Writer’s Corner is a place to get to know outstanding writers, talk about the craft of writing, career advice, share horror stories and find out more about compelling films, television shows, plays, etc. There’s so much great content out there being made by female creators, we should all be keeping an eye on these women.
Today we are featuring Evette Vargas
Evette Vargas is an award-winning writer, director, producer and immersive storyteller. Named by the New York Times as an “Artist to Watch,” Vargas’ work includes series for Amazon, MTV, Bravo, DirectTV; and interactive content for Fast And Furious, Lord Of The Rings trilogy and Madonna. Vargas exec produced, wrote and directed her digital series Dark Prophet, starring Henry Rollins, which was in contention for two Emmys and premiered at Sundance. Vargas has currently set up her drama series Tinacious at MGM Television. Marc Guggenheim and Rosario Dawson are serving as Executive Producers. Vargas wrote and is set to direct The Current War VR Experience as a companion piece for the film, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Vargas is penning the Mix Master Mike feature biopic for Impossible Dream Entertainment. Vargas created the Immersiveplay, the industry standard for immersive scriptwriting for Final Draft and has spoken at the Cannes Film Festival on VR Storytelling. A member of the Writers Guild of America, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and Producers Guild of America, Vargas was born in the Bronx and learned to tell stories at the dinner table where the imagination ruled. Vargas kick boxes; collects action figures, typewriters and shoes; has past lives as a DJ, a fashion designer, and is a recovering New York City advertising Art Director.
Evette, tell us how did you got started in the business?
Visual storytelling has always been my thing. I grew up drawing, painting and writing. My artist skills brought me to F.I.T. in New York, where I studied design. But after two years, I really wanted to tell stories, so I transferred on NYU Tisch School of the Arts on a scholarship. There, I focused on Writing and Directing. My senior thesis short film ended winning the best of NYC, which got me a lot of buzz and that’s what got me to LA.
What was your first gig as a writer?
In New York, my first gigs in the business were creating commercial campaigns at ad agencies. I also worked on music videos. I utilized by writing, directing and design skills for these productions.
In LA, my first gig in the business was working in the Digital Department at NBC Universal Studios. There, I created digital content to support films, television series, videogames, music, comic, the theme park and more. My first gig as a writer was writing narratives for videogames.
VR is still a new medium, tell us what you love about it.
There are many things I love about storytelling. But if I had to choose one, it would be the ability to transport the audience to a world I have created and set them on an emotional journey along with my characters. VR storytelling, like no other medium, allows me to do just that.
How did you develop your interest in VR storytelling?
It was a very natural and organic evolution for me. With my fine art background, which lead me to graphic design, which then lead me to interactive design, which then lead me to videogames, I had an excellent foundation for storytelling within a 360 degree set with interactive possibilities.
In addition, with my traditional storytelling background, I was able to integrate my writing, interactive and videogame skillsets, which afforded me the fundamentals for VR storytelling.
What makes a project better suited for VR?
VR, like all mediums, has its own unique set of rules. In VR you want to take advantage of what makes the medium powerful. The short list of “Why VR” are presence and agency.
Presence is the sense of “being there” within a VR experience, rather than perceiving something from a removed state of being.
Agency is the ability to “do something” in the experience. It is the ability to interact or react rather than simply perceive. As a result, our actions have consequences. In VR, Agency drives story in a totally different way in than in traditional, passive mediums, such as film and television.
When it comes to VR, is the writing process different?
The writing process begins the same way. The story has a beginning, middle and end. But there are a least 10 distinctively different elements that the writer must incorporate to write a complete script. A few of these elements include: the audience’s point-of-view; identifying where people, places and things reside within the 360-set; interactivity; and story branching.
As a VR writer and storyteller, I had created my own template, including these elements and more. Then, Final Draft commissioned me to create the Evette Vargas Immersiveplay, which is the professional scriptwriting template for VR, AR an MR storytelling. The Immersiveplay dropped last year to overwhelming success. Until then, an immersive storytelling template did to exist. Here’s how you can access it: https://info.finaldraft.com/how-to-write-for-vr
How did you get into directing?
Directing was a very natural extension of my visual storytelling skills. I would see the scene before I wrote it and shot it. Writing the stories that I was going to be directing is how I fell in love with the craft of writing.
Do you prefer one or the other?
I love both writing and directing. But, interestingly enough, I would now call myself a writer first.
Do you feel like there’s a common theme, type of story or character or genre that you usually write about?
As a Latina genre writer, four themes consistently appear in my stories – fish-out-of-water, finding and pursuing one’s calling, taking on the establishment and identity.
What advice do you have for new writers looking to break into the industry?
I advise all new writers to find work in television and with writing podcasts. I believe these two mediums are the best ways to break into the business. In television, find work as a writer’s assistant, a writer’s PA or a coordinator. For podcasts, you can write and produce your own, or you can become an assistant for established podcasts.
What’s one of your favorite projects you’ve written that has yet to be sold, optioned or produced? Tell me about that passion project that you would love to see land somewhere.
I’ll be out pitching a new show soon, titled TINACIOUS. The series is set up with MGM Television. The series is a very personal one for me. Fingers crossed, we find the right home for it. I’d love to see this show realized. It’s socially relent and important and has a lot to say.
What are working on now?
Besides going out with TINACIOUS, I’m in the process of packaging two new television series.
What’s your website and social media handles?