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Do Writing Programs Actually Help You Get A Job?

A question about writing programs and contests:

Do you feel that these programs are worth it? This will be my second year attempting many of these, but staffed writer friends are fairly lukewarm to dismissive on them. What’s your take? Thank you so incredibly much for offering yourself and your time as a resource!

I consider these programs to be great networking opportunities. But being accepted into a workshop DOES NOT guarantee you a job, and NOT getting into a program doesn’t negatively impact your future career as a writer. Some writers and showrunners are impressed to learn you were selected, others are not. I know graduates of the Warner Bros. Workshop who are wonderful writers, and I know ones who are terrible. The experience is what you make of it, just like college.

I encourage you to apply because you have nothing to lose. It could lead to some wonderful connections. But please, PLEASE don’t give it too much weight. I was rejected by the Warner Bros. Workshop two weeks before I landed my first staff job, and I know a guy who graduated from the program several years ago and can’t get a job anywhere. Don’t judge your writing skills based on how many contests you win.

P.S. If you’re into documentaries, I highly recommend Muscle Shoals and 20 Feet From Stardom. Obsessed!

SCOTT FOLEY, COLUMBUS SHORT, JOSHUA MALINA, BELLAMY YOUNG, GUILLERMO DIAZ, DARBY STANCHFIELD, JEFF PERRY, TONY GOLDWYN, KATIE LOWES, KERRY WASHINGTON

Important News Regarding ABC’s Writing Program

From the Disney/ABC Creative Talent Development FB page:

ATTENTION POTENTIAL WRITING PROGRAM APPLICANTS!!! This year’s application process will be different from previous years. In addition to your application, submissions must include TWO writing samples: 1) An original pilot script that captures your unique tone, style and point of view, and 2) A spec script for a cable or broadcast series airing during the 2013-14 television season. We advise you to select a series that is well-established in at least its second season. This second sample should demonstrate your ability to adapt to an existing format while at the same time infusing your unique point of view and sensibility.

The application will be posted on our website May 5-June 13, 2014. So, like we said before…WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!

ProductionBulletin

Find Your Next Job Using PRODUCTION BULLETIN

Check out my new favorite production listings site– PRODUCTIONBULLETIN.COM

PRODUCTION BULLETIN provides entertainment crew professionals with the industry’s most comprehensive database and weekly publication, outlining all film and television projects moving into preparation, development, and pre-production status both domestically and abroad.

For $39.95 per month, subscribers gain access to the most extensive and up-to-date information on projects for major studio, independent film, network and cable television movies, pilots and series.

The database can easily be sorted by title, filming location, project type, start date, or even by the production and distribution companies involved.

In addition, users gain access to more extensive data, including: employee directories, phone and fax numbers, email addresses, above the line crew and talent, along with an extensive logline for each project.

Visit PRODUCTIONBULLETIN.COM for more info.

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TNT and TBS Partnering with The Black List for Diversity Program

Via THR: The Black List Moves Into TV With TNT and TBS Diversity Program

The Black List is moving into TV. Turner Networks announced Monday that TNT and TBS have partnered with the curator of the annual list of unproduced screenplays on a new diversity search.
our editor recommends

Submissions to the Black List website will now include episodic work for the first time ever. Submissions to the TNT and TBS initiative will be judged by the Black List’s community of industry professionals and readers. Among the five finalists, some will have the opportunity to sign script deals. Read more…

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Relocation Guide: LOS ANGELES

Approach relocation one step at a time.

Step 1: Establish Credit

Get a credit card.  Use it.  AND PAY OFF YOUR BALANCE, IN FULL, EVERY MONTH.  Your goal is to establish a good credit score, not debt.  Landlords run credit checks on potential tenants and may refuse to rent to those with bad or no credit.  If you are a first time card holder, I recommend a Visa or MasterCard student card, which offer low interest rates and often no annual fees.  Some universities offer similar cards to alumni.

I also recommend gas cards and department store cards, which offer low credit limits, preventing massive debt.

For major credit cards, I recommended the Discover it Credit Card and the Blue Card or Green Card from American Express.

