Danté Bailey. (courtesy photo)

Toward the end of his first writing class as an MFA student (‘23) at USC’s Cinematic School of the Arts (SCA), Danté Bailey asked the professor: “can we keep doing this in the summer?” With this simple inquiry, Bailey’s weekly film workshop, “Tune-Up Tuesday”, was born.

What made professor Stephen Armour’s USC class so special for Danté and his fellow colleagues was the fact that Armour facilitated a safe yet honest place for students to receive and give notes on each other’s stories, scripts, and films. Created by a desire to grow as artists during a period where most students were not in class, Bailey’s “Tune-Up Tuesday” workshop became a resource for inspired SCA MFA Candidates to hone their craft and broaden their community during the summer.

“Everybody who was in my class just came to my house. Then I started to ask…is it okay if I invite [non-USC people] too? From there, it was…5-6 of us who came consistently. Now, every week can be anywhere from 8 to 20 [people]”, Danté shared with the Sentinel.

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Five years after its conception, a typical Tune-Up Tuesday begins at roughly 7:30 p.m. in the comfort of Danté’s home. Attendees trickle in and fill the room with conversation, connecting with peers and introducing any newcomers to one another. Around 8 p.m. Danté introduces himself and relays a brief background on how Tune-Up Tuesday began, paying homage to Professor Armour. He then firmly states his only rule: “grandma’s rule: anybody you meet in this space, you treat them as though you met at grandma’s house”. This rule reinforces the values that make this workshop successful: camaraderie and respect.

He then asks everyone to introduce themselves. Although this is a film workshop geared toward writers and directors, it is not rare for other types of artists to show up as well: “Tune-Up Tuesday is literally for everyone. We have people who are beginners [in film], film students, enthusiasts, professionals working with studios, recent graduates, actors, and singers”, Danté expounded. Attempting to be a fly on the wall during the most recent Tune-Up, I listened as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, actors, and musicians introduced themselves.

A group of Tune Up participants with Danté Bailey. (courtesy of Tyler Holmes)

Up next was the sharing portion of the workshop: a few scripts no more than 25 pages long and a short film. During the table read or short film, the attendees know to look for eight core aspects that must be clearly depicted in order to have a strong story: (1) the theme, (2)  the genre/tone, (3) the main character and their goal, (4) the plot goal, (5)  the conflict to the plot goal, (6) the stakes (internal and external), (7) the plan to get the plot goal, and (8) the relationship between the two main characters.

After a couple hours of sharing, comments, and critiques, the night reached an end. Some participants lingered to share more ideas or connect with someone across the room. The intentional fostering of community, particularly among so many individuals who moved to L.A. for a career within the entertainment industry, was heartwarming.

It’s also a full circle experience for Danté, who had similar mentorship when he was growing up as a teen in DC making videos with Cool Kids Forever Films. Reflecting on the progress of his workshop, Danté shared: “I think I’ve created an extension of [Cool Kids]…to be a mentor or connect people with possible mentors. We take care of each other, and we’re stronger together. We’re family now.”