Wisconsin Screenwriter’s Symposium


Co-sponsored by The Department of Communication Arts, and the International Screenwriters’ Association, the first annual Wisconsin Screenwriters’ Symposium is a convening of area storytellers, aspiring screenwriters, and film students for a series of workshops, panels, and career development events. Events include a panel on breaking into the business, an elevator pitch event, and a Screenwriting 101 workshop.

Events are FREE and open to the public and take place at Vilas Communication Hall (821 University Avenue) on U-Madison’s campus.

Video Directions to the Rooms Below

Friday (4/12), 3:00-4:00p, Vilas 4008 – Screenwriting 101 – Fade In (Michael Graf)

Description: Do you have a story that would make a great movie or TV show? Wonder why some stories get produced and others don’t? In this how-to 60-minute workshop you’ll learn the building blocks of writing for the screen. Emmy Award winning filmmaker Michael Graf, named one of the “Top 25 Screenwriters To Watch” by the International Screenwriters Association, will walk you through the fundamentals of writing for the screen in a workshop perfect for beginning screenwriters, fiction writers interested in adapting their work to the screen, and student filmmakers.

Friday (4/12), 4:30-5:30p, Vilas 4008 – Anatomy of a Fall – Script to Screen (Max Timm)

Description: Every writer needs to read more scripts, but not just from an entertainment standpoint. Being a conscious and active viewer and reader is a free education, and education is something that tends to go by the wayside when writers look to expand their careers. So let’s sit down and go through a breakdown of the structure and nuanced character elements of the Academy Award winning screenplay Anatomy of a Fall with The ISA’s Director of Education and Producer/Consultant, Max Timm.

*Friday (4/12), 5:30-6:30p – Break (Happy Hour, Food)

*Friday (4/12), 7:00-9:30p, Vilas 4070 – The Holdovers with Alexander Payne at the Wisconsin Cinematheque

Saturday (4/13), 3:00-4:00p, Vilas 4028 – Your Next Act – Breaking into the Biz (Moderator: Aaron Greer & Panelists: Michael Graf, Max Timm, and Angie Gaffney)

Description: So you want to break into the business as a screenwriter? In this 60-minute panel you’ll hear from (and get to ask questions of) professional screenwriters and producers about some of the avenues for getting your screenplays sold and produced, as well as tips for getting your foot in the industry door as a screenwriter.

Saturday (4/13), 4:30-5:30p, Vilas 4028 – The Quick Pitch (Host: Aaron Greer, Judges: Max Timm, Michael Graf and Angie Gaffney)

Description: Everyone has one great idea for a film or TV show. If you had 3-minutes in a room with your favorite director, producer or studio head could you sell them on your idea? Come watch 6 aspiring writers give it a try, and vote on your favorite pitch, in this exciting live, elevator pitch event.

Saturday (4/13), 5:30p-until – Mix and Mingle (Networking)

Description: Join your fellow screenwriters, storytellers and symposium attendees for a drink, a bite and fellowship at Vintage.

*Saturday (4/13), 7:00-9:30p, Vilas 4070 – Alexander Payne presents Westward the Women at WI Cinematheque


Max Timm – Professional writer, producer and script consultant, Timm is also the Director of Education for the International Screenwriter’s Association. He also runs a personal coaching and development service, The Story Farm, which aims to develop writers and their material much like a studio executive or literary manager would, walking a writer through the drafting and rewriting process.


Michael Graf – Emmy Award winning commercial director, turned screenwriter, Michael Graf, was known in advertising for his “actor first, artful storytelling” style of directing. Likewise, his character-centric, story-driven style of writing has been making waves with recently optioned screenplay, The Last Indian War and Picket Charlie and Throwing Hammers, winning awards and top honors at festivals and screenplay competitions around the world. Graf, named a Top 25 Screenwriter To Watch by the International Screenwriters Association, is currently the Writer In Residence at the University of Wisconsin’s Institute For Discovery.

Angie Gaffney – Angie Gaffney (she/her) is a film producer and entrepreneur in Chicago. She is fiercely dedicated to the art and business of independent storytelling, and has extensive experience in creative development, financing, and production. Her projects have screened at Sundance, SXSW, Cinequest, SeriesFest, Nashville, SCAD, and more. Recent films include Desire Lines by director Jules Rosskam, Single Car Crashes by director Brittani Ward, and the upcoming film Adult Children from writer Annika Marks. Angie is a member of the Producers Guild of America (pga).

*Corresponding, unsponsored events that may be of interest to symposium attendees.