ashleyscreenwrites asked: Wow. So can't believe I wasn't already following you because you seem awesome. I wanted to ask if you remember a TURNING POINT in your career. You mentioned that it's taken you by surprise, but is there one particular thing that occurred that gave you this upward momentum? The right lunch date, the right time to send a script in, living in the right place, etc..? Most advice for screenwriters seems generic and unhelpful. I'm looking for the thing no one's told me yet. Thanks and congratulations!
Hi! Thank you! Wow, yeah, I don’t even have like “writing” on my saved tags but consider yourself followed back!
A turning point, hmm.. Yes, there are definitely a couple I can identify. One was the Scriptshadow “Twit-Pitch” contest which was essentially pitching your script over Twitter (which, btw, EVERY WRITER SHOULD HAVE ONE) and then sending in a feature if he chose your pitch. He chose mine. So, after that contest — I ultimately took third place out of 3,000 — I was contacted by producer after producer and a few managers and agents. I signed with a manager and that led to lots of my TV material being read, too. Eva Longoria has my pilot. Bad Robot has two of my pilots. Julianne Moore read my feature. I am being considered for staffing at MTV, NBC, and ABC.
And Scriptshadow was the first contest I had ever submitted to.
Then there are writer’s workshops: WB, ABC, and NBC all have fellowships and programs dedicated to helping “baby” writers get an opportunity to be staffed. They also have diversity programs that should not be ignored for writers of color. Every single meeting I have taken with an executive at any of these companies has told me to submit. I have, to NBC Diversity Initiative, and am waiting to hear back. But these are amazing programs — free, and sometimes even paid! — and are turning points in MANY writer’s careers.
But yes, sending the right material in at the right time is ALWAYS a point of luck and fortune. My advice: sending material is an art. Know what time of year to send (best between now and May for TV) and who to send what to (TV producers from Revolution will appreciate your sci-fi pilot more than your half-hour comedy pilot). It helps in these instances to have an agent or manager to help you decide how to do that — and you get those from submitting to contests, to managers, to agents.
For me, meeting with Steve Carell’s producer (a meeting I got through a college prof) was a turning point because he gave me invaluable advice: “Do the things everyone tells you not to do.” Honestly, I have been fearless in my attempts to get meetings or contacting people ever since. If you’ve looked through my tumblr, Elizabeth Craft is now following me. That’s literally because I kept asking her TV writing questions on Twitter until she caved and now DMs me answers/advice. I’ll keep working that until I get a meeting with her. So, the SC producer was a big moment.
Then the contest. It opened doors, opportunities, got me a great manager, and helped me focus more on my craft (once people want your work, suddenly it becomes that much more important to actually DO your work, haha).
I’m sure there are more turning points to come, for me as well as everyone else, but I look forward to writing about them here. And I look forward to your posts as well!
P.S. If you don’t live in L.A. or near L.A., I recommend that. ASAP. It helps to be around for meetings and generals if people get your material and it’s one of the best ways to make connections. And in this business, connections are literally everything.