An hour-long TV pilot written by Trevor Harris, a 2009 graduate of Washington High School, won the grand prize in the drama category of the 2013 New York Screenplay Contest.
The son of John and Angela Harris, Washington, he moved to Los Angeles in May, just seven days after graduating from Webster University with a bachelor’s degree in screenwriting. He is now living in L.A., pursuing a career in writing for TV and film.
Harris wrote his 60-page pilot, “All or Nothing,” last year. He submitted it to the contest in January (along with the $40 entry fee) and actually forgot that the winners were to be announced in September.
He learned that he had won the contest from a former professor through Facebook.
Since then, Harris has been working to find representation. Although winning comes with perks, there is not really any financial prize or even a press release.
“It’s very much up to you to do what you want with it,” said Harris, noting he does get to enter next year’s competition for free and also he was offered screenwriting software, but he turned it down because he already owns an upgraded version.
“All or Nothing” tells the story of a bookie living in Chicago who has to survive in the criminal world while dodging a police investigation, raising a family and resisting the temptation to bet on his son’s college football career.
“He’s a good guy morally, but he does work in the criminal underworld, so there is a conflict,” said Harris.
“My approach was to write myself into a corner,” he remarked, “to swing for the fences.”
Harris said he likes writing for TV drama because it’s an opportunity to tell a longer story. Even feature films aren’t as long as a TV drama series that air weekly, he noted.
Harris has three TV pilots written and he just finished his second feature film script.
Since moving to L.A., Harris has worked as a production assistant and assistant director on six to seven sets. Last weekend he was working on a CBS reality show pilot.
“It’s the bottom of the barrel,” Harris admits, “but it’s the perfect job to meet people and learn the business.”
On a recent job, for example, he met someone who worked on stunts for “The Hunger Games.”
“It’s a thrilling career, because every day is a new day,” Harris remarked.
He also does script consulting, something he began in college after he learned it was “a big job” in Hollywood studios.
“I read plays and give people constructive criticism,” he said, “ways to make it better.
“A fresh pair of eyes really helps. Plus, it’s just the nature of the entertainment industry — it’s a collaborative business.
“You have to learn how to work with people creatively and professionally.”
Although Harris has only been working in the entertainment industry for a few months, he already knows where he wants to go with it. His dream job, he said, is to be a show runner.
“In TV, that is the person who creates the show and is in charge of making it happen,” Harris explained. “They build the team of writers, production crew, post production crew . . . ”
It comes with a lot of stress, he admits, but it’s where he’s aiming.
“I’ll be out here continuing to pursue my goals come hell or high water,” Harris remarked.