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World Fantasy 2019 & Writing Fantasy for Television

November 9th, 2019

Following close on the heels of Sustefest X, this year’s World Fantasy Convention provided a marked change of scenery – from Valle de Santiago’s old-world streets and dormant volcanoes to LA’s multi-lane highways and active wildfires. Fortunately, skies around the Marriott Airport Hotel (the site of this year’s convention) were clear despite the proximity of the Saddleridge fire fewer than 20 miles north. Nevertheless, some attendees commented on fire-related road closures and long detours.

One of the major gatherings centering on fantastic literature (the others being science fiction’s WorldCon and horror’s StokerCon) World Fantasy offers the solitary writer a chance to check-in on the state of the genre, do a panel or two, and (most of all) kick back at the bar with friends and colleagues.

This time around, programming kicked off at noon on Thursday with a panel on Writing Fantasy for Television, where I got to join fellow panelists Eldon Thompson and Gillian Horvath in a discussion moderated by Craig Miller. After an initial discussion of the current boom in original fantasy programming (thanks to Netflix, Amazon, Disney Plus, Apple TV, Shudder, et al), the discussion turned to the craft of scriptwriting and the best ways for new writers to enter the field. Specifically, one member of the audience asked what books new writers might read to learn the craft. Among the panel’s recommendations were Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting by William Goldman and On Directing Film by David Mamet (which, despite its title, offers some excellent insight into the screenwriting process). Beyond such titles, the panelists agreed that the best way to learn to write scripts is to read them. That’s easy to do these days, since many screenplays are currently available through sites such as The Internet Movie Script DatabaseThe Black List, and Screenplay.com. Indeed, the website Script Reader Pro recently advised apprentice screenwriters to carefully study their favorite films through a process of re-reading and re-viewing. It remains some of the best advice out there.

As always, the convention culminated with the awards banquet and the naming of this year’s best works of fantasy. A complete list of awards appears below.

Next year’s WFC 2020 will be held over Halloween weekend in Salt Lake City. I’ll hope to see you there.

  • Lifetime Achievement: Hayao Miyazaki and Jack Zipes
  • Novel: Witchmark by C. L. Polk (Tor.com)
  • Novella: “The Privilege of the Happy Ending” by Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld, Aug. 2018)
  • Short Fiction (tie): “Ten Deals with the Indigo Snake” by Mel Kassel (Lightspeed, October 2018) and “Like a River Loves the Sky” by Emma Törzs (Uncanny Magazine, March-April 2018)
  • Anthology: Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction, edited by Irene Gallo (Tor.com)
  • Collection: The Tangled Lands, by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell (Saga Press/Head of Zeus UK)
  • Artist: Rovina Cai
  • Special Award – Professional: Huw Lewis-Jones for The Writer’s Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands (University of Chicago Press)
  • Special Award – Non-Professional: Scott H. Andrews, for Beneath Ceaseless Skies: Literary Adventure Fantasy

 

Fade In:
Talking Scary Movies with Bob Scott of CSW

August 11th, 2019

Last month, following the release of Nightmare Cinema, I had the chance to drop by PCTV-21 for a conversation with Bob Scott of Carnegie Screenwriters.

Bob is a screenwriter, playwright, poet, actor, director, producer, stage manager, and host of the series Fade In, now in its third season on PCTV-21.

Since its debut in 2016,  Fade In has explored the many facets of indie filmmaking through interviews with writers, producer, directors, actors, crew members and other industry professionals with connections to Pittsburgh.

If you have any interest in indie movies and the people who make then, you owe it to your self to check out Fade In.

In addition to producing the show, Carnegie Scriptwriters holds regular scrip-readings at the Third Street Gallery in Carnegie and recently hosted a script and screen festival at The Tull Family Theater in Sewickley. Monthly meetings are currently held on the third Saturday of each month from 10:00 am – 12:30 pm at the Mt. Lebanon Public Library.

In all, CSW makes it clear that indie filmmaking is alive and well in Pittsburgh.

My conversation with Bob Scott will air in September on PCTV-21 ( Comcast Channel 21, Verizon Channel 47, and on-line at www.pctv21.org.), Thursday evenings at 8:30, but you can catch it all now on CSW’s YouTube Channel or by clicking the player below.

Give it a click. I’ll meet you there.

