Get In the Writer's Room: Becoming a TV Staff Writer

Hosted by Charlie Charbonneau

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Charlie Charbonneau

Webinar hosted by: Charlie Charbonneau

TV Writer/Producer (CW's The Vampire Diaries, The Originals and The Secret Circle)

Charlie Charbonneau is an accomplished television writer and producer whose credits include the 1-hour dramas The Secret Circle, The Vampire Diaries, and its spin-off The Originals. Born in Las Vegas but raised in the sleepy horse track town of Saratoga Springs in Upstate New York, he moved to California at 17 where he earned degrees in Screenwriting and Spanish from University of Southern California. A born self-starter and anxious to learn the business from the ground up, Charlie quickly continued his Hollywood education as an assistant at The William Morris Agency. There, his work garnered him an intimate and expansive knowledge of the entertainment business and a litany of agents, attorneys, and talent with whom he proceeded to construct his writing career. He cut his TV teeth by assisting and then writing and producing for the likes of writer and Executive Producer Kevin Williamson (Scream, I Know What You did Last Summer, Dawson’s Creek, FOX’s The Following) and Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Containment), eventually earning the title of Executive Story Editor on The Originals. During a time when Network TV saw gradually decreasing ratings, over 3 million viewers from all over the world tuned in live for his episodes week-to-week. In production on its 7th season, The Vampire Diaries can still frequently be found among the most downloaded episodes on iTunes as well as the most watched series on Netflix. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

Breaking into the Television industry is tough, but perhaps the most difficult area of the TV business to enter is the writing staff. And yet, it’s not impossible. In fact, many people from all walks of life and from different educational and professional backgrounds find their way onto writing staffs everyday and go on to build lucrative careers in this cutthroat enterprise. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, TV Writer/Producer Charlie Charbonneau will teach you how you can too!

Your host, Charlie has worked on the writing staffs of three different CW genre shows, including The Secret Circle, The Vampire Diaries, and its spin-off The Originals, and he has mentored many eager young writers desiring to write for TV. In this webinar, he will explain why it’s so notoriously difficult to ‘get staffed’ by identifying the budgetary, political, and practical craft constraints of the television writing landscape. Then, he will detail the wide array of different tools, methods, and pathways to surpassing these obstacles. Among other topics, he’ll discuss the benefits of different educational institutions and industry work-shop programs, how to get your foot in the door with different entry-level jobs, which support jobs in a writers’ office lead to paid writing, as well as what material to write and how to get the right people to read it.

No matter your background or level of experience, all students will come away with a deeper understanding of the obstacles and the many surprising solutions to getting and keeping a spot at that big scary table in the Television writers’ room.

What You'll Learn

Why It’s so difficult to become a Staffed TV Writer

  • Stakes for a show-runner of having the perfect writing staff
  • Numbers game: Budget constraints, job availability. Writing Staff sizes for Network vs. Cable vs. Streaming.
  • Levels: Understanding the hierarchy of a writing staff
  • Specificity Requirements — are you the right person for the gig? o Contacts: Who you need to know and why

Preparation: Stack the deck in your favor

  • How to Stay sharp and always be prepared for opportunities
  • Should You Go to Film School? Take Extension Classes? Grad School?
  • To be a TV Writer, you need to be in LA. Find out why.
  • Mentors: You need one! What makes a good one and how you can get one.
  • Benefits of working at a Talent and Lit Agency

Get Your Material In Order — Tips for generating the right material and getting it read by the right people

  • Knowing the Market and Combining It with Your Unique Skills
  • Original Pilot or Spec of an Existing show — is one better? Do I need both?
  • Who Should Read Your Work And When
  • Examples of good writing contests and why you should enter them
  • Create supplemental content web series, short films
  • Infuse Your Life Experience Into Your Work

Seize The Opportunity: The Different Paths To The Writers Room

1. Work In A Writers Office

  • What Jobs Are Available and The Duties and Benefits Of Each — PA, Script Coordinator, EP assistant, Research assistant, Writer’s Assistant
  • How To Get A Job At A Writers Office
  • Which Jobs Lead To Staff Writing Positions
  • Tips To Survive And Stand Out In the Writers Office As An Assistant

