Writers Venture to Los Angeles in Pursuit of Dreams

Olov Burman co-founded an animation studio in Sweden, where he produces commercials and short films, but now he is in Los Angeles, pursuing his Hollywood dream in a shared workspace.

Burman is honing his skills in penning feature-length screenplays, with help from other writers in a working space called The Hatchery Press. It’s just down the road from historic Paramount Studios on the edge of Hollywood.

Olov Burman of Meindbender Animation Studios in Sweden hopes to break into the Hollywood feature movie business. (M. O’Sullivan/VOA)

“I’m here to create feature film scripts,” said Burman, who is in a very different world from his native Gothenburg, where the industry is small. “There’s a lot of learning involved.” Well-established writers work alongside others struggling to survive in a competitive profession.

Another writer, Dillon Magrann-Wells, is working on scripts for action and comedy films.

Dillon Magrann-Wells writes screenplays for action and comedy films from the shared workspace for writers at The Hatchery Press near Hollywood, California. (M. O’Sullivan/VOA)

“You feel you’re taking on this really impossible dream with this really impossible goal, and it’s a little bit comforting to be surrounded by people also doing it,” said Magrann-Wells, who is also a part-time video producer and editor and spends weeks at a time on non-writing projects. When he returns to writing, however, he says he finds colleagues to share ideas with, in a stimulating setting, as he pursues his creative dream in Hollywood.

Others are crafting poetry, works of journalism, memoirs, historical studies or doctoral dissertations.

Novelist Talia Bolnick co-founded The Hatchery Press, a shared workspace for writers in Los Angeles. (M. O’Sullivan/VOA)

Escaping distractions

Talia Bolnick started this space for writers in a sprawling converted house, with her mother, after she discovered that working at home presented too many distractions, “like it’s time to do laundry, or I would love to learn this recipe right now, or my cat needs to play — all of those things,” she said.

The shared workspace allows writers to escape the distractions of home and interact with other writers. (M. O’Sullivan/VOA)

Writers at this venue focus on their creative tasks in quiet surroundings. There are also places to relax and share ideas over coffee. Bolnick said she was trying to re-create the stimulating atmosphere that she enjoyed in her time as a student at Britain’s Oxford University.

Members of this group can take part in poetry and screenwriting classes and group critiques, or they can work on their own. Writers can choose a quiet library setting or a busier common workspace, or find a seat on the rooftop garden.

Lisa Connelly, an avid reader, is writing her first novel, a fantasy horror tale for young adults. (M. O’Sullivan/VOA)

Lisa Connelly sat at an outdoor table while writing her first novel, a tale for young adults. “It’s a horror fantasy novel based in Los Angeles,” she said.

Connelly wanted to become a writer because she’s an avid reader. On a recent day, she took a break from her writing to read a novel by Margaret Atwood.

There is a creative exchange of ideas when writers in different genres come together, said Bolnick. “A journalist will be talking to someone who’s working on his very first horror script, and there’s a kind of symbiosis that happens,” she said.