By Olivia Briggs
Let's start with a little visualization exercise, shall we? Now, close your eyes, (metaphorically of course as one must continue reading) and I want you to travel back to the very first time you followed the sound of creepy, cooky, organ music to that enormous striped tent and took your dusty, bleacher seat at a good old American circus. Presumably you were about five or six, younger if your parents were very brave, older if you were a particularly difficult child, or your parents were quite busy, as mine were. None the less, I'm sure you can remember the gape-mouthed wonder you felt when that clown emerged, fifteen feet in the air on an extended, single-wheeled bicycle. Even more when he broke out the first plate, spinning on his head as he rode. More at the second plate on a foot, then one each hand, perhaps hula hooping at the same time, while still leaving that clean, thin, tire mark in the dirt beneath him. Now, see this incredible clown, this magical magician of multi-tasking, and strip away the makeup. Replace the polka dot pants with jeans, the sparkling button-down with a T-shirt, send the big top into the cosmos and tack on a writer's room, and what have you got? Yes, my friends. The person you now see dexterously spinning before you is a television showrunner.
As writers in entertainment we have become accustomed to hearing warnings that in the professional world our work is not our own. That each page we bleed our hearts upon will be subjected to impossible scrutiny by stiff executives who wouldn't know art if Picasso rose from the grave and slapped them in the face. That at the end of the day, if our scripts ever see the screen that the finished product will be some watered-down, generic, hacked-up story that might, if you are lucky, bear some semblance to your original work and vision. And most importantly, you have heard that you just have to deal with this, right? (Read More)
By Olivia Briggs
Many of us screenwriters have heard, if not experienced, the rewriting and script doctoring process that goes on from the time a script is picked up until, sometimes, the end of production. You write a script, then someone you don’t know does a rewrite. Then a few other people dive in with their two cents, the director wants this, a producer wants that, and before you know it, your little movie about a high school janitor is now an alien rom-com about an unlikely, hall-mopping superhero.
A new trend appears to be emerging in independent film, however, that seeks to combine all of those brilliant literary minds at once, and for some, it seems to be working. This concept has been used in television writing for decades, and with yet another golden age of TV upon us, it seems only fitting that screenwriting should embrace this strategy as well. This crazy concept, utilized in the writing of Delusions of Guinevere
, a new film produced, co-written, and starring Ms. Ariana Bernstein
, is called a writers’ room. So, how did it come together and how did it fly? Why don’t I let her tell you about it. (Read More)
So, you've decided that you want to be a writer. Now what?
Well, before you dive in, every writer must have a basic tool kit. Trust me, it will only help you to produce better, more effective, professional work, and keep you from losing your mind. Writing is hard enough on its own. Don't deprive yourself of the basic tools necessary to drive action, build character, and keep your work interesting, even to yourself. If you don't, you may end up in an asylum somewhere.
Below is a list of the basic tools needed to become an effective dramatic writer. This list has been compiled from numerous sources, both industry and literary, and will, no doubt, improve your writing whether you are coming at this for the first time, or a veteran writer returning for a check-in. (Read More)
By Olivia Briggs
Mitch Hedberg, the late, great comedian, used to joke that once he had finally achieved notoriety as a stand-up that suddenly that wasn’t enough anymore. Everyone wanted to know if he could act and write. “It’s as though if I were a cook, and I worked by ass off to become a good cook, they said, ‘All right, you’re a cook -- can you farm?’” No doubt a commentary on how the entertainment industry has shifted in the twenty-first century. So now I turn that question to you. Now that you’re a writer, and you’ve worked your ass off to become a good writer, can you produce? Better yet, should you? Naomi McDougall Jones
, actress/writer/producer and cofounder of Nine Lives Pictures
, says absolutely, yes.
Naomi began her career in entertainment as a New York actress. For her first venture into the world of on-camera writing and producing, she partnered with fellow actress Caitlin Gold to found Nine Lives Pictures. “We were really just trying to get our SAG cards and, at the time, you could do that though a webisode.” Naomi said of CCCCTV, or Corrupting the Classics with Contemporary Crap
, a satirical web series which she wrote and starred in. (Read More)
Hollywood film and television writer, Ligiah Villalobos
By Olivia Briggs
Meet Ligiah Villalobos, Hollywood film and television writer.
A performer, studying dance at BYU, Ligiah suffered a debilitating injury that ended her dance career before it had begun. To collect, recover, and figure out what it was she wanted to do with her life, she moved to Hollywood, California where she took a secretarial job at an advertising company. She was then hired as a secretary in the sales department of a radio station before moving on to take a job in the sales department of KCBS-TV.
Ligiah stresses the importance of maintaining connections and friendships within the entertainment industry, for, it was a friend at that first, small, advertising company, who four years later, recommended her for an executive position working for The Walt Disney Company. It was there that she oversaw the development of Disney-branded programming in six countries in South America, the first of which, in Venezuela, became the most watched children’s program in the country.
Despite the excitement of the work, Ligiah soon tired of the constant travel associated with the position. She took a job with Touchstone Television, overseeing the Disney Writing Fellowship Program
and the Director’s Training Program
, before joining the WB Television Network, overseeing the production of six different shows. The only problem was, Ligiah felt that the programs that the WB had chosen to produce reflected poorly on people of color. Feeling unfulfilled, Ligiah began to question whether or not she could continue her work. (Read More)
By Olivia Briggs
Hey writers! Thinking about the move to LA? Well, if you are, don’t get too excited. This guy probably wont represent you. After all, talent manager, film producer and President of The Arlook Group
, Richard Arlook
, has put over twenty-five years into building the careers of writers that he now hopes to reap the benefits of in the years to come. He has, however, shared with us some very helpful tips and industry insights that will help put you on the path to finding solid representation all your own.
The Arlook Group, founded in 2008 in Beverly Hills, represents writers in all genres. Though they do represent a small number of emerging writers, these are usually under very special circumstances. “I don’t even really want to tell you this, because it never, ever happens, but I did take a meeting with a writer because he wrote an amazing query letter.” Richard confessed, “I asked for a script and I liked it, so I signed him. But, that’s like one in a thousand, the only person I’ve signed like that in ten years.” Perhaps it is one in a thousand, but it does reinforce the importance of a well-drafted query letter, doesn’t it? Most of the new talent that Richard takes on come from referrals, either from agents or entertainment lawyers. “This is a business of referrals.” He said. Hear that kids? Get out there and network! (Read More)
By Olivia Briggs
The Tisch Asia community was hit late Thursday evening by a mass e-mail from Dean Mary Campbell informing students, alumni, and faculty that the graduate institution would, in fact, be closing its doors for good some time after the 2013-2014 academic year. Students immediately organized an 11am all-campus meeting to prepare for individual department meetings with Dean Campbell, Bob Cameron, and associates beginning at 1pm and stretching into the early evening of Friday November 9th.
This is not the first time that the little NYU campus has been rocked by bad news. Nearly one year ago, on November 24th, 2011, the campus received notification that Tisch Asia’s founder and president, Pari Shirazi, was being removed from her post. With no prior warning, and for many, insufficient disclosure on the part of the upper NYU administration, the campus was thrown into turmoil. Skepticism of the powers that be only deepened after an initial meeting with Dean Campbell revealed that Shirazi had been unceremoniously fired due to an inability to make Tisch Asia a self-sufficient financial entity by 2011, as per the original agreement with NYU upon the school’s creation in 2007. It was also disclosed that, under closer examination, that the business plan created by Shirazi never would have succeeded, and was, therefore, doomed to fail. (Read More)