Thursday, December 24, 2009


I must admit: I've always been a little suspicious of screenwriting seminars and the people who teach them. If Robert McKee really knows how to craft a Black-List-topping, low-to-mid-six-figures-selling, Oscar-winning screenplay, why doesn't he sit down and write one of his own, instead of charging me and you and everyone we know a thousand bucks to learn his patented secret formula? I mean, what could this Jim Mercurio character possibly teach us that couldn't be learned from watching Chinatown for the 23rd time?

It was with this general air of skepticism and a mild hangover that I entered Jim's class on a Saturday morning. And, by the time we hit California Pizza Kitchen for lunch, my headache and my doubts had vanished. Jim really knows his shit.

Jim's unique way of thinking about writing opened my eyes to a whole new way of looking at a script. In short order, he armed me with a ton of ideas for exploring character, revealing theme, tightening plot and turning up the funny in my stuff. The guy is a diet-soda-fueled tornado of insights and ideas. His knowledge of film is encyclopedic. His DVD collection is first-class. And his course is fun, fast-paced and seriously inspiring. I strongly recommend.

- Tony Nichols

Monday, December 21, 2009


Having just completed the 2009 Champion Screenwriting finalist workshop with Jim Mercurio, I’m happy to say I left with a deeper understanding of my screenplay as well as how my script fits into the current business state of affairs in Hollywood.

Working in an intimate setting, Jim will analyze your screenplay beyond the usual structural considerations in an attempt to push you to extract and exploit all aspects of story, including openings, endings, theme, symbolism and how these relate to the intersection of plot and character.

Jim’s approach is not dogmatic, nor is this a five-day lecture. There’s plenty of room for questions, differing points of view and input from the attendees. This makes for a thought-provoking, dynamic workshop guaranteed to push your creative boundaries. In essence, it’s a relaxed but intense master class.

If you’re fortunate enough to make it to the finalist level, I believe you’ll find Jim’s class informative, inspiring, and energizing.

- Mark Penberthy

Thank you so much for the fantastic opportunity you gave me and the other Champion Screenwriting Contest finalists to attend your A-List "Immersion" class this weekend. And what an immersion it was! I can truly say I got more out of those three days than I have in other writing courses that have lasted for months. The principles you teach are so essential to good screenwriting and you somehow managed to make them all so clear for me - I now know what I need to do to make my writing better. I really appreciate this amazing gift you've given to me. I will definitely be spreading the word about what a great contest this is - I feel so fortunate to have found Champion Screenwriting!

Sharon Clark

Jim Mercurio is a whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm, a bracing blast of insight into how to make every scene, every line of dialogue, every beat and every blade of grass serve your story. Immerse yourself and emerge a transformed writer.
- John Dummer
The practice of writing anything is a very nuanced, very detailed subject. I'm skeptical of anyone who says they know how to teach it because so much of the craft of creation is ineffable and utterly intangible. But after taking his class, I was impressed by Jim's ability to touch on almost every aspect of screenwriting. He has an incredible sense of what constitutes a good story, a good sequence, a good scene, a good action, a good line or dialogue. He draws parallels in all of these things, compressing over a semester's worth of knowledge into succinct, poignant examples. He also has an intuitive ability to break down and deconstruct a series of pages and rebuild it in the most polished, gripping way possible. He's able to engage in a discussion on any topic or genre and find what's below the surface.

This is excellent for someone in any stage of writing. If you have a completed, polished, ready to go script - this class will help you. If you have a blank page and an idea in your head - this class will help you.

Think of it as the Rosetta Stone of screenwriting. You learn by instruction, observation, deduction, and extrapolation - not pages of notes and definitions. Even to a seasoned writer, this class will allow new gears in their brain to turn. And as any artist knows, a new angle, a new way of thinking is the first step to a reative windfall.

- Matt Zbrog  

Friday, December 11, 2009


The Champion Screenwriting Competition is proud to present the winners of its inaugural contest. All winners receive several additional prizes including development notes, time with mentors, pitches with and a seat in the 3-day or 5-day 2009 A-List: Immersion.

Thanks to everyone who entered.


Grand Prize - $2500
Mr. Unlucky by Tony Nichols

Second Place - $1000
Scout by Laurie Weltz

Third Place - $500
The Moonbeam Fisherman by John Dummer

Low Budget Horror - $500
Doctor Cockner's Carnival of Carnage by Jason Siner


First Place - $1,000
Kitten - by Susanna Rennes

Second Place - $500
Shoe by Nick Kelly
NEXT YEAR'S GRAND PRIZE WILL BE TEN K.  More news and surprises soon...

A-List Immersion Lovefest

On Wednesday at the class midpoint, I made the Champion Entrants give me a midweek tweet-like update on the class.  Here are some of the responses.

I'm here taking your class-I've learned a lot of interesting things that can be applied toward my current script. My favorite part of the class is your application of location. How to incorporate it into the scene.

- Rubi

Lots of great info. I love the "fix the ending by fixing page twenty." Will you marry me?

