How I Came to Missouri and Wrote a Sci-Fi Action Script with 50 Co-writers

This article was written by Dianne Janis, 2020 Missouri Stories Fellow.

Last year, I spent 3 days at Film Camp USA as a guest of the Missouri Film Office. I would never have predicted that I would have 50 co-writers on a sci-fi action adventure script, but first let me go back in time and explain…

In 2020, I was honored to be selected as a fellowship winner of the Missouri Stories Scriptwriting Fellowship. As Film Commissioner, Andrea Sporcic Klund is involved in all aspects of the fellowship. And, because every winning script is set in Missouri, Andrea constantly looks to make connections and introductions that will result in more scripts being filmed in the Show Me State.

Andrea forwarded my winning script, “Sweet Dreams,” to a St Louis-based film company, The Butler Group. The company runs a camp for kids – Film Camp USA. The goal of the camp is to inspire young filmmakers to learn the skills that will help them to build their careers in the entertainment industry.

After reading “Sweet Dreams,” Monica Butler, the company’s founder, had a brainstorm that connected me to camp. She invited me to be a speaker at Film Camp USA and to talk to the kids about what it means to be a screenwriter.

I was delighted to create a presentation for Film Camp USA and I thought that making it interactive would be a really fun exercise. I came prepared to guide the kids in creating an action script as a group. I thought that by working on an imaginary script that two things would happen: the campers would understand what it means to write a script with a classic “3-Act Structure” and they would also have fun as they contributed and made suggestions for what motivated the hero and what obstacles and setbacks would get in his/her way. And the campers had great ideas! What if the hero was afraid of heights or didn’t know how to fly a rocket? What if the rocket was hit by an asteroid? What if the hero counted on someone who was unreliable? And so many more…The kids had fantastic energy and enthusiasm.

The 50 campers had more ideas than could be jammed into just one script. In fact, they had enough ideas for a sequel – or two, or three!

I am filled with immense gratitude that I had this chance to interact with the campers involved in Film Camp USA. And had it not been for the Missouri Film Commission, Andrea Sporcic Klund, and the Missouri Stories Scriptwriting Fellowship, I would never have had this incredible experience.

Find more information about this year’s camp at FILM CAMP USA.

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