This was just one of many pieces of advice dispensed at last night’s information session with Frank B. Gonzalez, Director of Talent Development Programs at Disney | ABC. The event featured a panel of current Program Writers and a load of information about the Disney | ABC Writing Program, how to submit, and what makes a successful candidate.
Here’s the gist as I heard it:
- Be a great writer
- Be passionate & confident in interviews
- Be socially ready for the writer’s room
The Disney | ABC Writing Program is incredibly competitive – in part because it pays $50K a year plus full benefits – but also because it actually places its graduates on writing staffs. It’s not for people with a passing interest in TV writing. It’s for people who are committed to breaking in and pushing their career forward. There are only 8 slots each year for a combination of drama and comedy writers.
Sitting in the audience listening to all of this, the thoughts swirling in my head were, “Yes. This is what I want. I’m ready for this. Bring it on. Let’s do this!”
Do I have a new spec script to submit this year? Nope – not yet. Deadline is June 1st – plenty of time right?
I’m not worried. I have laser focus. I can do it.
Other excellent, no-brainer pieces of advice from last night:
- Allow yourself time to devote to the application. Don’t knock yourself out of the running by forgetting one or more of the required components.
- Writing is also reading – read as many TV scripts as you can and read the trades to keep up with the biz
- Watch television! If you tell them you don’t watch television, your interview is over
- Think about your logline as a writer – what is your brand? What makes you different from the next guy? What do you bring to the table?
- Your spec should have the sensibility of an ABC show – they’re immediately trying to think where they can place you in the Disney | ABC family of shows
- If your spec script makes it past the first round, you’ll need to produce two more writing samples – get that portfolio together now!
- You’ll be pitching yourself constantly throughout the application process – get comfortable being an open book
- Don’t spec a first year TV show – it takes time for a show to get established and for an audience to get to know that show. Spec a network show that’s been on at least 2 seasons or a cable show that’s been on for 3 seasons.