After being featured as a Coverfly endorsed writer, Brandon K. Hines received representation offers from five different management companies and ended up signing with a literary manager at Rain Management...which then lead to his first staff writer gig!
Brandon was kind enough to share his success story with us.
How It All Began
English was always my worst subject in school growing up, which is the irony of my chosen career path. However, I've always been a daydreamer and storyteller. Most of which I feel comes from being raised in a rich Black Southern culture -- where stories are a way of passing down history, and legacy.
When I first started working as a Showrunner's Assistant in 2011, I knew I wanted to be more involved in the creative side of production. I was unsure of where I fit in or where even to begin, but I knew I had an interest in telling my own stories... which meant writing them. So, while assisting the Showrunner on "Ironside" (Ken Sanzel), I remember writing my first pilot to see if I could pull it off. I finished it and handed it off to one of the upper-level writers on the show, who asked to read it. Turns out being a daydreamer with a practical mind, is just what the doctor ordered. That pilot would, years later, lead me to land my manager and first Staff Writing gig.
In 2008, I graduated from the Made in NY PA Training Program, which gave me my foot in the door: an internship on the film "City Island." From there, I landed my first Office Production Assistant gig on the pilot of Royal Pains. I continued to work my way up the production ladder before transitioning to the writers' room as a Showrunner's Assistant and Script Coordinator. I worked in several rooms over a decade, from police procedurals (NYC 22, Ironside) to half-hour comedies (Crashing, Harlem). In 2018, I received my first freelance script assignment on ABC/M6's (France) "Reef Break," which got me into the WGA East, and launched my writing career.
Not wanting any new writer out there to experience what I've had to go through is what pushes me to do this work. Big positive changes are coming to this industry, and we all have to do our part.
My biggest obstacle was a personal struggle -- imposter syndrome. Here I am, a Black queer kid, born and raised in North Carolina, now living in New York City, while trying to break into the entertainment industry -- a space where many people don't look, speak, or think the same way as I. It's a lot to wrap your mind around all at once, and NYC doesn't hold its punches.
As I've moved up, I've come to see that everything that makes me different is also what makes me stand out as a writer. You just have to show up and be seen. Does it suck to be the only BIPOC on the crew or in a writers' room? Yes. It's isolating, and incredibly stressful if you feel you're representing your whole race in a particular environment. But baby, when it comes to developing my own projects, you've rarely seen anything else like them -- because they are my stories.
I'm not sure I will 100% claim to have found balance in this business. As we're finding out now with the IATSE vs AMPTP battle, this industry as a whole is completely out of wack. I just happen to have grown up poor most of my life and am used to surviving and persevering. I remember an Executive Producer on a NY series once told me: "Be the last person standing." That was her key to making it in this business. Is that healthy advice? Not in my opinion. But, it definitely got me through.
With that said, however, no one should have to work eleven years as support staff, without making a living wage, before they are finally promoted past what is seen as "entry-level" positions. Also, who experiences these challenges the most? BIPOC writers and those from underprivileged communities. At a certain point, the dues have already been paid. But, producers tend to want more. That's why I spend a lot of time working with the WGA East on establishing a better pathway from Support Staff to Staff Writer. We launched a "Pathways" series to educate WGAE members and Pre-WGA writers on ways to bridge the support staff gap and provide resources to new writers who are struggling to hang in there, especially during a pandemic.
To answer the bigger question -- not wanting any new writer out there to experience what I've had to go through is what pushes me to do this work. Big positive changes are coming to this industry, and we all have to do our part. No matter how big or small.
How Did Coverfly Help?
I've worked as writers' room support staff for over ten years. I can say with authority that the pathway from Support Staff (Script Coordinator, Writers' Asst, Showrunner's Asst) to Staff Writer is broken. The idea that support staffers are promoted after a year or two pretty much died with the rise of mini-rooms and streaming. This is where Coverfly entered to change my career --
In February 2021, during Coverfly's Spring Pitch week, I met with some great TV Lit managers. I kept the Coverfly staff updated on those meetings, and sadly, on the subsequent passes that would later come as well. However, in May 2021, a Coverfly Writer Development Executive (who I corresponded with during Pitch Week) read my sample, reached out again, and offered to endorse me on Coverfly's site. For my jaded soul, this was just another egg in another basket. But this time, the flood gates opened. A number of prominent reps, all amazing, were now reaching out directly to sign me. What's also mind-blowing is that Coverfly was there for every step -- explaining the process, calming my nerves, and offering thoughtful advice along the journey.
By July 2021, I signed with my amazing manager at Rain Management Group, Jacqueline Mosher. And by the end of September 2021, I was staffed on my first series at Showtime. Talk about a whirlwind experience. They do happen!
Trust yourself. You're enough... Just know that there is space out here for everyone. Don't fear being yourself...
What Comes Next?
I'm currently staffed and focused on the Showtime series I'm working on, but definitely planning next steps for early 2022 -- both in staffing, and developing my pilot, "St. Marie's."
Advice For Aspiring Writers
"Trust yourself. You're enough." That's the message. There's a revolution happening within the industry right now. Doors are being opened. Audiences are seeking unique experiences and voices. Just know that there is space out here for everyone. Don't fear being yourself, and tell your stories!
As far as writers, I tend to geek out over creators like Steven Canals, Barry Jenkins, Issa Rae, Ryan Murphy, and Damon Lindelof -- world-building heavy hitters that I'm constantly in awe of and influenced by. I would be honored to get to work with any of them one day.
Also, one of my other primary goals is to network and connect with other BIPOC creators and companies. I recently had a general with Shondaland, which was a "pinch me, I'm dreaming" experience. Would love to also one day collaborate with Hillman Grad. The work they're doing is inspiring as well.