Troy DeVolld on Promoting Yourself

invitefinalby Troy DeVolld

With hundreds of hours of television in the rearview mirror, you’d imagine that it would get easier for me, this business of promoting myself among my peers.  Truth is, it can still be tough.

I’m very big on gentle reminders… the occasional email here or there, a lunch invitation between shows to catch up with those I’m often too busy to connect with in person or those who are hard to connect with unless it’s over a quick bite near wherever they’re working.

Others in the business go big.  A successful Executive Producer pal of mine threw a birthday party for herself this weekend at a trendy venue designed to hold about 35 people. Many multiples of that number showed up to pack the little space, invited guests including company owners, network execs, and other busy colleagues who knew it would be a fun opportunity to reconnect with each other as well as wish the birthday gal a great night.

However you choose to stay in touch with colleagues, do it.  I moved to the outer edges of Los Angeles last year, so I find it more important than ever to remind people that I’m around, as individual gigs can take me out of social play for months.

There are plenty of ways not to keep in touch.  Bulk emails letting people know you’re available for work actually breed resentment much of the time.  If you want to let people know you’re available in social media, do it in code.  I might announce that I’m “wrapping a project for some really terrific people” and let those I’m connected with put two and two together rather than straight hit them up for work.  If there’s something coming up, I’m sure they’ll call.

A personalized (not bulk) email with an updated resume attached is also a nice way to go.  Let people know you have an out date coming up and you just wanted to be sure they have an updated version of your resume in case anything’s brewing where they’re working.

No matter how you approach keeping your name in play, don’t just drop in digitally when you need work.  Cultivate those relationships.  The continuity of your employment depends on it.

Troy DeVolld is a Larry Brody buddy and one of the masters of the reality TV genre. This article originally appeared on his Reality TV blog. And while you’re thinking about him, why not buy his book, Reality TV: An Insider’s Guide to TV’s Hottest Market?

How writing a novel is different from writing Danger Mouse

After a decade and a half of writing children’s TV shows, Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler have written a book together. ..and in the process learned about a whole ‘nuther world:

dmby Mark Huckerby & Nick Ostler

What’s the difference between writing a script and writing a book? That was the question we were nervously asking ourselves when, after 16 years of scriptwriting for a living, we decided to embark on our first novel.

It couldn’t be THAT different, could it? Well, yes and no. We’d been lucky enough to be on the writing teams of some fantastic children’s TV shows, including Danger Mouse, Thunderbirds are Go and Shaun the Sheep. Those are some pretty fun sandboxes to be allowed to play in, so why the sudden desire to strike out into unknown territory? We’ve always believed that an idea will tell you what it wants to be.

Sometimes it’s TV, sometimes radio or even a movie – and we’d written all of those. But when we came up with Defender of the Realm – a reluctant young heir to the throne discovers that he is also a secret superhero charged with protecting the U.K. from a host of monsters and super-villains – it kept “telling us” it wanted to be a book. That way, we figured, we’d have the room to establish the world of our alternative Britain, the origin of our unique superhero’s powers, and an adventure with epic scope and endless possibilities. The only question was could we do it?

Writing scripts is a little like writing poetry. It’s all about economy of style – saying as much as you can with as few words as possible. Now, as we started writing our book, it felt like we had an ocean of words at our disposal. That was exciting and scary. Plus, there were TWO of us. Did writing partners even do books? Fortunately we had already been writing prose for years without realising it. Before a producer gives you the green light to start a script, you have to write something called a “treatment” – a few pages “selling” your story. We’d learned early on that a treatment had to be an entertaining read in its own right. Somewhere along the way we must have developed a joint “voice”, because our first Defender pages were coming out sounding surprisingly similar….

Read it all at The Guardian

How to Make Giving Up Work for You…?

WTF? Succeed by giving up? Win by losing? Or is “giving up” really a way to keep from losing?

Surrender-Captureby Matt McCue

Growing up, I had a Winston Churchill quote on my desk: “Never, never, never give up.” It served as a daily reminder to continue pushing forward, especially when things were rough.

Persevering against all odds certainly helps in the creative industry where you have to convince art directors and brand managers to buy your abstract and experimental ideas and bring them to life in the real world. However, looking back, I realize that the mentality to keep going at all costs can be an inefficient approach to work. In other words, there are merits to giving up.

I’m not saying give in at the first sign of a struggle. But what if we thought of our ideas less as precious commodities (and battles to be won) and more like stocks we can invest in and cut loose depending on how the market –project managers, clients – feel about them at given times? Things we like and feel are promising, but aren’t married to, should our position become weak or we find a more favorable opportunity.

Ideas, though, are treated with far more care. We often apply a “buy and hold” strategy to them, especially the bigger ones, like building a company or developing a new product. I think it’s because our ideas are often tied to our dreams, and what we’re really unwilling to give up on is the dream itself.

We don’t solely judge the idea – we judge it through a lens filled with beat-tired late nights, sacrificed paychecks, and all the other trademarks of building something from scratch….

Read it all at 99u

Hank Isaac’s LILAC Scores Big Time!

Sometimes the good guys win!

LILAC Wins Capture


Congrats from TVWriter™ to the LILAC team!

Why aren’t streaming services bringing us more great black shows?

Reruns! Once upon a time they were the bane of TV viewers. Now, we spend vast numbers of online hours looking for the great TV shows of yore. Many times we find them…others, well, not so much:

by Alyssa Rosenberg

Living_single_dvd_coverWhen I graduated from college and got cable for the first time, I discovered the wonderful world of reruns. And so, long before binging TV shows became an actual sociological phenomenon, I regularly fell into happy fugue states with the “Law & Order” franchise, and with “Living Single,” Yvette Lee Bowser’s brilliant sitcom about a group of friends living in New York, starring Queen Latifah as magazine editor Khadijah James.

