Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sandra Leviton @Lil_SJL #scriptchat Transcript - September 27, 2015

Sandra Leviton @Lil_SJL (writer/producer Under the Stars Entertainment) How TV works from the network side (business, hiring, development process, etc).
Moderator: Sarah Newman @SarahAlexis4

Sandra brought incredible insights into the world of TV at tonight's chat. Read the full transcript on the Storify site or scroll below.
Sandra Leviton @Lil_SJL #scriptchat Transcript September 27, 2015

Sandra Leviton @Lil_SJL #scriptchat Transcript September 27, 2015

Sandra Leviton @Lil_SJL (writer/producer Under the Stars Entertainment) How TV works from the network side (business, hiring, development process, etc). Sarah Newman @SarahAlexis4 moderating

  1. IT’S #SCRIPTCHAT O’CLOCK w @Lil_SJL (writer/prod Under the Stars Entertainment) How TV works from the network side. @SarahAlexis4 moderating
  2. @SarahAlexis4 @Lil_SJL Q: Regarding specs, do you find that more shows are wanting to see original work, rather than specs? #scriptchat
  3. @SarahAlexis4 @Lil_SJL Ugh, sorry I have to miss this! Looking forward to reading the recap! Have a great chat! #scriptchat
  4. @blueneumann I was there for 5 yrs. So definitely got a lot of shows under the belt. #scriptchat
  5. .@filmwritr4 This is an excellent question. 1. It depends on the network, studio, & showrunner. > #scriptchat
  6. Right now many people do want to see original work. They want to get a sense of your unique voice & what your strong points are. #scriptchat
  7. @Lil_SJL So, if someone sends your company a script you like, what is the next step? #scriptchat
  8. There are many that still do want to see specs. Particularly agents. They want to know you can match the voice of a show - #scriptchat
  9. Still at Beverly Hills networking event. Have a fun #scriptchat and will transcript youse later! 😛👍
    Still at Beverly Hills networking event. Have a fun #scriptchat and will transcript youse later! 😛👍
  10. @Lil_SJL Q: One other thing I've wondered - is it harder to write a serialized show, or would a procedural be best to do? #scriptchat
  11. and have a variety of samples to send. But as a whole, the industry has shifted to original material. But DO have a spec too. #scriptchat
  12. What advice do you have for those who are just starting out, who want to end up in network television? #scriptchat
  13. First off, I learned a TON. And recommend all writers, if they have the chance to work at an agency, management co, or prod. co. #scriptchat
  14. It influenced me in terms of what I write and process. It helped shaped my taste & style. #scriptchat
  15. @Lil_SJL How would you go about getting your work to an agent, and what should you look for in terms of genres they prefer? #scriptchat
  16. It helped give me a sense of what sells, who the buyers are, and what kind of work they gravitate towards. #scriptchat
  17. Combining that with my personal taste and style...and it really acts as a roadmap for my own work. #scriptchat
  18. .@JonFour Are you asking in terms of what happens at the network? Or for my own company now? #scriptchat
  19. Q. do you think networks really are invested in diversity, and telling the stories of diverse characters right now? #scriptchat
  20. @Lil_SJL Q: As I've discussed before, I am writing a web series. Would producing several at once be a greater opportunity... #scriptchat
  21. @Lil_SJL Q: for agents/networks to notice what a writer is capable of? #scriptchat
  22. Well, it's changing every season - but there are patterns. #scriptchat
  23. For example - every other year, there is a glut of doctor, cop, lawyer shows. Then the next, it's a lot of fantasy, scifi, etc. #scriptchat
  24. Q: Are networks looking for certain genres like Comedy vs Drama or Sci-Fi/Fantasy, or is it pretty open? #scriptchat
  25. It's a pendulum. But right now, they want things that are noisy. TV is starting to turn the way film studios did - big splash. #scriptchat
  26. There is so much competition for eyeballs, especially now with digital competitors. They want things that's going to stand out. #scriptchat
