Bri Castellini: Dream Bigger – @brisworld

by Bri Castellini

A few months ago I did a podcast called The Other 50%- Women in Hollywood, hosted by Julie Harris Walker. As you can probably guess, it was on the subject of being a woman in the entertainment industry (and relentless self promotion). Near the end of the podcast, Julie asked “what’s your big dream?”

“Honestly, just to be able to support myself with my art.” I told her. “Whether that’s in the independent sphere, creating my own production company and running it like that, or getting to be a staff writer or a showrunner on a TV show. I want to be able to not have a day job, to not have to worry about side hustles and freelancing and stuff like that. To be able to say ‘I am a professional filmmaker’ and be able to live a simple existence.”

After a pause, she responded “You can dream bigger.”

I’ve been thinking about this exchange a lot recently. In the podcast I joked “is that not bigger?” because at the moment, it feels insurmountable. Last weekend I discovered $45 in my checking account while applying for a job that would pay me $20 to read a few sentences on camera. Thankfully I had savings for this exact purpose, and thankfully my job at Stareable is slightly more stable now, but it scared me a lot.

I have not been shy these past few months about what a rough time I’m having recently, and part of that has been me rethinking every decision I’ve ever made. It’s easy to make jokes in college and grad school about how I’m gonna be famous any day now, about how if I work hard I’ll make it in the art world. But the likelihood of that is so, so slim and there’s no way for me to determine whether I’m actually on the right path or not, because there IS no right path. It’s not like becoming a lawyer- there aren’t necessary steps (college, LSAT, law school, BAR, the rest of your life). You just kinda…. do a bunch of things and hope something eventually connects.

Daydreaming about fame and fortune is easy, but actually making that happen is hard, and it’s scary, and it seems insane, especially when I have to decide what ply of toilet paper I can afford to buy this week. I love my work at Stareable, and I loved my job at MTV, but sometimes I have to remind myself that I have two writing degrees and all I’ve ever wanted to do was tell stories. Five year old me didn’t dream about moderating a forum or casting a Southern Belle fashionista who currently lives in New York City. Five year old me dreamed of characters I wanted to hang out with, eight year old me learned about metaphors and how stories can mean more than one thing, thirteen year old me wrote a 35,000 word novel in a year, seventeen year old me only applied to colleges with strong creative writing programs, and twenty-two year old me moved across the country, away from everything and everyone I’ve ever known, with no plan except an acceptance letter to a graduate school that would teach me how to write for TV.

I’ve had tons of jobs, part and full time, over the past few years, and I’ve liked some of them quite a lot, and I’m incredibly lucky to have not had to work in the food and retail industries for long. But at the same time, every single one of them, at the end of the day, is not what I want to make a career out of. I write scripts while I’m waiting for emails, I film web series and movies on the weekends, I send query letters to agents, I consider moving to LA every other damn day, and I dream of the moment when my night and weekend work- which I spend equally as much time on as my “day jobs”- aremy day jobs.

I’m 25 years old. I feel old as fuck when I talk to my four-time web series creator pal Jules who’s starting college in the fall, and I feel young and vibrant when I remember the eleven years separating me and my pal Pablo who just created his first web series last year. Plenty of people were successful at ages far below my own, and plenty of people found their place in the world many years later, but I’m impatient, so the fact that I’m not already vacationing with Mindy Kaling is a constant thorn in my side. Dream bigger? I’m staring down the barrel of my empty bank account and a new job where SEO trumps stylistic comma choices. I just wanted to tell stories.

But ok. Dream bigger. Big dreams. What does that look like?

I want to work in a writer’s room for Amy Sherman-Palladino, Mindy Kaling, and Bill Lawrence. Eventually, I want to be the showrunner of my own show, probably about superheroes or zombies or ghosts. I also want to own my own indie production company, where I write, direct, and produce my own web series and short films with my friends without a network dictating every other word, and help produce their content as well. If that part of the business takes off, I’ll leave traditional TV behind forever, but I’m perfectly happy doing both.

I want to build a life where my success means the success of the people I love and respect. I want to give my actors a platform to experiment and show their chops, I want my writer friends to write without worrying about budget, I want my camera, sound, and tech friends to get to consistently work on supportive, well-run sets, and I want to make a living from it. I used to hate group projects, as most of you can probably sympathize with. But when I started filmmaking, a funny thing happened- I realized it wasn’t people I hated, or working in groups. It was working with people I didn’t choose who I didn’t respect and who didn’t respect me back.

I don’t know if that’s big enough, but today it feels like Everest, so today it’ll have to do.


Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Liaison at Stareable, our favorite web series hub. This article was originally published on her blog! Watch Bri’s award-winning web series, BrainsHERE!

Web Series: ‘The Stand’

The perfect web series for Trump’s America?

Or the hipster’s best friend?

Where would you place The Stand in the lifestyle spectrum?

