Chris LaMont – WGA Screenwriter and ASU Professor of Screenwriting

To misquote Shakespeare, that’s the question. Screenwriting Conferences – should you go or should you NOT go? These screenwriting conferences happen pretty often. But you’re balancing tons of stuff in your life. So many questions… 

There’s the cost. These things aren’t cheap. 

There’s transportation. What if the one you want to attend is then miles away (okay, come on now), or what if it is fifty miles away? Three hundred and fifty miles away?

Then there’s the time commitment. How much time are you investing? Can you carve out time for a one-two-or three day conference? We’re all busy! 

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say “Yeah, you should go.” 

So to package this up in a tidy bow, here are my 


1. Nobody knows Anything

When I say that, I’m talking to You. Me. Us. Collectively as writers, we can’t possibly know everything about the craft. If you think you do, you’re wrong. The landscape is constantly changing. Who’s buying what? Do you write a pilot and have a series bible – and how deep in the woods do you need to go? What does pitching feature ideas work in a landscape that is virtually 100% Zoom?

I don’t know all these answers. But you know who does? Presenters at Screenwriting Conferences do. They’re professionals that come from all over the country. Diverse backgrounds. But they are all working and successful writers and screenwriters that can present on topics that you need to know about to be successful in this industry. At the least, the sessions can help you to master the craft so that you can become successful. 

There is always more to learn. Get out your laptop and start taking notes.

2. You are not an Island

Screenwriters tend to be loners. We sit in our dark home offices with a computer screen or a laptop or even a pen and paper (yes I hear that’s coming back) and we write. And we write more. And we keep writing. All alone. Calling the muse and having them inject your body and soul with story and characters and dialogue and everything that goes into a screenplay. 

I’ve found that most screenwriters aren’t social animals. They don’t have peers. They aren’t getting reads from other writers. They don’t do table reads. They work with the page and then it’s done. They rewrite it again, and then consider it done again.

You need to surround yourself with like-minded writers who are all doing the same thing as you are. Someone you can turn to and give your second and third drafts notes. Someone who’s opinion you respect. Who knows your pain. Who knows your joy when you knock that scene out of the park. 

Where do you meet these likeminded creators? Screenwriting Conferences! Bring some business cards. Meet people. The best thing about a Screenwriting Conference is that EVERYONE THERE is just like you. Hungry for knowledge. Hungry to be a better writer. Hungry to get their work out to the world.

My tip for success? Find someone who writes in the same genre as you. Like-minded artists who understand the intricacies of the specific genre are great resources – and you can talk about the movies you love for hours!

So become a social animal. Put yourself out there. Meet some people. You’re writing life will be SO much better when you create a circle of trust around you that can be honest, be constructively critical, and let you know that when you nailed it, you really did nail it.

3. Invest in Your Screenwriting Business

No it shouldn’t be a hobby. It shouldn’t be something you just “dabble with” in your off-time. It’s time to give yourself to your passion. Screenwriting is a disciple, an art, and it’s something you should take seriously. Like life-changing seriously.

Think about it – Why aren’t you submitting to more screenwriting festivals? The submission fees? Try to find contests that give you feedback. Why aren’t you taking advantage of companies that provide screenwriting feedback or mentors to help you with your craft?

Who says you can’t write the most amazing screenplay ever made. Send it out to contests. Or get enough recognition to attract a manager? Attract an agent? Sell a script? Join the WGA? And sell more scripts? Who says you can’t dream that big?

Just you. 

Treat screenwriting as the art that it is, but also jump headfirst into becoming recognized for your work. It’s a business too.  Why not try and make money off of your talent? So jump past that hurdle in that part of your brain in the rational logical lobe that says you can’t do it. Because you can. Screenwriters have to start somewhere. 

Screenwriting conferences do it all. They feed your mind, feed your soul, help you meet new friends and get you on the track to doing this as a career. 

It’s a great place to start.

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.

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