NBCUniversal 2016 Writers on the Verge Winners

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NBCUniversal Talent Infusion Programs has announced its 2016-17 Writers on the Verge, as in TV writers of diverse backgrounds who are on the verge of breaking out but need a “final polish of their writing and pitch presentation skills.”

Winners will receive coaching and mentoring from industry pros during an intensive 12-week program with the ultimate goal of preparing them to be staff writers. At the end, they will be considered for available writing assignments on NBC series.

This year’s winners are comedy writers Mnelik Belilgne, Melanie Boysaw and Jeremy Hsu and drama writers Lorelei Ignas, Allyssa Lee, Rayna McClendon, Mellori Velasquez and former student in TVWriter™’s Advanced Workshop and Master Class, Jeane Wong.

This is the 11th year of the program that is among the initiatives of NBCU’s program to promote and encourage people of diverse backgrounds. More than 2,000 applied this year. Recent alumni are staffed on series including The Blacklist (producers Brandon Margolis and Brandon Sonnier), Superstore, American Crime, Suits, Shades of Blue (co-EP Rashad Raisani) and NBC midseason series The Redemption and Midnight, Texas.

Congrats to everybody (but, yeppers, especially Jeane cuz we know her) from everybody here at TVWriter™!

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL & SCREENWRITING CONFERENCE

2016 Awardees panel with Paul Feig, Nancy Meyers, Marta Kauffman during the Austin Film Festival. (Photo by Jack Plunkett)

2016 Awardees panel with Paul Feig, Nancy Meyers, Marta Kauffman during the Austin Film Festival. (Photo by Jack Plunkett)

by Kelly Jo Brick

The Annual Austin Film Festival and Screenwriting Conference gathers professional and aspiring writers together in the celebration of the contribution writers make to film and television.

Attendees had the opportunity to see a jam packed slate of films as well as choose from a variety of panels on the craft, art and business of writing for television and film. TVWriter.com’s own Contributing Editor Kelly Jo Brick, was in Austin as a panelist this year and she brings some top takeaways from the event.

BREAKING IN 

  • Breaking in through the assistant ranks is a great way to show your personality to the people who are making staffing decisions. Getting a writing job is 50% personality, 50% writing. – Raamla Mohamed, SCANDAL, STILL STAR-CROSSED
  • Whatever entry-level job you’re doing, show up with a smile every day. – Jono Matt, DOCTOR DOLITTLE
  • Age isn’t a big deal as long as you don’t make a big deal about it yourself. – VJ Boyd, JUSTIFIED, THE PLAYER
  • For features, the toe in the door assistant route doesn’t work as well. There’s not a natural path in film. It becomes a question of do you find a job in the industry. This avenue helps with meeting people and morale, but it’s often hard to find time to write. The other choice is to take a non-brain taxing job. You’ll have time to write, but it’s hard on your morale. Whatever you decide, the most important thing is that your work is good. – Michael H. Weber, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, 500 DAYS OF SUMMER
  • Embrace failure. It’s all part of the process. A great baseball batter fails two-thirds of the time. – Kent Alterman, President, Comedy Central
  • You just have to write. Don’t obsess over details, just keep writing. Get out, network, get to as many people as possible. – Mark Johnson, Executive Producer BETTER CALL SAUL, BREAKING BAD
  • Try to make something. Doing that can help you break through. – Pamela Ribon, MOANA, SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE
  • Leap frog forward with your peer group. Find yourself a writers’ group. Find a like-minded group so you’re not alone. Shane Black, LETHAL WEAPON, IRON MAN 3
  • If you’re aiming for features, look for a reading job or get a job that gives you regular hours so that you can leave work at work and have more time to work on your own writing. – Christina Hodson, SHUT IN, UNFORGETTABLE

