Frank V.V. Boss Jr. was one of the lucky military veterans to recently attend the Writers Guild Foundation’s Veterans Writing Project. I attended this a couple years ago, and recommend every veteran attend it if given the chance.
Frank agreed to let me re-post this piece he wrote about his experience. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a wonderful read and inspiring!
Frank’s article, “Veterans Who Write”
A long time ago, if you knew me, you’d say that I was a horrible writer. At least very bad at English! That’s what my high school teacher would say (with red marks all over my paper)… I even hated to hand-write always have! But over the years I came to like writing. It wasn’t until my days as a background investigator, for some three letter agencies (hush hush), that I began to write narrative stories of sorts. They were small stories of people, almost like you and I, who had very unique chronicles to tell. Of course for their protection I cannot divulge their identities! None-the-less, each person I met was fascinating to talk to.
Over the next ten or so years and hundreds of reports later, I grew to like writing stories. Even as a child my wild imagination would make up detailed dreams of whimsical adventures in my head.
After a while in my seemingly boring job, I became interested in going back to what I loved so much as a kid playing with my camera. As fate would have it, and budget cuts, I made the decision to go to film school with the help of a veterans grant. This led to getting back in touch with my inner-child and to become a movie-maker. So I did everything I could to immerse myself in knowing, breathing and filming everything I could get my hands on. But enough about me…
So to make a long story even shorter, and not to bore you, my adventure led me to a really important story and especially for other fellow vets. It’s a story of fortitude, endurance and that never quit attitude that most of us keep even after we end our tour of duty. As much as a well planned out attack would have it, there was this fantastic opportunity that was posted by a group I happen to like called Veterans in Film and Television. It was a chance to apply for the Writers Guild Foundation Veterans Writing Project. A weekend-long retreat that continues for a year which pairs military vets who have a penchant for wordsmithing with a collection of WGA-enrolled film and television writers.
There were wonderful people who care enough about vets and who sacrificed their weekend to show and give vets detailed instruction for those who want to write scripts, screenplays or novels. It was also impressive to see and to meet writers who genuinely care about sharing their craft with others. For example Kira Snyder, writer/producer on the show The 100, led our group along with Eric Friedman, on what premise and concept consisted of. As you may know as a writer (or may not) building a story can be a daunting task. It not only includes imagination, there is also a great amount of structure to it. As you can imagine writing is a craft that takes time to develop and to master. So with Kira’s and Eric’s help made it much more inspiring to want to write. Both were very patient and authentically interested in what each vet had to say. They both were collaborative in every sense of the word.
It was apparent from the first day at the Writer’s Guild that all of us were in for a fantastic journey of inventiveness and creativity. I myself never thought that I would get a chance to take part in a real live Hollywood program like this. With every word each mentor contributed and indulged my imagination and desire to learn as much as I can about discovering and composing artistic writing. As a future writer/director I want to completely understand how to form and interpret a story so that I can take those words and make them into wonderful images. My goal, from the get-go was to be surrounded by inventive and prolific people that love what they do… Entertain!
It was also amazing to be around so many who are in an industry that has been my fascination for so many years. All that I have run into or had the privilege of meeting and speaking with continue to give my the motivation and encouragement I need and seek out. Each person this past weekend were completely polite and available to ask questions and to just sit and bullshit with. Not saying any of it was a waste of time! It was a complete investment in my career in film. Even more so Marie Weiss and Douglas Steinberg gave an incredible perspective into what a character is including new ideas for what my screenplay would be about! Their attention to detail, and completely whimsical sense of humor made it even more worthwhile.
Overall, if you’re a writer, or want to be a writer and a vet this program is exceptional. It was because of the VFTLA, WGF and their staff who made my dream come true. This program is without a doubt something that you don’t want to pass up! So take every chance you get and apply next year when it comes up again…
Frank V.V. Boss Jr.