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The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Outtakes column

September 1, 2013


Sept. 01--The state's next generation of film and television storytellers is going to receive hands-on mentorship that money can't buy, thanks to a new program with the Hawaii International Film Festival's Creative Lab.

A dozen lucky screenwriters will be selected for the Creative Lab's first intensive writing program, which will be held during the festival's October run.

They'll get one-on-one advice from professional writers and meet with Bobby Moresco, who shared credit for a screenwriting Oscar on "Crash" and was a co-producer on Clint Eastwood's Oscar-winning "Million Dollar Baby." And they'll get a year's worth of follow-up coaching, too.

But the real prize will be given in Los Angeles.

Up to three promising writers will be invited to spend a week in the writer's room of the CBS crime drama "Hawaii Five-0" and attend workshops and meetings with the Writers Guild of America, West, and industry insiders who will help them with their career goals.

HIFF partnered with the state's Creative Industries Division and the Writers Guild to produce what it calls an "accelerator" program, said Georja Skinner, division chief.

"For us, it's developing a greater skill set for writers who are already very good but who need to get to the next level," Skinner said. "This gets them seen and mentored by the best in the business."

Exposing aspiring screenwriters to the realities of today's media market is an important goal, she said. And that means knowing more than how to draft a dramatic plot.

"We are not just developing writers, we are developing creative content entrepreneurs," Skinner said.

"In today's media world you not only have to be a writer but a businessman, the protector of your intellectual property and the person who understands the new landscape of storytelling."

HAWAII HAS a wealth of good writers but they need a place to nurture their talents -- a Sundance Institute of the Pacific, she said, citing the prestigious film and storytelling program founded in 1981 by Oscar-winning actor-director Robert Redford.

The writers accelerator is envisioned as an annual program. Organizers want Hawaii to be viewed as more than a place to film a story. They want it to be a place where the story is written.

"This is the beginning of Hawaii establishing itself as another important place where that creative development can occur," Skinner said.

This will be the second year of HIFF's Creative Lab, which was formed to provide a gathering place for diverse talents in music, writing, acting and technology. This year's festival will also have a broadband accelerator program.

The Creative Lab is led by Michael Andres Palmieri, a Los Angeles-based producer, writer and instructor with 25 years of experience coaching writers at Tri-Star Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Polygram Entertainment, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox.

He'll also be one of the mentors in the screenwriting program and said the finalists will work on their own projects but help one another as well.

"At the end of the day, no matter how much coaching you have or class or seminars you have taken, it's just you and that blinking cursor," he said. "Having a coach and having a group of individuals who have the same commitment to your success is an incredible platform to help launch your project."

Applicants with a script or a concept must apply by Sept. 11. Find details at

AND that's a wrap ...

Mike Gordon is the Star-Advertiser's film and television writer. Read his Outtakes Online blog at Reach him at 529-4803 or email


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