CHOOSING WHAT TO WRITE 

  • Think about what’s not on. Where is there a void, then write an original with a clear vision that is clever, emotional and relatable. We look for specific shows with specific visions. – Jennifer Salke, President, NBC Entertainment
  • Your first script will be your calling card. Just write what you want, don’t restrict yourself to a budget, get a script that people want to read. – Shane Black
  • Find a story that says something to you and write it in a specific life-filled way. You should absolutely write what you want to write. You can only go where your heart goes. – Michelle Ashford, Creator/Executive Producer, MASTERS OF SEX
  • Your point of view is the most important thing you have. Don’t tell people what you think they want to hear. – Kent Alterman
  • Write that weird idea you have that’s unique to you. – Amy Talkington, THE ICE QUEENS

PITCHING

  • When pitching, start from a relatable human character dynamic, that is what will pull people in. Who is in this world? Why do I care? – Jennifer Salke
  • Love and know your pitch. Find a personal attachment to it and set the visual and world right away.
  • Pitch the show as if you’re describing your favorite show to a friend. – VJ Boyd
  • Be ready with an answer if they ask what else you’re working on. Have a few ideas in your pocket.
  • Go in with confidence. Pretend you already have the yes. Know your story throughout and have a clear vision for it.

WRITING GREAT BAD GUYS

  • When creating a strong villain, be thinking of what specifically does he or she want and why do they want it now.
  • Stress your bad guys out as much as your leads. Give them their own ticking clock.
  • Characters reveal themselves through the lies they tell and expose themselves through the things they keep secret.
  • Use your own fears as inspiration.
  • Villains should be delicious and fun to write. They are the heroes of their own stories.
  • Art should make you look at monsters and see the evil inside. – Tom Szentgyorgyi, Executive Producer, BATES MOTEL

GETTING NOTES

  • Be wary of any writer who accepts all the notes. – Mark Johnson
  • Be easy to work with during the notes process. Even a bad note can hit on an issue. Be ready to educate/inform others on the notes you didn’t take. – Christina Hodson
  • Bathe in the notes. Let them wash over you. Take them. Listen. Deal with most and pick your battles over the choices you made and why. – Amy Talkington
  • Look at notes as an opportunity to make your projects better. – Pamela Robin

WHAT DECISION MAKERS LOOK FOR WHEN HIRING WRITERS

  • A clear and interesting voice, hearing a particular kind of voice and way with language and understanding of characters, that stands out. – Michelle Ashford
  • A room filled with unique voices. People with facile brains who write well. – Stephen Falk, Creator/Executive Producer YOU’RE THE WORST
  • Complementary personalities and skills, making a good balance in the room. – Kent Alterman
  • Imagination and the ability to translate it. Sheer uncontained talent over process and discipline, that can be learned. – Mark Johnson

    Kelly Jo Brick is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. She’s a television and documentary writer and producer, as well as a winner of Scriptapalooza TV and a Sundance Fellow. Read more about her HERE

Lionsgate, Idris Elba Announced TV Writing Competition Winner

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The Winner of the first Write Green Light screenwriting competition, sponsored by Lionsgate UK and Idris Elba’s Green Door Pictures, is Matthew Kirton, with this script Sin of God.

As reported in Variety:

The contest was launched earlier this year in order to discover new writing talent in the U.K. Candidates were asked to present ideas for a returnable drama series. Kirton, who is unrepresented, will receive a paid development option with Green Door and Lionsgate UK, with a potential green-light option….

The three finalists were selected by an industry panel of producers, talent management and development executives, which included Elba, Kamasa, Amanda Davis, Damian Jones, Katie Swinden, Natasha Galloway, and Robert Taylor….

Kirton’s script is set in the U.K. in the near future, and centers on John Monaghan, a convicted murderer, who was executed for his crime, but comes back from the dead. Kirton said: “When I set out to write a story about a man coming back from the dead, I knew I wanted it to feel very real… I started off by thinking about what might actually happen if someone was to make that miraculous return. How would it be reported? How would people feel?”…

The other finalists were Ryan Brown with “We Are Your Children,” and Lauren Sequeira with “Cleo.” Brown’s script was based on a real-life pursuit of a serial killer who preyed on gay men in 1970s San Francisco. Sequeira’s story is based on a young woman fighting for power in the world of contemporary London gangs….

