035 – Mike Alber (Death Valley, Ultradome)

Ever heard of someone who didn’t live in L.A. or New York landing a staff TV writing gig? How about sight unseen, hired from a phone interview? Meet Mike Alber, who sold many pitches to a major network, wrote on a web series, and even landed a staff writing gig while not even living in the same state!

Mike & writing partner Gabe Snyder met in high school, and clicked right away. Despite going to different colleges in different cities, they wrote together constantly. Mike was on track to be a doctor, but after starting med school he realized that writing was his passion, so he switched his masters studies to creative writing.

Gabe moved to L.A. in 2006, but Mike continued his studies in Ohio. They placed in several screenplay competitions, but it was through an honorable mention at a trackingb.com contest that they got their first option. They were on the map! One relationship led to another, and soon they sold several pitches to Spike TV, worked on the web series Ultradome, signed for management and representation, and were taking meetings all over town.

Mike tells the amazing story of how his newborn daughter kept him away from L.A., yet he was able to land his first TV staff gig, on MTV’s Death Valley, with a phone call from the hospital waiting room! Mike finally did move to L.A. this year, and does advise that everyone else should move to L.A. first — his luck is not easy to repeat!

Mike and Gabe are idea machines, and Mike has great advice on how you can be one too!

Follow Mike on Twitter: @malber

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Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

034 – Sheri Elwood (Call Me Fitz, Defying Gravity)

Within seven years of graduating from film school, Sheri Elwood had not only created her own successful TV series, but had written and directed a feature film starring Kirsten Dunst and Lynn Redgrave. Fast forward to the present: her current series, Call Me Fitz, which was inspired by her own family, has just won seven Gemini Awards.

After graduating from Ryerson University’s Film Program in Toronto, Sheri Elwood was awarded the National Apprenticeship Award from the Academy of Canadian Film and Television. This launched her to many seasons of comedy writing for networks such as Disney, Fox, The Family Channel, and YTV. By 1999, she had created her own series for tweens, I Was a Sixth Grade Alien, which went two seasons.

In the off season, Sheri wrote and directed a Gemini nominated short film, Eb and Flo, and her first feature film, the romantic teen drama, Deeply, starring Lynn Redgrave, Kirsten Dunst and Brent Carver. Deeply premiered to a four-star review at the Toronto International Film Festival, and was also nominated for four Genie Awards.

Elwood teamed with Lionsgate TV to create the comedy series Beta Males for the CW Network, and also wrote for the 1-hr ABC/CTV drama Defying Gravity for Fox Television Studios with creator James Parriott (Grey’s Anatomy).

Fulfilling a dream to capture the spirit of her loving and unique family on TV, Elwood created the edgy cable series Call Me Fitz, starring Jason Priestly, for TMN/Movie Central. They have just begun shooting season three, with Elwood writing, directing, and showrunning. You can catch Call Me Fitz on HBO Canada, or in the U.S. on Netflix or DirecTV.

Elwood has just signed a blind development deal with Jerry Bruckheimer Television.

Sheri splits her time between Los Angeles and Nova Scotia, where she and her family spend time at their century-old schoolhouse and love to ring the bell.

Follow Sheri on Twitter: @elwoodink

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! Look for it on Amazon – How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

023 – Jennica Harper (Shattered, Mr. Young)

Next in our “writers who have done it all” series is Vancouver-based TV/feature/graphic novel writer, poet, and stand-up comic Jennica Harper. Not only has she worked in many genres and mediums, but she has great tips and anecdotes about them.


Jennica Harper has published poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction in over 25 publications in Canada and the United States, as well as two poetry collections, and a graphic novel Abigail’s War, which she currently developing as a feature with Zeros2Heroes Media.

An award-winning stand-up comic, Jennica is a lot of fun to listen to … You’ll love the discussion on how story editing for Canadian features has many similarities to TV writing in Hollywood, yet how Hollywood feature writing differs from the Canadian approach.

Jennica also has a lot of great tips about breaking in, planting many seeds, and being aggressive at going after what you want.

Follow Jennica on Twitter: @jennicaharper

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! Look for it on Amazon – How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

018 – Corey Miller (CSI Miami, Body of Proof)

What’s another way to spell “juggernaut?” You could easily spell it C-S-I, or N-C-I-S. The franchises spawned by these shows dominate the ratings, and continue to deliver week after week, month after month. We are very fortunate to have writer-producer Corey Miller with us this week… you’re going to love his story!


Wannabe writers are often told: “get a job as an assistant!” Corey took this to a new level… you’ll love hearing how youthful naivete helped him to land a job with Oliver Stone, why life on Lois & Clark was much better without email, and how he spent much longer than usual in various assisting and coordinating positions before becoming a staff writer, and why it was worth the wait.

Through it all, Corey kept writing, and even though he didn’t have an agent, he sold two freelance scripts to CSI, and his next chapter began! In addition to a story he and then co-writer Philip Chung had sold to Lois & Clark, Corey has also written for six seasons of CSI: Miami, for NCIS: Los Angeles, The Forgotten, and Body of Proof.

Corey also wrote the independent feature Border to Border, and recently sold a pilot to The Peter Chernin Company and Fox.

Follow Corey on Twitter: @TooMuchFire

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! Look for it on Amazon – How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

017 – Steven Darancette (Animated TV)

Just like there are far fewer resources for learning TV writing than for learning to write features, there are an incredibly small number of resources for learning to write for animated TV. That’s why it is a great privilege to have animation writer Steven Darancette open a window for us into this field.


As an L.A.-based episodic TV animation writer, Steven has written for shows at Warner Bros. Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and others, including such well known animated shows as Ozzy & Drix, and Krypto – The Superdog. He has also created over a dozen animated TV series pitches that are in varying stages of development. He has a lot of wisdom to share!

Why will learning to draw help you to write scripts for animation? How does the pay structure for daytime animation work, and why is it highly different from primetime animated shows? Is it true that you pitch by email, even without an agent? If so, how? What problems will a US writer face if they want to tap into the large Canadian animation market?

Steven has also written and produced features, and has a number of projects in development. He has some interesting advice on what to do with the unsold feature scripts you’re written, which are now collecting dust in your drawer…

Follow Steven on Twitter: @sdarancette

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! Look for it on Amazon – How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.