Artist Series: Writing a Pilot Script (Tales of a Screenwriter)

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text font_size=”16″]Every month, we ask members of the collective to contribute to the BTFC Artist Series by providing original content and sharing their personal journeys with our readers. From missteps to triumphs, and everything else in between, we follow the stories of resident Black Artists working to make a name for themselves in the television and film industry.

What a week it’s been. I listened to an interview by Max Landis. He’s sold like 15 spec scripts in the past 3 years. And big sales might I add.

So back to the interview. He was saying how he sent out tons of scripts and got rejected – and a light bulb went off for me. It reminded me of a conversation I had with another writer. Said writer wanted to go in the direction of entering a contest, because he felt the industry would take him more seriously if his script won. Y’all, there is so much rejection you’ll face in this industry. Hundreds of rejection letters are in my inbox. So why not get rejected by those who have the power to say YES – and not the contest readers, who mostly never sold a script, but somehow know everything it takes to make a “great”script?

Another light bulb moment: have tons of content. Max Landis said he writes some scripts in 3 days – and they sell! He advises to STOP FEARING THE BLANK PAGE. – another light bulb moment. You know the expression: “Don’t stress over what you can’t control”? Well, why stress over what you CAN control? Just write. Whatever you put on that page IS. If you write “someone coughs” on the page – then guess what? Someone coughed on the page. You have TOTAL CONTROL.

I started writing a pilot on Wednesday, and five days later I’m on page 40. More than halfway done – but I took Sunday off. My issue was that I had too many rules stuck in my head: “Don’t tell it, show it” or “Don’t write too much dialog.” Screw those rules. Wish I had taken this liberty sooner. From this day forth I will control my own writing. I’m not against making changes, but I’m done trying to make a near-perfect first draft. Vomit out the first draft. Write something else, and then rewrite the vomit draft.

Another thing that Max Landis said that rang true is that dialog may sound dumb on the page, but the actors will bring it to life. The sample dialogue he used was, “To be or not to be.” That would sound dumb if you just read it, but delivered by the right actor – it can become iconic.

So all in all, write for you! Write as much as you can! Believe in yourself! And prepare for rejection! But most of all, be great!








The Black TV & Film Collective a 501c3 organization that operates as a NYC film collective. In our work, we support all artists of color including but not limited to black filmmakers. We are a collaborative platform that represents diversity in film and supports inclusion in Hollywood and TV. Our professional network of New York City filmmakers gives knowledge to those who want to learn how to produce film, how to make a web series, how to budget film projects and more. We host NYC film workshops that welcome a variety of experience levels from first time filmmakers who are either students in film school or to notables within the television and film industry. See how you can make a difference in the world of cinema by becoming a member of our NYC film collective.


Hailing from New Jersey, Robert McBride began writing from the age of seven, where he was selected into a creative writing program during his formative years in school. Since completing his first screenplay, A Common Life, at the age of twelve, Robert has written and sold several scripts and is currently running the screenplay coverage service, The Shooting Script.





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