By Roadmap Diversity Initiative Winner Gayle Jackson (Signed by Insignia Entertainment)
This article was originally published on The Emerging Screenwriter Survival Guide
Get on the Road with Roadmap Writers
Last month, I had the great good fortune to have been included in the Roadmap Writers Screenwriters Intensive Program. For those of you who don’t know Roadmap Writers they are an organization dedicated to providing film and television writers the tools to chart their own success. This is from their website:
"Our goal is to equip screenwriters with the tools and training needed to take their projects to the next level."
My introduction to them was by chance. I was randomly searching for screenwriters networking groups one day and came across the Coletta Preacely-Garcia Diversity Initiative. Hel-lo, what’s this? Despite the talk of inclusion especially during the 2017 award season there is still a dearth of minority representation behind the camera and on the page so many organizations reach out to under-represented artists and I, for one, am grateful. Roadmap Writers Initiative award is one month’s free participation in their Screenwriting Intensive Program (a value of $300 which is well worth the price if you have the funds and can commit).
I should mention many (most?) of the writers live outside the LA area. This is a nationwide hook-up; using Zoom and Skype you can participate from anywhere.
So I applied and was accepted as the recipient for the month of January. My photo and bio were included on their website. I think I have one of those photo faces where my eyes seem to follow you around the room, but I digress. Little did I know what a whirlwind I was in for. And to be honest, I was unprepared for the extent and quality of career transitioning events and networking opportunities there were in just 3 weeks.
Here is what the Intensive Program includes:
Roundtables – industry insiders volunteer to listen to and help you perfect your pitch
Writing Challenge – an executive gives a short writing assignment to stimulate the creative muscles
Peer-to-peer practice sessions – if participants need extra pitch practice and are willing to organize it, Roadmap staff will provide a Zoom link for some bonding time with peers. It’s a great opportunity to build your contact list.
Company Assistance – CEO & Founder Joey Tuccio and COO Dorian Connelley give very warm welcome sessions. Roadmap coordinator Brandon Combs and Director of Partnerships Erica Bardin provide seminars to help participants get into the flow of professionally pitching to Hollywood. Their insight eases the minds of anyone making the leap from novice to advanced or advanced to proficient.
Workshops – an opportunity to submit up to 10 pages to an executive and receive feedback on a specific issue or a few questions for that project.
Webinars – 90 minutes with an insider learning on a variety of topics. Information that sometimes writers currently on the outside have no access to.
Pitches – Everyone charges for pitches. That’s the game now for non or under-represented writers. You want in a room? Then pay to pitch. Whether Skype, written or in person at conferences and pitch fests – you do it. Period. So stop grumbling about how expensive it all is, just be sure you are ready before you spend the money. But spend the money. Roadmap Writers offers the Intensive participants five sessions of your choice from a variety of companies. But be prepared – this is the part I love – you can submit loglines for up to three scripts you’d like to present and in the moment, the executive will decide which pitch they want to hear. Now for the real test of your commitment – you must submit a script for each logline you present in case the pitch lands and the executive is willing to read you they will have the script immediately. This is it, kid, the big leagues, you’ve been waiting your whole career – time to knock it out of the park.
Company outreach – all of the facilitators and executive staff are outstanding at making sure you do what you need to do when you need to do it.
I thank everyone for my participation. I truly appreciate it. Getting great feedback and script reads off my pitches were cherries on a multi-tiered double fudge frosted cake. This is the real deal. To continue the metaphor, they really do provide routes to Casa Hollywood and for those of us who have been lost on the way, look to Roadmap Writers as a GPS.
As for me, now that February is here I must gather my resources. There are other services and programs available to those seeking the next level involving pitching, executive mentoring and screenplay coverage/consultation and marketing. With the emergence of new platforms comes the need for both scripted and non-scripted content. Any writer with skill and a dream can achieve success. All it takes is the right opportunity. That is what Roadmap Writers offers. Opportunities. Okay, it’s not a job and it will cost you. But like your education, it is worth the investment. If you’re like me and have to budget, do it. You owe it to your work and yourself to get on the road.
You can check out Roadmap Writers on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.