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SYS 440 – Writers’ Room Survival Guide With Niceole Levy (transcript)

This is a transcript of SYS 440 – Writers’ Room Survival Guide With Niceole Levy.

Welcome to Episode 440 of the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger with sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today, I am interviewing writer Nicole Levy who spent her career mostly in television writing for a number of shows like Cloak and Dagger and SWAT. We talked through her career we talked quite a bit about how writers can break into television. So, if you’re looking to learn more about TV writing, definitely stick around. She’s got some really great insight honest advice for up-and-coming television writers. SYS’s six-figure screenplay contest is open for submissions, just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/contest. Our final deadline is approaching and is July 31st. So, if your script is ready, definitely submit now. We’re looking for low budget shorts and features. I’m defining low budget as less than six figures. In other words, the script needs to be producible for less than 1 million US dollars. We’ve got lots of industry judges reading scripts in the later rounds, we’re giving away 1000s in cash and prizes. If you want to submit to the contest or learn more about it, just go to sellingyourscreenplay.com/contest. Also, this year, we’re running an in-person Film Festival in tandem with our screenplay contest. It’s for low budget films produced for less than 1 million US dollars. We have features and shorts category, a lot of interesting judges just like the screenplay contest, will be looking at the films in the later rounds. The festival is going to take place in Hollywood, California from October 7th to October 9th. If you have a finished film and like to submit to the festival, you can go to sellingyourscreenplay.com/festival, or if you’re on Film Freeway, we are listed there as well. Once again, if you want to enter the contest, just go to sellingyourscreenplay.com/contest. If you want to enter the festival, just go to sellingyourscreenplay.com/festival. If you find this episode valuable, please help me out by give me a review in iTunes or leave me a comment on YouTube or retweeting the podcast on Twitter or liking or sharing it on Facebook. These social media shares really do help spread the word about the podcast, so they’re very much appreciated. Any websites or links that I mentioned the podcast can be found on my blog in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode in case you’d rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all the podcast show notes at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast and then look for episode number 440. If you want my free guide How to Sell a Screenplay in five weeks, you can pick that up by going to sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. It’s completely free. Just put in your email address. And I’ll send you a new lesson once per week for five weeks along with a whole bunch of bonus lessons. I teach the whole process of how to sell your screenplay in that guide. I’ll teach you how to write a professional logline and query letter and how to find agents, managers and producers who are looking for material. Really is everything you need to know to sell your screenplay, just go to sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. So, now let’s get into the main segment. Today I am interviewing writer Nicole Levy, here is the interview.

Ashley: Welcome Nicole to the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.

Nicole: Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.

Ashley: So, to start out, maybe you can tell us a little bit about your background. Where do you grow up? And how did you get interested in the entertainment business?

Nicole: So, I grew up in the middle of nowhere, literally, in this town called Ridge Crest, which is attached to China Lake Naval Weapons centre in the middle of the Mojave Desert. And so, I watched a lot of TV, which is how I fell in love with the TV and film game because there was literally nothing else to do in the summer because it was 115 degrees outside.

Ashley: And so, talk about that. Okay, so you’re interested in films? What were some of those steps to turning it into a career in high school? were you shooting little videos, writing little stuff? Did you in college? Did you were you a film major, maybe talk about that transition from just film fan to film professional?

Nicole: Sure. So, the interesting thing is all of that TV and all the movies I consumed convinced me that I was going to be an actress. So, I was writing but I was writing things to perform, little monologues to do, little plays for myself. And when I was in high school, my AP English teacher made us do these writing assignments every week. And I don’t know if you know how, like the AP grading scale was at least at that point. But it was like a four was really good and one was terrible. And like I kept getting my back like ones and twos and I was like what the hell like what do you want from me? And he was like, I want you to write something that you actually care about. Stop writing what you think I want to read. And so, the next assignment, I wrote a description of what my great grandmother’s house felt like to me after she died, how it became kind of cold and scary, and terrible. And he handed it back and there was a four on it and he was like, keep doing that. I still thought that meant I was just going to write better things to perform. And then I went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts here in Los Angeles. And while I was there, realized that it turned out I was a writer who could act, not an actress who could write. And I just didn’t love, once I was performing all the time. I didn’t love it as much as I loved storytelling.

