Alessandra hosts Coffee Break script Seminar Oct. 26

Pilar Alessandra leads “The Coffee Break Seminar” Oct. 26

One of L.A.-based screenwriting guru Pilar Alessandra’s missions when she returns to Chicago Oct. 26 is to meet with one of her former students who writes for Rosie O’Donnell’s “The Rosie Show,” now taping at Harpo Studios. 

This is something Alessandra says she always enjoys doing as it validates that the techniques she has been teaching do work.

Alessandra is only the fourth Hollywood script expert to personally visit the city this year, which is rather surprising since Chicago is actually a large locus of produced and aspiring screenwriters.

Twenty-year old Chicago Screenwriters Group has a membership of more than 500 and president-elect Colin Costello estimates there are hundreds more scriptmeisters, not including students at area colleges, who are always interested in learning how to sharpen their craft, especially from Hollywood insiders

This time, Alessandra will teach her latest “On the Page” writing program called “The Coffee Break Screenwriter: A Class for the Busy Person.”  

Alessandra knows her stuff.  She started her “On the Page” script consultancy and classes in 2004, after a long and productive career as a script consultant.  During that earlier career, she helped writers refine and sell their screenplays to major studios, a la DreamWorks, Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures. 

The Reel called on’s Linda Frothingham, the city’s premiere screenwriting event-programmer and a screenwriter herself, to interview Alessandra about the upcoming seminar.  

REEL: Who is the seminar aimed at? The beginner or advanced screenwriter?  

ALESSANDRA: The class works for those writing their first screenplay and those with years of experience.  I’ve had working writers tell me time and time again that the class cuts hours off of their usual writing process and opened them up to a new way to tell a story.  

REEL: For those of us that made it to the other seminars you’ve given here, what’s going to be new and different this time?  

ALESSANDRA: This is a three-hour intensive and this time you’ll be on the clock.  Bring in a new project and see how much progress you can make.  

REEL: What will students learn in the three-hour intensive? 

ALESSANDRA: You’ll brainstorm, break story, outline and hit pages in three hours through 10-minute writing tools that make the most of a writer’s precious writing time.  No more talking about writing a screenplay or television script.  You’ll be doing it.

REEL: How the “Coffee Break” seminar differ from what we can read in your new book, “The Coffee Break Screenwriter?” 

ALESSANDRA: You’ll have the benefit of in-the-moment writing and instant feedback on your project.  

REEL: If you could give Chicago screenwriters one tip of encouragement, what would that be? 

ALESSANDRA: The world is getting smaller and it’s working in your favor.  Everything works through Email and virtual communication, so no one will mark you as an “out of town writer” when you submit your script.  So, write your script and don’t worry about not being an L.A. “insider.”  

REEL: What do you think is unique about the Chicago writers whom you’ve met and worked on in your previous trips? 

ALESSANDRA: There’s a love of and respect for the arts in Chicago that comes through in the writers’ work.  Chicago writers know their movies, have a great sense of storytelling and aren’t afraid to take risks.  

REEL: And for Screenwriters who always wanted to write that movie they never quite get to – what’s your advice?

ALESSANDRA: Learn how it’s done, then go do it.  Nothing’s stopping you!
The Sutton Hotel is at 21 E. Bellevue.  Seminar runs 7 to 10 p.m. Cost is $100.  Register here.  Also available are “The Coffee Break Screenwriter” book and an instructional DVD.