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Cinema Seattle. Presenter of the Seattle International Film Festival

Seattle Filmmaking Luminaries to Start Screenwriting Intensive Film School

Major industry professionals to team with Cinema Seattle / SIFF in creating a one-of-a-kind film school for professional writers and directors.

Seattle, WA—Five well-known Seattle-area filmmakers, film advocates and teachers have partnered with Cinema Seattle (organizers of The Seattle International Film Festival) to create TheFilmSchool, a unique conservatory focused on the art of storytelling for the cinema.

The filmmakers and teachers—Emmy-winning Actor/Director/Writer Tom Skerritt (A River Runs Through It, M.A.S.H., Top Gun, Alien), Award-winning Director/Writer/Producer Rick Stevenson (Magic in the Water, Some Girls, Promised Land), Twice Academy Award® Nominee and Emmy-winning Writer Stewart Stern (The Ugly American, Rebel Without A Cause, Rachel, Rachel), Director/Producer/Writer John Jacobsen (Around the Fire, Nervous Ticks) and film advocate Warren Etheredge (The Warren Report)—who all express a deeply held passion for the art and craft of filmmaking, have designed the school much like a boot camp in order to “encourage the individual voice, excellence in dramatic writing, and the illumination of the human condition.”.

“We want to develop writers who have something to say,” remarked Stern, “who want to inspire, illuminate and move their audiences with the excitement of their own discoveries, who treasure language, and who sense their place in the great parade of dramatists.”

TheFilmSchool will run in three-week sessions, beginning in March, 2004. Students will attend classes from 9:00am – 9:00pm, every week-day, and through afternoons on Saturdays. Eight courses will be woven into a single syllabus, including: “Screenplay and Mythic Structure”, “Writing Character”, “The Personal Connection”, and “Book Smart, Film Savvy” among others and numerous guest filmmakers, both local and national, will speak and screen their work. Classes will be held at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) in Seattle’s Montlake District.

“The Northwest is a hotbed of independent talent,” remarked Skerritt, “boasting many wonderful voices that should be heard, but when they’re ready. We hope to help get them there.”

TheFilmSchool will focus on all aspects of great storytelling and the craft of directing the actor, a priority often subjugated in Hollywood’s special-effects ridden environment, explained Stevenson. “When we made our first film at Oxford University, we focused on casting and landed Hugh Grant in his first role—but the script was awful. As a result, the film was a handsome mess.” To that end, cameras will not be allowed in TheFilmSchool classrooms.

“We believe that ambition and impatience often rush too many students at too many schools into production long before their scripts are ready”, added Stern, “and the impatience at the other end of the process (often supported by studios) encourages a kind of carelessness that has been destructive to the art of film.”

A special introduction for prospective students will be held on January 17, 2004 at MOHAI from 2-4pm. Students applying should demonstrate clarity of writing and passion for the process by way of a personal essay. More information can also be found at Scholarships are available.

The Film School Staff:

Rick Stevenson. Director/Producer/Writer Rick Stevenson produced his first film, Privileged starring Hugh Grant, while completing his PhD in Economics at Oxford University. He has produced a number of successful independent films including Promised Land, Some Girls, and Restless Natives. His feature film directorial debut, Magic in the Water, starred Josh Jackson and Mark Harmon. His television credits include the hit series Ed and Mysterious Ways, among others. He is also the author of “The Rise and Fall of Détente” (MacMillian, 1985).

Tom Skerritt. Actor/Director/Writer Tom Skerritt has a career that spans decades, genres and mediums. His film work includes A River Runs Through It, M.A.S.H., Top Gun, The Turning Point, Steel Magnolias and Alien. His television work includes the award-winning Picket Fences as well as guest spots on such hit series as Will & Grace, West Wing, Chicago Hope and Cheers. Skerritt has been nominated twice for Golden Globe awards, as well as SAG, Blockbuster and Genie Awards. He also won the National Board of Review Award for The Turning Point. He is a devoted and vocal proponent of Seattle’s filmmaking community.

Stewart Stern. Writer Stewart Stern is a screenwriting legend. Best known for his penning of The Ugly American, Rachel, Rachel, and Rebel Without A Cause, Stern has been nominated twice for Oscars (Teresa and Rachel, Rachel) and won an Emmy for Sybil, starring Sally Field. Stern is honored to be an annual Creative Advisor at the Sundance Institute's Screenwriters' Lab. He has taught screenwriting at AFI, USC, and for l3 years at University of Washington Extension's certificate program in that subject. On Sundays he works for the gorillas at Woodland Park Zoo, to whom he has volunteered 5,000 hours of service.

Warren Etheredge. Film Advocate and Writer/Actor/Director Warren Etheredge is the creator of The Warren Report, a Seattle-based film arts organization dedicated to the art and language of film. He has also designed and presents the series “Distinguishing Features” (screened at the Seattle Art Museum) and “Shooting Scripts” (designed to bring film scripts to a critical audience via performed readings). Etheredge is the Curator for Bumbershoot’s One Reel Film Festival, the largest short film festival in the country and the author of “The All-New Ultimate Football Quiz Book”.

John Jacobsen. Director/Writer/Producer John Jacobsen is an accomplished stage and film director. His film credits as director include Around the Fire starring Eric Mabius and Tara Reid, and as producer include Nervous Ticks with Bill Pullman and Peter Boyle, as well as the CBS “Tribute to Katherine Dunham” for the Kennedy Center Honors.
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