Here’s the next guest post from ChomPics personnel! This time it’s the head writer for the pilot episode of “Off University,” Katelyn Mears:
This project kind of fell onto my lap, since for the most part I delete all the J-school e-mails I receive. I joined the Telecom program as a Junior, so it wasn’t instilled into my sporadic brain how important those e-mails (some of them) are. I didn’t know many Telecom kids and I wasn’t involved in NBS or anything of the sort, so I had basically cut off anyway for me to find out about awesome opportunities like this one. I mostly focus all my attention to Theatre Strike Force (TSF), a comedy improv and sketch troupe, where I am Fall Show1 Director. Luckily, Connor and I share a love for sketch comedy. Through a friend, Rachel Newman2, he found out about TSF Sketch and decided to apply to the team. On the first day on RTV3320, Rachel introduced us and I thought Man, this kid doesn’t look like a degenerate problem-causing punk; remember that when you’re lookin’ at applications.
1 Fall Show: A mind-blowingly “oops I peed my pants” hilarious sketch show TSF puts on every fall. What’s that, “You missed the show because you’re a self-destructive human being?” It’s okay, check out the sketches here: http://www.youtube.com/user/theatrestrikeforce?feature=g-high-crv
2 Rachel Newman: A super cool person who wrote the 2nd episode and is now interning for David Lettermen
It turned out I was right. He wasn’t a degenerate problem-causing punk and it also turned out that he was a great sketch writer and over all human being. During the first sketch meeting I was reading stage directions for “You Got A Problem3,” a sketch Connor wrote and I literally started crying from laughter. At that moment I completely trusted Connor creatively; later I would come to trust him as a producer and friend. The second he asked me to be a part of the writing team, I was in. I knew that anything Connor believed in I could as well. I remember him nervously talking about the first meeting in that room we all know so well now, 10904 and how he was afraid no one was going to show up even though the Facebook event had 68 people going.
3 “You Got A Problem:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-76hwDWINVg&feature=youtu.be
4 1090: The writing team spent 6 consecutive hours outlining the pilot episode in there where most of the ideas are unsuitable to annotate
At that fateful first meeting when we contorted our sweat young adult bodies into that small room I felt the excitement. None of us had ever had an opportunity like this before. The energy wasn’t the best part of that meeting though, Beth Benge was. This was the first time I met Beth. And it was great. I thought, This chick and so many other things. During the first meeting Beth played a Ben Wyatt5 to Connor’s Chris Tragger. Connor talked about the love and preparation that has gone into getting this project started and Beth would jump in with how serious everyone needs to take it. They were a perfect team and everyone could see it. We all knew that this was going to happen and it was going to be great6.
5 Ben Wyatt: A hard ass on Parks and Recreation. Beth is much sweeter and easier to talk with. Also, Benà Beth; Chrisà Connor… Weird.
6 Great: my favorite adjective
For the Writing Team, things got started pretty quickly, since we wanted to finish the pilot in time to submit it to the NBS National Convention. We all came to the first pitch meeting with a lot of ideas, but we weren’t really sure about anything. Rene Ciarmataro7 had an idea about girls wanting their MRS degrees (which led to Kelsey’s character). This was our best idea and with the time crunch we decided to run with it. Rene was assigned to do the pilot and knowing I would work well with Rene, I signed up with her. When the two of us met up to start writing, we realized that we had nothing. No outline, no character, no idea really. We just sat there for a while thinking what have we got ourselves into. So we went to the drawing board (a table in the Reitz across from Pollo Tropical). And we created the Mia8, Cody, Kelsey, and Johnathan. Then we wrote the first draft… and it was bad and a little sad. We had no plot and had no idea what we were doing. So we had another writer’s meeting to work shop the script and we decided to throw it out, but Rene and I were very pleased that all our characters remained. We knew that sending the writers off blind would not work, so we spent six hours outlining the pilot in that dreaded room. Rene and I were sent off again and this time we came back with the script you will soon be seeing.
7 Rene Ciarmataro: Also on TSF Sketch. She was pretty patient with me not knowing how to spell anything during our writing sessions.
8 Rene and I originally gave Mia the name Lacey, but apparently that name as certain connotations that we did not think of.
The writing process was new and exciting. I’d written many five-minute sketches before, but nothing with any meaning or depth. I feel very attached to these characters mostly because they all have weird quirks that come from my own life9. I really enjoyed working with people I trust and I’m thrilled to continue on this journey. I’m very proud of what Rene and I wrote and I’m excited to find out what everyone thinks.
9 Like Cody, I am often found on the floor or in bushes.