I didn’t go to school for creative writing, let alone screenwriting. I’m not knocking academic programs at all, just explaining that I went to school to study acting. But barely a year into my time in Los Angeles, I felt myself drawn to the control and creative freedom that comes with writing your own scripts. As an actor who largely wasn’t getting called in for the types of roles I yearned to play, I began writing them. I found myself increasingly fascinated by the alchemy that goes into any successful TV show, beginning with the concept, the development of characters, and of course, the script.
And although I didn’t formally study writing, I embarked on an educational journey of my own (hard-core research junkie, here!) There are some absolutely fantastic resources out there for new writers, and a lot of it is free. As I continue on my TV-writing path, I will be sharing some of the awesome learning-tools I come across here on Ms in the Biz.
One of my favorite resources (and today’s focus) is the growingly popular podcast. If you live in Los Angeles (or any major city, for that matter,) chances are you spend quite a bit of time in traffic. Why not use that time as a learning opportunity? I personally LOVE listening to podcasts on my commutes, and there are some fantastic ones that are all about writing for TV or screenwriting in general. A few of my favorites are:
Children of Tendu, from TV writers Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Charmed, Lost, The 100, and more) and Jose Molina (Firefly, Castle, Agent Carter, and more). In the first 9 or so episodes, Jose and Javi take you through deciding to move to LA to become a TV writer, to getting your first job to moving up the ranks in the writers room, all the way up to the responsibilities of being a showrunner. It is fantastic, comprehensive, and peppered with a ton of character. Their most recent episodes are all about pitching a TV show, and they even share a full (45 min!) pitch that they recently took out on the town. Tons of great info!
Scriptnotes, from writers John August (Charlie’s Angels, Big Fish, Corpse Bride, and more) and Craig Mazin (Scary Movie 3, The Hangover Part II, Identity Thief, and more). Scriptnotes is probably the most well known screenwriting podcast, with over 350 episodes out and new episodes being released every week. Wow! That’s a lot of information! Thankfully, they recently released a Listeners’ Guide with top episode recommendations, perfect for new listeners looking to dive in. John and Craig were both primarily feature film writers when they began the podcast, but have each moved on to other kinds of writing (Craig currently has a TV show with HBO!) From information about the WGA to fantastic guests like Aline Brosh McKenna, this is a fantastically comprehensive podcast covering all things screenwriting. Scriptnotes also occasionally has LIVE shows, like one I attended in May with special guests Lisa Joy and Jonah Nolan (showrunners and creators of Westworld) and Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (writers of The Chronicles of Narnia, Captain America, Avengers: Infinity War, etc) And yes, the live shows are then made available as podcast episodes!
Happier in Hollywood, from TV writing partners Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft (The Shield, Vampire Diaries, and more!). Sarah and Liz have been television writing partners for 18 years, which means that they get hired as a team. They share the work and are able to bounce ideas off of one another, but they also split their paychecks. Happier in Hollywood is a really fun podcast because it is not just about writing – they discuss health, life hacks, and more in their fun and frothy half-hour episodes. Although make no mistake, you’ll still get plenty of information about being a television writer in Los Angeles – from interviewing their agent, to discussing whatever is going on in their careers, Sarah and Liz don’t hold back. They just produced their pilot The Fix for ABC, and it has been picked up to series! As a result, several episodes have focused on the experience of writing, shooting, and editing a pilot. I can’t wait to follow along as they continue their journey!
There are a bunch of others, like the Nerdist Writers Panel (with interviews from a ton of writers), Off Camera with Sam Jones (interviews with lots of different creatives), and more. I was even recently interviewed on this short-form writing podcast. The point is, don’t let money be a barrier to learning. Dive in and get inspired!
What other writing podcasts do you enjoy? Tweet me with any key programs I’ve missed! I’m always looking for new content to consume 🙂