Ashley: So, then just take us through that transition, what were your first steps to actually get some paid gigs? You landed in Los Angeles, did you get that assistant job? And how did you get to maybe just talk through your sort of early days in Los Angeles.

Nicole: So, I didn’t do that track at all. I went to USC, but I did not go to film school, I was an English major. I went, did their master professional writing program, which they sadly no longer have. But it made you do every writing discipline, not just screenplays. And because of it, I was able to get a really good job in magazine publishing after college. So, I did that for a while. And I was writing all the time, but it was sort of like, I didn’t have any real connections because I hadn’t gone to the cinema school. And I was just trying to see what I could do. So, I was applying to fellowships, you know, doing all that stuff. And basically, it was a good 10 years and knocking my head on doors and like trying, I had a mentor, this wonderful, wonderful writer named Joyce Burton, who took an interest in me, and really tried to help me but nobody wanted to represent a baby writer, you know, it was all that stuff. And basically, right when I got scared, it wasn’t going to work out. And I started my backup plan, which was to have my own dessert baking business, because that’s the other thing I’m great at is making things. I decided I was going to apply to the programs one more time, and the only one I hadn’t missed the deadline for was the CBS writers program. And so, I applied and much to my shock, finally got the interview, got to the interview stage, met with Carl Kirschner. And the next thing I knew I was meeting with mentors, and I was officially in the program.

Ashley: So, do you think after all these years of applying to these fellowships, was there something that clicked writing wise? Was it just, you know, luck of the draw, you got some early readers that liked your stuff or had your writing? Do you feel like you really have made some strides in the quality of your writing to get to this point?

Nicole: I mean, I think definitely the writing just continues to improve, right? The more you do it, the better you get at it, the more that you can shorthand things in a way that’s cool and interesting to people, and you don’t have to spell everything out. And interestingly enough, you know, and obviously, the spec writing game is a little bit different now. At the time, I was a big believer in spec what you love, because, you know, doing the cool kids show is like everyone’s doing that. And so, I did a spec of the closer and everyone was like nobody in the business watches that. And I was like, I don’t care, I love the show, and I wrote the hell out of it. And people I had at least three people say to me, I don’t watch the show, but I had to know how the story ended. And so, I think it was my all of my love for the show was evident in the pages. And it really made it, you know, I was able to tell a story I really cared about.

Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, I think that’s great. And I’m going to circle back on some of that in a minute as we get into your book. So, let’s talk about your book real quick. So, maybe you can just kind of pitch it. What is your book all about, and who was it written for?

Nicole: Sure. So, it’s called the Writers Room Survival Guide. And it is really, it’s for anybody who is wanting to break into the TV writing game and wants to know, like, what is the mysterious writers room like, it’s for people who are already in it, and maybe in a difficult situation and looking for some advice about how to navigate it. It’s for people who are just interested in how writers rooms work, like I have friends who are not in the business at all, but are just fascinated by the process. So, I really feel like it’s a read that you can enjoy whether you want to be a writer or not, but it’s definitely got a lot of helpful advice if you would like to be a writer.

Ashley: So, can you describe it for our audience, what are these writer rooms like, and maybe you can kind of go through the different positions, obviously, you’ve moved up in your career. So now you’re getting producer and supervising producer credits. So maybe you can just sort of tell us what the hierarchy is of all these things. I’m frankly, unclear. I know, all the way from like the writer’s assistant, isn’t there typically, like an assistant in the room taking notes? And so maybe just run through sort of tell us what is the writers room look like?

