Spring/Summer 2020 Writing Classes with Martha Frankel – Writing as if No One’s Looking Over Your Shoulder – Temporarily canceled

“I think writing is fun and freeing, and I believe that everyone has a story… they just need to learn how to tell it,” says Martha Frankel, a published memoirist and director of Woodstock Bookfest (formerly Woodstock Writer’s Festival). Martha started teaching writing classes because so many people talk about how hard it is to write.

In this 6-week class, you’ll learn to write with a voice that reflects the true you, the voice that isn’t afraid to show both your weakness and your strength, the voice that isn’t concerned, first and foremost, with what others will think.

You know, a voice that isn’t constantly telling you no one, NO ONE, could possibly be interested in what you have to say.

Through innovative and fun writing prompts, you will learn to write dialogue and description, create characters that ring true, see the best in the worst people and the worst in the best, find beginnings and endings that make sense. With criticism that is meant to encourage rather than shut you down, you will learn to piece your story together in a way that invites readers in.

Martha supplies inspiration, cookies, and tissues. Because no matter what you think, there will be tears. As well as laughter.

Location: BYRDCLIFFE Kleinert/James Center for the Arts, 36 Tinker Street, Woodstock, NY
Class fees: $190 for members, $200 for not-yet members; no materials fee

Winter 2020 Writing Class with Alex Smith – INDUCING YOUR ATHENA – Temporarily canceled

This intensive writing workshop will teach you how to mine the movie, television series, novel or novella in your mind. In four distinct sessions, we will collaboratively work to draw your idea forth– å la Zeus– inducing the full-grown Athena from your brain– moving it from concept to conception. Most class time will be spent in workshop mode– you can learn as much about your idea brainstorming someone else’s project as you can when being workshopped. One-on-one meetings will also have their place. Topics such as Three-Act Structure, Plot vs. Premise, Plant & Payoff, and Discovery & Reversal will be covered. By seminar’s end, each student will have generated three finely wrought maps of the creation that is currently percolating in their mind: a SYNOPSIS, TREATMENT, and OUTLINE. They will have fully ‘broken’ their idea– and begun the process of turning it from idea to draft.

Location: BYRDCLIFFE Kleinert/James Center for the Arts, 36 Tinker Street, Woodstock, NY
Class fees: $230 for members, $250 for not-yet members; no materials fee

Alex Smith’s class at Byrdcliffe is co-presented by the Woodstock Film Festival.

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Martha Frankel, executive director of the Woodstock Bookfest, began her writing career at the original Details magazine, writing a column about plastic surgery called Knifestyles of the Rich and Famous. She went on to write book reviews, essays and celebrity profiles for other magazines, such as Movieline, Cosmopolitan and The New Yorker.

Her memoir, Hats & Eyeglasses, chronicling her family’s lifelong love affair with gambling and her own later addiction to online gambling, was published in 2008 (Tarcher/Penguin Group). Hats and eyeglasses, an old gambling expression, describes an unfortunate run at the table. In Frankel’s childhood, gambling equated to friendship, food and laughter. “We bet on everything, from sports to how much our mothers would lose at Weight Watchers,” Frankel recalls in the book. Nowadays, Martha finds friendship and laughter in all sorts of places, including her radio show, Woodstock Booktalk, online anytime on Woodstockbooktalk.com and iTunes. In addition to Hats and Eyeglasses, Martha co-wrote a lifestyle book, Brazilian Sexy, is delighted to have an essay in Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting, an anthology edited by her friend Ann Hood, and wrote the forward to My Body, My Words: a collection of bodies.

Alex Smith is a screenwriter, filmmaker and educator who hails from Montana. He and his twin brother Andrew premiered their latest feature film, WALKING OUT, at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. WALKING OUT stars Golden Globe winner Matt Bomer, Josh Wiggins, Bill Pullman, and Lily Gladstone. The film was distributed by IFC Films. The Smiths also wrote, directed and produced WINTER IN THE BLOOD, a feature film based on the classic James Welch novel, which had its world premiere at the LA Film Festival, and stars Chaske Spencer, Julia Jones, and David Morse. The film won numerous festival awards and was screened at the Woodstock Film Festival. Previously, they wrote and directed THE SLAUGHTER RULE, a feature film starring Ryan Gosling, David Morse and Amy Adams, which premiered at Sundance 2002. Alex & Andrew are currently writing two television pilots— THE BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DEAD for Amazon and THE DARKLINGS, a horror fantasy set in post-WWII Europe. The Smith Brothers have written scripts for HBO, Warner Bros, Disney, Sony, and FX. They adapted the graphic novel SON OF THE GUN by legendary cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky for Fox Searchlight. They also adapted the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Wallace Stegner novel REMEMBERING LAUGHTER. The Smith Brothers have worked with Lars Von Trier, Terrence Malick, and David O. Russell.

Alex is also a published writer of fiction, and is the recipient of many grants, including the Rainin Foundation/SFFS Grant. Alex teaches at NYU and Columbia, and taught screenwriting and film-making at the University of Texas, Austin for a decade, where he was the Creative Director of the University of Texas Film Institute. Several of his students have gone on to be short-listed for the National Book Award, to be included on the prestigious ‘Blacklist,’ and to win a variety of screenwriting awards, including the Nicholls Fellowship. Alex is a Michener Fellow, a Sundance Fellow, and a Rauschenberg Fellow. He is based in Woodstock, New York, where he is a resident at the Byrdcliffe Artist Colony.