Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Writing adaptations for practice?

Rachel writes: What are your thoughts on working on screenplays that are adaptations of novels or other works? I am an aspiring writer myself and for some reason I really would like to try to adapt a screenplay. I wouldn't plan on sending it out to anyone..it really is more for me to practice writing. Is this a good idea for me to do? Or should I try and come up with my own ideas?


In one of my college screenwriting classes, we were assigned the task of adapting short stories into a short film scripts. We didn't own the rights or option the stories or anything - but like you said, it was just for practice. I think for people who only have experience writing prose (which is how most of us begin, I would think), it can be a good exercise in thinking about the differences between screenwriting and prose, and the restrictions and opportunities of the screen. So I think that if you want to tackle an adaptation as practice, go for it. One of my favorite quotes about writing is from Lost's Damon Lindelof, who maintains that you must write a LOT of bad or "practice" scripts before you start writing great scripts: "I got hired as a professional writer for the first time when I was 28 or 29, and I literally have thousands of pages of s***," he says. "A lot of people aren't willing to write s***, or they write two pages of s*** and then they stop. You have to plow through it."

The caveat here is that you have to accept that this script can only be practice because you don't own the rights to the material. If you want to be able to send it to people to launch your writing career, you need to work on an original idea. John August has blogged a lot about adaptations, so I would check out this post and some of his others on the subject.

Also...should you try to come up with your own ideas? Yes! All writers will need original ideas to work on at some point. You can start with the person, the situation, the conflict, the setting, the theme, or anything really. What interests you? What do you want to find out more about?


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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Send me a spec" and the following panic

Ryan writes: I met a TV development guy over the weekend who gave me his card and said, "Send me a spec." On top of the script I'm planning on a very short, single paragraph cover letter, but do you think a résumé or the like is worthwhile? Also, despite the increased popularity of getting work based on pilots, should I take his "spec" comment to literally mean he wants a spec of something on the air?

Do not send a cover letter. Maybe this is what you meant, but you should just send a simple email, something like "Great meeting you this weekend! I hope you survived rainpocalypse 2010. As discussed, here's my spec of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER. Looking forward to your thoughts!" Definitely do not send a resume unless he talked about helping you get a writers' assistant job or something. He wants to find out about your writing, not about your random odd jobs.

The spec versus pilot thing is a little tougher. I would follow his advice and send a spec since that's what he asked for. But if you have written a pilot you're really proud of, I don't see any problem with saying something about it in the email. Something like: "If you're interested, I also have an original pilot about robots who get lonely after killing off the human race." See if the logline makes him bite.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Getting admin experience when all jobs require admin experience

Liz writes: For the past few months I've come so close to getting kick ass assistant jobs only to be passed over in favor of those with more "administrative experience." I've been told by two different HR reps that I would have gotten said jobs if I just had more assistant/admin work on my resume.


Does admin work mean "assistant" work? It seems like such a catch 22 that you need administrative experience to get an assistant position, but the only way to get administrative experience is by working as an assistant.

I understand your frustration, since I went through the exact same thing a few years ago. Yes, admin experience and assistant work are basically the same thing: answering phones, scheduling meetings, keeping an executive's calendar, making copies, organizing files, generating correspondence, etc. It's not difficult work and can be learned very quickly, but many bosses want to hire assistants who already have experience doing these things. Many Hollywood assistant jobs are not entry level.

One thing you can do is try to get a job that's a bit lower on the food chain, like office PA, receptionist, mailroom, intern, etc. Sometimes in these jobs, you'll get to do assistant and admin-type work some of the time, so you'll gradually get more experience. I actually started in the mailroom, and then I got to train to be a floater (someone who fills in for assistants when they're out sick). After that, I was deemed ready to jump into an assistant job at the agency.

You could also see if you could gain some admin experience in a less-snooty office outside of Hollywood. I had one agency HR guy tell me I should go get a job at a doctor's office or something for a few months and then give him a call. That didn't end up being necessary for me, but I could see how it wouldn't be the worst move if you can't seem to find a Hollywood job.

However, many people start right off as assistants without any experience. This usually happens when you A) have a strong connection to get the job, B) find a boss willing to hire you despite how green you are, and C) convince the person interviewing you that you can handle it. I do think you have to be confident in interviews. Rather than emphasizing how you've never been an assistant before, highlight the fact that you're a hard worker and a fast learner. You don't have to lie, just present yourself in the right way. You want to assure them you can do the job - because trust me, I'm sure you can.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

The 2010 Black List is here!

Writers rejoice...the 2010 Black List has arrived! Here are the top 10 screenplays, via the LA Times:

1. COLLEGE REPUBLICANS by Wes Jones
2. JACKIE by Noah Oppenheim
3. ALL YOU NEED IS KILL by Dante Harper
4. SAFE HOUSE by David Guggenheim
5. STOKER by Wentworth Miller
6. 999 by Matt Cook
7. MARGIN CALL by J.C. Chandor
8. AMERICAN BULL by Eric Warren Singer
9. ARGO by Chris Terrio
10. THE LAST SON OF ISSAC LEMAY by Greg Johnson

The entire list will be posted on the LA Times blog 24 Frames and the official Black List site later today. Congrats to all recognized writers!

For more on the Black List, check out this cool KCRW podcast with creator Franklin Leonard.


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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Finding a mentor

Sam writes: How do you go about finding a mentor and asking someone to help you through multiple drafts/multiple projects?

Ask any successful writers how they got to where they are, and the answer usually involves someone who took the time to offer guidance and support. It could be a producer, director, executive, or another writer - but mentors are constantly helping new writers improve their work and navigate the industry. I've been lucky enough to find a mentor who has taken an interest in my writing in this way.

Lots of people will help you on your path to becoming a professional writer, whether it's forwarding your resume on for a job or giving you notes on your script. But the thing is, not everyone wants to be a mentor. Some people really enjoy helping young writers develop their talent - and some don't. You can't force it to happen. Also, professional writers can be really busy. Don't take it as a personal slight if someone isn't able to help you.

In my experience, a mentor/mentee relationship is most likely develop if the A) the person really does want to be a mentor, B) s/he thinks you are a talented writer with a lot of potential, C) you both share the same taste, and D) you've bonded on a personal level. You might meet the friendliest writer in the world, but if she writes romantic comedies, she's probably not the right person to guide you through four drafts of a horror movie. In a recent draft of my script, my mentor wrote down a joke pitch before flipping the page and seeing that I had written the exact same joke already. We obviously have similar brains.