2. Studio Workshops and Diversity Programs

  • Examples
  • How To Get In
  • The Benefits and Getting Staffed

3. Work With An Agent or Manager

  • Agents vs. Managers: What’s The Difference For TV?
  • Getting Your Material To The Right People
  • Ways To Get An Agent
  • The business of representation, advice on negotiating with YOUR agents

A Case Study — Charlie Charbonneau’s Arc, from Day-Dreamer to Staffed Writer

  • Education
  • Agency experience
  • Material
  • How He got the Important Players to Pay Attention
  • Friends, Foes, and Politics
  • Getting Staffed, Seizing the Moment, Taking your Shot, Preparing to Miss

Plus, live Q&A with Charlie! Be ready to question him on the ins and outs of the writer's room! 

 

About Your Instructor

Charlie Charbonneau is an accomplished television writer and producer whose credits include the 1-hour dramas The Secret Circle, The Vampire Diaries, and its spin-off The Originals. Born in Las Vegas but raised in the sleepy horse track town of Saratoga Springs in Upstate New York, he moved to California at 17 where he earned degrees in Screenwriting and Spanish from University of Southern California. A born self-starter and anxious to learn the business from the ground up, Charlie quickly continued his Hollywood education as an assistant at The William Morris Agency. There, his work garnered him an intimate and expansive knowledge of the entertainment business and a litany of agents, attorneys, and talent with whom he proceeded to construct his writing career.

He cut his TV teeth by assisting and then writing and producing for the likes of writer and Executive Producer Kevin Williamson (Scream, I Know What You did Last Summer, Dawson’s Creek, FOX’s The Following) and Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Containment), eventually earning the title of Executive Story Editor on The Originals. During a time when Network TV saw gradually decreasing ratings, over 3 million viewers from all over the world tuned in live for his episodes week-to-week. In production on its 7th season, The Vampire Diaries can still frequently be found among the most downloaded episodes on iTunes as well as the most watched series on Netflix.

FAQs

Q: What is the format of a webinar?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live webinar. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer

Q: What if I cannot attend the live webinar?
A: If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar. If you cannot attend a live webinar and purchase an On-Demand webinar, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.

Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!

Testimonials

"I'm grateful for how generous he was with his knowledge and time. He was awesome." - Joanne L.

"This was by far one of the better webinars I've attended on Stage 32. The information was relevant (which was of upmost importance) and Charlie was an enjoyable presenter." - Matthew M.

"I think he managed to balance the 'luck' part of this business with the 'talent,' and what we need to do." - Kerry F. 

"Charlie was outstanding. He was organized, helpful and extremely insightful." - Kimberly E.

 

Questions?

If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.
 

Reviews Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • I took a lot of "TV craft & industry" classes, read many "TV: everything you need to know about a writer's room" books but none of them were as informative as this 2 hours video. The language Charlie uses is understandable for everyone, his teaching PDF is easy to follow and, little plus, he's not horrible to look at ;) Very valuable class. Can only recommend to all writers interested in writing for TV.
  • Great advice. Thanks Charlie!
  • Really helpful advice and kudos to Charlie for battling against the construction noises outside!

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Do you suffer from writer’s block? Do you ever get stuck on a scene — at odds with how to proceed, what your character should do or say — for hours, days, sometimes weeks? Do you ever read a scene and think, something’s just not working? Join the illustrious club of every writer ever. Luckily, this very common problem has a simple solution. In this webinar, you will dig down to the building blocks of excellent scene work, those elements which are fundamental to establishing character, advancing plot, capturing tone, and planting memorable moments. By using iconic scenes from landmark film and TV and by citing examples from his 5+ years of TV writing and producing experience, Charlie will offer an array of tools and skills that will harden any writer against the obstacles and pitfalls that come with attacking any scene. Perhaps more importantly, participants will come away with some vital ways to overcome the feared writer’s block that plagues us all.

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