“Get better and better at what you’re doing. Get unignorable.”
Words of wisdom delivered to a rapt audience, by someone who lives by those words herself, Katie Ford, Toronto Film School’s current Showrunner in Residence.
Ford got her start in the industry when she was just 21 years old, as a writer on the iconic 1980s TV series Family Ties. In the 35 years since, she has written hugely successful projects like the TV series Desperate Housewives and Sandra Bullock’s hit film Miss Congeniality.
Ford’s partnership with TFS is part of the latest Inner Circle Club program, a student enrichment series designed to elevate the value of the school’s industry-focused education, contributing to student success.
The Inner Circle Club program aims to appeal to all TFS students, but with a focus on one TFS program at a time, through classroom and/or workshop discussion events, in addition to a special In Conversation interview that will serve as the flagship event for each series.
Ford was speaking to eight students, all in their final term of the Writing for Film & TV program. This session offered an opportunity for the aspiring screenwriters to have an immersive experience with an industry veteran.
Students were asked to submit their bios in advance, which were meant to paint a comprehensive picture of themselves as creatives; including what inspired them to be writers, which genres of stories they most enjoy, and details about the scripts they’re currently working on.
During the session, Ford spent intensive one-on-one time with each student, asking them questions about their work and offering insights that helped the student distill their unique voice.
When one student asked about how to break through and be noticed, Ford replied, “Start with who you are, without who you think you should be, and they’ll listen.”
Another was worried they were too introverted to be confident when trying to pitch their script to a producer. Ford expressed that she, too, is introverted and shared that for her the key to getting through those high-pressure situations is remembering that when pitching a project, a writer is giving someone a gift, one birthed from their creative spark.
She told them that as writers, they are the creators of their story and can take confidence in that:
“Remind yourself, ‘I know that I know this world’.”
Ford asked each student about the various scripts they had written during their time at TFS. She probed the themes of the stories and discussed strategies for how to prepare themselves for when they finish school and enter a dynamic and ever-evolving industry, one currently experiencing explosive growth.
Overall, Ford created a warm, encouraging environment which allowed the students to be vulnerable, revealing their inner motivations.
It was a personalized, invaluable experience that got to the heart of the student’s questions about the industry and their individual work.
“The session with Katie was incredible,” enthused Richelle Charkot, one of the participating students. “I think I can speak for my classmates when I say it was exactly what we needed as we stare down the barrel of the rest of/beginning of our careers.”
“Thanks to Katie’s time, I definitely feel ready for whatever comes next.”
Katie Ford is currently EP and Showrunner for Apple+ TV’s comedy High Desert starring Patricia Arquette, Brad Garrett and Matt Dillon, produced alongside Ben Stiller and directed by Jay Roach. High Desert will be out in early 2023. Katie has written for both TV and Film and is best known for writing and producing the hit film Miss Congeniality.
Originally a stand-up, Katie started as a writer on the sitcom Family Ties when she was 21, where she wrote ten episodes over two years. More recently, Katie co-created and show-ran the NBC Sitcom Working The Engels starring Andrea Martin and Kacey Rohl. She has written and produced on many shows both cable and network. Katie also wrote the Emmy and Golden Globe-Nominated movie Prayers For Bobby starring Sigourney Weaver and has written on Desperate Housewives, The Transporter, and Disney’s Little House on the Prairie mini-series.
Katie’s plays have been produced in NY and LA and featured actors like Keanu Reeves, Daryl Hannah, and Mark Ruffalo. Passionate about encouraging the next generation, recently Katie created The New Storytellers series for Loyola Marymount University in L.A. and currently, alongside her work on High Desert, is studying narrative medicine and writing a book about the healing power of humor in the world of healing and recovery.