FILE – In this April 8, 2017 file photo, Shonda Rhimes attends the “Scandal” 100th Episode Celebration at Fig & Olive in West Hollywood, California. Rhimes, the mastermind behind “Grey’s Anatomy” and other TV hits, the parts of her script writing expertise by means of an online masterclass. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES – Shonda Rhimes, the TV mastermind whose hits include “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” keep a lid on plot twists. But it gives novice screenwriters a behind-the-scenes look at how to succeed in her profession.
In six hours of online lessons, Rhimes offers lessons on writing scripts, setting up pilots, and how the series’ writers work together to create stories and scenarios. Scripts of “Annoyance” and the “story bible”, from the characters and the structure of “Grey’s Anatomy” are part of her masterclass.com of course.
So why spill?
“I love the idea that for $90, someone who could not afford to go to film school would get from this class,” Rhimes said. “It doesn’t matter where you are, what you did, where you were in your life, you could stop for a little bit of time and take this class and for this training.”
“It felt like an equalizer for me, and that was great,” she said of the project from San Francisco-based company MasterClass, adding, “I’m also a child of professors, so it seems to be the way to go: You learn things.”
The so-called second golden age of television, with its extensive number of outlets, including streaming platforms, has created new, but not unlimited possibilities. Breaking into the competitive field requires creative thinking and the on and off of the page, Rhimes suggested.
They went to the “film-school route,” she said, but there are other ways to get started.
“I would suggest getting a job as a PA (production assistant), everywhere, because it is a way in-and much of this is about knowing people,” Rhimes said. Entering — and winning the many available writing competitions is a different path, ” she said.
Keep in mind the advantage of writing about other entertainment-industry professions, Rhimes said.
“For young TV writers are trying to get, by writing, is the only work that you can do in this business as a nobody to hire to do it,” she said. “You can sit at your computer or your notebook and write a script … and a business card.”
And there are jobs to be had, she assures hope for the future. That includes at Shondaland, her production company also behind “How to Get Away with Murder.”
“We are always looking for people who are not from here (the industry), because they are new and fresh voice,” Rhimes said.