He loves me, he loves me not. Do you sometimes feel very optimistic and at other times pessimistic when you ask yourself if you have what it takes to make it as a writer and/or producer for TV and film in today’s crazy world of media? With no previous experience in the business other than my own productions, whatever the odds may be for a Latino woman, I will never stop writing, improving my writing or trying to sell my writing and producing as many works as I can with whatever funds I can get a hold of. At the end of the day, even if I never sell a script, novel, or show, I’d still be a writer and filmmaker, and there is tremendous satisfaction in doing what you like. Writing comes from my soul, so if it is my purpose in life then these stories will find their way to the masses that turn to the screen for entertainment and enlightenment, sooner or later.
The Grim Stats talk fast. Of course, we all know the odds are against women in film. According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, in 2015 women comprised 19% of all directors, writers, producers and executive producers, editors and cinematographers working on the top 250 grossing films. San Diego University’s study, conducted by Martha Lauzen and her team, shows that the industry is resistant to change as we can see by contrasting the above figure to that of 17% in 1998. In more than a decade there has only been a two percent increase in the number of females in behind the scenes roles. Apparently, women have not made much of an incursion in breaking into film and television.
But the number of scripted series is at an all time high. The number of scripted television shows being produced, however, has increased tremendously in the last few years as we can all tell by the number of shows available on different networks and online. There were 211 scripted shows in television in 2011 compared to 409 in 2015. The number of opportunities for new writers has doubled in 4 years. If this trend continues, even if it slows down, there will definitely be a higher demand for writers in the next year or so. Just how many of those writers will be Latino women is another story. According to a new report put out by the WGA West, the number of Latino writers grew from 1.1% in 1999 to 4.0 percent in 2012. This report did not specify what percentage of these were female writers. We can conclude, according to the stats, that the percentage of new writers entering the workforce in these new original series has been about 19 percent and that 4 percent or less could be Latinos.
What you can do. Toss out stats and rely on your own genius -your ability to tell a story and pitch it. After learning and practicing as much writing as possible, concentrate on the pitching. Your movies or series pilots have been written, you have 5 seasons mapped out for the series, your outlines and coverages are in place, you have a sample of the merchandise that could be sold along with the film or show with the presentation, the numbers in social media hits, and if relevant, another art form such as a comic book, novel or both may go along with your film or series pitch. Make sure it is character driven, low budget (not many FX), and that the millennials will like it. The millennials include children born between 1982 and 2002 and will replace the baby boomers generation. They are the first group in which the Hispanics/Latinos will be the predominant minority.
Be Pitch Ready. Pitching is an art form. I recently had a chance to practice. Here is what I learned. First, don’t be dramatic. You may be very enthusiastic about your project but your emotions should never surface. Keep cool and pragmatic. Have a cheat sheet ready for the pitch that lasts less than the amount of time allotted. Keep it simple stupid and answer as many questions as possible without going overboard. Start with the title and format. Next, focus on the hero or heroine in your story. What is the hero’s quest and what are the obstacles on the way? How does the hero overcome the obstacles, what is the darkest hour and how is the problem solved? This is basic story structure –Beginning, Middle and End. Time and videotape yourself and relax into it. Be ready for an elevator pitch, one, three and five minutes long. Ask your friends to give you feedback. Finally, post your pitches on the web, make sure your stuff is copyrighted and registered. Enter as many film fests and competitions as possible. It’s a matter of numbers. Play the game. The more chances you take the more ready you’ll be and the greater your probabilities. Don’t forget to smile, breathe and do it again!
Remember you must fail in order to succeed. Thanking Miami Film and Media Market for the opportunity to pitch to a stellar panel. Sorry I scared the Hollywood writer, I was just being myself. I guess I am Latin fiery and not apologizing. But next time, I will have a better crafted elevator pitch. I do think that if there are 409 original series produced there will be more than 15 show runners in the USA and although it is a difficult job, it is not more difficult than staging a play in front of cameras, after all.