It is that time of year again! If you are involved in the entertainment industry in any capacity, chances are that there are folks in your circle who are excitedly gearing up to attend San Diego Comic Con later this month. If you’re an aspiring TV writer looking to make the most of this year’s SDCC experience, look no further. I’ve got your back.
For those who aren’t familiar with this yearly phenomenon, the San Diego Comic Con is the largest comic book and entertainment industry convention in the United States bringing in well over 150,000 attendees. It consists of four full days stuffed with programming, tons of official and unofficial off-site parties and events, and some world-class people watching. For more info for beginners, here is an article I wrote after my very first SDCC.
Comic Con can be very overwhelming if you’re new to the scene. Between the hundreds of panels, screenings, and booths, there is simply no way you will see and do everything you’re interested in. And that’s okay! Here is my recommendation: Take a look at the schedule and mark down not-to-be-missed panels followed by secondary panels you’d like to hit if you’re feeling up for it in the moment (back to back panels can result in brain overload), take a brief glance at the showroom floor map and take note of any artists or geek gear booths you want to be sure to hit, and then let yourself enjoy the ride. Give yourself some flexibility – you never know whom you might meet and have a great conversation with, and you don’t want to cut off every human interaction because you’re frantically running between panels. Or maybe you do – no judgment.
I’ve taken the liberty of reading through the entire SDCC panel schedule for you, dear aspiring TV writer – you’re welcome – and here is my breakdown for panels that are most useful to us.
*Note: I am NOT including panels that take place in Hall H. Hall H is about as easy to get into as Fort Knox – yes, it is essentially where the “headliner” panels perform, but you almost certainly have to waste an entire day of the convention in line in order to get into Hall H THE FOLLOWING day. I have attended a ton of panels in the second largest hall (Ballroom 20) and other larger rooms and have never had a problem getting in. Absolutely focus on Hall H if you’d like to, but in my opinion, the TV writer magic happens elsewhere.
TV SHOW PANELS
There are a gazillion panels for individual shows – both live-action and animated, on everything from YouTube to cable to major networks – that usually consist of screening clips of past or upcoming seasons and great panels with the cast and executive producers. HINT: Executive producers are usually head writers and/or creators of the show! These panels are chalk full of fantastic insights about the inception of the show, how different characters have developed, how they structure their story arcs, and teases about what is next for the series. Sometimes there is even a panel made up entirely of writers from one particular show, like this Inside the Big Bang Theory Writers’ Room panel (I attended this panel the last time they had it in 2016 and it was fantastic!)
Take a look at the schedule to see if a show you love (or even an upcoming show you’re looking forward to!) has a panel of their own. Here are a few, just to get a taste of the variety that is out there: Charmed (yes, the new one!), Origin, George R.R. Martin’s Nightflyers, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Castle Rock, Robot Chicken, Duck Tales, Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger, Stan Against Evil, Supergirl, Arrow, Man in the High Castle, and The Flash. This is only a small sample of the individual shows that have an entire panel dedicated to them, so be sure to take a look at the schedule to find some of your favorites.
CRAFT/BUSINESS OF WRITING PANELS
While there are a lot of panels that focus on breaking into writing for comics, graphic novels, and other kinds of writing, there are also some fantastic panels for TV writers and ones that relate to anyone looking to break into a creative field. Here are some highlights:
Psychology of a Cult TV Show: Episode 5 – I have attended previous iterations of this panel in the past and have really enjoyed it!
Intro to TV Writing – I have attended this panel as well, and it is always a hit. BONUS: Karen Horne, who runs the NBC Writers on the Verge program, often gives fantastic advice about applying to the network writing programs! BUMMER: It conflicts with the Big Bang Theory Writer’s Room panel. Decisions, decisions!
Take a brief look at the ones that seem interesting/relevant to you!
[2017 SDCC SPARK YOUR CREATIVITY PANEL] Last year I had the great pleasure of being a panelist on the SPARK Your Creativity Panel, which was a blast! Featuring content creators Jenny Lorenzo, Camille Falciola, America Young, Etta Devine, myself, Heidi Cox, and Stephanie Pressman.
NOT TO BE MISSED TV WRITING PANELS
Here are a few of the panels that I will absolutely be making time for:
The Pitching Hour – creatives from some of today’s top shows discuss taking an idea “from conception through production.” A lot of great topics are covered, and even though I’ve attended this panel previously, a new mix of writers means new insights!
Inside the Writers Room: From Script to Screen, the Break-Down – this panel is always a riot and is packed with fantastic TV writers!
Women Rocking Hollywood 2018: Female Filmmakers, Pilots, Projects, and Paving the Way to Parity – This was easily my FAVORITE panel from SDCC 2017. Although we are in a very different place in the entertainment industry today, last year’s conversation was so inspiring it had me in tears.
And of course, a sprinkling of panels from my favorite shows! For me, I will definitely be attending The Magicians panel – I love me some sassy magical women smashing the patriarchy. #LongLiveKingMargo
Y’all – we’ve established that I’m a nerd, right? I am not kidding even a little bit when I say that I take notes at the writing panels I attend. If it is a show I am familiar with (which makes it SUPER fun), I take notes about how they develop their characters and story, how seasons have unfolded unexpectedly, and little details that writers share about their likes/dislikes in the writer’s room. At the craft and business of writing panels, the focus is usually on giving advice to writers who are trying to break in – take advantage of that! Keep those notes, because one day soon you may be submitting scripts to or interviewing with some of these people, and won’t it be wonderful to know if they prefer to read specs of already existing shows or an original pilot? Knowledge is power, my friend.
Not attending Comic Con this year? Did you know that SDCC offers FREE badges to professionals in the comics and entertainment industries? Their applications just opened for 2019: check it out here to be part of the fun next year. Due August 16th!
Geek on, y’all.