Learn more about The Stand HERE

We’re thinking that this is well made – especially well-acted – and perfectly in keeping with today’s ironic niche humor. But to level with y’all, we’re also a tad tired of shows with asshole heroes. Does this make us bad people?

Feeling kinda disappointed…in ourselves.

What about you?

Found via Stareable

“WHAT-IF” PHENOMENA

by David Perlis

 

“What-Ifs” are big these days. Maybe they always were. What if we had lost WW2? (Man in the High Castle.) What if plummeting fertility rates threatened our society? (The Handmaid’s Tale.) What if 2% of the human population suddenly vanished. (The Leftovers.) One of my professor’s at UCLA lauded the What-If. “That’s your hook,” he’d say. No arguments here. I’m convinced. But I’ve decided there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Here’s the issue: What-If’s are often about building worlds—but drama is about building characters.

Doing it Wrong

I had high hopes for last year’s The Lobster. From the trailers, it looked right up my alley. Here’s the hook: “What if singles were rounded up, and forced to find a partner, else they be turned into animals?” It’s almost Kaufman-esque with its magical absurdity. I loved the concept—but found the movie a total bore. Why? It spent more time building a bizarre world than it did giving me a character I actually wanted to follow around for an hour and a half. The stakes were high. The whimsy was spot on. But I never felt engaged with this world from the POV of a unique character who helped bring the concept to life. Why was I following this guy, and how did this world affect him in some meaningful way? Frankly, I just felt stuck on the ride, and I wasn’t impressed. Some will be quick to say, “But it was nominated for Best Original Screenplay!” Yup—and maybe if it had characters to care about with unique needs, it would have won.

Doing it Right

I’m a big fan of graphic novelist, Brian K. Vaughn, first stumbling upon his brilliance with his epic space opera, Saga. But before that gem, he wrote a What-If called Y: The Last Man. The premise? “What if every man alive suddenly died—except for one.”

Now your protagonist is clear—it’s the last man! And every protagonist must (absolutely, must!) have a dramatic need. What does our last man want? It’s absolutely brilliant. In a world where he is the only man left, his big quest is to reunite with his girlfriend, who is halfway across the world, and doesn’t even know he’s still alive.

And from this need, Vaughn creates a world that opposes our hero again, and again, and again.

Here’s another What-If, which focuses less on building a re-imagined world, but still creates the right character for the journey: What if the world were literally controlled by evil corporations? (“Dude…that’s not a what-if…that’s reality.” Again, no arguments here—but that’s really another post altogether.) Anyway! Sam Esmail’s Mr. Robot doesn’t work because he created a world based around the Evil Corp concept—it works because the protagonist is a socially anxious, schizo hacker, bent on fighting it.

I’ve been slacking on my homework, not having yet watched The Handmaid’s Tale, but I read the book, and I’m just guessing the show has a spot-on start, with the POV of a Handmaid. And The Leftovers? I just re-upped my HBO account yesterday to see how they’re tackling that one. Frankly, I’m not yet sold on their angle (Justin Theroux’s copper, What-his-name), but I’ll give it a chance, and save my praises or my boos for another post, another day.

Here’s your super surprise shocker-ending to keep you all going “ooooo!” I’m working my own What-If. Won’t disclose it here, but just know, it’s an awesome idea—or, it will be, once I find the right character to tell the story. Stay tuned.


David Perlis is a screenwriter and former People’s Pilot Finalist doing his best to break into the even Bigger Time. This post first appeared on his very helpful blog.

If You’re a U.S.-Born Poet, This Scholarship is for You

LB’S NOTE: As some of you may know (from clues such as this), I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for poetry. (Notice that I didn’t say that soft spot is in my head, no matter what many people think.)

Because of my love for – and dedication to – poetry, I’m stretching TVWriter™’s mission just a bit by letting all our visitors in on what I believe is a Golden Opportunity…provided that you, like me, not only read poetry but write it too.

Here we go:


The $58,000 Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship: Apply Now for 2018

Are you an American-born poet who would like to spend a year travelling abroad? If so, then the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship might just be your perfect opportunity.

The Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship awards approximately US$58,000 annually to a poet to spend one year outside North America, in whatever place the recipient feels will most advance his or her work.

The scholarship is open to all American poets, whether their work has been published or not (though recent recipients have been published poets). There are no age restrictions and poets do not need to be enrolled at university or college. The amount of the prize money is adjusted each year for inflation. In the case of there being two winners, each will receive the full amount.

Applicants must complete an application form (PDF) and there is also the option of providing a brief CV. Unpublished poets should provide a sample of their work of up to 40 typed pages. Published poets can supply one printed volume plus 20 typed pages of their most recent work. There is no entry fee.

The scholarship is administered by the trustees of the will of Amy Lowell at the law firm of Choate, Hall and Stewart in Boston. Enquiries should be directed to the Trust Administrator Laura Reidy via amylowell@choate.com or phone 617 248 5214.

