Kaitlin Kelly and Andy Heriaud joined us this afternoon during our Launch Pad Twitter Chat to talk about their process of writing as partners, how to handle negative feedback, and a whole lot more (including what their Jaegar name would be). Kelly and Heriaud are the writers of “Winter,” which looks at the de-evolution of society as we enter into a modern ice age. In the year 2015, an unknown event has started severe global cooling, leading the United States to range from fertile croplands to frozen wastelands. During these times, four people struggle to hold themselves, their families and the country together, before forces of nature rip the world apart. Think “The Walking Dead” in tone, but from the perspective of the people and the government. (Plus there’s a wolf!)
In case you missed the session, here’s the transcript of Kelly and Heriaud’s Twitter Chat:
@MyTrackingBoard: We’re going to kick this chat off with a question of our own…
@MyTrackingBoard: From your perspective as #writers, what makes #LPFC unique as a screenwriting competition?
@andyheriaud (Andy Heriaud): It feels like a place by #writers for #writers. They gave a lot of advice throughout the process. It doesn’t just end when the winners are announced! You truly become part of a family of talented people.
@CaitlinMcWriter: @kaitlin_kelly @MyTrackingBoard I can attest to the ongoing advice and family atmosphere as an #LPPC alum. 8-)
@2writestuff: only ever written solo. Did you always write together? If not, why did you start partner writing?
@kaitlin_kelly (Kaitlin Kelly): I used to write solo all the time, but @andyheriaud and I clicked really well immediately upon meeting…and now, we find that our ideas are so much better together there’s no point to writing alone…
@kaitlin_kelly: For me, it gives me a sounding board, and it’s really exciting to break stories together.
@andyheriaud: Solo wrote for three years in college, my work is faster & better with @kaitlin_kelly…It’s like having your own small writer’s room. It’s invaluable to write with others
@2writestuff: Clicked personality wise? Or did you meet through your writings?
@kaitlin_kelly: Yes, personality wise! We met our first semester at NYU, became friends, then wrote. :)
@RobbyGallais asks: What advice would you give to younger writers about how to handle negative feedback?
@kaitlin_kelly: I’d add that it’s just a lot of personal security. Remembering that you always have something to learn and that even the best writers get critique. And listen to a lot of Kanye, that guy loves himself. #LPFC
@andyheriaud: A lot of finding success is keeping at it and not letting negativity stop you from honing your craft
@andyheriaud: Kanye’s last album blew, but he keeps going, and the next will be awesome!
@DavideFootball asks: what do you find to be the hardest part of a pitch meeting?
@kaitlin_kelly: Aside from the obvious nerves, letting go of your instinct to be adverse to changing thing…
@kaitlin_kelly: Preparing to answer every possible question, back up things, but also making concessions. It’s a good thing to practice just being really chill and amicable.
@andyheriaud: And when the questions start, being able to think on your toes and reinvent some things if need be.
@kaitlin_kelly: I’d add that it’s just a lot of personal security. Remembering that you always have something to learn
@TheRealKennyKoo asks: softball question, but when did you guys know you wanted to be writers?
@kaitlin_kelly: My mom has ‘books’ I wrote when I was in kindergarten, and in 8th grade I wrote a novel. Even when I seriously considered being a doctor, I wanted to be a writer. For me, absurdly life-long.
@Hiram_Beck asks: Is it too early to decide whether you guys like writing features or for TV better?
@andyheriaud: It’s definitely not! Writing TV is a lot more fun. Developing an idea that can go for years is exciting and challenging. But it’s a medium that is always evolving and is putting out some of the best stuff…
@andyheriaud: Writing flicks is a whole game that is, for me, less fun to do. Lots of respect for people who do it.
@2writestuff asks: Your thoughts on the recent popularity of the post apocalyptic genre? Another fad?
@kaitlin_kelly: Genres resonate with us for very specific reasons. Post-apocalypse is no different. If the world suddenly goes to hell, it’s bad—but also our debts are relieved, no more job searches no mean bosses. The world becomes equalized. The skillful and strong survive, the weak suffer. In a downturn economy it’s a grim yet romantic notion that tomorrow, we could all have a clean slate and truly a meaningful fight for survival, not just paying our rent and making ends meet.
@Joerobinow: I’m more of a fan of the pre-apocalyptic genre.
@andyheriaud: You saw the genre get very popular in the 70’s and 80’s. Tough times make it resonate.
@2writestuff: Good points. I guess we’re all looking for superheroes nowadays too.
@TheRealKennyKoo asks: follow-up question: you guys are tisch alum, right? was film school “worth it?”
