Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Black List announces podcast series


The Black List has announced a new podcast series called the Black List Table Reads.

It's a podcast version of what the company already does with the live staged script readings, along with founder Franklin Leonard interviewing the scripts' writers. Scripts will come from the annual list, the website, and various other sourcing methods. Each script will be serialized over four episodes.

Launching April 16, the first featured script read for episodes 1-4 is Balls Out, written by Malcolm Spellman (producer of Empire) and Tim Talbott (winner of the 2014 Sundance Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award). Follow the coveted stories as they unfold on The Black List Table Reads Thursdays on Wolfpop.com.

All Wolfpop podcasts are available for streaming on iTunes and Soundcloud.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Snag a fellowship at LA writing workspace theOffice

Just got word of a fellowship opportunity at theOffice:
If you're looking for the perfect place in LA to leave the distractions of life behind and finish that screenplay/novel/short story/what-have-you, enter now to win a FREE 6 month Premium Membership to theOffice. 
theOffice is a quiet, communal workspace on 26th Street in Santa Monica (across from the Brentwood Country Mart). There are 26 ergonomic workstations in the room equipped with Aeron chairs, wifi, a reference library and all the coffee & tea you can handle. Charter and current members include JJ Abrams, Matthew Carnahan, Clark Gregg, Gigi Levangie Grazer, Jen Celotta, Gary Glasberg and many more. It's where serious writers go to GET IT DONE. 
The contest is free to enter. All of the details are on theOfficeOnlineBlog.com.
Hurry!!  Deadline to apply is April 15th. 
Send Submissions to: theOfficeFellowship@gmail.com 
Find us on Twitter: @theOffice_LA

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Upcoming screenwriting events in LA

Black List Live Read: 2014 Black List Script GIFTED

Sat, March 14
7:30 - 10:30 pm

Ricardo Montalban Theatre
1615 Vine St.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Tickets are $27.37. Purchase them & get more info here.

Written and Directed by Tom Flynn, GIFTED is the story of Frank Adler, a deliberate under-achiever raising his niece Mary in rural Florida. Things get complicated for both of them when he enrolls her in school for the first time and she is immediately labeled as gifted. For reasons that become boldly apparent, all Frank wants is for Mary to have a normal life, but standing in his way is his formidable mother Evelyn, and the small problem that he doesn't actually have custody of Mary.

Starring:

Armie Hammer (THE SOCIAL NETWORK, THE LONE RANGER)
Mckenna Grace (COOK, AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES)
Mary Steenburgen
Gina Rodriguez (JANE THE VIRGIN)
Michael Beach (SONS OF ANARCHY)
Nick Searcy (JUSTIFIED)

Writers Guild Foundation: First Draft To Feature (Spring Craft Symposium)

Sat, March 28
9 am - 6 pm

Writers Guild Theater
135 S. Doheny Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Tickets are $65. Purchase them & get more info here.

Get your screenplay ready for submission to industry professionals with a full day of panels discussing how to take apart your story and turn it into something special. Writers Guild Foundation and Austin Film Festival team-up for four panels, a WGA Archive Exhibit, and a full day of inspiration.

Panelists:

Greg Beal – Director of the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting
Evan Daugherty – DIVERGENT, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN
Leslie Dixon – MRS. DOUBTFIRE, PAY IT FORWARD
Matt Dy – Director of the Austin Film Festival Screenplay and Teleplay Competitions
Jason Hall – AMERICAN SNIPER, PARANOIA
Rick Jaffa – AVATAR 2 & 3, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Adam Kolbrenner – Manager/Producer at MADHOUSE ENTERTAINMENT
Ashley Edward Miller – X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, THOR
Barbara Morgan – Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Austin Film Festival, Producer
Pamela Ribon – Memoir "Notes to Boys (And Other Things I Shouldn’t Share in Public)," novelist, screenwriter, actor, and blogger
Edward Ricourt – A.K.A. JESSICA JONES, NOW YOU SEE ME
Terry Rossio – NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN TRILOGY & ON STRANGER TIDES
Amanda Silver – AVATAR 2 & 3, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Robin Swicord – MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, MATILDA

