Category Archives: Career

A Tale of Two Screenwriters

Screenwriting as a full-time job is often a bit fuzzy as to its exact nature and description. This is likely because it is always somewhat unique to each person that holds the job. Thankfully the internet is here to allow silly folks like myself to share a bit more about what we do as professional screenwriters. Let’s explore, shall we?

Screenwriting Full-Time

For the sake of this discussion, I’m going to talk about the two states of being a full-time screenwriter that I’m personally familiar with: freelance and staff writer. I also work mostly in animated television and will be sticking to that arena when sharing my tales.

In television, there’s a long list of job titles given to screenwriters. Oddly, many of those titles don’t even have the word “writer” in them. Other descriptors seem to have crawled their way into credits, words like “editor” and “producer”. Why? I imagine there’s some hollywood history to it. However, my personal theory is that someone decided being called a “producer” increased the odds of getting a date even though we all know being called a “writer” is a much sexier title. Or at least this is what I’ve been told by my Chief Intelligence Officer, whom I trust greatly. Of course, I did marry her when my only job title was the self-imposed “aspiring screenwriter”. Yes, I do consider myself lucky. In any case, let’s allow someone else on the internet to cover the strange history of job titles for TV screenwriters.

In animated TV, the job title list tends to be a bit shorter. This is mostly because animated TV shows, especially those meant for children, often have fewer writers working for them than their live-action counter parts. Fewer jobs = less job titles needed. Generally, screenwriters end up being called a producer, a story editor, or a writer.

Producers can once again come in many variations. I’ve only seen “executive producer” and “supervising producer” given to screenwriters. These titles are earned by a writer who also works as a producer for the show, essentially taking on additional responsibilities beyond the scripts to make the show amazing. These are the upper-level writing jobs. They’re also titles you can earn by creating your own original series. Often, those with a “created by” credit also have a job title that includes “producer”.

Then again, there are those writers that fall into the story editor category. This job is one that involves managing and editing other writers. However, I’ve also know many story editors that really should have had “producer” in their job title because that’s the sort of work they were performing. The animation industry is not always accurate or generous with their job titles. This is a bit of a problem when an animation writer talks with a non-animation writer. So here’s your info tip of the day live-action writers: a story editor on an animated TV series is probably really working as producer so don’t get smug about your credits.

As for those of us that fall into the simple “writer” category, there are really only two jobs to cover: freelance writer and staff writer. I’ve done both. I spent most of last year as a staff writer. And, yes, robots were involved. I’ve spent the last several months as a freelance writer. The jobs are quite different. So, in the coming days (or much more likely weeks… because I’m slow about blogging), I will share a tale of two screenwriters by exploring both jobs.

Come back soon… seriously. I mean it. Their will actually be some new posts.


glorified lollipop tree shaded circle small

Leave a comment

Filed under Career, Writing

The Short and Short of It

I remember back in film school that we were often tasked to make short films. I also remember struggling with the point of making a short film. I complained that it wasn’t worthwhile to work in that format. “Nobody watches shorts,” I’d whine.

It turns out that I was completely wrong.

A “Perfect” Short

In our connected world, people love to watch shorts all the time. Thank you internet! And you can actually be paid to make short films. Sometimes. Kind of like you can sometimes be paid to write movie and TV scripts. It’s just nice to know that there really is a market for shorts. This is especially true in animation, where short form content appears frequently.

I know all this because I’ve worked on a few shorts. In fact, I co-wrote one with my good friend Mairghread Scott for Transformers: Robots in Disguise. It’s called “Perfect” and if you have 90 seconds, please give it a watch!


Now just because I was a pill about making shorts when I was in film school doesn’t mean you have to be. I say jump at the chance to make as much stuff as you can. The experience will always be valuable in some way… even if that way involves learning that your friends hate working for free on your projects… especially when you keep them up until 2 AM. Not that I would ever do that.

By the way — are you free next weekend? I have this little project I could use an extra set of hands on… Oh, you’re busy. That’s cool.

Anyway, if you want to make a short film and you’re not sure where to start, the introduction to animation writing class I teach online is now open for enrollment. It might be a good place to start.


glorified lollipop tree shaded circle small

Leave a comment

Filed under Career, Education, Writing

Another Flavor of Transformers

Believe it or not, we live in a magical time. This special moment in history is a period when there are not one, but TWO Transformers shows on television. I know… who would have ever thought something so amazing could happen!?

