the First Writers Club
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Screenwriting for Young Scribes


Growing up in Wisconsin, I didn't know what a screenplay was until I was about 15, when my older brother spent a summer interning in Los Angeles and brought home a pile of screenplays. The stack included Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs" and "True Romance," and after I read them, I was hooked. I bought a book called "Screenplay," written by Syd Field, and I taught myself how to write a script.

I didn't have any connections to Hollywood, and there certainly weren't any classes that taught screenwriting in my small Midwest town. But that didn't stop me from pursuing my dream of writing movies, and after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I packed up my mom's Volvo station wagon and drove to L.A.

Fast forward to the present, and I've been lucky enough to have been making my living as a screenwriter and author for the last 18+ years! I've written for the big screen, for television, and am a best selling published author. 

Recently, while out to dinner with my brother's family, I was speaking to my 11 year old nephew, who told me he was looking to sign up for an after-school writing class. Specifically, he was interested in learning how to write for movies and TV. And to my surprise, my brother told me that after an extensive search, he discovered that no such class existed for kids. Not for 11 year olds. Not for middle schoolers. Not even for high schoolers. 

I decided it was time to change that.   

The First Writers Club is a screenwriting class for kids. Aspiring young scribes will learn everything from Fade-In to The End. They will discover what makes an idea marketable in Hollywood, how to write a screenplay in the correct format, the rules of the three act structure, and much, much more. 

I will be sharing all of the wisdom and knowledge I've gathered in nearly two decades of writing professionally in Hollywood, the secrets and resources I use to succeed, and invaluable feedback on the students' work. 

I hope your kids will join me on this journey! 





Six months after moving to Los Angeles, I sold my very first screenplay. That script became the 2001 Sony feature, "Not Another Teen Movie." Since then, I have sold pitches, specs, and worked on assignment for Disney, Fox, Paramount, Lionsgate, MGM, and Sony Animation. I have watched the film industry change and evolve, as studio executives have increasingly relied on remakes, reboots, and blockbuster IP. As a result, I have had to consistently reinvent myself, writing in multiple genres in order to stay relevant and working.

In addition to writing for film, I have also worked extensively in television, first as a writer for the MTV Movie Awards and the MTV Video Music Awards. I also sold pilots to Fox, Paramount, the WB, and Universal Cable Productions, and most recently created and executive produced an 8 episode teen thriller for Awesomeness TV. 


In 2007, Hollywood screenwriters went on strike for 100 days. During that time, in which WGA members were forbidden to write for film or television, my writing partner had an idea for a story about a group of familiars -- the magical animal companions to witches and wizards -- who set out on an adventure to save the land from an evil queen. We were confidant that it was a terrific idea, but worried that movie executives might shy away from buying an original script about magic animals in a magical land. However, if it was a book first, surely they would see that it was a project worth developing for the big screen. But we had never written a book before. Then again, we were writers. So we thought to ourselves, why don't we just write the book then? And that's we did. HarperCollins Childrens signed us up to write three books in The Familiars series, aimed at what is known in the publishing industry as the middle grade audience, or 8-12 year olds. Soon after, Sony Animation optioned the rights to the book and commissioned us to write the screenplay for an animated movie. The books became an international best seller and we subsequently wrote a fourth book in the series, along with a follow up series called Starbounders. We also wrote a children's picture book, Mystery Box, in 2013.