ASHEVILLE—At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2019 Fall Conference, Maryedith Burrell will lead the session "Screenplay: Fake vs. Fiction."
Fall Conference runs November 8-10 at the Doubletree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore. Registration is open.
Maryedith Burrell is a stage and screen veteran who has worked for just about every major film and television studio in the world. With more than twenty-four films to her credit and numerous TV series, she is an award-winning writer, producer, and actor. Her latest project, the documentary RAISE HELL: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins, won raves at Sundance 2019, the Audience Award at SouthBySouthwest 2019, and is now due for wide release. An overall deal at Disney Studios introduced her to a career as a “script doctor” which she enjoys to this day. Maryedith has also contributed to Rolling Stone, The Los Angeles Times, and Vogue, among other publications and her essay, “And Affair to Forget”, appears in the bestseller What Was I Thinking? (St. Martin’s Press). Currently she is writing Black Angel, a film about the 19th century violin virtuoso George Polgreen Bridgetower. Maryedith is a professor of Stage & Screen at Western Carolina University, a member of Flatiron Writers, and lives in Asheville with her dog, Miss Butters.
This year, NCWN has been celebrating libraries, so we asked Maryedith to give us her best library memory.
Here's what she wrote:
"I grew up in Gilroy, California. My house was across the street from the public library. When I was in grammar school, I did my homework over there because the librarian, Mrs. Grodehouse, would slip me salt-water taffy if I diagrammed sentences correctly.
"Later on, when I was an adult living in Los Angeles and a member of the Writers Guild of America, I worked on a benefit to rebuild LA libraries destroyed by the Rodney King riots. At the event, I won a day at The Getty Institute Research Library.
"For some reason, I thought I could just show up over there and browse the stacks. I had no idea how vast The Getty was or how closely its treasures were guarded. The general collection includes over one million books, periodicals and auction catalogs. It is a center for the study of Medieval and Renaissance art. The vaults house tons of prints, drawings and volumes of primary and secondary sources, plus the special collections contain rare books, photographs, sketchbooks, manuscripts, letters, etc. that trace human creative thought over millennia. In short, browsing at The Getty was not only forbidden, it was futile.
"The research staff took pity on me and asked what my interests were so they could pull items for my visit. At the time, I was working on a WWII screenplay and getting ready to direct a stage production. So what was waiting for me at The Getty?
"1) Diaghilev’s original designs for the 1910 Ballets Russes production of The Firebird. 2) Hitler’s favorite architect, Albert Speer, and his pencil-on-butcher paper plans for a vegetable garden at Spandau prison. 3) And letters Mozart wrote to his father plus a grocery list for the 1791 Magic Flute cast party.
"Fun fact: Mozart underlined 'Italian wine' twice."
"Never let the facts get in the way of a good story." Was Mark Twain right? When film credits announce "based on a true story," or "actual events," or a bestselling book, how can the audience know what's really true? And, more importantly, does it matter? Whether a screenwriter is dealing with history or headlines, the job is to honor the source and still deliver a good film: not an easy task. This class will explore the basics of dramatic structure and adaptation. It also highlights the purpose of storytelling and why, whether we're catching The Avengers in 3D or binging Sherlock at home, we will always need good stories.
Fall Conference attracts hundreds of writers from around the country and provides a weekend full of activities that include lunch and dinner banquets with readings, keynotes, tracks in several genres, open mic sessions, and the opportunity for one-on-one manuscript critiques with editors or agents. Master Classes will be led by Abigail DeWitt (Fiction), Jeremy B. Jones (Nonfiction), and Nickole Brown and Jessica Jacobs (Poetry).
The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to all writers, in all genres, at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.