nickelodeon writing fellowship – month 12

the last month of the fellowship was actually only 2 weeks. whatever anxiety i had earlier had all evaporated, and i just had this delusional, unjustified feeling of calm.


although things didn’t work out with robot & monster, karen was able to get me in the writers’ room of The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra for the last 2 weeks. the room consisted of one of the creators (the other creator focused more on the art), 2 writers, and a writers assistant.

i think most rooms break stories either using a whiteboard, or a corkboard with index cards. korra was an index card room. they line up cards into three columns, each column being an act. they figure out what scene should follow the previous scene, then talk about what’s going on in the scene in detail while the writers assistant takes notes.

because korra is a very serialized story, they had already mapped out the arc of the whole season, with 2 or 3 cards per episode to show the major beats.

when i took a tv writing class with ed lee, he told us to pitch jokes in the voice of the characters, and that’s what the guys on korra did. they were really funny and there was a lot of joking around. i was really glad nickelodeon sent us to take improv classes. even though you’re a writer, being able to perform really helps sell the joke, and the basic concepts of improv will help you in the room in other ways. if you want to write tv comedy, i highly recommend you take improv.

it was really fun to watch them construct the stories, and i can’t wait to see the finished episodes!


several animation writers in the studio all gave us the same advice – don’t write for animation! they told us to go work in live action. the pay is better because it’s wga and there are residuals. even if writing for animation is your dream, they said go work in live action first. also, once you’re in animation, it’s really hard to transition to live action, but it’s easy to go from live action to animation.

they did say the good thing about animation is that it’s fun, and the hours are good if you have a family.


the fellowship comes to an end! i’m not sure what lies ahead, but these are some of the things i want to work on:

  • finish my pilot, and write a 2nd pilot.
  • polish up my specs to submit for next year’s batch of writing programs.
  • write and direct a short film.

that should keep me busy for a while.

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  1. congrads kiyong,

    i think with all your incite you were able to make me and others feel we were on the journey and you posted up a lot of back interviews to give us an overall account of other grads.
    a lot of your info i and updates on this site were priceless!!
    I tip my hat to you sir. and keep writing.

    speaking of shorts. when i was waiting for feedback on my feature i submitted to writers of the storm, i went out and grabbed some actors here in Tokyo and shot not one short but two. and let me tell you something, it was that same outside tool that adds to your writing that you talked about from improv. when i shoot shorts i learn a lot about characters, dialogue, pace, even scene description. it just gives me something i never had before: more confidence.

    looking forward to more adventures.

    ron reid jr
    in tokyo

  2. Congrats on completing the fellowship. My advice: don’t wait to get into another program. Get that outta your head – You’re ready. You know how to write, you know the industry and you have contacts. Work those contacts to get a position. There’s tons of working TV writers who never do a “program”. In fact, it would be numerically impossible for every working writer to go through a program. So make your goal to get meetings this spring and get staffed. And if you’re not already signed with a rep, make it your goal to get a manager or agent who can send out your stuff even if it’s only a hip pocket deal. YOU set up the meetings, your rep follows up with scripts. You should have both a current live action spec and an animation spec. A least one pilot won’t hurt either.
    Good Luck!

    1. yeah, my goal is definitely to get an agent and get staffed, but just in case nothing happens by june, i was going to apply to the writing programs. the next several months should be interesting!

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