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Home » Archives » December 2007 » Your Future Fellowship
[Previous entry: "Come Get More Advice Than You Need!"] [Next entry: "Strike News from A to Izzard"]

12/06/2007: Your Future Fellowship

I sat down with the current Disney TV fellows yesterday over lunch. The Fellowship has been disrupted by the strike, so I'm going to step into the void in my small way to try to replace a bit of the mentorship that the studio had been providing. Over lunch, I learned some interesting things that I want to pass along to those of you hoping to get into the program in the future.

The program seems to have had a better rate of both placing fellows on shows, and in having those placed fellows thrive once they got there than in the earlier years of the program. All ten television fellows were placed on shows, and all of them were positive about the experience they had there. That's simply amazing to me. And -- get this -- almost all the fellows managed to secure representation before the end of the program. Those who did not, are in the process of securing it now. Fantastic.

I also learned that it seems clear that there is every intention of continuing the program next year despite this year's disruption. Interviews for next year's Potentials were held recently, I am told. I hope some of you were in there, Gentle Readers. If not, then the following year must be your lucky year.

The fellows also pointed out something interesting to me that I had not noticed. The participants aren't just diverse in the usual sense of having backgrounds different than a preponderance of other working writers. They are also diverse relative to each other. It really is an impressively wide variety of backgrounds that are represented. (Including a white guy, so be cool, white guys; there's room for you, too.)

So, if you do find yourself in that interview chair, think about the things that set you apart and give you your unique take on the world. And I don't just mean ethnically. If you were raised on a farm, or spent a summer on a fishing boat, or volunteered on skid row, or had an uncle in prison or congress, or grew up on a series of army bases... find that hook, just like you would with a script.

I also learned a bit of new "room" terminology from one of the fellows. There's often a bit of talk in the room about which scene is the one that's going to be cut if it looks like the show is coming in too long, which it always does. It's important to be able to identify this scene early enough so that you can cut it before you spend a lot of time and energy rewriting it. You also need to move any crucial information out of this scene into other, safer, places. (This is also important in spec writing too, of course.) Anyway, the bit of terminology is "on the plastic." The scene that's next in line to be cut, is said to be on the plastic. The associated image is that of a mob guy, called into a meeting, only to find that he's standing on plastic laid down to protect the room. It's kind of a genius phrase, because it not only suggests that the scene is doomed, but also that the scenes around it will be protected from damage. Genius!

The fellows were gracious, welcoming, informative and unfailingly positive. I'm sure more of you will join their ranks every year.

There is also a lot of new strike news, but I'll put that up in a separate post.

Lunch: The "Big and Tasty" burger at McDonald's. I like that it has tomato.


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Walt Disney Writing Fellowship Program
UC Berkeley
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December 2007

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