I'm not sure it's really possible to actively seek out a mentor - and I think it would be awkward to ask a writer to be one. You just have to keep meeting people and see if anything clicks (in my case, it happened organically). Also, Sam's question about multiple drafts and projects might be a lofty idea. I would aim for finding someone to offer to read just one draft of one script - and then see what develops. Maybe you'll get some great notes. Maybe you'll get passed onto an agent or manager. Maybe you'll get a mentor. Any of those things would be helpful.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

A screenwriting fellowship?

Sarah wrote in to share the Cinestory Screenwriting Awards, which offer over 20k in prizes and a "one-year fellowship with two industry mentors." There are a few fellowship programs for TV writers (like those from ABC/Disney and Nickelodeon), but I haven't yet seen anything for features, so this is pretty cool. Generally, I'm wary of contests since they often lack professional industry connections, but if you look at the list of former mentors, this one may be the exception.

Any writer without produced feature film credits may enter, as long as his/her entered script has not been previously optioned, sold or produced. The regular deadline is Dec 31 and the entry fee is $55.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

A call for questions/ideas

I'm glad so many people got fired up about yesterday's post! I know I haven't been blogging a lot lately, but I honestly feel like I'm a little out of things to say.

For any new readers: I'm a former agency assistant who now works as a reader, blogger and tutor while working on TV and film scripts. The aim of this blog is to answer the question, what do you do between college and getting paid as a professional screenwriter? Things like...How do you get an internship? What kind of jobs are helpful? Etc. I try to stay away from writing advice or bashing bad movies or shows, since I know I don't really have the authority to write about those things yet. But I am happy to share anything I find helpful in my own writing, and sometimes, like yesterday, I have to rant about things I've found while reading scripts for coverage.

I encourage you to browse the labels to the right of this page to read old posts about agencies, networking, etc. - but if you can't find the answer to your question, or if you want to start up a discussion about something, feel free to email, comment or Tweet me.

I also offer a cheap notes service if you're looking for feedback on your script.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Male screenwriter fantasy

Sometimes when I'm reading a script for coverage, I want to grab a red sharpie and scrawl MALE SCREENWRITER FANTASY across the title page before tossing it into the trash. What I mean by MSF is that instead of writing real, well-developed, multi-dimensional women, male screenwriters sometimes write a woman they wish existed. This often manifests itself in overt sexuality, like the "ample cleavage" cliche that The Bitter Script Reader has blogged about.

Some examples of MSF:
1. All the women in your script sleep with (or attempt to sleep with) your male protagonist, even though he is an average-looking slacker with no job, purpose or attractive qualities.
2. Your physical descriptions of female characters are all highly sexualized, even if the characters are only in one scene and we never see any of their sex lives. Do we really need to know that FEMALE COP #1 has a great rack? (This especially bugs me because I bet you don't get into this kind of detail with your male characters.) Describing them as attractive is fine; I know that actors want to play attractive people. It's the over-sexualization that's problematic.
3. Sex scenes are graphic and/or numerous, even though they have nothing to do with the plot.
4. Women are completely helpless and need your male characters to save them from everything.

To be fair, I'm sure there is plenty of Female Screenwriter Fantasy out there...maybe I just don't see as much of it since male screenwriters still outnumber female ones in Hollywood. I admit that I've been guilty of writing male characters who would fit my own fantasies by being too perfect. For me, they're usually thoughtful, handsome, charming, brilliant, hilarious, employed guys who actively pursue their goals. (Somehow I think that's less offensive than misogyny, but I'm working on it nonetheless.) Writing about fantasies isn't always a bad thing, since wish fulfillment is part of a lot of great movies. But like great villains, all great characters - love interests, sidekicks, cops we see for ten seconds - should be the heroes of their own stories, not just the fantasies of writers.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Support DESPERTAR!

My dear friend Priscila asked me to blog about the indie film DESPERTAR that she is producing and trying to raise money for on indiegogo.com. Take a look:

"Despertar" a Work in Progress from Cristina Kotz Cornejo on Vimeo.

Click here for info about how to donate to the project.



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Thursday, November 18, 2010

PROM Trailer!

My friend Lee worked on this movie so I'm giving it some love! It looks adorable.




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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Writer's groups in Chicago?

Frank writes: I was wondering if you know of any groups in the Chicago area that get together and read their screenplays or writings and help each other?

I'm afraid I don't - but please comment if you live in Chicago and are interested!

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Writing direct-to-DVD movies

Screenwriter Peter Harmon emailed me and I thought everyone might be interested in his experiences writing direct-to-DVD movies. Maybe that's not your ultimate goal, but it's Getting Paid to Write - and I know that's a short-term goal for a lot of us. Here's what Peter had to say:


My last year of college I heard of a program where I could get the last of my credits in LA in a semester program where I would take a couple classes, have an internship, and make short films. I re-wrote and directed a short called Jasper featuring Justin Grant Wade (aka Steve Holt! from Arrested Development.) Jasper premiered at a showcase for the shorts, it was well-received. A producer from a small production company approached me, gave me her information, and said that we should set up a meeting soon. I assumed that nothing would come of it, but she called me when I got back home to Maryland and asked when we could meet. I said something like, "uh, I'm in Maryland." She asked if I was working on a project, I said, "kind of" (I was packing). I told her I'd call her when I got back to LA.


A few days after I got to LA, I met with the producer and she offered me the job to write a feature screenplay for their company. Thus began my relationship with Black Christian Movies and Nu-Lite Entertainment. They specialize in religious African American movies, urban movies, etc. The movies I've written have been very low-budget (the budgets have increased as we've gone along though, and I'm excited for the next two which are coming out in early 2011) and I didn't make enough money to quit my day job. However, they led to me to my manager, who is actually a parent of one of my wife's students (she works at an elementary school).


Writing direct-to-DVD is kind of the wild west right now. If you have a good relationship with a distributor you have a lot of freedom with what you can release. The company I wrote for had a solid religious African American audience that it catered to, the kind of audience that was more forgiving of low production value and a lack of big stars if there was a certain message in the story. The company turns out movies very quickly; I wrote one in the summer of 2008 that was on the shelves in time for Christmas. The movies I've written have gotten better in quality, but since I am non-union the pay is low and there is no backend deal whatsoever. But writing for them led to finding a manager so I think it has been a worthwhile experience.


