×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Music city meets reality

Nashville Screenwriting Conference 2012

It’s hard out there for a screenwriter. The spec market is a shadow of its former self, shrinking studio development slates mean drastically less rewrite work, and those writers who manage to win jobs often earn a fraction of their former quotes.

In this talent-glutted market, the Nashville Screenwriting Conference has some surprising advice for frustrated writers: Try reality television.

In a panel called “The Reality of Reality Television: What Works and Why,” four non-fiction TV veterans will review the ins and outs of working in the medium.

But wait a second: Isn’t reality TV, by definition, unscripted?

Yes and no, says panelist Sheila Conlin, the veteran television producer whose credits include the upcoming Fox reality show, “Take Me Out.”

“As far as people writing pages every day for people to say, that’s not happening,” Conlin says. “We’re not writing scripts. But the overall show has a structure.”

And, as with features and scripted television, that narrative structure doesn’t happen by accident. “The writing is definitely happening in setting the outline and then guiding it,” Conlin says. The producers (they’re not called writers) “create the show, develop the show, and then lay out the structure of the show. We do follow an outline.”

Still, traditional scriptwriters don’t hold reality television in the highest regard. As veteran showrunner Ken Sanzel (“Numbers,” “NYC 22”) puts it: “Writers want to tell compelling stories. I don’t know one who thinks that the best medium to achieve those is reality TV.”

Conlin concedes that in prior years when she’s attended the NSC — this is her first time as a panelist — the writers there “ridiculed” her (good-naturedly) for working in reality. But she was also “bombarded” by participants wanting to discuss ideas with her. The panel was created in response to that pent-up demand. “I think … people feel they have a lot more access … than in trying to get into the scripted world,” Conlin says. Ultimately, reality television “is popular and it’s where a lot of the work is. It’s a place to make money.”

HIGHLIGHTS

FRIDAY

1:00 p.m.

Panel: “The Set Piece”
Phil Hay Panel with John Hamburg & Marti Noxon

2:15 p.m.

Panel: “The Reality of Reality Television: What Works and Why”
Scott Zolke, Rac Clark & Sheila Conlin.
Moderator: John Frankenheimer, partner and chairman emeritus, Loeb & Loeb LLP

5:30 pm – 7:30 p.m.

“Robotard Theater 8000 8012!”
Alec Berg, Jeff Lowell and Phil Hay screen an “astoundingly atrocious movie and spout nonsense throughout.”

Saturday

10:30 a.m.

Panel: “Life’s a Pitch” – Styles and Strategies for Breaking Stories and Pitching
Panelists: Jared Stern, Geoff Stier, and Alec Berg. Moderators: John Requa and Glenn Ficarra

12:00 p.m.

Anastasia Brown’s Music in the Movies Luncheon & Panel
Panelists: Frankie Pine, Dawn Soler, Julia Michels, Randy Spendlove, Erin Scully and Bill Meadows. Host: Anastasia Brown.

2:15 p.m.

Panel: “Top of the Pile: Writing Ideas that Agents, Producers & Executives Want to Read!”
Panelists: Jeff Lowell, Alec Berg, Phil Hay, and Malcolm Spellman. Moderators: Marianne & Cormac Wibberley.

6:30 p.m.

Silverscreen Event
Dinner, drinks and singer-songwriters performing in the round.

Sunday

9:00 a.m.

Panel: “The Art of the Sell”
Panelists: Dante Harper and Michael Goldenberg. Moderator: Howard Rodman

10:30 a.m.

Panel: “Turn On The Television and Start Writing”
Panelists: Callie Khouri and Michael Brandt

Related Links:
Tunesmiths get chance to make perfect pitch

More Film

  • SAG Awards: Nominees Include Popular Films

    Screen Actors Guild Props Up Popular Players in Film, Ignores Critical Darlings

    Something noteworthy in the world of awards watching happened last year: For the first time ever, the winner of the Motion Picture Academy’s best picture prize, “The Shape of Water,” was a film not nominated for the Screen Actors Guild’s ensemble award. It was a bit of trivia that stood as a sort of bellwether. [...]

  • Gkids Takes Salvador Simó’s ‘Buñuel in

    Gkids Acquires ‘Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — Gkids, the U.S. distributor of ten Best Animated Feature Oscar nominations including this year’s “The Breadwinner,” has acquired North American rights to Spaniard Salvador Simó’s “Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles.” Gkids will release the film theatrically next year. The animated feature is sold worldwide by Spain’s Latido Films; the all-rights [...]

  • Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) returns to

    Film Review: 'Mary Poppins Returns'

    Nostalgia is a quaint word, one that summons visions of things that are toasty, comfy, wholesome, reassuring — all qualities, as it happens, that we associate with the 1964 Walt Disney nanny-from-heaven musical “Mary Poppins.” Yet nostalgia can also be a magical thing. It’s the great time machine of human emotion, with the power to [...]

  • O_163_wem_1360_comp_v003_01,1159 2 – L-R: Gwilym Lee

    SAG Award Nominations: Biggest Snubs and Surprises

    At the SAG Awards nominations Wednesday morning, “A Star Is Born” led the film pack with four nods and while that wasn’t a surprise, there were plenty of snubs and surprises that caught us off guard. On the television side, a plethora of co-stars are competing against each other, as both male and female actors [...]

  • DF-04714_R2 - Jennifer Lawrence stars as

    20th Century Fox Takes Final Bow at CineAsia

    If it is possible to feel sympathy for the demise of a competitor, such feelings were on display Wednesday evening at the CineAsia distributors and exhibitors’ convention in Hong Kong. 20th Century Fox made what was expected to be its final product presentation at the event as an independent studio. The mega-acquisition of Fox by [...]

  • SAG Awards Placeholder

    SAG Nominations Scorecard: Netflix Leads the Pack

    Netflix led the way among all networks and studios with this year’s SAG nominations, garnering 15 nods thanks to programming like “GLOW,” “Ozark,” “Grace and Frankie” and “The Kominsky Method.” “Ozark” was among the select group of titles to snare four nominations, along with “A Star Is Born” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” On the [...]

  • SAG Nominations: 'A Star Is Born,'

    'A Star Is Born,' 'Mrs. Maisel,' 'Ozark' Lead SAG Awards Nominations

    Musical drama “A Star Is Born” led the way with four SAG feature film nominations, while “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Ozark” each scored a quartet of TV nominations. “BlacKkKlansman” and “The Favourite” both took a trio of film nominations, followed by “Barry,” “GLOW,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and “The Kominsky Method,” each scoring three TV [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content