PONCHO is an acronym for "Patrons of Northwest Civic, Cultural and Charitable Organizations." This was the name given to the first ever charitable auction put on by a group of Seattle business, philanthropic and arts patrons in 1963. My wife Lita has been active in PONCHO for many years as a board member and supporter. At their last annual auction we purchased a Film School program. The Film School is located in Seattle. The school was created in 2004 after a group of Seattle film veterans decided that there should be a school for people who wanted to learn film making and especially to improve the quality of scripts being written.
Last night John Jacobsen, president of the film school, actor Tom Skerritt and screenwriter Stewart Stern put on the program for about thirty guests. John is a director/producer of feature films, films for television, short films, TV shows etc. His film Around the Fire won top honors at a film festival. John showed excerpts from the movie Moonstruck and analyzed the script from the perspective of a screenwriter.
Tom Skerritt, actor, director and screenwriter has appeared in more then thirty five feature films such as Mash, A River Runs Through It, Top Gun, Steel Magnolias etc. He won an Emmy for his role in Picket Fences. He is an extraordinary actor with many skills. Tom moved to Seattle in the 1980’s. He directed three volunteers in a scene from the movie Sideways. The volunteers were outstanding and the direction very interesting. My friend Carl Bettinger from New Mexico as well as Tacoma lawyer Virginia DeCosta participated as volunteers. Tom’s beautiful wife, Julie was there to watch the proceedings. Lita and I had the pleasure of fly fishing with Tom on the Yakima River several years ago as part of a contribution he made to the Swedish Hospital Foundation.
Stewart Stern, now eighty five, is an actor, dialogue director and renown screen writer who wrote Rebel without A Cause, Rachel, Rachel, The Ugly American, Sybil, and many other equally important works. He was a close friend of James Dean, Marlon Brando and others in the film industry. Stewart moved to Seattle in 1986 and taught at the University of Washington as well as mentoring young screen writers. Stewart talked about screen writing and had the group do an exercise in screen writing.
It was fascinating and enjoyable. I was inspired enough to conclude that I would benefit, as a trial lawyer, from a screen writing class or program at the Film School to learn better skills in story telling. A great experience all the way around.