073 – Shooting Your Own TV Pilot – Corinna Mendis

The odds of a pilot script being sold and produced are incredibly small. What if you absolutely must see your story come to life? This week we meet Corinna Mendis, who despite having no film schooling or previous experience, independently produced and shot her own spec pilot!
Click image to play video; more details are below.

Corinna Mendis, a native New Yorker, grew up wanting to become an actress. When her parents threatened to cut her off, she put creative pursuits on a shelf, and dug herself in to university studies. Two bachelor’s degrees and two Master’s degrees later, she found she couldn’t stop writing, especially about the trials and tribulations of the homeless population at a homeless center she volunteered at in Long Island, New York.

She pursued books, classes, seminars, and any resource she could find, to learn about the television writing process, including classes with Larry Brody, author of Television Writing from the Inside Out.

Rather than try to sell her pilot in script form, Corinna decided to produce it herself! With Larry’s encouragement and support, she spent $25,000 of her own money to produce “Not In My Neighborhood,” a single camera half hour TV pilot shot in the same homeless shelter where she volunteered.

Corinna learned a tremendous amount in the process… so much so, that she encourages anyone who is currently thinking about film school to consider instead following in her footsteps, and learning through doing.

The entire pilot “Not In My Neighborhood” is available online: CLICK HERE

Or, you can see a trailer for it here: CLICK HERE

Corinna’s Twitter: @CorinnaMendis

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Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Script magazine and, the leading source for scriptwriting information in print and on the web.

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Gray Jones

Graham “Gray” Jones is a reality/lifestyle TV editor/writer located in Los Angeles. Originally from Canada, he has an honors Screenwriting BFA from York University, where he graduated with distinction in 1994. He currently produces and hosts the "TV Writer Podcast" in partnership with Script Magazine. Formerly, he produced one of the world’s leading TV-themed podcasts, "Chuck vs. the Podcast," about NBC’s Chuck.

7 thoughts on “073 – Shooting Your Own TV Pilot – Corinna Mendis”

  1. That ad that takes 40% of the screen, its damn annoying. This is probably the last podcast I’ll ‘enjoy’. The host did not ask the most important question ‘what was the purpose of making the pilot’. Miss Corinna, you said ‘you know’ in almost every sentence, it sounds like high school, you know.

  2. Hi Mr. Medina,

    I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment.

    1) I have volunteered thousands of hours and thousands of dollars out of my own pocket to bring free podcasts to you. The ads in the podcast do NOT fully cover the costs of running the podcast, nor do they compensate me for the time I put in. But they do help. If they are too distracting to you, you can listen to the podcast audio-only via Script Magazine’s feed. But if you do so, I invite you to leave a cash donation to help cover the cost of bringing these interviews to you.

    2) I did indeed ask that question, but not in those exact words. I asked why she chose to make the pilot in that form, and also what it had done for her. If you have further questions for her, you are welcome to ask Corinna via the Twitter handle or Facebook page she graciously provided.

    3) Perhaps I should interview you — you’d be surprised how many “ums,” “ahs,” “you knows,” and the like are in the speech of even the most well spoken of us, and are probably in your own speech. I usually edit these out of audio-only interviews, but could not this time, because it was live video.

    In general, I don’t appreciate the insulting tone of your comment. I donate my time and money to bring these free podcasts to you. I am not paid by Script Magazine (at all), and have never even come close to making a profit from these podcasts. I take time away from my extremely busy life as a TV editor and from my family to bring these to you. If you don’t enjoy them, don’t watch them. If you have positive constructive comments or questions, I’d love to hear them. But please keep negativity and insults to yourself.

    Yours truly,
    Gray Jones.

  3. As someone who has been interviewed, I understand it can be nerve racking. I’m okay with the interview being “real.”
    I want to thank Gray for the time, effort, and money it takes bring us these podcasts.
    As for the ad: please, do you think these podcasts would still be coming to us without the ads? And if you are really interested in the interview subject, instead of finding fault, you wouldn’t be bothered.
    Again, thanks Gray, and thanks to your family for letting us have this time. Those who know you, know you are the kindest, most generous person.

  4. I’m a regular listener and subscriber (iTunes) to your podcast. It’s very motivating as i’m trying to break into the field myself. Please keep the interviews coming. (First time poster) FYI, this interview on iTunes started to have video problems around the 2 minute 30 sec mark.


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