An Interview with our 2023 Script Development Fund Winner Tia Devlin

By: Laura Huie

 

Tia Devlin is a New York-based screenwriter, supervising producer, and Grand Prize Winner in our 2023 Script Development Fund. Tia entered the fund with her half-hour television pilot UNHIREABLE. The script tells the story of a recently widowed woman on the verge of turning fifty who is being pushed out of the video production business by the new guard.

 

Keep reading to learn more about what inspired Tia to write her script, and how Shore’s Development Fund has helped her thus far.

 

The Beginning

 

Tia has always had a passion for writing. Since childhood, she often found solace in creating characters and narratives. But despite studying writing throughout college, Tia didn’t consider it a viable career path initially. Instead, she ventured into the tennis industry, influenced by familial ties.

 

It wasn’t until she reached her thirties that she decided to pursue her true passion. Leaving her job behind, she delved into production, which involved a significant amount of writing, particularly in docuseries, reality shows, and magazine programs. Then, in the early 2000s came the pivotal moment that ignited her determination to pursue screenwriting.

 

Reflecting on her high school experience playing lacrosse, where her team reached the state championships, she felt inspired to write an ’80s-themed screenplay based on those memories. Although it garnered initial attention, the project was put on hold. Nonetheless, the recognition she received fueled her belief that she was on the right path.

 

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What Inspired Her TV Pilot

 

Rooted in her lifelong passion for storytelling, Tia acknowledged that her desire to create Unhireable stemmed from a deeply personal place. Drawing from her own experiences navigating the complexities of the job market and societal expectations, she wanted to explore themes of identity, resilience, and the pursuit of authenticity.

 

Tia also highlighted the significance of her background in production, which provided her with invaluable insights into the intricacies of crafting compelling narratives for the screen. It was during this time that she witnessed firsthand the power of storytelling to provoke thought and evoke emotion, further fueling her determination to bring Unhireable to life.

 

Driven by her unwavering commitment to authenticity and her belief in the transformative power of storytelling, Tia poured her heart and soul into Unhireable. In doing so, she not only is fulfilling her creative aspirations but also paving the way for important conversations about representation and ageism in the industry.

 

“I became a PA later in life, so my resume looks like I’m probably 10 years younger than I am. So I was searching for jobs and I got this email that I was a perfect fit. And then I went in and they were like, ‘Oh, I’m sorry. The job isn’t ready yet.’ It was such a weird thing. I didn’t realize it until I left that I had the realization ‘Oh shit, I’m old.’ In all businesses, there’s ageism, and it’s society telling you that you’re irrelevant.”

 

What The Writing Experience Has Been Like

 

Tia has found writing this TV pilot to be a cathartic experience, particularly in incorporating personal elements, such as bringing her mother into the narrative. However, she acknowledged there were challenges she had to face, having never written a TV pilot before. Despite not having a formal education in the field, Tia’s commitment to improvement shone through as she delved into books, seminars, and previous screenplay writing.

 

Crafting a TV pilot proved to be a daunting task, requiring succinct storytelling while infusing humor throughout. As with many writers, Tia is balancing the line between what is genuinely funny and what feels overly forced. Translating her natural wit onto the page posed its own set of challenges, yet she remained determined to ensure the humor was authentic and relatable to audiences.

 

“It’s hard to know what’s funny to me and what seems funny to an audience. With my delivery and how I am in real life, it feels easy, but putting it in a script and making sure it’s translatable and funny is quite hard.”

 

Submitting to the Development Fund

 

Tia had previously won success in other contests with her animated feature, Otter Madness. More specifically, she enjoyed how contests facilitated constructive feedback, and the validation she received for Otter Madness was invaluable, marking a turning point in her journey.

 

Encouraged by this reception, Tia’s interest was piqued when Coverfly recommended Shore Scripts as a promising contest. Tia discovered our Development Fund just moments before the final deadline and despite the time crunch, Tia devoted herself to submitting entries for two features and a TV pilot.

 

Tia’s leap of faith paid off, as she ended up being the Grand Prize Winner of last year’s fund.

 

Working with Our Head of Development

 

The main prize for writers who place first or second in our Script Development Fund is a year of script development with our Head of Education and Script Development, Lee Hamilton.

“Lee has really been nurturing and has let me have my own process. There is a calm and a confidence I get from her that makes me feel like ‘Yes we will get this right. We’ll put the work in and get there.’ It’s very encouraging to me.” 

 

One significant lesson Tia learned from Lee was the necessity of balancing humor with storytelling. Lee’s guidance prompted Tia to reassess each scene, questioning its relevance to the overarching narrative. Despite the difficulty of letting go of cherished moments that didn’t serve the story, Tia understood the importance of maintaining narrative cohesion. Lee’s feedback also prompted Tia to deepen her secondary characters, ensuring they served more than just as sounding boards for the protagonist.

 

 

 

Advice to Other Emerging Writers

 

We asked Tia if she had a piece of advice that she would give to other emerging writers, this is what she had to say:

 

“This is such a cliche, but never give up. I’m 56, and I’m just now following my dream. So I think never giving up, especially if you get any encouragement. And I think surrounding yourself with people that nurture you and lift you up is important.”

 

Submit Your Script to the 2024 Script Development Fund!

 

Find the precious time needed to not only finish your screenplay but to also get support to craft your very best story. Our Cash Prizes will allow you to go on a writer’s retreat, take time off work, find a babysitter, or spend in any other way that our Winners see fit to help them find the time to write.

 

On top of that, our Head of Education and Script Development is there to support you with script development on your screenplay every step of the way for 12 months. That time, and our expert championing you and your work, will help you not only finish your screenplay but allow you to write your best piece of work ever.

 

Plus, you only have to submit a treatment or the first ten pages of a script! Learn more about our Script Development fund here.

 


Laura Huie is a writer and editor involved in comedy-drama screenwriting, fiction editing, and full-time marketing copy. Laura is also a freelance article writer for Shore Scripts and has worked with Script Pipeline on their live Symposium series. She is one-half of the screenwriting duo, Bloom & Huie. Together, they have written multiple television series as well as a feature-length film. Their mission is to write honest and witty female stories wrapped up in unbelievable worlds.

 

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