October 2019

French Castle

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October 2019

October 4th-9th, 2019
Marouatte Castle,
The Dordogne,

Have you dreamed of writing a screenplay and seeing it come to life on the silver screen?

Or maybe you’ve published a book and are wondering about how to turn it into a film script?

Seems impossible, right?

Well, the answer, is, NO! Nothing is impossible, and on this one-of-a-kind writers’ retreat, at the beautiful 14th century Marouatte Castle in the Dordogne, Southwestern France, we’ll show you just how your words, your vision—let’s face it, your baby—can make it all the way to the big screen!

Please reserve my place, and the mentor of my choice, now


  • Linda Seger

    The success or failure of any film begins with the screenwriter’s ability to communicate their exact vision to the producers, directors, actors, and others involved in its production. Screenwriters often turn to script consultants, for advice in this process. And Dr. Linda Seger was the first person in the Hollywood industry to offer such a service. She began her script consulting business in 1981 based on her doctoral dissertation project of what makes a good script a great script.

    When Peter Jackson was just beginning his career, Linda helped him on his breakthrough film BRAIN DEAD. He and other well-known filmmakers, such as writer Ray Bradbury, have gained valuable insights from Linda Seger.

    Over the years, Linda has gone on to become one of the most prolific writers on screenwriting topics with nine books to her credit on that topic. Her book, Making a Good Script Great, remains a staple for writers and many universities use it as a textbook in screenwriting classes.

    She has also become a sought-after keynote speaker and guest on many panels in the states and abroad. In fact, she has spoken and given seminars in over 30 countries!

    Additionally, Linda has written six books on success and spirituality, based on the wisdom she gained working in such a competitive and demanding field. She has garnered awards for her work in the film industry, including the Candlelight Award for being a Light to the Entertainment Industry, the Moondance Film Festival Living Legacy Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Redemptive Film Festival, and the Pacific School of Religion Distinguished Alumni Award.

    Seger earned M.A. degrees in drama from Northwestern University; in religion and the arts from Pacific School of Religion; and in feminist theology from Immaculate Heart College Center. She received a Th.D. from the Graduate Theological Union in theology and drama.

  • Joan Lane

    Joan Lane is a film and theatre producer and has worked in arts management and production for over 30 years. Trained as a Speech and Language Therapist, with a background as a music scholar, she has also worked as a vocal consultant.

    Her company, Wild Thyme Productions, has toured six innovative productions of Shakespeare’s plays in the UK and Germany and mounted world premiere showcases and readings of new plays and musicals in London. She is a member of Musical Theatre Network UK, concerned with the writing of new musicals, and also of The British Shakespeare Association.

    Primarily engaged as a Consultant by the BBC, Joan’s skills were used for the recording, filming and Royal Opera House performance of THE LITTLE PRINCE. She was a director for BBC Radio Two and BBC Television’s New Talent UK-wide search for the Voice of Musical Theatre, involved with background music for the film THE ACTORS, coordinated the participation of singing Angels for Stephen Fry’s directorial film debut, BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS and worked on the BBC’s Promenade Concert/Opera, THE WATER DIVINER’S TALE.

    As well as touring with her own company, Joan has worked on several plays at the Royal National Theatre and toured plays with ATG and Pleasance Theatre. She recommends scripts to Russian translator colleagues and two plays were produced in Russia recently.

    Her varied work in music, theatre, film and television exposed Joan to scripts and screenplays and she is known for having developed the film, THE KING’S SPEECH, directed by Tom Hooper, starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter, and adapted from the stage play by its author David Seidler.

    More recently, she has developed a screenplay from a radio play and has been commissioned to write a screenplay based on a true story. Currently, four TV series on which Joan has worked with first-time writers are under consideration and three films are expected to go into production in 2018.

  • Debra Engle

    Debra Landwehr Engle, our literary expert, has been successfully mentoring writers for the last 20 years and has helped both fiction and nonfiction authors complete their manuscripts, secure agents and land publishing deals.

    She recently signed a contract for her fourth book of nonfiction, which will be released in the spring of 2019. And she’s currently working on a novel and biography. She also is proudly serving as co-Executive Producer for Claire Elizabeth Terry’s movie Thirty Minutes.

    Debra’s book The Only Little Prayer You Need: The Shortest Route to a Life of Joy, Abundance and Peace of Mind, was translated into four languages and has been an international bestseller. It features a foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and an endorsement by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

    In addition, her book Let Your Spirit Guides Speak was published in 2016 by Hampton Roads in the U.S. and Random House in Germany.

    Debra has worked in publishing her entire career, beginning as a newspaper copywriter and Better Homes and Gardens book editor, then starting her own freelance business (much to her father’s chagrin!) just as she was going through a divorce.

    Committed to making a living on her own, she went on to build a thriving business, writing hundreds of articles for such national publications as Better Homes and GardensCountry HomeCountry Gardens and other lifestyle magazines. She also has served as project manager on publications for Fortune 500 companies, sharpening her skills in crafting a story for any audience.

    Debra holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College in Baltimore. As a writing mentor and coach, she works with budding authors one-on-one, in small groups, and through retreats and online courses.

    Debra and her husband Bob live in Madison County, Iowa, the location that inspired the literary and film phenomenon, The Bridges of Madison County.

  • Gerald DiPego

    Veteran Hollywood screenwriter Gerald DiPego is the son of an Italian immigrant father and an Italian-American mother. Born in Chicago, he later moved to the small town of Round Lake, Illinois, where he worked in the family grocery store. He studied journalism at Northern Illinois University and worked as a reporter and and teacher, later moving to Los Angeles to work as a successful screenwriter, novelist and playwright.

