –Manager and Producer, Magnet Management; ERIC WILLIAMS – Founding Partner and Manager, Zero Gravity Management.

More about the WW Conference


Mary Andonian is the 2014 film coordinator and former board member for Willamette Writers. In past years she was the program chair and lit coordinator for the Willamette Writers Conference. She’s the author of the teen book, Bitsy’s Labyrinth, which she later adapted into a screenplay. She is at work on her fourth screenplay, a thriller, called GAMBLING.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Franz Kafka Video Available on YouTube

I've created a video about the inner life of Franz Kafka using quotes from his writing. I was going to use a professional narrator, but the rough cut of the narration I recorded turned out to be visually interesting, so I used it.

The video features photos by Nancy Hill. It's available for viewing at

Franz Kafka was the author of several dark novels, including Amerika and The Castle, that he wanted destroyed on his death. The title of the piece, 'You Have No Know My Name,' came from that desire to not have his novels published.


To read some of my longer reviews of popular movies, check out my writing workbook, A Story is a Promise, available on Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook.

Friday, February 21, 2014

My Name is Samuel Clemens, a Video about Mark Twain

I've created a video about Mark Twain and how he had to balance being Samuel Clemens, family man and a failure at business and investing, and Mark Twain, a literary star and speaker.

The video features photos by Nancy Hill and the voice over of Sam Mowry,

Mark Twain was the author of many popular novels, including Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.


To read some of my longer reviews of popular movies, check out my writing workbook, A Story is a Promise, available on Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

RoboCop Vs RoboCop: An Issue of Tone

RoboCop Vs RoboCop: An Issue of Tone

In screenwriting, a difficult issue for new writers to deal with is tone. A problem in many first scripts is a shift in tone that undercuts the impact of a story. A script with a comedic tone turns to slap stick humor at the climax. A dramatic story (realistic) becomes melodramatic (unrealistic).

The current reboot of RoboCop shows how two movies can have the same basic story and plot (man who becomes mostly robot struggles to retain his humanity) and, because of different tones, turn out to be very different movies.

The original RoboCop, directed by Paul Verhoeven, was both an action film and a satire about the media and corporate greed. We were asked to care about the main character and his struggle to hold on to his humanity but also to enjoy the visceral thrill as his actions to solve his own murder led him to take on both hard core criminals and his corporate masters.

The current RoboCop starts on a satiric note about American, robotic peace-keeping in Tehran, but then shifts to a realistic account (for a movie) of how a near-dead detective is rebuilt in a mostly robotic body, and the complications involved from both a standpoint of science, morality, and corporation machinations. It felt like this took about half the running time of the movie, and the drama was low-key.

The main character, deep into the movie, does sets about to solve his own murder, which makes the plot finally feel like it's getting into gear.

Unfortunately for the movie, since it's taken on a realistic tone, and it takes so long for the plot to hit a higher gear, the movie invites a realistic assessment on what's happening. The problem is, it's tough to sell the idea that Americans would be against robots enforcing laws, when so much has already been set up via computers (cameras scanning crowds and using facial recognition software, scanners automatically recording the license plate of every car that enters a community). Also, a central issue in the movie about congress refusing to allow robots in law enforcement comes across as artificial, because it feels like the issue has already been resolved.

Another problem for realism, when it comes out that a .50 caliber machine gun will take RoboCop apart, no one shoots him with that (or if they do, he survives); and none of the several thousand bullets expended in his direction hit him in the mouth.

The original RoboCop was fresh and bracing and true to itself as a story, the current RoboCop comes across as struggling to be realistic and failing to be true to itself.


To read some of my longer reviews of popular movies, check out my writing workbook, A Story is a Promise, available on Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook.