Two Time Emmy Nominee and Grey’s Anatomy/West Wing Producer Debora Cahn Visits New York Film Academy

Debora Cahn

“You have zero control over if you are talented. You just have control over how hard you work. Don’t wait to be inspired.” – Debora Cahn

Students at New York Film Academy New York had the pleasure of listening to an unscripted conversation between two time Emmy nominee Debora Cahn and NYFA Producing School Chair Anita Tovich on March 24, 2011. Debora, who has been a Producer and Writer on Grey’s Anatomy, The West Wing, and Private Practice, spoke very candidly about the nature of working in television versus film, the environment while working on a top series, and ways to break into the industry.

Says Debora, who began in acting and turned to writing when she was frustrated with the lack of good female roles, “You have zero control over if you are talented. You just have control over how hard you work. Don’t wait to be inspired.” Debora explained to students that it is less important to write five good pages and more important to write five pages. Students asking how to get a job in the industry were told, “no one wants to give you a break – they want to give you a job.”

Debora elaborated on the topic explaining that students at the New York Film Academy have an incredible opportunity to make product now. She included that since almost everyone has a phone that records video footage, there is no reason why students should strive to always be making a new project – lucky for the New York Film Academy students they make eight short films in one year!

Debora gave the actors advice including never change the words of a script at a television audition as the writer is often in the room. She also gave the writers advice including go into television instead of film. Said Debora, “When your pilot is picked up you are the CEO of a 300 person company and you are overseeing an entire series. When your film script is complete, it could take over ten years to see any footage.” Her other big advice for the producers and writers in the room? Move to LA. (Tip: enroll in your second year at New York Film Academy Los Angeles to get a chance to network on both coasts!)

New York Film Academy was lucky to have Debora Cahn visit the academy. Follow @nyfa on Twitter for more news on upcoming guests!

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Published on: March 25, 2011

Filled Under: Acting

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