Oh, yeah, that’s right… Apparently, Phil (my gnomish assistant) thought it could happen. I just wish he wasn’t so smug about it.

Can't you see the smugness oozing from his beard?

Can’t you see the smugness oozing from his beard?

In any case, I’m here to tell you that yours truly has been lucky enough to write an episode for Transformers: Robots in Disguise called One of Our Mini-cons is Missing. It airs here in the United States this Saturday, June 11, 2015 on Cartoon Network and Phil really wants you to watch it.

No, I don’t think you understand. He REALLY wants you to watch the episode. Apparently, Phil is making his onscreen debut in this story. I suppose it could be true. I did write a part for someone of his… stature. Though to be completely honest I wasn’t aware that Phil was pursuing an acting career. But it does explain his frequent absences from work. He must have been at auditions.

Phil also wants to invite you to attend the Transformers: Robots in Disguise panel at SDCC (details here) this Thursday (tomorrow!). I will also be attending the panel and hope to see you in the crowd. Hey, maybe we can sit together? I’ll be there by myself unless… aw man. Yeah… Phil will be attending the panel to provide autographs, apparently. Though I’m not entirely sure how he’ll get to San Diego. I certainly wont be giving that little bearded smug-face a ride.

And remember, before you head out for a fun-filled weekend at the San Diego Comic-Con, make sure you set your device to record this awesome Transformers episode. Phil’s pretty sure you won’t believe how awesome it is (or how awesome he is in it… he’s so darn smug). He also says you MUST record the episode or else he’ll be forced to show up at your house and press record himself. I would do as he asks. The last time I let Phil touch a remote he locked the menu language in Japanese, permanently turned on the SAP function, and somehow I now have every episode of Salvage 1 recorded. A show that hasn’t aired in decades… so be wary of a gnome trying to use technology.

Never trust a gnome with a remote!

Never trust a gnome with a remote!

I’m serious. If Phil shows up at your home, just plan on replacing your TV.

Tune in and I hope everyone can make it to the panel!


glorified lollipop tree shaded circle small

1 Comment

Filed under Career, Writing

Bot-Tastic Voyage

Before we get to some Transformers Rescue Bots news, I have a very simple question for you —

Do you like donuts?

There really is only one appropriate response to this, and that is a resounding YES because…

Mmm... bacon and donuts...

Special thanks to Mr. Bunty (@BHohlfeld) for this joke!

Secondary acceptable options are pancakes with real maple syrup, bacon (of course), or the ultimate classic — toast.

Now let’s make some plans for this coming Saturday, December 20th. You’re already set with a breakfast food of choice, but you’ll need some proper entertainment while you eat. My recommendation is that you tune into the Discovery Family Channel at 10:30 AM PT (1:30 PM ET) and watch the brand new episode of Transformers Rescue Bots I wrote — Bot-Tastic Voyage!

Due to unfortunate timing, I will be traveling when this episode airs and cannot join you in live viewing. But feel free to ask me questions here or on twitter (@GloryLollyTree) about the episode.

And remember, science fiction is best consumed at breakfast.


glorified lollipop tree shaded circle small

Leave a comment

Filed under Career, Foodies, Writing

In Search of the Griffin’s Nest

Are you busy this Saturday, June 7th? Do you like Transformers Rescue Bots? Ever wonder where the griffin in Griffin Rock came from?

Well reschedule everything, tune in, and set your devices to record — there’s a new episode of Transformers Rescue Bots airing and I wrote it!

In Search of the Griffin’s Nest will be the 16th episode of season two for Transformers Rescue Bots — and it’s full of adventure, mystery, and talk about strange mythical creatures.

Transformers Rescue Bots - Griffin Rock

Mt. Griffin on the island of Griffin Rock, ME

In Search of the Griffin’s Nest is a different type of story from the last one I wrote (Prescott’s BOTS!), but it’ll be just as much fun! So put on your Lad Pioneer neckerchief, mine is plaid, and watch along with the rest of us.

Remember… If adventure has a name — it must be Cody Burns!

