It was a very knowledge and entertainment-filled night at the SVA theatre. The BILLIONS event was sponsored and brought to the public by the Center for Communication. I quickly want to say this type of information straight from the writers themselves is super valuable to anyone trying to become a writer.
The episode was well composed in both writing and production. Paul Giamatti never ceases to amaze me with his awesome acting skills and talent. Paul and Damian Lewis go at it: “U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades goes after hedge fund King, Bobby “Axe” Axelrod in a battle between two powerful New York figures.” Paul pays Chuck and Damien plays Bobby. Bobby is a super rich hedge fund guy worth “Billions”. Chuck wants to bring him down, and the two go at it.
We had the chance to speak with Willie Reale and writer for the show Wes Jones on how exactly can young writers break into the TV industry and their advice for many will result in a “wow” for most it will be straight gold.
Tip #1: The very first tip they gave writers is “Don’t need to perfect it.” They were saying, You don’t need to perfect your very first script. It’s usually the worst one you’ll have ever written. They quickly followed that up with-
Tip #2: “Write the next one right after”: Never stop writing because you finished one script and never say “this is the one that’s going to break me in” you need to continue writing, and Wes supported that statement by saying-
“It’s not until the 4th or 5th that you understand structure.” I completely agree. When I first started writing (17 years of age) I wrote five screenplays in 18 months. IT wasn’t until my 4th or 5th that my structure and skills developed for feature writing. At that time, I was reading a bunch of scripts and writing my own.
Tip#3:”Write something based on real characters or something from public domain.” Was what Wes said that stuck out to me. A lot of writers have a hard time coming up with characters, why not just create an excellent story from an existing character.
Of course, one of the questions that came up was regarding agents and how to get one and what was said was even better. Both writers agreed that having an agent is important merely because they are in the loop when it comes to the jobs that are available. They also mentioned that for your agent to take you seriously, you need to show them that you are serious about writing. That means coming up with a script as often as possible.
Tip#4: They also mentioned that for your agent to take you seriously, you need to show them that you are serious about writing. That means coming up with a script as often as possible.
Tip #5: Character development is critical what makes it easier for you as the writer is to use real people or base it off, people. The writers from Billions told us that they had lunch and dinners with real billionaires. Apparently these guys call themselves (Billies). They also said that “billies” don’t like hanging out with other billionaires because they aren’t the center of attention in the rooms… Ok then.
Tip #6: The next tip I share is something the guys said but I also say it to beginners and its very simple but yet so many people don’t do it. If you are a writer, you need to write. If you are a filmmaker, you need to make movies. You need to acquire that discipline of writing every day, and you start to hone your craft naturally. The guys also mentioned that you should be up to date on current events. WHY? Well, it helps you generate ideas and areas to explore in your writing.
I also remember something that really struck me but they weren’t very clear on it. The episode we saw which was #6 was written by Willie. The man on the left seat. And they mentioned that the head writers or exec’s not sure who actually wrote out the mature plot points and Willie just filled in the script with moments. Pretty Interesting.
Next up was an excellent question by a young lady and they asked the staff writers how can a writer’s assistant stand out in the writers room?
Tip#7: “Life Smarts are better than book smarts”- Wes Jones. What he meant by that is that if you can’t make coffee for a head writer, then you’re in trouble because at an entry level job that is some of the work you will be doing, unfortunately, but you need to be good at everything. He also said that you should be anticipating what the writers need. To be present in the moment, and that sympathy creates interest just like you must do with the characters in the movie you write. (if you download the pdf I give for free you’d learn a lot more about creating sympathy, people go to the movies to see characters deal with stuff, that’s why it’s important to create captivating characters and my pdf shows you how. Again, it’s free and I derived it from Writing Screenplays that sell by Michael Hauge.)
Tip#8: When it comes to being an excellent writer’s assistant, the head writers like it when you take good notes during meetings. That helps the designated writer write a better script. The more information they have, the better they are equipped to write. So Wes said; “take good notes”.
The people in the room posed a very debatable question, and it creates some serious tension in the room. The question was “how much do you attribute your career to luck.” the man that asked this mentioned that his son moved to California to pursue his dream as a writer and for four years and a half still hadn’t gotten anywhere.
Tip #9: ( I firmly believe in this) The harder you work the luckier you get. It comes down to the law of attraction I think. But everyone is a different case.
HOW TO GET NOTICED YOU SAY??????
Tip #10: Wes was really outspoken and said it how it is and Willie supported this statement because he’s been on the black list which Wes didnt even know about! But they said “Write something that pops and it will get noticed”.
Lastly, their last words of advice for the night was-
Tip #11: Always be ready, do good work. There is no exact way to get in, there is no prescription that they can give you like say “Take two aspirins and you’re a writer”. Sit in the chair and write.
I always tell my friends that video games excess television rips productive hours away from your craft. People and including myself suffer from bad habits that lead to nothing good. Speilberg started at 7 years old fiddling with lenses. Wood allen I believe started at 17. Chris rock started as a young boy making jokes.
Start as early as possible, develop discipline and good writing habits and it will lead to good situations and a career.
That’s my post for the day, Hope you enjoy it!