Mindy's Movie Reviews

A blog that went from discussing about the writing life to reviews of movies

Chit Chat with Tavia Stewart-Streit

Here's the low down on Tavia Stewart-Streit:

  • She attended the University of Southern California and graduated with a degree in Creative Writing

  • Ever heard of Watchword Press? It is a Berkley-based literary organization where Tavia spends her spare time editing and curating.

  • In her own words, she can't live without "The support I get from my insanely talented writer friends and coworkers...The high saturation of creative friends combined with my current job here at the Office of Letters and Light makes it nearly impossible for me to slack as a writer"

  • She is the Young Writers Program Director for Script Frenzy

I recently had the chance to ask Tavia some questions about the Youth Program and Script Frenzy in general. Before you all read our interview, I would like to say thank you to Tavia for taking time out of her busy day, to answer a few questions of mine. It means a lot to me and I am grateful for this opportunity.

How did the Young Writers Program come together?

The Young Writers Program was created in 2004 after we were inundated with requests for a youth-focused version of National Novel Writing Month from participants who were also educators. After experiencing the benefits of our program first-hand, teachers wanted to share the triumph of writing an entire novel in a month with their students.
We started with a Young Writers Program page on NaNoWriMo’s main site, and due to its immediate success, we moved the YWP to its own website in 2005. In 2007, we built Script Frenzy’s Young Writers Program website in conjunction with the main Script Frenzy site. Both YWP sites offer kids and teens a safe and encouraging place to explore their imaginations, and provide educators with free classroom incentive kits and downloadable curricula including creative-writing lesson plans and workbooks. Script Frenzy’s curriculum is available in the teacher lounge here: http://ywp.scriptfrenzy.org/leaderslounge.  

How many students/schools have signed up to do Script Frenzy this year and in previous years?

We’ve consistently doubled our participant numbers each year. In 2008, we had around 250 students in 24 classrooms. Last year, we had 480 students in 54 classrooms. This year, we’re expecting over 3,500 students to participate in over 100 classrooms!  

This is, I believe the fourth year Script Frenzy has been around. What has the reaction of students and teachers been like from the beginning to now?

We’ve only heard positive feedback so far! Educators have found teaching scriptwriting to be much easier and more rewarding than they imagined, and students find themselves actually having fun writing…in school no less. I think teacher Luke Perry describes his experience best in this article on The Writing Teacher blog: http://www.thewritingteacher.org/writing-blog-home/2009/4/1/script-frenzy.html.  

How could someone, like a parent or teacher, get the program into their school?

Great question! The best way to convince parents and administration to add Script Frenzy to their Language Arts curriculum is by downloading and presenting our newly standardized lesson plans and student workbooks. Sharing testimonials, articles from the press, and statistics is also helpful (http://ywp.scriptfrenzy.org/media). We even have a letter for parents that educators can send home with their students (http://ywp.scriptfrenzy.org/lettertoparents).


Does this program have to be in school or could children do this at home?

Any kid or teen who is 17 or younger can sign up to write a script with us on the Young Writers Program website. Teens 13 or older are allowed to sign up on the main site as well, but will have to write 100 pages of script in order to win. The YWP site allows young writers to set their own page-count goals.


Do you participate in Script Frenzy and if so how are you able to manage the Youth Program and write a 100-page script?

My writing partner and I have written scripts together for the past three events, mainly during my lunch break. It’s amazing what two heads, when put together, can get accomplished in just one hour. That said, it’s easy for me to balance my work life, writing life, and personal life during April.


In five words or less, what makes this program so awesome to participate in?

Writing is better than watching.  

What does the future hold for The Young Writers Program?

A lot. We’re planning a Young Writers Program Advisory Board Meeting in the next month to discuss curriculum improvements, website feature development, and outreach strategies! We’re hoping to edit our curriculum so it meets even more state Language Arts standards this year, and we’re excited to start developing virtual classrooms on our website so educators can communicate and track students’ writing progress with ease.  

If you had 100 Monkeys, which Screenplay would you make them rewrite and why?

Wow, this question made me stare out the window for way too long. My co-worker Lindsey would disagree with me on this one, but I would have to say the 1995 Noah Baumbach film Kicking and Screaming. Though the story was entertaining and hilarious, the dialogue was way, way too Juno-clever. Real people aren’t anywhere near as clever and quick witted all the time. I’d love to see that movie re-written with more realistic dialogue.

2 comments:

makenag93 March 29, 2010 at 10:26 PM  

Hey, awesome interview/article!!

Saw your blog link on your 'adopt-a-newbie' post. :)

Mindy March 31, 2010 at 12:46 PM  

thanks a bunch Makenag93 I appreciate you reading... Jennifer's interview should be arriving soon...