Founded in 1995, the Chicago Screenwriters Network (CSN), is an educational and inspirational, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit, volunteer-driven organization created by writers for writers and industry professionals. The Network serves its members by providing educational programming, enhancing their awareness of the realities of the business, developing access and opportunity through alliances with industry professionals, and furthering the cause and quality of writing in the entertainment industry.
Back in the day, screenwriters in Chicago had no agencies or organizations that could help them develop their stories or receive feedback regarding their work. Because of this, the Chicago Screenwriters Network was born. Founded in 1995, by Edward Allen Bernero and organized by Christiana Miller. They created the groundwork for our organization that continues on today.
Edward Allen Bernero, went off to Hollywood, California and is now hugely successful in the filmmaking industry as a prolific Executive Producer, Screenwriter, and Director of such popular TV series as (Criminal Minds, Third Watch, Crossing Lines), while Christian Miller went on to become a well-known writer of paranormal mysteries and supernatural suspense stories.
It is with their spirit of helping each other grow, that we have become an educational and inspirational, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit, volunteer-driven organization created by writers for writers who wish to accelerate their growth and create opportunities within the filmmaking industry.
Where once we were solely a writers group, we’re slowly evolving our mission to be a filmmaking group with writers at the core. Our mission is simple; we want to assist writers with having their scripts performed and or produced. Whether the script is created into a short film, feature, web series, play, or TV series, we’re here to encourage our members on taking the next step in the creative creation process.
Since writing is typically such a solitary pursuit, we welcome forming relationships and friendships with others in the filmmaking industry. Our speaker series was once all about speakers in the screenwriting business, but in recent years we’ve pivoted to focus to also include industry professionals from across the filmmaking industry. We’ve had casting directors, entertainment lawyers, directors, producers, animators, and stunt coordinators come in and share their experience, time, and knowledge with us.
Our program continues to grow, as we offer monthly meetings and events that include professional speakers sharing their story, tailored workshops, training seminars, script exchanges, table read series, and events where we partner with others in the filmmaking industry.
At our core, we value networking with others. Our table read series is one way we’ve found to have writers and actors work together. The professional actors we’ve partnered with have consistently volunteered their time and expertise. The writers continuously express great joy in having the actors come in and read their work and provide them with valuable feedback and a unique perspective. Some have said; the room comes alive when the actors are in the room. We entirely agree and welcome and appreciate the actors involved.
As a way of saying “thank you” to our actors, this year we created the Writer/Actor collaboration event, forming small teams of actors and writers working together on a script. The Actors provided their thoughts on the story, and the writers worked with them to create a 5- to 7-page script. The scripts, in turn, were performed by the actors involved. Typically, actors receive scripts not create them. The feedback regarding the whole process was extremely well received, and all those who participated with the performance or in writing the scripts asked if we could do this type of event again.
Chicago Screenwriters Network is slowly becoming the group with which to partner, other filmmaking organizations are now approaching us with forming stronger ties and alliances, which we welcome wholeheartedly.
As we see filmmaking grow within Chicago, we are actively networking with others in the filmmaking industry to share experiences, resources, and talent. To be part of the professional landscape, we must leverage our expertise, make our talent the best that they can be, and utilize our resources more effectively.
Our goal in having writers have their scripts performed or produced requires the assistance of others to partner with us on this mission. As we see more work created, we can become better in our craft and more worthwhile in the industry. We can’t do it alone. Filmmaking is a collaborative art form, and as we see our group grow, we, in turn, see others within the filmmaking industry grow with us as well.
A word from
the CSN President ...
To our Members, Speakers, Guests, and Friends:
Too often, fear holds us back; it creates doubt and discourages us from succeeding. We stop moving forward and lose the courage to go on. I’m here to say, face that fear, take back control, and start moving forward with what you want in life.
If you want to be the best screenwriter or filmmaker, keep on taking steps to make it happen. We’re here to offer encouragement, education, and a sense of community. We have restructured our program to focus our attention on educating our writers and becoming more accountable for our journey. We continue to assist writers in improving their craft, offering workshops, script critiques, table reads, and networking opportunities.
