TV Writer Podcast 073 – Shooting Your Own TV Pilot – Corinna Mendis

The odds of a pilot script being sold and produced are incredibly small. What if you absolutely must see your story come to life? This week we meet Corinna Mendis, who despite having no film schooling or previous experience, independently produced and shot her own spec pilot!

Corinna Mendis, a native New Yorker, grew up wanting to become an actress. When her parents threatened to cut her off, she put creative pursuits on a shelf, and dug herself in to university studies. Two bachelor’s degrees and two Master’s degrees later, she found she couldn’t stop writing, especially about the trials and tribulations of the homeless population at a homeless center she volunteered at in Long Island, New York.

She pursued books, classes, seminars, and any resource she could find, to learn about the television writing process, including classes with Larry Brody, author of Television Writing from the Inside Out.

Rather than try to sell her pilot in script form, Corinna decided to produce it herself! With Larry’s encouragement and support, she spent $25,000 of her own money to produce “Not In My Neighborhood,” a single camera half hour TV pilot shot in the same homeless shelter where she volunteered.

Corinna learned a tremendous amount in the process… so much so, that she encourages anyone who is currently thinking about film school to consider instead following in her footsteps, and learning through doing.

The entire pilot “Not In My Neighborhood” is available online: CLICK HERE

Or, you can see a trailer for it here: CLICK HERE

Corinna’s Twitter: @CorinnaMendis

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2 thoughts on “TV Writer Podcast 073 – Shooting Your Own TV Pilot – Corinna Mendis

    1. Corilu

      Hey there filmdirector05, thanks for taking the time to comment. As a writer, the purpose of whatever I write and produce is to tell a story, like many writers. While working with the homeless population, I realized there are thousands of stories just waiting to be told by people who never get to tell them.
      The homeless live in their own subculture of humanity, and many times are not the stereotypical “Drunks” that we see on the streets. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty who choose to remain homeless and their goal every day is to find alcohol and/or drugs. This, however, does not apply to everyone, especially with today’s economy. Nowadays, anyone can become homeless; living paycheck to paycheck, losing jobs, couch surfing, then ending up at Pax Christi, which is the shelter where NIMN is loosely based. They are people with families, friends and careers, who unfortunately end up homeless. Some are mentally ill, some may abuse drugs/alcohol, some may have just been released from prison with no where to turn, but they each have a story to tell.
      In Not in My Neighborhood, my aim is to follow a different homeless person every week and tell their own unique story of how they became homeless, while at the same time examining the struggles that the counselors and interns face while trying to help them.
      So, the purpose, I suppose, is to get these stories out there via the television medium. I chose to make a pilot because it was the right fit for me. Then again, NIMN could easily be a reality show, a mini series, a web series, or even a feature. My goal is to get the series picked up so these stories can be told, and maybe eradicate the stigma that surrounds the stereotypical homeless population.
      I appreciate you commenting, thanks again!