Monday, October 31, 2011

A networking group for LGBT writers in LA

JF has started a networking group for LGBT writers in Los Angeles. Here's their Facebook page!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Nerdist Writer Panels for December

Nerdist Writer Panels are informal chats about writing and the business of writing. Proceeds benefit 826LA, the non-profit tutoring program founded by Dave Eggers. For tickets, click here!

Time: 5-7pm
Location:
Nerdist Industries at Meltdown Comics
7522 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90046

November 6
Hart Hanson (creator, Bones, Finder)
Sarah Goldfinger (Grimm; CSI)
Jose Molina (Terra Nova; Angel; Firefly)

November 13
Josh Berman (creator, Drop Dead Diva)
Adam Glass (Supernatural; Cold Case)
Leigh Dana Jackson (Alcatraz; No Ordinary Family)

November 20
Marti Noxon (Buffy; Glee; Mad Men)
Danny Zuker (Modern Family)
Craig Silverstein (creator, Nikita; co-creator, Terra Nova)

You can also find out about the monthly panels by clicking "Like" on Nerdist's Facebook page.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday links: Glamour Reel Moments 2011

In its 6th year — with 20 films premiered, Glamour Reel Moments brings Hollywood’s leading female talent to take a turn behind the camera, directing a short film inspired by real-life story submissions from Glamour readers.

By helping place more women in the director’s chair and focusing on real-life stories, Glamour Reel Moments strives to serve as a vehicle of empowerment for women.

Proceeds from Reel Moments—Produced by Glamour and Freestyle Picture Company—benefit a charity chosen by each director.

2011's directors are Olivia Wilde, Eva Longoria and Zoe Saldana. Check out their awesome shorts!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Advice from Brandon Easton, author of Shadowlaw

Strangely enough, I came upon this Wired magazine interview through an imperfect Google alert for my blog...and then I realized that graphic novel writer Brandon Easton is also a screenwriter who did his undergrad at my alma mater (Ithaca)! I thought he offered some great advice for all kinds of writers:

GD: 

In general, what inspired you to become a comics creator and screenplay author? What advice would you give others seeking the same career?

BE: I have many inspirations in film, TV, comics and literature. It would take me another hour to get through just a few of them [laughs]. If you were to pinpoint a few, I would say the works of Gene Roddenberry George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Katsuhiro Otomo, Mamuro Oshii, John Steinbeck, Richard Wright, Ridley Scott, Warren Ellis, Aaron Sorkin, ’80s afternoon and Saturday morning animation, the culture of the street/neighborhood arcades and Soul music from 1970-1989.
The best advice is to have something to show people.

Far too often I’ve met people who claim to be writers but have nothing to show for their career. No blog, no articles, no self-published work, no “officially” published work, no track record of any kind.

It is impossible to take someone seriously when there isn’t a method of determining if they have talent. If you’re a comic book artist and you don’t own a portfolio, then you’re a complete moron.

I don’t mean to seem harsh but the same thing applies to writers who have nothing written down. I wish I could say this was a small population of people, but the reality is that I’ve met thousands of aspiring writers over the years that talk a great game about getting published but spend little or no time actually writing anything.

Then the next level is to find ways to let people know you exist. It’s not easy, but it is possible to build a following through message boards, internet chat rooms, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.

I see writers finish a project and then assume that editors and publishers will miraculously find them and offer them a contract. Writers have to be aggressive, vigilant and consistent in their pursuit of recognition. It takes time to develop yourself as an entity (it took me ten years and I am JUST getting through the thick outer layers of the business) and even more time for people to realize that you’re not going to waste their time.

Writers have to do research. If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that writers need to do research as often as possible. What do you research? Well, 1) market trends (what’s selling, what isn’t, and where your product will fit in once you get it out there); 2) how the industry accepts new talent (do you know how to find a literary agent and why you need one? What processes exist to get you past the gatekeepers of publishing companies and Hollywood studios); 3) determining who or what your core audience is and finding ways to attract them to your product; and 4) understanding how to “brand” yourself as a franchise and using that to attract others to you.

I produce a podcast devoted to sci-fi and comic book writers called Writing for Rookies that addresses the ins and outs of the business. I set it up as a “writing 101″ for those interested in comics and screenwriting but have no idea where to begin. It’s a perfect way to learn how this industry operates.