Nicole: Sure. So, a writer’s room and it really depends. It’s a show-to-show experience. Like it can be 5 people, it can be 15 people, it really depends on the show. If you’re doing 22 episodes a year you get a bigger writer’s room, because you need more bodies. You’re doing a little like 6 – 8-episode season, you probably get fewer bodies. And so yes, every writer’s room has a writer’s assistant, who essentially is the magnificent human being who takes down every word we say during the writer’s room session and makes it somehow makes sense so that we can all look back over it and go; right, right, that idea was really good. We should go back to that. Staff writers are usually first year writers. And sometimes they come from the talent development programs like the CBS writers mentoring program, or the NBC writers program, the Disney fellowship as well. And that’s really, you know, it’s your entry level, it’s you’re here to get your feet wet to understand how a writers room works to learn how to navigate, you can chain ideas for the show. So basically, you’re all in a big room together, there’s a giant whiteboard, or a giant cork board that everyone’s going to stick cards in. And you’re literally just talking through what needs to happen in the episode. And as a staff writer, you can contribute to that conversation, because sometimes you’re thinking of very specific points that the other writers are not to yet, because they’re breaking the big parts of the story, right? Like act two out needs to be this and oh, this is a cool twist for Act Four. And you’re like, oh, hey, in that conversation with these two characters, if they talked about this thing, won’t that play into the plot twist we’re doing and four and people are like; “Yes, great. Thank you for saying that.” So, you’re finding ways to contribute, and learning from the people above you. Staff writers, usually, I will not say always, but usually get to co-write or write a script and episode of the show. If not more, depending on the show. I have friends who have been on 22 episodes shows that staff writers who got to write three episodes in a season. So really, again, depends on the demands of the show. And then hopefully, if you don’t run into any stumbling blocks, you’re just moving up each season as you’re getting promoted. So as your show continues, or as you get new jobs on new shows. So, you basically go from staff writer, to story editor, to executive story editor, so that’s considered lower level. And you know, you get a little bit more responsibility at each level, it’s like as a staff writer, the expectations for you are pretty low. As a story editor, they’re going to expect you to get more right on the first draft, let’s say. And then as an executive story editor, they expect you to be real close on the first draft, and also maybe help out the staff writers and the story editors who are underneath you, right, just kind of keep an eye on them. Make sure that they don’t have any questions they’re afraid to ask that kind of stuff. After that, you jump into mid-level, which is Co-producer and producer. And a lot of that in modern tech terminology has to do with do you get to go to set do you cover set? Do you help, watch cuts and give notes and post some shows start that as early as a staff writer. Sean Ryan is amazing at that, like, even the assistants who get to write episodes, get to go to set and get to cover in posts. That is not common. Especially now in this era of short order rooms where, you know, it’s eight episodes, and the writers are all gone by the time you shoot the show. But in broadcast, there’s still that opportunity to get all that experience. And then you know, again, it’s always like you’re developing your skill set. And you’ve got a real strong couple of things you’re great at by the time you’re at mid-level, right? So, if you’re a fast draft writer, and there’s an emergency, your showrunner might ask you to take a pass on something, because the script that we weren’t going to look at for two weeks suddenly has to move up to tomorrow, because there’s an emergency, right? So, if you’re super-fast, they might ask you like; Hey, can you take a pass on this and send it to me? If you’re really good in the room and the upper-level writers all have to go take a call because there’s a fire that needs to put out with number one on the call sheet, you might run the room while they all step out. So, it’s just they start to trust you and know what you’re good at, and like lean on you a little bit. And then you move into upper level which is supervising producer and CO executive producer. And that, you know, that’s where you get into running the room a lot, potentially that’s part of your job always, or you’re doing it when the Co-EP or the number two has to step out. The number two is the person who the showrunners basically designated as ‘anytime I am not in the room, you are responsible for the room.’ So that is usually a Co-EP, it can be a supervising producer. It can also be an executive producer, depending on how top heavy or show.

Ashley: Gotcha, gotcha. I’m curious if you guys are developing these projects in the room, everyone’s giving ideas, you’re taking down notes. You have this sort of book of stuff. How much do you have when you go to write your episode? You get assigned to write this episode? How much do you actually have already and it’s really in context, because mostly what I interview on my podcast is feature writers. So, you know some people they come they spend a lot of time in the outlining stage. So, then they can just knock out a draft you know very, very quickly, but how much is actually in this you know, how many how many choices do you have left to make by that? Have you actually are in Final Draft writing script pages?

