Sunday, January 22, 2012

Where to now? Season 2!

I am writing this while somewhere over the Atlantic between Argentina and Spain and, if I were honest, I am writing it as a form of procrastination.

I decided that even while on holidays I should be able to find an hour everyday to write two pages of my second feature and so far I have written 22 pages in 14 days. A bit behind but not bad considering the amount of eating, drinking and dancing that took place in Buenos Aires. A hangover is not conducive to writing!

And yet, instead of crunching some more pages I and drafting this blog. Sometimes even writing can be a good escape from writing!

The truth is that during our inaugural season of Line by Line, I was far more productive than I have ever been during my life before. We provided inspiration through the most amazing and generous professionals. We provided feedback through reading and writing each other's work. And, almost most importantly, we created a network of Melbourne-based screenwriters committed to achieving their goals and dreams together.

After listening to John August's and Craig Mazin's awesome podcast Scriptnotes and the Q&A podcast on Sundance darling Martha Marcy May Marlene (both podcasts free on iTunes), I began to see the value of the "horizontal network" we were unintentionally creating. Craig Mazin regularly refers to the all female screenwriting group the Femmepire and how, if one writer makes it, she can drag the rest along for the ride.

And so we are determined that there be a season 2 of Line by Line. The pressing question however is: Where do you go to from there?

Fiona, Marie and myself got together shortly before I left Australia to discuss just that. Unfortunately, our fourth team member Khrob decided to be extremely successful and move to San Francisco to work for Apple and was unable to attend.

For me, what was missing from our first season was a bit of stick. We were all carrot. Deliberately so. We had no idea of what we were doing and decided that we could not really force people to write, only lead them to do so. Thus we decided to have no accountability measures.

And this was how we ended up with 30 very inspired screenwriters and only 4 1/2 feature scripts after 4 months. When we started out, Fiona, Marie, Khrob and myself had wanted more. We wanted to provide an alternative for new writers. To break that development cycle that takes years upon years, draft after draft, working mostly in isolation with little promise of a funding light at the end of the tunnel. Provide inspiration, structure, accountability and development. To help people who would have taken years to get to a first draft to get there in 4 months. Why not? Writing is free, right?

We are by no means the only group offering such a collaborative environment but we also give established professionals the opportunity to share lessons they have learnt with the emerging writers.

So, during our sunny spring afternoon coffee, the Line by Line team laid out a blueprint for Season 2:
  • 4 months;
  • 5 sessions open to all Line by Line members to come and listen to professional speakers for development and inspiration, trying to help members get from concept to first draft; and
  • 16 weekly sessions (held either online or in person at the trusty Long Play Bar - sorry south of the river people) where a small group pre-selected group of writers meet to work on each other's material to help people get from first draft to either second or third.
The decision to make the weekly group both small and needing to already have written a first draft was tough to make, but one we felt was neccessary to really make sure that Line by Line begins to produce tangible results and was not just a film school substitute or a fun night out.

So what do you think? Have we made the right decision? Would you want to come along and have a team of 5 - 10 writers supporting you in making your work the best it can be?

Come along to the Line by Line Season 2 Launch Party on Friday 3 February 2012 ( ) and let us know!

And keep writing!


P.S. After drafting this blog I went back to my script and did another 2 pages. So 24 pages in 14 days of holiday!

The Line by Line Team
Chas Fisher
Fiona Leally
Marie Maroun
Matt Downey


  1. Hi,

    Saw this on facebook and I'm interested in signing up. Is it too late to join in?

  2. Hi All,

    Following on from a very successful launch gathering for Line By Line, we would like to remind all those highly passionate screenwriters of the second season's structure. To attend either one or both of the streams it is a one off cost of $15 on your first session.

    Again, very simply the two streams are:-

    Open Stream
    - 5 sessions (7.30pm - 9.30pm Wednesdays 18th April, May 16th, June 13th, July 11th and Aug 22nd)
    - includes 5 professional speakers
    - workshopping short material
    - proposed goals and tasks to keep you writing
    - attendance can be casual
    - no application required

    Intensive Stream
    - Participants are dedicated to the program and to finishing a feature draft or TV bible and pilot
    - Accountability on writing aims
    - Starts on 25 April 2012 and runs to late August
    - Weekly meetings
    - Fortnightly cycle of feedback on material

    Please note the Intensive stream's entrance deadline of Friday 16th March. We have had some wonderful feedback and we would also welcome any thoughts on the structure of the intensive stream for this season (e.g. we are considering the intensive lab being fortnightly as opposed to weekly). We have a number of people to whom we are also considering catering so please let us know your thoughts when applying for this season's intensive stream.

    Those involved in the Intensive stream are welcome to attend the open stream, but those only involved in the open stream cannot attend the intensive stream.

    The intensive stream will be limited in numbers and is by application only. The selection criteria will be based on writing craft, work ethic and intended goals. You must have a draft of a feature or a substantially developed idea. We will be putting words on paper from the first session onwards!

    To be part of the Intensive stream, we must have received your application no later than Friday the 16th March.
    To apply, send the following materials to

    1. A statement detailing (a) what you are committed to achieving in the lab and (b) what you have already achieved in your writing and
    2. One writing sample – either the first 10 pages of a script or a substantial treatment or synopsis document.

    All sessions will take place in the back cinema at Long Play Bar, 318 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North.

    What you put in is what you get out. Get to writing.


    The Line by Line team

    Matt Downey - Khrob Edmonds - Chas Fisher - Fiona Leally - Marie Maroun

  3. Looks like i've missed the March 16th deadline for the intensive stream. Is it definitely too late? If so, the open steam looks awesome so I'll be a-rocking up to that.