How To Get Your Own TV Series

Ahhhhhh, wouldn’t you like to know (insert evil laugh here) With the proliferation of TV shows out there-propelled no doubt by the presence and growth of different streaming networks-and the need for content that is quickly consumed, it should be easy to land a TV series in this day and age.

So I will give you the answer on how to land your own TV series deal. As you may or may not know, Chasing The George is about the journey I’m on to create and carve out the career that I see and want for myself. And along the way, I share my advice, my wins, my losses which become lessons, etc…so that you can be inspired in the pursuit of your own dreams. It’s important to share my journey so that people can see that there is no such thing as an overnight success. That it takes a sustained effort.

So the answer to landing a TV series deal with Netflix or HBO or Showtime is……..I don’t know! NOW HERE’S WHERE YOU WILL PROBABLY STOP READING. Please don’t. This is a process. This is a journey. If you decide to keep reading, you will see what I’ve been doing to get my newest series picked up.

I’ve been down this road before with another TV series I created a few years ago. With that series, I had a literary agent. I had producers attached. I pitched my series to CBS, Showtime, Youtube, Logo and HERE! My series was pitched and submitted to different production companies. I independently shot the pilot episode and submitted to film festivals.

With my new TV series, this is what I’ve done so far. Hopefully this helps or inspires you. The idea first came to me in 2015 and I wrote a rough pilot for it. It wasn’t until the fall of 2018 that I decided to pick it up again and devote my energy to it. And since then, this is what I have done to arm myself with tools and resources.

**I studied many half-hour shows on Netflix (the pilot episodes only) to get a sense of the style and tone of each show to see what resonated with the style and tone of my new series. Also, I studied when the main character was introduced, when the other characters were introduced and how quickly the problem for the main character was introduced.

**I rewrote the pilot episode of my series based upon the information I received above.

**I created a spreadsheet that lays out the first eight episodes of season one (I decided that 8 would be my magic number for season one) The spreadsheet lays out important information from the characters to episode titles, etc. In this way, the buyer can get a clear map and picture about the possibilities of season one.

**I wrote the second and third episodes of my series. Again, in this way, the buyer can get a sense of my writing style and also see where the series is going.

**I’ve brought in scenes from all the episodes to read out loud in class to see what works, what flows, what doesn’t make sense, etc. Then, I applied the notes I received and brought the scenes back to class.

**I wrote the TV bible for my series.

**I wrote my pitch. And the biggest part of my pitch was articulating WHY I am telling this story and WHY I’m the only person who can tell this story. The next step is for me to start practicing it out loud to see how it flows, to see if I’m engaged and interested, to see if people get the story, etc. And how I came about writing my pitch was through doing research. There are many different ways to pitch and I made my life sane by choosing one approach that I really liked and sticking with it. If I went down the rabbit hole of looking at the many ways to pitch, I would have driven myself insane. I decided to model my pitch after the way Gloria Calderón Kellett does it (she has a video on Youtube where she breaks down how she likes to pitch her TV shows)

**I’ve met with one my mentors-who is in the industry-for advice and homework. And boy, did he give me a lot of exciting homework each time we met. The homework was designed to not only help me hone in on my voice as a writer, but to hone in on literary managers who will most likely be more receptive to repping me as a writer. Also, he guided me to utilize my relationship map for connections and possibilities. And no, I will not tell you who my mentor is LOL.

**I’ve recently met with a big TV producer (thanks to someone on my relationship map creating an intro for us) to ask questions about their professional journey and to start building a relationship with them. My mentor above encouraged me to ask the producer if I can do “takes”. I asked the producer and they were open to it! And no, I will not tell you who this producer is LOL.

**I’ve recently connected with a TV writer (thanks to someone on my relationship map creating an intro for us) so that I can ask them questions about their professional journey and to start building a relationship with them. And no, I will not tell you who this writer is LOL.

**I need to start reaching out to literary managers from the homework I did. Relationship map? Query letters?

**I will keep listening to the people I admire and respect on social media. Engage in genuine ways. Ask questions. Let them see that I am about it. One of the things on my to do list is to read this thread that a working writer posted where they honestly answered questions they received about submitting scripts to selling them to attaching directors and producers to a project, etc. In this way, I can see a different point of view.

