Interview with screenwriter : Anika Jarrett 

Jamaican-Canadian; Toronto native; twin sister; and recent LA transplant. Entrepreneur. Writer with a background in social work, community development and business management. Content creator. Award-winning filmmaker of in the dark.


When did you fall in love with writing (your defining moment)?

I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with writing. But we’re very much in love right now and deeply inspired.

What movies or stories inspire your creativity?

Manchild in the Promised Land (Book); Ruby (Book); Life is Beautiful (Movie); Malcolm X (Movie); The Wire (TV); Sons of Anarchy (TV)

I love a good crime drama…or a coming of age story with a nostalgic feel that tugs at my emotions =)

 

We saw that you were recently selected for the Master Class in Television Pilot writing with Phil Kellard. What was the process for applying for that program and what has been your experience so far?

I spent quite a bit of time online researching the top writer development courses and programs locally and abroad. The 6-month Master Class in Television Pilot writing offered at UCLA was exactly what I needed to gain professional credibility and experience as a working writer. The application process requires applicants to provide a personal statement; a copy of their completed spec or original tv script; a synopsis of their completed spec or original tv script, and 3 or more original story premises. It is a fairly competitive course with only 8 applicants selected per year. How is the course? I love every second of it! The on-going feedback and support received from Phil and my classmates, coupled with the collaborative work environment has been an invaluable part of my learning experience thus far!

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?

Be observant of people and personal encounters with others. Find inspiration from all walks of life, particularly within your own lived experiences. This will lead your unique voice and guide your writing style. Your unique style can be further developed in how you tell your story and what your characters bring to your story. Infusing the personal intricacies of your characters will guide any plot. Everything has already been done so focus on bringing a fresh angle to a familiar subject in order to appeal to your target audience.


You made the big move that most filmmakers dream of (packing up and moving to Hollywood) what prompted this big leap and what does that look like?

I was way too comfortable back home. My life and daily routine had become all too familiar. I had been developing my craft for a few years off and on and decided to get more serious this past year. After deciding on the Master Class, I opened a few savings accounts, took some extra shifts at my 2nd job, and rented out my Toronto apartment on Airbnb while couch surfing for most of the summer. I did my research on budget friendly Los Angeles neighborhoods that had a high transit score and walk score (I don’t drive), was approved for a leave of absence from work, and made my move! I’ve been in LA for almost 2 months now. It took me a week to find an apartment. I spent my first 2 weeks with Airbnb just to be on the safe side. I should also mention that although the move was planned well in advance, my acceptance into the program didn’t come until after my move. Thankfully, everything worked out! But I would have never known had I not invested in myself and taken that risk!

What questions should a writer ask herself prior to crafting their story?

What kind of writer do you want to be? What kind of story do you want to tell? What are your main character’s goals, fears and motivations? Who do you want your target audience to be? What kind of message do you want to convey through your story telling?

What’s your favorite quote?

Jessie Williams’ entire acceptance speech when he received the BET Humanitarian Award!!! Check it out on YouTube if you haven’t seen it already =).

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on a few TV Pilots; one of which is a period piece that I’ll be pitching pretty soon. I also hope to do some much needed international travel.

 

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