@kaitlin_kelly: Yes! Tisch. And totally. I can critique the price of education but film school prepared me for so much of what this industry would throw at me. @dbgilles was instrumental in making me the writer that I am, not just in story but in the reality of the business. So, so indispensable.
@andyheriaud: NYU really expedited a lot of creative growing pains. I grew more there than I would have on my own
@Mark_Tradewell asks: what’s the hardest part of a script for you? 1st 2nd or 3rd acts?
@andyheriaud: The 2nd act, it’s the meatiest and most important part, also the hardest! A bad second act will hurt a movie much more than a bad third act. Also having an ending in mind and knowing how to work to that ending in a satisfying and propulsive way. 1st acts are easy peasy by comparison.
@kaitlin_kelly: I hate first acts, personally. I just don’t like exposition! This is why having a cowriter rocks.
@watsupjustine asks: there are upsides, but what a few of the more difficult aspects of having a partner?
@kaitlin_kelly: If you’re in a cranky mood, tired, whatever, then you’re not just struggling to write but also communicate! Luckily @andyheriaud are Drift Compatible and finish each other’s sentences.
@andyheriaud: Sometimes being able to communicate a complex idea that will play out visually over several pages is not super easy to do verbally. And if you’ve been working for several hours it can get frustrating.That being said we’re more often on the same page than not. We often can finish each other’s…
@andyheriaud: Being able to share food is crucial.
@MyTrackingBoard: Ok, so then what would your Jaeger name be? ;) #buttingin
@kaitlin_kelly: Something badass like Glacier Epsilon or Echo Magistrate.
@andyheriaud: Or Cosby Inferno, Toothbrush Fence, Jefferson Starship
@watsupjustine asks: nice! i like to write alone, but consider writing w/a friend. How do you deal w/ conflicts
@andyheriaud: Best case: we each make our case and decide which is coolest
@kaitlin_kelly: (We literally had a disagreement just now about how we deal with disagreements.)
@kaitlin_kelly: Worst case, I demand we watch Jeopardy for a bit and let it stew for awhile. Usually fixes it!
@andyheriaud: Or, alternatively: mario kart, which usually means Kaitlin wins
@taylor_622: your tracking board page mentions “Winter.” Can you tell us a little about it?
@kaitlin_kelly: “Winter” is sort of a modern-day Game of Thrones. The world has gotten massively cooler, causing some regions to be completely snowed-over and now off the grid, and the deserts are now fertile cropland. So, you have the big like “oh crap it’s cold and getting colder”, but also the political crises of what happens when people, as a nation, become desperate and use it for political gain. It’s evolved a lot but was initially by an episode of The Twilight Zone called “The Midnight Sun.”
@kaitlin_kelly: Pardon the typo, I meant “initially inspired”.
@andyheriaud: Also, there is a wolf. It’s a great read.
@taylor_622: Winter sounds badass!! Do you ever worry about genre over saturation in the market?
@kaitlin_kelly: Yes and no—we want it to sell but it’s a great writing sample and we’re working on other things we love.
@Origami_Mami asks: How long after the contest finalist announcement were you guys repped?
@andyheriaud: Pretty much immediately. @LeeStobby is fast.
@LeeStobby: That’s what she said?
@MelissaKat1 asks: who is your writing hero? The person/persons you look up to the most?
@andyheriaud: Bryan Fuller is definitely one. Amazing dramatist, does snappy dialogue, and wants to revive Star Trek
@kaitlin_kelly: I have so many writing heroes thought. Madeleine L’Engle for making baby!me want to write. Also @danharmon. Such an amazing genius. Getting to be around him when Andy worked for him was a dream.
@andyheriaud: As a kid I wanted to be the next Joss Whedon, don’t know how much that has changed
@andyheriaud: I learned so much just through osmosis being around @danharmon. Definitely meet your heroes.
@MyTrackingBoard: Wrapping this hilarious chat up, we gotta ask…why should an aspiring #screenwriter enter #LPFC? #shamelessplug
@kaitlin_kelly: Because I know, even right now, that this is the thing that started our future career. #LPFC #noshame
@andyheriaud: Because a good script in their hands can dramatically change your career trajectory for the better. #LPFC
@kaitlin_kelly: Years in the future if people ask me what started it all, this is what I’ll talk about. #LPFC
@andyheriaud: Meanwhile I’ll be fighting off the robotic horde as it tries to end humanity once and for all
@kaitlin_kelly: I choose to believe any future android technology will be peaceful. This is our biggest disagreement.
@andyheriaud: Joe Morton thought the same thing in Terminator 2, then Terminator 3 happened.
@TheTrackingBoard: Many thanks to drift compatible LP writers @kaitlin_kelly @andyheriaud for joining us this evening. Watch out for those androids…