  27. Q: Regarding procedurals, would there even be room for shows that didn't deal with cops, lawyers, doctors, etc.? #scriptchat
  28. So that may be because of a high concept, an existing property, big actor, big writer, director, etc. #scriptchat
  29. @Lil_SJL Not necessarily your company. Generally, if a prodco like yours likes a script submitted to them, how do they proceed? #scriptchat
  30. It doesn't have to be loud in terms of storytelling - but it does have to create intrigue. #scriptchat
  31. So many questions!! Stick with me! Will do my best to get to them all with good responses. :-) #scriptchat
  32. Q: Something revolving around a reporter, or a PR manager or any career field that involves taking on clients, etc.? #scriptchat
  33. @Lil_SJL Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to these. You're doing great Sandra! #scriptchat
  34. .@dominickevans It really depends on the network. As you well know, diversity is such a huge spectrum right now. #scriptchat
  35. However, shows like #Empire, characters on #BreakingBad, etc. are showing people that diverse voices drive eyeballs. #scriptchat
  36. RT @Lil_SJL:However, shows like #Empire, characters on #BreakingBad, etc. are showing people that diverse voices drive eyeballs.#scriptchat
  37. Change happens very slowly in media.& they're still going to go with people they know and trust. So much of it starts with them. #scriptchat
  38. But they are listening. And I think we will start to see more of it. #scriptchat
  39. @spcwriter @byChrisPhillips Yeah. Comedies just die so quickly every fall. Hard to find a new show that sticks. #scriptchat
  40. Is it something in the nature of comedies that makes it hard for them to compete in the current landscape? #scriptchat
  41. And these shows are tackling important issues in society, in a very mature way #scriptchat
  42. Q: With the glut of Movies-As-TV-Shows being developed,would U say at some point we would need 2 start developing those instead? #scriptchat
  43. @blueneumann They just don't seem to funny. They seem clever, but are usually blueprints of old shows. #scriptchat
  44. The process at each company is a little different but for the most part follows a similar path - #scriptchat
  45. @byChrisPhillips That feels like it's always been the argument against comedies, though. #scriptchat
  46. If you create a series, they get a showrnner what are the chances you, as creator stay on the project, if you are collaborative? #scriptchat
  47. @blueneumann you have to wonder if our increased awareness, thanks to the Internet has something to do with it #scriptchat
  48. First off - it depends if your script came to the company via a representative or yourself. #scriptchat
  49. @blueneumann if we look at a lot of the comedies from the past, they would not be considered very PC #scriptchat
  50. If they like it - they then assess if it fits their development needs. If it does, they negotiate. #scriptchat
  51. @Lil_SJL I can't tell which responses go to which questions... :) #scriptchat
  52. If they don't, but they like you're writing, they'll also let you know. #scriptchat
  53. .@mikethewriter1 Unless you have the rights to that film, you won't be able to develop it. #scriptchat
  54. However, let's say you own a film that played Sundance... #scriptchat
  55. You own those rights. It's done well on the circuit & has distribution. Then it may be something to consider doing. #scriptchat
  56. @filmwritr4 Hey Chris, poppin' in-- Don't worry about an agent until you need an agent #scriptchat
  57. But most of the shows based on films right now are owned by studios. It's all synergy right now. #scriptchat
  58. .@FinalAct4 Quite high actually. TV values the voice of the creator. #scriptchat
  59. @filmwritr4 Sorry, hit enter too fast LOL-- when you have something ready to sell, really ready-- that's when you need an agent #scriptchat
  60. @blueneumann @dominickevans Do you think comedies just aren't taking the kinds of risks that dramas are these days? #scriptchat
  61. You may not be running the show or the head writer. But you will get credit. You will be in the room. AND you WILL be important. #scriptchat
  62. Usually, you get to learn and work closely with the showrunner. #scriptchat
