The Story Farm Screenwriting Lab & Retreat

a screenplay contest | taught by Max Timm

Course description


Sorry everyone, but we have decided to cancel the retreat contest. It was a difficult decision to make, but The Story Farm does intend to run inexpensive retreats across the country in the near future, so stay tuned.

Until then, the ISA has numerous contests that you should consider.

Click this link to find the right contest for you.


A screenplay contest...writing lab...week-long retreat!

We're now accepting submissions and applications! To apply you must


Click Enroll for Free if you wish to be placed on our mailing list. We will email you information on how to apply, but you can skip that step by clicking the Apply Here link above.

Keep scrolling to learn all about this exciting new contest sponsored by the Int'l Screenwriter's Assoc.

Regular deadline (June 30) application fee is only $60! Save $15 before June 30.

Please read the How To Apply section below for further instructions.

Applications are also accepted through

The Story Farm coaches and ISA team members will bring eight writers to a 10,000 square foot, renovated farmhouse on a peaceful, private, and serene two acres in southeastern Wisconsin for an intensive workshop and lab writing retreat. Walking distance to a lakeside village, The Story Farm Screenwriting Lab & Retreat will focus your time on workshopping and lectures, developing you and your career, and offering five nights of creativity, catered meals, open writing time, mentoring and networking.

Two Scholarship Winners will receive $400 toward their airfare, and automatic inclusion in the ISA Development Program with five pages of notes after the retreat is over. And, NEW PRIZE awarded: 6 Months of Personal Consulting and Coaching with The Story Farm and Max Timm

No other contest or retreat offers this much support, education, fun and creativity! Especially since...

The kicker? Every writer who applies to The Story Farm Screenwriting Lab & Retreat, regardless of acceptance, receives Max Timm's online course for free with the price of the application.

The Fall 2017 Story Farm Screenwriting Lab & Retreat

October 22 - October 27

Welcome to The Story Farm!

(Scroll down for more images of the surrounding area of Lake Geneva, WI - known as The Hamptons of the Midwest)


Eight Finalists Receive

  • Five-days, all expenses* paid writing retreat
  • Free submission to and consideration for the ISA Development Program, with five pages of notes on your finished script after the retreat
  • An intensive screenwriting lab and workshop - scroll down to read the bio of our lead mentor, Max Timm
  • Full week of education, brainstorming, feedback on material, industry and business support/recommendations
  • Additional Story Farm and ISA team members will join the retreat as special mentors
  • Open writing time in the afternoons
  • Special events and dinners in the evenings
  • Opening and Closing Night parties
  • Story & Bonfire Nights
  • Free, one-year membership to ISAConnect
  • $1000 off The Story Farm 12-month coaching and development service with Max Timm, or $500 off the six-month option (can be applied to a payment plan)
  • All applicants receive The Craft Course in Screenwriting with the price of their application fee (a $99 value) regardless of acceptance into the Lab & Retreat!

*2 of the 8 finalists/winners will receive $400 toward their airfare. The remaining six finalists/winners will need to cover their airfare costs.

Two Grand Prize Winners Receive: 

  • $400 toward their airfare, plus their own private suite on the farm.
  • Six Months of personal coaching and script development with Max Timm, and The Story Farm
  • Automatic invite into the ISA Development Program - industry exposure, script circulation, year-long career support

Top 25 Writers Receive:

  • $50 off the ISA Development Program submission
  • Free feedback on your project's logline, hook, and concept
  • $1000 off The Story Farm 12-month coaching and development service with Max Timm, or $500 off the six-month option (can be applied to a payment plan)
  • Exposure through announcement of Top 25 through the ISA's network

Who Can Apply?

Anyone! Whether you've had material produced, or if you haven't, if you are a first-time screenwriter or a veteran, The Story Farm is looking for talented, well-intentioned, passionate screenwriters who know how to tell an excellent story. Writing partners ARE allowed, however each individual writer must submit a separate application AND notate who their writing partner is. If there is not a notation of the writer's partner, we will not know who to also consider for ONE of the 8 spots on the retreat. There are only 8 finalist spots available, meaning only 8 writers can jump on board, so it is not guaranteed that the writing partner of a finalist will be accepted. For questions, email

Apply Here!

