We had the good fortune of connecting with Heidi Hornbacher and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heidi, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Aside from the fact I just don’t like working for others, we saw a gap in the market. My husband and I both graduated from UCLA’s screenwriting program and thought we were prepared to be working writers. In some senses we were but we realized churning a script out quickly isn’t the only skill set needed. We learned so much about rewriting, scene construction, and in-depth foundational story work we wondered why more of this wasn’t being taught. Then I co-founded the Slamdance Script Clinic and was seeing the same basic mistakes over and over. It was clear there were things missing in training offerings for writers. Someone needed to teach this stuff so why not us? Selfishly, we launched PageCraft because I want to read a better caliber of scripts in competition! But also, I really love teaching and seeing writers light up as their work progresses.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
We launched PageCraft out of a love of working with writers. As we learned and progressed in our own work, we wanted to pass along what we learned and we wanted to save writers the heartache we felt when coming up against creative roadblocks which, we were slowly learning, could be overcome with different diagnostic tools and writing exercises.
I think this partnership with our writers is what sets us apart. It was important to me from the start to create a community of writers for support and ongoing accountability. It’s easy to take a class and then get lost out on your own or in your own head creatively. We’re really proud of the writers who come into our workshops and coaching and stick with us for years as they rack up contest wins or find their team of reps. One alum is now a frequently staffed Emmy winner. Last year, one client won the Nicholl Fellowship which, as the contest put on by the Academy, is pretty much the highest screenwriting award you can win. We’re really proud of that one!
Of course none of this was easy. It’s been a slow, brick by brick build over years. There was trial and error as to what marketing worked (turns out word of mouth is our best option). Also, developing the curriculum took time as we saw what writers responded to and found most valuable. We’ve reached every milestone by asking our writers what they want and need.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
In LA, I’d say get outside. Our favorite things are hikes and beach days. There are so many great trails in the Santa Monica Mountains it’s impossible to pick a favorite. Do you want views? Shade? Hilltops? Waterfalls? Cool ruins? Hike all of the above. Driving along PCH and finding pocket beaches is another favorite. It amazes me how many crowd-free spots you can find if you’re willing to do a little rock scramble.
If you’re coming with us to Italy for our writing retreats it’s a different story. I still say get outside, of course! In our little Umbrian hill town of Orvieto, we’d be going for a morning walk around the city cliffs. Coffee at our favorite Blue Bar. Lunch at any of the amazing restaurants in town, stuffing ourselves full of as much truffle pasta as possible. And then as much gelato as possible. Afternoons we might climb the clock tower for stunning views, visit the deep cool of St. Patrick’s well, or marvel at the art in the city’s duomo. Grab a spritz at a sidewalk cafe and then on to dinner at our friend’s Madonna Del Latte winery in the countryside. Oh and time sequestered around quiet spots in town getting writing done, of course.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
One key mentor in our success is writer and instructor, Neil Landau. He led some retreats for us in the early days and helped set a benchmark for how they could go. In addition to having an enviable writing career both for film and TV and in books, he taught me how I wanted to teach. He leads from encouragement and empathy while pushing writers to reach for their best writing, even if it’s just beyond their grasp. He fosters wonderful growth and leaves writers feeling seen. My students can attest one of my most common phrases is “our mentor Neil says…” I encourage all aspiring screenwriters to check out his many books on the craft.
Other: Our podcast: https://pagecraftwriting.podbean.com/