Orange County Screenwriters Association
The Orange County Screenwriters Association (OCSWA) is a not-for-profit, is a Southern California based association for those interested in film and the art of producing movies.
OCSWA is the creation of writers, educators, film professionals and mentors, based in the belief that the passion and dedication to write and produce film is prevalent in the community and should be encouraged so all can achieve artistic, professional and economic success. They are volunteer members who believe in the power of film and the art and craft of writing and producing it.
The Orange County Screenwriters Association (OCSWA) is a connective resource of creative energy and real-world materials for professional and amateur writers and filmmakers.
The Orange County Screenwriters Association (OCSWA)was started by professional screenwriter Mark Sevi in March 2009 to bring and share filmmaking resources to the Orange County area of Southern California. "Hollywood," Sevi noted, "is a few miles up the freeway and a million miles away. I see a lot of passion and commitment to filmmaking right here in my backyard. Why can't this area, which has grown popular with celebrities as a bedroom community, serve as a center of film and media?"
Sevi quickly reached out to his professional and non-professional friends to serve as a board of directors. He began making calls to his L.A. friends to see who would be interested in coming to speak at OCSWA's first gathering in May, 2009. Longtime friend of Sevi's, producer Clark Peterson ("Monster" "Dear Mr. Gacy") instantly agreed to be the first industry guest to address the gathering at the Regency South Coast Plaza Theater. Resulting from that first meeting, OCSWA increased its board of directors to ten when young, professional filmmakers who worked in the area approached the group to contribute their ideas and services.
Since that first event, OCSWA has grown from seven board members to over 400 active participants from all geographical areas and areas of filmmaking.
Past events have included guest speakers J. Michael Straczynski, James Elroy and Kevin Sorbo. OCSWA also puts together networking events at various small venues in Orange County and conducts outreach programs to all area colleges and high schools to bring information and help to aspiring filmmakers.
Exerpted from the OCSWA website; Mark Sevi writing about the inaugural year (used with permission from OCSWA and Mark Sevi)
May 30, 2009 - The inaugural event. A Q&A with producer Clark Peterson.
This was so incredibly nerve wracking since it was our first event and none of us had a good handle on how to do it. Marketing, massive email lists, lobby cards...who knew? And then once we figured some of that out, it was nervous time wondering if anyone would actually come.
As mentioned I had done guest appearances at several college classes, talked to many college teachers, and we collectively passed out 2,500 lobby cards announcing the event.
On that Saturday morning, we all stood in the lobby of the theater waiting for people to arrive. Would they come? It was so tense as we waited for the parking lot of the Regency Theater to fill up. And it did and people came, thankfully.
But then I had to do a Q&A with Clark, who is a good friend and helped a great deal to make that portion go well but, man, was I nervous. To help move the morning along we gave away some software and posters and T-shirts. That was fun and it did help break the tension and keep things happy and light. And it’s now become a fun part of our events.
Over 175 people showed up to our first event - we marked it a cautious success. Afterwards, many people stayed to network with us, each other and with Clark who graciously stuck around in the lobby and talked to anyone who approached him.
Among the networking that marked that day was a proposal from producer/director Eric Hensman of Lennexe Productions. He said if we ran a short script contest through OCSWA, then he would film the winner's entry - in other words, a real Hollywood-type experience in short form. The first Make It Reel Script to Screen Contest was born.
But that meant it was back to the drawing board for me setting up a website capable of handling submission and entry fees - something I had never really done before. I spent hours sitting on my butt learning a CMS software called Moodle and modifying it to suit our purposes.
We ran the contest in July and although we didn’t get as many contestants as we had wished, we did get a reasonable number of excellent entries. Our board members, all excellent writers in their own right, acted as judges and we picked some finalists and semi-finalists and planned on announcing the winner at the next event in the Fall.
Between June and September, after I put up the contest site, I redesigned the main website and made it interactive so we could actually reach out to more people besides the ones we saw locally. Plus, we were pretty quiet between events. I knew we had to keep people engaged when we weren’t on stage at The Regency. We’re still just scratching the surface of what we want to accomplish with the website.
September 19, 2009 - Our 2nd event. A Q&A with producer Steve Eccelsine.
We did many of the same things for this event that we did for the last one so we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel in many areas. The event prep, which takes about six weeks all in, went very smoothly. We had a solid newsletter database by this time and designing promotional materials was simply a matter of using templates already created for the 1st event.
Steve was a terrific guest and the event went very well for us. His book, “So You Want To Be A Producer” is like a training manual for Hollywood combined with corner store anecdotes on the madness that is Hollywood. And Steve can talk for hours on any subject you care to imagine. A truly magnificent guest.
After Steve’s Q&A, we announced the winners of the contest and did the networking thing with Steve in the lobby and then went to lunch at Red Robin next door - what has now become a very fun, after-event tradition with us.
Unfortunately, we still hadn’t been able to show our short winner’s film due to technical problems (and money.)
Before I could catch my breath after the September event, Victor Phan was pushing us to plan a Halloween horror panel for October - I really loved the idea and we got to work on it immediately since the date was fast approaching.
October 31, 2009- Halloween Horror Panel A Q&A with Three Scary Guys.
Initially, we had planned to run events only about once a quarter. But we couldn’t pass up Halloween - especially since I knew so many horror film professionals.
Josh Eisenstadt, Steven Goldmann, and Shawn Papazian, our guests, came down to The O.C. and entranced us with their experiences as directors and independent producers of horror films. I will admit it was a lot to handle three strong personalities for a Q&A but they were all gracious gentlemen and it was such great fun to listen to their different approaches to the business.
Between the September event and this one, Eric and his amazing crew at Lennexe had indeed filmed “Harvey the Monster Racist” in one, thickly packed, madness-inspired ten-hour day. After this marathon session, Eric hunkered down with Itai Levin to cut it together.
We had again hoped to have the finished film ready for this event; unforeseen technical difficulties made that impossible. But Eric spent hours and hours cutting together a little sizzle reel that showed where the final film would be going. It was very well received by everyone at the theater.
We also had some very creative costumes at the event itself. Our costume contest winner was a very accurate recreation of Marissa Tomei’s outfit in the strip club in “The Wrestler.” (Very hot.) Her husband came as Mickey Rourke. Great stuff.
After the event, everyone hit the lobby for networking but only Steven Goldmann and Josh Eisenstadt joined us for lunch. Shawn Papazian unfortunately had to go to another engagement.
Goldmann held court at Red Robin and continued to regale us with stories from his long and illustrious Hollywood career.
All in all, another amazingly successful event
December 5, 2009 - Our last event of 2009 A Q&A with actor, producer, director, writer Kevin Sorbo
I didn’t think we’d get Kevin Sorbo to come down to talk to us but he agreed almost immediately. I met Kevin when we did a press conference on a film of mine he was going to do but I hadn’t spoken to him in almost a year. I asked anyway and he shocked me by saying yes.
It probably did help that he had another charity event to attend here in Orange County that day but I really think that he’s such a nice guy he would have done it no matter what.
To read my full review of the event, go here (link).
By now, our fourth event, we had this down to a science. We knew what we needed and who we had to talk to. Kevin made it just perfect. He is such an amazing interviewee - he made it a joy to listen to him talk about his nearly 20-year career. I could have listened for hours. Incredible man and Q&A.
He didn’t join us for lunch since he was already late for his second charity event of that day, but he did stay and sign autographs, pose for photos, and help us out immensely with some signed materials he personally sold for to help our always hungry treasury.
I was still buzzing with excitement when I got home late that afternoon. Not even USC’s loss to Arizona that day could dampen my spirits.
Really, just a wonderful event.