In the dynamic realm of television comedy writing, Beverly D. Hunter emerges as a seasoned luminary, generously sharing her extensive expertise through the transformative course, Half-Hour TV I, at UCLA Extension. Hunter’s journey through the intricacies of the industry, coupled with her commitment to nurturing emerging talent, makes this course an invaluable resource for aspiring writers seeking to make their mark in the world of comedy.
Beverly Hunter’s personal journey mirrors the challenges and triumphs faced by many aspiring comedy writers. Growing up during the Civil Rights movement and experiencing the institutional realities of a race in America, Hunter found solace in academia at Howard University. However, corporate America presented new challenges, leading her to a career in television comedy writing.
Her experiences in the Warner Bros. Comedy Writers’ Workshop were pivotal, exposing her to the hierarchy and protocol of the writers’ room. Hunter emphasizes the delicate balance required of a staff writer—knowing when to speak up and when to listen. Through her workshop participation, she gained numerous opportunities, underlining the vital importance of understanding story structure in the world of comedy writing.
Lessons from an Interview with Beverly
1. The Power of Preparation and Opportunity:
Hunter’s journey exemplifies the saying, “Success is when preparation and opportunity meet.” Before applying to the Warner Bros. Comedy Writers’ Workshop, she committed to a year of dedicated scriptwriting. This decision, coupled with the opportunity presented by the workshop, paved the way for her breakthrough into the industry. The lesson here is clear: aspiring writers should be both prepared and persistent, keeping their goals in focus despite the challenges.
2. The Significance of Clarity in Character Goals:
In Hunter’s class, the first step for students is to develop a clear goal for their central character. Drawing parallels to her own writing process for the dramedy pilot “Parental Discretion,” she emphasizes the importance of writing from emotional truth. The lesson extends to the audience; if they understand the central character’s goal, the stakes, and the journey, they become emotionally invested in the narrative.
3. Rewriting as the Critical Step: Hunter stresses the significance of the rewriting process in screenwriting. Whether rewriting her own script or working on a client’s, she considers overall notes and scrutinizes the story structure, character arcs, and turning points. The emphasis on rewriting as a critical step underscores the iterative nature of crafting a compelling script.
4. Humor Rooted in Character:
As a television comedy writer, Hunter places great importance on humor derived from character traits, quirks, and flaws. Forcing humor is discouraged; instead, understanding the characters deeply and placing them in challenging situations is key. This insight underlines the nuanced approach to humor, emphasizing its organic connection to character dynamics.
Conclusion: Ms. Hunter is currently shopping her half-hour single-cam dramedy pilot, Parental Discretion. During the writing/rewriting process, she asks herself rigorous series of questions about her characters and about her motivations as a writer. The script came to life when she started writing from her core emotional truth, although parts of it were fiction. “Writing from those truths helps the reader have a visceral connection to the show,” Hunter noted.
Aspiring comedy writers enrolled in Half-Hour TV I can anticipate not just a course but an enriching journey guided by an industry expert who understands the delicate art of crafting comedic narratives. Hunter’s class becomes a space where personal experiences, industry insights, and the magic of comedy intersect to shape the next generation of television comedy writers. You can enroll for the Spring course here, alongside other superstar Writers’ Program instructors including Sam Laybourne and Andrew Osborne.
Enrollment for Spring Quarter opens February 5th, with most classes commencing the week of April 1st.
P.S. For writers aspiring to elevate their craft to new heights, Beverly Hunter’s Advanced Workshop: One-on-One Feature Film Rewrite stands as another Spring opportunity. Tailored for serious writers committed to transforming good scripts into outstanding ones, this intensive workshop with a limited enrollment of 12 participants offers personalized guidance from Beverly herself. The structure is meticulous, with a focus on analyzing overall script strengths and weaknesses. The weekly submission and feedback loop, addressing critical elements like structure, characterization, and scene construction, ensures a comprehensive exploration of the screenwriting process. As you embark on rewriting your full-length feature film script, the goal is not just improvement but mastery, preparing you to confidently step into screenplay competitions and the competitive commercial marketplace. Beverly Hunter’s Advanced Workshop promises an immersive and transformative experience, propelling your screenplay to the forefront of excellence in the world of feature film writing.