Screenwriter and filmmaker Steven Arvanites was looking for support in NYC. He suspected other screenwriters were looking for the same thing. So, he formed NYCscreenwriter, a Manhattan-based network that, today, serves as home base for over 1,000 city scribes.
Name and location of writers group:
NYCscreenwriter, New York City
What’s the mission of your writers group?:
NYCscreenwriter is about education, networking, and access for emerging screenwriters. Screenwriting is often a solitary act. There is you and your Final Draft software program. When Final Draft starts talking back, it’s time to find a like-minded human community. That is what I’ve created with my organization. I wanted a safe, egalitarian, and creative place where screenwriters can gather for vital information and networking, and a place to provide opportunities for strategic career building.
I’m proud to say that the organization has given birth to three short films and an award-winning narrative feature. Also, innumerable collaborations and professional friendships have been forged. The atmosphere is never intimidating, always informative and best of all — membership is free. There is no obligation and your information is 100% private.
Currently there are 1,387 members — not that I’m counting. The group’s diverse membership has really exploded in the last eight months. New York based screenwriters are really responding to the monthly workshops taught by film professionals and university professors and my website content. There is nothing else like it in New York City.
Please provide a brief history of the group:
I founded NYCscreenwriter in March 2009 out of sheer necessity. There were no resources or “hubs” for New York screenwriters. I was determined to change that. The first meeting was in the obligatory Starbucks – four screenwriters attended. Through chutzpah and perseverance, the organization has grown to its present size to include monthly workshops, podcasts, legal advice, multimedia (videos and blogs), and finally, our first-ever NYCscreenwriter PitchFest coming October 12.
What successes have your writers seen?:
When you provide a platform for ambitious screenwriters the results are remarkable. There are Nicholl semi-finalists, Sundance Screen Lab finalists, and a Disney Fellowship winner in the organization. Of course, I’m not claiming credit for their accomplishments, but I share their feedback on how brainstorming, learning the screenwriting craft, and constructive criticism within the organization, have improved both their confidence and skill set; it’s made them better writers.
What other perks does membership to your group provide?:
Free membership is a great perk in itself. Through strategic alliances, I offer members discounts to various screenwriting services and events in New York City. I have a productive relationship with the WGA East. They kindly offer seats to their comprehensive WGA members-only workshops. The last “Adaptation Panel” had four guests who had won two Oscars® collectively. Also, members get first crack at limited capacity events such as NYCscreenwriter Pitchfest on October 12. I’ve procured three A-List industry executives who will consider pitches from writers on a one-on-one basis. Think of it as speed-dating for screenwriters.
Finally, there is the intangible perk of being a member of an organization with like-minded and driven individuals who are looking for collaborators on scripts, treatments, or crewing-up for films. This business is all about relationships and collaboration. Don’t be left behind!
Do you think collaboration in the writing or revision process is essential? Why?:
Collaboration is subjective. Some of the greatest scripts have been written by a single writer. However, the entire medium is collaborative. We are blessed as screenwriters in that we do not need permission to create, only a laptop (pen and paper if you are ‘old skool’) and “BIC TIME” (butt-in-chair time). But, to see your work produced, creative collaboration is essential. It takes thousands of people to create a film — good or bad.
That is one of the main reasons why I founded NYCscreenwriter — because people are your greatest resource. My first professional writing job came from another writer. I’m always emphasizing that we are not competitors but supporters. When one succeeds, then all will follow. That is my credo.
What are your goals for NYCscreenwriter?:
My goal is to keep expanding the organization, but at the same time keep it personable. I pride myself on knowing nearly everyone on a first-name basis who attends the workshop. I think the camaraderie at the attitude-free events are very much appreciated by the culturally diverse membership. Also, free podcasts featuring award-winning professors are on the horizon.
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