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Meet Vanessa Every-Burns

Today we’d like to introduce you to Vanessa Every-Burns.

Vanessa, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Like many fellow Hollywood creatives, I come from the land down under, aka Australia.

I’ve always been a writer, starting out as the youngest member of my grandmother’s poetry club as a kid. I’d spend weekends running around with my parents’ video camera, recording sketches, and creating characters – nothing much has changed. I’ve spent most of COVID lockdown filming sketches with me, myself, and I.

Like most creative weirdos, I’ve had many different jobs that worked alongside my film studies and personal projects, ranging from wearing a mascot chicken costume at a gas station, to working on the broadcast side of television with major TV networks. I eventually landed a job as an Advertising Copywriter and now I was getting warmer. I enjoyed the work, pushing me to think creatively and critically, and I’d always inject my personal humor anywhere possible, but I’d long for that TV script that was beyond a 30-second advertisement and I hated being so boxed in creatively.

In 2018 I took an inspired leap of faith and came to LA to study at New York Film Academy. An 8-week intensive Screenwriting workshop, where I completed the first draft of a feature script. That messy first draft of my “screwball comedy” attracted the attention of a local Literary Agent and I took a meeting with him on my way to LAX as I was returning home – it all seemed a little too great, too easy.

I returned home just long enough to write and co-produce a dark comedy that went on to have screenings both in Australia and eventually here in Hollywood. It turns out the Americans get Aussie humor – phew. I kept in touch with the LA Agent and he decided to represent me. So, I returned to LA with an Agent, one screenplay under my belt, and a lot of lessons to learn.

I completed a year of full time Screenwriting studies through UCLA’s Extension program. During my studies my Agent connected me with an award-winning director who was interested in my comedy, I then interned for his production company “Such Much Films” in Santa Monica during my studies, expanding my experience and knowledge, and even got my screenplay in the development process.

Since being in LA, I’ve written a number of feature films, comedies, pilots, and spec scripts. I’ve also continued collaborating on projects back in Australia and keeping busy with my “Ladies Who Write” group and personal sketches. It’s such a fun and collaborative community, but we’re all at a bit of a stand-still now with COVID aka “these crazy times.”

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
2020 is the year of the struggle. No, it certainly hasn’t been smooth and if anyone says trying to crack into Hollywood has been a smooth road, well… I’d like to meet them. A great lesson I have learned though is that you need to be just as good at rejection as you are talented if you want to survive in this town. It’s up and down, and one day you feel so confident and the next day you question “Why am I even here? I’m a phony.”

My year has been a series of near-misses, but I have to focus on the “near” part and those little wins. My writing has attracted the attention of some impressive people, but I’m yet to seal that big break or have a producer throw 20 million at me. It’s also challenging to network when you’re alone in your apartment, but time has not gone to complete waste. I’ve entertained myself and my social media channels with a series of sketches. My favorite being a series called ISO MUM (yes, that’s the Aussie spelling). About rebellious baby boomers trying to sneak out and socialize during lockdown, inspired by my mother.

I’ve also kept sane through my networking groups, including my “Ladies Who Write” crew, and I’ve recently kicked off a “Pilot Bootcamp” where a group of Comedy Writers meets on Zoom twice a week to write a fresh pilot in a month.

It’s such a supportive community and I’ve felt nothing but love and support from my peers and mentors.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I have to say that luck is massive in this town. Right place at the right time. I actually got my Agent through a classmate pitching my idea to him during his meeting. He didn’t luck out but I did and this is a reminder to always be kind to anyone and everyone. You never know who may be singing your praises.

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