Becky Hartman Edwards- Co-Executive Producer: Pitch
When did you realize you wanted to work in television?
I read a lot when I was a kid, but I also watched a lot of TV. My favorite shows were reruns that were on in the afternoon — “Get Smart,” “That Girl” and then prime time shows like “Family” and late night shows like “Saturday Night Live” and “David Letterman.” Despite watching all that TV, I had no idea that people actually wrote for TV.
In college I thought I wanted to be a sports writer but by graduation I realized that I didn’t want to do that as a profession so I moved to New York and ended up working as a freelance writer, doing any and all writing I could find (backs of books, brochures, Entertainment News minutes for VH-1) while taking a class at the New School by a former SNL writer on monologues, dialogs and sketch writing. Once I took that class it all made sense. That’s when I realized I wanted to write for TV.
What advice do you have for college students who are looking to pursue the television industry?
Live as much life as you can. Immerse yourself in the world. Take as many classes that have nothing to do with TV. Read as many books that have nothing to do with entertainment as you can. Write as much as you can– in a journal, for your school paper, plays, sketches, webisodes… whatever form speaks to you. Try to work on finding and refining your voice. Make sure your references in your writing aren’t just TV shows or movies… find things in real life that inspire you, move you, that only you could write.
Get an internship in the entertainment industry so you can know what working in the business really entails.
What was your first job in the industry? What did you learn from it?
My first job was a paid internship for a media company called Lorimar-Telepictures. The president of the company hired two college graduates to rotate through the company, create projects for themselves. I spent six months in New York and six months in Los Angeles. I got a chance to sit in on board meeting where they discussed long term strategies, I got to work as a production assistant on live sports broadcasts, I wrote on the company newsletter where I interviewed the “Dallas” show runner. This gave me a great overview of the business. I also quickly learned that I’d much rather be involved in the creative side of the industry rather than the business side. But I also learned that the entertainment industry is very much a business and you can’t be naive about that fact.
What is your writing process like?
I always do a lot of research. If possible I try to shadow people in the profession I’m writing about so I can get a real feel for what their daily lives are like. I interview as many people as I can and read up on the world I’m writing about. I also like to know in a deep way, what I’m writing about. What is the central, deep question or emotion that’s driving me to write this pilot/episode and what is my main character grappling with. That helps me structure the story and let’s me know what scenes I really need and which I don’t.
When I’m writing an episode of television, the writing staff usually breaks the episode together, which means we talk about the structure of the episode, decide which stories we’re telling and how. Then I use that material to write an outline. I’ll get notes from the other writers and the showrunners and then start writing. It usually takes me about 5-7days to write a draft and then it’s more rounds of notes and rewriting until we start shooting.
What is something you wish someone had told you about the industry?
Make sure you keep some kind of work-life balance. Working in television is a blast, but it can be all consuming. Don’t forget to nourish and spend time on the other aspects of your life.
How has your time been on Pitch so far? The Pilot was so great!
I’ve been writing for television for over 25 years and “Pitch” is probably my best experience yet. Dan Fogelman, Kevin Falls and Rick Singer are the most generous, kind and talented group of writing EPs I’ve ever worked with. I LOVE the show. The cast is so talented and the writing staff is fantastic. We all realize that we’re working on something really special and grateful every day.
What was the most memorable moment from your time working on In Living Color and Switched at Birth?
My most memorable moment from “In Living Color” was when I first started. The first sketch of mine they produced was the “Magenta Thompson” talk show, featuring a bitter former actress played by the very talented Kelly Coffield, who was always the woman that got pushed out of the way in Blaxpoitation movies. I walked onto our sound stage and saw our production crew building the set, hanging the sign “The Magenta Thompson Show” and was overwhelmed. I couldn’t believe all these people were doing all this work because of something I’d written.
My most memorable moment from “Switched at Birth” was while we were filming episode 108 “Pandora’s Box” which I co-wrote with the series creator Lizzy Weiss. It was the episode when Regina finally confesses that she knew the girls had been switched. Constance Marie’s performance was so moving and brave, I remember being on the set and just being blown away.
What’s your favorite thing that you’ve written throughout your career thus far?
I’ve written three pilots that I’ve loved. One – “Practical Magic” was produced and even had back-up scripts ordered, but didn’t go to series. The other two “Faultlines” and “Far From the Tree” were never shot, but I really loved.
As far as series go, I’ve really enjoyed working on most of them. My favorites probably are “Living Single,” “American Dreams,” “Parenthood,” “Switched at Birth,” and “Pitch.”
What shows made you fall in love with television? What shows are you currently loving?
Growing up I watched lots of sitcoms in re-runs. Two of my favorites were “That Girl” and “Get Smart.” They made me want to write comedy. “Saturday Night Live” was also a big influence. As far as one hours, I loved the show “Family” and as I got older “NYPD Blue.”
Currently, I love “Jane the Virgin,” “The Americans,” and “Better Things.”