Event Program /




October 2-7, 2018, Bolsena, Italy


While this workshop is geared toward professionals, you need not have experience in your area of interest (for example, actors who wish to write or direct) but you must impress us with your drive and determination to create.”

Paul Haggis

Many talented actors, writers and directors are waiting for their big break. Everyone knows that waiting is a mistake, but artists often feel at a loss as how to move their career to the next stage.

No matter what level you find yourself, in our experience, the best way to take that step is to make your own short film, featuring your work – a calling card that can get you the attention you need.

That’s easy to say and not easy to do. With today’s access to technology, anyone can shoot their own short – but how many have you seen that aren’t really effective, where the dramatic narrative or performances are not as compelling as they should be? This could be many reasons: the story has no great event, the central dilemma isn’t strong enough, the dialogue is weak, the acting choices aren’t surprising, the ending doesn’t leave you satisfied – there are hundreds of ways to get it wrong – just like there are hundreds of ways to get it right.

It can be such a daunting process that, even given a great concept, an actor, director or writer can feels powerless to execute it, and the idea gets shelved as you continue to wait for that next break – rather than taking steps to make your own.

So, how do actors go about writing something that will let them shine? How do writers and directors develop the script that is going to get their work noticed?

That’s what we are going to help you do.

Hollywood In Rome is thrilled to announce our first event of this kind. Internationally lauded acting teacher Michael Margotta and Academy Award winning filmmaker Paul Haggis are coming together to create an intensive, five-day workshop on acting and writing, set in an incredible palazzo in a charming ancient town of Bolsena, with easy train access from Rome (the location where Paul wrote Casino Royale and In The Valley of Elah.)

In those five days you will create and develop your own short screenplay, for two to three actors, to showcase your acting, writing and/or directing skills.


As soon as you register, you will be assigned a collaborator. If you wish to register with your collaborator(s), you are free to work with them.

You will also be given a theme or a dramatic conflict – unless, again, you already have one you want to explore. You are free to interpret it as drama or comedy.

You and your actor-partner(s) will take that theme or element and develop your own unique concept for a short film before the workshop begins, something you can pitch in under five minutes on Day One.

If the story requires a third actor, we can assign another collaborator from the acting pool, or again you can register with that third person of your own choosing. You can even bring your own writer or director, as long as they sign up, too.


Day 0, October 2: Arrivals and orientation gathering and welcome drinks on the evening

Day 1, October 3: your creative group will pitch your idea to Paul – and he will help you shape and develop the basic conflicts and beats of your story. From there, you will immediately go to work with Michael, where you will discuss and improvise on the theme and dramatic elements. And from there you will go off to develop it further, on your own, for the rest of the day.

Day 2, October 4: you will continue to put it on its feet, working with either Paul or Michael, depending on what we determine the process needs.

Day 3,October 5: you will have the whole day to yourself to finish writing your short screenplay, to learn the lines and hone your basic blocking.

Days 4 & 5, October 6&7: you will present your piece to both Michael and Paul, and be given feedback, depending on what you require. It could be on dialogue, blocking, dramatic tension, acting, possible camera angles, or tips on how to effectively shoot it. You will also benefit from watching your colleagues do the same.

Followed by closing night drinks on Sunday, October 7. Departures on October 8.

And when the course is complete, if you come prepared and put in the hard work, you will be prepared to leave and take the next big step to bring it to life.

You aren’t going to shoot your short during the five days; great short films take more time than that. You are going to do that once you leave us. While most people think

shooting a short film is the biggest step, it is actually tiny in comparison to creating the compelling story, dialogue, and fully formed characters with rich inner lives that are going to make it stand out above all the other shorts out there.

That is what we are going to help you create. We will guide you, but it is your hard work that is going to make it possible, and your talent that is going to be given a chance to shine – so your responsibility. It’s your gifts as actors, writers and filmmakers that are going to ultimately make the best short film you can make.

After you leave us, you can decide to shoot it on a smart phone or a borrowed camera, with professionals or friends you can pull together to help you. It’s up to you, but you will be given tips on how to do that as well.

And once you finish your short, you are welcome to send it to us, and the best ones will be featured on our site for all to see.

