“For a more off-beat look at writing, the Screenwriting from Iowa blog provides screenwriters with a slightly removed take from the Hollywood norm. Scott Smith blogs about how people outside of Los Angeles can have their stories told and sold for production in TinselTown. It’s inspiring for those of us around the world who aspire to Hollywood magic without having to live in Hollywood itself.”
TomCruise.com / the official blog
Back in 2004 I gave my first all day screenwriting seminar for a group called Word Weavers in the Orlando area and the concept for Screenwriting from Iowa came a couple years later when I spoke at The Hearst Center for the Arts in Cedar Falls, Iowa, but it wasn’t until late 2007 when the idea for this blog started to gain momentum.
I was looking for a way to bring all my production notes together under one roof and began to write a book. These are notes I began gathering while in film school and have built upon for the past 20 plus years as an award-winning video/tv producer (River Run Productions), photographer and filmmaker. (Three of my short films for the 48 Hour Film Projects in Des Moines have won “Best Cinematography” awards to go along with many Aurora, Telly, Communicator, Addy and Emmy Awards.)
Before moving to Iowa (where I lived from 2003—2013) I lived and worked in Miami, Los Angeles and Orlando—but Iowa greatly shaped my Outsider mentality. And it was my decade in Iowa where I saw the digital revolution and social media really begin to fly. Filmmakers not only began to evolve from shooting film and video into shooting digitally, but You Tube, Twitter, Facebook, blogging, Kickstarter, Indigogo and the like became new avenues to explore in the world of independent filmmaking in and outside of Los Angeles.
Along the way I’ve produced & shot national TV programs, shot hundreds of interviews including a couple of Holocaust survivors for Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation, and have produced, directed, written and/or shot documentaries, teaching videos, youth videos, corporate videos, content marketing, infomercials and web videos. In the ’90s I helped launch and produce the national radio program Renewing Your Mind with R.C. Sproul. I am now based back in my hometown of Orlando.
I’ve also written nine unproduced feature screenplays. (Success is a poor teacher they say. And I keep reminding myself that Oscar-winning writer/director Oliver Stone said he wrote 10 or 12 scripts before one was produced. Oscar-nominated Sheldon Turner —Up in the Air— said he wrote 12 scripts before he even showed one to anybody. The magic number for Michael Arndt to sell a script was #10.) But many of my notes are gathered from top screenwriters and directors in the field with the hope that they will give a sense of direction to those wanting to write screenplays and make movies—especially those in unusual places.
Toward the end of ’07 I began talking to a book publisher in a deal that ultimately fell through but like a good protagonist I forged on. This blog was born in January 2008 after seeing Diablo Cody’s Juno. The fact that she went to college in Iowa, wrote a distinctly Midwestern screenplay while in Minneapolis, and was discovered while blogging seemed like enough synergy and inspiration for me to jump into the blogging world. Toward the end of 2008 Screenwriting from Iowa won a Regional Emmy in Advanced Media from The Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. (In 2009, I won another Emmy for location lighting.)
Various productions over the years have taken me to all 50 States and to five continents and I believe there are many great stories waiting to be told outside of L.A. And while you may dream of seeing your work on the big screen, keep in mind that the Internet is bringing many opportunities for the little screen. I hope this blog (and eventually book) helps you tell those stories and encourages you, especially if you feel like you live in an unusual place in the middle-of-nowhere. (And for the record, that includes West Des Moines, West Africa, or even just a few miles east of the Hollywood sign in West Covina.)
I welcome your input and suggestions. You can reach me at email@example.com .
Waterloo Courier article on Screenwriting from Iowa
Listed #7 in 60 Best Blogs for Aspiring Screenwriters
Listed in 25 Amazing Screenwriting Blogs by The Screenwriting Spark