Okay, I’m going to stop here. There are other things I have done this year and there are many other things I still have to do. Thinking inside the box and outside of the box. Tackling from all angles because there is no one way or answer. I think you get the point though.

Maybe this helps you. Maybe it doesn’t. If you have other ideas, please let me know in the comments below. What good moves have been effective for you in getting your series out there? Do I need to rent a plane and spell out a message over Hollywood?

Have a good week!

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That First Moment When…

Hello artists! How the heck are you?!?! Wow! It’s been a MINUTE since I last posted a blog entry! My focus over the last few weeks has been on putting the finishing touches on the pitch package I’ve been building for the new TV series I created and developed.

I hope your summer 2019 has been filled with exciting artistic possibilities and opportunities!

As consumed as I have been with my new TV series, I had a moment one day that reminded me of why I entered the entertainment business in the first place: I was a little kid when I first watched Christopher Reeve play the role of Superman. Christopher Reeve played the role of Superman in the 1978 movie.

It was several years later that I would watch this film for the first time…and it changed my life forever. I KNEW right then and there that I wanted to save the planet with my super powers. Every time I watched this version of Superman as a kid, I would tie my baby blanket (which I still have) around my neck and “fly” around my room…visiting places on Earth and beyond…and fighting any bad guys in the process.

I knew that I wanted to be Superman. I wanted to be on screen and fly and save and protect and be a hero. I knew that I didn’t want to be a normal person. I didn’t want to be an anonymous entity. I didn’t want to be ordinary. I didn’t want to be like everyone else. I wanted to be someone. I wanted to stand out. I wanted to be a star. I wanted to fly. Superman represented what I wanted to be and so I started my journey of being an actor…an artist…an entertainer. Superman made a difference in his world………….and I wanted to do the same in mine.

Superman was the moment I knew I wanted to be an artist.

What was THAT MOMENT WHEN YOU KNEW you wanted to be an artist?

I’d love to read your answers in the comments section!!!

See you soon!

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Spending My Summer With Ryan Murphy et al

Hello gang! I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.

On June 15th, I met with a mentor of mine for coffee in the Hollywood Hills. As countless luxury cars pulled in and out of the parking lot, I told him that I needed some help and direction in the TV literary world. He’s a literary manager and also a fellow Vassar graduate. I’ve known him (and his wife) for several years now. I’ve been to a few events they’ve hosted from Christmas gift-wrapping parties for needy families to casserole parties to a writers retreat at the Sturtevant Camp in Sierra Madre, CA.

I told him that I needed to navigate the TV literary world with more focus and clarity because I was a little bit all over the place. I also asked him about how to obtain a literary manager. We spoke for a while and he gave me a lot of homework to execute that would help me get more focused in this area, more focused on which literary managers would be best for my writing voice and to discover opportunities for minority writers such as myself.

After taking pages of notes, I was excited to tackle the homework he gave me. One of the homework assignments was to identify 25 TV shows/movies that I would have killed to work on as a writer. He told me to create a spreadsheet and to include different columns of information for this homework assignment.

Side note: At the time of our meeting, I could only identify two TV shows that I would have killed to work on as a writer LOL.

After our meeting, I immediately got to work. I started watching lots of TV shows and movies to find my voice in them. Does this TV show or movie sound like my voice? Does this TV show or movie sound like what I’m interested in writing? I would watch at least two episodes of each TV show to see if I would add it to the list or not. I typed in specific genres that I was interested in. I looked at recommendations from Netflix, Hulu and IMDB (i.e. if you liked “Black Mirror”, then check out….) Next thing I knew, my list of shows started to grow.

When my list grew to 15 shows, I hit a wall. I was like, “There is no way I’m going to find 25 TV shows/movies.” I emailed my mentor and asked, “Is 25 a hard number? Or can I have less than that?” I asked him this question knowing fully well what his answer would be. I knew that 25 was a hard number. And that he gave me 25 TV shows/movies to push myself, to explore and to think outside of the box. He emailed me back and he confirmed everything I already knew. So, I recommitted to hitting the magic number of 25. And I’m glad I did because I didn’t want to take any shortcuts. I wanted to fully comply.

On July 27th, I hit the magic number! When I found my 25th show, I cheered! I was so happy and ecstatic. It took me almost a month and a half, but I got to spend my summer with Ryan Murphy, Ava DuVernay, Steven Canals, Tanya Saracho, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Ryan O’Connell and so many other amazing creators!

