Hello artists! As we quickly approach the beginning of summer, I decided to pull out an exciting blog entry from the vault and share it with all of you again. Below, I shared how I was preparing to spend my summer with the likes of Ryan Murphy, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Steven Canals, Tanya Saracho, etc. to discover the shows and movies I would have killed to write on. And as I sit here today, I celebrate how far I’ve come since the original blog posting. It’s happening, folks, it’s happening! And I hope that my journey below helps you in formulating the kind of shows and movies you want to write, plus the literary reps and production companies to target.
Original post below:
On June 15th, 2019, I met with a mentor of mine for coffee in the Hollywood Hills. As countless luxury vehicles pulled in and out of the parking lot, I told him that I needed some help and direction in the TV literary world. A fellow Vassar graduate, I’ve known him for several years now. The writers retreat he hosted at the Sturtevant Camp in Sierra Madre, CA, is still one of my fondest memories.
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 how to obtain a literary manager. We spoke for a while and he gave me a lot of homework 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 myself as a minority writer.
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 particular homework assignment (e.g. the production company behind each show, the literary reps behind all the writers, etc.)
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 reaching 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 reached 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! And, I was also able to identify the literary reps behind them and behind all of their staff writers. These literary reps represented writers who represented my voice. Plus, I identified production companies that produce the kind of work I want to create as a writer.
I discovered/reconfirmed a few things with 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 and 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 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:
- Black Mirror
- Room 104
- Electric Dreams
- Weird City
- The Twilight Zone (the reboot)
- Difficult People
- Schitt’s Creek
- When They See Us
- Tales of the City (the reboot)
- Gun Hill Road
- Roxanne, Roxanne
- Culture Shock (part of the Into The Dark series on Hulu)
Header picture by Anete Lusina: https://www.pexels.com/photo/crop-person-standing-near-fence-and-old-tv-5721863/