A question I get asked often is how, as a white guy, I wrote for Black Christian movies. It honestly never came up in the meetings. Thankfully I come from a diverse area on the east coast so it wasn't difficult for me, also I used to attend a church in DC that was similar to one I depicted in the Pastor Jones movie I wrote. We all have the same emotions and I wrote the stories based on simple family dynamics that were universal. I usually write more low key, quirky dark comedies when up to my own devices, but for these movies I went a little bigger and broader while still maintaining my voice and I definitely put in some really weird jokes that were funny to me that I'm surprised made the final cut.


Working for the particular company I have was an interesting experience, since all the movies I've written for them have been sequels. I never thought I would ever write a sequel - how can you think of a new story for characters who already had a whole movie devoted to them? The company would send me a DVD and I would watch them and outline a new story based on the characters, or a main character in the Pastor Jones series' case, or a theme in the Walk By Faith series.


I have pitched my own ideas to them and they seemed receptive so I think int he future if I write for them I could sell them a spec, but they've always had other scripts for me to write instead. If nothing else, working for Nu-Lite/ BCM has taught me so much about meeting with producers, pitching, outlining, writing on assignment, and now rewriting. This is going to sound very cliche, but it's literally been like a master's class in screenwriting.

You can read more from Peter on his blog.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In celebration of stuffy British period pieces

I adore stuffy British period pieces. I seriously can't get enough of the barren countryside, the propriety and the soulful glances. These films make me want to lace myself up in a corset and run around accusing people of being impertinent.

Why do they work?
Interesting visual worlds. Costumes. Choreographed dances. Carriages sailing across the wilderness.
Thoughtful dialogue. People tended to choose their words carefully back then, or at least it seems that way in these movies. Small talk is always loaded with subtext and emotion. Letter writing is a slow, painstaking art. And when people finally do talk about their feelings, it's a big effing deal.
Themes of duty, obligation and forbidden desire. What one wants to do is almost always in conflict with what one must do. You can't just marry (or sleep with) whomever you want. You can't just get a job. And if you're a member of the royal family, you're probably miserable. Money and social status rule all.

And for whatever reason, the female characters are always interesting and well-drawn.

Here are some of the ones I've been devouring lately:









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Monday, October 25, 2010

Stuck as a writer's assistant?

Zachary Pincus-Roth has written an interesting - and potentially depressing - article for LA Magazine about getting stuck as a writer's assistant, script coordinator, etc. Here's a snippet:
For every aspiring writer whose Twitter feed becomes a sitcom, there are thousands of others toiling away at the assistant level, striving to one day be promoted to a full-fledged staff writer. Ideally that job is like a golden chairlift that carries them up the writer hierarchy, through mysterious titles like “coproducer” and “executive story editor,” before all of a sudden they’re running a show, creating other shows, and flipping through the Tesla catalog.
That’s the fantasy. Here’s the reality: Shows get canceled. The people in charge don’t always promote from within. Or a fledgling writer’s spec scripts—intended as writing samples, not for production—just aren’t good enough. So why keep the faith? The cyclical nature of television means that there’s always next season. Which is why some assistants remain assistants for years or even decades, always praying they’ll move up the ladder.
I blogged a little about this last year. Basically, getting an industry job can be an invaluable learning experience and great way to make connections - but it's not a guarantee that you'll land a writing job (or at least a writing job that lasts). Sometimes, quitting your job and finding another way to keep beer in the fridge is the best decision you could make.

It's important to remember, though, that plenty of current TV writers got their jobs by being assistants first. Ask them.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Invisible Ink by Brian McDonald

Invisible Ink by Brian McDonald explores the subtle reasons why good stories work. Dialogue is overt, but writers make a lot of a lot of other choices in their writing that many audience members would never think about. The book contains short, easy-to-digest segments with a variety of interactive exercises and real-life examples. If you want to hone your setups and payoffs, jokes, characters and dialogue, take a read! There are also interesting sections about subplots, handling critique and killing your protagonist. Andrew Stanton and Paul Feig are among Brian's supporters.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

5 Questions with a Writer's Assistant on HUNG

Drew is a Writer's Assistant on HBO's Hung. I asked him 5 Questions about his job:

1. How did you get your job/what experience did you already have?

A Production Coordinator I had worked very hard for on a movie got the call to work on a new HBO pilot, and offered to bring me along to work in the Production Office (this is like working in any administrative office, only it happens that the company you work for manufactures movies and tv shows). As a struggling writer looking for a way into a Writer's Assistant position (very tough to find without knowing someone connected), I knew that starting on the ground floor of a brand new series was my only way in.

I spent the first season on HBO's HUNG (a comedy about a broke, middle aged teacher who becomes a gigolo to make ends meet) working in the Production Office, doing administrative work. It was in that office that I was able to get to know the writers and assistants in the Writers Room.

When season 2 rolled around, I had made enough of an impression for them to bring me on as a Writer's Assistant.

Being dependable is key. Sure, I let the writer’s assistants know that I wanted to work in the room with them, but spending a season demonstrating that I was dependable and helpful is what let the Senior Assistant (Kyle Peck, thank you) know that I had what it took to back him up the following season.

2. What is a typical day like?

My job consists of assisting the writers with whatever they need; notes, lunch orders, research, supplies, etc. The other Writer's Assistant and I get in about an hour before the writers arrive to clean up and get the office organized (hint: writers never find the room the way they left it -- it's not magic, it's us. We fix it.) If we have a Writer's PA on staff, they handle taking the lunch and dinner orders and picking them up for everyone

(Dear PA's and Assistants of all faiths and creeds: Yes, you should always check the lunch/dinner order before you leave the restaurant. Without food, writers of any civilization will cease to communicate and resort to chants, screams and human sacrifices.)

Most importantly, I'm in charge of transcribing their story ideas, pitches and scenes and then organizing them in a way that makes it possible for the staff to write scripts based on what is generated in the room. Ideas are pitched, rejected, replaced, repitched, modified, and then scrawled on little index cards that are placed on a cork board with a corresponding episode. These scenes will sometimes move from episode to episode, being picked apart, re-jiggered, surgically altered, abandoned, re-discovered, and sometimes: dropped altogether onto the Writing Room floor. If they're lucky, they're later reincarnated into a new scene with a different spin.

All of that gets written down.

