This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 033: An Interview With Screenwriter Kateland Brown.
Welcome to episode thirty-three of the SellingYourScreenplay podcast. I am Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger over SellingYourScreenplay.com. In this episode’s main segment, I’m gonna to be talking with screenwriter Kateland Brown. Kateland works in television as an assistant. She set quite a little success with screen writing contest. I got a lot of questions of people asking me if contest are worth doing & I never really had any success with contest so I always feel a little bit strange answering those questions. So I figured the best way to find out exactly how much a contest can give, give a young screen writer is by talking to someone who has had some success with contests so stay tuned for the interview with Kateland.
I’d like to thank this episode’s sponsor, screen craft. Screen craft is dedicated to helping screen writers master the craft of screenwriting and succeed in a business of Hollywood. Sign up for free education inspiration at Screencraft.org. If you are on tweeter too be sure to follow ScreenCraft they tone out a lot of information for screen writers, there is lots of articles on craft & links to follow screen play, all sort of great stuff for screen writers at every level. If you find this episode valuable, please help me out by giving me review in iTunes or leaving a comment on YouTube or retweeting the podcast on Twitter or liking it on Facebook. This social media shares really do help spread the word about the podcast. I’d like to thank Marty Wolth, Van Trilobcouk, Macenzy, Kate Avenceenickes, Annamarie Alcymanela & Kreg Mac who all retweeted episode 31 on Twiteer, thanks for the retweets. I’d like to thank Tomas Jryan, Marchalo Gryon, Genger Shyn, Wory Ashbon, Diana Zimermen & Alice Oshay who left me some a nice comment over on YouTube. Thank you for those comments.
I don’t know why but selling a screen play doesn’t seem to have sort of attraction on Facebook. If you are on Facebook, please like our pages it’s htt://facebook.com/sellingyourscreenplay. I’m really curious to see if I can build engagement on Facebook. In the mean time, I would like to thank Van Oliver, David Shapo, Maire Alcemana, Dana Tiso& Lew Agnco who all commented on episode 31 on Facebook, thank you for those comments & thank you for liking the episode on Facebook.
A couple of quick notes – any websites or links that I mentioned in a podcast can be found on my blog in a show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode in case you would rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all the podcast’s show notes at www.SellingYourScreenplay.com/podcasts. Just look for eposide 33. Also if you want my free guide “How a sell screenplay in 5 weeks?”, you can pick that up by going to www.SellingYourScreenplay.com/guide. It is completely free, you just put in your email address and I will send you a new lesson once per week for five weeks along with bunch of bonus lessons. I teach the whole process of how to sell your screen play in that guide, how to write a professional log line occurring letter, how to find agents, managers or producers who are looking for material. It really is everything you need to know about how to sell your screenplay. Just go to SellingYourScreenplay.com/guide.
So now let’s get into the main segment. Today I am interviewing 2014 Blue-Cat screen play competition finalist Kateland Brown. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Katelnad to the SellingYourScreenplay podcast! I really appreciate you coming on the show.
Katland: Thank you so much for having me.
Ashley: So to start out, I wonder if you can give us a quick overview of your carrier as a screen writer.
Kateland: yeah, I have been writing screen plays for about 7 years & I started in College. I went to acoustic-filler-teen & I was in a film program. I realized that I want to write there & surely I have working been a craft, since then I’ve lots of extra classes ec-section, further my education there that really helped so I started steadily working on my craft & trying to get a job in industry & to also learn how to break a story
Ashley: So let’s talk about some of your successes, you & I will introduce through goldy at blue-cat screen writer competition where on of your scripts played highly so let’s talk about sort of some of your different scripts you’ve written & you know how they placed in different contest. You had one; correct if I am wrong; that was semi-finalist in Nicolospalo , can you talk a little about that script & how did you find that experience.
Kateland: Sure, that was the second script I wrote called catch up the air it was about an African American skate boarding. I just decided to enter it & I was pretty exciting when I got at the top, I played the cut, I played it highly but nothing came of it .So it’s exciting but even you get at the top as a finalist, it doesn’t mean. I sent out letters to agents & I just kept hearing it is so valuable concept in this market. So one have to write a really good screen & pay to any attraction or attention to have great idea & great concept. I don’t really want to, it’s a delicate balance as your passion is about & so you want to get attention as a writer & you want to…
Ashley: What’s that when you said semi-finals in nicospalo, what is that the top 10% ; is that what it is if you’re making top 10% you’re semi-finalist? What’s is the top? What’s the semi-final?
