interview: Theo Travers, CBS Writers Mentoring Program 2012

Theo and I met through Nickelodeon, which he mentions below, and also through the message board of the Yahoo TV writers group. He recently went through the CBS Writers Mentoring Program, and I’m SO happy he just got staffed! I think today was his first day!

Theo Travers is the newest staff writer on Showtime’s House of Lies.  He moved to Los Angeles four years ago after working as a television news reporter in Memphis.  Coolest moments include interviewing Barack Obama one-on-on and riding with undercover cops on drug and prostitution stings.  Theo’s writing earned him a coveted spot in the CBS Writer’s Mentoring Program earlier this year.  Prior to that, Theo optioned a one-hour pilot, “Thieves of Baghdad,” to Fox after being selected to participate in its Diversity Writer’s Initiative.  Theo also helped create a web series industry showcase for fellow NYU Tisch alum on the west coast.

The CBS Writers Mentoring Program requires a spec and original
material to apply. What did you submit?

I submitted an NCIS: Los Angeles spec and a piece of short crime fiction.  As of late, the program, for legal reasons, will only consider original material that is not a pilot.  I’ve seen some writers get tripped up on the idea that CBS asks for the two samples to also be similar in tone or theme.  Ideally, any writing you’re going out with feels uniquely yours in some ways and, as a result, similar in tone.

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mid year creative review 2012

i like to make lists and track my progress with things.

so far:

  • i participated in a mock writers room class at nickelodeon, where as a group, we wrote an episode of the nick show, big time rush.
  • revised my parks and rec spec and my pilot.
  • applied to cbs, wb, disney, nbc. i also submitted to the austin film festival competition for the first time.

here were my top 3 goals for 2012:

  1. be a working writer, and get staffed on a show.
  2. write at least 2 new scripts, either 2 pilots, or a pilot and a spec.
  3. make a short film or web series.

1. be a working writer, and get staffed on a show.

ha ha. that would be a big no. it’s been 9 months since the nick fellowship ended, and i’m no closer to getting representation or to working as a writer now than i was before i was accepted into the nick writing fellowship. i applied to the fellowships again this year, so we’ll see what happens.

2. write a pilot script

i started my pilot, and i started writers groups to specifically focus on pilots (previous post here). i was hoping i’d have a rough first draft by now, but i’m a bit behind schedule because of the short film i shot (see below). based on some of the early feedback from the group, i ended up changing the structure of my pilot which probably saved me months of rewriting. i’m really glad i started the writers groups! i was able to find some really talented people so the level of feedback has been fantastic, and now i have a bunch of wonderful writer friends that i didn’t have a couple months ago.

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