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Rising Stars: Studying Drama to Penning Screenplays

By Emma Beavers

Lauren's love of writing and creative-writing education ultimately led to her current position as a screenwriter for Disney, a job she loves for its creativity and ability to reach as wide an audience as possible. She found her dream job on her first-go round and intends to continue to develop her skills as a writer for both film and television.

Name: Lauren Horowitz
School: Harvard
Major: English
Years Out of College: 0-2
Title: Screenwriter
Company: Disney
First Steps

Lauren has always loved to write and knew that she wanted to pursue writing as a career, but wasn't entirely sure what form that career would take. As an English major, she focused on Renaissance drama and took creative writing classes, but it wasn't until after graduation that she began to seriously pursue television and screenwriting.

"I sat down and wrote an entire television series, just to see if I could do it. I wrote a pilot and a full, 100+ page bible for my series, detailing character arcs and plot points throughout 22 detailed one-hour episodes. I also wrote a complete narrative backstory as a prequel to my pilot episode. At the end of the project, I decided to just send the whole thing out to see if I could get some feedback, and I ended up getting hired to write a movie! Executives at ABC Family (Disney) liked my writing style and hired me to write a made-for-television movie for them."

My Experience

"The movie I am working on is loosely based on a real story, so I began the process by researching the actual story and events to familiarize myself with the material. I had some creative meetings with executives in Los Angeles where we discussed how fictional and how factual we wanted the project to be. From there the writing process began--treatment, various drafts, and polish."

Since Lauren is based in New York, she writes from home and flies to L.A. for meetings. She loves what she's doing and feels that television and film are particularly well-suited for allowing her to be a true storyteller and reach a wide audience, two elements which she has always considered vital. "I wouldn't trade what I am doing now for anything."

Next Steps

If she ever decided to branch out into directing or some other area of the movie industry, Lauren would consider attending film school, but for now she's exactly where she wants to be. "I'm content to write for the screen and to keep learning as I go by working on as many projects and with as many people as I can." As far as future projects go, a major goal is to write a successful television series; she's hard at work on several ideas right now.

Advice for Others

Lauren feels that her background in both English literature and drama more specifically has been essential to her development as a storyteller. "I think it is very important for aspiring storytellers to read established storytellers in order to learn style and skills, and also to become familiar with the mythology that already exists in literature. My background in drama also helped me make the transition from narrative fiction writing to writing dialogue for screenplays."

She also advises keeping up on industry trades like Variety and Hollywood Reporter, whose reports give an idea of the types of projects that are successful--or not. "It can help you to package yourself and your work more effectively if you get a sense of what is being actively courted in the industry."

The best and most inspirational advice she has received, however, has been to "be tenacious" and never let others' opinions of her work influence her commitment to it. "You have to keep writing and keep pushing, and always be able to separate your confidence in yourself from the reception that any particular piece of work may receive."

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