Costa Rica has been on my bucket list for decades. When I saw this opportunity to combine Costa Rica with screenwriting, I couldn’t resist. To be honest, I felt a bit daunted to launch off into the unknown. I spent the whole flight worrying about whether I had the right country because sometimes people say Puerto Rico when they mean Costa Rica and vice versa. But then, I’m the kind of person who can worry about worrying. Anyway, it all turned out all right in the end and I had an absolutely fab time. Our tuition schedule was full-on from June 10 until June 19, but we had enough breaks to go swimming, relax or catch up with writing.
Writing and Tuition
Tuition was given by the inestimable Jacob Krueger (Jake, to you, after a few beers) who is probably the best in the world at teaching story structure. I’m not the only one to say that. His Seven Act Structure takes you through a door into a whole new approach, from the darkness into the light. It was life-changing for me and, I know, for the other writers too. He teaches you how you can do screenwriting, not how you can’t, as so many authorities seem to want to do.
Jess Hind’s Meditative Writing technique was another eye-opener, this time of the inner eye, and reveals startling information about your characters. I didn’t know mine was left-handed, for example. Audrey gave us valuable sessions on hypnosis techniques to improve mood and productivity and get in touch with our writing. Last but not least, the all-purpose Griz took care of videos, print-outs, tech and zip-lining. Griz, you’re great fun to have around.
All in all, the team equipped us with an empowering mix of skills, techniques and tools.
Shy and retiring writers pitched out of their gloomy turrets dazed and blinking into the real world? Not a bit of it! After Drunken Lectures (following the sober ones), we got into the groove wearing grass-hopper hats and hula hoops. I’m lookin’ at you, Athos.
I made such an amazing bunch of friends, all of you so talented, committed and varied in your writing topics and themes. Best dialogue of the retreat. “Am I in the right class? Is this Guilt ‘n Shame?” Hahahahaha.
Costa Rica Screenwriting Retreat With Jacob Krueger
When & Where: 2nd and 3rd weeks of June at The Flying Crocodile Resort, Samara, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
How To Get There: From the USA – Direct flights to Liberia, Costa Rica, or you may have to get a connection at Houston or Miami. From the UK – you can either fly via New York or Miami to Liberia or go via San Jose, the capital.
British Airways now has a direct flight from London Gatwick North Terminal, to San Jose (SJO). You’ll need to book onward flights with NatureAir, to Liberia, on a 19-seater puddle-jumper. (Thanks for that, Monda. I hadn’t heard it before. Haha.) Make sure you book the right baggage allowance, because everything is weighed. And go on a diet because they weigh you too. These are Very Small Planes. lol
Right. When you’ve completed the Indiana Jones bit, the studio arranges your transport from Liberia Airport to the retreat, so make sure they know when you are arriving. The main thing is to get yourself to Liberia where the heat hits you like a sledgehammer. Boy, was it hot.
Visas: Non-American nationals, make sure you have your ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) for your USA visa waiver so you can transit through the USA. You can apply online. British nationals do not need a visa to enter Costa Rica.
What To Take: A light rain coat. (It’s the wet season. It rains every afternoon.) DEET/OFF spray (not aerosol which you can’t take on the aircraft), Anthisan Bite & Sting Cream, sun hat, swimwear, flip-flops (the easiest), a beach towel, a hoodie or sweater, loose tops, shorts, walking shoes, socks, charging adapter (if from UK), US dollars, pens and notebooks.
Tips: Save $29 USD for your departure tax which you must pay in cash at the airport when you leave. The local currency is Costa Rican Colones but USD are widely accepted. Flag your bank account with your trip dates before you leave so you can use your credit cards seamlessly. See your local practice nurse for health and vaccinations advice. You’ll need the anti-insect spray. Actually, we all got bitten but nobody died. The transport and connections are brilliant. If you speak Spanish, all the better, but they mostly speak English.
I’ve learnt so much about how to approach screenwriting, what producers need and what readers look for. I understand now how to do the various drafts and move through the stages, when to write organically and when to move to craft, and then, when to shift to editing. Everyone felt a boost of confidence. We learned how to give and take feedback. The Costa Rica Screenwriting Retreat with Jacob Krueger gets five stars from me. I hope I shall be going again next year.
Disclaimer: The information I’ve given you here is correct at the time of writing, but please contact the studio directly for prices and availability, or changes of format or venue.
YOLO – You Only Live Once (some say, but not the Buddhists, maybe). Thanks, Marti King Young, for this fab keepsake.