As episodic television explodes on the small screen across a growing variety of distribution channels, the Sarasota County Film and Entertainment Office is bringing in writers who have created content to air on network, cable and internet outlets. Luisa Leschin and Max CiVon, the husband-and-wife team behind Tortuga Productions in Los Angeles, will speak Tuesday at a film mixer hosted by the film commission at the Ringling College Auditorium.
Jeanne Corcoran, Film and Entertainment Office director, said Leschin can offer solid advise to local creatives because she has continued to be a successful writer even amid a paradigm shift in the way episodes are consumed by the public. “She has been involved in traditional outlets,” Corcoran said, “but is also now actively earning a living from these new channels of distribution. Leschin, one of the top Latina writers in Hollywood over the past couple decades, has written for network shows including George Lopez and Everybody Hates Chris, as well as for cable shows such as Disney Channel’s Austin and Ally and TBS’ Are We There Yet? Right now, she works as a consulting producer for El Rey Network on the Netflix series From Dusk Til Dawn and through Tortuga Productions is writing the upcoming Amazon Prime series Just Add Magic.
As for why Leschin is coming to the Gulf Coast, Corcoran has attempted to bring the writer to town for years. The two women have known each other since the days when Corcoran served as film commissioner at the Nevada Film Office. “She has moved with the trends since Day One,” Corcoran notes.
And that has been in the notoriously small world of television. Back in the day when the networks were the only gig for small screen writers, there were simply only a few slots out there for shows. With cable, the possibilities expanded a little bit, but there are still only about a dozen viable cable stations for buying scripts and series. Now, in a time when smalltime filmmakers can release series independently on YouTube or Vimeo, opportunities have magnified, though the big jobs remain competitive. “I refer to it as the democratization of distribution,” Corcoran said.
Corcoran said bringing television productions to this region is a high priority for the Film and Entertainment Office, so this mixer marks a perfect opportunity to dive into that realm. Television has been important to the region because it gives a chance to build a permanent infrastructure of jobs and facilities. For years, though, scripted television has remained headquartered around Los Angeles. More recently, though, Corcoran in speaking with studio execs hears that the freshest ideas come off online services like YouTube, where a social network-savvy filmmaker can get thousands of eyes on content before ever bringing an idea in front of the major distributors.
The push is happening as Ringling College of Art and Design continues work on a production facility that will be usable for television productions, and in the same year that the Sarasota Film Festival brought in top television writers for a screenwriters colony event. Corcoran hopes the convergence of these efforts results in some series-worthy synergies.
“We have a cohesive supporting web that we are growing for TV,” she said. “It will be interesting to see opportunities for writers in this new era.”
Attendees can pre-register for the mixer at FilmSarasota.com.