Nicole: So again, that very show to show. I have worked on shows that don’t we don’t write outlines at all. And we maybe just do like four-or-five-page summary that goes to the studio on the network to tell them what the episodes about, I’ve worked on shows that do a full process where you write a story area, which is like one to two pages of like; ‘Hey, here’s what we’re thinking.’ And then the studio signs off network signs off, and then you do a full outline of anywhere from, you know, 10 to, and I have heard this 35-pages. The people who like the 35, page outlines, there’s a lot that’s nailed down there, right? It’s there’s dialogue pitches, that’s like we come in this way we go out this way, this is the out of the scene, there’s a lot of detail in that outline, and you are sort of obligated to go write that outline. When you’re doing the like 10-to-12-page outline, we have what we call, you know, writer’s choice, or problem things where it’s like, yeah, you whatever you do you decide that when you write the scene, so it’s every last detail isn’t figured out, but the idea of what the scene is, what communicate, like, what information has to be communicated in the scene, what are we trying to establish with our characters in this scene? We’ve all talked about that. And then you go off and try to create the best version of that scene.

Ashley: Gotcha. I’m curious too as you were talking, you mentioned that sometimes a staff writer might get to write three episodes on a 22. You know, talk about that a little bit. I mean, obviously, as a writer, you want to write as many episodes you can, obviously financially, it’s good, but it also just, you know, gives you more credit on IMDb, it helps your resume, helps you potentially get that other job. So, there must be a lot of just sort of politicking on who gets assigned becoming friends with the showrunner. Maybe you can talk about that, like, what are the soft skills you need? Obviously, we all have to be great writers to be on a professional TV show, but what are the soft skills that you need to get those assignments and, and you know, you don’t want to necessarily go too far where you become the brownie hound or something like that. But what is that line, and how do you get those assignments when you’re in that room?

Nicole: Most show runners that I’ve worked for or with, there’s a logic to how the assignments all happen. So, it’s usually like if you know how many episodes you have. And you know, right, the first question is how many is the showrunner writing or Co-writing? So, you kind of like they like usually the premiere? Usually the finale? Is there something in between they really care about? So, you sort of know those are going to be showrunner scripts. So how many episodes do you have left? So, let’s say you have 13. And you have eight writers? So now you’re like, okay, well, you know, your co-EP definitely gets a script, you know, your supervising producer definitely gets a script. So, they’re sort of making those designations and then I see how many they have left. And that’s why sometimes you’ll see co-writes on shows of writers who are not a writing team, like for instance, on Cloak and Dagger, I co-wrote all my episodes, for the most part with our showrunner or with our number two, Pete Callaway. And so, it was to give everyone as much opportunity to write as possible when you don’t have that full 22 episodes. So in terms of the, can you politic your way to them? Really, it’s more about can you work your way to them? Because if they assigned you episode five, right, and you killed it, like your first draft was really solid, you took notes well, they didn’t have to worry about you, you know, you’re doing great. And then say you were on a 13 episode show. And now the network is like; ‘Hey, can you guys do five more?’ Well, you’re probably going to at least toe right one of those five, because you proved yourself on your first go round. And they’re always looking for like, who can I give extra work to that I don’t have to babysit. So, it’s really about proving that you can work independently when it’s your turn your turn, and deliver. And you know, some of that, like; Look, nobody expects a staff writer script to be perfect. It’s about how solid is it? Like, is it a respectable first draft? If you can turn in a respectable first draft, you have won, that’s what they were looking for. And then when they need another first draft, because now they have all these extra episodes to do or someone’s got to cover sent in an emergency and we’re supposed to write these scenes and then can’t they’re going to come to you. So, it’s less politics and it should be less politics. It’s more who works the hardest. Now, I say that and there are rooms where it is definitely politics. You cannot win in those rooms. Like if the show runner has favorites. They have favorites and there’s just not a lot you can do about it other than come out unscathed to be a team player. And don’t get caught up in any fighting.

Ashley: How much do you do as a TV writer? Because you were just talking about, like, you know, a staff writer, he delivered the script. And that’s one of the things is that somewhat subjective? I mean, it’s not objective, let’s put it to you like that of how good this script ultimately is. So how much you guys pay attention to like the ratings of a particular show? “Oh, my episode got this rating, but your episode, got that rating.” And then Emmys. You know, awards and stuff. Does that stuff play into you know, who might get another assignment? I’m just curious how much you guys even pay attention to that stuff.

