Speak the Future: Interview with Paul Chitlik, Writer-Director

Conferize’s “Speak the Future” series features speakers who are currently changing the conference world. For more info check out our “Speak the Future” Manifesto.

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Any advice to aspiring speakers?

Look people right in the eye. Tell them something they don’t know.  Use humour.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? What is your favourite area of expertise as a speaker?
Early in my career, after working in odd jobs and writing on the side, I worked as a journalist and translator. When I returned to the US after five years in Spain and England, I worked as an instructor in English as a second language. I eventually became a college administrator. One day, subbing for one of my instructors, a little voice in my head said, “This is not the plan.”  I took a few courses at UCLA Extension, then quit my job after saving enough to live on for six months. Two years later I got my first job in television. I’ve been working in TV and teaching screenwriting ever since.  

My favorite things to talk about at conferences are screenwriting, especially rewriting, and bicycling. I established the first bicycle safety classes in the LA Unified School District through an organization called Human Powered Transit Association.  
How did you begin your career in public speaking? What were some key conferences for you?

I was a member of the speech and debate team in high school. I also once spoke in front of 4500 people without a microphone as student body president. I’ve attended and spoken at Screenplay Expo and Screenwriters’ World and Ibermedia in Chile, a conference for screenwriters in the Spanish speaking world.

Why are conferences important today?

Conferences are places where people can mingle informally. There’s no pressure, so ideas seem to just pop up and get made better by the people participating in the discussion.  

Why have you chosen to become a speaker?

I like to spread the word about how anyone can write for the screen and how difficult it is to do so.

Have you noticed any significant trends in the meetings industry in the wake of digital/mobile developments? How would you like to see conferences change more in the future?

I’d like to see more live person to person events rather than fewer, though live video appearances can add something to a conference by bringing a busy person to your location for an hour or two.

As a speaker, what do you feel you need right now to strengthen your profile in the conference world? Tools, technology, network etc.?

The second edition of my book, “Rewrite,” just came out in the fall and this should increase my visibility. I need opportunities to reach out to audiences that wouldn’t think of having a screenwriter talk to them about story and how it applies to their businesses and lives.

Best & worst conference experience?

Screenwriting Expo was the worst. A conference in Chile for screenwriters was the best as I spoke to a large group and also had small group workshops. They taped it and all the lectures are on YouTube in Spanish!
Anything you’d like to add?
Happy to join you in promoting conferences around the world.
Also check out his monthly blog post here.
If you would like to participate in the ‘Speak the Future’ series and be listed as a speaker, do not hesitate to get involved and contact us
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