Spring Events:
April is the Coolest Month

April 13th, 2016

nightmare cinemaApologies to T. S. Eliot, but I couldn’t resist the headline. And there will indeed be some cool things happening now that the winter that “kept us warm” has come to an end.

First up, I’ll be giving a talk at the Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley on April 27, sharing details surrounding the adaptation of my story “Traumatic Descent” for the upcoming anthology film Nightmare Cinema.

Although I cover the process of adapting “TD” in Voices and This Way to Egress, the Penguin event will give me a chance to relate some recent surprises and developments.

End of Watch51U+KNbSiaL._AC_UL320_SR210,320_I also plan to cover practical advice about storytelling and scriptwriting. The talk is titled “From Page to Screen,” and it gets underway at 6:30 p.m. If you’re in the area, I’ll hope to see you there. Professional secrets will be revealed.

It’s worth noting that the aforementioned Nightmare Cinema is being produced by Mick Garris, the same filmmaker who brought us Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers and the television versions of both The Shining and The Stand. I mention these titles because Stephen King will also be giving a talk at the Penguin later this spring, promoting the release of his forthcoming thriller End of Watch.

Tickets for the Stephen King event go on sale April 17. Here’s a link for more information.

Mark's Emmy award 10-27-2007And there’s more. On April 29, my brother and former band mate Mark Connolly will be joining me for a special musical performance at Riley’s Pour House. (That’s Mark on the left with the Emmy he won a few years back. Yeah, my bro’s got talent.)

Mark and I performed together on the college circuit back in the 70s. We called ourselves The Other Brothers, playing gigs, writing songs, and recording demos with our other brother John, who had a basement equipped with what was then state-of-the-art technology. I’m talking reel-to-reel four track tape. Real handmade music!

Mark and I will be playing some Other Brothers tunes at Riley’s, but you don’t have to wait until then to hear them. By clicking the player below (which features another photo of Mark, this time with a 20th-century version of the 21st-Century Scop), you can hear our demo cut of “Midnight Lover.” Mark wrote it, and it should have gone platinum.

Enjoy the song, and I’ll hope to see you at the Penguin Bookshop or Riley’s Pour House – or both. Until then . . . scop on!

From Page to Screen: A Story’s Journey

February 3rd, 2016

This Way to Egress by Lawrence C. ConnollyIt’s the journey, not the destination. Emerson said something like that once.

He might have been talking about screenwriting.

The path that “Traumatic Descent” (a.k.a. “This Way to Egress”) has taken on its way to the screen is the subject of a newspaper article in a recent issue of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

On the whole, the paper provides a good summary of the details, although it does suggest that “TD” was under option for a quarter century. That’s not exactly true, even if it has sometimes seemed that way.

Borderlands 3 croppedThe story first appeared in the hardbound, limited-edition of Borderlands 3 in the early 90s, but it wasn’t until 2000 that a young filmmaker found it reprinted in a mass-market paperback in London. That was the beginning of the journey–a seventeen-year trek through the at-times fascinating circles of development hell.

And now it appears the trek is finally leading somewhere.

Earlier this fall, David Slade and I submitted our revised script for “This Way to Egress” to Mick Garris, who has partnered with Good Deed Entertainment to produce the story as part of a feature film titled Nightmare Cinema. A flurry of announcements followed our completion of the script, culminating (for the moment) with the article in the Trib.

connolly 1993You’ll find links to some of those earlier announcements at the blog post “Horror Films are Good for You,” while the full text of the newspaper article is available at the Trib‘s website.

Interestingly, the Trib also published a strong review of “Traumatic Descent” when Borderlands 3 first came out 23 years ago. The reviewer called the story “one of the finest scare stories ever written.” Not bad. The photo to the left appeared with that article.

Lawrence ConnollyFast forward, and we have the photo to the right, which ran with last week’s story. I trust the comparison suggests that the ensuing years have treated me fairly. At any rate, it looks as if I’ve been keeping busy.

I’ll post updates about the film as they come available. In the meantime, mark your calendars for April 21, when I’ll be speaking at The Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley. The title of that talk?  “From Page to Screen: A Story’s Journey.” No doubt I’ll have plenty to report. Until then . . . scop on!

Image Credits:
This Way to Egress, cover © 2010 by Jason Zerrillo.
Borderlands 3, cover © 1993 by Rick Lieder.
The 20th-Century Scop, Tribune-Review.
The 21st-Century Scop. Kristina Serafini, Tribune Review.