Are there dragons in Camelot?

First edition cover of Piers Anthony's A SPELL FOR CHAMELEON.

First edition cover. Classic.

A couple of years ago, after getting a few short stories published, I was sitting across the table from one of my favorite human beings on the planet, and he said to me: “What’s next?” I told him probably a novel, and that became LOSING TOUCHA SPELL FOR CHAMELEON author Piers Anthony wrote a foreword for my book, which went on to win a couple of nice awards.

With three more manuscripts on my hard drive in various stages of completion, that conversation with my friend keeps echoing back. ‘What’s next?’ And I think the answer is screenwriting. It has to be screenwriting. You can tell stories in just about any medium, but screenwriting—that’s a dragon I really have to slay. For a Midwest boy, though, Hollywood can seem as unattainable as Camelot.

When I was given the chance to attend Sherwood Oaks Film School’s two-day spring seminar, I thought it would be a great opportunity to be the awkward kid at his first high school party, trying to look fascinated by a potted plant while everyone else was talking and dancing. But that wasn’t how it went down at all.

There I was, in Beverly Hills of all places (sadly, the zip was 90211, but I’m more DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS than I am BEVERLY HILLS 90210, anyway), meeting agents and managers who are always on the lookout for new talent to represent. (Hey! I’m a writer. Looking to rep-re-sent!) And suddenly, the universe didn’t seem quite as big as it did a week ago.

David Bartlett (PULP FICTION) moderated Day One, and helped us with our own introductions and pitches with the first guest, producer/director James Ganiere. We also visited with Jeffrey Thal of Ensemble Management, agent David Warden, manager Darryl Marshak, manager Cynthia Campos-Greenberg, and David Fieman of Accelerate Entertainment.

The Dude abides.

The Dude abides.

Screenwriter/producer Scott Richter moderated Day Two, which included visits from attorney and talent agent Lloyd Robinson, manager Brandon Cobb, agent Steve Rabineau, screenwriter Micky Levy, manager David Kanter, attorney Gordon Firemark, agents Sheryl Peterson and Debbie Deuble-Hall of APA Talent and Literary, manager Marilyn Atlas, and producer Jeff Dowd. You might think you don’t know who Dowd is, but if you’ve seen THE BIG LEBOWSKI, you definitely know “The Dude”, who is based on Dowd, right down to his affinity for White Russians.

The creatives, decision-makers, and gate-keepers were fascinating, but my classmates were just as interesting. It was fun for a horror writer like me to cross-pollinate (I mean that in the least-gross way possible) with comedians, thriller writers, and dramatists like Joe Cook, writer, director, and producer of “Class Act”; voice actor Chris Murphy (“Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time“); HEROES camera operator John Rhode; Derrick Warfel, co-producer of LALEH (DRIVE); and Shervin Youssefian, director of CROSSROAD.

The energy in the room was palpable.

Christine Owens did a terrific job putting agents and managers together with fresh faces in writing (my face is fresh—under the beard). Going to Sherwood Oaks was like taking a graduate-level crash course in navigating the film business: intense, engaging, and enlightening.

What will it all come to? Like the NFL draft, you can’t really grade it out until a year or two later, but I had a great time, met a lot of interesting people, and maybe, just maybe, I made a connection or two at Sherwood Oaks Film School that’ll click—long term. I certainly couldn’t have done that sitting home, and if I don’t eventually get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, I’ll just have to take the one I found here:

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Christian A. Larsen is the author of LOSING TOUCH, featuring a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Piers Anthony, now available in paperback and ebook formats from Post Mortem Press.

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