What Programming Executives Look For In New TV Writers

With Peak TV ever higher, it’s harder than ever for a series to truly break through with audiences. And that means it’s even harder for a new writer to get their project noticed by studio executives who are sifting through pitches looking for the next show to break through with audiences.

During a virtual “Meet the Executives” panel at SCAD TVfest last Thursday, five top programming executives offered key advice to SCAD students on what they look for in a script from the next generation of series creators. televised.

The panel, which was moderated by VarietyTelevision writer Jennifer Maas included JoAnn Alfano, executive vice president of current scripted series and head of international business development at Universal Studio Group; Jasmine Russ, vice president of development and production at Fabel Entertainment; Max Kisbye, executive vice president of development and production at MGM/UA Television; Tana Nugent Jamieson, senior vice president of creative affairs at A+E Studios; and Naomi Funabashi, senior vice president of film and television at Hillman Grad Productions.

NBCUniversal’s Alfano said his company “searches for people and attracts people in a way that has never really existed before” through social media platforms where new content creators appear every day.

“You’re entering a period where there are so many options, especially because of streaming… And the opportunities to show up in business because of social media – you know, 25-year-olds are influencers with great jobs,” she said. noted. “In our business right now we are looking for people, aggressive and active, to come into the business because it is growing at an exponential rate and I think the opportunity is huge and there is. With social media people can directly contact people, shows, businesses in a way that is not an access that I know of. I am very encouraged.

Hillman Grad’s Funabashi says a big part of what will set you apart as an aspiring TV writer is “having an active curiosity” for other parts of the industry beyond the writers’ room .

“You should ask yourself what are the questions you have not just about what the person you’re next to immediately does, but how do they fit into the bigger picture, who are they working with and what do they do?” she says. “Along with this idea of ​​being flexible, it’s about finding out what else there might be that you might not have thought of that might be a great way for you to apply your skills, or a great way for you to experiment or learn something. New.”

She continued, “It might seem like obvious advice, but I’m really surprised how sometimes people don’t come to work with that kind of mindset. And I think it’s really important to think about what might happen next. And it helps to make a really good impression on the people around you, when they see you’re someone who’s willing to learn, it really encourages them to mentor you a bit more.

Russ, who works at producer “Bosch” Fabel, also encourages understanding how the wider industry works, primarily by “developing your tastes.”

“Getting your hands on scripts is just as important as reading the trades, is just as important as doing your research on everyone about it [panel] and knowing what we are doing and the best questions to ask to make the most of all the opportunities that come your way,” she said. “I think developing a taste and a kind of vocabulary and a way of talking about what you like and what you don’t like. A question you’ll be asked in every interview for the rest of your life is, what are you looking at? And your ability to articulate that I think is what makes people hang on, he’s someone who reads well, understands how it works and someone I could connect with from any what part of the industry.

Watch the full panel via the video above.

About Mariel Baker

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