Nicole: People were the only reason anyone pays attention to ratings anymore. Are people in broadcast, who are hoping their show is going to stay alive. It’s really like, in terms of my episode got this because we all know, like, like, so when I was on Swat, for example, like we’d be on for five weeks, and then they pull us off for four weeks. And so, when you came back, was that episode usually going to get a bump? Yes, because people missed us. Or people forgot we were on. So, the ratings were lower, it was like hit or miss. So, you just those numbers are what they are. The award thing. I mean, I’ve never worked on a show that hit the awards level categories, because you know, a word stuff tends to be kind of snobby. I will say that, you know, again, that remains subjective. Because we all know, this is a town where some like, almost never is an episode of television, on screen with a writer’s name on it. And every word in that script is from the writer, unless it’s the showrunner or the creator. It’s usually, you have built the blueprint, and now the master architect goes in and makes it all pretty. So, it’s always kind of a team effort. And so winning awards is great. But it’s no, really almost no one does it alone, even most creators other than the pilot, the room has helped build the episode. So, it’s not like they did it on their own.

Ashley: Yeah. And I’m curious, how does the WGA figure out the writing credits? I mean, the showrunner I would think was going to take at least a glance and every single script and potentially rewrite every script, you know, the second in command might, is it the same rules for features as is for TV, you basically submit the episodes, and everyone tries to show what part they wrote in it, the WGA come in…?

Nicole: So, what basically what happens is, is this there is a general understanding that showrunners will take a pass on every script, it’s just right, someone is responsible for making sure every one of those 8, 13, 22 episodes is consistent. And that’s the show runner’s job. Most show runners just consider that part of their job. They never put their names on the script, because it does take money out of people’s pockets when it comes to residuals and that kind of thing. So, most show runners, that’s just their job. They’re our show runners who put their name on everything. And that is their prerogative, there is not a rule that says they can’t, but most showrunners will tell you, that’s the job, you don’t put your name on the script, unless it’s your script. There are cases where so this is happening more often in these the many rooms, situations where, say, I was in the room, and I wrote a script. And then after the meeting room ended, there was a whole bunch of notes. And they brought in a whole new set of writers to like rewrite the scripts, because the studio wanted a bunch of changes with the network wanted a bunch of changes. And so now all the scripts get opened back up again, those kinds of scripts tend to go to arbitration, because it’s like; ‘well, yes, I wrote first draft. And now this person did a complete rewrite on it. But they’re also a paid staff writer, and the guild will decide how the credits land.’ There are cases where, say, ‘A Co-EP does a page one rewrite on a script and one’s credit. And that also will go to arbitration.’ But in general, most upper levels will not put their names on scripts. Because it’s just, you know, it will ultimately it doesn’t affect the script fee, but it will affect… well, I shouldn’t even say that as a general rule. Sometimes it can affect the script fee depending on when they do it. But it will affect residual pay, it will affect that kind of thing. And so, it’s just what you know, don’t take money out of other writer’s pot.

Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, I’m curious. And this is sort of a two-part. So, you mentioned that you broke in with I think you said the CBS fellowship, maybe you can just quickly give us a list of the fellowships that you think are worth submitting to actually have some juice and can actually get your career going?

Nicole: Oh my gosh, there’s so many more now that when I say.

Ashley: Is there a resource that I can just point people to like, go check out this website. Is there some authoritative resource that you looked for?

Nicole: You know what? I’m sure there is I don’t off the top of my head. No, but I bet you I can find something and email it to you and at least have it.

Ashley: But just mentioned some of the ones that you’ve definitely heard of, um, you mentioned the Disney one.