Step 2: Save Money

Or find someone to borrow money from.  At the very least you will need enough cash to afford your first month’s rent plus a deposit — a minimum of $1500-$2000.  I moved to LA with very little cash.  I borrowed the money for my deposit from my beloved grandmother, charged my groceries and gas, and slept on a borrowed mattress on the floor until I could afford a bed.  I was hired as a production assistant just four days after relocating, but it took me over four weeks to receive my first paycheck.  Your payroll paperwork will be submitted on your first day, but it may take weeks for the accounting department to process it and cut you a check.  Be prepared for a two to six week delay.

Step 3: Find A Place To Live And Someone To Pay Half The Rent

Expect to pay a of MINIMUM $750/month/per person for rent and utilities.

Popular roommate and apartment finders include Craigslist, Roommates.com, and Westside Rentals.   There is a fee to sign up for Westside Rentals, but I highly recommend it.

There’s no way to ensure yourself a short commute because studios are located all over town.  Palms, for instance, is an affordable neighborhood near Venice and Santa Monica and convenient unless you work at Universal.  Marina Del Rey is paradise, unless you work at Warner Brothers.  You will inevitably be forced to commute.  Live in a neighborhood you love and download audio books from iTunes or use the time in your car to call your beloved grandmother and thank her for the loan.

Below is a list of neighborhoods I recommend:

SAN FERNANDO VALLEY

Burbank
Encino
North Hollywood
Northridge
Sherman Oaks
Studio City
Tarzana
Toluca Lake
Universal City
Valley Village
Van Nuys
Woodland Hills

WESTSIDE

Beverlywood
Culver City
Mar Vista
Marina Del Rey
Palms
Rancho Park
Santa Monica
Topanga
Venice
West LA
Westwood

HOLLYWOOD

Beverly Hills Adj
Beachwood Canyon
Fairfax
Hollywood
Hollywood Hills
Larchmont
Los Feliz
Melrose
Mid-City
Mid-Wilshire
Miracle Mile
Silver Lake

Step 4:  Apply For A California Driver’s License

According to the California DMV:

If you are a visitor in California over 18 and have a valid driver license from your home state or country, you may drive in this state without getting a California driver license as long as your home state license remains valid.

If you become a California resident, you must get a California driver license within 10 days. Residency is established by voting in a California election, paying resident tuition, filing for a homeowner’s property tax exemption, or any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents.

Translation: The first time an officer pulls you over and questions your license, say you moved here 9 days ago.

Step 5: Purchase Roadside Assistance Coverage

You will get a flat tire.  You will find yourself stranded on the side of the freeway.  Join AAA.

Step 6: Stock Your Trunk

…with a sweater, umbrella, and rain boots.  Streets and sidewalks flood in record time in L.A.  The first time you walk through ankle-deep water to pick up a lunch order, think of me.

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When Sending Your Resume To A Production Office…

I read your website and love all the advice you have given!  I am trying extremely hard to get into scripted TV.  I am registered for BTL Production Listing where they list phone numbers and emails of production offices.  I never know when emailing what I should make the subject of the email.  Also ,if they list an email and a phone number is it better to call, to email or both?

I would call and say, “Hi.  I just wanted to email my resume to you.  Is your email address still _________?”

As far as your email subject line: PA Resume or Assistant Resume.

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2014 Application Deadline for Nickelodeon Writing Program

For consideration in the 2014 – 2015 Program, materials must be submitted together between January 2, 2014 and February 28, 2014.

Developed to broaden Nickelodeon’s outreach efforts, the Nickelodeon Writing Program is designed to attract, develop and staff writers with diverse backgrounds and experiences on Nickelodeon Network productions.

Operating in a three-phased structure, the Program provides a salaried position for up to one year and offers hands-on experience writing spec scripts and pitching story ideas in both live action and animation television.

This three-phased structure allows writers an opportunity to nurture relationships with creators, network executives, line producers, head writers, show runners and story editors.

As part of their script writing, each writer will be assigned to an Executive in Charge of Production and have an opportunity to write a spec script for an on-air Nickelodeon show.

In addition, all writers are integrated into the activities of both the development and production departments. This allows the writers an opportunity to attend storyboard pitches, notes meetings, records, table reads, show pitches and show tapings; all while being exposed to top creators and key production crews.

To learn more, visit the official website.

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