New summer program in Greece offers intensive screenwriting course

by Laura Gomez / Beacon Staff • March 13, 2014

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Jean Stawarz, associate visual and media arts professor, will instruct the lab.
Jean Stawarz, associate visual and media arts professor, will instruct the lab.

This summer, 10 students will have shot at a real Greek life opportunity—no hazing involved.

Rising juniors and seniors in the visual and media arts and writing, literature, and publishing departments can now apply to the new 2014 Summer Screenwriter’s Lab, a three-week program based in Patmos, Greece.

Participants will enroll in a single four-credit class, attend Greek cultural activities, and have the opportunity to focus on developing a single script in a place deemed by Forbes Magazine in 2009 as “Europe's Most Idyllic Place To Live.“

Jean Stawarz, associate visual and media arts professor, will instruct the lab.

Stawarz, who currently teaches Writing the Feature Film and Feature Writing Workshop at Emerson, said she hopes the new class will provide students with a moment to immerse themselves in their writing.

“Students don’t usually have the time to devote to one project,” she said. Writing requires a lot of concentration, she said, which is compromised when students are juggling multiple class projects.

Kyle Kennan, a sophomore visual and media arts major, said this struggle is real.

“It’s really hard to focus on one project, and I’m doing that right now,” she said. “I think that what I wrote this semester could’ve been better.”

According to Brooke Knight, interim chair of the VMA department, the college partnered with GoodWorld Journeys, a company that hosts retreat-like programs in Patmos and in the Scottish island of Iona. Administrators found out about the company because the owners’ son attends Emerson.

“What I really appreciated is that [GoodWorld Journeys] were really intent on connecting the [students] and the island,” he said.

With the association in place, Knight said he contacted faculty members to submit proposals for a summer curriculum in Patmos. He said he received two proposals, and chose Stawarz’s since the other plan required the use and transportation of film equipment.

“We went with Jean’s and screenwriting because it’s very easily transportable,” he said.

Stawarz said through research and testimony from people who’ve been to Patmos, she has found that the setting is perfect for the inspiration writers need, even though she has never been there.

“[A location] with that much culture and history is hugely valuable when it comes to creative work,” she said. “[Students] will learn and have a taste of what it's like to be a full-time writer.”

Kennan said she thinks a program like the Screenwriter's Lab in Greece, which will take place from July 10 to 31, could be beneficial to students.

“I know that when I write, I like to be in an environment that fosters creativity,” she said.

Applications have been available since the first week of March and must be submitted by March 31. Prospective participants must fill it out, submit a writing sample, compose a written statement expressing interest in the program, and have an interview with Stawarz.

Students will have weekends off with the option of local outings or day trips, she said.

Group excursions to cultural sites with guided tours, a boat trip around the island, and attendance to The Patmos International Film Festival are also part of the program. These, along with lodging at a hotel, daily breakfast, some ground transportation, and a welcome and farewell dinner, have a cost of $5,200, according to the Emerson website.

There is a $30 registration fee, a $200 administration fee, and the cost of the four-credit class is $2,920. Other costs such as airfare, issuing a passport, ferry transportation to and from the airport and Patmos, and spending money are an estimated $3,185.

This program, along with the Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria, are part of faculty-led summer curriculums held abroad which the VMA department hopes to have more of, said Knight.

 

An earlier version of this article misspelled the words "compromised" and "it's".