Category: Filmmaking

The Writer’s Strike is A Battle for Diverse Stories


Unless you’ve been completely ignoring the news, you know that the Writer’s Guild has gone on strike. If you’re a creator or in the entertainment industry, this is a huge deal. But if you’re not, it may seem trivial. However, this strike is not simply about compensation for a privileged few. But also about how we think of creativity and who gets represented in the world’s biggest storytelling platforms.

Because if the studios get their way – TV and movies will go backwards. Leaving us all searching for the stories that represent the way the world actually is.

This is secretly a battle for representation.


The Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) has long been an advocate for the rights and fair treatment of writers in the entertainment industry. However, the recent strike has shed light on persistent issues that threaten the livelihoods of writers.  Which impacts the quality of the content they produce.

Studios and production companies have referred to anything “digital” as something done on a lower budget. The original agreements for working with actors and writers on a digital project, were created with the idea of paying them as little as possible.

These same agreements were used as a baseline for anything on a streaming platform – including the major ones such as Netflix, Disney+ and Paramount. The staffs were cut down to the minimum, writer’s asked to wear multiple hats to work long days for lesser pay. And essentially, writers became gig workers who were asked to work long hours. With little to no guaranteed that their job was secure. In addition to other considerations such as rewriting scripts generated by AI. The WGA had had enough of working their writer’s being mistreated.

They tried to negotiate. But ultimately were forced to strike.


The studios consider anything that’s done for a digital platform unworthy of a higher rate. Which, not coincidentally, is where the majority of women and people of color get their initial break. We know from the UCLA diversity report that streaming is where the budgets are lower and the representation is better. Beyond the outliers like a Ryan Coogler or a Jordan Peele. It’s how most people of color get their break into the industry. And much to no one’s surprise, studios don’t see it as being of equal value.

During the streaming boom, companies ran up large amounts of debt to get their foot in the streaming door. They wanted to get the attention that was diverting to online platforms. But now that they no longer want to be in the red. They want to cut costs where they don’t see any value. Which is ultimately anything that doesn’t have “broad appeal”, aka plays to an older, Whiter audience.

When HBO was bought, several sources remarked how the owner wants to highlight shows by Chip and Joanna Gaines. HBO has been stripped from the name of the company with a coming emphasis on cheaper, broader stories. This means less money spent on anything “risker”, i.e. diverse. Which makes one wonder – would creators like Issa Rae ever gotten a chance?

And without them, would streamers even having the profits they’re bringing in?


When HBO was bought, several sources remarked how the owner wants to highlight shows by Chip and Joanna Gaines. HBO has been stripped from the name of the company with a coming emphasis on cheaper, broader stories. This means less money spent on anything “risker”, i.e. diverse. Which makes one wonder – would creators like Issa Rae ever gotten a chance? And without them, would streamers even having the profits they’re bringing in?

The demographics of America are changing at a rapid pace. The people of this country will look increasingly different. And we want the stories we see to reflect that. Stories are a reflection of our values. This strike is an indicator that the people bringing us those stories don’t see the value in who we are. Their decisions ultimately discourage people from entering the industry and letting their voices be heard. Which ultimately effects how we are able to see ourselves.

Of course there are social media platforms and YouTube to get the type of content and community we want. But there is still something special and unifying about narrative stories that the world see. It’s what kept us going during the pandemic. It still keeps us talking and connecting across cultural lines. And those stories are brought to us by writers. Who need the security to keep thinking about stories. And not having to worry so much about their own survival.

This will most likely not be the first upheaval in a creative industry. Along with AI, a time of big questions is coming. But all comes back to 2 things:

How do we value creativity? And what kind of world do we want to live in?

The Right Way to Build a Creative Portfolio

As creators, we are deeply passionate about our craft. However, it’s easy to fall into misconceptions when it comes to our portfolios. Having gone through numerous revisions of my own portfolio, I’ve learned a few key steps that everyone should consider.

So let’s take a closer look at how to approach your portfolio effectively:

Quality Over Quantity

In the beginning, it’s important to focus on quantity as you start building your body of work. However, as you progress, the emphasis should shift to quality. It’s easy to believe that a large portfolio with numerous projects is more important, but it’s crucial to remember that showcasing a few exceptional pieces is more effective. Prioritize quality over quantity to make a stronger impact.


Once you have a body of quality work, it’s time to hone in on what you want to be known for. While versatility is valuable, a focused portfolio can make you more attractive to potential clients or employers. Instead of including projects from various genres or styles, curate a portfolio that reflects a clear artistic vision or specific niche. This showcases your expertise and helps attract the right opportunities.

Curate Your Audience

It’s easy to overlook the intended audience for our portfolios. However, each project should be tailored to resonate with the people you want to impress. For example, including romantic comedies in a portfolio aimed at the horror genre might dilute your message and confuse potential collaborators. Understanding your target audience helps present relevant and compelling work, giving you an edge in the market.


Your portfolio should be more than just a collection of work; it should tell a compelling story about who you are and the kind of work you do. Consider what you want people to know about you and how your portfolio can take them on a journey to learn more. While technical skills are essential, striking a balance and highlighting your storytelling abilities are fundamental aspects of being a creator.

Update and Adapt

Regularly review your portfolio to ensure it aligns with the kind of work you want to pursue. Remove anything that doesn’t showcase your desired direction and use it as an opportunity to assess if you’re heading in the right direction. Revising and refreshing your portfolio is vital to showcase your growth and keep it relevant to your current abilities.


A great portfolio is a true reflection of your skills, vision, and artistic voice. By approaching it with the right mindset and following these steps, you can greatly enhance its impact and secure future opportunities. Remember to prioritize quality, focus on your desired direction, curate for your intended audience, emphasize storytelling, and regularly update your portfolio. With these considerations in mind, your portfolio will become a powerful tool for showcasing your talent and attracting the opportunities you seek.

