Eric Glover is a wonderfully talented screenwriter who won the WeScreenplay TV Competition with a pilot called Panthers and was a finalist in The Diverse Voices Competition with his feature sci-fi script called Black Star. He’s able to write across genre and format with a brilliant voice and pure craft. After winning WeScreenplay’s TV competition last year, he’s started to take the next steps in his writing career so we sat down to interview him on his experiences, writing, and what he’s learned.
1. You won the WeScreenplay TV competition about a year ago — what did that year look like for your writing and career?
I’ve been operating on a higher level of gratitude since then. It’s not lost on me how lucky I was to make it that far in the contest, especially given the talented and deserving competition I had that year. Even more fortunately, and as a direct result of what happened with WeScreenplay, I was able to secure management with a company named Zero Gravity. I’ve spent the last several months developing a relationship with the people there.
2. What advice would you give to screenwriting contest winners?
A lesson that I’ve been slow to learn—and that I’m trying to internalize more now—is that my value is not determined by my scripts’ success, or lack thereof. I tend to pin my happiness, and even my self-esteem at times, on writing accomplishments alone, rather than other equally (if not more) important indicators of how I’m doing as a human: How loved do I make people feel? How well do I listen to them? How am I contributing to the good of society?
Those kinds of questions, I think, are the measurements of myself worth mulling over—successful screenplay or not.
3. What’s different about working on your writing with a manager (or executive) versus working on it independently or with other writers?
When I’m working independently or with other writers, the script changes I make usually spring from the question, “What could make this a better story?” Managers have the burden of both asking that question as well as, “What makes this story marketable?” Bless them. It’s not easy to provide thoughtful notes that ensure the script is viable to the industry while simultaneously maintaining the writer’s vision. Receiving candid thoughts about “the sell” is largely new territory for me, but I’ve definitely grown because of it.
4. Can you tell us a little more about your project or future projects you’re working on?
The script that WeScreenplay awarded was Panthers, a historical drama about the Black Panther Party. Next up, I’d like to return to my roots in science fiction. As a queer man, I would love to see more feature films with queer protagonists saving the day—so I’ve been developing an idea about a group of gay guys up against an apocalyptic threat. I’ve also been mulling over a feature about a black woman who can’t quite trust her memories; there’s no story reason she’s black, really. But I can’t name you many sci-fi thrillers with black (or black female) main characters. Why not aim to change that?
“…as a direct result of what happened with WeScreenplay, I was able to secure management with a company named Zero Gravity.”
5. You were also a finalist in WeScreenplay’s Diverse Voices Program with a feature script. What do you prefer – feature or TV? Do you have any advice for writers making the switch between formats?
I want it all. Feature films are my first love, but the long-term story opportunities provided by TV make it a damn competitive option. I plan on adventuring in both mediums.
Regarding switching from feature scripts to pilots (which was my personal trajectory), I received some invaluable advice from a TV writing teacher named Jerry Shandy—which was to not hold back when writing pilots. With movies, you have a two-hour window to pull out all the stops: your most exciting ideas, your most gut-punching turns, your most emotional bomb-drops. Your A-game is the only game to bring.
When planning Panthers, my instinct was to go the opposite direction. I wanted some exciting stuff in the pilot, sure—but I was content to save one of my biggest game-changers for later. Long-form storytelling would allow that, right? Thankfully, Jerry insisted that I treat my pilot more like I would treat a movie: by making my pilot the most exciting version of itself—in order to sell the damn thing. He fundamentally changed my approach to pilot writing, and I’m so grateful I heard his advice.
6. On top of your WeScreenplay wins, you were also the Sci-fi finalist in Final Draft’s Big Break Screenwriting Contest. What did you gain from that experience?
Final Draft’s Big Break Screenwriting Contest literally changed my life. I write sci-fi scripts for an entertainment company that discovered me because of my Final Draft placement. Additionally, Final Draft’s prize fellowship is how I met my TV writing professor, Jerry—whose insight helped shape Panthers into the script that earned me the warm reception from WeScreenplay’s TV contest and the management by Zero Gravity that followed.
7. You’re in New York, but your management company is LA based. How do you feel about living outside of Los Angeles and writing? Do you have any plans to move to LA?
I’d love to be in Los Angeles eventually. My Final Draft fellowship took place in Burbank for three months, so I had plenty of time to get to know LA while I participated. There’s something incredible about being among so many people who have the same starry-eyed love for film and television that you do. (And my god, the weather.)
Regarding working long-distance from Zero Gravity, I’ve been lucky. Zero Gravity has gotten to know me exclusively through e-mails and phone calls, and that’s been enough to suffice thus far. I’ve committed to flying out to them whenever they need me, but in the meantime, I’m enjoying being a bit closer to my friends and family, most of whom are on the east coast.
8. What’s one thing you wish you would’ve known about writing or the business of it earlier?
There are kind people in the film industry. Plenty of them. And they’re waiting to help you.
So keep writing your damn stories.
The WeScreenplay Television Pilot Screenwriting Contest‘s mission is to discover and expose new talent to the entertainment industry. This competition strives to provide industry exposure and support to television screenwriters who are looking to have their stories told.