Kelly Jo Brick: Tips on Breaking in From Emmy-Nominated Writers

TVWriter™ Contributing Editor Kelly Jo Brick has taken a break from our e-pages to write for FinalDraft.Com, but that doesn’t mean y’all have to miss her because linking, you know? So here’s the latest from our favorite award winning screenwriter, documentarian, blogger, you-name-it:

by Kelly Jo Brick

Just like there are so many directions you can take a story, there are also many different paths to take when breaking in as a writer. The one common theme, whatever road you go, is that developing a career as a television writer isn’t easy. Final Draft visited with several Emmy®-nominated writers to get their best tips and approaches to dealing with challenges that arise along the way.

When it comes to advice on breaking in, Better Call Saul writer Thomas Schnauz believes, “That’s one of the hardest questions because there’s just so many answers.”

His suggestion for aspiring scribes: “Work on film in some capacity. That’s what worked for me. I started off as a parking PA and worked my way up to PA.”

Just getting involved can make all the difference as Schnauz adds, “I came from a background where nobody in my family had anything to do with film or television production, so it’s just getting in at any level you can and getting to know people and if you want to be a writer of course you have to write. Keep writing even if what you’re writing is the worst thing in the world. You just have to keep producing pages until you feel satisfaction with what you’re doing.”

Michael Starrbury (When They See Us) encourages writers to empower themselves as creators and, “Make your own stuff. Take any little bit, even if it’s a one-page script, go out and shoot that. Then shoot something a little bit longer. Then shoot something that costs a little more money. Be writing your own stuff, but at the same time make your own stuff. These days people want to see something. I think that I could have made my career a lot faster if I would have.”

Escape at Dannemora’s Michael Tolkin found similar advice an influence when as a young reporter he heard Robert Towne (Chinatown) speak. Towne recommended, “Make movies with your friends….”

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