Panels

How to Get Hired in Animation
Maggie Malone (Head of Creative Affairs, Disney), Karen Toliver (SVP at 20th Century Fox Animation), Jenny Marchick (SVP at Sony Animation Studios), Annie Lax (VP at Paramount Studios Animation), Coral Wright (Production Executive, Hasbro)

Executives across the major animated film studios, along with executives from animated television, describe what they look for in writing samples and in general interviews with writers. Further discussion will include ‘once you’re hired– so now, what?’ How to approach notes and work collaboratively with directors, executives and story artists.

Progressive Publishing Models for Writers Who Want to Get Their Work Out There and Make Money Doing It
Elena Favilli (Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls), Glory Edim (Publishing Outreach Specialist, Kickstarter), Margot Atwell (Director of Publishing, Kickstarter), Brooke Warner (Publisher, She Writes Press), Nikia Chaney (Jamii Publishing), and Q. Gibson (The Flowering Woman: Becoming and Being)

From DIY zines to graphic novels to children’s books, creators like Amy Wibowo, Spike Trotman, and Elena Favilli have built and utilized thriving online communities to support their work. Hybrid publishers such as She Writes Press have emerged to offer alternative publishing models to aspiring authors. Writers now have access to audiences through the internet, allowing them to achieve notable success using tools like Kickstarter and popular hashtags like #WeNeedDiverseBooks. During this panel, we will discuss how community-oriented platforms can effectively promote equity in publishing, and develop an inclusive vision of progress.

Adaptation: How to Turn a Novel into a Film or Television Show
Gina Cavalier (Warner Bros.), Susan McMartin (writer and producer, Mom), Vanta M. Black (author, Oubliette: A Forgotten Little Place), Minoti Vaishnav (founder of Prophecy Girl Films)

While there is a lot of information out there on how to break into the film and television business, not much is known about adapting already existing content into a film or television show. This is surprising, because in today’s world, almost everything we see on our screens is adapted from either a novel or a comic book. From “Game of Thrones” to “Doctor Strange”, existing IP is hot property in Hollywood.

“Adaptation: How to Turn a Novel into a Film or Television Show” will focus on the following areas:

1. What is IP (Intellectual Property) and why is it so in demand?
2. How to recognize good IP and adapt it.
3. The adaptation process. What does it mean to option something? What are the steps when adapting someone else’s work?
4. The importance of understanding how to jump mediums – writing a book is not the same as writing a television pilot.
5. The importance of diversity in adaptation. Should certain characters be added or modified when adapting content for a new medium? Why is this important?

Life After Launch: How to Balance Book Promotion and Writing for the Long Haul
Elizabeth Marro (author, Casualties), Julia Callahan (Rare Bird Books), Kelly Forsythe (Copper Canyon Press), Michaela Haas (author, Bouncing Forward), Désirée Zamorano (author, The Amado Women)

Every author expects to promote her book when it is launched but when is it time to stop? And if the answer is “never” then what does she need to do to keep her published book(s) going while finding the time, headspace and energy to write the next one? If the launch fizzled, what are her options? Panelists will share expertise and hard-won lessons from the #Binders Marketing and Forthcoming subgroups. Publicists and authors will describe real cases to provide insights and examples of what works and what doesn’t. The beauty of this session: everything in it will help writers at all phases of the launch/promotion process. Whether they are traditionally published, self-published, working with hybrid presses, or hope to be published, participants will make helpful connections and come away with resources stored in a shared location they can start using right away or tap into down the road.

Food and Travel Writing Panel
Veronica Chambers, Jackie Varriano, Kathleen Squires

More information about this session TBA.

How to Be a Media Hybrid: Writer / Actor / Producer / Directors Dive into Hollywood
Magdelena Edwards, Tilda Del Toro, Marisa Echeverria, Lucia Brawley, Diana Mendez, Robinne Lee, Kylie Sparks

This panel features one moderator and four speakers who will talk about their specific journeys navigating Hollywood, what kind of preparation or formal education they did or didn’t have prior, where their successes and failures have taken them, what future projects lie ahead, and – last but not least – practical tips for attendees. We will discuss networking, collaboration, whether or not you need an agent and how to find one, and how to get paid. The underlying thrust of this panel is an exploration of how the media world is changing and becoming increasingly horizontal, where players can move across interconnected landscapes of publishing, journalism, public speaking, and visual storytelling through theater, film, television, and the Internet. The good news is that hybrids can create their own opportunities and build multiple overlapping networks of peers, mentors, and collaborators. The challenge is what can feel like a relentless juggle. How do hybrids prevent themselves from spreading their energies too thin and what can you gain from saying “no”? How do you balance specific goals with staying flexible so you can spot unexpected opportunities and seize them? These are some of the questions and topics we will tackle during our panel, as we draw on each other’s experiences for inspiration, encouragement, and skill-building.

Her Story: The Making of an Emmy-Nominated Web Series
Jen Richards, Laura Zak, Angelica Ross, Katherine Fisher, Sydney Freeland, Sarah Baker Grillo

“Her Story” is the independently-produced web series about the dating and love lives of trans and queer women in Los Angeles that went on to earn an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama. We’ve toured the country holding screenings and talkbacks of the show. At BinderCon, we’ll screen 1-2 episodes and then host a Q&A and talkback about how the show came to be, our cast and crew of mostly queer and trans women, and the power of representation on and off screen.

