Brian chimes in on the should-you-or-shouldn't-you contest debate: Having won a pair of fiction prizes, similarly geared toward identifying new talent, I was of the mindset that winning is the only thing that mattered (if not, you're just a bridesmaid who got drunk and regretfully slept with the groom's horrid frat brother). But I have to say, even though I didn't win – I was one of three finalists in the teleplay category – Austin was great. The panelists were splendid and accessible, everything was laid back, and, no, I did not have tons of managers/agents begging to read my work on the spot, but I know others who landed representation out of the conference/festival, and after my return I did get responded to off the dreaded query. Now, I was still living up north at the time, so I was not in a position to really push, but the point is: it's a crowded field, and short of being a competition whore, why not apply to Austin and others of reputable ilk?
I am also thrilled to share some advice from Adam, a staff writer on the new CBS series Swingtown: My first advice for you, become an assistant on a show...any show. Asst in the room, EP asst, Script Coordinator, and the Writer's PA (in that order). Every single (or at least most) freelance and staff writer bumps come from one of these four jobs. Beg, borrow, and steal from all of your agency contacts to get one of these jobs...and then wait. Sad but true, it still takes a while once you're in.
Those of you following my personal pilot writing saga will be happy to hear I've finished my new act two and three of my college radio pilot. The problem? I'm on page 49. After watching a few pilots this week (including Swingtown), I've come to realize you don't necessarily need the twistiest, craziest plot in your pilot. Yes, you need some. You need a couple surprises and developments, you need your characters to make decisions and act on them, and you need exposition to fall out naturally as your characters do their thing. (One of the crappier pilots I watched had the curse of being an hour of people standing around and talking about who they are and how they got there.) But with a town festival and a setup of person-entering-world (or re-entering world, as is in my pilot, Gossip Girl, and a few others) - you may have enough.
Next: People vs. Devices - and how you can't have nearly as much fun with devices... (I can see the comments already.)