Kateland: The top 10 percent is the first one & then it’s the quarter semi-finalist & finalist; the fellows or the finalists.
Ashley: I see perfect , so you got your semi-script with a semi-finalist there & you said sent letters to agents. How many letters did you send out?
Katland: I sent about 50 & I did get some responses to read it. But at that point my writing I was still a little worry. But people who have developed their craft , people & managers to read it may say that’s not a sellable script but you’re really a good writer so something might happen there. A part from me say the story is good & the dialogue characters are good but cutting stuff out to make it a little dense.
Ashley: Sure, so let’s move on to the interview you had with blue-cat your script called fire storm & you were from the top 10 scripts. Can you shortly tell us what’s that script about & how did you find that experience?
Kateland: That script is about a female fire fighter but the underline story is that her father is fire fighter & she wants to have good relationship with him. That was really fun to hear in the news that I was one of the top ten & I also sent letters for that one & I got one mail that was interested , her name was Dian Mecky & she was a lower level manager. She was great, she really helped me. She was the one that you need to get lot of words, lessons more & she really helped me in that aspect. She offered me one meeting with Edward James, I also pitched at the TV series, other Chicago fires burnt me. But that was a great experience I had with going up & pitched with him so that was really fun but other than that I didn’t get much; anything else didn’t really happen.
Ashley: And is this manager still your manager to this day ?
Kateland: No, we were but two years. She was great but I was also trying to focus on writing so I didn’t produce as much as she applied I’d take. So we broke up our relationship. From blue cat now I have another manager whose name is Bandervan
Ashley: So let’s talk about that script the grew highly in Blue-Cat, tell us shortly about Hambone & that placed you in Blue-Cat.
Kateland: ok, Hambone I actually had the idea & I was still was Dian my manager so I pitched it her, to because I have two & they are so amazing. I just wanna show how great they are & I wanted to explore that. My first pitches were lacy when he was a kid & a pupil. But the tune was definitely off & Dian was the one who’d mention hey you know it’s a dark topic & you can go darker with that so I actually wrote Hambone 3 time. So it was quite a process I just had the fire under me but I loved the topic & loved the story. I just kept hearing from people that, it’s a really emotional topic so that motivated me to keep going with it
Ashley: So how did you do in the Blue-cat, what sort of video award did you win from the blue cat?
Kateland: I placed a finalist in blue-cat; the top 5 out of about 4,000 script so that was awesome & the one thing that I love about blue-cat was that they give you free coverage & this year they gave you 2 pieces of free coverage, that was amazing because I had 2 people telling me that loved the story , character great & relationship with the dog is emotional. That was really inspiring so I had a chance to rewrite it & fix those things so without that I don’t think I’d have been a finalist.
Ashley: Now, I just repeat that, did you get note & then complete next year & after that you became a finalist?
Katelnad: No, they give you a chance to write it next year so I know the contest & in my opinion, I think you get care as a write because you have a chance to rewrite & the readers are actually writers & they are smart people like George Myer. So to get best material of it & then also Blue-cats get the best script
Ashley: Yeah, that is smart. I didn’t quietly realize; that’s great. Tell us how did you get your current manager, did you hock up with him or did you write letters or how did you find him ?
Kateland: Blue-cat was great & they blasted all the agents, managers & production companies. I was gonna go with one manager but I also did my own email. I was like I placed from top 5 in blue-cat , actually got the studio & network on my show. I actually got my manager Daniel.
Kateland: I actually would have got a manager from blue-cat but I ended it going with Daniel.
Ashley: But the bottom line was this credential at being at the top 5 blue cat. You think that definitely helped your ability to this executive & some confidence.
Kateland: It’s all about getting people’s attention that’s why contest really do help because you’ve that dragging power, it’s hard to get anyone read anything , people are so busy . So having that dragging at top 5 actually makes them pay attention & are willing to sit down & read your script for an hour.
Ashley: Let’s just a step in Mac review, I am always curious to hear sort of about like just some raw numbers. How many scripts did you say at that point you’ve read?
Kateland: I read about 10, I’ve written 10 features & 5 TV specs & 4 pilots.
Ashley: Okay, Let’s say all of these 10 film features, you’ve entered the main to the various content, take for example fire storm . Did you enter that in the fellows but it didn’t place you, did you enter in blue cat but it didn’t place you, did you enter all these scripts; did you enter these in multiple can?