But we also recognize that being good screenwriters is taking the time to network with others in the filmmaking industry. After all, if we want our work performed and/or produced, we need filmmakers to partner with us in the creative process.
It is only with partnering with others in the Chicago filmmaking community that we can grow ourselves and become valuable to others within our community.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, I hope you enjoy the direction we are taking our organization and will continue to support us as we take this journey. We look forward to seeing you at our monthly events and hope you will gain the knowledge and expertise necessary to be a more productive writer.
We ask that those interested in taking this journey with us become more involved, utilizing their skills to grow our organization and to take the time to network with others that are filmmakers and/or writers that would benefit in being part of our organization.
If you are not a member at this time, please consider joining us today, as we prepare to take CSN to the next level!
Thank you for your continued support in the Chicago Screenwriters Network.
All the best,
President & CEO
The Chicago Screenwriters Network would especially like to thank those past organizers who worked to establish the original network. We thank you for laying down the foundation and acquiring the non-profit status. We hope you are proud of what we have accomplished, and we hope you continue supporting us as we take our journey forward on being an educational, inspirational vehicle for screenwriters and filmmakers in the Chicagoland area.
The Chicago Screenwriters Network would like to give a Special Thank You to all our Speakers, Members, Guest, Sponsors, and Partners. To our Guest Speakers, “Thank You” for working with us, continuing to support us, and giving back your time, expertise and knowledge to our writing community. To our Members, Guests and Friends, thank you for attending our meetings and supporting us in every way. To our Sponsors and Partners, thank you for coming along aside us and partnering with us.
Finally, the Chicago Screenwriters Network would like to acknowledge and give a Special Thanks to the prior and current board members who have given of their time throughout the many years. We could not have kept this organization functioning without your generous time, energy and support.
AMOROUS LESKO // President
Amorous first gained her experience over the years by volunteering her time working on various creative professional projects. She impressed her first film crew and assistant director by arriving with a black bag of filmmaking paraphernalia, carrying items possibly needed by any of the various departments. She worked alongside friends that had film projects and new acquaintances, and picked up as much knowledge and experience as she could. A passionate storyteller from an early age, family members often mistook her imagination for a program or film she must have watched on TV. Under her leadership, it is her goal to create opportunities for writers and filmmakers to collaborate, enhance their skills, and bring their words to screen.
TOMMY SIGMON // Managing Director
Tommy (who directs under the name Lomai) is a Chicago-based writer/director who has begun to amass an extensive list of credits, working on short films, videos, and independent features -- including the sci-fi anthology film "Paradigm Grey." Tommy has also written an impressive array of screenplays, including the thriller "Sin Verite," which placed in the top 20 percent of all screenplays that were accepted into the Nicholl Fellowship script contest, and the schi-fi fantasy adventure "The Kid-Verse Adventures," which is currently being developed with David Waite of Jupiter Films as a potential tent-pole release.
NEIL O'CALLAGHAN // Marketing & Development
An actor, writer, and producer, Neil O’Callaghan studied sketch and improv at Second City, iO, and the Annoyance Theater, as well as Meisner at Green Shirt Studio and viewpoints at Act One Studios. Neil regularly appears on stage and screen, and is a recurring lead in videos for The Onion and its sister site, Clickhole. He is passionate about the environment, education and canines. In addition to walking around in the background of your favorite network Chicago television shows, you can also catch him at various Dunkin' Donuts around Chicago's Northside purchasing delicious ice-cold cold brew coffee.
DON DONAGHUE // Board Member
MJ DEAMON // Board Member
Melinda "MJ" Deamon is a Chicago actress, dancer, singer, and can be found occasionally doing some producing, casting, wardrobe and whatnot. Melinda is a company and Board member of Saint Sebastian Players and produces their annual 10-Minute Play Festival. She is a certified Reiki Practitioner, Somatic Movement Facilitator and yogini (available for private sessions) and loves all vegetables. A self-proclaimed crazy-cat-lady, Melinda is a special event volunteer with Tree House Humane Society and proud cat mom to Pendley and Chewie. Always interested in expanding her knowledge and experience, Melinda is open to any conversation so, hit her up!
ERIC ROBERTS // Board Member
ADAM SMESTAD // Board Member