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March 11, 2020

Top 5 Things We Learned at the Staffing Season Panel

Did you know there's technically no such thing as "staffing season" anymore? That's just some of the insider's scoop that was shared at the Writers Peer Group's A Staffing Season Panel on March 5, 2020 at the Television Academy.

Brianna Mejia
  • Panel

    A Staffing Season Panel, hosted by the Writers Peer Group on March 5, 2020. Moderator Tawnya Benavides-Bhattacharya and panelists (L-R) Luvh Rakhe, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Brandy Rivers, Asher Landay, and Stan Pham.

  • Panel

    Taking questions at the A Staffing Season Panel, hosted by the Writers Peer Group on March 5, 2020.

In a conversation moderated by A Million Little Things writer and producer Tawnya Bhattacharya, panelist and Industry Entertainment Manager Brandy Rivers confirmed that networks are now seeking new writers year-round. Other panelists included Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance writer and producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Vice President of Current Programs at CBS Stan Pham, A.P. Bio writer and producer Luvh Rakhe, and Scripted Programming Manager Asher Landay.

The group shared personal stories, discussed the evolving television industry as well as what showrunners and executives are looking for in a potential hire. In case you missed it, here's what we learned:

1. Your Reps Won't Bite
One of the biggest topics of conversation was the importance of having an authentic relationship with your representative/agent. The more information an agent knows about you personally, the better they can represent you and pitch you more effectively. "Don't be afraid of your reps... because their knowing you and knowing what you like, and knowing what you respond to, and knowing that you were a dog walker — that could help you get a meeting one day," said Rivers. She also advised writers to read scripts and know what they like so they can relay that information to their representatives. This also builds an understanding of style and the ability to better represent and pitch your talents.

2. Connection is Key
While many writers treat first meetings with executives like formal interviews, Javier Grillo-Marxuach says you should treat it more like a first date. Selling yourself and emphasizing your skills is important; however, it is more beneficial to focus on getting to know your interviewer and making meaningful connections. Stan Pham told attendees, "I'd love to get to know you as a person so that I can remember you... help me understand how I can sell you to everyone else — and how I can advocate on your behalf." This is where you bring your unique experiences and connect on a more personal level.

3. Get on Your Level!
Everyone knows networking is important in this industry. But most people look to network with those above them. However, panelists encouraged attendees to get to know people at their same level. Javier Grillo-Marxuach urged attendees to take advantage of resources such as social media and the WGA Staffing and Development Platform. Nowadays, many writers utilize hashtags on Twitter (#WGAstaffingboost) to showcase their scripts, which turns into a networking tool. You never know who will help you land a job in the future; it is important to make these connections now.

4. Be Yourself
As panelists shared their best and worst interview experiences, one thing was clear: the most important thing you can do is be yourself. "If you're in that meeting, and your script is funny, you don't have to be 'on' just be yourself," advised writer and producer Luvh Rakhe. Asher Landay added that genuine excitement and passion are what he looks for in an interview.

5. Write, Write, Write!
Writing on a show is not enough. Panelists encouraged attendees to continue writing their own material whenever possible. Writing personal material helps in shaping your unique voice, point of view and gives your rep more material to submit for the next job. "You need to find what the thing is you want to say to the world and then figure out how many different ways you can say that thing within the rubric of television format — and just keep writing!" said Javier Grillo-Marxuach.

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