PSA Writers Conference

April 19 – 20, 2024

April 19, 2024 | 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
April 20, 2024 | 8:30 am – 4:30 pm

Marston Theater

781 S Terrace Rd, Tempe, AZ 85281

Join us in April for our 2nd Annual Writers Conference!

Join the Phoenix Screenwriters Association for our second-annual screenwriters conference.  This all-day event is an opportunity for you to network with fellow members, participate in workshops with industry professionals, and attend a film screening all for the low price of $109 or $69 if you are a college student! Early bird pricing is $76 and $48 for college students. The Phoenix Screenwriters Conference will feature a screening of The Power,  along with a Q&A with writer/screenwriter Michelle Hsu followed by a mixer on Friday night (April 19th). The Conference will continue on Saturday (April 20th) and feature Chris Vogler and Dara Marks as speakers as well as several breakout sessions with Erica Byrne, Lovinder Gill, Chris LaMont, and Bill True throughout the day. What’s more, Morning Buzz coffee and pastries and a box lunch will be provided at no additional cost!

Directions to the Conference

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Featured Presentations

Christopher Vogler

The Writers Journey

Movies and stories have the mysterious power to entertain and sometimes inspire us, and our guest Christopher Vogler, author of the classic The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, has spent his professional life trying to understand their secret principles. In his work as a story consultant on dozens of Hollywood projects, and as a student of myths and fairy tales, he has distilled the best ways of structuring stories to make a strong emotional connection with the audience. His twelve-stage model of the Hero’s Journey is widely taught in film schools and his concepts such as catharsis, polarity, and the archetypal functions of character have become part of the collective knowledge of screenwriters and novelists around the world. Catch this rare moment to hear an entertaining and inspiring speaker share his vision of the enchanting world of stories. You’re sure to come away from this event with professional tips and insights that will change your writing forever.

Christopher Vogler is a veteran Hollywood story consultant known the world over for his landmark book THE WRITER’S JOURNEY: Mythic Structure for Storytellers. Vogler began his career as a documentary filmmaker for the US Air Force’s space program. After graduate studies at the USC film school, he entered the Hollywood studio system as a story analyst and worked for all of the major studios including Disney where he wrote an influential memo on the mythological Hero’s Journey pattern that became part of Hollywood story legend, influenced Disney’s THE LION KING, and formed the foundation of his book, THE WRITER’S JOURNEY.   As a consultant and development executive he has influenced the stories of many productions including Disney’s THE LION KING, ALADDIN, HERCULES, FANTASIA 2000; Fox’s FIGHT CLUB, THE THIN RED LINE, COURAGE UNDER FIRE, and VOLCANO; and for other studios 10,000 BC, KARATE KID II, Darren Aronofsky’s THE WRESTLER, NOAH, and THE WHALE, Will Smith’s FOCUS, HANCOCK, MEN IN BLACK III, I AM LEGEND, etc. He consults with major corporations on storytelling and branding and presents workshops globally on the power of stories to change minds and lives.   In 2016 he received the Pulcinella Award from the “Cartoons on the Bay” Film Festival in Venice, Italy for his contributions to the animation industry. He is the author of the graphic novel RAVENSKULL and co-author (with David McKenna) of MEMO FROM THE STORY DEPARTMENT: Secrets of Structure and Character. He is a proud past member of the Story Analysts Guild and present member of the Motion Picture Editors Guild.

Dara Marks

Inside Story

Every writer has a wealth of creative potential, but gaining access to those interior places where the true power of your story is waiting to be unleashed can be a daunting task. We are excited to welcome Dara Marks, the author of Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc, whose innovative approach to developing great stories will give you a more expansive, original and inspiring template around which to construct narratives that are compelling and relatable. Focusing on the deeper, thematic dimensions of storytelling, her work will take you beyond the predictable constraints of traditional structure to not only build extraordinary plots but to also explore the greater human story that lies within. Dara’s work will ignite your passion to write and give you an enduring set of tools that will make all your stories more powerful, meaningful and, of course, more marketable.


Dara Marks, Ph.D. is a leading international story consultant, seminar leader, and author of the bestseller, Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc. This groundbreaking book has inspired screenwriters, novelists, and playwrights around the world to engage more deeply and effectively in the creative writing process. As an educator, Dara is committed to the ideal that a culture speaks through its stories and that every writer’s voice matters. Her unique method of story analysis has earned her top ratings by Creative Screenwriting Magazine as the best consultant in the business – with her advice sought-after by major Hollywood studios as well as countless independent film and television writers, producers, and directors.
Dara holds a doctorate degree in Mythological Studies and lives in Ojai, California with her husband. Currently, she is finalizing the creation of an online writers training program due out this spring and is also working to complete her new book, Engaging the Feminine Heroic.