  63. The key is to be collaborative. Be flexible and open. Know when to put your foot down & chose your battles. #scriptchat
  64. @megankbickel @dominickevans Some are: Always Sunny, South Park, etc. Cable comedies. Network, syndicated? I dunno. #scriptchat
  65. @Lil_SJL Thanks! if it's something you want and you buy it from the writer, how then do you get a network/channel involved? #scriptchat
  66. @FinalAct4 If you have a feature and you're adapting to a 90 min pilot, is it best to cut a subplot or tightn? difficult to say? #scriptchat
  67. @megankbickel @dominickevans I saw an ep of some TV-MA sitcom that TBS made and it felt crass without being edgy or interesting #scriptchat
  68. But if there's a good relationship & the show survives, there will come a time where you will be running your own show. #scriptchat
  69. If you're combative, they will kick you off or run you out. So it's in your best interest to be collaborative. #scriptchat
  70. @Lil_SJL Really great feedback, Sandra, thank you so much for being here. #scriptchat
  71. I always say "you don't want what's in your head, you want better than what's in your head." Best way to get that is collaborate #scriptchat
  72. Thank you @Lil_SJL! I see a new film being developed 4 TV everyday and was worried original specs might go the way of dinosaurs! #scriptchat
  73. @Lil_SJL Q: If a network or cable channel were to buy a web series, who would be in control? How does that typically work? #scriptchat
  74. @blueneumann @dominickevans Yeah, that's what makes me think the network ones fail so often. Too afraid to break the mold. #scriptchat
  75. @Lil_SJL It's an original concept we have into a few studios and prodcos, both TV and film-- trying to figure best route... #scriptchat
  76. I get excited about characters & stories I have never seen before. #scriptchat
  77. I want to be taken on a journey. I look for different things when considering for TV vs. film, but that's the commonality. #scriptchat
  78. I've also heard there's a lot of agism in TV? It doesn't worry or bother me-- but want to know what the hurdles may be, if... #scriptchat
  79. @blueneumann @megankbickel That's the thing. good comedy is hard to write! theres a fine line between crass and witty #scriptchat
  80. @FinalAct4 @Lil_SJL I find myself brainstorming both routes, the benefits and drawbacks of each #scriptchat
  81. And fun. Stories and characters need to fun. I need to want to spend my time with them. That doesn't mean --- #scriptchat
  82. they can't be depressed or annoying or an asshole, it means that I need to want to get to know them despite this. #scriptchat
  83. @Lil_SJL I love the thought of TV and the opportunity to really delve deep into characters. #scriptchat
  84. @Lil_SJL Oh my god, I can't tell you how important "fun" is to me. Dramas can be fun or energizing w/o being upbeat #scriptchat
  85. .@filmwritr4 A web series that is bought by a studio is owned by that studio. --- #scriptchat
  86. @Lil_SJL You gotta manage that mood. Okay, a character's depressed and wallows, but the show can't wallow around him. #scriptchat
  87. @blueneumann @dominickevans In the acting world, comedy is much harder than drama. Finding that is true in writing too. #scriptchat
  88. @blueneumann @megankbickel the shows that are successful are staying relevant to the times. South Park could go on endlessly #scriptchat
  89. Even though you have created it, they are buying most of the rights from you. They are in control once those papers are signed. #scriptchat
  90. @Lil_SJL Got it. As for the writing/producing, does the show creator still retain control over the scripts/series? #scriptchat
  91. @filmwritr4 Doing battle with a massive rewrite. Hope it's worth it in the end! :) #scriptchat
  92. @megankbickel @dominickevans I can't plot comedy well. But my scripts wind up being funny just b/c I'm me #scriptchat
  93. They will want you involved usually. And depending on the studio/ network will depend on your creative control. #scriptchat
  94. #scriptchat seems to be amazing today but sadly this is my only writing time in the day. Have fun without me, gang!
