WeScreenplay recently hosted a Cocktails & Conversations panel with Austin Bedell, a Development Executive for Nickelodeon & Awesomeness, Viacom CBS, who works closely with Sr. Vice President of Live Action Development Brin Lukens, who currently sits on the jury for the WeScreenplay TV Pilot Competition.
The event was filled with helpful career advice for screenwriters and TV writers, so let’s go over a handful of our most favorite takeaways!
Watch the entire event below.
There’s No Tried and True Method to Breaking In
Austin started the event by talking about how he went to school for Producing in Chicago and made some independent films that ended up in festivals. Once he moved to LA, he got a job as a writer’s assistant and discovered the world of development.
For anyone wanting to work in development, being an assistant could be a way in. But Austin reminds us that it doesn’t matter which department you start out in — it’s important to forge relationships with everyone you work with. Remember to network with people at your level, not just with people that are ahead of you in their careers.
Make Your Pitch Relatable
Whether you’re good at pitching or not, Austin tells us that relatability must be at the very core of your pitch. So, for example, if you’re pitching a comedy, make sure it’s funny!
And don’t forget the visual element of a pitch. Incorporating visual components really helps, especially if you’re not great at verbalizing your ideas. A pitch deck can be an extremely helpful tool in this case.
You’ve Only Got 30 Pages to Wow Them
When Austin was asked about what makes certain scripts stand out, he said character development is key. Make sure your characters are complex and have a purpose.
“A lot of execs give a feature only about 30 pages. And if it’s a pilot, sometimes it’s only 10 or 15 pages,” Austin said. Writers should also make sure there’s a hook to the story and that the characters are relatable.
“We want to figure out what you like to write and what room you’d fit best in.”
What Are Execs Looking For?
Putting yourself out there as a writer can be absolutely nerve-racking, but Austin disclosed some insider information that might calm those nerves.
When asked what development execs are looking for, he listed off a series of things that he finds important when working with writers.
- Using spec scripts of current TV shows as your writing samples is great!
- BUT, don’t let them be the only samples you offer.
- Be excited in meetings, whether they’re generals or staffing meetings.
- Take notes.
- Be prepared with ideas.
- Know who you are.
Want to Find Your Voice? Keep Writing!
Austin talked about how the only way for a writer to find their voice is to keep writing.
“Then you look at your collection and think oh, this is my thing. This is the type of character I write. That can come at any point,” Austin said.
The event closed with the following parting words from Austin:
“Don’t give up. Don’t try to write something that’s in fashion. Write what you know. People who read it can see the authenticity.”
Inspired to write your own TV pilot? Enter it in the WeScreenplay TV Pilot Screenwriting Competition!
Julia Camara is an award-winning Brazilian screenwriter/filmmaker. Julia won a Telly Award for the sci-fi found footage feature Occupants. Julia’s feature directorial debut In Transit, won Best Experimental Film at four different festivals. Julia’s other writing credits include Area Q and Open Road.