Breakout Sessions

Erica Byrne

Networking for Screenwriters: Unlocking the Power of Connections

Ready to see your script come to life? It’s time to harness the power of networking. In this transformative workshop, discover how connections can be your power cord to the key players who greenlight projects. Learn the art of networking and watch your network intersect, making the “inner circle” feel surprisingly small. Gain the essential skills to navigate this seemingly impenetrable world with confidence. Craft compelling elevator pitches, build genuine relationships, and explore various avenues to expand your network. It’s time to take control of your screenwriting career and make your mark through the art of networking.

Erica Byrne, a highly accomplished WGA screenwriter, has made a significant impact on a global scale. With a career spanning over 20 years and 32 Hollywood produced credits, Erica’s influence extends far beyond borders. Her vast experience in writing for Prime Time One-Hour Drama, coupled with her international collaborations, has solidified her reputation as a trailblazer in the industry who has made a significant impact on a global scale.   With her expertise and insights, she has consulted with key Television Network Executives in over a dozen foreign countries, contributing to the growth and development of the international film and television landscape. Her ability to navigate the complexities of the industry and her deep understanding of storytelling have earned her the trust and respect of industry professionals worldwide.   In addition to her consulting work in Japan, Erica served as a mentor and lecturer at the prestigious European Film College in Denmark, where she nurtured aspiring filmmakers in the development and production of four original pilots and one film. This experience showcased her exceptional ability to guide and bring creative visions to life.   In the US, Erica has lectured at the American Film Institute and held the position of Adjunct Professor in the Screenwriting Department at LMU School of Film and Television. Currently, she teaches online for the Writers Program at UCLA Extension, where her dedication and expertise earned her the esteemed Instructor of the Year Award for Screenwriting.   At the WGA, Erica was appointed as the Chair of the Statuette Committee, leading the design of a new WGA Award statue for the Guild’s 50th Anniversary Awards Show. Her keen eye for aesthetics and attention to detail ensured the creation of a prestigious symbol for the industry. Erica continues to contribute to the Writers Guild Awards as a respected judge, evaluating the outstanding work of fellow writers each year. Additionally, she served a two-year term as a Board member for the TV Writers Fund for the Future, actively supporting and shaping the future of television writing.   Through her transformative workshops, seminars, and personalized consultations, Erica empowers screenwriters at all levels, equipping them with the tools to navigate the complexities of the industry and achieve their goals. Her global perspective and invaluable insights have made her a highly sought-after mentor, guiding aspiring writers to success. Erica’s unwavering passion and expertise make her a driving force in the ever-evolving world of television and film, shaping the future of storytelling. Erica can be reached through her website at

Chris LaMont

Rewriting the Rewrite * and Rewriting the Rewrite * and Rewriting the Rewrite Again *

Face it, the writing is the easy part. That first draft? No sweat. So, it’s done, right? Let’s go sell it in Hollywood! Not so fast – the first draft means you’re just getting started. Mastering the Art of the Rewrite is the crucial thing you need to truly be successful. We’ll break down getting notes and revisioning, battling with producers, arguing with your reps, trying to navigate the studios, your friends, your enemies, and all of the ups-and-downs with cleaning up that thing you think already think is perfect and make it – umm – more perfect!


Chris LaMont is an award-winning WGA screenwriter, who’s work with writing partner Joseph Russo has included the suspense-thriller The Au Pair Nightmare, and action-thriller Hard Kill starring Bruce Willis, noir-drama The Locksmith starring Ryan Phillipe, Kate Bosworth and Ving Rhames, the horror-thriller film Soul Mates, and the Netflix-produced supernatural thriller The Inheritance.   He was a national finalist of the Final Draft Big Break contest, named as one of the Top New Screenwriters in Hollywood, is a Three-Time Blood List Winner and is represented by The Gersh Agency and managed by Fictional Entity.   He is the founder of the Phoenix Film Festival, the Phoenix Film Society, IFP – Phoenix (Independent Filmmaker Project), the Arizona Student Film Festival, the Arizona College Film Festival and the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival.   He is also a Film Professor at Arizona State University in the Sidney Poitier New American Film School and wrote Great Comedy Films: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Funny Movies. He still reads comic books but calls them “graphic novels” so he can be cool.

