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.