I discovered/reconfirmed a few things in this assignment:

*I am interested in the following areas for TV: urban dramedies; stand alone sci-fi episodes; comedies where the lead character is truly an outcast.

*My writing heart resonates with half hour TV shows.

*When it came to identifying movies, urban dramas made the list. Although, I also love comedic apocalyptic films like Shaun of the Dead and The World’s End (both written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg)

*ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! When I saw the amount of creativity in each show, the storylines, the kind of different/dynamic leading characters, etc., I realized that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! There is an audience out there for any show and storyline. There is no way that my own TV series can’t be picked up. All of the shows I watched (whether they made the list or not) reconfirmed that my series has a place on TV. No one can ever tell me that there isn’t an audience for my work after seeing all of the TV shows and movies I’ve seen.

So, ladies and gentleman, here are the 25 TV shows and movies that I would have killed to work on as a writer because they resonate with my writing voice. In no particular order:

  1. Pose
  2. Black Mirror
  3. Pen15
  4. Room 104
  5. Electric Dreams
  6. Weird City
  7. The Twilight Zone (the reboot)
  8. Special
  9. Bonding
  10. Shrill
  11. Difficult People
  12. Schitt’s Creek
  13. Ramy
  14. Barry
  15. Atlanta
  16. Fleabag
  17. Vida
  18. When They See Us
  19. Tales of the City (the reboot)
  20. Looking
  21. Moonlight
  22. Gun Hill Road
  23. Quinceanera
  24. Roxanne, Roxanne
  25. Culture Shock (part of the Into The Dark series on Hulu)

Another Day, Another Pilot Written

Hello Artists!

I just finished writing a new half hour pilot! I shared it in my Professional Development Program 3.0 class at the Richard Lawson Studios to hear it out loud and get feedback on the characters and the storyline. I’m excited for this new series!

And to reiterate the point of my blog, Chasing The George, it’s to include people on the journey I’m on to carve out the career that I want (and to provide industry advice along the way)

So here’s a few of the things I have planned to Chase The Ambulance, to Chase The George, with urgency and intention:

**Write the second episode (Which I started doing on March 2nd!)

**Write the third episode

**Carve out an 8-episode bible for season one

**Submit the pilot episode to writing competitions to use as leverage and attention

**Secure a new literary agent

And there’s more administration planned around my new series. And remember that all of my career administration is directly pulled from my Declaration of Independence (aka business plan)

With all of the streaming platforms that are currently out there and that are coming out in the near future, I will get a development deal.

Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Apple, HBO, etc…………………

You ARE An Artist!

Hello everyone! Hope you’re all well!

I was teaching a class recently called the Professional Development Program 1.0. This class is designed to look at the whole of your career. In addition to helping students create a business plan for themselves and teaching them how to audition on camera and having them read industry books, we also require the students to film 10 short films (3 minutes or less) that are each designed to make them stronger artists and individuals.

Recently, my students shot, edited and turned in their first short film. We screened them in class and their first films blew me away. At the end of the screening, I told them: “Give yourselves a round of applause. You are now filmmakers! Congratulations!”

The class applauded, and immediately, I caught one student in the front row do air quotes with his fingers, “Filmmakers”. He said “Filmmakers” and did air quotes with his fingers. And I got all his subtext behind that: “Yeah right”; “sure”; “sure we are”; “if that’s what you say”; etc.) And I was like, “No, you ARE a filmmaker. Claim that. You just turned in a short film. You didn’t have a film to your name last week. And here you are, a week later, with a film that you originated, conceived, wrote, acted in, shot and edited.”

I continued that just because it’s a short film for class, just because it’s a three minute film, doesn’t mean that you’re not a filmmaker. You ARE a filmmaker. You MADE a film. The first step to believing that you are a filmmaker is to believe that you are. Point. Blank. Period. Fuck it, the first step to believing that you are anything is to believe that you are.

I continued by saying that people like Steven Spielberg and James Cameron believed from jump street that they were filmmakers. I added that if you looked at their first films, it probably wasn’t the greatest in terms of production value and what they are able to create now, but I bet you anything that they stood by their films with pride and confidence. You couldn’t tell them anything that they weren’t filmmakers.

