Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend the Nickelodeon Writer’s Workshop at Newhouse. Karen Kirkland, the Vice President of Outreach and Talent Development came to Newhouse to give a presentation to students who have an interest in pursuing a writing career in the television industry, specifically the Nickelodeon Writer’s Program.
The Nickelodeon Writer’s Program offers aspiring television writers the opportunity to master their craft while writing for some of Nickelodeon’s shows. Writers also get to meet series creators, work in writers’ rooms and receive hands-on experience writing spec scripts and pitching story ideas. This two hour presentation was informational, interactive and inspiring. I learned a lot, but three things stood out to me the most.
Answering the Hard Questions
To start the presentation, Ms. Kirkland asked the audience to consider these two questions:
- What do I want to do?
- What do I need to do in order to get there?
With an industry that is constantly changing and growing everyday, it is difficult as students to know exactly what we want to do, which can be overwhelming. However, during the Writer’s Workshop, Karen really encouraged us to be specific and to focus on the present. She asked us to write down what we want to do right now, and also there specific things we need to do get there. I loved this exercise, because it really made me focus in on why I’m here at Newhouse and what I need to do to achieve my goals in the year ahead of me.
Keys to Pitching
During the presentation, participants were given 10 minutes to write an elevator pitch about themselves. After, students were given the opportunity to pitch themselves in front the entire room and receive feedback from Karen. Some of the biggest things I learned were to be grounded and relaxed, to breathe before you talk and to have a beginning, middle and end. The goal is to focus on getting your message across to the person you’re pitching to. This exercise what super informative, and as a result I feel way more comfortable with the idea of successfully pitching myself.
What’s in your Portfolio?
The last and most important thing I learned from this workshop was to hone your skills. If you want to be a writer, Karen said that you should be constantly writing. Whether it be spec scripts, pilots, short stories or blog posts, writing programs want to see things in our portfolios! I know, at times, it can be difficult to balance sharpening your personal craft with work, class assignments and production exercises, but at the end of the day, this is what you want to do. So, how can you get better if you never do it? Karen suggested creating a schedule that has blocked out time for us to work on our writing and to also seek coverage and feedback on our scripts from professors, film festivals and even Karen herself.
Overall, the Nickelodeon Writer’s Workshop was not just a workshop that was beneficial to writers, but also to any students preparing to break into the film and television industry. I’m so grateful that Newhouse provides us the opportunity to meet amazing people and learn the keys to success that we’ll need after crossing that stage in May.
To learn learn more about Karen Kirkland and the Nick Writer’s Program, check out their website.
-Kayla Skipper is a graduate student studying television, radio and film