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Forced Into Filmmaking

From cleaning houses to making films: hitting rock bottom pushed me to realize my dream.

Life can be unpredictable. One moment, you might be doing just fine, and the next, everything can turn upside down. That’s what happened to me. After I got married, I found myself struggling to find work. Even with years of experience in the entertainment industry in Chicago. There wasn’t a job I could find in Los Angeles. So sadly, I landed one cleaning houses. It wasn’t the most glamorous job, but it put food on the table and a roof over my head.

One aftertoon while I was cleaning a bathtub, I sprayed cleaner against the wall. I took a breath and accidentally inhaled some fumes. So I rushed home to recover. As I sat on my bed struggling to breathe, I realized that I needed to make a change. Especially considering that I was fired from that job a week later.

Photo by Ashwini Chaudhary(Monty) on Unsplash

A Lifelong Dream

For as long as I can remember, narrative and storytelling had held a special place in my heart. I was fascinated by the power of crafting a story, building characters, and taking audiences on a journey. So, I decided to take a leap of faith and actual begin filmmaking.

The last film I had made was in film school. At that point, almost a decade prior. But I needed to start creating. Just a couple of months later, I made part of my first big short film. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a start, and it opened up new opportunities for me. 

My first attempt was both a failure and a success. I never completed the film. Because the budget was too big. But I found new collaborators to work with. I made more films with them that found their way into festivals big and small. I learned how to direct, edit, and produce films, which helped me generate freelance income.

Finding Opportunity

Over time, I continued to develop new skills, create new work, and network with other filmmakers. It wasn’t easy, but it led me to a place of greater confidence and stability in my life. I realized that I was capable of achieving my dreams if I was willing to put in the work and stay dedicated to my craft.

Looking back, I realize that hitting rock bottom was a blessing in disguise. It forced me to reevaluate my life and pursue what truly mattered to me. I had to face my fears and doubts, but in doing so, I found my true calling.

My advice to anyone who is struggling is this: Just start doing it. Take the leap, show up, be humble, and keep learning. You’ll be amazed at how far you can go when you pursue your passion with dedication and perseverance. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it. So don’t give up, keep pushing forward, and never lose sight of your dreams.

The Power of Narrative Filmmaking

Recently, I was reminded why narrative (i.e. scripted) stories are so important in our media landscape.

As visual inspiration for the film I’m writing, I’ve been watching Euphoria. I’ve always been hit or miss on the show. Some scenes are absolutely brilliant. Others are like a music video that goes on for too long. But after watching it all the way through. There were moments that really touched a nerve.

Like the main character, Rue, I lost my dad when I was young – age 29 to be exact. He had suffered with alcohol addiction since I had been in college. And his liver and kidneys eventually just gave out from the abuse. With that being said, I wouldn’t be in Los Angeles without him. The little money he had put aside to leave to family was used to fix my car, finance the move and honor one of his last wishes to me – to use it for filmmaking.

There is a scene in Euphoria (not really a spoiler) where she sees her dad in a dream sequence, hugs him, and tells him she misses him. That she can barely remember what he looks like and the sound of his voice. And in that moment, I felt like I was in her same shoes. Because while the pain of losing him has lessened over the years. There are still moments that I feel the exact same way – wishing that I could see him just one more time.

While I love the craft of documentary. It’s power is getting you to understand and empathize with another person. Narrative has a unique power – it helps us see ourselves in the shoes of the characters we’re watching. Because it’s fictional, It allows us to be a part of the journey the character is on. We fill in the details of what we don’t see. So it is a true representation of our own journey. It’s like it was made for just us.

I am not going to declare that the film I’m working on is going to be as impactful as Euphoria. I’m on draft 2 and I have a long to go. Not only in this film, but also in my career itself. But watching things like it reminds of why I fell in love with filmmaking in the first place. And why real, human stories will always be needed.

The Lottery Myth

There is a myth every filmmaker was told to believe at the start of our career:

That is we just make the right film. Then Hollywood would come find it. And they would give us the resources in order to make whatever we imagined. Now for some, this might be true. There are people who do indeed make a great film and the door is swung wide open for them. However, that is almost like winning the lottery.

And you can’t build a career on buying bingo tickets.

There is a version of success for every filmmaker who commits themselves to building a body of work. Once you realize that the cavalry isn’t coming. You start to find ways to create your own version of success. For some of us, that might lead to working on big budget films on studio lots and flying all over the world. For others, it might mean having a small but sustainable following that allows us to make the work we find impactful.

The insidious part about the myth is that it makes us waste our most valuable resource – our time. It makes us create with the goal of wishing and waiting. Instead of the goal of creating and connecting. It takes the power away from us. And gives it to someone else who’s in charge of making our dreams come true.

While making a film is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. It doesn’t have to be a soul-burning one. And I’ve found the best way to make films for the right reasons – to tell great stories and create an impact for your audience.

The Next Step

Every year I think about what I want to accomplish. For the longest time, I’ve written one thing at the top of the list:

Make a feature film.

I’ve made a lot of short form content – narrative shorts and documentaries. But the creation of something long form has always eluded me.

Some of that comes from my own fear. Some of it from trying to go too big – like a film that needs 1 million to “do it right”. But this year, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is. I tell people often to start where they’re at and then scale up. So I’m going to take my own medicine.

I have some equipment and the whole city of Los Angeles to build a narrative around. I’m working on the script right now which should be done by the end of February.

But by the end of the year, I will have a feature film made. No excuses this time.

Is it frightening to do? Yes. But part of bravery is knowing that you’re afraid – and doing it anyway.

What’s the worse that could happen – it sucks and I make another one that’s better?