How to become a children’s television writer in 601 easy steps – Part 1.

Step 1: Sacrifice your dream of becoming an ice skating crab. 

I didn’t always want to be a writer, I wanted to play Sebastian the crab in a production of Disney On Ice. Alas, at the age of eleven my figure skating curriculum began to clash with saturday morning cartoons and I was regrettably forced into an early retirement. I didn’t know it at the time but this tremendous sacrifice was the first of many I would make on my journey towards writing for children’s television.

Sebastian-with-Seahorses

Step 2: Write some stuff.

I write episodes (the stories, the dialogue and the bad jokes) for shows like: Tashi, Figaro Pho, Winston Steinburger and Sir Dudley Ding Dong, Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs, Guess How Much I Love You and I’m just about to start writing for one of my childhood favourites: Blinky Bill. I’ve also provided the voices for flatulent cartoon birds, town bullies and monkey princesses for TV shows: Heidi, Figaro Pho and Tashi. When I have spare time I spend it working on my web comic, Super Lonely Mutant Girl, developing my own kid’s TV shows and books, or rocking back and forth in the corner of my bedroom.

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Super Lonely Mutant Girl

Step 3: Work out how to get paid to write stuff.

I didn’t know my job was a job people job’d at until I was jobbing my job on the daily. Fact. I spent my childhood writing stories, creating cartoons and watching everything Jim Henson ever made. Growing up, I was always a good writer but I was a terrible spellerer, grammernator and syntaxinizor. My high school English teachers would say, “Why you so good write story but no make words in the right place?” As it turns out I was lysdexic. This, I was sure, guaranteed that I would never be a writer, so I started writing the only kind of stories that no one would ever have to read: films.

Tashi

“Tashi” is currently airing on ABC3.

Step 4: Become BFF’s with baked beans.

At Seventeen, I got a grant to make a short film about a girl who wanted to be a painting. I was so young my mum had to sign my production contract. The film won some awards and I was nominated for Best Young Australian Filmmaker. I was pretty sure at this rate Spielberg would be calling soon. Spoiler alert: he didn’t. Over the next six years I wrote and directed around twenty more short films, music videos and television commercials. Most of them ended up in a fire, lit by the coals of my own self-loathing. I worked on at least a hundred other productions in various capacities: shooting, editing, production designing, clapper loading, coffee bitch’n. I went to film school for a long while. I assistant directed a children’s feature film. Once I ironed Weird Al Yankovic’s shirts. Another time I played Lara Croft in an amusement park haunted house. When I wasn’t doing that I was paying my rent by working casual jobs with an enjoyment level of: kill me now.

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Step 5: If you can’t work as a writer, work near them.

When I moved to Sydney, I had to get a real job to pay my OMFG-are-you-kidding-me rent. Luckily, a person knew a person, who knew another person who worked in a place and I ended up working as a production assistant on Happy Feet 2. I was disappointed to learn animation studios weren’t fitted with musical keyboard stairs and there wasn’t a crazy hat day BUT I learnt how real movies were made. I wrote emails, I scheduled things and I got coffees for George Miller. After that, I got another job in an animation studio that made kid’s TV and eventually I started writing for them because 1) I asked, 2) I could, and most importantly 3) I was there.

Without a doubt, the best way to become a children’s television writer is to be around people who need children’s television writers.

Next week: Step 6 – Ideas come from the same place that babies do.

Follow Charlotte:

http://superlonelymutantgirl.tumblr.com
http://www.charlotterosehamlyn.com
Instagram: @charrose & @lonelymutantgirl