We're here an hour or two after the writers finish. This is when we go back over the index cards, clean up the notes, send out the emails and catch up on anything that slipped through the cracks during the day.

3. Have you learned anything about writing or Hollywood from your job?

The past year of being in the writers room with such a talented group of storytellers has completely changed the way I write. I used to be obsessed with being clever. I felt it was the only way to stand out in a sea of hacks.

I didn't realize I was writing from intellect without any emotional marrow... which explains why so many of my scripts got stuck in the land of ideas.

I'm learning to ground my scenes in conflict and objectives that I can directly connect to emotionally. Without that link, the work will feel hollow and forced. I've found mentors on this show, who continue to teach me how to tap into a scene with the most energy and truth. I've written three plays this year, one of which we had a live reading in the room with the actors and writers from the show participating.

I feel like I'm learning the difference between how to write a scene that's good and how to write a scene that's alive.

The atmosphere of artistic growth and learning on this show has been unlike anything I've ever experienced. It comes as no surprise that many of the staff are former NY Playwrights who became television writers. That artistic spirit and sensibility always shines through in the room (I do not work for divas, I am happy to announce.)

A writer's worst fear is that they have nothing to offer, nothing to say in a world that doesn't want what they create. It's a rare gift to have people push you to make discoveries about your work and about yourself. I have so many more stories in me than I ever imagined. I feel like I've completely thrown out what I used to understand about writing prior to this job. The only thing I've kept is my taste.

4. What advice would you give someone who's trying to get a job as a writers PA?

We've actually been doing some interviews lately to find a replacement for the Senior Assistant, who co-wrote a script last year and is now moving up to Staff Writer. Having sat on the opposite side of that interview desk, here are a few tips.

a) Be the hardest worker in the room. Get it done. Be proactive. Anticipate what they need. Follow thru. You don’t want them to have to remind you of anything. That’s your job. To remind them.

b) Attitude. Have a good one. You don't want to be the person who makes it clear how difficult it is to do the task handed to you. The answer is always YES. You want them to WANT to ask for your help. Take every opportunity to show off your work ethic. It matters.

c) Don't be creepy. Creepy comes in all kinds of colorful flavors and spices, but if you're sweating bullets, trying to shove your script in their face, trying to be best friends without probable cause, or just feeling like you're three seconds from a nervous breakdown, it freaks people out. They do not want your nervous energy polluting their air space. Somehow you have to be really damn good at all of this while remaining cool, calm and collected.

I know. It's not easy. But that's what they want nowadays.

5. What's something you didn't know or that surprised you about your job?

I didn't understand the difference between a good pitch and a bad pitch: confidence.

I know. It should be a good idea or a bad idea. Unfortunately a good idea can sound awful if you pitch it poorly; like you're begging for love and acceptance. But a bad idea can sound funny if you deliver it like it's no skin off your back if they say "No."

Maybe I'm wrong. But I think I'm at least half right: Get comfortable pitching. If you don't believe in your pitch, neither will they.

One other thing I'd like to impart to my generation of aspiring-overnight-successes:

When I first got to LA, I was in some sort of imaginary race to be the first one in my class to succeed. What I've learned from the professionals around me, however, is that the race is long, and finding success early does not guarantee you will be here tomorrow. It is important to continue learning and improving on your craft so that when the opportunities come your way, you're ready for them. I'm not the same artist or writer I was when I moved out here, and thank god, because it is important to keep developing your voice so you actually have something to say.

Anything else?

Follow our writers room on Twitter @HungWriters . We say dirty things, and occasionally talk about writing...mostly dirty things.


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Monday, October 18, 2010

KCRW Podcast: Franklin Leonard & Darlene Hunt

Check out this cool KCRW podcast with Franklin Leonard, creator of the Black List, and Darlene Hunt, creator of Showtime's The Big C.


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Things I Love: TERRIERS

One of the new shows flying under the radar this fall is FX's TERRIERS, a quirky tale of two misfit private investigators. It's part drama, part comedy, part episodic, part serial - and completely awesome. I love its scrappy protagonist, Hank. He's flawed but likable, constantly making mistakes but trying to do the right thing. Take a look at this fun behind-the-scenes clip:

You can also click here to watch the pilot online. If you're not convinced, check out 5 Reasons to Watch Terriers from TVSquad!

TERRIERS airs Wednesdays @10 on FX.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

More on romcoms, and THE BIG C

I thought this LA Times interview with Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk-Robinson, writers of Life as We Know It, added an interesting take on the comedy vs. drama issue in constructing a romcom.

Also check out TheWrap's interview with Darlene Hunt, creator of Showtime's The Big C. Darlene talks about where stories come from, and how to find the angle that will make networks want to buy your pitch.

"The most important part of pitching a comedy is to make your audience laugh," Darlene says. "...cancer was never and will never be the punchline in this show. Instead, I looked in other areas...dialogue, character quirks, outrageous choices made by a desperate woman...and so I revamped the pitch and made myself laugh."


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Monday, October 11, 2010

5 Questions with a Feature Director's Assistant

Before, I featured 5 Questions With a Writer's PA. Today's interview is with Lee, who works as a director's assistant on an upcoming studio comedy.

1. What exactly does a Director's Assistant do?

A director's assistant mainly holds all the duties that typical assistants do, especially during pre and post production. You handle the schedule (as all the department heads and studio departments will be vying for time), answer phones and maintain the office. However, there are also some duties that are unique to the position. I was lucky that my boss was very receptive and interested in my thoughts and notes, so I was able to weigh in on the script, casting choices and various other creative decisions throughout all the stages of production. On set my main job was keeping the director happy, making sure he was well fed and hydrated. I was keeper of the official version of the script and was in charge of making sure that changes were distributed by the AD department the following day. I also managed set visits for the studio and guests of the director.

2. How did you get the job?

Before I held this position I worked for a couple of years as a development assistant to a producer. When I first started working for him, he was weeks away from a greenlight on a film that was to be directed by my current boss. Unfortunately that film was never made, but the director and I had a good relationship and in the following years he would call me up and ask me to help out on various things, filming casting sessions, taking notes at a table reads etc. Recently, he knew I was looking for a new job and it just happened he had a film that was about to start pre-production and offered me the job as his assistant. I was excited to finally work on a film after years of living in development.

