Evette Vargas, one of the amazing women I profiled for my Writer’s Corner monthly column has embarked on a new venture; teaching TV writing workshops in Los Angeles. I spoke with her recently to get all the details.
Evette, what inspired you to share your knowledge about the craft in a classroom setting?
I’ve spent the last decade relentlessly creating opportunities for Latinx, woman and diverse storytellers in the business as well as fostering fresh voices. Earlier this year, I mentored five diverse screenwriters who wanted to break into television. So, I organized a writer’s room setting, where the writers broke a season arc, wrote an episode for that season, and ended the experience with a table read of their scripts. The writers had incredible breakthroughs. But, what I didn’t anticipate was hearing from the 20 actors who participated in the table read the next day, citing how impressed they were with the writing and the table read. One of these actors was, Kate Rees Davies, an actor/director/producer, who suggested I use the same format for women wanting to break into TV. This was certainly something I would like to do, but I just did not have the time.
For the next several months, Kate relentlessly pursued me to create a workshop for women and committed herself to helping me do just that. Both Kate and I are acutely aware of the despairing gap in the business when it comes to women and diverse people.
Ultimately, between Kate’s insistence and my passion for creating opportunities for fresh voices, I conceived three workshops — Pitching the TV Series, Writing the TV Pilot and Running the Room. These offerings are the foundation of THE WRITERS ROOM 5050 Workshops — and in addition to our focus on women, I wanted to expand the the audience to writers of color, queer writers and woke men, which Kate was extremely excited about.
What happened next is remarkable. In three weeks, Kate and I got the program up and running, sold-out the workshops and THE WRITERS ROOM 5050 was born.
Our intention is to give storytellers the tools, experience and confidence they need to sell their shows, write pilots which garner attention, and thrive in the writer’s room. The response from our writers has been overwhelming. They are empowered to take control of their careers.
What surprised you the most about the students?
The writers are magnificent. They inspire me. They are incredibly talented, passionate and have the creative energy to be successful. All the writers need are the skills and mentorship to take their careers to the next level. The writers are also well aware that as women and diverse writers that they must compete at a high level. They have to be ready and their materials have to be stellar.
Any great anecdotes about the first class?
All of the workshops are taught in a writer’s room setting. Watching the writers and their projects grow each week in a collaborative writer’s room format, has been exhilarating. I fondly recall one writer in particular who was nervous about running the room to break their pilot story. By the end of the workshop, this particular writer was masterfully running the room and turned in an exceptional script. Another writer, who has been working on a passion project for 10 years, finally completed it and has already garnered attention from a producer. Here’s who we are and what we’re offering:
The Writers Room 5050 Workshops are specifically designed for women writers, writers of color, LGBTQAI+ writers and woke men wanting to work in television or return to working in television, develop their pilots, pitch their TV series to development executives and producers, and run the writer’s room. The curriculum consists of 3 modules. You can take each module as a standalone workshop or you can take all 3 modules back-to-back.
Workshop Modules, include…
Pitching the TV Series – Write the pitch, present the pitch every week and receive feedback, design the pitch deck, and pitch your show to a development executive, in 6 weeks.
Writing the TV Pilot – In a writer’s room setting, run the room, break your pilot story, write your pilot and end the workshop with a table read of your work. This workshop runs 10 weeks.
Running the Room – In a writer’s room setting, break a season arc of an original series, break the arc of an episode, write one episode of the season arc and end the workshop with a table read of your work. This workshop runs 10 weeks.
Any success stories? What are students saying about the class?
Before our first workshop even graduated, we have received requests from studios, executives and production companies seeking to hire our alumni. We are overjoyed by these requests and have recently began to refer our writers.
In addition, two of the projects that were pitched to the Development Executives we brought in for the Pitching the TV Series Workshop are interested in moving those projects forward. Here’s what our storytellers are saying…
“Thank you again for a magnificent workshop, Evette is a master at her craft!”
“These workshops have changed my life. I’m so much further along with my show that I could have ever have imagined.”
“There are no other workshops like this. I’m progressing so much every week.”
What are the dates people should keep in mind?
The next Pitching the TV Series Workshop begins Thursday, September 26th; the Running the Room Workshop begins Tuesday, October 1st; and the Write the TV Pilot Workshop begins Wednesday, October 2nd.
We have additional workshops planned for 2020 and are excited to announce that we are adding a Directing Workshop. Check out our website and social media for updates at:
Evette Vargas is an award-winning writer, director, producer and immersive storyteller. Named by the New York Times as an “Artist to Watch,” Vargas’ has produced series for Amazon, MTV, Bravo, DirectTV; and interactive content for Fast And Furious, Lord Of The Rings trilogy, Madonna. Vargas exec produced, wrote and directed her digital series Dark Prophet, starring Henry Rollins, which contented for two Emmys. Vargas sold her drama series Muses to TNT Super Deluxe. Vargas is creating a drama series for MGMTV with Marc Guggenheim and Rosario Dawson serving as EPs and penning the Mix Master Mike feature biopic. Vargas wrote The Current War VR Experience, a companion piece for the film, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. A member of the WGA, ATAS and PGA, Vargas was born in the Bronx and learned to tell stories at the dinner table where the imagination ruled. Vargas 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.