interview: Meghan Pleticha, writers’ assistant Silicon Valley

I met Meghan at a mixer, and then we ended up in the same writers group for a couple years!  Alex already did a great interview with her on his blog, so definitely check that out. I had some questions about her time on Married and Silicon Valley. She’s also making a web series, and I had some questions about that process since I’ve been thinking about making one for a while now. I just donated to her Kickstarter at www.weremakingapodcast.com. There’s only a couple days left, so check it out. One of the perks involves a nude bodysuit. You can follow her on Twitter @MeghanPleticha.
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How different were the writers’ rooms in Married and Silicon Valley? Were your responsibilities different?

I worked as both the Writers Assistant and Script Coordinator on both shows, so my responsibilities were the same, although Silicon Valley has more of everything – more clearances, more room notes, more serialized stories to track, etc. It’s all good, though. I’ve learned a lot in both rooms, and pretty much feel like a lucky asshole all the time.

Do you know how the writing staff of either show was put together? What made one writer get hired over another?

Literally no idea. If you find out please let me know so I can get staffed.

Has your writing process changed at all since you’ve become a writers’ assistant / script coordinator?
Not especially. My outlines have gotten more detailed (who knows though if that’s from seeing room outlines or just wanting to put off writing as long as possible), but the basic process is still the same. I’ve definitely benefited from watching writers far more experienced than myself work through story and jokes, and I’ve learned more how to write regardless of whether I’m in the right head space – work gets busy, write when you can!

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my new pilot

While I’m taking meetings and waiting to see what happens with staffing, I started writing a new pilot. The last pilot I wrote was a family sitcom, so I wanted to write a workplace comedy to round out my portfolio.

I came up with some loglines and sent them to my agent. I thought he’d hate the idea I wanted to do the most because it’s high concept, but he actually liked the idea!

Next I wrote up a 2 page concept sheet detailing the world and the characters of the show, which he also liked. Great, so I had the green light to move forward.

I want to finish my pilot around the end of June. Here’s my schedule to go from concept sheet to finished script:

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interview: Ty Freer, Final Draft Big Break Winner

I met Ty when we were in the same writing group, along with Beau and a few others. He’s placed in a bunch of stuff, and then he won Final Draft, which made me super happy. Follow Ty on Twitter @TyFreer, on Instagram @Ty.Freer or check out his truly terrible artwork at tyrribleart.tumblr.com.

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What’s your writing background?

This is usually the most boring part. So I’ll spice it up by answering with Buzzfeed-like bullet points without the fun of an accompanying Buzzfeed-like gif!

  • Loved writing dumb, funny stories in English class. Remember one called “The Merce-Granny” about a grandmother/Irish mercenary. I am dumb.
  • Wrote movie reviews for high school paper. Gave “Phantom Menace” an A. Like I said, I am dumb.
  • Wrote David Letterman-themed valedictorian speech entitled “The Top Ten Things To Get From My Speech.”
  • Wrote for sports section for short time at Purdue during Kyle Orton era. We went 6-5 a lot.
  • Wrote for LA Weekly-style magazine in Champaign, IL while at U of Illinois. Favorite story was first-person account playing Belegarth with a field of super competitive uber-nerds.
  • Started copywriting after graduating from grad school. Projects include work for NBDL (the NBA’s minor league), Riot Games, and Cinedigm. Also weird stuff like a lawn treatment company and a chain of fitness centers I accidentally offended and never heard from again. I continue to copywrite.
  • Start writing TV specs while living in Austin. Wrote two terrible ones. Fear my computer’s hacking and their eventual public release.
  • 2011, move to LA to get into TV. Wife agrees, because she’s the best. Shortly thereafter, named a Finalist in the Nickelodeon TV Writing Fellowship. Don’t get in.
  • 2012, named a Semi-Finalist in the NBC Writers’ on the Verge program. Don’t get in.
  • 2014, again named a Semi-Finalist in the NBC Writers’ on the Verge program… and got in! Just kidding. Don’t get in. Strike three.
  • 2015, won Best Half Hour Pilot in the Final Draft Big Break contest. Confetti falls. Tears dramatically roll down cheek. “We Are The Champions” plays. FADE TO BLACK.

