Bellingham Film gathers local creatives for screenwriting workshop

A person working on their script at a screenplay shop held over the summer. // Photo courtesy of Bellingham Film.

By Hailee Wickersham

“Will someone pull up the Oscar nominees for me?” Josh Krenz, Bellingham Film’s director of educational programs said, as he powered up his laptop to the projector. 

People in chairs around the room began listing productions they remembered off the top of their heads. After a couple of minutes of brainstorming, the list boiled down to the top five favorites of the group and everyone was asked to introduce themselves and choose their personal favorite among the list. 

Ultimately, the 2019 drama/thriller, “Knives Out,” took the vote, with the Netflix original, “Marriage Story,” coming in close second. 

Bellingham Film is a community-oriented group that promotes filmmaking in Whatcom and Skagit counties. On Wednesday, Jan. 29, the organization gathered a group of local individuals interested in screenwriting at their monthly Script Studio workshop. 

“It’s a free event that’s open to anyone regardless of skill level — or for the generally curious,” Krenz said. 

At the workshop, participants are not required to submit any pages or have prior experience in screenwriting or filmmaking.

“Everyone is encouraged to participate at their own pace,” Krenz said. 

Bellingham Film first started in 2012 by Avielle Heath, the organization’s executive director. After the organization took notice of a prominent group in Tacoma that hosted screenwriting meetups, Script Studio was born. 

“It’s an opportunity for writers to share their work, receive feedback in a writer-positive environment and to really hear how actors perform on the pages,” Krenz said. 

One of the local screenwriters attending the event was Bizu Getahew, a mother of two from Ethiopia who has been writing screenplays in her spare time for the past 20 years. 

After moving to Bellingham in 2004, she found the local group for filmmaking on Facebook and decided to start getting insight on her drama screenplays she has written over the years.

“I’ll write a script about once a year and play around with the drama, but I really need to give more time to practice and this helps,” Getahew said. 

Leah Shannon, a first-year student pursuing a theatre major at Western alongside her acting career, attended Script Studio Wednesday night. It was her first time attending the event after she heard about it through peers from her involvement in Western Film Club.

After Shannon attended multiple classes over the summer in Seattle, the actor was recommended to take a scripting class where they practiced cold reads — reading or acting a script with little or no rehearsal. 

“It made me a little interested in looking at how the writing side of things work,” Shannon said. 

The group also offers a wide array of educational workshops and weekend boot camps in addition to the Script Shop.  

Bellingham Film also supports local filmmakers by providing services such as helping curate crew members, equipment rentals, scout for locations and a database of actors, models and extras. 

On Feb. 18, Bellingham Film will host a mixer alongside an annual showcase that highlights films produced throughout the state, including several student and professional productions from filmmakers in Whatcom County. 

The Script Studio meets the final Wednesday of every month, excluding December. The group meets from 6-9 p.m. at The Happy Place on Cornwall Street, downtown. The event is free and open to everyone regardless of their background or skill level.

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