- Mark

Jim takes both basic and complex abstract processes and pulls them out through excellent, diverse scene examples. He demonstrates a true understanding of The Story and the result is archetypal advice that's universally applicable.
- Matt

They all joined me for diner with some of the top 20 writers - Tony, John, Sharon  and the shorts winner Susanna.  I gave out half of the prizes and I will post the winners SOON.

The 3-day intensive starts tomorrow in Hollywood.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Hi, Jim and everyone at Champion,

Thanks for this great news! I'm honored to receive this award from you. Congratulations also to the other winners and entrants.

Thanks for all you do to make this contest possible and for being a voice that encourages emerging talent.

Best wishes and a long life to Champion Screenwriting!

M Susanna Rennes


There are still three seats left in A-List Screenwriting's weeklong class A-List: The Immersion (formerly Killer Screenwriting). Feature Quarterfinalists in the Champion Competition can take the class for $200 and we will use their scripts as part of the clas. All other entrants may sit in on the class for $200 (their scenes will be workshopped) and can choose to have their scripts integrated into the class for an additional fee.

The class is Monday-Friday, 9-5, December 7-11 in Los Angeles. As Erik Bauer, founder of Creative Screenwriting, says, "Jim doesn't like to teach the first hundred pages of the "screenwriting book"; he likes to teach the last hundred." This is a great chance to improve your craft in an intensive week of interactive education.

Every attendee will have scene(s) read aloud and workshopped. Last year, Kurtwood Smith (from that 70s Show and Robocop) read scenes for the class. Jim has an invitation out to him again this year.

Hook - Exploiting Concept - Dilemma - Character Orchestration - Theme - Killer Endings - Scene Writing - Shurtleff's Guideposts - Essence of Climax - Sequences - Blockbuster Myths - as well as many other craft and career topics

"I had the privilege of attending Jim's (A-List: The Immersion) in LA in 2008. This was not just a class. It was a reconditioning of my creative mind. It was, for me, as well as the others who attended, a life changing experience. "
-Jill Wallace

To take advantage of this offer, email Jim today.

If seates are available after Wednesday, Nonentrants may take the class for $300.



Just Mention the Discount Code: CHAMP

Announcing: Just Effing DO IT!, a new Tele-class Series by The Script Department's own Julie Gray!

Plan for 2010 and get what you want out of your career in order to achieve and meet all your goals next year! It's a five part series coming live over tele-conference in November and December 2009.

Julie Gray (founder of The Script Department & the Rouge Wave, and author of the upcoming book "Just effing Entertain Me") will be speaking about how to plan for 2010 and what to expect in the industry with working writers, producers and industry experts in the world of Film, TV, New Media and Reality TV.

Classes begin at 6pm PSTS and are approximately one hour with a live Q & A Session. Prices are $25 per class.

Click here and we'll send you the info on payments and next steps. Champion Screenwriting newsletter recipients receive a 10% discount. Discount code: CHAMP

The Remaining clases:

Dec 1st - "TV & Film Script Contests: What it takes to win and get noticed in 2010" - Kevin Miller and Margaux Froley talk about what they've learned through their recent Wins in the world of Contests and Fellowships...Class code: D001

Dec 3rd - "Webisodes: Write it - then SHOOT IT" - Testing your ideas for TV or Film by shooting them as a series for the web. Get noticed and get repped... The world of Webisodes by Mike Perri - Class Code: D003

Dec 8 - "The Story within Reality TV" - Seasoned Reality Producer and Writer, Rebecca Winston, talks about her life "writing" for reality TV and the importance of STORY! Class Code: D008

Dec 10 - "How to plan and meet your goals for 2010" - Life Coach (Life in Production's) Libby Barnes talks about how she helps writers, producers, actors and directors focus to meet their goals every year and how you can too... Class Code: D0010

Monday, November 16, 2009



KITTEN - by Magali Rennes


SHOE by Nick Kelly


The Anniversary by Stephen Mack
Sparkle by Jan Ducker

I am so excited that my first post on this blog was to announce winners.  Stay tuned for features winners and more announcements about prizes and other opportunities for quarterfinalists and entrants.



The Anniversary by Stephen Mack
The Blackberry that Saved LA by Keith Blackwell
Kitten by Magali Rennes
Shoe by Nick Kelly
Sparkle by Jan Ducker
Stalker: A Love Story by Pamela Nash


#14 by Solomon Grundy
A Mate for Lonesome George by Sharon Clark
Coal Hard Cash by Arthur Schurr
Controlled by Craig Cambria
Doctor Cockner's Carnival of Carnage by Jason Siner
Funny Bone by Jan Stanton
God Complex by Matthew Zbrog
God's Girlfriend by Alexandra Williams
Hell and Jack by Ben Shearn
Holmes by George Nicholis
Mr. Unlucky by Tony Nichols
One Night Stand by Ian Coyne
School Spirit by Robert Watson
Scout by Laurie Weltz
Shift Tab Kill by Yarrow Vincent-Wayman
The Black Cat by Mark Penberthy
The Hardway by Todd Schlichter
The Moonbeam Fisherman by John Dummer
To Live, Press 1 by Stephen Hoover
Townrats by Josiah Signor