Saturday, April 4, 2015

Bindercon Los Angeles

            As someone new to writing, I have a lot of catching up to do. I’m always looking for classes and events that will take my craft to the next level.

            Earlier this year I did an online search for “Writing Conferences Los Angeles 2015”, one of the top five results was “Out of the Binders / Symposium on Women Writer’s Today”.  I clicked on the link and was happy to see I had not missed it.  The event was taking place at the end of March (last weekend) at UCLA's Carnesales Commons.
            The description on the website “A symposium to empower women and gender non‑conforming writers with tools, connections, and strategies to advance their careers” sold me. The promise of diversity and the affordable price made me sign up right away. I took advantage of the early bird discount, the best $125 I’ve ever spent.  
             The program was still being developed. Every week or so, I received updates on what panels, events and speakers had been added. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised at the number of women of color involved. Keynote speakers included conversations with Filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood on day one and with Poet Claudia Rankine on day two. These two ladies were truly motivating and got things off to a great start.
            Every panel I attended had at least one woman of color representing. My one “complaint” is that this conference had so many fantastic panels and conversations that they overlapped with one another. I wish I could have cloned myself but a lot of the conference was video taped so hopefully that content will be available soon.
            My favorite panels were:
             “Writing the (An) Other: A Workshop on Writing Other Genders, Races, Sexualities and cultures” taught by Elmaz Abinader & Faith Adiele both VONA instructors. The main message is don’t pander, write well-rounded characters and stay away from using food comparisons when describing them (mocha/chocolate skin, almond eyes, jalapeno lips etc.). They shared different ways to approach writing the (an) other; reading works by and about people like your character, going to events where your character might be present, interact with people like them. Observe how your character moves in the world, keep a diary from your character’s point of view.

            “The Only Girl in the Writer’s Room” with Cherry Cheva (writer/producer, Family Guy)
, Jessie Gaskell (writer, Conan)
, Alexa Junge (writer, Grace and Frankie, Friends, The West Wing) & 
Robin Schiff (writer/producer, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion). Any panel with Robin Schiff is worth the price of admission, she does not shy away from telling it like it is. They talked about how f*ck*ed up it can be for female writers in Hollywood but at the same time, they gave advise on how to fit in, how to deal with certain situations, how to dress and how to stand up to misogyny in the work place. Most importantly they stressed the importance of mentors (male or female) and that when it’s your turn to pay it forward by hiring women.