Without any official maritime affiliation, the improbably named “Fort Collins Yacht Club” on Facebook is a script incubator that issues a prompt, challenges, and a tight deadline for aspiring writers. Finished scripts are shared within the community of writers and often short films, plays, or characters are born from these little bake-off produced vignettes. Group leader and progenitor, Nick Holland says “The idea came from wanting to remove myself from a dependence on “the muse” or “the spark of inspiration” or whatever you want to call it. I wanted to create myself an arena where I was doing creative writing on deadlines, without waiting to feel like I was inspired to write.”
Writers, performers, and standups find themselves needing these sorts of directives now more than ever so Nick reanimated Yacht Club to full-on active status at the height of social isolation for the sense of community it established; subsequently, “The internet has stepped in to actually be an advocate for local culture, whereas I think there was a much worse tension in that relationship in the past,” Nick opines. Now a wide array of amatuer writers, comedians, theatre and film folk, and “maybe just the vaguely ‘script curious’ “ participate regularly.
Local writer and film director, Jack Krause says of the Yacht Club, “Having the yacht club and it’s guided structure has helped focus work that in other cases would only float around and never leave my head. Some of my best writing has come from Nick’s prompts.” (See images below from Jack’s “How to be Happy,” a satirical self-help guide on how to be happy, which started as a prompt.)
“I think it is a great time in art for people to make small, modest and personal things.” – Nick Holland
There’s something quite appealing and exciting about a short commitment writing project with “limited buy-in, limited investment.” Yacht Club scripts are capped at 15 pages but they can be scripts for film or stage, although some branch out into radio plays, animation storylines, or comic strips (see full length graphic novel images below inspired by script exercise by Dustin Holland). Having parameter challenges that are sometimes cryptic (“The more things change the more they stay the same”), sometimes concrete (“birds” or “green”), and at other times practical (“Everyone tries to speak at the same time”) actually stimulates creativity or gives folks a jumping off point.
Prompt creator, Nick Holland says that, from personal experience “It’s important to give yourself permission to fail [and accept] that it might suck. But if you spend less than a week on a thing it is pretty easy to abandon it. On the other hand, you might be pleasantly surprised.” The group provides accountability, too. If you tell a bunch of people on social media that you have an idea and intend to put pen to paper and make something, you’re much more likely to do it. “I might say “I’m gonna write this thing and have a draft in a week,” and from personal experience it’s pretty easy to let yourself off the hook for a million different reasons,” admits Nick.
Beyond its role as a spark-machine for new ideas and cross pollination, the Fort Collins Yacht Club is a place for potential collaboration and is open to anyone. “My real hope is that it continues to be an incubator, and that people meet or begin to interact in the Yacht Club, and either turn out scripts that start productions (film/stage/comic/whatever), or just start working together in other projects that aren’t related to these first scripts. Collaboration pushes and challenges and often can create things greater than the sum of its parts.”
What about this strange, isolated, and seemingly disconnected time makes it right for projects like this one? Nick replies, “I think it is a great time in art for people to make small, modest and personal things.”
Join the Facebook group for all of The Yacht Club calls for artists, challenges, member projects and moments of inspiration at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1004283856303559
This article is part of a series of highlights about our Fort Collins artists and creatives making a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Thank you for supporting local artists, musicians, creative small businesses and Downtown Fort Collins!