Would-be screenwriters for television and film got some surprising advice Saturday at the Geneva Film Festival on how to get noticed.
"Blogging is very powerful," television writer Gloria Calderon Kellett told about 25 people attending her workshop at Riverside Receptions. "Blogs are getting bought for television if they resonate with people. Create 1,000 true fans and you will be a step ahead."
Kellett, who lives in the Los Angeles area, was a writer for three years for the CBS comedy "How I Met Your Mother." She spoke on the business of being a Hollywood writer. The festival featured 10 workshops on writing and film production, as well as presentations of about 10 feature films and 20 shorts.
Kellett, a brunette whose appearance belies her claim that "I wasn't cute enough to be an actress," talked about her path to success.
Kellett was performing in a female version of Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" that wasn't getting laughs until she improvised on stage and changed some of the lines.
She entered a play in a festival and won. While she was auditioning in Hollywood for acting parts, she wrote and produced her own plays, hiring actors for union scale ($7 per performance) if the theater seated 99 or less.
Her plays drew a following that got her noticed and she began working as an assistant to director Cameron Crowe, whose works include "Vanilla Sky" and "Jerry Maguire." Kellett eventually landed staff writing positions in television.
"Putting up plays was my thing, but it's not the path for everyone," Kellett said. "You need to keep your artistic voice clear. Read, study, write and have something unique to say."
Jason Vass of Geneva was among those attending Saturday's workshops.
"I have a different career now but I would like to be a screenwriter for film," Vass said. "This is the perfect environment, hearing from people who are actually doing the work, all in one spot, and having the opportunity to talk to them."
"The purpose of the festival is to educate on writing and production techniques," said Denise Dorman of Geneva, one of the volunteer coordinators. "There is so much talent in this area. They need exposure to learn how to translate this talent into making money."
The festival was sponsored by the Geneva Cultural Arts Commission.