Thoughts To New Screenwriters On Beginning A Career In Hollywood by Kathie Fong Yoneda

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Film Courage:  Kathie I believe you’ve told us previously that you started out in the studios via a typing pool?

Kathie Fong Yoneda:  Yes! [laughs]

Film Courage:  And then you started to be given notes and realized you were really in your element.  So having been in the industry for some time, how does the film and television industry really work?  You’ve seen it from being at the level of a secretary in the typing pool, sort as an observer and maybe hearing things where people didn’t even know you were listening, and then from working your way up to a much higher level.  How does it work?

Kathie Fong Yoneda:  Well, if you want to use it as a basis of comparison, I think a lot of it has to do with technology.  First of all, a lot of things that were done on a typewriter are no longer.  It’s now on a computer.  So technology is different.  I do think that there are more people interested in becoming involved within the studios and the networks.

One of the things I really noticed is there used to be 10 to 12 studios and there are now something like 6 studios.  Something like that.

Remember we used to have 3 basic networks CBS, ABC and NBC and look how many cable stations and how many smaller networks for television that we have.  We have streaming, we have more areas where a person can get projects placed.  So that is great because there is more opportunities which I think everyone needs.  I think that’s a good thing and a huge difference from what it was when I first started off.

To see the list of resources Kathie Fong Yoneda references in this interview, please visit this link here

Film Courage:  How does it really work?  In terms of if you were to sit down and have lunch with someone that has come from another state or another country and they have a vision of it how would you sort of give them maybe this 15-minute or less briefing on this is how [the entertainment industry] works.  It’s either sort of an open system, it’s a closed system, this is how the process works of getting projects approved.

Kathie Fong Yoneda:  Okay.  Let’s take it in sort of very brief kind of terms. If it were about a script, which I think most of your viewers are interested in screenwriting.  In terms of screenwriting, it’s different now because you can get your script to other people in terms of Amazon, which has a little more of an open policy.  You don’t necessarily have to have an agent.  I’ve heard of people who have just sent things to Amazon and it’s gotten read.  There are more opportunities in terms of there are all kinds of conferences now and pitchfests where you can make these contacts and network.  They didn’t have that 15 to 20 years ago.  There were just very few opportunities to have a writer meet with agents and producers and executives.  Now there is more of those opportunities.

Film Courage:  Interesting.  So most people to present their writing would need an agent and it would have to be through somebody else?

Kathie Fong Yoneda:  Except for web series, which is another area that I think we’ll get into in a little while.  But web series you can put that on Vimeo, you can put it on YouTube.  You don’t really need to have an agent.  In fact, most people don’t have agents that are web series creators.

Film Courage:  Right.  So in terms of getting an agent, are there certain agents that aren’t able to pitch to studios your behalf or it’s a free system in that way.  I’m just trying to see from let’s say a total newbies perspective coming here [to Los Angeles] and thinking that they could just basically knock on the door and see the person at the front desk and hand [their manuscript over], that’s not really how it works.

Kathie Fong Yoneda:  To get an agent you have to have material.  Having a script is not going to going to do it (watch the video interview on Youtube here).

Watch the video interview here

The Script-Selling Game: A Hollywood Insider’s Look at Getting Your Script Sold and Produced / By Kathie Fong Yoneda



With over 25 years of industry experience, Kathie Fong Yoneda has worked for such prestigious studios as Paramount, Columbia, MGM, Universal, 20th Century Fox, and Disney, specializing in story analysis and development of live action and animated projects. Her career includes executive positions with Walt Disney, Touchstone, Island Pictures and Walt Disney TV Animation where she has evaluated more than 18,000 submissions (Read more here).




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