3. What are your career aspirations and how is this helping you get there?

My goal is to eventually produce films and this job has helped in a lot of ways. It has allowed me to see first hand a film go from pre to post production, something I had never seen before. I was able to see how producers, directors and the studio work with and against each. Also, seeing how the film changes over time from script to screen has given me a good lesson in developing films. What can sometimes play better once it is performed versus on the page, what story lines ended up working or not working, etc. Luckily, everyone on the film has been incredibly kind and I have become friendly with a lot of the studio executives, the writer and the producers of the film, which will hopefully go a long way to finding my next position.

4. What other kinds of things have you learned on the job?

I have learned a lot about the other departments involved in making a movie. I was able to interact with the DP, AD, Production Designer, Locations Manager, Prop Master and other department heads who gave me insight into what their jobs involve, some of the challenges they face and what can help make their jobs easier. To me this is very is important when it comes thinking about producing my own films. The producers also put stress on defining the tone/style/story of the film for the studio's marketing department so they don't f--- up trying to sell the movie. I have learned the importance of making sure everyone is on the same page creatively so the studio knows what they are getting/selling and the filmmakers maintain a vision of the film that they want.

5. What is your favorite thing about your job?

I have so many favorite things about this job - it has been an awesome experience overall. I love being on set especially and I miss it a lot now that it's over. I have really enjoyed working and becoming friendly with the cast and crew. I was lucky to be working on a film with very minimal egos and one that was small enough that everyone developed a family feel. I would have to say though, that because my boss was so open and actually cared to hear my ideas, that my favorite thing about this job was the ability to actually have input into the final film. I know that there are lines, character actions, edits and other small pieces of the film that are only there because I opened my big mouth and that is very exciting to me.

Anything else you would like to share?

I would say that it's important to realize that being a director's assistant is an education in many more aspects of filmmaking than just directing and I would recommend it for anyone looking to be in film as a creative of any kind. It wasn't a job I ever planned on having or even wanted really, but now that I have done it, I realize how valuable it is, especially if you aren't working for a big ego-ed tyrant. Also, post production is really boring until you finally are allowed to see a cut of the film. Then it gets really cool.


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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Risks and trends

Yep, Lonestar is officially cancelled. It's not a shock, but it does disappoint me a little, since Fox had taken a chance on something different. Creator Kyle Killen told New York Magazine, "Fox was looking for a cable show to try on network television, I had a cable pitch that felt like it could work, and I think everyone was very excited."

Lonestar was a risk that didn't work out. But wasn't mega-hit Glee also a risk? And look at the low numbers for more traditional procedurals Outlaw and The Whole Truth. Playing it safe doesn't always work either. As for remakes, Hawaii Five-0 is a big hit, while last year's Melrose Place reboot tanked. I'm not sure there's really any lesson to be taken here, except maybe that networks should stop trying to cram a million premieres into the same week, especially since they're competing against an increasing number of cable programs, video games, internet downloads, etc.

On the positive side, has anybody been watching Fox's Raising Hope? It's a fun blend of wackiness and heart.


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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Is it FUN?

Two years ago, I watched HOME ALONE on my flight back to Buffalo for Christmas, and I was shocked at how funny it still was. That movie really holds up. Why? It's fun. It's clever. It's something you actually want to watch.

I'm working on another draft of a comedy feature I've been writing for a long time, and I recently got the note: "Think about why people would actually want to watch this movie." It sounds silly and elementary, but it was something I had forgotten about amidst multiple drafts, new characters, social commentary, arcs and themes. Why is this an interesting premise? Why should people pay fifteen bucks to sit in a dark room with strangers and watch this? What adventure are we going on? What is FUN about it? Not all scripts are comedies, but the good ones in all genres generally have some element of excitement, fun, wish fulfillment, etc. It's walking past a cop, wearing a nun mask and holding an automatic weapon in THE TOWN. It's fast-forwarding through the boring parts of your life in CLICK. It's outsmarting robbers with Hot Wheels and marbles in HOME ALONE. Stuff you can't do in real life, but kind of wish you could. Wouldn't it be cool if... ?

Sometimes I read or hear loglines and think, really? Why would anyone want to see that? It seems crazy that a writer would spend weeks, months, even years working on that idea. But I understand that there's always something that draws you to your project. Maybe it's a social phenomenon, or a complex character, or something you've always feared. There are lots of reasons you might be attracted to a story - but how can you attract readers (and audiences) to it? Are you really milking your premise? Is it fun?

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Personal connections and other frustrations

Vic writes: Do you hang out with writers? If so, what do you talk about that frustrates you all the most?

Yep, I have plenty of writer friends, and they all have plenty of frustrations! First off, writing is hard. Why don't my scripts write themselves?

I hear a lot of newer writers complain that they feel like they don't have the personal connections they need to succeed in their careers. They hate the stories of people with important parents, friends, spouses, etc. Those people have it so much easier! It's just not fair. But honestly, it's a waste of time to worry about stuff like that. Nobody ever said Hollywood was fair. You can't control other people and their advantages; the only thing you can control is your writing. A wise writer friend of mine recently reminded me that when the industry starts to frustrate you, the only cure is to throw yourself into your writing and come out with a fantastic script. Also, every writer will get help from their own personal connections at some point. You'll have a friend or old coworker or someone who will do you a favor - and then I bet you won't be complaining about how some people get special treatment.

I think writers also feel frustrated that studios and networks aren't buying the kinds of things that writers want to be writing, whether it's TV cop procedurals or feature remakes and adaptations (John August wrote a great post about board game movies here). It's good to be aware of what's selling and what's being made (after all, movies and TV shows need to make money, and we don't want to waste our time), but I think sometimes writers get too obsessed with the idea of commercial viability. Early in his career, one of my screenwriting professors kept trying to write a feature he thought would sell, and nothing worked. He got so frustrated that he finally wrote a super un-commercial character drama and period piece about his childhood, almost as an FU to Hollywood...and that was his first sale. I love that story - it proves that people respond to passion!

I don't want to complain too much on here, but I do admit that I get frustrated when fantastic movies are flops, and when my favorite TV shows get canceled...like Scott Pilgrim! It makes me sad that there might be people sitting a room going "what a mistake," when it was a great movie. But I get it. Money is money.

What frustrates you guys?


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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Inside the DEXTER Writers Room

Joel wrote in to share this cool video, which features the writers of DEXTER talking about last year's finale and how it impacted the development of season five. Check it out:



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Thursday, September 9, 2010

How I got a manager

A few people have asked how I got a manager. I've been kind of scared to post any specifics of what's happening in my writing life, because I'm afraid I might jinx it or look like an idiot or something. So let's hope neither of those things will happen.

