Saturday, December 21, 2013

Screenwriting links: Sat, Dec 21

Paul Dini on Cartoon Network's Programming Decisions and Why Boy Viewers Are Valued Over Girls [IGN]

Saving Mr. Banks Screenwriter Kelly Marcel on Crossing Over from Mary Poppins to Fifty Shades of Grey [Vanity Fair]

Netflix Says Binge Viewing is No 'House of Cards' [Wall Street Journal]

Writing Is Like Sex [Huffington Post]

‘Community’ Showrunner Dan Harmon Talks His Return and Chevy Chase, Donald Glover’s Exits [The Wrap]

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Is suffering an important part of writing?

I don't usually get too philosophical about writing, but I thought you guys might find this interesting. Last night Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert appeared on The Colbert Report, and talked with Stephen about whether artists need to suffer in order to create worthwhile art.

Stephen also brought up Elizabeth's TED Talk about creativity:

Along the lines of failure and suffering, be sure to check out INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, a heartbreaking and authentic look at a creative life. Llewyn is a musician, but I think you'll find a lot of parallels between his experience and the experiences of a writer.

Do you think you need to suffer to write well? Has your best work come from good times or bad?

Monday, December 9, 2013

White House launches student film festival

If you're a high school student or know someone who is, I wanted to spread the word about the White House's first-ever student film festival!


From the White House website:

Our schools are more high-tech than ever. There are laptops in nearly every classroom. You can take an online course on Japanese -- and then video chat with a kid from Japan. You can learn about geometry through an app on your iPad. So, what does it all mean?

We’re looking for videos that highlight the power of technology in schools.

Your film should address at least one of the following themes:
  • How you currently use technology in your classroom or school.
  • The role technology will play in education in the future.
Ideas: How technology helps with...

  • Personalized Learning 
  • Online Learning
  • Global Collaboration 
  • Student Creativity
  • Making and Tinkering 
  • Project Based Learning 
  • Critical Thinking

Submissions for the White House film festival will be accepted from November 25 through January 29, 2014. Videos must be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo to be submitted. You and a parent/guardian must complete the form below and submit a link to your video.

Important Entry Requirements:
  • Open to U.S. students in grades K-12. All entries must be submitted by student’s parent or guardian. 
  • You must submit your Entry online during the Competition Period. Time and eligibility of Entry will be determined by The White House in its sole discretion.
  • You may not submit more than one Entry. 
  • Your Entry must have been created on or after November 25, 2013.
  • Your Entry must be three (3) minutes or less in length (including opening and/or closing credits).
  • Your Entry must not infringe any third party copyright or trademark, or violate the rights of any person or entity.  Make sure that you only use content in your Entry that you are authorized to use, including, without limitation, music, images, film clips, and other intellectual property.
  • Your Entry may not contain images or likenesses of any individuals who have not provided their authorization or whose parents or guardians have not provided, authorization if such individuals are under the age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence. 
  • Entries must be appropriate for viewing by the general public; appropriateness will be determined by the White House in its sole discretion.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How to network at a talent agency

L writes: I'm a floater at a large talent agency in New York. How do I network - and how can I eventually transfer to the LA office?

The best thing to do is perform well at your job as a floater (which, for those who don't know, is a person who doesn't have a permanent assistant job but fills in when other assistants are out sick). Once you prove that you can be a good assistant, the agents start to remember you and request you to work for them. This does take some practice - but don't worry, you'll get the hang of it. Then when desks open up, you'll be considered for those assistant positions. Remember that even though you want to be working your way up (and maybe transferring to a different office/job/company/profession), that's not what you've been hired to do; you've been hired to be a floater. Moving your way up requires ambition but also a little patience. That said, make sure that whoever is in charge of the floater program (probably an HR person?) knows your goals and which department you'd like to end up in. You don't want to miss out on an opportunity because nobody knows you'd be interested.

I think it's going to be hard to transfer to LA because all the LA floaters and assistants will have an advantage over you - they'll be known by the agents there, and will be available more quickly (generally, no one is going to wait a month for you to pack up your life in NY if a job in LA opens up), but transferring is not unheard of. Make sure that the HR people know you'd be interested in going to LA, too. And when you're filling in on a desk, if you ever find yourself emailing or talking on the phone with assistants from the LA office, try to be friendly and get to know them, if you can.

It's also good to eat lunch with the other assistants and floaters so you can make friends and hear about gossip, desk openings, etc. I found that this came pretty naturally when I worked at the agency since we all hung out in the same areas and had a lot of down time (plus things in common). There was also a lot of turnover, so we were always training and getting to know new people.

What's funny is how many of my fellow agency comrades from 2007-2009 aren't even in the industry anymore...