The Writers Guild Initiative, a nonprofit affiliated with the Writers Guild of America East, has unveiled a new support staff training program for aspiring television writers set to launch next month.
WGI’s charter is to support people from marginalized communities who are looking to get into screenwriting. The Support Staff Program, funded by a grant from NBCUniversal, offers individuals two support staff career tracks: script assistant and script coordinator. Those accepted for the program will go through a bootcamp where they will be trained on industry standard programs such as Final Draft and virtual writers room simulations.
The program was created and designed by Ian Olympio, a member of WGA East who works on the Starz drama “P-Valley.” According to the guild, Olympio was inspired to create the program after having difficulty hiring support staff for season 2 of the series, as many of the more than 600 applicants did not know exactly what was required to work in. a writers room. Olympio also participated in the WGA East’s Made in NY Writers Room, a fellowship to support emerging writers in the industry.
“Everyone starts with no experience,” Olympio said in a statement. “Finding the right opportunities to be taught and nurtured is what makes all the difference, changes lives and builds careers. I am living proof. It is my hope to impart universal skills and build a network of connections for the next wave of pre-WGA writers. So when they get that first job in support staff, they’re already set for success.
The program is also overseen by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Vice President of WGA East and Co-Chair of the WGA East Committee for Inclusion and Equity, who logged in to NBCUniversal. Jeanne Mau, Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion of Television Programming at NBCUniversal, oversees the program on behalf of the company. Matt Fennell, Tian Jun Gu, Nina Stiefel, Sheli Paige Frank, Justin Weinberger and Matthew Begbie will help run workshops for the program, while Jenna Bond will manage the application process.
The first cycle of the program will accept up to 10 applicants. To be eligible, applicants must have previously worked as production assistants, but have not served as assistant writers or script coordinators on a television series. Additionally, the program caters to people of color, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, or over the age of 40, and is based in the eastern United States.