When I was working at the agency, I made friends with an assistant at a management company. When you're an assistant, you'll spend most of your day talking with other assistants via phone and email. Sometimes you'll talk to the same person over and over if you're trying to set a meeting that keeps getting rescheduled, and that can lead to small talk and maybe even drinks or friendship. A lot of studio, network and production company assistants find agency assistants to be annoying, since agents and their assistants are constantly bothering these other people to give out information and buy things. (Many agency assistants are also aggressive 22 year-old whipper snappers who haven't really learned how things work yet, so I think that's another part of it.) But management assistants are generally nice to agency assistants, since they're both in the same boat, dealing with the same kind of stuff. And if your boss shares clients with the management assistant's boss, you'll probably talk ALL the time. You'll need to CC each other on every meeting set and submission sent, and your bosses will frequently need to talk strategy.

So this one management company assistant was a master of writing hilarious emails, which is the kind of thing that impresses me. I asked him to drinks, and by drinks I mean going to Baskin Robbins 31-Cent Scoop Night and waiting outside for an hour with the other cheapskates. We finally got our cones and sat on the only free chairs, these tiny plastic things clearly meant for children, talking about our grandiose dreams of not answering phones for a living. He actually wanted to be a lit manager and wasn't another aspiring writer. Crazy! (Keep in mind I wasn't trying to get a manager out of this meeting. I was trying to make friends with funny email guy, and eat some unusually cheap ice cream. Done and done.) He asked to read my stuff, so I sent him all my scripts. Over the next few months he kept checking in with me to see if I had anything new, so that made me feel good. (I've posted before about how you don't want to have to pester someone into being your manager or agent.)

After I left the agency, I found a producer who was interested in a feature script of mine, and it seemed like a good time to secure representation. My management assistant friend had gotten promoted, and he found another manager (with a bit more experience) at the company who liked my work too. Now they're both on my team.

So like I always say, personal connections will get you farther than query letters - and getting a job as an assistant can be a great way to make personal connections.

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

51/50: The Magical Adventures of a Single Life by Kristen McGuiness

Remember that blog I featured, 51/50 by Kristen McGuiness? Kristen is an author who started putting chapters of her book online in the hopes of finding a publisher.

It worked! Her book, 51/50: The Magical Adventures of a Single Life was published by Soft Skull Press.

From Amazon:
At times heart-breaking and laugh-out-loud hilarious, Kristen McGuiness’s witty, brutally honest writing gives a valuable true-life spin on Bridget Jones and Sex and the City51/50 is a gripping read that will inspire others to follow her courageous search for love.

Congrats Kristen!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Why are romantic comedies so hard to get right?

The New York Times ran an op-ed called "Tragedy of Comedy," a conversation between TV critic Maureen Dowd and Sam Wasson, the 28-year-old author of “Fifth Avenue." Here are some highlights from their discussion of why romantic comedies "now reek":
I can’t remember the last time I saw two people really falling in love in a movie. Now all we get is the meet cute, a montage, a kiss, then acoustic song into fade out. Nothing experiential, only movies manufactured from movies. 
I don’t think people realize how dire the situation is. I mean culturally, emotionally, the whole idea of romance is gone, gone, gone.
With so many women running studios, you’d think they’d focus on making better rom-coms.
Okay, okay. We've seen plenty of disappointing romcoms - but haven't we also seen plenty of disappointing movies of all types? I feel like romcoms get a disproportionately bad rap. Either way, let me defend a genre I work with and enjoy. I do understand the frustration.

Why are romantic comedies so hard to get right? 

1. They're extremely simple - so they're often predictable.

Structurally, romcoms are extraordinarily simple. You've got a girl and a guy, and they either can't be together (a la Sleepless in Seattle or many romantic dramas, like Romeo and Juliet), or they hate-each-other-amidst-sexual-chemistry but must be around each other (The Cutting Edge). One or both of them learns a big lesson, and then they live happily ever after! (Or die - sorry R&J.) Throw in all the complications you want, but romcoms almost always fit my formula - and nobody wants to feel like they're watching a formula.

If you see a poster of Will Smith and a gun, you don't know exactly what's going to happen. Probably some shooting and general badassery, but there could be some uber-cool twists, right? With a romcom, it's tougher. If you see a romcom poster with the faces of one man and one woman, you already know that these two are going to get together in the end. How do you make the audience (or reader) really feel like they don't know what's going to happen next? How do you add twists that aren't too convenient or unbelievable? It's effing difficult. One way is to create a love triangle. That way we get three people on our poster and we don't yet know which two will end up together. But even that is hard, because you have to make that third character actually feel like an option. Sweet Home Alabama did this pretty well with Patrick Dempsey's character. If Reese Witherspoon had chosen him, it wouldn't have been unbelievable. He was a really, really likable guy - but he just wasn't the right choice after Reese had learned her lesson and gone back to the roots that made her happy. In a lot of other movies, you know from the get-go that choice #2 is not really a choice, but somebody conveniently hanging around to keep our leads apart.

My very very favorite romantic comedy ever of all time is Bridget Jones' Diary, which features a successful love triangle between Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. For the first half of the movie, you really believe that Renee could end up with Hugh, because of two scenes: in the first, Renee goes on a date with Hugh and is trying to change herself into someone who cares about world events:

Renee: How do you feel about this situation in Chechnya? Isn't it a nightmare?
Hugh: I couldn't give a fuck, Jones.

They're on the same page. Renee doesn't have to change to get along with Hugh. But aye, that's the problem! She needs to change and find a real job and everything to be happy!

The second scene that clinches the actually-interesting-love-triangle status is when Renee and Hugh are getting drunk in a rowboat while boring Colin Firth and his boring Natasha are having a horrid time on a nearby vessel. Again, Hugh would be a fun, attractive choice. It's later when we learn about the guys' REAL characters that we realize Hugh is no choice for Renee at all. It all comes down to character. Your lead should choose their love based on their arc and what they've learned.

What's not so simple is that true two-handers mean two protagonists and two arcs. Many romcoms focus more on one member of the couple, giving that one person more to learn and accomplish. Unfortunately, if the other person is totally fine and well-adjusted, your story feels unbalanced and there's not a ton for your actor to do. Everyone should learn a lesson. Everyone should change. Everyone should be tested. If you want to  have two solid protagonists, you need two arcs - and they'd better be different, or you'll have repetitive scenes and a too-obvious theme. Two-handers take double the planning and plotting.