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meetings!

AGENTED
So I have an agent now! The first thing my agent did was send me a bunch of pilots that had been picked up. He told me to read them and we’d strategize which shows to send me out for.

There are a lot of pilots. I had 35 broadcast comedy scripts, to be exact. I started by reviewing the pilot grid, which is this this huge spreadsheet of information that includes the pilot title, genre, network, network exec, studio, production company, writers, and logline.

I read the scripts depending on which ones had the most interesting loglines, and which ones thought I might be a good fit for. My sample is a single camera network family sitcom, so I started with ones that had a similar tone. My agent gave me his thoughts as well on which pilots I should read.

I updated my agent as I read them, and told him which ones were my favorites, which ones I liked, and which ones I wasn’t really connecting with.

My agent sent my pilot out to people. A couple people read it and liked it, and wanted to meet me. Exciting!

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You guys, it finally happened. I got an agent!

I’m repped by Kaplan Stahler! I don’t want to go into detail, but it involves a meeting at ICM last August, leaving a day job, a stock trade on Apple quarterly earnings, and a certain reader of this blog. Seriously, it’s crazy how it happened, but luckily, I was ready and had my script ready when the opportunity came, and now I have an agent!

I have to thank all my writer friends who gave me notes on my pilot, my mentor Kourtney Kang, and Karin and everyone at CAAM.

Since I got signed earlier this month, I’ve been reading a bunch of pilots, and brainstorming ideas for new pilots to write. Hopefully I’ll get meetings, go out for staffing season, and get a job writing on a show!

writing recap of 2014, goals for 2015

Oh my god, I haven’t posted in so long! A lot has happened, so let me try to catch up.

At the midpoint of the year, the end of June 2014, I was feeling pretty good about things. I was in the CAAM Fellowship, and I was so fortunate to get an amazing mentor in Kourtney Kang. My day job was stable, and I was working on a new pilot.

I’ve continued to teach writing online. I love it!  I got to meet so many wonderful, talented people. Several of them did very well with their scripts, including placing in Scriptapalooza, the Austin Film Festival, and the CBS Writers Mentoring Program.

In August, I had a meeting with some agents at ICM. They had read my pilot, and they were nice to enough to chat with me. It was just an introductory meeting, but they said they liked my writing, and would read the next thing I wrote. They said these days, you need multiple pilots. One sample isn’t good enough. I pitched them the pilot I was working on, and they seemed to like the concept. I asked when would be a good time to send them something by. They said Dec, or Jan at the latest.

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2014 writing program notifications

*updated 10/07/14

Here’s my annual writing program post. If you hear of any updates, please let me know. Good luck, everyone!

WRITING PROGRAMS

  • Nickelodeon
    Finalists have been announced on their Facebook page.
  • WB
    The writers have been announced on their Facebook page.
  • CBS
    I think the writers were chosen. I know of at least one writing duo who got in! Also, one of my students from my workshop, and a writer I worked with 1 on 1 both made semifinalist in CBS! Congrats to both of them!
  • NBC
    My friend Stephanie from my writers’ group got in the program! Here’s the list of the writers who made it in: https://www.facebook.com/writersontheverge
  • ABC/Disney
    They said on their Facebook page they’re hoping to contact semifinalists before Thanksgiving.
  • Sundance Episodic Story Lab
    10 fellows were chosen in the inaugural program. A huge congrats to my friend Nick for getting in!

CONTESTS

  • NYTVF
    ?
  • Austin
    Congratulations to 6 of my students who made it to the 2nd round with the specs they wrote in my workshop (Jay, Amanda, April, Shannon, Lak, and Jack), plus 3 more (Prashant, Paul, and Bernard) who made it with scripts they wrote after my workshop! The full list of Second Rounders and Semifinalists is on their site.
  • Scriptapalooza
    Congrats to my students April (finalist) and David (semifinalist) for placing in Scriptapalooza with their specs!
  • Slamdance
    Quarterfinalists have been announced on their site. Congrats to my friends Boey and Erika for placing with their pilot!