Each year the Big Island Film Festival brings in industry professionals to talk about things and present workshops to people attending the festival. This year they brought in multi-talented television do-it-all and Huffington Post Blogger, Jennifer Grisanti, as one of the folks giving workshops.
On Sunday evening, there was a “Reception and Salute” to her where she won this Golden Honu Award for her accomplishments in the industry.
I had the chance to interview her on Friday at the Fairmont Orchid and I asked her about some of her experiences, her background and what she is currently up to and here are some things she said to me.
Q: Tell me a little about you do and why were you invited to the Big Island Film Festival?
A: I actually did a seminar at Turtle Bay Resort about three years ago and I contacted Leo (Sears)… I got his name from someone at one of the universities as somebody that could help promote the event that I was doing and Leo told me that he was doing the Big Island Film Festival and he gave me some tips which helped and lead to a very successful event at Turtle Bay. Then Leo told me he would keep me in mind for future BIFF in the future and when an opportunity came up, he sent me an email in May of last year and asked if I would be interested and of course I said yes.
Q: Where are you from and what is your educational background?
A: I’m from Los Angeles and I was born in Buffalo and raised in Los Angeles in a place called Friendly Hills Whittier. My educational background… I went to a all girls Catholic High School in Anaheim and went to USC where I studied Communication and Cinema.
Q: How long have you been a blogger for the Huffington Post?
A: I’ve been a blogger for the Huffington Post for three years.
Q: What do you like to blog about?
A: I like to blog about the books that I’m writing and I wanted to develop the other side of my brain and blogging was a great practice for writing my books.
Q: What was the workshop that you gave at the Big Island Film Festival?
A: The class was about writing the TV Spec and Pilot Scripts which is a very big part of my background. I started as Aaron Spellings Assistant in 1992 and I climbed the ranks at Spelling Television as a current programming executive where I covered shows like 90210, Melrose Place, Charmed, Seventh Heaven and then I went on to be a VP of current programming at CBS/Paramount where I covered shows like “Medium”, “Numbers”, “NCIS”, “4400”, and “Girlfriends” which lead to all my knowledge on Spec Scripts because I read like 300 Spec Scripts a season so the Spec and Pilot Script became my expertise and teaching classes on it is a large part of what my business is.
Q: Is the film writing class something that you do on an ongoing basis?
A: Yes, I own my own business called Jennifer Grisanti Consultancy Inc., and I work with writers one on one in consult as well as seminars and teleseminars where I teach TV writing, film writing, covering topics such as finding your voice and adding fiction to your truth in your writing, as well as writing the TV Spec and Pilot Script and the Writing the Features Script.
Q: What are some of your favorite projects that you have worked on?
A: It was wonderful working on 90210 at the beginning of my career because it was the original 90210 so that will always have a special place in my heart. I would say while working at CBS/Paramount I loved working on all the shows, I would say that “Medium” was a fun show to cover, I really enjoyed the creative experience of story telling with that show. With “Numbers” it was a challenge and every show has its gifts and its challenges.
Q: If you weren’t doing consulting what would you fall back onto as a second career?
A: I was a television executive for 15 years so I would have thought that opening my own business was falling back on something, but then I recognized that being an executive was setting the foundation for what I do now and what I do now I love. I know that because the business is growing at a tremendous pace, that its something that could last for a very long time, like when you look at Robert McCree (sp?) and you recognize that he’s still teaching story at 73 there is a recognition that the niche is there which is a great thing.
Q: Is there anything you would like to say in closing?
A: I’m very grateful to Leo and Jan Sears and all of their hospitality, I’m very grateful to the Fairmont Hotel and everybody that works here and their friendliness and the accommodations are phenomenal, I’m grateful to everyone who’s been part of the Big Island Film Festival.
The biggest thing in coming here like one of the messages that I really thought about is that it was so wild when they asked if you wanted to be the celebrity guest and it was such a fascinating thing because really what I do is celebrate the accomplishments of the filmmaker and that’s what I’m all about is really the message of understanding the significance of being able to put your heart on the page and connect with your audience by coming from your truth, and so seeing so many filmmakers that have done that through their stories here has been a really fulfilling experience for me because it’s why I love what I do.