Saturday, June 30, 2012


Congratulations to Stella Meghie for winning this year's Tony Cox Screenplay Award at the Nantucket Film Festival, announced here. We caught up with Stella to find out a little bit about her screenplay, JEAN OF THE JONESES, and her background in writing.

Q: Tell us a little about how you started as a screenwriter.
A: I watched a lot of film growing up. I also wrote -- mainly poetry and short stories. At some point I decided I wanted to write films rather then just watch. I decided to apply to film school a few years after I finished my undergrad and started there.

Q: What inspired you to write JEAN OF THE JONESES?
A: I have a very large family of predominantly women. I heard a lot of loud voices growing up. Maybe I needed to get them out of my head. The script is loosely based on my experiences and family.

Q: Can you describe any challenges you had executing your original vision
for the story? How did you overcome them?

A: In early drafts I may have held too closely to personal experiences. When I loosened up and allowed the story to grow into something bigger it became more interesting.

Q: JEAN OF THE JONESES has been described as a "Comedy Drama". Was it
difficult to find a balance between the lighter and darker material in
the screenplay?

A: I tend to find humor in desperate situations when I write. Avoiding emotion and running from your fears can bring out a lot of comedy in a scene, especially when a character is really jumping through hoops to avoid a dramatic moment that will inevitably happen.

Q: The main character, Jean, is a writer. How much of yourself do you see in her?
A: I drew a lot from myself for Jean in the beginning. I can relate to her struggle to find her place in adulthood and in a culture that's slightly foreign to her family's.
Q: What was your best experience at the Nantucket Film Festival?
A: I was invited to a Mentor's brunch with Writer Director Nancy Meyers. She was very generous with her advice and offered insight into her writing process and how she works with actors. She's worked with some of the best like Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton and Kate Winslet.

Q: Do you have any plans to put JEAN OF THE JONESES into production?
A: It’s still in the development stage, but I hope to direct and go into production within the next few years.

Q: How was your experience at the University of Westminster master's program?
A: I had a wonderful tutor on the course named Sophie Balhetchet who hung in there with me from outline through to a few a drafts of Jean of the Joneses.

Q: Can you talk about the Berlin International Film Festival’s Talent
Campus and the Bell Media Screenwriters Program? Did these experiences
help you at all as you undertook this project?

A: Berlinale Talent Campus was an amazing experience. It was a really inspiring environment. I was able to discuss my project with other filmmakers and participate in lectures and workshops on everything from writing to directing to post-production. I'm still finishing Bell Media's program. It's a television writing fellowship. I'm developing a half hour comedy drama pilot.

Q: What do you hope to gain from Screenwriters Colony Writers-in-Residence program?
A: I'm going in with two projects. 'Jean of the Joneses' and 'You Ain't Hip to Baby' -- a romantic drama that I will direct first. I usually write alone, so it will be great to be in a focussed space and have the mentors and other writers to bounce ideas off at the colony.

We are proud to announce that Stella will be with us this fall as a Writer-in-Residence at the Screenwriters Colony.
(Post by Dana Eckstein) 

Monday, June 25, 2012


ABC's new true-crime series FINAL WITNESS premieres this Wednesday, June 26 at 10pm, with two of its six episodes written by '04 Colonist (and current Colony co-director!) Ben Robbins.

Ben Robbins '04
Each episode explores an actual murder case through a unique mash-up of Errol Morris-style documentary interviews with lyrical, scripted recreations from the point of view of the victim, reckoning with his or her life from beyond the grave. "By hiring young Sundance directors like Cruz Angeles and Alrick Brown to direct the recreations, we ended up with the most cinematic show I've ever seen on network television," says Ben.

Ben's episodes -- "Addie Hall" and "Andrew Dotson" -- air on 7/4 and 8/1, respectively.