By George Sanchez
Local Board Member
The first New Orleans Local Conservatory Scene to Screen workshop was held on Jan. 5 at the Milton H. Latter Branch of the New Orleans Public Library. Artemis Preeshl, chair of the local’s Conservatory Committee, coordinated and facilitated the event.
The project had its genesis at the first SAG-AFTRA national convention, when New Orleans Local Secretary Frank Boimare and I attended a workshop that explained how the Texas locals had filmed a read-through of a screenplay using SAG-AFTRA members as a way to promote their local members. Boimare and I thought this type of activity was a good way to gather the members in fellowship while offering them an opportunity to practice their craft in a relaxed setting.
One of the obstacles was to find a quality script to read. I had previously written a number of educational and industrial scripts for local film and television, including adaptions of short stories by Edgar Allan Poe and Guy deMaupassant. My work has aired on Louisiana Public Broadcasting. Boimare suggested that I adapt one of my New Orleans mystery novels for the occasion.
I chose Lit by Lightning, the first novel in the series, and I immediately went to work adapting it into a screenplay. Adapting this novel presented me with an interesting personal challenge because my recent writing has been for a television magazine show and not the screen. I set to work despite the challenge of a short deadline, and the screenplay was completed and approved in time for the scheduled reading.
Preeshl worked with me to make sure my wishes were honored and to get the best possible venue for the reading. She contacted several sites and decided that the Red Room of the Latter Memorial Library offered the best available location. She handled the booking and all other arrangements for the event.
Approximately 25 SAG-AFTRA members attended the reading. No roles were precast, so any member present could volunteer to read the characters in the script. Nontraditional casting was the norm, with gender, race and sex not considered as factors. The participants were very enthusiastic, and it was a most spirited evening.
Because of the high level of interest, the local plans to host future sessions. One may involve a precast, staged reading of Lit by Lightning, though the local hopes to attract other high-quality scripts for similar uncast read-throughs.
Stay tuned for future local conservatory events. Work is underway to set up a conservatory workshop about lighting and shooting digital and film footage, hopefully within the next month.
Many of our members wear multiple hats as we work in the film industry. If you have a finished film script (around 90 pages) that you would like to submit for consideration or know of someone who wants to submit a script, please contact the Conservatory Committee chair at firstname.lastname@example.org with an inquiry and a summary. Please do not send actual scripts at this time.