Monday, March 2, 2015

CBS Writers Mentoring Program now accepting submissions


The CBS Writers Mentoring Program is accepting submissions from March 2 - May 1, 2015. From its website:
The focus of this six month program is on opening doors: providing opportunities to build relationships with network executives and show runners; to support new and emerging writers in their efforts to improve their craft; and to develop the interpersonal skills necessary to break in and succeed. 
The Writers Mentoring Program is not employment and there is no monetary compensation. It is, instead, a structured program of career development, support, and personal access to executives and the decision-making processes, with the goal of preparing aspiring writers for later employment opportunities in television.
Each participant will be teamed with two different mentors. One is a CBS network or studio executive with whom they will meet on a regular basis, to discuss their work, get creative feedback on their material and get advice and support in furthering their career. The other is a show mentor who is a senior-level writer on a current CBS drama or comedy series. This relationship builds over the course of the Program and is focused on helping the participant with career goals. 
Once a week, participants will be invited to attend a small workshop-style meeting with various CBS show runners and other industry professionals. Speakers include executive producers, agents, managers, development and current executives and show runners. The purpose of these gatherings is for participants to gain a better understanding of how the business works from many different perspectives as well as creating the opportunity to make critical networking connections. 
Another important part of the Program is the opportunity for each participant to spend time observing in a writing room, as well as in the CBS current and development departments.
The Program is scheduled to begin in late September 2015 and continues through April 1, 2016. To apply, you must submit an application, letter of interest, work resume or bio, notarized submission release form and two writing samples (one spec script and one original pilot, stage play or short fiction story).

 Head over to the program's website to read more and apply.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

HBO launches writing fellowship


HBO has launched a new HBOAccess Writing Fellowship.

From their website:
The HBOAccess Writing Fellowship is designed to give emerging, diverse writers the opportunity to develop a half-hour or hour script suitable for HBO or Cinemax. 
The program will select up to 8 diverse writers to take part in a series of master classes held over one week in mid-August at the HBO campus in Santa Monica. Classes will consist of discussions with HBO executives and showrunners and will focus on character, story, pitching, securing an agent, and networking.  
Each participant will then be paired with an HBO or Cinemax development executive who will serve as his/her mentor throughout next 8 months. In addition, we will hold monthly group meetings during which projects will continue to be work-shopped. At the end of the 8 months, HBO will hold a reception for industry professionals where the writers will be introduced to the entertainment community.
Applicants must by 21 or older and able to work in the U.S. You also must not have been staffed on a network or cable series in excess of 13 episodes and/or have had more than one feature film or more than two plays produced.

The submission period opens March 4, 2015 and the deadline is April 1, 2015. To apply, submit a resume, writing sample, completed release form and 500-word personal essay through Withoutabox. For more info, go here!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

5 Questions with a Writers' PA on a network drama

A Writers' Production Assistant on an upcoming drama on a three-letter network was kind enough to answer 5 questions about her job:

What's your background?

I grew up in the south and I didn't attend any film school. But I did go to college and my degree is actually on the other end of the spectrum from film: Health and Physical Education. It's funny looking back -- Google and trial-by-fire were my film education. For two years before I decided to pursue writing professionally and move to LA,  I was a coach and teacher. I looked around and told myself I didn't want to do this for the next thirty years of my life, so after my second year I packed up and moved to LA.

I did do an internship for a summer at a production company, but I got in right on the brink of that big intern lawsuit so I was lucky to be able to do that and not need it for college credit. I was already living in LA at the time. Funny enough, I had a staffing meeting at this company and made friends with the exec and when I saw the listing for an intern at that company I emailed her and was like, "So... what are the requirements?" And she told me to start the next week.

How did you get your current job as Writers' PA? 