Everything you create with us will belong exclusively to you, no matter what ideas or help Paul or Michael have given you; yours to use as you wish – to showcase your talents, to send to casting directors, producers or anyone else you wish to impress.

We can’t make a good film for you, but we can give you the building blocks, so you can go from “I wish I could do this” to “Look what I’ve done and see what I can do!”

Special Notes:

For directors and producers: You are welcome to come collaborate in the process – you need not act in the piece, but can if you wish. Upon registration, we will endeavor to put you together with actors who wish to be directed or guided, unless you register with your own collaborators.

For writers: The same holds true – we can pair you with actors who are interested in collaborating, and be a part of the process while Paul helps spin the story elements and Michael creates improvisations to dig under the surface and bring moments to life, which you can then write and stage in collaboration with your actors.

Your film: We strongly suggest your film takes place in one location, and ideally just one well-developed scene, that has a total length of no more than five minutes.

Your script: If you are counting properly formatted script pages, five minutes is usually 4 pages, but no more than 5. If you don’t have screenwriting software, we will provide a link to get it free. Bring a laptop to write! We will provide a printer.

And if you decide, after the workshop, to expand your script to include other scenes, or make it longer, that is of course up to you – but we will be working on scenes under five minutes in length.

AUDITORS: a limited group of auditors will be accepted, who wish to learn by observing Paul and Michael. There will be Q&As for you, and chances for you to meet and mingle with the actors, writers and directors in attendance.


While Michael & Paul will offer their best advice, it is up to you what you do with it. You may disagree with them – that’s okay; it is your piece. If you and your collaborators cannot agree on a creative approach or a line or anything, Michael & Paul will offer opinions, but together you must find a way to come to a decision – they won’t stand as final arbitrators.

When you leave, you will co-own the material with your partners with whom you created it, in equal shares. We make no guarantee that you will finish your script during the five days – we expect that to happen, but that’s up to you, and after your final presentation you may decide you need to put more work into it. We also can’t guarantee that you end up shooting your film; all we can do is get you up to the point where you should be able to pull together the elements to do so. We likewise take no responsibility for any dispute that may arise from its creation or execution, or failure to do so. It is in your hands, as artists and collaborators: you jointly own what you create, and it is your sole responsibility to work out how, or even if, it is finally made into a film, or what is ultimately done with it. We can’t help you place it in festivals or get distribution – we are just here to help facilitate your dreams, not make them happen for you.

That said, it is our sincerest hope that, with our help during the workshop, you can then create a great short film that really shows the world who you are. Michael and Paul and the organizers will do everything in their power in those five days to help you prepare for that.

The course will be conducted in English. Your final film can be in any language.

As always, 100% of Mr. Haggis’ fee will be directly donated to Artists for Peace and Justice, for the benefit of St Damien’s Pediatric Hospital, serving the poorest children in poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. You can feel good that your money is going to a worthy cause.

Teatro San Francesco, Bolsena

Teatro-San-Francesco-BolsenaVia del Castello, 11,

01023 Bolsena VT, Italy

testimonials /

Early Bird Fee: 900€ (if you sign up before the 31rst of August) Regular Fee 1000€ (from September 1st)

Open to maximum 30 participants!

A limited group of auditors will be accepted, who wish to learn by observing Paul and Michael. There will be Q&As for you, and chances for you to meet and mingle with the actors, writers and directors in attendance.


Auditors: 100€ a day or 350€ for 4 days - October 3 - 4 - 6 - 7

APPLY NOW / Write us and we will get back to you with the registration details!

Donation / Artists for Peace and Justice | Founder Paul Haggis

apj_logo  rava_logo

On January 12, 2010 an earthquake devastated Haiti. Hundreds of thousands were killed and cities were leveled. The destruction was unimaginable. Artist for Peace and Justice supports communities in Haiti through programs in education, healthcare, and dignity through the arts. With your help APJ are removing the barriers that poverty poses to a future of opportunity for children in Haiti.

If you wish to contribute, please, make a donation through the APJ site. Click on the button below. Thank you in advance. Last year founder Paul Haggis gave his fee directly to his foundation in order help the children in need and and open the door to schools and education.

Make a donation