I was very lucky to be a part of the Netflix Foundations Mentorship Program. I first received the invitation on the last day of August, which surprised me. This was a major opportunity, as I could learn how television and movies work behind the scenes, and it provided another career choice for me.
Before I got into Exceptional Minds, I majored in English because I enjoy storytelling. At the time, I didn’t know if having a career majoring in English would be best in helping me achieve my objectives. Most jobs related to English were to be a grant writer, librarian, or social media manager. I wanted a career where I would make stories from my creative mind, but I lacked the means and resources to do so. That’s when I found Exceptional Minds and began majoring in VFX, looking to start a career in the subject. This makes me think joining the Netflix mentorship program three years later was an enormous stroke of luck for me.
I was part of a writing group at Netflix, and my mentor was Amanda McCann, a writer on comic books. She currently works at Netflix on the animation side, working on a show called Battle Kitty. I have met other mentees as well, including students who are associated at Exceptional Minds, Kate McSpadden and Adam Schering. Throughout the eight weeks at the group, my time was fun, creative, and supportive.
The writing group was very informative, helpful, and organized. The first assignment was to create a premise in two to three sentences. I made the premise based on the Powerpuff Girls, and I unwittingly accomplished my mentor’s goals in two steps...completing the assignment and creating my own episode. In creating the premise for the individual show, I chose to do Rick and Morty, which is my favorite animation where the duo goes on sci-fi adventures.
After writing my premise for Rick and Morty, Amanda gave the group lessons on writing. I learned that one page equals one minute related to the show. Writing for animation and live-action shows are complex. For a writer to know what they’re writing about, they have to research genres, starting with the beginning, middle, and end. There should be internal and external conflicts and lessons for the characters to learn.
To create an episode for Rick and Morty, A and B plot points are used for the characters. The A plot is the main conflict, while the B plot is a side dramedy. I wrote one sentence based on the premise I made in each act for six sentences to follow the story structure. When I presented my outline with bullet points to Amanda and other mentees, they praised my first draft based on my format, but they noted the need to elaborate more on the story and place sentences in proper acts.
After writing the outline, Amanda taught us how to find jobs for writing in the industry. When applying for writing jobs, we have to research and reach out to people and groups. This involves joining a professional writing organization and starting as a production assistant at a studio to learn their work habits. Amanda gave out helpful tips for writing and job searching.
We then wrote outlines we turned into scripts. I quickly wrote out the three acts throughout because I know the world and setting of Rick and Morty. I made myself three rules for the show - everyone in the show is mostly rude, every character introduced is scooched off for the new ones, and there is a twisted lesson for the characters to learn.
After creating my first script draft, I showed the script to my friends and family for feedback and corrections on grammar and dialogues improvements. The reception to my script was positive, and when I shared my final draft with the writing group, I felt happiness. They praised the post-credits scene ending, my current knowledge of current events, and the episode’s story.
As my mentorship at Netflix ended, I became more enlightened and knowledgeable about the entertainment industry, improved my writing skills, and socialized with people more. The drawback for me majoring in VFX instead of writing is that they are two separate departments. Maybe one day I can do both VFX and writing as jobs.
My unofficial script can be found on my portfolio website: rosengardcreations.com. There you may read the adventures of Rick and Morty I made in the episode. Allow me to give big thanks to Amanda McCann for being my mentor who helped me improve my writing and script and to Netflix for giving me the chance to learn from this mentorship.