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

Who luvs ya, baby?

Allie Theiss: Daniel Thomsen’s Approach to TV Writing Success – Part 1

by Allie Theiss

Writer Daniel Thomsen has been at the top of TVWriter™’s radar for a long time and has worked on some of this  minion’s favorite shows (TIME AFTER TIME, WESTWORLD, ONCE UPON A TIME, among many others). I’m delighted to have had the chance to talk to him about his enviable career.

When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

I grew up during the 1990s, in the rural rustbelt, before there was much attention given to writers in television. I was a passionate STAR TREK fan, but all that meant was I watched every new episode of TNG and DS9. It fed my storytelling imagination, but I didn’t pay attention to the names of the writers or anything like that. It just never occurred to me that I could write stories to make a living. That wasn’t my world.

I went to college in Boston for business and technology, and fiction writing was always just a (secret) hobby. Living in a big city for the first time exposed me to theater, music, and art. I started to see that people from all walks of life could participate in creative work.

And then, as luck would have it, I graduated right as the first “dot com” bubble collapsed. All the jobs I was hoping to get as a Web technology worker disappeared, and I was faced with a crisis that turned out to be very liberating: I could either stick around in Boston and wait for the economy to bounce back, or I could move to Los Angeles and try to turn my writing hobby into a career. There didn’t seem to be much to lose, so I packed up my car, drove across the country and gave it a shot.

Why did you pick the TV business to showcase your creativity?

There were a few reasons. First and foremost, the years I spent in business school gave me a very practical approach to starting my career, no matter what field it was in. One of the first questions I asked myself was: “How can I work my way up the ladder and get in the door?” I didn’t always have a lot of insight or awareness back then, but one thing I was very smart about was never assuming that “writer” could be an entry-level job — I didn’t have the experience, the training, or the connections.

I did some research and discovered that television had paying jobs for people who wanted to apprentice — production assistants, writers assistants, script coordinators, etc. I could move to Los Angeles and make enough money to pay my bills (barely) while learning the ropes of TV writing. In contrast, when I looked at the world of feature films, I didn’t see those jobs. Frankly, I wasn’t confident enough to be a guy who sat in his apartment, wrote spec scripts and counted on the fact that one of them would eventually win the lottery.

That’s a fairly emotionless answer, so I should also point out that I’ve always loved television more than movies. I grew up in a rural area of the country, and it was a long drive to get to the theaters. I like serialized stories, and I like that television can build rich, lifelike worlds the audience can keep coming back to week after week. To me, movies can feel very transactional. But when a great television show ends, we feel a genuine sense of loss. That’s powerful motivation for me as a writer.

What do you find challenging about writing TV shows for the fantasy/sci-fi genre?

Honestly, I think we’re in a GREAT era of television for fantasy and sci-fi. People are taking chances on unique, ambitious genre stories. Ten years ago, when I was working on THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, the challenge was that we needed to draw a huge number of viewers because we were on the Fox network in primetime. But we didn’t want to make a summer blockbuster; we wanted to tell a story for true fans of genre — an allegory that took Sarah and John Connor’s fight against Skynet and framed it as a mother’s endless fight to raise her child.

If we had done the show in 2017 and the same number of people watched it on Netflix or Hulu or Syfy, we probably would’ve been able to do more episodes. The economics are better now, and they allow storytellers to take more chances.

Today’s TV landscape is an embarrassment of genre riches. If the biggest challenge today is coming up with the idea that’s ambitious enough to make noise in the crowded marketplace… that’s an awesome challenge to face!

How did you first break into TV?

I hope LB won’t be too embarrassed for me to include the detail that he provided a lot of knowledge and assistance in my early career. When I moved to Los Angeles, I didn’t know a single person, but I knew LB from his online classes, and his advice pointed me in the right direction.

I got a PA job in a writers’ office on a show called BIRDS OF PREY, spent my first year in LA getting lunches and coffee during the day, and delivering scripts at night. It was hard work that barely paid the rent, but I met a group of writers that directly paved the way for my future career. My various assistant jobs led to a freelance script assignment for a show called CLOSE TO HOME. The freelance script led to an agent and, after an anxious year of taking meetings, my first staff job on THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES.

