When I was just starting out as a writer, and even before that (as an actor), I wondered how people got Representation in the Entertainment industry. Now that I have a Rep... I can tell you, no one person's journey is the same! But there is a theme in my story, that might apply to you... so if you really want to know, read on!
Back in 1997, with a newly minted BFA in Acting from NYU, I threw myself into working in professional theater. I acted, directed, wrote, stage managed, costumed, and more. I also occasionally did background work on Film & TV, but my heart belonged to theater. I made very little money, and always had to have a day job to pay the bills. But I loved my life, I got to travel, I made wonderful friends, and had a lot of cool experiences.
Many, many plays, musicals, and bus-and-truck tours later, in 2007, I became a mom. And when I went back to auditioning, to my surprise, my heart just wasn’t in it. Simple as that. So, after some soul-searching, I decided to pour my heart into my other first love: writing. While on a children's theater tour in 2005, I’d written a play, which with the help of some friends from NYU, I saw produced in New York in 2006. My friend and fellow writer Howard Emanuel saw it and loved it, and encouraged me to start trying to break into writing for Film & TV.
Still, I didn’t write much for about five years, because quite honestly working and raising a small child is a lot. BUT, finally, in 2012, I wrote a spec script for my favorite TV show at the time,The Newsroom. I sent it to Howard; he gave me some notes. I re-wrote it, and sent it into a competition… and I won 1st Prize. As part of the ‘winnings’, I got to take class with veteran TV writer Larry Brody. He has been an awesome mentor, friend, and resource, ever since. (PS: I made a couple great friends in his class, too!)
After this auspicious beginning, Howard introduced me to a manager in New York; she loved my writing, and we hit it off. For her, I wrote several TV scripts (on spec) based on concepts she’d come up with. I wrote, and she pitched. Then, she said she had a contact at Piller/Segan (they produced Dead Zone, among other things) who was looking for sci-fi pilots, so I decided to write my own: Evolution. This script led to my first-ever phone pitch, which went great, we sat around waiting… and then, nuthin’.
And then… my manager fell off the face of the earth! I know, right?! In her defense, she had the opportunity to become a Broadway producer, so who could blame her!? Luckily, though, director Vincent Laforet (a good friend of my husband's) asked me to write a short film script with him. We did two of these; neither got made. It’s a thing that happens. But we had fun working together, and I learned a ton.
Then, I spent a year turning Evolution into a 3-part novel series (Part 1 is being pitched around by my Lit Agent; another post for another time). And then I spent the following year co-writing, co-directing, and co-producing a short film, DIVISION, with a community of friends around me.
Not ready to give up on the TV pilot of Evolution, I approached the good people at scriptd.com, who agreed to host a live reading in LA. I cast friends and friends-of-friends. Afterwards, one of these kind, friendly actors introduced me to producer Justin Ross at Bohemia Group. He loved Evolution, and we signed a shopping agreement. Then, I wrote another TV pilot, Twirl, which led to my second-ever phone-pitch meeting with a huge TV company. Then, I was signed by Bohemia’s Literary Manager, Adreana Robbins, and we’ve been working and becoming friends, ever since. Adreana is the one who truly put me “in the game” - getting me my first writer’s room interview, lining up more pitches for Twirl, and working her butt off for me! When they sign you at Bohemia, they welcome you to the family, because they think of it like I do: it’s all about relationships.
And that’s what you’ll need to start building, if you haven’t already: relationships.
Whether that’s online or IRL (preferably both!), you need to build a community of artists and helpers, people you can rely on. If you get a reading, who are you going to invite? You’ll need more than a few friends to fill out that audience. If you get a chance to shoot a short, who are you going to ask to pitch in on things like locations, hair & makeup, or even acting and crew positions?! You gotta have friends; you have to have people. Your people. And not just for art; you need to have people for ...Life!
Screenwriting is not like being a novelist; it’s just the earliest part of making films and TV. And making films and television ...these are collaborative art forms! So never forget, from beginning to end, from getting something made to getting represented: it’s all about relationships.