How To Apply (scroll down to find out how we judge your application):

NOTE: Submissions and applications are accepted in two ways: through the ISA contest page or You will submit a PDF of your 20-page sample of a screenplay (Feature or TV, no shorts please), two loglines, one-page bio/cover letter, and a resume.

  1. Submit first 20 pages of best writing sample in PDF format only - (please do not submit more than 20 pages)
  2. Two loglines: one logline for your 20-page writing sample AND a logline for the new project the you intend to work on while on the retreat. We suggest that you work on a brand new project while on the retreat. You will notate which logline is the new project.
  3. One-page cover letter/artist statement: You should reference the new project you intend to write while on the retreat, what it means to you, and how it reflects your artistic vision and voice. A background of you and your personal story is recommended as well.
  4. Resume of any and all screenwriting, industry, or educational accolades – i.e. contest wins or placements, secured representation or produced/optioned material, industry jobs like personal assistant, or Writer’s Assistant to Joss Whedon. “Educational accolades”, for ex. “BA from NYU, Tisch School of the Arts”, or Nobel Prize in Literature.

If you have never written a screenplay before, this retreat will be a little overwhelming, but we welcome first-time writers if they are ready and willing to work hard and dive in to the education process. If there is not a writing sample available, the writer must explain this within his/her one-page story bio.

Apply through here!

Application Fee and Deadlines

  • $45 for Early Deadline - May 28, 2017
  • $60 for Regular Deadline - June 30, 2017
  • $75 for Late Deadline - August 4, 2017
  • Add $50 to receive feedback on your submitted 20-page sample (Feedback option only offered through ISA Contest page link below)

Apply through the ISA Website here!

Selection Criteria

Judges from The Story Farm and the International Screenwriters' Association will review your 20-page sample, TWO loglines, bio one-sheet, and resume of achievements. We will be looking for writers who can entertain the judges in the FIRST 20 pages of your script enough to make us want to keep reading beyond those 20 pages (and no, you can not submit ANY 20-page set of pages - it must be the first 20 pages). We will also expect the contest winners to have an understanding of how to write and structure a solid logline that delivers a strong project hook (you will be submitting TWO loglines - one for your sample, and one for the project you intend to work on while at the retreat).

The bio one-sheet will show us your capability of handling not only the written word, but also your passion, drive, and intentions for your future career in screenwriting. We suggest mentioning what you hope to have accomplished five years from now. Your resume and list of accolades will show us how much experience you have as a writer, but we will be primarily focused on your bio one-sheet and the writing ability/quality of your 20-page sample. You do not need to be a professional/experienced screenwriter to apply to this contest.

The Fine Print

Beyond the application fee, there is no cost or tuition to participate in The Story Farm Screenwriting Lab & Retreat beyond the cost of your own airfare. Two scholarship winners, however, (the "grand prize winners") will receive $400 toward their airfare.

All applicants receive The Craft Course in Screenwriting with the price of their application fee (a $99 value)!

If you have questions or hesitations, feel free to email:

The Fall 2017 Story Farm Screenwriting Lab & Retreat will take place October 22 - October 27

Apply Here!


All applicants, regardless of acceptance, receive The Craft Course in Screenwriting with the price of their application fee (a $99 value)!

Retreat Daily Schedule (subject to change and additional details):

Day 1:

  • 1:30 – 3:30pm: Writers arrive: find assigned rooms, meet fellow writers, get settled, get introduced to The Story Farm Crew.
  • 3:30 – 4:30pm: Orientation, Snacks and Refreshments
  • 4:30 – 5:30pm: Open - Get Settled & Explore
  • 5:30pm – 9:00pm: Opening Night Dinner and Party: a special catered dinner to start the retreat with a bang.

Day 2:

  • 7:45am – 9:00am: Coffee and Breakfast is served
  • 9:00am – 12:00pm: Class session with Max Timm
  • 12:00pm – 1:30pm: Lunch is served
  • 1:30pm – 3:30pm: Industry Guest/Mentor Presentation
  • 3:30pm – 6:30pm: Open. Writing time. Also available is “Office Hours” with Max, the special Industry Guest/Mentor, or The Story Farm Coach. Or writers can explore the location, nearby attractions, gather and brainstorm their projects together. (Writing time is preferred!)
  • 6:30pm – 8:30pm: Dinner is served, plus extra writing/unwind time available.
  • 8:30pm – 10:00pm: Story/Bonfire night to review the first full day, share any and all revelations, pitch their current project, have some drinks around the fire, roast some marshmallows. Drinks will be served and available.

