Day of the Writer - with Christopher McQuarrie, Maverick Spirit Award

Day of the Writer

Day of the Writer - with Christopher McQuarrie, Maverick Spirit Award

Running Time: N/A

Click on any of the 'Day Of' links below to get more information.

Day of Distribution | Day of Sight & Sound | Day of Writer | Day of Producer

Cinequest has revolutionized the very concept of a film festival focusing not only on celebrating creativity, but providing empowerment, discovery and the much sought-after distribution.

Cinequest continues to lead the way by exposing filmmakers and film fans to the people and technologies that aid the creation and delivery of Maverick, independent and international cinema. As Chris Gore, author of The Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide has stated: “This festival is one that sets the trends and is actually ahead of the trends. Other festivals are copying Cinequest; I see it all the time…You find the future of film at Cinequest.” At CQFF17, Cinequest, in conjunction with exclusive partners, will present a series of forums, structured as thematic days. Empower yourself via exposure to cutting-edge technologies as well as insight and how-to knowledge from leading film professionals.

Note: $15 Ticket price for each “Day of” forum includes entrance into all of that day’s presentations / parts. Single presentation / part tickets may be purchased for $10. Cinequest is able to bring film makers, students and lovers of film these groundbreaking forums at such affordable prices due to the generosity of its forum sponsors: Intel, Panasonic, Canon, Azureus, Jaman and Palm.

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Day of The Writer • Friday, March 9 - $15

Day of the Writer is comprised of three parts (Part I, Part II, Part III). All three parts and the staged reading are included in the $15 ticket price. Choose between Track A or B for Part I. Everybody participates in the same events for Parts II and III. A single event may be purchased for $10.

PART I, TRACK A: Screenwriting Essentials

9:30 - 11:00am • San Jose Repertory Theatre

Cinequest favorite and SJSU professor Scott Sublett returns to entertain and inform. Sublett specializes in teaching beginners and emerging writers how to choose an idea that works; how to plan your script in advance so that the scenes come easily; and how to command audience interest with the classical three-act structure. An award-winning screenwriter with an MFA from UCLA, Sublett wrote the musical comedies Die, Die, Diana (produced in New York in 2004); and Bye-Bye bin Laden (named one of the top-five premieres of 2004 by the San Francisco Bay Guardian). He is currently in post-production on Generic Thriller, his debut feature as writer-director.

PART I, TRACK B: A Clockwork Orange: What Makes it Tick?

9:30 - 11:00am • Camera 12 Cinemas

Stanley Kubrick’s screenplay will be deconstructed to reveal the secrets of this cult classic film. By the end of this entertaining lecture you will not only have a better grasp of what made this film endure but also how to blend classical storytelling with avant-garde elements to put more punch and originality into your own scripts whatever your writing genre.

Presenter - Robert G. Phelps, is a local deputy public defender and screenwriter who wrote the sports comedy Face Mask and is currently working on The Tamer, a psychological horror/black comedy. As a journalist he has written for a variety of magazines and newspapers. At Cinequest, he created the Day of the Writer.

PART II: Screenwriting Essentials in Action

11:00 - 12:30pm • San Jose Repertory Theatre

James Dalessandro will advance your understanding of Scott Sublett’s Screenwriting Essentials with illustrative film clips that show the principles in action. You’ll be equipped to apply them to your own writing and pick up your game.

Dalessandro has been a popular voice at Cinequest’s Day of the Writer. He is the author of the best-selling novel 1906 and screenwriter of the upcoming Warner Brothers Film under the same title. He has published four books, including Citizen Jane and Bohemian Heart, and has sold more than 20 scripts during a 24-year career. The founder of the legendary Santa Cruz Poetry Festival with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ken Kesey and Charles Bukowski, he now teaches the longest running screenwriting class in the Bay Area.

PART III: Lew Hunter Interviews Christopher McQuarrie

1:30 - 3:00pm — San Jose Repertory Theatre

Join Cinequest for a lively afternoon of conversation with one of the film industry’s most adventurous and fearless screenwriters, Christopher McQuarrie, whose script for The Usual Suspects garnered Best Screenplay awards at the Academy Awards, Independent Spirit Awards and British Academy Awards. 

