I'm Margaret Dunlap, AMA!


(Margaret Dunlap) #40

The best networking advice that I stumbled into was to network with people you’d want to hang out with anyway. Most people can tell if you’re just hanging out because you want something from them, and few find that a compelling reason to go out of their way. In other words, make friends. Even if it doesn’t turn into anything professionally, at least you’ll have spent time with people whose company you enjoy.

That does mean putting yourself out there, but the good news is that through twitter and other social platforms, you don’t have to approach someone in person. Just be a person, treat the person you’d like to meet like a person, and don’t be a pest, or act like you’re entitled to anyone’s time. That usually goes a long way with most folks. :slight_smile:


(Meg Carroway) #41

Are there good ways to network online? Especially if you aren’t in a position to go out or be in an area where it would be worth it? (I’m not in LA, for example)


(Bri Castellini) #42

Dang that hour went by fast! HUGE big thanks to @spyscribe for being here today! You can check out her work at http://www.margaretdunlap.com, and follow her on Twitter “@spyscribe” as well!


(Meg Carroway) #43

Thank you!!


(Blair Hunter) #44

Thanks so much for this- it was really interesting and helpful!


(Margaret Dunlap) #45

Re: writing for web series, it’s mostly the latter. Also, I’ve been fortunate to have other work that’s been keeping me both busy and creatively fulfilled, but for the right project I’d totally get back into the web series pool.

I think the biggest difference between the writers rooms on a web series and a TV show is that when you’re on a TV show, it’s an official full-time job, so on most shows that have a room, you’re in it every day. Webseries can definitely take up all of the waking hours you’re willing to give them, but at least on an indie series everyone also has a side hustle to pay the bills, so we’d only meet all together in person once a month.

The episodes are shorter, but stories are stories pretty much, no matter what the format is.


(Chris Hadley) #46

@spyscribe Thanks so much for being with us, and for sharing your insight and advice with us, Margaret! Thanks to you too @Bri_Castellini for having her on, and for another great AMA!


(Margaret Dunlap) #47

I have a manager who I connected with when another client of his introduced us after I let people I knew know that I was looking for representation. I sent him my samples, he liked them, we seemed to hit it off, and so I became a client.

He does a lot for me, but I still rustle up a lot of job leads on my own just like I did before we connected.


(Margaret Dunlap) #48

Seriously! I’ll try to cover the questions I didn’t get to, but pace will slow while I take a break to get some other work done today.

Thanks for coming out, everybody!


(Margaret Dunlap) #49

You can absolutely network online. I fist met a writer/producer I’m now developing a series for through a Dungeons and Dragons message board! If you want to work in television, you’ll eventually want to be in LA, but there are webseries creators and communities all over, and fiction and videogames are very well-suited to working on remotely.


(Margaret Dunlap) #50

In my case, a serial fiction project is this: https://www.serialbox.com/serials/bookburners :slight_smile:


(Margaret Dunlap) #51

In some ways, yes, but it’s also a lot of fun. The room can be an intense experience. It tends to be very fast-paced and creative. Hopefully, it’s also fun, supportive, and encouraging.

Most shows let you go off and do the fingers on the keyboard part of writing wherever you like, once everyone has worked out the story and it’s time to write the outline or draft.


(Margaret Dunlap) #52

Not very different at all. Even though I was technically a freelancer, as the writers assistant I had been in the room all season, so I knew the show and the voice by the time I got my chance at bat. Also, I had a showrunner who believed in letting writers do as much of their own re-writing as they could, and did his pass as late in the process as the schedule could accommodate.


(Margaret Dunlap) #53

For me, writer-producer means “writer who does other stuff.” We had an excellent “produced by” producer, Jenni Powell who did our budgets, schedules, permits, etc.

Some of my non-writing jobs included, giving notes/supervising other writers on staff, weighing in on auditions, attending rehearsals, and being on set so I could answer actor questions or tweak lines if we had to make changes on the fly.

On shoot days I was also our script supervisor because we were on a shoestring budget. While other writers would come in for their episodes, I was usually the always-there writer on set so that Bernie worry about directing and sound. (See above in re: shoestring)


(Margaret Dunlap) #54

Thanks! That’s so kind of you to say! Mostly we felt it out. Bernie was the showrunner on Lizzie, but that’s a job that always has enough work to keep five people busy.

I had relevant experience and one of the advantages of independent productions is that anything I wanted to get involved in, there was usually a need for someone to help out. Bernie and I in many ways had complementary skill sets, and I was passionate about the project, so I ended up doing a lot. :slight_smile:


(Margaret Dunlap) #55

Okay folks, I’m knocking off for a bit. Will try to swing back this evening if there’s anything I’ve missed.


(Margaret Dunlap) #56

You really have to play it by ear and let them set the pace. Ask questions, listen, and let the relationship evolve naturally. It’s a lot like dating that way.


(Margaret Dunlap) #57

Webseries, you can find creative communities all over. For television, if you want to work in the US, LA is going to come into the picture eventually. I have some friends who did start in New York, and you can break in there. But the opportunities are much more limited, and they all moved west once they had a couple of assistant jobs under their belts.

Vancouver/Toronto I can’t really speak to because I don’t know enough about the Canadian industry, except to say that if you are Canadian, you should absolutely tap into your home industry!


(Margaret Dunlap) #58

Best advice is to tap into your networks and learn everything you can from people who have worn those hats before. Ideally, before you have to dive into the deep end. After the project is over, do a post-mortem with your team or yourself. Even if you feel like you pulled everything off, talk to people with more experience and see if there were things you could have done that will make your life easier next time. And if you have new solutions because you built a better mousetrap, share what you’ve learned.

The indie culture of “just dive in and figure out how to do it” is great, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be trying to mine traditional media for best practices whenever possible.


(Margaret Dunlap) #59

I’d like to think it was both? Being based on Pride and Prejudice was a great hook for many of our viewers and certainly for the press, but more viewers than you would think weren’t familiar with the book at all.