Nicole: Yeah. So, the now the CBS one is now called the Viacom writers mentoring program, just because of the mergers that have happened, right. But it’s a very comprehensive program, you write a new sample with the help of professional mentors who are working executives. And then you also kind of have like a mini boot camp where you meet show runners you learn, you get advice about how to take meetings, you do practice meetings, so it’s very immersive. And so, you get a lot of great experience that way. NBC just rebranded theirs, when I did it, it was called ‘writers on the verge’. I think it’s just called the NBC Universal Writers Program now. But if you Google it, you can find it, and they’re restructuring it a little bit. So, I don’t know all the details of how it’s going to work now. But typically, it’s the same deal, you write a new sample, you have professional mentors who will be there to give you advice, help you get meetings, you know, all of that stuff. The Disney, ABC Disney fellowship, has been unique in that, they pay a salary for the year that you’re in it. I believe, unless it’s changed, it was $50,000 a year, it may have gone up since where you’re staffed on a show, but you’re being paid by that fellowship as opposed to being paid as a staff writer. So, you know, it’s a way to all of them are ways to incentivize creators who work for those outlets to take a chance on new writers, especially underrepresented writers. Writers who are a little bit older, you know, it’s, it’s a good way for people to get a break. Final Draft has a good competition. It’s not a fellowship, but they have a good competition. There’s the National Hispanic writer’s Media Coalition. There’s the cake Fellowship, which is for Asian American and Pacific Islander writers, I believe. There’s a lot out there. So, if you just Google it, people google it, they’ll get a lot of options. They’re really competitive. And my advice to people who want to apply to them is, first of all, absolutely send your best pieces of material, don’t send what you think they want to read, send what is absolutely the most you if there was only one piece of material that was going to represent you in the world, send that one. And really pay attention. They almost all have like an essay, question component, or a personal essay. Really, really give that your all because if it comes down to you and one other writer, that’s usually the kind of stuff that makes the difference is that this personal statement was just really raw and honest compared to this one that sounded a little generic. And so, you take the other one.

Ashley: Gotcha. What specs do you recommend people write for this, and for every other fellowship are people writing originals? Are people writing as you did a spec of an existing show like Closer? What do you recommend that they actually write to submit?

Nicole: So, the CBS program still requires a spec and Warner Brothers Oh, Warner Brothers sorry. That’s the other one, the Warner Brothers writer’s program. And they have historically provided a list of shows that you are allowed to spec for them. I don’t know if they’re still doing that a lot of the programs have gone away from specs and gone to originals only. CBS has maintained the spec rule. And here’s my point of view on specs, everyone who wants to break into television should still be writing them. I don’t care that your reps tell you they can’t do anything with them. I don’t care if other people say they’re a waste of time. Basically, that is the job you are applying for. As a staff writer, you are writing specs, you are trying to write someone else’s characters in their voice in the world that they created. And so, I don’t think you should spend inordinate amount of time doing it. I say, basically, always have one current spec, that if someone said; Well, I’m interested, but I need to see a spec to be sure that they know how to do the job, you have it. And I would say spec the show that you love spec a show that like you feel like you could write in your sleep because you love it so much. Because specking that, again, first of all, there’s too many cool kid shows now, right? It’s like there’s 500 scripted television shows, 500 Plus, like, it is hard to pick the thing that you think everybody will read. But if you write a spec of something you love, then the person will figure out, you know, good writing is good writing but I just think it’s really important to have because I know I as a showrunner, need to be sure that you understand I don’t care how great your pilot is, if you can’t mimic the way that I want to show it.

Ashley: So, other than the fellowship, we talked a lot about the fellowships. Other than the fellowships, what are some potential avenues that people could break into TV?

Nicole: You know, there’s the, the assistant route for sure, which is also really challenging. If you’ve paid any attention to, you know, on Twitter, the pay of Hollywood hashtag, or looked at any of the coverage of the IRC vote that happened, you know, writers, assistants, writers, PAs, script coordinators, there’s a lot of trying to undervalue the work that they do, which is critically important to every show success. And it’s really hard to make a living doing it. So, you kind of have to know that you’re going to have to get by on bare bones, or do something else to help yourself pay the bills. It sucks that that’s the reality. And we’re a lot of us are fighting to try to change it. But it’s a slow, steady, push back. By the way, I just realized I’m going to get yelled at, I forgot to mention, I am actually part of mentored in a program called Mentorship Matters.

Ashley: Okay.

Nicole: And we just finished our first year, and we are doing another year and the script, the submission period, I believe, is June 20th, to the 26th. But if you look up Mentorship Matters, you’ll find our website and you can you can verify that but that is also, you know, people who are underrepresented, who have not worked in the industry before, so that a new group of writers kind of gets a shot.

Ashley: Perfect, perfect. And yeah, absolutely. I’ll send you an email, we can get all that. And I’ll put that stuff in the show notes. So, I just like to wrap up the interview. Just to kind of ask, is there anything out there that you think is really great; HBO, Hulu, Netflix, that writers can really watch and appreciate and get something out of?

