it’s that time of year when the writing programs (nickelodeon, wb, nbc, cbs, abc/disney) start notifying people. if you get a call, that means you made it past the first of several rounds. most of us will not get calls, and this is a message to all those people.
getting into one of these writing programs is hard. there are a LOT of submissions and it’s ridiculously competitive. at nick, i think there were about 1300 submissions. only 25 or so make it onto karen’s desk. then from there, she might only pick 12 or so that are good enough to be semifinalists. 12 out of 1300+. then that will probably be whittled down to 5 finalists, and then 3 fellows.
i just got my rejection letter from warner brothers yesterday. 1700 scripts were submitted for 8 slots. last year, i think 7 of the writers accepted were for drama, and only 1 was for comedy. that makes me a feel a little better.
a few things i want to share:
– i met a girl who submitted the same exact script to nickelodeon and disney last year. she didn’t get a call from nick, but she got a call from disney. evaluating the quality of a script is subjective, but if you’re a good writer, the odds will even out and at some point, someone will recognize your good writing.
– these aren’t training programs. it’s not grad school. they want people who can already write at a professional level, people who they can staff. keep writing until you get to that level. you really have to fine tune your scripts to get to that final level of polish. put the time in.
– read all the interviews i did with the alums from the writing programs. most of them applied for several years before getting in. you have to be persistent and keep writing. keep getting better. practice your craft. hone that skill.
– read my post from the panel i went to, where all the tv writing program directors talked about what they were looking for.
– read this article. http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/c5bdbb79#/c5bdbb79/62
– you should start writing or revising the spec you’re going to submit for next year. start now, not a month before the deadline.
– also, have original material ready. cbs requires original material when you submit, and wb will ask for original material if you are a semifinalist. i’m not sure what the new fox program will be like, but the old one required a pilot to submit.
– lastly, this isn’t the only way to break in. one of the interns at nick was recently hired as a script coordinator, and hopefully one day she’ll be promoted to a writer. one of my teachers, ed lee, told us we should try to break in working as pa’s, then try to get jobs as writers assistants. from what i hear, though, those jobs are super competitive as well.
to those who get calls and are semifinalists, congratulations! if you’re like me when i got the calls from nick, you are probably excited, nervous, anxious. you might feel a lot of pressure. i mean, this is your dream, right? you want to be a writer, and this is your chance to break in. but there are oh so few spots in these programs, and many semifinalists won’t make the cut.
if you get that close but don’t make it in, take it as a sign that you’re headed in the right direction. it’s validation that your writing is good, so keep writing and try again. that’s what i did, then i made it into nick the next year.
i guess instead of all the above, i could have just said – keep writing, but then i wouldn’t have been able to procrastinate from writing my pilot.