By: Sarah Chaisson-Warner
Shore Scripts’ TV Pilot contest discovers the freshest, most exciting writing talent, providing Finalists and Winners of the 1-hour and ½-hour categories a prize package designed to kick-start their screenwriting careers. This year’s prize package for the winners of each category includes a $2,500 cash prize, 5 guaranteed meetings, and mentorship from some of the industry’s most successful professionals. This year’s mentors are Randall Keenan Winston (Scrubs) and Emily Andras (Wynonna Earp.)
What is Industry Mentoring?
Mentoring is one of the most powerful and valuable practices in the entertainment industry. Mentoring can help new writers advance their career trajectory, understand how the industry works, and navigate challenges and opportunities that arise.
If you’re new to this work, the entertainment industry can be confusing and even difficult, and going at it alone rarely produces desirable outcomes. Having someone who knows the ropes and can impart critical guidance and wisdom is invaluable.
A good mentor can:
The Mentoring Experience
Winners of the TV pilot competition will have their scripts read by their assigned mentor, and will have the opportunity to meet with their mentor via phone or Zoom to talk more about their project. This meeting is an opportunity for both mentor and mentee to dive more deeply into the story. Randall and Emily will discuss with the winners the individual strengths and weaknesses of their script and offer concrete suggestions for improvements.
Getting feedback from industry professionals with experience working on major network projects offers a unique opportunity for an emerging screenwriter to revisit and review their script.
Randall’s approach emphasizes the need for mentees to be willing to hear feedback and embrace it with an open mind. “I think it is critical that the mentoring recognizes the fluidness of production,” Randall advises.
“[It’s important] to not get too precious and to learn that changing something is not a rejection of the work. There is a difference in solving story versus character versus production issues. It will inform what hill to die on.” – Randall Keenan Winston
Randall’s approach also focuses on the value of proactive problem-solving, something he wishes he had been advised on early in his own career. “So much is about problem solving – you carry everything you learned on the last job or the last 5, 10 jobs into the next one. Offer yourself and solutions – that is how you get immersed,” he says.
Randall also emphasizes the value of lifelong mentoring, rather than mentoring simply at the onset of one’s career. Mentors can support your learning and development at any point in your career.
“I think I am always finding mentors. There are so many colleagues that have contributed to how I navigate this business and I am always excited to work with or meet smart talented people. If I stop looking and growing that’s when I think I’m dead.” – Randall Keenan Winston
Randall’s primary mentor has been Gary David Goldberg. Goldberg was a writer and producer for both television and film, best known for his work on the hit television series Family Ties and Spin City, and his semi-autobiographical series Brooklyn Bridge. “I think of him in many ways as my mentor in how I saw him run his business. He kept it people first and always commented on how lucky we are.”
Winning writers will also have the opportunity to discuss their career aspirations with their assigned mentors. Mentors will help winners think through tactics and strategies for taking their next steps in the entertainment industry and brainstorm with them where their winning pilot could be best placed – with a manager, agent, and/or certain production companies.
Winning writers and their mentors will also have the chance to discuss and agree on how the mentor relationship may continue after their initial meeting.
Shore Scripts Mentors
Finding and making connections with experienced and successful industry pros (not to mention finding someone who has the time and is willing to mentor new talent) can be difficult.
This is why Shore Scripts has chosen to leverage its long-standing and extensive relationships with Producers, Managers, and Agents to bring about this new opportunity for emerging screenwriters. Our two TV pilot mentors bring significant industry experience, an eye for supporting new talent, and a deep interest in advancing the careers of exciting new writers. We also have mentorships available in our Feature Contest and Short Film Fund too!
Randall Winston (½-hour pilot) is the producer of many beloved comedy series, including Scrubs and Cougar Town. He has worked with entertainment icons such as Michael J. Fox and Courteney Cox. Randall is currently serving as Executive Producer and Director on American Housewife and Mixed-Ish, both on ABC. He was nominated for an Emmy in both 2005 and 2006 for Scrubs.
Randall proudly served as a board member of Ohio University and the Lupus Foundation of America and has served as a mentor and Director for The International Screenwriters Association and GLAAD.
Emily Andras (1-hour pilot) is a television producer and writer, best known for creating the television series Wynonna Earp. She also served as Executive Producer and showrunner of Lost Girl (seasons 3 and 4). Prior to Lost Girl, she served on Instant Star as showrunner and Executive Producer. She was also a writer and consulting producer on Killjoys during its development and first season.
Emily graduated from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and received her Bachelor of Applied Arts (Radio and Television) from the RTA School of Media at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario.
Bringing the female first, queer-positive supernatural western series Wynonna Earp to the screen was a breakthrough moment for Emily who wanted to provide pure entertainment through original genre storytelling and also to use genre to ask some big questions. Emily’s role on the show evolved over the five seasons and it gave her an even greater appreciation of the community and collaboration required to reach the heights of the industry.
“Showrunning and creating and writing in television, it’s collaborative and it’s a compromise all the time, and you can’t be a bully and you can’t be a monster about it. If you want to make great TV, you hire the best people you can. You need to let them do their jobs alongside you, and they will lift you up too.” – Emily Andras
Emily is excited to work with the winner of the TV Pilot 1-hour contest and share the benefit of her experience.
After 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 sci-fi and a family Christmas script. Her script, Serafina Stavinovna, was placed in “The Next 100” in the 2021 Nicholl Fellowship Competition.
Don’t miss a deadline. Download our Contest Calendar!