By: Laura Huie
Looking to get traction with your television pilot? Our TV Pilot contest takes submissions for 1-Hour and ½-hour pilots for limited, episodic, and anthology series.
Our contest has a proven track record of helping emerging writers achieve their goals of becoming full-time working TV writers in the U.S. & abroad. Through our TV Pilot contest, writers have gained representation and gone on to write or get staffed on shows for Netflix, HBO, HULU, Universal, SYFY, FOX, Sony, SkyTV, Peacock, and others.
One of the reasons why our contest launches screenwriting careers is the ongoing support and development we offer our Winners and Finalists after the contest. Striking while the iron is hot is vital to get the most from your contest placement, but it helps if experienced industry professionals are on hand to talk with you about your options and potential next steps. That is why our TV Pilot and Feature Contests each have Industry Leads.
In addition to our Writers Development Program, each contest’s Winners will have the call with an industry specialist with proven experience in the contest format. Someone who knows what it is like to succeed in the industry and can relate to a writer who wants to start writing professionally.
This year our 1-Hour and ½-Hour TV Pilot Winners will be offered a call with Sean Charles, Development & Production Manager at AMC Networks. This is a huge opportunity for our winners to discuss how to navigate the industry and make informed decisions on how to develop a career as a writer with a seasoned professional.
Sean describes himself as a multifaceted development and production storyteller with a strong passion for telling diverse and inclusive narratives. He is responsible for producing and developing all original content for the streaming service, in addition to assisting in acquisitions and scheduling. Sean most recently worked in Corporate Communications as a production coordinator, working on all cross-branding and marketing assets across internal and external communications from the Sundance Film Festival to offsite meetings. He also formed and led the inaugural Black employee resource group Vested Interest in Black Employees (V.I.B.E) from 2018 through 2021 as Co-Chair.
We sat down with Sean to learn more about his story and his work at ALLBLK AMC.
Sean: I’ve always been a huge fan of television. I think that’s really where it started. Originally, my interest stemmed from films. I loved movies growing up. And funny enough, as TV became more popular so did my interest in TV. What really drew my passion were these grander and bigger-than-life stories that were just so personal yet so universal. And I just wanted to be part of that. I didn’t know where to start or what way or where to go at first. I didn’t have any sort of examples or even anyone in my family or friends who were involved in the industry, so it was a lot of figuring it out on my own. The good thing is that I grew up in New York City, so having access to that stuff isn’t as difficult as it can be in other areas, but it was still a stretch for me. But [film and television] has always been my interest—just the storytelling, the music, the shots, everything.
Question: What are some of your favorite movies growing up that bring you back to that feeling of nostalgia?
Sean: That’s a good question. It’s funny because my parents, specifically my mother, love television and film, which is why I watched so much of it. Some of my overall favorite films are “Love Jones” and “Love and Basketball.” There are also some indie movies; one’s called “I Like It Like That” about this Hispanic couple in the Bronx raising their family. They’re young parents that are just trying to make it and I loved it. I watched a bunch of the other classics for sure, including a bunch of Disney movies and Cartoon Network.
Question: I’d love to know more about ALLBLK and the importance of having a streaming service that’s inclusively and unapologetically made by and for Black creators. Can you tell me more about your involvement?
Sean: So I joined the team at the top of 2022 officially, but I’ve known ALLBLK since they were acquired by AMC Networks in 2018. At that time, they were UMC which is Urban Movie Channel. It’s been so great having a space that is fully immersed in the culture and the context of our stories. One of the things we often talk about is where most networks, streamers, or even cable networks have to go wide. For instance, they’ll have a swim lane for a specific month or for a certain series, but at ALLBLK we can go deeper.
I think it’s a special thing that we get to do. We know there are a lot of Black stories, but we get to really dive deeper and get into these worlds. And we can go beyond having just the one Black drama—we can have a dramedy, comedy, horror/slasher film, thriller, and suspense. We can play in all these different spaces to show the spectrum that we exist within, including Black body types, and hair textures, and to know that we’re not just going to be represented on screen but also behind the scenes. Many of the producers we work with are Black and People of Color which is why it’s sort of like a utopia. I mean I’m proud and happy to say a lot of times that ALLBLK is actually all Black.
Question: What excites you or what are you looking for when choosing a project to develop or produce?
Sean: Outside the themes, our audience, and knowing what they gravitate towards, I think getting a project that truly is interesting. For me, what makes a really good story or pitch is the level of detail. When a writer establishes a character and the world that we’re going to be in, it’s easy to tell if the person has a good understanding of what this person’s triggers are, what the stakes are, as well as capture the things that we know we need for our demographic which is predominantly African American women.
It’s all about those nuances, those stakes, those lovably flawed characters, and that you know who you are and who your audience is. Whether or not it’s a project for us at ALLBLK, I think is the less important piece of it. I think it’s just about making a good project. Oftentimes people can get in their minds to write for a certain network or studio with a specific mandate. But I think that’s just what they want and what they’re looking for. That doesn’t mean that’s what you should provide them. I believe that you should do what you do well. And you’ll find the right home as you go through it. Because at the end of the day, good stories are good stories. -Sean Charles
Question: What advice do you have for emerging writers?
Sean: I know this isn’t the easiest, but if you love [the project] enough, even when everyone is saying no, make it yourself, if you can. Because sometimes people can’t see the vision. That’s a real thing. If you can and are comfortable with making a digital series or a short film, submit it to a few places—see what works. Because people in development are constantly looking online in addition to working on pitches that we’re getting. We’re also looking for what’s out there. What are people responding to that’s going viral? What podcasts are people listening to? What’s new on TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat? There are so many projects that people don’t know that they start off that way. I’m a huge believer in investing and betting on yourself, and I know it’s tricky because no one wants to make things without a return. But it’s definitely a balance. I don’t think you lose anything by putting your story out there.
GET YOUR STORY OUT THERE
Don’t miss out on the chance to get industry guidance from Sean, as well as continued support and script circulation from our Writer Development Team. And not to mention, $2,500 in cash to help further your writing career.
Click here to learn more and submit your TV script to our 2023 TV Pilot Competition. You got this!
SHORE SCRIPTS & THE WGA STRIKE
In regard to the current WGA strike, you may be wondering how Shore Scripts plans to proceed with our script circulation and contests during this time. Here’s what you should know:
We fully support the strike. Our goal hasn’t changed. We are still here for emerging screenwriters and filmmakers, supporting you as you develop your work and take the next steps in your screenwriting careers.
Many of our contests offer script circulation and industry meetings as prizes, and this is our approach:
- Winners and Finalists of this year’s TV Pilot Contest will receive their invitation to join our Writer Development Program (WDP) in November 2023.
- We will not circulate scripts or arrange meetings directly with struck companies for the period of the strike.
- We never circulate a script without first asking for permission from the writer(s).
- Script circulation is not the only outcome of the WDP – you may wish to work on other aspects of your career and script development with the team.
- Any script circulation offered as a prize for any of our contests can be deferred at the writer(s) request.
- We are always listening and reacting to changes and challenges in the industry so that we can create the best opportunities for our writers.
We support the WGA and wish for a swift resolution to the strike, so writers can get back to doing what they love best—writing. And so that all writers can share in the just rewards for their creativity and important work.
Laura Huie is an experienced 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 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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