  95. @Lil_SJL I am definitely on the collaborative side... not combative, but know when the intention needs to be clarified-- #scriptchat
  96. Using our combined experience in the TV & film worlds, Miranda & I consult with writers to help them reach their full potential. #scriptchat
  97. There's a thousand ways to tell a story, the goal is to find the one, as a collaborative team that best suits the film. #scriptchat
  98. @filmwritr4 @megankbickel @dominickevans no... my few ideas for sitcoms weren't hot enough for me to really dig into episodes #scriptchat
  99. We do a full analysis & work closely with writers to be a fresh pair of eyes & help guide it towards success. #scriptchat
  100. @blueneumann @megankbickel yes! Stereotyping is also very common, especially with minority characters in comedy it seems #scriptchat
  101. @FinalAct4 I have payed with them for some of my drama ideas, though. Character usually drives plot ideas #scriptchat
  102. Our clients have been staffed on shows, gotten repped, won contests. We are so proud of all of them. #scriptchat
  103. @filmwritr4 once I know the kind of things the characters need and want, I can make those play off each other #scriptchat
  104. @Lil_SJL Q: Going back to specs, what shows would you personally recommend writing (if any)? #scriptchat
  105. I'll be hanging around for awhile tonight guys - I want to make sure I answer everything. #scriptchat
  106. 1 of the key takeaway for writers-especially TV, but in all mediums - be collaborative. Hear the note. The note behind the note. #scriptchat
  107. And don't be afraid to discuss it. The second anyone gets defensive, the other side shuts down. #scriptchat
  108. @Lil_SJL I love that you do these ... you always offer such fantastic information and guidance! #scriptchat
  109. @blueneumann @megankbickel I feel like this happens with my writing partner, as well... she is very funny unintentionally #scriptchat
  110. @dominickevans @megankbickel I'm very joke-y when I'm creative... it usually leads to insights I wouldn't have otherwise #scriptchat
  111. @Lil_SJL Thank you so much for sharing the great advice with all of us, and for taking the time to do so! #scriptchat
  112. @Lil_SJL Because some lead you down a really cool path that helps solve more than one issue. #scriptchat
  113. It will most likely mean fewer jobs in the traditional TV space. However... #scriptchat
  114. Q: Let's say we just finished a pilot spec, and days later, a similar one is announced. Scrap it, or use as a sample anyway? #scriptchat
  115. The good news is that there is a huge growing digital market with lots of opportunity. It's not as well-paying...yet. #scriptchat
  116. But it will be. And funny enough the digital space is already organizing in traditional models...building networks. #scriptchat
  117. @Lil_SJL professors in film school made it clear to be nice to everyone, because you never know where next job may come from #scriptchat
  118. But in regards to the saturation point - we've hit it. It will constrict. Financially, the market won't be sustainable. #scriptchat
  119. The amount of competition & saturation has actually been great for TV. #scriptchat
  120. @SarahAlexis4 I read that today. Very interesting, and concerning at the same time. #scriptchat
  121. The quality of shows now are off the charts. We have SO many great shows...because of the competition. #scriptchat
  122. @dominickevans it's like on PG last wk when o1 of the Dir said, what if we say we'll walk? Chris Moore "we can find another dirc #scriptchat
  123. @Lil_SJL @SarahAlexis4 Q: I read that Vox article and since Netflix/streaming is prominent these days... #scriptchat
  124. While the market can't support the quantity, we are seeing a lot of quality.That will eventually transition into other spaces. #scriptchat
  125. @Lil_SJL @SarahAlexis4 Q: I wonder if the sheer amount of streaming content makes for too many options, if there is such a thing #scriptchat
  126. @dominickevans And that's why relationships are so important, people want to know they can trust the people they work with #scriptchat
  127. .@filmwritr4 @SarahAlexis4 It does. It's what Landgraf (head of FX) talks about. And it's why everyone wants something noisy. #scriptchat
  128. @FinalAct4 there is a lot of ageism for women in Hollywood, along with sexism, ableism, racism, homophobia, transphobia etc. #scriptchat
  129. There's a study about toothpaste...(stick with me here...) #scriptchat
  130. Where it showed that beyond 5 choices of toothpaste, people got overwhelmed by the quantity. #scriptchat
  131. @spcwriter @byChrisPhillips It seems like comedies are trying to capture the old days instead of being new. #scriptchat
  132. It made choosing that much more difficult. Media, in general, is like that. It is an onslaught. #scriptchat
  133. With so many choices, what DO you do? You go with what's familiar. Hence the remakes, sequels, books. #scriptchat
  134. @filmwritr4 I think that is true... I try to watch as much TV as possible, and it's hard to keep up #scriptchat
  135. I saw a question about ageism --- can you resend it? #scriptchat
  136. @FinalAct4 definitely! plus who wants to be around negativity all the time? #scriptchat
  137. @Lil_SJL Isn't it possibly a reason why TV is creating such create content-- the middle ground in features is disappearing #scriptchat
  138. .@mikethewriter1 It depends on how similar. But keep it in your arsenal. Use it as a sample. These things happen all the time. #scriptchat
  139. @Lil_SJL @SarahAlexis4 By noisy, you mean either high concept, reboots, sequels, prequels (like in today's movies)? #scriptchat
  140. Key things to keep in mind while writing a pilot - there's a few so get ready... #scriptchat
  141. 1. You have 5 pages to impress. #SadButTrue So make them the best 5 pages you can. #scriptchat