But the only reason I got that staff job is the woman who created BIRDS OF PREY (and met me as the young idiot delivering her coffee) made a phone call that got my script read by the creator of SARAH CONNOR. From my first day on the job as her PA to my first day on the job as a staff writer, it was about five years of just scraping by.

I tell people who want to do this that, unless they have an incredible connection, they should expect to put in at least five years of networking before their break. Looking back, I’m proud of the way I hustled, but the hustle wasn’t everything — I got a few lucky bounces, too. It could easily have taken me a few years longer.

How does being a TV writer now compare to how you thought being a TV writer would be in regards to the way you have to write and not just the politics of showbiz?

The biggest adjustment to writing on staff is accepting that your ONLY job is to deliver your best, most creative ideas in the voice of the showrunner. When you’re thinking of ideas to pitch in the room, your thinking is always framed by, “How would the showrunner want to tell this story?” When you’re sitting down at the computer to write lines, you’re not just writing the lines that would otherwise come naturally to you. When you’re on set, and someone asks you a question, you’re answering on the showrunner’s behalf.

It’s a very tricky skill to learn, and there’s a balance to it, because most showrunners want you to incorporate some of your own voice into your work as well. But when I say balance, I mean 85% showrunner voice, 15% personal voice. Sometimes even less, depending on the job.

A staffing career isn’t like being a rock star. It’s like being the rhythm guitarist who plays alongside a rock star.

(Not coincidentally, I think that’s why so many more people are now trying to join the business as creators rather than as staff writers. The creators are the rock stars.)

It isn’t over yet. Join us next week for Part 2 of this conversation with Daniel Thomsen and the Big Question: “What path do you recommend a budding TV writer take to get hired onto a show?


Allie Theiss, is a TVWriter™ Contributing Writer and one of TVWriter™’s Recommended Writers. Check out her daily Story Prompts, Book Marketing ideas, and Script Magic on Instagram. Learn more about her HERE

TVWriter™ Don’t-Miss Posts of the Week – August 14, 2017

Time for TVWriter™’s  Monday look at our 5 most popular blog posts of the week ending yesterday. They are, in order:

Web Series: ‘Stupid Idiots’

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Who Inspires You: TV Writers Share Their Creative Inspirations

TOLDJA! – Web Series ‘Stupid Idiots’ Now has a Genuine TV Deal

LB: A Sad Goodbye To An Old Friend

And our 5 most visited permanent resource pages are, also in order:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

PEOPLE’S PILOT 2017 Writing Contest

The Logline

The Outline/Story

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT: Rules

Major thanks to everyone for making this another great week at TVWriter™. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!

And Now a Few Words from Lou Stone Borenstein…

…About Lou Stone Borenstein, and why not?

by Lou Stone Borenstein & TVWriter™ Press Service

Tickets are now available for the remaining dates of my latest L.A.  show “A History of CENSORED in America”!

I have some free tickets available to the Aug 11th show. Let me know if you’d like any.

The show starts at 9 pm at iO West Theater – 6366 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Find out more about it HERE

Tickets to the Aug 17th show are only $5, and if you can make that one, it really helps as it’s a very tough time to get an audience for a show. Thanks!

Tickets are now available for August 17 5:30pm at UCB Sunset – 5419 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Learn more HERE


EDITOR’S NOTE: For those not in the know, Lou Stone Borenstein is an all-round cool kind of guy who has been writing and performing comedy since 2007. His writing credits include co-creating and writing the web series “Is This Thing On?” and writing for the DreamWorksTV digital show “Human Bowling Showdown.”

He was the face of Deep River Rock water in an international ad campaign and of evology.com in an online campaign. He performed stand-up regularly at the New York and Broadway Comedy Clubs in New York and now performs in L.A.

Other accomplishments include winning on Wheel of Fortune and publishing a crossword puzzle in the New York Times. Lou is a TVWriter.com Recommended Writer and a guy who really knows how to entertain.

Allie Theiss: Seven Apps That Help Deal with Distractions

by Allie Theiss

You’re a writer – right? You must be if you’ve come here to TVWriter™’s little online slice of TV heaven.

