Showrunner Erin Cardillo sat down with WeScreenplay’s Sarah Eagen for the first installment of the Cocktails & Conversations virtual series. She shared some phenomenal insights that every writer should hear no matter what level they are at in their career.
Erin currently sits on the jury for the WeScreenplay TV Pilot Competition!
Not only has Erin Cardillo recently signed a multi-year overall deal at Warner Bros. Television, to develop, write and produce original TV series with writing partner Richard Keith, but together they served as executive producers on the CW series SIGNIFICANT MOTHER and LIFE SENTENCE (starring Lucy Hale), and as co-executive producers the second season of FULLER HOUSE for Netflix. Cardillo also wrote the feature film ISN’T IT ROMANTIC starring Rebel Wilson and Liam Hemsworth.
Here is the entire, hour-long chat:
Here are the Top 5 Tips that Cardillo shared with us!
- Turn all meetings into future opportunities.
At the start of her career, Cardillo received the great advice that when going into a general meeting “you have to go in with other ideas and seek to turn the meetings into lasting relationships.” She doesn’t think that we should look at “anything we’re doing in this career as a one off. We have to look at — where is this leading? Where could it lead? What are the building blocks that I’m creating? What is the connection I’m creating? And that, over time, becomes a career.”
- Put as much out there as possible.
Cardillo encouraged us all to embrace any opportunities in front of us. While she emphasized that her career trajectory isn’t necessarily something that other writers can easily emulate because it really kicked off after she won a pilot competition, she said it’s important to “put as much stuff out there, and then you really never know what’s going to take off.” Her career is a great example of that!
- Have a pocket full of ideas.
Often when you go into general meetings a writer will be asked, “What else do you have?” In the spirit of turning all meetings into future opportunities, Cardillo says that she always tries to “bring three to five ideas to them, because it’s funny, the ideas that you lead with that you think are going to be the ones, sometimes you can tell in five seconds that they’re not into them. You don’t want to go with just one or two, you kind of want to have a pocket full of ideas so you can see where this company is leaning.” She also likes to ask them what type of content they are interested in and then she will “put the ideas first that seem like they would fit their sensibility more.”
- Have a strong voice.
Writers are often told to “find your voice”, but what exactly does that mean, and what does it mean to have a “strong voice”? Erin says it’s about having “a strong point of view on the world or on the genre that you are most interested in.” For example, when she started writing, everything she did was romantic comedy and everything that she does now has an element of romantic comedy in it. “Even if I’m doing a family drama, there are love stories [in the show] that have a heart.”
- Keep your head in the game and know your worth.
In order to stay motivated after a setback Cardillo emphasizes that it’s important to “celebrate the win of where you are in the moment” which is advice she received from Gina Matthews who produced ISN’T IT ROMANTIC. Cardillo presses that, with this industry being so difficult and full of the word “no”, it’s vital to celebrate “every little win you have” and to “keep your mental state buoyant.” She stressed that it’s important to know your worth because there is “always going to be a next time.”
BONUS TIP: Pitching (because this is golden information!)
These are Cardillo’s go-to questions to ask/answer when putting a pitch together:
- Why do I want to tell this story? ie) is it important in the world right now, does it speak to this moment in time?
- What is a cool way into the show? ie) a teaser
- Who are the characters? – what are their inner struggles, hopes and dreams?
- What is the story of the pilot episode?
- What are the season arc ideas?
- What are ideas for each episode?
Interested in the opportunity to have your script read by accomplished showrunner Erin Cardillo? Submit to our WeScreenplay TV Pilot Contest now!
Helenna Santos is an actor, writer, producer, and was the founder/editor-in-chief of Ms. In The Biz for its seven year run. As an actor, she has been seen most recently in CW’s THE FLASH, ABC’s A MILLION LITTLE THINGS and THE GOOD DOCTOR as well as THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB on Netflix. Helenna produced and starred in the female driven sci-fi/thriller feature film The Shasta Triangle and the adventure movie At Your Own Risk. Her work as a contributing writer has been featured in MovieMaker Magazine, Backstage Magazine, IndieWire, Film Inquiry, and BUST Magazine, and she can often be found on panels at conventions such as San Diego Comic-Con. Connect with her on Instagram and twitter!