Read the full article here

TVWriter™ congratulates Matthew and the other finalists on a job well done!

 

A Real TV Writing Talent Search – by a Real Network

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Can you believe it? A genuine broadcast network is actively looking for new writers (and directors too, but enough about them). Talk about good news!

Great Britain’s Channel 4 is launching a talent search for “the next generation of writers…to the small screen. The program is called “4Stories” (hmm, wonder why), and Channel 4 execs are hoping it will encourage writers who “have not had an original single, serial or series broadcast on UK television. Writers who have contributed to episodes on soaps, series or serials are eligible to apply but can have had no more than two hours of broadcast credits.”

The idea here is to choose three writers out of the pile of applicants to work on a new series of half-hour, interconnected films that will tell one main story from three different perspectives.

Channel 4 is especially “encouraging” applications from “talent currently under-represented in television drama,” which is to say women, the disabled, and those from “disadvantaged backgrounds. Which, depending on your own life history, is either a super plus or kind of a disappointing minus.

The positive side (the one this TVWriter™ minion is in full agreement with) is best stated here, by Tash Phillips, Channel 4’s Drama Editor:

It’s vital for television drama to nurture new talent from diverse backgrounds in order to truly represent contemporary Britain onscreen. Through 4Stories, Channel 4 will give new drama writers anddirectors from different backgrounds a unique platform to showcase their most distinctive, authored and ambitious work.

This definitely is an opportunity. A good one. A move we here at TVWriter™ would love to see any major broadcast network make.

The deadline for writers to apply for 4Stories is November 14, 2016, and applications must include an original full-length script for TV, film, radio, or even the stage.

More info, including everything new directors need to know, is HERE

“Rick And Morty” Season 3 Looks to be Better Than Ever

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Rick And Morty has been one of TVWriter™’s favorite comedies since its debut back in the days when Co-Producer/Writer/Creator Dan Harmon was nursing his wounds from being fired from a little show you might remember called Community.

We just spotted this preliminary footage from Season 3:

Oh, the writing! The beautiful fucking writing!

And if it sounds even better in the clip than it did last season, the could be because, according to Harmon via Den of Geek:

We hired a bunch of new writers. There was a craving for a gender balance in the writers’ room that we had never had, but I’m also very proud of the fact that we didn’t compromise ourselves following that craving. We just looked harder and I don’t know if it was coincidence or because the show was popping up on the radar of a lot of great female writers noticing, ‘Well, they don’t have any women writers in there. I’m gonna submit something.’ It was probably a combination of all those factors.

And lest anybody have forgotten the writing from last year:

Okay, so maybe we’re a bit biased, but still – who’s a’thunk that a character named Poopy Butthole could have such smooth dialog sliding right out his…well, you know…mouth, right? Mouth!

Know all those people on Facebook who post about how blessed they are? Well, this TVWriter™ minion feels truly blessed just thinking about what’s in store when Rick And Morty returns.

WGAW October 2016 Calendar

Um…better late than never?

Gotta start opening more of our email. Damn!

screencapturewga0ct-16-calClick Here for Clickable Version

TVWriter™ Herbie J Pilato has a New Website

by munchman

4629759070_843x423TVWriter™ Contributing Editor Herbie J Pilato, known far and wide as, well, as Herbie J Pilato, has himself a new website, featuring everything from his authorized bio (written by famous Classic TV biographer Herbie J Pilato, no less) to a complete list of (and links to) his interweb work, books, and everything else you can think of – including all there is to know about the Classic TV Preservation site and even a link to TVWriter™.

It isn’t precisely a party in our pocket, but we definitely want y’all to come. (Herbie J may be the expert on Classic TV, but yer friendly munchamaniac still knows his Classic Underground Rock.)

Congrats on your grand opening, Herbie J Dood!

Get thee over to the man’s delicious new moonfruit That’s kind of an inside joke that’ll be part of once you click here: http://herbiejpilato.com