Success Story: Interview with signed writer Betty Sullivan

October 14, 2019

Success Story: Interview with signed writer Betty Sullivan

Tell us a little bit about your writing background and the road to getting signed.
I always wanted to write and be in a room. Nine years ago, I was staying at the LA airport Hilton when a screenwriting conference was going on. I walked into a class just ending and asked the teacher, Ellen Sandler, (Taxi, Coach, and Everyone Loves Raymond) if she'd tutor me. After realizing I'm not a stalker, she said yes! I was a working mother of seven with almost no spare time. That's how it went. I optioned my first feature comedy script which won awards and then nothing for five years. In the meantime, I learned how to write. I met Joey during that time and also Tiffany Boyle with Ramo Law and both helped me, along with a lot of other mentors to learn how to write. I read a thousand scripts. I was fortunate to work with a few creative executives to develop scripts that didn't get made (yet), but the time and experience were invaluable. I scored a few small writing and re-write jobs. I was a producer on a feature on HBO Latino and a filmed pilot (not sold). Don't be surprised if things fall apart or get put on hold indefinitely. It's all about making authentic connections and building a fanbase for your writing. I met Chris Deckard, my manager in classes and monthly mentorships, he's great with story and giving notes. I waited until he wanted to sign me.

Advice: Becoming a professional writer is a business investment. Make a budget and strategically use it. I have 3-4 trusted people read my scripts. Take classes. Getting better is painful. When you feel the pain it normally means you're learning something valuable. Here are books: Story by Robert McKee, Save the Cat, The Writer's Journey by Christoper Vogel, ReWrite by Paul Chitlik, Story Branding by Donald Miller. Follow groups and writers on Facebook and Twitter. Write a lot of scripts. Keep a spreadsheet of ideas, like over a hundred ideas. Pick your best five and pitch them to lots of people. Outline. Outline. Then write it.

You're signed with Fictional Entity. Tell us a little bit about the difference between writing as an unsigned writer vs working with a manager.
The first difference is, I'm part of a team. My work is read, and I get notes. We take my scripts and break them down. I'm learning what not to focus on. I'm continuing to learn. Strategic meetings come up as needed. Having a manager doesn't mean you stop what you were doing and totally rely on them. You always have to self-promote and keep writing. They invest in you and your job is to keep working it.

Who are your writing influences? Whose work do you admire?
My favorite script is Whiplash by Damien Chazelle. It's harmonic with a cadence. Kay Cannon, Leslie Dixon, Seth Rogen, Ava DuVernay are some.

How did you discover Roadmap Writers?
I'm a pre-Roadmap friend of Joey's. He's always been a champion and advisor for me. I haven't met other people like Joey, Dorian, Alex, and others at Roadmap who talk, care and push their clients' writing. I'm forever grateful.

Other than getting signed, what's jazzing you right now?
I'll watch almost anything except for horror, from Go to Glow. I'm binging Succession right now and the Emmy winners. Love Derry Girls, Tall, Anne with an E, Mindhunter, Lore, Planet Earth, Gemstones. I'm a fan of British produced shows and period. Reading a lot of romance novels to find one to option. My favorite movie of all time is Pride and Prejudice with Kiera Knightly, mainly for the cinematography and the music.



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