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 »

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.


Frequently Asked Questions:

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

  • Great advice. Thanks Charlie!
  • Really helpful advice and kudos to Charlie for battling against the construction noises outside!

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“Your Dad could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves” —David Spade, Tommy Boy You’re a writer. Your work is entertaining, informative, thought provoking — heck, it’s even clever. You dream of tapping away on your lap-top in a cabin, sending off your material to a publisher or a producer, and collecting your check from the mail-box in the evening before pouring yourself a glass of Malbec red wine and walking your dog by a river. It’s a beautiful dream. But the reality is, no matter how good your writing is, no matter how brilliant your ideas are — if you’re ever going to have that cabin, not to mention enough cash to cover dog food every month, you have to know how to pitch well. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, TV Writer/Producer Charlie Charbonneau (CW shows: The Secret Circle, The Vampire Diaries, and its spin-off The Originals) will teach you how to successfully pitch your ideas as a writer. You’ll learn about the many different scenarios where you’ll have to translate that spectacular idea in your brain to someone who’s never heard it before. This webinar will lay out the rudimentary yet vital skills used by the pros to win over the show-runners, buyers, and agents. You’ll hear about the nitty gritty do’s and don’ts of pitching in places like the TV Writers Room, a studio or network executive’s office, and at lunch with the agent or manager you’ve been dying to meet with. Also, Charlie will be giving you tips on how to nail your 8-minute pitch so you can take advantage of the Happy Writers pitch sessions offered every week. He'll guide you through how to start, cultivate interest and leave the executives wanting more. He'll not only cover live pitching but how to deliver a superb written pitch!  You will get to examine the biggest enemies to a great pitch — fear and anxiety — and strategies to neutralize them so you can keep your cool. And, of course, those who tune in will get to catch some horrific pitch fails from the trenches of TV staff writing. Writers in any medium and at every experience level will benefit from this webinar — from novices to experts. And anyone else looking to hone their sales tactics in the entertainment industry or elsewhere will walk away with strategies to bring their pitch games to the next level.

So You Want To Be A TV Writer? An Inside Look - Part 1

Ever wondered what daily life is like for a TV Writer? Looking for ways to manage and maximize your schedule to output great, useful material without losing your mind? Wondering how the hell you’re supposed to write when you’ve got a full-time job? Tune in for this exclusive 2-Part Stage 32 Next Level Webinar taught by TV Writer/Producer Charlie Charbonneau (CW shows: The Secret Circle, The Vampire Diaries, and its spin-off The Originals) to hear about life and work of TV writers, on AND off the clock. You'll gain insight that will help you succeed in finding your next assignment and how to excel in the position! In Part 1, attendees will learn what life is like when TV writers are between jobs or trying to get that first job. Join Charlie as he discusses ways to manage your own writing schedule, find out how to decide which projects to focus on, and get some tips to stay relevant and visible to the big players and decision makers when you’re not employed. He’ll even lay out some strategy to position yourself for the highly coveted freelance script, whether you’re an assistant or a working writer between gigs. In Part 2, Charlie will unpack all the ups, downs, problems, and pleasures that come in the daily life of a working TV writer. Hear insider advice and information about writers room etiquette, climbing the title ladder, taking notes, rolling with the punches when your material doesn’t impress the powers that be, and making sure you get paid. He’ll even discuss the best way to interact with those hot-shot actors in your show. As usual, get ready for some horror stories from the trenches!  

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