But when I got a “Living Single” craving last week, I discovered something frustrating: The series isn’t streaming anywhere, and only the first of the show’s five seasons is available on a DVD release. “Living Single” is every bit as sprawling and funny as “Friends” or “How I Met Your Mother,” and its female characters beat “Sex and the City” to the spiky, complicated punch by five years. But if you wanted to watch the whole thing, start to finish, and to watch it in order, you’d have to DVR the TV One reruns and assemble the episodes in order yourself.

It’s not exactly news that series built around black characters have been somewhat slow to move to streaming services, or that many of these shows never got complete DVD releases in the first place. But the list of shows that are not available is striking.

After my “Living Single” realization, I went through and checked both Netflix andWhere to Watch, a database run by the Motion Picture Association of America and its member studios, that tracks the availability of shows and movies on services such asAmazon, Hulu, Crackle, iTunes and Disney Movies Anywhere. (Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.) Among the black shows that aren’t available to stream on any of the services I checked? “Girlfriends.” “Sanford and Son.” “Everybody Hates Chris.” “The Steve Harvey Show.” “Sister, Sister.” “What’s Happening!!” “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper.” “Roc.” “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.” Classics such as “The Jeffersons,” “Good Times” and “Diff’rent Strokes” are locked up in DirecTV’s streaming service. And it’s not just black shows: Margaret Cho’s “All-American Girl” isn’t available to stream, either.

So, what’s going on here? I talked to Tim Havens, a communications studies professor at the University of Iowa who studies the intersection of race, ethnicity and the media, who advanced two theories but cautioned that it’s been hard to pin down a definitive answer to this lingering question.

The first is that the streaming rights to shows are often sold in big chunks, and it’s possible that the rights to some of these shows might be concentrated in studios such as Warner Brothers and Fox and haven’t been included in part of big package deals. The second might be that streaming services have decided that black shows just aren’t valuable to them, either because they believe that affluent white audiences won’t watch those shows or because they aren’t chasing African American consumers’ money.

Leaving aside the fact that it’s tragic that white audiences who loved “Friends” or “How I Met Your Mother” or “Sex and the City” would deny themselves the pleasures of “Living Single” because of the characters’ color, it’s worth digging into the data to see what streaming services black Americans are already using, and what they say they want in their programming.

Horowitz Research, in the company’s “State of Cable & Digital Media: Multicultural Edition 2016,” conducted 1051 surveys online and 1019 phone interviewers with television viewers in urban markets to find out what those audiences were watching, how they were watching it, and what they’d like to watch more of.

Fifty-three percent of black respondents told the researchers that they had access to a subscription-based streaming video service, up against 56 percent of total respondents, 57 percent of white viewers, 58 percent of Asian viewers and 64 percent of Hispanic respondents. But those same black respondents were less likely to use the services where many classic TV shows and original new series are collected: 47 percent of black respondents said they use Netflix, up against 49 percent of the survey as a whole. Twenty-three percent of African American respondents said they used Hulu, which has the deepest penetration of white viewers. And just 22 percent of black respondents said they have Amazon Prime Instant Video, well below the 34 percent of whites, 36 percent of Asians and 36 percent of Hispanics who said they use the service.

So what might turn African Americans into more regular streaming service users?…

Read it all at The Washington Post


Does Your Writing Suck?

You want to be a writer. More than that, you know you’re a writer – you just haven’t been discovered yet. But others don’t share that optimism…what do you do?

For starters, you read this:

Found at Dreamstime.Com

Found at Dreamstime.Com

by Joleene Moody

When I was in college, I wrote a farce for the stage. It was weak, at best, because I couldn’t come up with a decent ending. I don’t want to destroy my reputation here, but the first ending had an alien kidnapping the protagonist during Christmas Eve dinner. (Please don’t delete me from your network. I was only 21 and likely under the influence.)

Knowing it was a bullshit ending, I threw my stage play in a box with some other scribblings where it sat for 15 years. In that time I worked as a television reporter and anchor in the city of Syracuse, chasing criminals and crooked politicians, all the while pretending that writing two-minute news stories twice a day was enough to satisfy my muse.

It was not.

I should tell you that since I boxed my play up in 1997, I’d been thinking of an ending to bring my play full circle. For 15 years, I pondered it. I’m not even kidding. I mean, I wasn’t obsessed with it, but when the holidays would roll around I would look for the magical ending. I even went so far as to ask people, “What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had happen to you during a family holiday meal?”

The most I got was someone’s aunt falling down the stairs. Pfft.

Then one day during a zumba class, the ending came to me. I don’t know why, it wasn’t even Christmas. I don’t think I was even thinking about the script as I bounced around that room, but I will tell you I couldn’t get out of there fast enough to write it down. I keep paper and pen in my car, so the second I got behind the wheel, I wrote it down.

That was in 2012.

In November of that year, I spent all of Thanksgiving break rewriting the entire script, new ending included.

In January of 2013, I submitted my play to five theatres: two in New York, two in Buffalo and one in Syracuse.

In the summer of 2013, the head director of the CNY Playhouse in Syracuse sent me a message to tell me one of the other directors wanted to direct my play Christmas of 2014.

I nearly died.

One of the greatest things we experience as writers of stage and screen is the moment we are able to watch our work unfold. That’s why we write, right?

(I’ve been dying to put those two words together like that.)…

Read it all at Stage 32