This is actually my first industry related job. I kind of went about it backwards so I apologize to anyone leaning in to get all the good secrets to success. I actually went on a staffing meeting for this show and had made a good connection with the creator, so when I didn't get the writing position, I emailed to see if they needed any assistants since they were about to start up and they did, so he hired me. I originally got the staffing meeting because I had a manager and agents. I had reps when I moved out, but have since changed management companies and agencies. My team is really great and the get my material out there and really champion me. I know that's not the case for everyone (I've been on the opposite side) but I really give them credit where it's due.

What are the basic duties of your job?

My biggest duty of the day is definitely lunch. I collect orders every morning from the writers and get that put in as early as I can because it seems all the TV shows eat at the same dozen places around this area every week. One day I showed up to pick up an order and there were five of us PAs from various shows waiting on food, ha.

Aside from lunch I do a lot of office work -- answering phones, ordering supplies, getting groceries, keeping the kitchen clean and stocked. When the writers' assistant is gone, sometimes I get to pop in the room to take notes or when the showrunner's assistant is away, I take over phone and email duties -- so I get to mix it up every now and then.

How long is your typical work day? When do you write?

I consistently work 10-12 hours a day. There's that saying you always hear about PAs -- first to arrive, last to leave -- and that's pretty accurate. Finding writing time and the energy can definitely be tough because at the end of the day you're exhausted mentally and physically and weekends become about recuperation. When I have some down time at work (like I do at the moment), I will sneak in some writing at my desk. Otherwise, I'm taking full advantage of three day weekends or long holidays to binge write and then I'll rewrite in the office. Every blue moon, I'll get up early enough to get in the office early and do some writing, but I've found I'm not a morning writing at all, so sometimes I'll stay after everyone leaves and get a couple pages in.

What's something you've learned from your job?

How much being a great writer can become secondary when working on a television show...because when you're breaking as a group and getting constant feedback on outlines and scripts from ten or more people, it's like they help rewrite you over and over. Which leads me to say, it's very important to have a great personality because you're hanging around the same 12-14 people all day. I think I heard a showrunner say something like, "I'll hire a good writer with a great personality over a great writer who is an asshole...I can always rewrite them but I can't change them if they're an asshole..."

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How to describe minor characters

Chris writes: Should I assign names to the minor characters in my feature? I don't want readers to get "character overload".

There's no hard and fast rule about this, but when characters are named "WOMAN #1" or "COP #1," it signals to me that I don't really have to pay attention to these people because if they were important, they'd have names. I would try to avoid writing a ton of unnamed characters in your script, because readers will gloss over them and because we'd rather spend time learning more about the main characters we do care about. Sometimes a story requires a lot of characters and you can't avoid these people, but take a step back and reassess if you introduce thirty different people by page 10 (yes, I've seen this).

If a character is in multiple scenes, give him/her a name or perhaps a memorable epithet. Maybe this works better in comedy, but you can call people BANGS and FEDORA instead of WOMAN #1 and MAN #2. Even TALL COP or SKINNY COP. Anything that creates a visual image will be helpful and more interesting. If a character is only in one scene, it's fine to use a name like WOMAN, but make your choice functional. There's a SCRAPYARD OWNER in the NIGHTCRAWLER script, for example, which is more specific than MAN. You can also include someone's title in the name you use above dialogue, such as DETECTIVE GARCIA instead of just GARCIA. The goal is always clarity.

John August has also written helpful posts about introducing characters.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Advice from TV lit manager Zadoc Angell

The internet is filled with great interviews with TV writers, but we don't often hear from agents and managers. That's why I was so happy to read Final Draft's interview with Zadoc Angell, a manager at Echo Lake who has also worked as an agent (we used to work together!). He offers a lot of good advice for aspiring TV writers:
My advice is to work in the business. I think too often writers will keep a day job in some other medium that affords them the ability to write and a lot of free time to write so they might be getting the writing done but they are not building relationships. And so, they are missing out on a huge component – especially in television – of jumpstarting a career. People will have a day job at Starbucks or something and write a lot and they might have a body of material, but they are hoping to be discovered by an agent or manager out of the blue who then will somehow single-handedly launch their career overnight, and that’s just not realistic.
Click over to Final Draft to read the whole interview!