Nicole: Absolutely, I would say like a couple of recommendations. And even if you’re not a comedy writer, I think there’s always value in watching all the different things. And there’s a show on CBS called Ghosts, which is an American version of a British show. I mean, just the character work is so beautiful. The dialogue is so smart. Like I absolutely recommend it because it just, it’s and it shows you how you can write something that gets some good emotion. And it’s funny and like it doesn’t, you get really good emotion without like, oh my god, everything’s doom and gloom and terrible, you can still create some really beautiful emotional scenes. I’m a big fan of My Brilliant Friend on HBO and HBO Max. It’s this Italian series about two best friends based on a series of books by Elena Ferrante. It just beautiful, beautiful work. It’s an Italian, so you have to read subtitles. But wow, is it just exquisite to watch. So, I highly recommend that. And yeah, those are probably my two big ones right now.

Ashley: Yeah. Those are two great recommendations. How can people buy your book The Writer Room Survival Guide? Is available, I’m sure on Amazon and all that sort of stuff.

Nicole: Right. It’s available for pre order right now. It doesn’t actually release until October. But you can pre order it on Amazon right now. It will also be available on the publishers website, Michael Weasy productions. And yeah, so I hope people preorder it because then it’ll show up and be full of all kinds of good advice.

Ashley: Perfect, perfect. What’s the best way for people to keep up with what you’re doing and follow your career? Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, anything you’re comfortable sharing, I’ll round up for show notes.

Nicole: Yeah, sure. Twitter is I’m usually on there more than I should be. And it’s at my first name @Nicolecookies. Because baking business. So, when I originally joined Twitter, it was for the banking business, but it has turned into my writer’s thing.

Ashley: Well, perfect. Well, Nicole, I appreciate you coming on and talking with me. Good luck with your book and all your other projects.

Nicole: Great. Thank you so much for having me.

Ashley: Thank you. We’ll talk to you later.

I just want to talk quickly about SYS Select. It’s a service for screenwriters to help them sell their screenplays and get writing assignments. The first part of the service is the SYS Select screenplay database. Screenwriters upload their screenplays, along with a logline, synopsis and other pertinent information like budget and genre, and then producers search for and hopefully find screenplays they want to produce. Dozens of producers are in the system looking for screenplays right now. There have been a number of success stories come out of the service. You can find out about all the SYS select successes by going to sellingyourscreenplay.com/success. Also, on SYS podcast episode 222, I talked with Steve Dearing, who was the first official success story to come out of the SYS select database. When you join SYS select you get access to the screenplay database along with all the other services that we’re providing to SYS select members. These services include the newsletter, this monthly newsletter goes out to a list of over 400 producers who are actively seeking writers and screenplays. Each SYS select member can pitch one screenplay in this monthly newsletter. We also provide screenwriting leads, we have partnered with one of the premier paid screenwriting leads services, so I can syndicate their leads to SYS select members, there are lots of great paid leads coming in each week from our partner. Recently, we’ve been getting 5 to 10 high quality paid leads per week. These leads run the gamut. There are producers looking for a specific type of spec script to producers looking to hire a screenwriter to write up one of their ideas or properties. They’re looking for shorts features TV and web series pilots all types of projects. If you sign up for SYS select, you’ll get these leads emailed directly to you several times per week. Also, you get access to the SYS select forum, where we will help you with your logline and query letter and answer any screenwriting related questions that you might have. We also have a number of screenwriting classes that are recorded and available in the SYS select forum. These are all the classes that I’ve done over the years, so you’ll have access to those whenever you want once you join, the classes cover every part of writing your screenplay, from concept to outlining to the first act, second act, third act as well as other topics like, writing short films, and pitching your projects in person. Once again, if this sounds like something you’d like to learn more about, please go to sellingyourscreenplayselect.com. Again, that is sellingyourscreenplayselect.com.

On the next episode of the podcast, I’m going to be interviewing writer director Greg Borkman. He just wrote and directed a cool time travel romance called Press Play, starring Lewis Pullman from the new Top Gun film and veteran actor Danny Glover. We dig deep into Press Play and how he was able to get it made. So, keep an eye out for that episode next week. That’s the show. Thank you for listening.