Writing screenplays can be a lonely pursuit. When you live in Kansas City, 1600 miles from Los Angeles, writing screenplays can be especially lonely. So an expense-paid immersive experience with peers and professionals to discuss screenwriting in general – and your work in particular – is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Or in my case, twice in a lifetime.
As a co-recipient, along with my writing partner, of a Missouri Stories Scriptwriting Fellowship in 2015 and again as a solo writer three years later, I can’t recommend the experience enough. The Missouri Stories program seeks out – and champions – film and television scripts that take place in Missouri, with the goal of eventually having them shot here. Showing a wealth of potential Missouri projects could also help convince state leaders to restore production incentives so these projects and their economic benefits don’t go to other states. Why should Netflix’s Missouri-based hit “Ozark,” for example, shoot in Georgia?
The Missouri Stories winners spend three intensive days interacting with each other and professional mentors. In my first experience, Angelo Pizzo, the writer of two films on the Mount Rushmore of sports movies, “Hoosiers” and “Rudy,” spent several hours poring over our script to discuss what worked and offering strategies that might improve it. I was so inspired during each day’s sessions that I stayed up late to write a new script, one that wound up winning my second fellowship in 2018.
The benefits of this program last far beyond those three days. Reunions and alumni events help all of the winners stay in touch. Every entry is added to a database of more than 400 Missouri-set scripts for anyone looking for projects to make here. I’ve recently had other opportunities to showcase my writing that are all a direct result of the Missouri Stories experience. I’ve made friends, professional connections and actual physical movies that would never have happened without this program.
So if you’ve written a script set in Missouri, you have until Nov. 26 to apply for one of this year’s fellowships. If you haven’t written one set in Missouri, why not? It’s the Show-Me State, after all. Let’s show our stories to the world.
-Jeffrey Field, MoStories Fellow