Kateland: I did, I did enter 5stone. Yeah, I did enter them. I have entered them in many contests & actually with Hambone I thought one day I just went crazy & I was one on the top 10 of the contest. I think I have 200$ & I submit 5 or 6 contest. I shouldn’t do that with the money, but I didn’t enter all of the scripts I had written, I entered only the ones I had loved & was happy to get feedback on.
Ashley: I think it’s interesting, the subjectivity of Hambone is one of the top blue-cat & you know for whatever reason not everybody like it. How do you think it’s subjective a good script can be forgotten or passed over in many instances.
Katland: that’s true, my advices to caster wide net
Ashely: yeah, that’s exactly my strategy. Now, you’ve mentioned a bunch of managers that have registered off. Have you placed any of those managers from producers contact? Have you tried to submit producers?
Kateland: you know, I haven’t really submit to any producers. Actually one but that’s not true, last year I tried to do some production so I did some blind queries & I think I got 2 responses, one said they don’t look for any material right now & the other say they weren’t interested in that concept. That had much luck, queries & production companies but to be honest I haven’t really tried that hard. I tried only one week or something & actually didn’t call them & I pitched them on the phone like I don’t how that’d work.
Ashley: what other market that you’ve done beside the query letters & the contest & other networking beside your current manager? Is there other ways that you tried to get your scripts out there ?
Kateland: No those were the main ways.
Ashley: n-tip, black list? You haven’t tried any of those?
Kateland: I tired the blacklist, I recently got two downloads so two people downloaded it & read but I didn’t know their contact .
Ashley: Did you for some reviews or you upload it & that’s it?
Kateland: I actually just upload it so I actually don’t know to pay for review to probably make it different.
Ashley: Let’s talk about your writing assistance at pretty little warriors.
Kateland: I was writer’s assistant for the past two seasons & then I got a script coordinator.
Ashley: perfect, let’s talk about that for a second, how did you get that?
Kateland: it was a long time to make it, I started on a small role till it went to actual beginning , as instructor you got email & I was interested to do it & intern for 2 or 3 days a week & technically I was out of college to take extension classes that seem to work so I entered there for a long time like a year & half working for free getting into writers coffee two times a day & getting lunch. That makes you lose contacts & from there 2 executive producers went over & started their own pilot no rose place it was the reboot & they had actually filled up their bidders office. So I was able to go as a writer, you can go production pa & I say I need a job so I’d do whatever. I was a pa in the office at the pilot & then at fortunate way as I knew the producers. I was a pa helping her at the office & doing what’s necessary & she was interviewing assistants & then I said I really like you I want to be your assistant. She said ok compete yourself to me. I wanted to be her assistant, I wanted to be a writer but I wanted to know how to be a producer as well. She was great, a week latter I was her assistant & I was her assistant the whole year. But then I was able to follow Lisa & I was her assistant & production for the next 2 years. During that time I was getting to know Marlene Keng , all the other writers. When script coordinator got pumped up, everyone else got pumped then it was able for me to come over her & there were great assistant of 2. That’s how I got to the job.
Ashey: That’s solid networking & solid moving in your way out, do you think that’s right path to being assume a TV writer. Is that a sort of standard that people break into Television writing?
Kateland: yes this is the standard way, you don’t know until you get lucky. I don’t know how to do it otherwise. You really need to be willing to be a writer pa , getting to people coffee. You have to be basically prove that you’re a co-person & you’re not crazy, you’re not emotionally unstable, you’re a hard worker, people will respect that & you just network. People become attached to you.
Ashley: Did you sentence the way of becoming a writer assumingly the writers of the show& the producers know that you wanna be a writer & have you started to ask them to read your stuff . Have you sort to make that transition from the office with the aid of writer?
Kateland: The thing of being a writer assistant is that you’re in the room taking notes so how it works is, all writers sit around the table & all break each episode together to get ideas so you’re in there & you’re in a good show . On that show, it’s a great show because they allow me to be like a part of the team & give me ideas as well which is great. As far as I make executive producers to red stuff. Once you work for that a year. It’s definitely ok to ask your bosses to read stuff I mean my bosses are already busy so stuff that takes them along time but usually people are very graceful, give a good example to that because you really have 1 or 2 shots . I’d make sure that you’d get someone office goof opinion on it
Ashley: Let’s talk about, I know television working in it is a tone of hours, it’s long days & stuff. How did you find time to work on your own stuff? I know there’s a lot of people listening to this, they’re working a full time job & dealing with that struggle. It’s pretty impressive you’ve written 10 recent scripts & 5 TV episodes in I guess 7 years. How do you find that time while working full time job?