However, you’re reading this post instead of writing. Does that often happen to you? You get distracted and wind up doing everything but actual writing?

I know I have a serious distraction problem.

With Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, the distractions are never ending. Plus, I have 21 cats, two dogs, and a teenager. My life is a distraction.

I’ve tried the setting the kitchen timer trick. I became too lazy to go into the kitchen and get the timer after week one.

I’ve tried taking Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix off my phone. I watch them instead on my tablet.

I’ve listened to music to keep the distractions down. However, this only allowed me to daydream enough to create other stories before I finished the one that sat in front of me.

I’m not even going to bother telling you how long it’s taken me to write this article. It’s too embarrassing.

What I will tell you about are the apps I finally found that give me a distraction-free zone. Here’s a short list of those that work for me:

Favorite Sound-Based Apps

1) Noisli 2.0: Drowns out distractions with ambient sounds, allowing you to concentrate and focus on your project. It also has a productivity timer and distraction free text editor.

Available: online, play store, app store, Chrome

Cost: free online/Chrome, paid apps

2) Brain.FM: This AI-generated music is fantastic for concentration and focus. Brain.FM claims that it only takes minutes to feel the difference.

Available: online, app store

Cost: free & paid

Favorite Block Distraction Apps

1) StayFocused: Manage distractions by adding the sites to a block list. StayFocused is the app to allow yourself a set amount of time to be distracted.

Available: Chrome

Cost: free

2) Freedom: Same company as StayFocused. You can block sites on a timer or do so manually. If need be, you can block out the Internet altogether. Select your devices. Schedule time. Distractions blocked.

Available: iPhone and iPad, plus all browsers on Windows and Mac.

Cost: paid

Favorite To-Do Apps

1) Wunderlist: An excellent planning and to-do app that allows you to make lists, get reminders, and work with collaborators. Access to-do lists through a variety of devices. (Rumor has it that TVWriter™’s very own LB uses this.)

Available: iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android, Windows, Kindle Fire and the Web.
Cost: free + paid (unless you want to collaborate, free will do everything you need.)

2) Todoist: Todoist is another to-do app that allows you to make lists, schedule reminders, and play nice with others. This app also prides itself on having a distraction-free environment when in use.

Available: web, Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and email.

Cost: free

Favorite Pomodoro Timer App

1) Focus Booster: If setting a timer is the best way to have focus, this is your app. Focus Booster gives you instant focus, keeps track of your time with timesheets, and trains you to have better work habits.

Available: web, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

Cost: free for 30 days, then starts at $2.99/month

Sometimes it takes a whole village of apps to make us distraction-free. This is mine. Please let me know what you’ve picked when you find yours.


A big TVWriter™ welcome to Allie Theiss, a new TVWriter™ contributor and one of Larry Brody’s “Recommended Writers.” Check out her daily Story Prompts, Book Marketing ideas, and Script Magic on Instagram

TVWriter™ Don’t-Miss Posts of the Week – August 7, 2017

Time for TVWriter™’s  Monday look at our 5 most popular blog posts of the week ending yesterday. They are, in order:

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

LB: A Sad Goodbye To An Old Friend

Who Inspires You: TV Writers Share Their Creative Inspirations

Find Your Story – and Stick to It

Writers Guild Foundation – Breaking In At Any Age

And our 5 most visited permanent resource pages are, also in order:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

PEOPLE’S PILOT 2017 Writing Contest

The Logline

The Outline/Story

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT: Rules

Major thanks to everyone for making this another great week at TVWriter™. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!

TVWriter™ Don’t-Miss Posts of the Week – July 31, 2017

Time for TVWriter™’s  Monday look at our 5 most popular blog posts of the week ending yesterday. They are, in order:

Herbie J Pilato Remembers Martin Landau

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

LB: Where Did THE FALL GUY Live?

Writers Guild Foundation – Breaking In At Any Age

Peggy Bechko’s Tips on Character Descriptions

And our 5 most visited permanent resource pages are, also in order:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

PEOPLE’S PILOT 2017 Writing Contest

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT: Rules

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT: Enter

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT: Prizes

Major thanks to everyone for making this another great week at TVWriter™. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!