  142. If you are a script writer and not asking my friend @Lil_SJL questions, correct this now. #scriptchat
  143. Next week’s #scriptchat topic: Networking (Okay, its written and polished, now how do I get it noticed?)
  144. Coming Oct 1st: SELLING BLUE BOOK. How to break in! Meetings. Assignments. Connections. MORE! Over 300 pages. #scriptchat
  145. @byChrisPhillips hell, I wrote a spec and submitted it to #Hannibal and that got canned lol. #scriptchat
  146. 2. Character. We will devote hours & years of our lives to them. Make them complex, interesting, & want to spend time with. #scriptchat
  147. Hey #tvwriter folks - @Lil_SJL is putting out some key notes for TV pilots. Definitely worth a gander at her timeline now. #scriptchat
  148. 3. It's TV. You need intrigue. The compulsion to watch through distraction, commercials, & weekly happenings. #scriptchat
  149. Without compulsion to come back - either through wanting to spend time with character & world, then there's no reason to watch. #scriptchat
  150. @Lil_SJL Sandra, this is awesome. You definitely should write this in a blog post, in addition to the tweets. #scriptchat
  151. 4. Don't leave too much out. It's a balance of giving enough to get into it & leaving enough out to want more. #scriptchat
  152. @Lil_SJL Sandra, so great to see you here, and thank you for your great advice. #scriptchat
  153. 5. Know your target audience. Know your genre. Know the networks. DO THE HOMEWORK. #scriptchat
  154. Every aspiring/current TV writer should follow @Lil_SJL. When it comes to writing for TV, she knows of what she speaks. #scriptchat
  155. Re: Target Audience. Read an interview w/ game creator who picked ONE person to be his target audience. "What does s/he want?" #scriptchat
  156. If you're writing a teen coming of age, know which networks you can target. You want options of buyers. #scriptchat
  157. 7. BE COLLABORATIVE. I can't stress this enough. #scriptchat
  158. @Lil_SJL Thanks for being with us tonight and sharing! It's been wonderful! #scriptchat
  159. Wasn't able to pay attention to the whole chat, but loved what I saw. Will read the transcript. #scriptchat
  160. 8. Know that if you're just starting out, chances are your pilot is a sample. But treat it like it's going on air tomorrow. #scriptchat
  161. @Lil_SJL Sandra, thank you so much for everything you've shared with us tonight. Incredible insight and we've all learned a lot. #scriptchat
  162. 9. LOVE what you're writing. We all know if you don't. #scriptchat
  163. 10. HAVE FUN. Seriously. So many people forget this. We are so lucky to do what we do. Be smart. Have fun. #scriptchat
  164. All my life, I treated writing and drawing as work. Once I made them fun, my skills in both increased dramatically #scriptchat
  165. @Lil_SJL Awesome list. Will definitely apply it all to my scripts. THANK YOU so much Sandra. #scriptchat
  166. @Lil_SJL And I wish you all the very best with Scriptchix and your projects too! #scriptchat
  167. I'll throw in our first film ZONE 2 is making its LA premiere at Screamfest! Get tics & come join party!  #scriptchat
  168. @SarahAlexis4 Thanks so much for having us, and for having Sandra here to discuss TV writing with us! :D Enjoyed it as always! #scriptchat
  169. If you do join us, I will talk your ear off about TV. ;-) #scriptchat
  170. Okay, off to get a few more pages in before bed. Good night #scriptchat lovies!
  171. @Lil_SJL So very happy for you and proud of you, and congrats on the success of ZONE 2! #scriptchat
  172. Thank you everyone for having me!! I'm going to stick around to try to keep answering questions I missed. #scriptchat
  173. Thanks @Lil_SJL. Been taking notes. You've shared a lot of value! Best wishes for Zone 2. #scriptchat
  174. Next time I write scripts, I'm not going to treat it as work. I'm going to treat it as fun! #scriptchat
  175. @filmwritr4 That's the secret. You wanna have fun as a viewer, why wouldn't you have fun as a writer? #scriptchat
  176. @NickTtw Thanks for joining! Follow me on twitter if you're not already & we'll have more #TVchats. :-) #scriptchat
  177. @evelynlns You're welcome! So glad you are finding them helpful! #scriptchat
  178. @Lil_SLJ Thank you so much for taking the time to answer everyone's questions! Really appreciate the insight we rarely get! #scriptchat