Key takeaways from screenwriter Britta Lundin
Posting on behalf of Staci Bernstein
May 1st, 2018
Three things I learned from Britta Lundin that will help you stand the test of Hollywood. If you missed Britta’s talk you probably don’t know what “Ship It” means. Here’s what Google says: “A ‘ship’ is the concept of a fictional couple; to ‘ship’ a couple means to have an affinity for it in one way or another; a ‘shipper’ or a ‘fangirl/boy’ is somebody significantly involved with such an affinity; a ‘Shippingwar’ is when two ships contradict each other…” This is relevant because Britta’s feature film and now book Ship It not only launched her screenwriting career but landed her a publishing contract. How did she do it? And what can you learn from her success?
First, work hard. Yes. It’s not a shocker she attributes her success to hard work. I haven’t met a working screenwriter yet that didn’t list hard work as part of their secret sauce. But everyone seems to have their own definition of hard work. For me, it’s taking the garbage out before I watch TV. But when Britta says “hard work” she means, after getting a degree in political science go back to school and study film. Then move to LA and work 40 plus hours per week as an assistant in the film industry. Need time to write? Wake up 2 hrs early every day before work. So that’s what working hard means to her. Oh, and when she got staffed on Riverdale and hours ranged from 40 per week to insane, she still got up 2 hrs early to write because she took on a book contract.
Second, Britta networked hard. She said that she looked at her life as having three jobs. The morning writing job, the assistant job, and the third networking job. About three days a week she would go out for drinks with other assistants and colleagues. Lucky for her she’s really nice and extroverted. She made time on her holiday to come talk to us at the NWSG, so I think she’s pretty extra special. Oh, and did I mention she’s super funny and likable? Any sane person would want to be in the room with her.
Third, and hardest of all, she had faith in her process. I know that all writers face setbacks and Britta mentioned that early on she got feedback from her writing groups on a feature she wrote that while it was good and gritty, her voice wasn’t coming through. I asked how she managed the discouragement of that setback and she said she knew that if she worked hard and treated people well she would be a staffed writer within five years. I’ve noticed a lot of writers one or two years into their careers becoming disheartened and blocked when their first and second features don’t blast readers’ socks off. If you’re realistic about where you are on the learning curve it’s much easier to put in those two hours in the quiet of the morning. I’ve heard that the average time for successful writers to “break in” is about ten years so Britta’s running ahead of schedule.
She said lots of other fun and inspiring things, too, but at the end of the night these were my strongest take-aways and I hope that even if you didn’t get a chance to see her speak they can help inspire you.
Work hard, make friends, and have faith in yourself. Maybe in a few years you’ll be writing for one of the hottest TV series out there, and publishing your own book.
By the way, Britta’s book, Ship It, is available on Amazon.