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Network Execs and Showrunners Share Insight on Creative Writing, Industry Trends

By Alyssa Holcomb

A panel full of creative content connoisseurs shared their insight on the film and television industry in the “Creative Writing Panel | Content, Creativity and Change: The Future of Entertainment.” The event, hosted in the Norris Center, was open to School of Communication students (including the MSLCE cohort) interested in content and the constantly evolving industry.

The panelists, including Dave Holstein (Writer & Creator of Showtime’s KIDDING), Wendy Steinhoff (VP of Comedy Development at Warner Bros.), David Levine (EVP Co-Head of Drama at HBO), and Aaron Kaplan (Founding Partner at Kaplan/Perrone) took turns fielding questions from moderator/RTVF senior lecturer Brett Neveu and students regarding working your way into the notoriously high-stakes industry while maintaining your own creative consciousness.

As someone who is interested in pursuing a career in film and television, particularly in the content creation division, this conversation was very interesting (and timely) to me. One of the panelists advised the crowd to “Just keep leaning into the stuff that actually makes you happy.” While that gem of wisdom could be applied to just about anything in life, I found it to be really refreshing to hear, especially from someone in an industry that can be cutthroat at times. Each of the panelists advised the students to “say No to the No” when necessary and find a way around those challenges. As we work our way up, we will be working for other people, but “it all comes around.”

The speakers also stressed the importance of audiences. While the goal is to “reach the most people possible,” it is just as crucial to recognize that there is a specific audience for your product or piece that will be engaged regardless. If you “make the truth of it” in terms of “what you want the audience to get,” the audience will form and absorb.

In terms of content as a whole, the panel’s consensus was simple – “The best [and worst] part about content is that there’s a lot of it.” The pros and cons of the mass of creative outlets in entertainment may blur at times, but it’s a “process” – “hold your core idea as tight as you can” while you learn the ins and outs of this ever-changing field.