Day 3:

  • 7:45am – 9:00am: Coffee and Breakfast is served
  • 9:00am – 12:00pm: Class session with Max Timm
  • 12:00pm – 1:30pm: Lunch is served
  • 1:30pm – 6:30pm: Open. Writing time. Office Hours available. Explore. Gather and Brainstorm.
  • 6:30pm – 8:30pm: Special Event/Dinner
  • 8:30pm – Open. Writers can write, brainstorm and/or spend time with their new Story Friends, play some board games, explore the property, go to bed early, whatever they like. Wine and drinks will be available until 9:30pm.

Day 4:

  • 7:45am – 9:00am: Coffee and Breakfast is served
  • 9:00am – 12:00pm: Class session with Max Timm
  • 12:00pm – 1:30pm: Lunch is served
  • 1:30pm – 6:00pm: Open. Writing time. Office Hours available. Explore. Gather and Brainstorm.
  • 6:00pm – 7:00pm: Light snacks served before event
  • 7:00pm – 10:00pm: Special Event/Dinner

Day 5:

  • 7:45am – 9:00am: Coffee and Breakfast is served
  • 9:00am – 12:00pm: Class session with Max Timm
  • 12:00pm – 1:30pm: Lunch is served
  • 1:30pm – 6:00pm: Open. Writing time. Office Hours available. Explore. Gather and Brainstorm.
  • 6:00pm – 7:30pm: Dinner is served
  • 7:30pm – 8:30pm: Hang out time, or continued writing time
  • 8:30pm – 10:00pm: Closing Night Party

Day 6:

  • 7:45am – 9:00am: Coffee and breakfast is served
  • 9:00am – 10:00: Check-Out. Farewell.

Apply Here!

Welcome to Lake Geneva, WI

Home of The Story Farm Screenwriting Lab & Retreat

A view of the lake - one of only five spring-fed lakes in the state of Wisconsin.

The cute little downtown is like Park City, without the mountains or stuffy celebs trying to ski.

The eastern end of Lake Geneva - during their August local fair and summer celebration.

The changing leaves during the fall along the lake is a breathtaking sight for a day-dreaming writer.

Bird's eye view of our beautiful home.

Where in the world will you be? Right here!

More images of our beautiful barn and two-acre sanctuary.

Acres of woods and freedom at your disposal (and maybe a little tennis while you're at it).

Join your Story Friends with a cup 'o Joe on the porch.

The most popular room on the Farm.

The second most popular room!

Get cozy with a good book...or that script you're supposed to finish!

Serenade your Story Friends with a little music.

What's a writing retreat in Wisconsin without a hot tub?

Keep that creativity flowing with a little workout.

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to reach out.

Apply Here!

We can't wait to see you on the farm!

Max Timm
Max Timm
Lead Mentor and Instructor

The Director of Education & Outreach with the International Screenwriters’ Association, President of The Story Farm, and with over a decade of experience in developing material and writers’ careers, Max Timm's focus with the ISA is to build a creative community and bring ISA writers closer to ISA Industry Professionals. Having attended Holy Cross College at Notre Dame and then transferring to Columbia College Chicago to study screenwriting and producing, Max is a Midwesterner and Chicagoan at heart who prides himself on supporting creative people in as many ways possible. Recently he helped build a development program with the ISA, submitting writers’ projects on their behalf and helping them launch their careers – ten writers received options and representation to date because of Max’s assistance and support. His Story Farm Service develops working writers and their material much like a studio executive or manager would, and his online classes, titled The Craft Course in Screenwriting, offer writers outside the Los Angeles area to take part in professional full development.

A development consultant, manager, and screenwriting instructor, Max is a screenwriter and author himself. His debut novel, a young adult fantasy adventure titled The WishKeeperabout a teenage fairy with broken wings, won the young adult category of the 2015 Los Angeles Book Festival and released nationwide in the Summer of 2016. Max has also served as a part-time instructor at UCLA, and travels nationally and internationally speaking at a multitude of industry events such as the Sundance Film Festival, Nashville Writers Conference, and even educating art program teachers through the LA Unified School District.

You can find out more about Max's Story Farm Development Coaching Service here.

Course Curriculum

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