Entertainment Magazine

Céline Geiger

Posted on the 31 October 2012 by Scriptedwhim
Céline Geiger
Céline moved from her hometown of Yonkers, New York to L.A. in the fall of 2005 to pursue a career in screenwriting. She is currently a writer on the ABC Family drama "The Lying Game." She has also written for the Syfy series "Being Human," and developed projects for TV and web with HBO, Fremantle Media, Electus, Momentum Entertainment, and Full Fathom Five. She also recently wrote and produced the short film "Objects in the Rearview."  Previously, Céline served in various assistant roles on the TV series "Being Human," "10 Things I Hate About You," "The Beautiful Life: TBL," "Miss Guided," and "The Return of Jezebel James." She also spent two years working in TV and digital development at Ashton Kutcher's Katalyst Media. Her first job in L.A. was at Creative Artists Agency, as an assistant in the TV literary department. She is a graduate of Hamilton College, where she studied English Literature and Fiction Writing.
Céline on...
The Process...I typically write on the weekends, or during lunch or down time at work. Sometimes, I write at night - but mostly at night, after a long day of work, I just want to watch TV (which then usually inspires me to write, and the cycle continues...) I work scenes out in my car a lot, too. I'll be sitting in traffic, thinking through something I've been working on, and suddenly the break will become crystal clear. I've also gotten to a point where I cannot sit down to write without a yellow pad nearby. I handwrite a lot of nonsense before attacking a scene -- I'll smooth out clunky dialogue, write questions I think the scene should address, sometimes even free write a backstory for the character that no one will ever see but me, just to get inside their head and their motivations.

SatisfactionWhen people read it and relate to the story in some way. Writing something that feels personal for me and realizing that it feels personal for someone else, too, is a great feeling. Also, getting to the end of a draft after a page one rewrite. When someone gives a ton of notes that I have to sort through -- I find satisfaction in figuring out how to address each note and just knocking them back one by one -- and, with each change, watching the script get better.
When I was an assistant at CAA, my boss represented TV writers. Following his clients' careers for a year -- reading their samples, sending them out for staffing, seeing them get jobs, seeing them not get jobs and then develop other ideas, then setting up those pitches, seeing their pitches sold -- watching that cycle really solidified for me how badly I wanted to be in the game. The excitement, the heartbreak, the turnaround -- the fact that they might be bummed about not getting staffed one week, and then sell a network pitch the next... I fell in love with the pace of TV, with the notion that people were constantly writing themselves out of holes, always thinking, pitching, developing, and -- most importantly -- always writing. And if they were lucky, getting paid for it. In that first year, I didn't necessarily KNOW that writing was going to be a viable and eventual career, but I knew that I WANTED it to be, and that I was going to do whatever I could to get there.
One of my favorite TV shows of all time is "Felicity."  I found the script for the pilot in the CAA script library, and fell even more in love after reading it. JJ Abrams wrote that pilot script in such a way that it almost read like prose -- there was as much detail and care in the action lines as there was in the dialog. That was the first time I began to see scripts as something more complex than simple action and dialog. The "My So-Called Life" pilot script by Winnie Holzman was a valuable read, too -- Winnie had this specific way of writing in the pilot, with sentences and thoughts that were sometimes never completed, and dialog that trailed off in ellipses. Her scenes read so naturally, and her dialog felt so honest and I could picture it all so clearly -- just simple but incredibly effective storytelling. And the "Gossip Girl" pilot by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage was such a great blueprint for an ensemble drama -- there are six main characters floating in and out of that script and by the end of it, you have a clear idea of exactly who each of the characters are, and they each had a fully realized arc that set them up with a story for series, all in like 55 pages. The structure was so lean and confident. I still have copies of those three pilot scripts on my bookshelf. My other favorite piece is The Heidi Chronicles by Wendy Wasserstein -- I took an Intro to Theater class in college and had to read that play and act out one of the scenes. The dialog was so fluid and beautiful and witty and bold and heartbreaking. Wendy's writing was sharp and observational and real. I will forever aspire to write a scene as well as she could.
The First Time
When I was watching the dailies for my first produced episode of TV. It's really surreal to have this idea in your mind of how you think the scene will play out -- and then to watch it on the screen as a fully formed scene -- it becomes larger than the words you wrote on the page. It takes hundreds of people to put together one scene of television, and the script is simply the blueprint they use to execute their individual job, whether it be set design or costuming or location scouting or lighting or directing or acting, etc. All of these people have ideas about what makes sense for the scene -- and the scene is the culmination of all of their ideas and work combined with your words. Sometimes the end result defies your expectation, and sometimes it doesn't turn out exactly how you wanted, but it forces you (or, it forced me, at least) to not be precious about the material.

AdviceOutline! My first few scripts, I never outlined. I have no idea why. I think I thought somehow it slowed down the process. That was really stupid. It's so much easier to outline and fix mistakes in outline, instead of having to rewrite entire scenes when you realize they're not working.
Click here to learn more about Céline's past, present, and future projects.

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