Feel free to find me on twitter (@GloryLollyTree) during the show.


glorified lollipop tree shaded circle small

Leave a comment

Filed under Career, Uncategorized, Writing

The Downside of Non-Disclosure Agreements

There’s quite a bit of work I do that I am not allowed to speak or write about. As you may guess, this can be quite frustrating. However, there is a big reason I cannot mention my assignment work. It is also is the main reason only vague references to things often appear on this blog.

As I have mentioned before, I am often bound by…

Non-Disclosure Agreements

Yeah. It’s a bit of a mouthful. Perhaps that’s why people usually just refer to them as NDAs.

Non-disclosure agreements often appear in many industries and business-y type situations. These are put to great use in the entertainment world because nobody wants you to give away their “big secret project.”

So screenwriters, and many other people, are asked to sign an agreement to not talk about the project they’re working on. NDAs exist to control information and who can release it to the public. It’s all about perception and press and selling your product. If keeping a project under wraps wasn’t such a big deal, then Quentin Tarantino might not be abandoning his film “The Hateful Eight” for a legal battle.

I understand the point, the use, and the need of an NDA… and yet I still hate them a great deal. For a screenwriter, your work is at the beginning of a project. So by the time the world finds out about what you did… you’re a bit older and more grumpy.

Or maybe I just need another cup of coffee.

Even more frustrating is the fact of not being allowed to show the great piece of writing you were hired to do. It can be solid work, great work, amazing work… and nobody else can read it. You cannot share your writing without potentially extreme consequences. Unless I have been severely misled, legal battles are not friendly conversations over beers in a courtroom.

It is true that some people will know about the things you’ve written, some may even manage to find a copy through unknown sources. However, if you are responsible for sharing work you agreed to keep under wraps because of an NDA… the courtroom beers are on your tab. I hear that’s a steep bill.

Right now there are many screenwriters with great work that they cannot show… not even if a producer wants to see that specific piece of writing as a sample of his or her work… cause, you know, they want to hire you…

And that’s another good reason to have great writing samples of original work to show people — because work for hire covered under an NDA is never for sharing.

At least not yet.

There is a common practice of using scripts as writing samples for projects that have already been released into the world. Once the movie is out, the TV episode has aired, or the webisodes have gone viral, many people are okay with sharing those scripts as work samples.

But even in this case, screenwriters tend to tread lightly. Sending along a script to a producer or executive as a sample is one thing… plastering your assignment work all over the internet can still potentially lead to trouble.

On that note, I’m going to stare at the pile of completed freelance TV scripts on my desk while I have another cup of coffee.

Yep. Just going to sit here and not tell you anything about those episodes I wrote…

But I promise there will be news soon.


glorified lollipop tree shaded circle small

Leave a comment

Filed under Career, Writing

Double Overtime: Writing Two Assignments at Once

By all appearances, I simply disappeared from this blog for the last two months. Other than trying to update the Recently Lists, I didn’t have any time to post or do much else. Thankfully, I do have a great excuse…

Two Assignments at Once

After a brief dry spell, I landed two freelance scripts at the same time. It has been a challenge to keep up with everything, and I learned a few things along the way. First, let’s cover the obvious…

-You cannot make more hours suddenly appear in a day.

-It is not possible to properly spellcheck a document when sleep deprived.

-Skipping showers and personal hygiene is acceptable when trying to make a deadline. However, it should be noted you will not make any new friends and baristas may consider you homeless and offer free refills out of pity.

While those are all valuable life lessons, there are a few more important things I discovered while desperately trying to keep on schedule. Mostly, I learned more about my personal time management skills. That is, mine are still a work in progress. I did manage to impress myself with the amount of work I was able to complete in a short time. It’s possible to get so much more done than you might imagine with the right motivation…like deadlines tied to paychecks.

Most importantly, I’ve learned to be grateful. Yes–and perhaps the holiday season is influencing me–it sounds mushy, but I am genuinely thankful to have more writing assignments. I’m thankful to be paid to write. I’m thankful to be writing scripts that will be produced. I’m thankful for those who hired me. I’m also thankful for my wonderful wife who put up with my insane schedule and helped take care of so many important things.

Now it’s time to get back to one last deadline.


glorified lollipop tree shaded circle small

Leave a comment

Filed under Career, Writing