You’ve typed the two most exciting words in your screenplay: FADE OUT. This is your twenty-second revision on your genre-bending period piece based on your accidental trip through the Mediterranean coast. Everyone who’s read it has given you their two cents, but overall people love it. What do you do next?
For Carrie Gutenberg, Catlan McClelland and Myles Reid, three recent screenwriting MFA graduates (all class of ’14), they found professional representation with scripts that had way better premises than mine.
“Dark alley, handshake, firstborn,” said McClelland wryly when I asked him how he got signed.
As much as I would love to believe that was true, Gutenberg told it to me straight. “A manager that attended one of our LMU pitch sessions asked to read my material. She was brave enough to take a look at two features of mine and offered to work with me to develop one of them for the marketplace,” said Gutenberg. “Needless to say, at the end of the meeting I asked her if we were officially ‘in a relationship’ or just ‘casually dating.’ Thankfully she likes commitment.”
A big myth about securing professional representation as a writer is that it leads to overnight success with an Oscar and an Emmy around the corner. The truth is, getting signed means you have a new hill to climb. It’s the beginning of a partnership that hopefully brings years of successful projects. “It’s exciting, but life feels like hurdling. Once you crest one obstacle, you’ve got the next one to look forward to, and it’s coming fast,” said Reid.
All three have spent the last three years in SFTV’s Screenwriting MFA and credit LMU on having an impact on their signings. The program boasts ‘What separates our school from other schools is our third year launch into the industry.’ It seems the program has accomplished that goal for these three.
“Probably the three years of intensive writing is what helped the most. Without the time spent on that and the body of work that goes with it, it wouldn’t matter how good I could make my scripts sound in a meeting,” said Reid. “The stack of rejected scripts from most places is sky high, so learning how to work consistently and constructively to whittle an idea into a first draft into something people might enjoy was the best gift LMU gave me.”
With a deal in hand, you’d think these three alums’ days have changed drastically, but really it’s only fueled their desire to turn out better writing everyday. “I now have zero excuses not to write every day. If there is someone out there who is working on my career then I need to be working at least 10 times as hard,” said Gutenberg.
All three are working on scripts with their new representation. “A horror-comedy about a gated community full of evil white folks who eat newly-arrived minority families. It’s called White People Problems. No, really,” said McClelland.
Some ideas are a little stranger than others, but these alums certainly are writing, and as a recent graduate from the screenwriting program, it’s a solid beginning.
SFTV is currently accepting applications for our graduate programs in Screenwriting, Writing and Producing for Television, and Film & Television Production. View the SFTV Graduate Admission page for more information and application materials.