Our Writer Development Manager Ajit Samra

Our Writer Development Manager Ajit Samra has worked with HBO, BET, PBS, and Warner Media. Find out how he opens the gates of the industry for our writers.

By Sarah Chaisson-Warner.

 

HBO. BET. FX. PBS. Warner Media. Ajit Samra has worked for some of the biggest networks in the world, and now he joins Shore Scripts as our new Writer Development Program Manager!

All About Ajit

Ajit has spent years supporting and nurturing creative talent at some of the world’s biggest and best networks producing exciting content. But his first calling to the industry came as a child when he began exploring his creative side by writing and performing in plays in his backyard.

As he grew older, he joined the film club at his high school and began exploring film as a medium for sharing and telling stories. Influenced by some of the biggest hits of the 2000s, Ajit particularly enjoyed dystopian-era films to the likes of The Hunger Games franchise and Divergent. After watching a film, he found himself constantly researching the people who created it and learning more about the various creative careers within the entertainment industry.

At the University of Maryland, he continued to embrace his love of the creative arts and pursued a degree in film studies. His first foray into the world of entertainment came after he met a BET network executive who offered him the chance to work with her on a series of events in Washington DC. Ajit provided production support on multiple events, which led to a job at the network.

From there, he landed coveted positions at FX, PBS, and HBO. At HBO, he had the opportunity to lead talent pipeline programs, supporting promising writers and directors while also overseeing the development of pilot scripts with a focus on promoting a strong representation of BIPOC talent in Warner Media productions.

A Punjabi American, Ajit remains committed to exploring and amplifying unique narratives, whether by championing others’ stories or crafting his own. “I love storytelling,” he says. “I enjoy reading people’s stories. And I enjoy observing people. I think that’s where it really started for me. I’m a curious person.”

The Writer Development Program

With a desire to support writers’ creative journeys, Ajit is a natural fit to lead Shore Scripts’ successful Writer Development Program. Unlike other contests where a writer’s experience ends with the email announcing placement, Ajit works directly with our contest winners and finalists to help prepare them and their work before connecting them to our exclusive industry roster of agents, managers, producers, and directors.

As the program’s Manager, Ajit focuses his work with writers in four areas:

• Getting to know the writer

• Polishing the script

• Preparing for general meetings

• Connecting writers to industry professionals

The combination of these four areas is what makes our program not only unique but effective – in an industry that is particularly known for being difficult to break into.

Getting to Know the Writer

Developing a strong relationship with our writers is integral to learning how to best assist them in their next step. Ajit notes that each writer entering the Writer Development Program comes in at a different place in their career – some writers have been staffed on television shows before, while other writers may just be starting out.

“I’m taking an individual approach to everyone’s writing journey because not everyone is in the same spot,” he says. To begin, Ajit schedules an in-depth one-on-one consultation with each writer to better understand where they are in their journey, their anticipated goals, and any challenges or opportunities they are currently facing. This one-on-one conversation is critical for creating a roadmap to support the writer’s success.

“First thing, I want to get to know you. Where are you on your journey? What are your goals? What do you like to write? I chat with them about their creative writing journey and help them build a plan.”- Ajit Samra, Writer Development Manager | Shore Scripts

Coaching is also a staple of Ajit’s approach – sometimes writers, particularly those who might be early in their career, aren’t always sure which direction to go after placing in a contest. Ajit draws on his years of experience pipelining new talent to help writers create an authentic and achievable plan for themselves and their work.

Polishing the Script

After Ajit has helped the writer build a plan for success, he then focuses on polishing their script. Working hand in hand with writers to bring their scripts to the next level, Ajit draws on his years in creative development at some of the top networks in the world.

The point, he says, is to make sure the script is in the best possible shape before connecting the writer and their project to a potential manager or producer. “There’s often a great story in what they wrote,” he says. “But some of it might need some tweaking.”

His approach to strengthening and polishing a script is to first start by asking questions. “I’ll often say, ‘This is a really interesting point in your script, and I want to know what you were trying to get at.’ I’ll ask what their intention is for a specific scene.” Once Ajit understands the writer’s intention, he then gives an in-depth analysis to help the writer strengthen their script.

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Preparing for General Meetings

Being prepared for a general meeting (industry insiders refer to it simply as a “general”) is critical for making connections in the industry and successfully getting your work produced. Through the Writer Development Program, Ajit works intensively with writers to help them prepare for upcoming general meetings, craft the best pitch possible, and manage expectations.

Navigating a general meeting can be challenging, especially if you’re not prepared. Research is key, Ajit says. It’s important to know as much about the people and the company that you’re meeting with as possible. Not only will it demonstrate to the industry professional that you’re interested in them and their work, but it will help you craft an effective pitch for why you are a good fit for their company.

Not only should you know the company, but it’s important, he says, to also know yourself. “Industry professionals want to know who you are and what drives you. What’s your story? They want your unique voice to come through and they want to see it in your script as well.”

To this end, Ajit helps writers in the Writer Development Program create an “elevator pitch” about themselves. “When you speak to a producer or a creative executive, they want to know who you are as a writer,” he says. “A lot of people need help crafting that concise paragraph about themselves and what they bring to this work.”

Connecting Writers to Industry Professionals

Our ability to connect writers to industry professionals sets Shore Scripts apart from other contests. Many screenplay contests, if they send your work out at all, will often send out a mass email of all projects without any context. These are typically ignored by the industry.

At Shore Scripts, we take a more careful and curated approach – we work with writers over time, helping them grow as a screenwriter, building towards a long-lasting, sustainable career. Shore Scripts has worked diligently over the last 11 years to forge relationships with over 300 agents, managers, producers, and directors – all looking to work with new and exciting screenwriting talent.


To best connect industry roster members with new and exciting content, Ajit works individually with each industry roster member to gain a better understanding of what they are interested in and looking for, ensuring that he’s sending the right projects to the right people at the right time.


An important part of his work, he says, and the success of the Writer Development Program, is building trust with entertainment professionals. By continuously engaging with industry professionals and connecting them with exciting and relevant content, Ajit continues to build the kind of trust it takes to forge new relationships, grow existing ones, and ensure writers continue to benefit from the program. Success stories from the Writer Development Program include –

  • Mrs. and Mr. Thomas – we connected them and their winning feature script, THE ASSESSMENT, to Oscar-nominated producer Stephen Woolley. Starring Alicia Vikander and Elizabeth Olsen, the film went into production this year and is due to be released in 2024.
  • Louis Ackerman – we connected Louis and his script, FLESH AND BLOOD, to Patrick Lussier and Blumhouse. Blumhouse went on to produce the film. FLESH AND BLOOD is now streaming on HULU, and stars Diana Silvers and Dermot Mulroney.
  • Beth Curry – as our feature winner, we introduced her to several agents, including Elevate Entertainment, whom she ultimately signed with. Her winning feature, MOONFLOWER, has been picked up by Oscar-nominated producer Todd Black.
  • Jonny King – Shore attached Emmy-winning director Ben Tricklebank to Jonny’s feature-winning screenplay LANDS END. Starcross Entertainment is now on board to produce the feature film.

Learn More

Interested in reading some of the Success Stories from our Writer Development Program? Click Here!

Interested in learning more about our Writer Development Program? Click Here!


Sarah Chaisson-WarnerAfter 15 years of working in state and national politics, Sarah Chaisson-Warner is moving into the entertainment industry. As the former Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Athena Magazine for Girls, Sarah is now focusing her passion for creative arts through screenwriting. Many of her feature-length scripts focus on the often unseen experiences of gay women throughout American History, and she is also currently writing a sci-fi TV series and a family Christmas script.

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