I'm Margaret Dunlap, AMA!

(Margaret Dunlap) #1

Hi! My name is Margaret Dunlap. I was a writer-producer for a bunch of Pemberley Digital shows including The (Emmy winning) Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Welcome to Sanditon, and Emma Approved. Outside the web video world I write for “traditional” television, both live-action 1 hour drama and kid’s animation. I also worked on the video game State of Decay 2 which came out last month from Microsoft and Undead Labs, and I’m part of the team writing Bookburners, a serial fiction project currently running in ebook and audio on Serial Box.

If you’re curious for the details, I’ve got links to my iMDb and Goodreads pages at my website: http://www.margaretdunlap.com

In a nutshell, I’m primarily a writer, but I write in a lot of different flavors. I’m happy to answer questions about:

Writing for webseries (this is Stareable, after all), but if you’re curious about television, fiction, or working as a medium-hopping freelancer, fire away.

Or, you know, ask me anything, I guess. Although I can’t guarantee useful answers to questions about, say, squirrels.

(Bri Castellini) #2

Hi Margaret! How did you originally get involved in writing for web series?

(Jerome Keith) #3

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(Meg Carroway) #4

Hi! Wow you’ve done so many things!! I guess I’m just curious how you started in general. Did you go to school for writing? What was your first paying writing job?

(Jerome Keith) #5

Hi Margaret! What was it like writing for State of Decay 2? I’m a big fan of the first game. I’m also interested in video game writing myself and would love to know more about that process.

(Chris Hadley) #6

@spyscribe Welcome, Margaret! waves Thanks for joining us, and thanks for taking the time to share your experience and advice on writing and producing web series!

(Blair Hunter) #7

Yeah I would also love to know what the process of writing for a video game is! Is there an outline? How do you account for multiple choices? Is there a whole team and each person has like a specific set of missions? How did you get involved with that? Sorry haha that was a lot of questions al at once

(Joseph Steven Heath) #8

What was the writing process like on the television shows you worked on? (Eureka and The Middleman? That’s awesome!) How does that compare to the writing process for a web series? How did you break into writing for television?

What’s your favorite type of squirrel?

(Chris Hadley) #9

@spyscribe As a writer, do you feel that comedies are a more effective usage of the web series medium?

(Chris Hadley) #10

@spyscribe And if you were to, say, write a 10 minute drama or comedy webisode, how would you approach working with multiple characters and storylines (A/B/C story)? Would you just treat it as if it was a single act in a traditional hour/half hour show?

(Margaret Dunlap) #11

Hi Bri! I started writing for web series with Lizzie Bennet. I knew Bernie socially from geeky events around LA, and we had a couple mutual friends. He reached out after the show I had been working on was canceled and asked me if I wanted to grab coffee.

We met and he told me about this project he was working on with a guy named Hank with the idea of taking public domain stories and telling them in vlog form for a young female audience.

I was like, “Oh, so you’re going to do like Pride and Prejudice on YouTube?”

And he said, “Actually, we’re doing exactly Pride and Prejudice on YouTube. Do you want to write for it?”

And for the next two years, working on Lizzie and the other shows pretty much became my full-time job. :slight_smile:

(Bri Castellini) #12

That’s amazing! And a great example of why networking is important :slight_smile: Can you share some advice about networking, actually? I find that writers (myself absolutely included) tend to be shyer/ less willing to venture outside their own circles.

(Bri Castellini) #13

Pulled from your pre-question thread :slight_smile:

(Anna Bateman) #14

Do you have an agent? How did you find them?

(Meg Carroway) #15

What is a serial fiction project?

(Pia) #16

Welcome Margaret!!! Was writing in a writer’s room hard at first? It seems hard! I can’t write around other people, only alone usually in my bedroom with all the lights off…

(Margaret Dunlap) #17

Hey Meg!

Yeah, my resume is not what I thought it would be when I moved out to L.A. I did go to school for writing. (In my case, I got my MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.) I had gotten into playwriting and then screenwriting kind of by accident as an undergrad back east, and for me film school was my excuse to move to Los Angeles, and also a way to meet people I would have at least one thing in common with in a city where I knew no one. For me, it was a choice that worked out, I made good friends and even some professional connections, but it’s also an investment I’m still paying off, so I’m not going to say that film school is a must for everyone.

After I graduated I spent about four years “working at working in the entertainment industry.” I worked day jobs, wrote before I went into the office or on weekends, and when a mentor was in a position to hire me as a writers assistant on his TV show, I was ready to jump in with both feet and take advantage of the opportunity.

The show was The Middleman which (unless you count the $1 a friend paid me to option my short script–I still have that dollar though!) turned into my first paid writing job when I wrote a freelance episode.

That’s the short version. The shorter more useful as general advice version: I stuck around long enough to find my opportunity, and was ready when it came!

(Meg Carroway) #18

How did you meet your mentor/ make them a mentor of yours instead of just a person you’re near who you’re a big fan of?

(Joseph Steven Heath) #19

Just curious about the freelance episode you wrote for The Middleman. How differently did the final product end up from the script you first wrote?

(Chris Hadley) #20

@spyscribe Since you worked on Welcome To Senditon, Emma Approved and Lizzie Bennet, what was your process like for writing for a short format series based on adapted material?

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