The 2017/18 scholarship attracted 376 applications and the winner was Joanna Klink.  Klink is the author of They Are Sleeping (University of Georgia Press, 2000), Circadian (Penguin, 2007), Raptus (Penguin, 2010), and Excerpts from a Secret Prophecy (Penguin, 2015). Her poems have appeared in many anthologies, most recently Resistance, Rebellion, Life: 50 Poems Now and The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth Century Poetry.

Applications for the 2018/2019 scholarship close on Sunday 15 October 2017. The successful recipient will be announced in March 2018. For full entry details visit the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship website.

Read more about poetry and writing and various writing scholarships and prizes at our source for the info above – Aerogramme Writers’ Studio

Cartoon: ‘Uphill’

Grant Snider knows the human soul oh-so-very-well:

To paraphrase Moriarty talking to Sherlock Holmes about his death: “It’s not the fall that kills you…it’s the discouragement.”

More of Grant Snider’s sensitive perception HERE

Buy his wonderful new book HERE

Troy DeVolld’s Reality TV Pro Tip Grab Bag

by  Troy DeVolld

Hi, all.  Gee whiz, it’s been a while… I feel like a ghost on my own blog.

Thought I’d pop by with a grab bag of pro tips that aren’t long enough for their own features, but that have been hard-won lessons along the way.  Enjoy.

A 44-minute docusoap typically keeps its pace best at 12-15 scenes.  Don’t overload it.  More is not more.  More is too much.

You can’t tell five stories in an episode with a cast of five people.  People can participate in others’ stories, but it’s best to keep to an A,B,C and maybe single-scene D story.  Yes, if you have a one-scene nonsequitur moment that you want to use (maybe because it’s funny), it probably belongs at the top of Act 2.

Get somebody in the room who hasn’t seen the edit to watch down your rough cut.  You know the material and your brain fills in the gaps in logic and story based on that familiarity.  Let fresh eyes that you don’t have to answer to get a look.

Stick up for the show, not just your ideas.


Troy DeVolld is a Larry Brody buddy, former senior story producer of Dancing with the Stars, and all-around true master 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?

Time to Get Your Script in for the Humanitas Prize Competiiton

The Writers Guild of America wants us all to know that “HUMANITAS is pleased to announce a Call for Entries for the 43rd annual HUMANITAS Prize Awards. The winners will be announced at the HUMANITAS Prize Awards held in February 2018.”

Well, not exactly all of us. The Humanitas Prize has been a profoundly important contest over the years, but it has a catch. A production based on the submitted teleplay “must have had a national release on Television (Broadcast, Cable, Internet and Satellite),” and a screenplay must have been released theatrically in the year of the contest, in this case, 2017.

So, yikes!, yeah, to enter you’ve got to be some kind of a pro. While you’re mulling that over, here are the full deets:

Submissions open: September 1, 2017
Deadline: September 30, 2017
*Teleplay or film must be aired or released between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017.
*Episodes that air AFTER submission period are eligible for consideration and will be kept confidential.

The winners receive both a trophy and a cash prize at our annual HUMANITAS Awards Ceremony, which will be held in February 2018. The total annual amount of the awards is $70,000 and is divided among the following seven categories:

Feature Film Screenplay
Sundance Feature Film Screenplay
60-minute Teleplay
30-minute Teleplay
Feature Documentary
Children’s Animation
Children’s Live Action

Submission Guidelines:

  • Teleplay or film must be aired or released between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017.
  • $100 entry fee per submission.
  • No limit to the number of submissions.
  • Credits must be redacted from script.
  • Teleplay must be written and produced in the English language for U.S. Television (Broadcast, Cable, Internet and Satellite).
  • Teleplay must have had a national release on Television (Broadcast, Cable, Internet and Satellite).
  • Feature film screenplay becomes eligible in the year in which it receives a U.S. theatrical release.
  • Documentary entrants must submit digital content through web-based award judging portal.

For over four decades, the HUMANITAS Prize has empowered writers with financial support and recognition to tell stories which are both entertaining and uplifting. HUMANITAS encourages writers who create contemporary media to use their immense power to:

Encourage viewers to truly explore what it means to be a human being.
Challenge viewers to take charge of their lives and use their freedom in a responsible way.
Motivate viewers to reach out in respect and compassion to all their brothers and sisters in the human family.

“HUMANITAS exists to recognize, encourage and empower writers who teach us how to embrace our common humanity by way of their unique and powerful voices. These storytellers help us to consider our place in the world, and examine our own moral compasses. In this day and age, now more than ever, it is a noble mission.”
-Cathleen Young, HUMANITAS Executive Director

Submissions will be accepted on our website starting September 1, 2017.

If you have any questions, contact those in the know at info@humanitasprize.org or 310-454-8769.

Oh, and as long as we’re talking about contests, don’t forget – even if your television script hasn’t been produced this year, it’s totally eligible for TVWriter™’s very own PEOPLE’S PILOT 2017 Writing Contest. As long as the script will work as a pilot for any of the currently available electronic media that all of us are so addicted to as viewers.

The place for People’s Pilot 2017 info is HERE

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