You can read the full interview here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Nerdist Writer Panels for October

Nerdist Writer Panels are informal chats about writing and the business of writing. Proceeds benefit 826LA, the non-profit tutoring program founded by Dave Eggers. For tickets, click here!

Location:
Nerdist Industries at Meltdown Comics
7522 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90046

October 16
Josh Berman (creator, Drop Dead Diva)
Kyle Killen (co-creator, Awake; creator, Lone Star; The Beaver)
Charles Murray (Castle; V; Criminal Minds)

October 23
Liz Meriwether (creator, The New Girl)
Liz Craft & Sarah Fain (Vampire Diaries; Dollhouse)
Angela Kang (The Walking Dead; Terriers)

October 30
Tom Lennon (Night at the Museum)
Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter; Dark Shadows)
MORE TBA!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Putting your scripts online?

Joseph writes: I've recently finished two pilots and am working on a spec right now. I'm planning on moving to LA next summer and would like to be as prepared as I can when I get there, so I set up a portfolio website to introduce myself and display my work. I've read online that these can be a good way to get your name out there, but haven't been able to find much info on the subject and I was wondering what you thought about them and if you had any suggestions on what to include. Do you think it's a good idea to show my actual scripts on the website as long as they are registered with the WGA? or should I just have a summary of the pilots and have people email me if they would like to read them? Any other tips you might have would be greatly appreciated.

Hmm. My gut instinct is to tell you not to put your scripts online, but I can't come up with a lot of reasons why. There's no reason to be overly precious or protective of your work...it's not as though people are begging new writers to read stuff (usually we have to do the begging)! Also, I don't think anyone is going to steal your ideas, and like you said, you can protect yourself by registering the scripts with the WGA. Still, if you meet people (managers, agents, producers, etc.), you'll want to establish email contact at some point - and you'd be able simply to email your scripts to them. I feel like if you tell people "just go to this website," they might never do it. If people who stumble across your site are impressed by other material you post online (like blog posts), they might want to download your scripts - but they could also just email you if you post an email address online.

My friend Josh and his writing partner Juliana, who were chosen for NBC's Writers on the Verge, have posted their scripts online (on Josh's blog) for a while...so I asked Josh if he thought posting scripts online had helped them. Here's his response:

I have no idea whether it's helped us or not. We've certainly not had any producers or agents contacting us based on that. Where it may have helped us, though, is in getting freelance work. I can't say for sure that this is why, but over the past year or so we've been doing more ghostwriting working -- books, pilots, features -- and a few of the people have mentioned our work. Not necessarily that they found it on the site, but I'm not sure where else they would have seen it. I just figure it doesn't hurt anything to put it out there, and there's always the chance that someone who matters will see it, whereas if you don't do it, there's no chance.

Anyone else get bites from posting your scripts online? Please comment!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Family comedy writing contest!

Got a half-hour family comedy pilot?

The ANA Alliance for Family Entertainment, a group of some of the country’s largest national advertisers, is looking for the freshest take on what’s real—and really funny—about today’s American family. Share your original, half-hour comedy format script for an opportunity to win $5,000, PLUS receive creative guidance and direct input from John Wells, executive producer of the television series ER, Third Watch, The West Wing, Shameless and Southland.


Click here for more info. The deadline for script submission is October 28th at 11:59 am ET. Note: your submission must NOT be under current consideration for another contest, competition or festival.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday links!

I'm doing a new feature called Tuesday links, in which I will post links to things I think you'll find interesting (FYI, I also retweet a lot of links to articles on Twitter). I'll do this every Tuesday until I get busy and forget about it.

Interview with Jeff Davis, creator of CRIMINAL MINDS and TEEN WOLF [IAE Magazine]

Interview with Patrick Walsh, writer on 2 BROKE GIRLS [Broke Girls Guide]

Interview with Brannon Braga, executive producer of TERRA NOVA [WGA.org]

Video Interview with Will Resier, writer of 50/50 [Buzz Sugar]

Monday, October 3, 2011

The 2nd London Screenwriters' Festival

For my readers across the pond:

The 2nd London Screenwriters’ Festival kicks off October 28th and lasts for three days.