    DiPego is the writer of box office hits such as PHENOMENON, starring John Travolta, MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE, with Kevin Costner and Paul Newman and more recently, WORDS AND PICTURES, starring Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche.

    In 2016 he published WRITE! Find the Truth in Your Fiction, detailing the methods which he himself has learned and practiced in a career spanning over 45 years.

  • David Paul Kirkpatrick

    David Paul Kirkpatrick has been a storyteller all his life. At age eight, he started a neighborhood puppet theater. By the age of sixteen, he had sold his first screenplay to Paramount Pictures. His college education was underwritten by the Walt Disney and Peter Stark Foundations. During his professional career, David worked on over 1,000 motion pictures. He estimates he has read over 80,000 screenplays.

    Most notably in his career, he was the President of Paramount Pictures and the Production President of Walt Disney Studios.

    He is a novelist, speaker and an advocate for those who cannot speak: the land and the animals. He is the founder of the MIT Center for Future Storytelling and is currently working on a series of novels based on the ancient Celtic mythology of Merlin, the wizard.

The Retreat includes...

You’ll meet daily with your mentor* in small groups of 4 writers, to discuss your project. This is your chance to receive their undivided attention and ask questions about anything related to your writing—from the arc of your story to gaining traction in your writing career to crafting the perfect pitch for an agent or producer.

*Please note: in order to have the mentor of your choice, it’s imperative to book early, as places in the mentoring groups are allocated on a strictly first-come, first-served basis.

Each morning, after a presentation from one of our industry experts, you’ll meet with your mentor and the other three writers in your small group, in sessions of three hours, going in-depth into the topics which matter most to you, including:

  • Story development.
  • Honing your craft.
  • The art of revision.
  • How to turn an existing book into a screenplay.
  • How to write/finish a book with your eye on the silver screen.
  • Marketing your manuscript/screenplay.
  • Learning the business side of writing (an often overlooked but vital step), from securing the best literary agent to selling your script and working with film directors and producers on rewrites.
  • Lunchtime ASK ME A QUESTION sessions, where a different mentor each day will take Q & A on any aspect of the business you’d like to know about.
  • Afternoon ‘Pitch to the Expert’ sessions with specific feedback on your project!
  • Free time to just relax, write, take a dip in the pool, or take a stroll in the idyllic surrounding countryside with your new friends.
  • After-dinner Q & A with a different mentor each day, on a film which they’ve been involved with.
  • And so much more..!

From dinner on arrival to breakfast on departure, all your meals will be prepared by a private chef using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. We’ll be serving vegetarian and gluten-free options along with a variety of traditional local cuisine.

As befits a castle, all the bedrooms are unique and range greatly in size, furnishings and views, and so will be allocated on a strictly first-come, first-served basis.

*At the Italian castle, the lodging is for seven nights.

To make your travel easy and stress-free, we’re providing a private driver to and from Barcelona airport (for the Spanish Retreat) and Angoulême train station (for the French retreat) for all our guests. Once your place has been secured on the retreat, we’ll be in touch with details and recommendations with regards to your flight arrangements.

*Please note that due to the Italian Retreat being on an island off an island, we are unable to provide private transportation, but do promise to give you detailed travel advice and hold your hand every step of the way!

Where else could you sit down to breakfast with an Academy award-winning writer? Sip Bordeaux in the salon with the former president of a major movie studio? Go for a leisurely stroll through the castle grounds with a director who’s worked on one of the most critically-acclaimed box office hits of recent years?!

With a faculty/participant ratio of 1:4, the Rocaberti mentors will be available to you for impromptu conversations throughout the retreat, sharing the lessons and tips they’ve learned—and the joys of the creative process—with you every step of the way.

So come along and enjoy the most exclusive (and fun!) literary vacation of the year. In a castle.

A typical day’s program is as follows:

8.00am – 8.30am: Morning meditation (optional), focused on opening our minds and calming our hearts, in order to get the creative juices flowing and focused on our stories.

8.30am – 9.30am: A leisurely breakfast, followed by:

9.30am – 10.30am: Presentation and Q&A discussions with our mentors.

10.30am – 11am: Coffee break.

11am – 1pm: In small groups of 4, you’ll meet with your mentor for two hours, to discuss your project. This is your chance to receive their undivided attention and ask questions about anything related to your writing—from the arc of your story to gaining traction in your writing career to crafting the perfect pitch for an agent or producer.

1pm – 2.30pm: A delicious lunch, al fresco, on the castle’s beautiful terrace, prepared with fresh, local ingredients by the Retreat’s chef.

2pm – 2.30pm: ASK ME A QUESTION: Each day, a different mentor will take your questions on any aspect of the film or writing business.

2.30pm – 3.30pm: Individual sessions with your mentor/free writing time.

3.30pm – 4.30pm: Free writing time.

4.30pm – 5.30pm: ‘Pitch to the Expert’: each day a small group of writers will take their turn pitching their project to the mentors, receiving valuable feedback on this stage of the process.

5.30pm – 7.30pm: Uninterrupted free time in the afternoon to go for a walk in the castle grounds, take a dip in the pool or simply write, take a siesta or chat with fellow mentors and writers.

Then, we’ll meet for dinner prepared by our private chef, followed by a talk and then Q & A with a different mentor each day on a film or TV project which they’ve been involved with. We’ll also be tasting some of the delicious local wines!

Please reserve my place, and the mentor my choice, now