FRIENDS: THE ART AND SOUL OF COLLABORATION
February 15 - 19
2 p.m. - 4 p.m. Eastern (11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific)
9 p.m. - 11 p.m. Eastern (6 to 8 p.m. Pacific)
"If you want to become a writer, write. But if you want to have a successful career, learn how to collaborate."
- Tab Murphy, Academy-Award-nominated screenwriter for Gorillas in the Mist and Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tarzan and Atlantis, the Lost Empire
There you are, sitting at home in front of your computer, thinking your script or novel is
just about you and the page. But what happens once your story feels complete or needs help? What lifts your words from the page onto a screen or bookstore shelves?
That’s when you’ve got to have friends. Relationships. Helpers. Collaborators.
Your ability to work with others in a vibrant creative team may be one of the most
important and overlooked elements of your writing career.
Whether you want to join a writers’ room, contribute on the movie set while your script is produced, or work with editors and designers to publish your book, this week-long course will give you the essential training you need to succeed as part of a team.
What better way to learn collaboration than through a course inspired by the classic show Friends?
The name says it all. “Friends” was not only about a tightly knit team of characters, it
was a model of creative collaboration, led by series co-creator and legendary producer
Marta F. Kauffman.
In this week-long course, you’ll have the extraordinary opportunity to learn from Marta
on Monday and Wednesday as she answers your questions, provides feedback on your
work and simulates writer’s rooms so you can practice collaboration in real time.
On Tuesday and Thursday, we’ll widen our circle of friends to discuss collaboration in
TV, film and publishing with other professionals, including a successful writing team and
professionals who collaborate with writers on a regular basis.
We’ll end the week with live readings (maybe of your work) by Jane Sibbett and Jessica
Hecht from “Friends.” Hearing your words read and interpreted by professional actors is
one of the most affirming and instructive experiences you can have as a writer.
Here's how the week will unfold.
Monday, February 15: Ask Me Anything: The Genius of Marta F. Kauffman: Come
with questions for a live Q&A with Marta. This is an unparalleled opportunity to hear how she created Friends and the hit series, Grace and Frankie—and learn what one of the most successful producers in TV history looks for when she puts together a team of writers. She’ll leave you with a writing assignment for a TV episode, so sharpen your
pen. She’ll be back on Wednesday to hear you present your idea.
Tuesday, February 16: Collaboration Day: David Kirkpatrick, Amy Ferris, Debra
Engle and Thom Black will share their personal stories and best practices in a roundtable
discussion about the soul of collaboration. How do you function within a team? How do
you build relationships? How do you present yourself to a possible employer—whether
that be a fellow writer, a publisher, a producer, even an agent? What happens in a writers’ room? On an editorial team? On a movie set? Why does simple human decency matter? Why does friendship in professional collaboration matter?
Wednesday, February 17: Here in the Real World: Marta will be back, this time to
hear the pitches you’ve developed in response to her assignment, and to give you
constructive feedback. To make this class as real-world as possible, she’ll create breakout groups and give you a prompt to work on with fellow participants. The writers’ rooms may be simulated, but the exercise in collaboration is real.
Thursday, February 18: The Power of Partnership. Be prepared to hear from Jonathan
Stark and Tracy Newman, the long-time writing duo who created “According to Jim” and won an Emmy for co-writing “The Puppy Episode” in 1997, in which Ellen DeGeneres’s character came out of the closet. What’s the reality of an enduring writing partnership? What can you do as part of a team that you might not accomplish on your own? Is a collaborative relationship on certain projects right for you? Can you keep your unique identity AND hand over your creative ideas for the good of the whole? In keeping with the humor to be found in this week of learning, inspiration, and encouragement, we promise you some laughter this Thursday, and collaborative tips inspired by actual scripts.
Friday, February 19: Table Reads: The Friends theme continues with actors Jane
Sibbett, a Story Summit faculty member, and Jessica Hecht, who portrayed lesbian
couple Carol and Susan on Friends. (The episode featuring their lesbian wedding was
reported as the most watched single sitcom episode to that date.) On this final day of the course, Jane, Jessica and a surprise male actor soon to be revealed will discuss the unique synergy between actors and writers and how their collaboration can elevate everyone’s work. Plus, they’ll read scenes written by students through the week. Yours may be one of them!
Here’s what Marta once said about how she treats her collaborative teams: “I want to
make people feel like they have a home with me, and that they can keep moving forward with their careers. My hope is that they want to keep working with me—and that we are generous of spirit and caring enough that they want to stay.”
“...generous of spirit and caring enough that they want to stay.” That’s what we want for
you and the collaborative teams in your future.
And that’s what Friends Week is all about.
Your ability to collaborate is the difference between writing as a hobby and writing as a profession.
To be a successful collaborator in the real world of publishing and entertainment, you
need to ...
- Work with people who may not always support or agree with your ideas.
- Champion the ideas of others and parent them just as you would your own.
- Show up prepared and on time, with respect for your co-workers.
- Accept constructive feedback gracefully as a way to grow and improve.
- Recognize there’s a greater goal than simply seeing your name on the credits or
- Work with integrity and honesty.
- Advocate for your ideas and be willing to see them shift and evolve for the good
of the whole.
- Communicate clearly.
- Project the most attractive aspects of your inner personality.
- Enjoy a sense of partnership and support.
Playing off one another’s talents, making a good idea even better, learning from those
who have come before—these are the hallmarks and joys of professional collaboration.
No writer who has had any degree of success has done it alone. Even Emily Dickinson
had her brother! There are cover designers, copy editors, line editors, marketing
executives, producers, punch-up writers with whom you’ll need to collaborate.
Choose either our daytime or evening course.
We offer two different schedules to fit your calendar and routine.
2 to 4 p.m. Eastern (11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific)
9 to 11 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific)
Please note: The classes are designed specifically for live participation, so your
attendance is important. If you need to miss a class for any reason, though, you’ll receive
a passcode-protected link to watch the recordings after the course is over.