Born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey, McQuarrie gained much inspiration for his writing style through his four-year stint in a New Jersey detective agency.  In 1992, he applied to the New York City Police Department and was on his way to the academy when former schoolmate Bryan Singer offered him the opportunity to write their first feature film, Public Access, winner of the 1993 Sundance Film Festival’s grand jury prize and the 1993 Cinequest Film Festival Opening Night film.

When McQuarrie and Singer collaborated again in 1995 with The Usual Suspects, along with the numerous awards the film received, it made the New York Times list of 1,000 Greatest Films ever made; was voted #35 on the Writers Guild of America’s list of 101 Greatest Screenplays; and Kevin Spacey’s character Verbal Kint was included on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Heroes and Villains of all time.

In 2000, McQuarrie wrote and debuted as a director for the crime story The Way of the Gun, starring Benicio Del Toro, Ryan Phillippe, and James Caan—a film which stayed true to McQuarrie’s multi-layered, character-driven brilliance.  And in more recent years, he has divided his time re-writing studio scripts (such as X-Men) and developing the script for the much anticipated update to Logan’s Run.

Cinequest welcomes the modern Maverick Christopher McQuarrie for an inspirational and provocative dialogue on the art of writing and the process of creating meaningful stories in an industry that often forgets how important that truly is.

Lew Hunter is the Chairman Emeritus and Professor of Screenwriting at UCLA and a member of the American Screenwriters Association Hall of Fame. He is the author of the best seller Lew Hunter’s Screenwriting 434. His soon-to-be-released new book, Naked Screenwriting, will feature in-depth interviews with twenty-two Academy Award® winning screenwriters. He established the highly successful Superior Screenwriting Colony in Nebraska, which has spawned greats like Alexander Payne, the Academy Award winning writer of Sideways. Hunter’s television special Fallen Angel was nominated for an Emmy™, and over his career he has been an executive for ABC, NBC, Hanna-Barbera and Disney. He was a professor and designer of the European Conservatory for Screenwriting at the Sorbonne.

Note: Cinequest Screenplay Competition winners will be announced at the beginning of this event.


Cinequest 17 Screenwriting Competition received submissions from hundreds of screenwriters. Ten finalists have been choosen:

A Wedding in Niagara Falls byAlan Barkley
At The Point of a Sword by Patrick Vala-Haynes
Limbo by Phil Marley
Cage by Philip Landa
Elysian Fields by Joel King
Hiding in Plain Sight by Sheri Sussman
Losing Walter by Nathan Robard Levinson & Nicholas Daniel Driggs
Refuge by Frances Overheu
Son Up by Andrew Shearer and Nicholas Sherman
The Lashes Dark by Susan Alukonis

The three winners to be announced during The Day of the Writer.

This year's Screenwriting Competition Panel included (Listed alphabetically by last name of juror):

Erik Bauer, Publisher, Creative Screenwriting
Joanna Burish, Production, Distribution, Acquisitions, Imageworks Entertainment (An international production and distribution company)
Phil Gorn, President, Wonderphil Productions
Steven Haft, Founder and Producer, Haft Entertainment Inc. (Producer, Dead Poets Society, Tigerland, Executive Producer MAD TV)
Marla Halperin, President of Publicity and Promotion, Magic Lamp Releasing
Halfdan Hussey, Executive Director, Cinequest Inc
Janet Jeffries, Development Executive, Lawrence Bender Productions, A Band Apart Films (Cutting-edge production company, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill Vols. 1 & 2)
Eliot Kotek, Editor-in-Chief, Moving Pictures
Dana Lambert, Vice President of Creative Affairs, First Look Studios (A multi-faceted media company including First Look International, First Look Pictures, First Look Home Entertainment and First Look Media
Eugene Mandelcorn, President, Film Artists Network (A non-profit organization aiding filmmakers in development, funding, production, post-production, marketing and sales)
Bobby Moresco, President, Moresco Productions (Producer / Screenwriter Crash, Co-Producer Million Dollar Baby)
Eric Morris, President, ELM Entertainment (Latter Days, Peter Paige’s Say Uncle)
Lucy Shuttleworth, Head of Development, Spice Factory (One of the fastest growing film companies in the U.K. today)
Nancy Rae Stone, Executive Vice President of Production, Beacon Pictures. (One of the most respected independent motion picture companies in the industry)

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