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The Art Of Writing For Hollywood In Las Vegas

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Las Vegas is a city known for its glitz and glamour.

But some area writers pin their stars to seeing their names in marquee lights at the cinema, not on the Strip.

Todd Korgan is working on a screenplay about golf legend Moe Norman and is currently splitting his time between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

"It's complicated," he said, "I don't get to see my wife and my son as much as I would like to."

Korgan said while Las Vegas can prove to be a distraction when writing it can also be an inspiration.

He said when he moved here he brushed off an old script of his and re-wrote it to be set in Las Vegas rather than his hometown of Portland, Oregon to give it some of the grittiness he found here.

Matt Sorvillo writes screenplays when he is not tending bar at a pool on the Strip. Sorvillo told KNPR's State of Nevada that he sticks with his job because of the flexibility.

“At the end of the season, I get laid off and I have to live on my savings," he said, "So I can sit at home at my table in front of my computer writing.”

Sorvillo said one of the tricks to screenwriting for him is finding something marketable. He compared the craft of writing a screenplay to being architect. 

“There’s no building when you’re done. It’s just the plan,” he said.

To that end, Sorvillo and his brother wrote a screenplay for a horror movie because horror movies are made relatively quickly and cheaply. Plus, they usually make money. 

However, Sorvillo did not make the big check for selling the movie that some people might expect.

“Nothing about this process is how you fantasy about it,” he said.

Because the filmmakers are making it on an extremely tight budget, Sorvillo and his brother made just 50 cents each on the script. They are hopeful that when it is made they can get money from any profit. 

Sean Clark teaches screenwriting at UNLV. He has written screenplays for movies and for TV. He said many people believe if they can learn 'how' to write a screenplay they're ready to get something on the big screen.

The key part, of course, is getting it made. 

“We’re here in the desert and every screenwriter is a person with an open mason jar, and we’re running around trying to catch lightning,” he said.

But, an advantage to living in a city visited by millions of people every year is some of those people work in the entertainment industry.

Clark said he had a student wait on a big-name director at a high-end Strip restaurant and end up getting the director's card.

“Vegas does open up a situation where we do have access to some of these people sometimes,” he said.

Todd Korgan, screenwriter; Matt Sorvillo, screenwriter; Sean Clark, screenwriter and UNLV screenwriting professor

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Nikole Robinson Carroll is KNPR's Morning Edition host. You can hear her every morning from 5am until 10am on News 889. She also produces segments for KNPR's State of Nevada.