2. We've seen everything, and we already have so many expectations. 

Opposites attracting. Forbidden romances. Love triangles. Workplace romances. Wedding hijinks. Unplanned pregnancies. Conflicting jobs. Mistaken identities. Infidelity. Lies and bets. Teen comedies. Sex comedies. It's hard to write the usual events of a relationship in a new way. What haven't we seen? It's rare that a romantic comedy concept feels new and fresh and interesting. And remember that for every movie you see, there are dozens of sold scripts and hundreds of unsold scripts making their way around Hollywood. You may not have seen a "men and women can't be friends" kind of movie since When Harry Met Sally, but I've read at least 10 of them in the last year. I also think I'll have to take my own life if I have to read any more wedding movies or raunchy female sex comedies. Great characters and relatable themes should be enough to create a good movie, but they may not be enough to sell a movie anymore. As a result, we sometimes get silly, overly concepty and set-piecey ideas. I think sometimes writers get so caught up in the hook that they forget what we really want to see in a romcom: people falling in love.

If you completely reinvent the wheel with a romcom, your audience feels cheated. Maybe it's because of our biases as Western audiences that have watched couples falling in love for 70 years, but if you show us a poster of a guy and a girl and they don't get together in the end, we're unsatisfied. I really liked The Break Up (which I know a lot of people didn't), but I wanted it to end with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston at least agreeing to meet for coffee, because I couldn't handle the idea of the two of them not giving their relationship one more chance. You might say you want something more modern than the Hollywood happily-ever-after ending, but do you really? These same expectations made 500 Days of Summer really impressive. In that movie, the guy and girl didn't end up together - but it still felt like a satisfying ending, because you didn't want them to. Once Joseph Gordon-Levitt went on his journey and learned his lesson, there was no room for Summer in his life. Can you think of a romcom you liked in which the two leads didn't end up together? It's not easy, is it?

3. Romance versus comedy

Most romcoms make a choice to focus more on romance (Just Like Heaven) or more on comedy (Failure to Launch). (There's also an entire genre of romantic dramas like The Last Song and Remember Me that I'm not including in any of this analysis.) I don't think there's really a right or wrong way to go, but sometimes the more romance-heavy movies feel cheesy or melodramatic, and the more comedic ones fail to pack that satisfying emotional punch. The mark of a really great romcom is that it makes you really, really laugh,  but also makes you weep - and it's a difficult, delicate balance. Is it okay to throw physical comedy into a desperate moment at the end of the second act? Do you really need the heartfelt thematic speech in act three that we've heard a million times? Are you spending too much time making a big statement about relationships or society and not making us fall in love with your characters? There's a lot to consider in achieving the perfect tone.

We want to believe the love story. We want to feel like we don't know what's going to happen, but be satisfied when our two leads end up happily ever after. We want to see something simple and classic told in a cool new way. We want strong, relatable, emotional themes but we don't want want them to be too obvious or oversimplified. And we want it to be hilarious, insightful and moving. 

Plus...to get it made into a movie, you need to convince a studio that your amazingly fresh new brilliant edgy idea is worth millions of dollars.

Does it still sound so easy to write a great romcom?


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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tales from the Script

Tales from the Script is a book, but as I just discovered, also a cool documentary featuring interviews with dozens of acclaimed feature writers. I was a little disappointed about the small number of women interviewed, and I feel like it treats movies with perhaps a bit too much reverence...but I still enjoyed hearing the anecdotes about feature writing.

If you have Netflix, you can watch it online right now.

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From Assistant to Sitcom Creator: Interview with Ron Rappaport

The Hollywood Writers Office Assistants blog just posted a new in-depth interview with Ron Rappaport, a former assistant who co-created the show I'M IN THE BAND for Disney XD. It's a must-read!

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Easy A Trailer!

I'm excited for this movie. It's funny and smart, and I have a girl crush on Emma Stone. Maybe I'll tackle a high school comedy sometime in the future.



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Friday, July 30, 2010

Agents vs. managers, and when to get them

Michael writes: My first script to get produced is in post production in Australia (I live in the US). When should I seek out an agent/manager?  Since this movie is being made outside the U.S., should I wait until I have a film produced in the states?  Would a manager be better than an agent?  Should I wait until the movie is released?


Congrats on the film! First, keep in mind that everyone has a different story about getting representation. (Please feel free to share yours in the comments!) Some writers have absolutely no credits, get an agent, and then sell something (or get staffed). Other people do it in the opposite order because agents often look for people who have already gotten their first job/sale/etc. Agents want people who are ready to make money. If there's a random script floating around, an agent isn't going to want to represent the writer unless people agree that he or she has a lot of talent. But if you make a sale, I think more agents will come running. You'll have "heat." I know it's frustrating, since many companies won't consider your material until you already have representation...but this is why making personal connections is so important.

Managers, in my experience, are more likely to take on clients with less experience or heat. People who have talent but need a little work. I've blogged a little about this before, in terms of why you might have better luck querying managers than querying agents. Many writers first get managers, work on their material and then get agents when they're ready to go out into the marketplace and sell stuff or get staffed. Managers can help you get an agent, or vice versa, if you find yourself in the opposite position.

Some writers only have agents, and not managers...but once you're a pro, it's rare to have just a manager and not an agent. Generally, managers help you develop your material, connect you with producers and directors, etc. Agents do the selling. At each agency, agents are assigned to cover specific studios and networks and report back on what work is available at each place. Managers usually have fewer clients, and spend more time on each client. They also sometimes produce their clients' material (agents can't). The duties of managers and agents definitely do overlap; it's not as though agents can't read your stuff and give you notes, or that managers won't know what's selling in the marketplace. Both can get you meetings. It's not that one is "better" than the other, just different.

Back to Michael: It sounds like you are ready to look for an agent, especially if you've written a few other scripts. It certainly won't hurt that you have a film being shot in Australia, but how impressed people will be by that will vary. Some agents specialize in foreign talent, so you might want to do some research and find them. You can write queries if you like, but I have blogged before about why they're mostly a waste of time. I would try to use any LA connections you have, or ask the Australian people producing your film if they have any connections here. Assuming you didn't direct the film and want to get an agent to further your career as a director, you don't really need to wait until the film is released. For writers, it's the script that will function as your sample, not the movie.

