That time I was a real TV Writer

I debated on writing this post as I signed an NDA and am legally not allowed to talk about the following experience (in detail). But who cares about laws and authority these days given the state of America….

Anywho, I’d like to share my first experience working in a writer’s room for a soon to be aired animated series. So how did the hell did I even get this opportunity?! I knew the creator. But before you exit this this post and chalk it up to me just being extremely lucky, please know that creators of shows most times don’t have complete control of the shows they create. There is a demi god called a Showrunner, who, yes, you guessed it, run the show. So when I ran into my animated show creator friend at Ralph’s and he told me they were looking for female writers, I knew I still had some hurdles to jump through. I text requested his email before I even left the Ralph’s parking lot and sent him my best animated spec script. Then I waited….
About a week later he emailed back and said they aren’t able to hire a staff writer (full time writer) but they are hiring Punch Up Writers, writers who are brought in during re writes to make the script funnier. Which isn’t the full time staff writing gig I was hoping for but it’s still one step closer to my dream. Then after a few emails of him updating me on the status, I got the green light that I would be brought in to work in the writer’s room for a day! By work, I mean, contracted and paid! And just like that, years of working temp jobs, 7 days a week, and feeling like I should just settle for a life of shattered dreams, comes this one simple email with a glimmer of hope. That was dramatic but you get the point.
I came in for the table read and tried to act like it wasn’t my first rodeo but in reality I felt like a kid on their first trip to Disneyland. I sat in the table read room peeping the scene; writers, Showrunner, voice actors, executives, random comedians, and PA’s. I tired to contain myself when I was told to sit on the seat with the place card that said “Writer” on it. After the table read we all headed to the writers room where we ordered lunch and got to work on the script. Here’s how a punch up session works;
1) The script is displayed on a big screen connected to the Writer’s Assistant’s laptop where they make the edits in real time.
2) The Showrunner goes through each page of the script and asks if there are any pitches (jokes, ideas, etc) for each page. If so, anyone in the room is welcome to call them out.
3) If the Showrunner likes it, it goes in the script. A few of my pitches actually made it in the script 🙂
4) We do this for the duration of the day/script and joke around in between.
Pretty sweet gig, right?
You may be wondering how an undercover introvert like myself was able to handle all of this. Well it helped that I was given a boost of confidence by the creator beforehand. He told me he read my stuff, knew I was funny, and the Showrunner did too. Also that I should just pitch as much as possible even if they don’t use it. Basically, don’t be shy. I was in that room because I deserved to be in that room. Knowing that, I knew I had to prove myself. At the end of the day I even pitched a story idea for a future script. I was also bought back for another session and hoped my two random days off didn’t raise a red flag at my job.
So now what? I’ve been so busy with work and trying to come down from the high of getting a taste of my dream job that I haven’t been able to process it all. I guess I’ll just do the only logical thing there is to do, work on my future acceptance speech.
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