Lovinder Gill


Everyone knows how difficult screenwriting is but they might not realize how much more difficult it is without outlining. It’s hard enough to keep the story arch in mind while writing, but you also have to make sure that your protagonist has a dynamic journey of self-discovery and your antagonist is a three-dimensional force going on their own journey.

Not to mention the subplots, the supporting characters, reflective locations, conflict in each scene and unique dialogue for each character. It’s a lot to think about all at once and I know I can’t do it. That is why we outline.

In this seminar, we will:

  • Learn how to systematically divide up your screenplay into small, manageable parts

  • Learn how to develop a mid-point and act breaks that are entertaining, dynamic and emotionally satisfying

  • Learn how to develop a Beat Sheet

  • Learn how to layer multiple levels of information in each scene

  • Learn how to make sure your scenes are taking your audience on a roller-coaster ride


One of the most common signs of a professional screenwriter is that each one of the scenes they write are layered with multiple levels of information whereas amateur screenwriters usually have just one layer of information in their scenes. In this seminar, Lovinder Gill, will break down the minimum requirements of scene writing using clips from multiple movies to show how deep professional screenwriters dig when writing their scenes. Learn more about Lovinder at or listen to his podcast Scriptcake anywhere podcasts are available or at

Lovinder Gill is an Award-Winning filmmaker and an International Best-Selling Author for his book “Scriptcake Secrets: The Top Ten Mistakes Novice Screenwriters Make and How to Fix Them.”   His screenwriting podcast, Scriptake, has been chosen as one of “The 25 Best Screenwriting Podcasts for Screenwriters to Learn From,” by He’s interviewed screenwriting icons like Shane Black (Iron Man 3, Lethal Weapon), Christopher Vogler (The Writer’s Journey) amongst many others.   Lovinder taught screenwriting and film production for over twenty years at schools like his alma mater, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts School of Filmmaking, Drexel University, Glendale Community College (AZ), Winston-Salem State University and East Carolina University.   He’s written, produced, and directed three feature films. His most recent film, Seclusion will be released theatrically in the winter of 2024. He has written five produced feature film screenplays including Lost Stallions: The Journey Home starring Hollywood Legend Mickey Rooney, Ball & Chain starring Kal Penn and Fortis Femina which filmed in Arizona in 2022 and is currently on the film festival circuit.

Bill True

The Craft and Business of Pitching

Whether it’s on the proverbial elevator at an industry meet-and-greet, in a general meeting, or a formal pitch meeting, writers need to be prepared to talk about their works in many forms across various opportunities. Veteran writer and screenwriting professor Bill True will share insights on how to craft a compelling pitch for your project. He’ll also show you how to tailor your multiple pitch to use in all the industry different situations, and talk about how to navigate networking meetings, general meetings, and pitch meetings.

Bill True’s debut feature, Runaway, was hailed by critics as “Brilliant” and “Hitchcockian” as it premiered to universal accolades at Tribeca and Toronto. Bill also took the top prize at the Austin Film Festival for his work on Runaway, which was subsequently released by eOne Films. He has since developed feature and television projects with The Film Collective, NBA Entertainment, Warner Horizon Television, Veritas Entertainment, More/Medavoy Productions, eOne Television, and more. He is currently in development at Echo Lake Entertainment on his original drama series, Way Beyond. He also working with Rom Com Pictures to produce his original drama series, Hope Springs.   In addition to his work in Hollywood, Bill is Faculty-in-Residence for Dramatic Writing and Department Chair at the esteemed Scottsdale School of Film+Theatre.

Friday Screening and Q&A

Michelle Hsu

Michelle Hsu is an exciting diverse voice in the sci fi/horror genres. She started her career as a Page at NBCUniversal, and soon afterwards transitioned into working in the Story Department at Universal Pictures. From there, she worked in film development at Amblin Partners, before making the jump over to staff writer at Amazon Studios. Her script THE FIGURE topped the Bloodlist in 2020 and was reported on by THR as one of the best unproduced horror scripts of the year. In 2021 she was selected for the inaugural class of the Mentorship Matters TV Fellowship, as well as The Next List featuring the strongest up-and-coming writers in film and television. In 2022, she staffed on THE POWER for Amazon Studios. As a second generation Asian American, Michelle is passionate about diversity in entertainment and media. In her writing, she focuses on stories about women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+.

More sessions to be announced soon!

This conference is partially funded by the City of Tempe – Community Arts Grant

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