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New search box!

I finally figured out how to add a search box that searches within my blog! It's at the right - just remember to click the little radio button that says "Amanda the Aspiring Writer." Yay! Now you can see how many times I've said to stop writing query letters, or how many times I've made some kind of fangirl comment about GREEK.

Did I mention I walked into party last weekend and saw Cappie playing beer pong? Is art imitating life, or life imitating art? Ben Bennett was totally also there.



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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

When to move on from a script

Nimat writes: Last year I sent a feature spec out to three producers and all of them said basically the same thing. "Good comedic voice, very commercialized script, call me whenever you write something else and or what else have you got."

Now although I got such good feedback, no one was willing to buy or show the script around. So although I was advised by one of the producers not to change anything, I went ahead and rewrote the whole thing. Same plot, just completely different setting and added more depth to the characters. Is it okay to send it out to the same producers and let them know that I re-wrote it or just pretend as if it's my first time speaking with them in hopes that they don't remember me or my logline?


There's no official rule about this, but here's my take: these producers liked your writing in the past, so you might as well use that to your advantage. If you contact them and pretend you never spoke, you miss out on the fact that they already liked your writing, and you're taking the risk that they may never get back to you at all (since unsolicited queries are never a priority). I think when you contact them again you should mention that you spoke before, that you reworked a script they liked, etc.

But I also think that you should follow their advice to write something else. Maybe you shouldn't even contact them at all until you have a second script to show. This isn't always the case (one single feature has gotten me pretty far), but some people need to see a few scripts before taking a chance on someone. It shows your range and also that you're serious enough about writing to complete multiple scripts. These producers liked your script, but they didn't like it enough to do anything with it. In the future, unless people like this advise you to rewrite specific things about it and encourage you to re-send it, you should write a new script instead.

I've seen writers waste months or even years trying to push a script when they should just be writing new ones. You can't force people to like something, buy something or represent you. At some point, you need to move on. Maybe it won't be completely dead or useless forever, but if it's not opening doors, it's time to write new material. If you write a hit script later, maybe people will be more interested in your older stuff. But even the most successful writers have piles of scripts that never went anywhere.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

WriteGirl Seeks Mentors and Volunteers For Season 10!

HELP GIRLS WRITE THEIR WAY TO POWERFUL FUTURES!

WriteGirl is looking for mentors and volunteers for our 10th season of creative writing workshops and mentoring for teen girls. Since 2001, WriteGirl has been helping girls discover confidence, self-esteem, communication skills and the power of their own unique voice. Through mentoring, writing workshops, public readings, performances, and publications, WriteGirl teens explore poetry, fiction, journalism, screenwriting, songwriting and more.

Monthly workshops (Saturdays) are held near downtown Los Angeles. In addition, In-schools workshops happen across LA County on a weekly basis.

• For more information, visit www.writegirl.org or call 213-253-2655.

• We are now accepting applications for the Fall of 2010. You can download an application from our website under the “Join Us” tab.

• Orientation/training dates for new volunteers TBA (Sept/Oct).

WriteGirl welcomes women from diverse professional backgrounds to join our energetic community.
In addition volunteering at workshops, we need women to help with planning events, college support, book marketing, and more.

Apply your professional skills, enrich a young woman's life - and let her enrich yours.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

5 Questions with a Writers PA

Sam is a writers PA on a new network drama that will premiere in the fall. I asked him 5 questions about his gig:

1. How did you get your job/what experience did you already have?

I got in the door because the showrunner was an old friend of my parents. To be fair, I wasn't born in Hollywood and my parents don't work in the industry. I've been really surprised by how many totally coincidental connections my family and friends have, ones that I would never have known about if I didn't talk about my writing aspirations. I met with this writer back when I first moved out to LA and kept in touch with him afterwards. When his show got picked up, I sent him an email congratulating him and politely asking if there were any positions available. Next thing I knew his assistant was calling me to set up an interview.

Once I was in the door, I think what clinched it was my work experience. But it wasn't the stuff you'd expect. One of the producers I met with had spent a lot of time in New York (where I grew up and went to school) and loved that I had worked at the Shake Shack, which is kind of an institution there. It gave us a lot to talk about. They were also pretty happy to discover that I was currently working at the Apple Store. Our whole writing staff uses Macs so having someone around who could speak that language was definitely appealing. I've set up a lot of MobileMe accounts.

2. What is a typical day like?


It's hard to say with any confidence, since we haven't started shooting yet, but so far it goes something like this:

I get into the office around 8:15. I try to get there before any writers so I can put some coffee on, check the printer to make sure it's full of paper, unlock office doors, etc. Some writers show up early, but generally they arrive between 9:00 and 10:00. When the writers arrive I start organizing our lunch order, which I pick up around noon. The rest of my day is pretty amorphous, a lot of odd jobs -- post office runs, sending faxes, troubleshooting printers. If it's a Monday I'll probably do a big grocery shopping run. One thing I'm in charge of is distributing all documents that only go to the writing staff. The production staff handles all the production drafts of scripts, but if it's an outline, a concept document, or a writers' draft, that's my realm.

I don't have a set end of the day; once all of the writers are gone, I can usually head out. So far that's been about 6:00-6:30, but ask me again when we're on episode 10.

3. Have you learned anything about writing or Hollywood from your job?


I've definitely been learning a lot. Seeing the writers' room in action has been really inspiring. You can tell these people are professionals. They write fast and can quickly figure out whether an idea is worth exploring. And they think of everything. I've been able to sit in the room a couple times and every time I've had an idea, one of the writers has come up with it a few minutes later.

I've also been learning a lot of little tips and tricks, like don't write more than an act a day. Every writer's different, so ultimately you have to decide whether things like that work for you, but it's really great to spend time with people who have figured that stuff out for themselves.

4. What advice would you give someone who's trying to get a job as a writers PA?


Talk to everyone you know about your writing aspirations. If you get in touch with people in the industry and they don't have a job for you, stay in touch with them. And don't stress out if people don't get back to you right away. People on TV shows are VERY busy.

5. What's something you didn't know or that surprised you about your job?


Free lunches! Seriously, though, what surprised me the most was how much I like my job. There's this idea that assistants are always treated like dirt and that your bosses are constantly making outrageous demands...but being a Writers PA is not torture. Everyone I work with is really, really nice and the job is actually a lot of fun.


Thanks Sam!


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