Kateland: It’s very difficult, I usually get up early & have my best ideas.
Ashley: How early is that?
Kateland: 5 o’clock, 5:30 in the morning so I try to get an hour to an hour & half in writing & sometimes some sort of brainstorming. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done with just an hour to two in the morning because if you write other scene a day, you’ve something done in a month. That’s probably like a TV pilot, you can get something done of 2 months by just 2 hours a day, it ends up 10 hours a week & if you do weekends you have more.
Ashley: Perfect, what’s the best way for people to come up with you? Your tweeter handle or website writing. There’s always people who want to follow what you’re doing.
Kateland: yeah, sure my tweeter handle is Kateland Brown & you can just send me any questions you have.
Ashley: Perfect, I will link to the tweeter account in the show so if somebody is in the car, they can find our show notes & click over to the links. You have been very generous. That have been a great episode some real interactions information for people out there. I got a lot of questions about contest so I really wanted to bring you on to talk on your experience & I think we really covered that nicely.
Kateland: Great, thanks so much Ashley.
I am going to run another online class called writing a great ending to your screen play. If you have great ending for your play & you need a lasting impression to the reader that your screen play is good. But if you don’t deliver a good ending. The readers are gonna finish with the rendering doubts about the quality of the play. I am gonna diving into the third act with & dissecting the ending with bunch of movies including the Graduate, Rocky, Pop fiction, Momento, the Apes, Chau top finto 6 cents citzen candy suspects & many other. If you are having trouble with you handy or simply wanna learn what it takes to write a great ending check out this class, live class will be Saturday 23 August 10 am PC time . Go to www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com/classes . If you can’t make it to the live class don’t worry it will be recorded to view later on. In fact all the classes that I have done are recorded & available for Sys members to watch any time. You can complete the screen classes. I have done classes on how to choose the marketable concept, all the way through to write the opening pages , the first act the second act and now the third act too
Again just go to www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com/classes to learn more.
Once again, I want to thank Screen craft for sponsoring this episode. They are currently accepting submissions for their drama screenplay contest. So if you have written a great play for TV this is a great chance to get some attention on it. They have a great lineup of judges, who all have many years of experience in television. The deadline for entry is September the first. Check out screencraft.org if you have a drama screen play that you would like to enter.
If you are listening to this after September first deadline, don’t worry. They run different genre contests all the time and they will be doing another contest like this next year. So do check out the site to see what’s their latest offering are.
On the next episode of sellingyourscreenplay.com podcast I’m going to be interviewing screen writer Eric Hardward, he has stuffed numerious televison series independed feature film. Eric is a real inspiration, he’s self strater & he goes into all the details how he got his career started& how he get stuffed for many of the work he’s working on & how he got his first feature film over going & financed that will be in next week episode so keep an eye on that.
This week’s inception, I just want to take a minute & pointing out how dileberate Kateland is being & guiding her career. She’s spending her free time deliberately writing so she’s slowly getting better at her craft & she’s seeing some nice words by her two in some contest. But she’s also spending her working at a job that eventually going to lead her to be professional writer & when this time comes she’ll be more than ready because she’s working hard at becoming a better writter.
There no sure that things in this business are very tough business & you can never predict who is gonna make it & who’s not but she’s better thing as you’re going to find. It’s highly likely that she’s gonna be stuffed on a show at some point probably soon & in the distant feature , it’s quite liekly that she’s gonna be the one creating TV shows & that’s why her manager assigned her. It’s not just the fact that she won the blue cat screen competiton. It’s great that she did shows that she can clearly write & that’s definetly the essentil part of this. And it’s not the fact that she’s slowly waking her way up in television as a writer either there are lots of people who are doing this for . It’s really the combination of the two things by showing both ends of the equation, it makes her an increbily valuable client to a manager . After all they only make the money when the writer makes money so they wanna sign clients who they think they will them money and think about this when you are looking for an agent or manager youself. What do your offer to an agent or a manager? Kateland had some good scripts but she also had a career in the industry quite likely resolved & actually making money for the manager who assigned her. I really know not everyone can move to Holywood & start working in production but think about what I am saying just having a good 2 or 3 scripts isn’t enough. Every decent writer has them but you’ve got to have something more too. So what’s that second thing that makes you attractive potential client to an agent or manager.
Anyway, that’s our show, thanks for listening!