When I look back at the films I did when I took the PDP 1.0 class, I claimed that I was a filmmaker. You couldn’t tell me shit. I stood by each film project I did with confidence and pride. Each film came out exactly how I envisioned it in my head. Now, when I look back at these films, I chuckle and cringe sometimes because the sound was off or the lighting was off or some production value was off. However, that being said, I could also see each film getting better and better.

I look at the films I am able to produce today and it is night and day. But the only reason why I am able to produce better films today was because I fucking claimed that I was a filmmaker from the moment I shot my first film project in PDP 1.0 and because I kept getting better and better. I failed forward.

I’m sure Steven Spielberg and James Cameron got better and better with each film they did. I’m sure many artists have gotten better and better with their craft (actors, writers, dancers, painters, authors, photographers, musicians, etc.)

So, claim that you ARE a filmmaker. Or an actor. Or a writer. There’s this fucked up notion in the entertainment business that you aren’t anything unless you get paid for it. Or unless you’ve “made it”. “I’m not an actor unless I’m on a series.” Fuck that. You ARE an actor because you’ve decided that you are one and you’re building a career around that passion and love you have for it. Don’t wait until you’ve “made it” to declare or believe that you are an actor.

The belief starts now. The enjoyment starts now. Because if you don’t believe it now, claim it now, own it now, then you’ll never be happy. You’ll never be satisfied–even when you book the fucking series. You’ll qualify your series booking with some unfounded nonsense.

The student got my point of view and his attitude towards being a filmmaker changed from air quotes “Filmmaker” to “Yes, I am a filmmaker.”

Cause truth be told, if I had let that moment slide by, then 1) His ability to create future projects would suffer and plateau/crash immediately. He would not be able to soar to his greatest potential. 2) His attitude would have infected others to go into agreement with him. Other students–who just one minute ago had a tremendous win and a tremendous sense of pride with their own film projects–would have started questioning themselves and gone into agreement with him: “Yeah, he’s right. We’re ‘filmmakers'”. They would have been air quoting as well.

And the tragedy is that we then lose the future Steven Spielbergs, James Camerons, Ava DuVernays, Patty Jenkins, Ryan Cooglers, Guillermo del Toros, Alejandro G. Iñárritus, Kathryn Bigelows, etc.

And I won’t let that happen.

Quick Hollywood Tips!

Happy July! Hope you’re all staying cool in this hot, summer weather! I wanted to give out some quick Hollywood tips.

Slating: This is your opportunity to introduce yourself on camera to the decision makers-the people who will end up watching your audition. This could be the clients of a product on the commercial casting side or it could be the executive producers and/or directors on the theatrical side. This is the first time that they’re seeing you on camera before you even audition. Make it count. Impinge. Be warm, inviting. Think about how you introduce yourself to people in real life.

Playing within the frame: As you prepare for an audition, think about how you can play within the frame. Remembering that the story is key. The story is the most important component. Does playing within the frame enhance the story and push it forward? When you play within the frame to service the story, you impinge the audience who watches it. Do you lean into frame to appear more menacing if you’re playing a darker character? Do you lean into frame if you’re looking to create more intimacy and chemistry? Do you back away from the frame to reveal that you are scared or frightened of the situation in front of you? Do you walk into frame? And if so, where are you coming from? When you come into frame, does it give the audience a sense and reality of where you’re coming from? Playing within the frame can really heighten the story.

Attitude monitors talent: Perception is everything. If you walk into any room with a bad attitude, they see it right away and their first impression of you is not favorable. How are you coming into the room? Do you come in with a sense of life force and a great attitude where the people in the room want to work with you? If we’re looking at a series or a feature film and we’re talking about long days on set, do you want to hire the person who comes in with a bad attitude? Or do you want to hire the person who comes in with a great attitude and makes everyone feel better at the end of the day? Put it like this: Would you hire you?

Compliance: According to Merriam-Webster:

to conform, submit, or adapt (as to a regulation or to another’s wishes) as required or requested. conformity in fulfilling official requirements. Derivation of comply: enfold. EMBRACE.

Follow directions to the T. Be open to direction. Be open to change. If you’re given an assignment, do it. There is gold on the other side of that assignment. It will pay off. Embrace the assignment. Part of training to be a professional is compliance. If you can comply in your training, you will comply when given direction in a casting office or on set. Comply.

Now go and enjoy a cold, refreshing cocktail!

Hollywood