Making a living, not a killing, was ironically on writer and producer Glenn Benest’s mind when he decided to pursue screenwriting over being a playwright. His concern about being able to live well and pay the bills eventually led him to writing two high profile screenplays for horror filmmaker Wes Craven: “Deadly Blessing,” starring Sharon Stone and Ernest Borgnine and “A Stranger In Our House,” starring Linda Blair and Lee Purcell.
Having grown up near Los Angeles, Glenn saw the film industry for what it was and is, a business. That’s not to say that his desire to write came from a dispassionate place, rather it was ingrained in him at an early age that it would take dedication, hard work, and connections to start and build a career as a writer in Hollywood. His passion to help others succeed is evident in his private screenwriting workshops where small groups of determined writers meet over a period of weeks to hone their screenplays into work that is ready for the marketplace. Read on to learn more about Glenn’s workshops taken by people like Melissa Rosenberg, writer of the screenplays for the Twilight movies.
Glenn Benest Screenwriting Workshops & Classes
The class size is limited to no more than 6-7 writers and the course takes place for 8 consecutive weeks. Because the groups are small and attracts very motivated and creative writers, tremendous progress came be made in whipping a script into shape. The better the writers in the group are – the better the feedback is going to be.
In this unique format, each writer’s material is read out loud in the manner of a staged reading. Parts are doled out to each member of the group and read out loud, so the screenwriter can experience each of his characters coming to life. In this way, it becomes extremely clear what is working in the screenplay and what isn’t.
These are very professional groups – they aren’t comparable to what beginning writers find at UCLA Extension for example, where everyone is at different levels of skill and dedication and the class size is never less than 12 students. Glenn has taught at both UCLA and the American Film Institute and found both these programs very confining as he never had enough time to spend with any individual writer to give him or her the best shot possible to get their work produced.
In these workshops, the goal is to keep pushing the writer to make his script as good as it can possibly be before it goes out into the marketplace. These classes have been tremendously successful – four features have been launched from these groups and many writers have had their work optioned and/or attracted agents and managers.
Show Notes and Links from Episode 003
- The journey from playwright to screenwriter
- Living in LA DOES have big advantages
- Glenn’s first screenplay sale, he was prepared
- What Glenn did on his own for two years to learn story structure
- Movie prototypes and how it can accelerate your writing
- The genre that is still the easiest to sell, use it to start your career
- Why COLLABORATION may be the single most important factor needed to make it in Hollywood
- Making deals to sell your first scripts is NOT about the money
- Building your credits to get people to notice you
- Screenplay competition awards can start a trail of yeses on the path to getting your work green-lit
- Identifying and working with your “Script Champion”
- The greatest problem all screenwriters have (including Glenn)
- Great writing skills can be taught, hard work and hustle, not so much
Select Links from this Episode
- Glenn Benest website
- Glenn Benest profile and list of services on the International Screenwriters’ Association site.
- Wes Craven’s website
Movies / Television Mentioned in this Episode
Books Mentioned in this Episode
- Now Write!: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror (Glenn wrote the chapter on horror)
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