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NBC Eyewitness News

Screenwriter Fantasy Camp

July 10, 2007

Hollywood and the midwest plains are 15-hundred miles apart, but one man is trying to bring the two a little closer together.

“It is kind of ostentatious, but I suppose everything involving screenwriting has to be ostentatious or else it would be dull,” said Hollywood screenwriter Lew Hunter.

Lew is a longtime Hollywood screenwriter and UCLA professor.

His students have worked on movies ranging from “Jurassic Park” to “Spiderman” and “Batman.”

After decades in America's movie capital, this Nebraska native decided it was time to come home, but that didn't mean leaving behind the profession he loves.

“I want to bring Hollywood to Nebraska all that I can, because I think it's a beneficial thing to Nebraska to try to get movies to come here, and television series,” said Lew.

Before Lew moved here about eight years ago, the Crest Theatre was about as close as this small town got to Hollywood.

Now, people come from all across the world to learn how to write a great movie.

Lew works with as many as 20 screenwriters and screenwriters-to-be at his home during his two-week 'colony.'

This year nine people ranging in age from 17 to 82 are paying 2,500 dollars each to work with Lew and each other on their movie scripts, a kind of fantasy camp for writers who hope to turn their dreams into reality.

“They've all got day jobs. They're doing something they've wanted to do all their lives,” said Lew.

It all starts with ideas.

“They bring in three ideas. The key, he or she picks the one idea, then they go through the step from story to two-page outline to a step outline, 1-2-3 scene-to-scene, and then to writing the script,” Lew explained.

When these writers leave, they'll have completed the first 30 pages of their 100 page script.

Lew knows from experience, their first script will not be their best, which is why he says the key to success in screenwriting is persistence, writing script after script.

Lew still teaches one course at UCLA and lectures on screenwriting around the world.