Beyond Hijab: Writing about Muslims
Fareeha Molvi, Margari Hill, Zahra Noorbakhsh, Amina Waheed, Sarah Harvard

With the rise of Islamophobia and the election of Trump, the demand for information on Muslims is at an all-time high. In response, publications are hungry for stories that shed light on this vastly misrepresented swath of the population. To that end, every day newsfeeds across America are filled with stories on the trials and tribulations of Muslim women wearing the hijab – a positive step toward inclusivity.

But in the scramble to enlighten, are editors and writers actually contributing to a one-dimensional portrayal of the Muslim experience? For the many Muslims who do not wear hijab or identify as Middle Eastern, these pieces do not reflect their reality. These individuals are also negotiating their Muslim identities, breaking down institutional barriers and unfortunately, facing discrimination on account of their faith. Yet in chasing hijab stories, are we discounting their voices and ultimately running counter to the goal of true inclusivity?

This panel seeks to broaden the narrative of Muslim women in media by highlighting the diversity that exists within our community. We hope to challenge storytellers to engage in richer conversations than surface-level stories of what we wear, or don’t wear, on our heads.

Workshops

Writing Disabled Characters
Lara Ameen

Disabled people make up about 20% of the U.S. population, but less than 1% of disabled characters are represented on-screen and most of that representation deals with damaging stereotypes. Films like Me Before You boast the dangerous notion that it’s better off to be dead than disabled.
This workshop will examine writing disabled characters for fiction, film and television. It will explore the rampant stereotypes that are so often associated with fiction and media’s portrayal of disabled characters such as the disabled character as the victim like Hillary Swank’s character in Million Dollar Baby, hero or “supercrip” like the John Locke character in Lost or the villain (when a character is negatively associated with having mental illness) such as Captain Hook in Peter Pan or The Joker. This workshop will teach participants how to write well-rounded, interesting disabled characters without trite, clichéd or offensive language that is harmful to the disability community as well as addressing person-first language (person with a disability) versus identity-first language (disabled person).

This will be an interactive session with a Q&A and resources on writing disabled characters will be provided.

The Buddy System: How Writing with a Pal Can Transform Your Productivity
Daniela Blei, Andrea Volpe

What writer hasn’t frittered away an afternoon because writing alone, the supposed Shangri-la for every author, can quickly turn into anxious isolation? Solitude is a necessity, but it’s also among the greatest occupational hazards we face as writers.

There’s a solution. We call it the Buddy System. It’s free. It’s elements are simple: all you need is a compatible writing buddy and the internet. And it works. In this craft and practice workshop, we explain how partnering up transformed our productivity, quelled our anxiety, and got us more and better assignments faster than we could have done alone.

We’ll outline a 6-week Buddy System Starter Kit to get you up and running that covers working with your writing buddy to set goals and prioritize projects, brainstorm ideas and angle pitches, and support each other through the writing process and working with editors. Attendees will leave with tools and techniques they can use to decrease isolation and increase productivity.

Doodling Your Way to a Breakthrough
Betsy Streeter

Some of our best ideas come to us out of context (see: the shower). In this workshop Betsy will grab a pen and help you grapple with your fiction and nonfiction stories, stuck points, and budding projects – generating a wealth of ideas for you to work with. She will demonstrate how doodling, storyboarding, diagramming and sketching can alter your point of view, reveal hidden story details, raise questions, and bring you a whole new perspective on your work. Come ready to brainstorm and help each other out while Betsy valiantly attempts to draw it all! (No drawing experience required, though you will get some easy skills you can use any time).

The Heroine’s Journey
Pat Verducci

In this workshop for screenwriters, we’ll talk about how to use The Hero’s Journey to create compelling three-act structure for your feature script. Using clips from films made by writer/directors who deal with issues of gender, sexuality, and diverse experiences, we’ll explore how to create an active main character, strong turning points, and an emotional experience for your viewer.

How To Pitch Your TV Series
Marla White

This sixty-minute workshop, ideal for between 40 – 80 people, is designed to help writers of all levels learn what makes separates a good television series pitch from a great one.

I’ve sold projects to both broadcast networks and cable outlets, and have heard the gambit of pitches from writers that vary from the great to ‘you’ve got to be kidding me.’ Over the past few years, it’s become my obsession to identify just what makes a great pitch and share the information with writers. Why? It’s completely self-serving – I want every pitch that comes through my door to be a sellable homerun and become a huge hit so I can relax and take the rest of the year off!

In the workshop, I’ll walk through the research you need to do before you even get in the door, how to connect with the person your pitching to, the structure of an effective pitch, how to deal with the ‘why me, why now’ aspect, as well as the level of details to put in and what to take out. We’ll talk characters, how to show their conflicts and not just tell about them, and the best follow up practices once you leave the meeting. I’ll also talk about the sample you need to score a meeting in the first place, as well as strategies to adapt your pitch for each market. Possibly most importantly, I’ll give you examples of what to do and what NOT to do in a pitch.

Crazy Plots to Mainstream Feminism: Blazing the Trail vs. Betrayal
Brainstorming, Practice Pitching and Feedback Session

Aya de Leon, Andi Zeisler, Rachel Krantz, Katrina O’Gilvie

Feminist storytelling has been appearing in some of the most unlikely locations within pop culture. However, the recent presidential election has exposed the limitations of the actual progress a feminist political agenda has been able to make, in spite of its endorsement by stars from Beyonce to Taylor Swift to Lena Dunham. Where else can feminist stories infiltrate via stealth? Do you have an idea for feminist storytelling that might crossover into a more commercial venue? Our panelists will share their experiences with breakthroughs, as well as when/where feminism has gone too far. Then they’ll facilitate a brainstorming session and take practice pitches, offering constructive feedback and suggested next steps to get your ideas to the masses.

More panels and workshops to be announced in early February.