The fest includes:
Over 100 speakers - Top screenwriters, producers, executives and educators share their passion and insight with you.
Nearly 100 events - You’ll be spoilt for choice with our world class screenwriting workshops, seminars and panels.
Networking - Meet over 400 professional writers and network with producers and agents at our social events.
Speed Pitching - Get your project in front of producers and agents in our Speed Pitching sessions.
Script Chat - Get face time with our speakers in post-session round table script chats
Never miss a session - We film most sessions, so you can have your cake AND eat it!
Online network - Join our online network so you can connect with other delegates now
iPhone App - We will have an iPhone / Smartphone app so you can keep up to date on added sessions, speakers and delegates.

 Top speakers include:
Consultant Christopher Vogler (Hero’s Journey)
Writer Linda Aronson ( 21st Century Screenplay)
Scriptwriter Ashley Pharaoh ('Life On Mars', 'Ashes To Ashes')
Producer Duncan Kenworthy (‘Four Weddings..’, 'Love Actually')
Script editor Kate Leys ('The Full Monty', 'Trainspotting' and 'Four Weddings and a Funeral’)
ITV commissioner Elaine Bedell (X-Factor)
Film editor Eddie Hamilton (‘Kick Ass’, ‘X-Men: First Class’)
BBC Writersroom Paul Ashton
BAFTA-nominated scriptwriter Tim Clague
BBC commissioner Ben Stephenson and many more, including one big name - a surprise that will only be announced in October!

Get £30 off the ticket price of £300 by using the code MONICASOLON.

New email address!

I've been using Gmail for my personal email for a long time - but for some reason I kept my old Yahoo email for my blog address. As much as I'm going to miss PEACE BE UPON YOU spam (doesn't caps lock really undermine the sincerity?), I'm excited to announce my new blog email: aspiringwriterblog at gmail dot com.

Ideally, this means that none of your emails will get lost in the shuffle...and I'll finally get to all those questions - keep sending them!

An evening with THE LEAGUE - watch the panel live on Hulu!

An Evening with The League
Monday, October 3, 2011 7:00 pm PT

IN PERSON:
Jackie Marcus Schaffer, Cocreator, Executive Producer, Director
Jeff Schaffer, Cocreator, Executive Producer, Director
Katie Aselton, "Jenny"
Mark Duplass, "Pete"
Jon LaJoie, "Taco"
Nick Kroll, "Ruxin"
Steve Rannazzisi, "Kevin"
Moderator: Rob Huebel

Submit your questions on Twitter with the hashtag #HuluLive. Here is the URL to watch live!

Miss Representation - a documentary about women in media

Miss Representation brings together some of America's most influential women in politics, news and entertainment, including Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem to give audiences an inside look at the media's message and depiction of women. The film explores women's under-representation in positions of power by challenging their limited and often disparaging portrayals in the media. Miss Representation takes the stand that the media is portraying women's primary values as their youth, beauty and sexuality - rather than their capacity as leaders.

Premieres Thursday, October 20th at 9/8c, only on OWN.

You can find additional information at missrepresentation.org.

(Thanks, Olivia!)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The end of Hollywood internships?

Yesterday, a friend of mine told me that his company has discontinued offering unpaid, school credit-only internships as a result of the BLACK SWAN intern lawsuit. They are permitted to hire paid interns - but it doesn't really make budgetary sense for them. As John August once blogged about, essential tasks generally fall to paid assistants, not interns - and these assistants are often expected to have some kind of experience.

Well, crap. I had hoped the lawsuit might spur a discussion about educational experiences versus unpaid assistant-ships, but I suppose that was naive. If the result of this lawsuit is that companies are afraid to offer internships, it could be very bad news for people just starting out in Hollywood without experience or important relatives. Internships can be a great way to learn about Hollywood, make connections and, as one of my commenters noted, find out more about the job you think you want. I'm concerned that a lack of internships will mean that it will become even harder for non-connected people to break into the industry, because they'll be trying to delve into assistant-level jobs without any experience at all. I'm a perfect example: my internship supervisor is the person who recommended me for my job at the agency. My agency job led me to my manager (among other people). Without that internship, where would I be now?

Interestingly enough, the same friend I mentioned above started at his company as an intern and has been promoted several times over the past few years.

Have you guys heard of any companies changing their internship policies as a result of the lawsuit?