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Meet Our 2021 Moonshot Pilot Accelerator Fellows: Vivian Kerr

Updated: Mar 18

In this Q&A, Vivian Kerr shares how untold history inspired her TV pilot script and how the she pitched to HBO through the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator


2021 Moonshot Pilot Accelerator fellow Vivian Kerr

Applications for our 2024 Moonshot Pilot Accelerator are currently open, so we are taking this opportunity to shine a spotlight on our past fellows!


Vivan Kerr was one of the fellows in our 2021 Moonshot Pilot Accelerator (formerly WWFC’s Pilot Accelerator), so she was part of the inaugural year of the program.


Below, learn more about Vivian, her career path, and what she’s working on next.


What drew you to TV writing, and how did you get started?

I began my career as an actor and then started writing for myself and my friends because we were frustrated with a lot of the roles we were being offered. By the time I'd gotten into my 30s, I'd written a lot of small things — shorts and a web series — as well as a few feature scripts, but I really wanted to discipline myself to learn more about the structure of TV writing. Act breaks and act-outs, character arcs over 13-episode seasons, etc. I wanted to challenge myself, and after writing a terrible “iZombie” spec, a decent “The Crown” spec, and a couple original 1-hour dramas, I felt ready to apply to some programs with my original specs.


What inspired you to write the pilot script that was selected for the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator?

In 2018, I'd picked up the book by Herbert Asbury that the movie “Gangs of New York” was based on, and when I read it, there were a few paragraphs here and there, thrown away almost, about these women who were part of gangs and who even led their own gangs. I started doing a ton of research into the legends of these female gang-leaders in pre-Civil War New York City and got really excited by the idea of a female-focused “Peaky Blinders” or “Deadwood.” I love those kinds of shows, but they are hardly ever centered around real-life female figures, so I decided to write one, which is where FIVE POINTS came from. 


What's something you learned from the accelerator workshops, when the Moonshot fellows got feedback from a showrunner, a development exec, and a speech coach?

I become much more confident in pitching! We all came in with polished scripts already, so I loved that the focus wasn't on revising our work but instead of learning how to best represent it and sell it. I loved that we pitched our stories so many times and in so many different ways. I learned a lot about how to structure (and re-structure) a TV series pitch. 


What was your experience with pitching before this program, and what did you learn from pitching to so many companies? What tips would you give to a writer who's about to do her first pitch?

I really hadn't pitched that much, so it was a true crash course. I mean, I pitched my pilot to HBO through the program! That was such a great experience and as an unrepresented writer, I couldn't have gotten that opportunity on my own. In terms of advice, I would just tell a writer that it's your personal connection to, and excitement for, the material that stands out. Don't worry about telling them what they want to hear. Bring your enthusiasm as a storyteller to the pitch! 


How has your career progressed since the accelerator ended?

Honestly, the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator in 2021 was such a great stepping stone for me. Not only did I get a ton of pitch meetings and industry connections from the program, but it really built up my confidence. Since then, I've written and directed two feature film scripts! My debut feature “Scrap” has done over 30 film festivals and my second feature “Séance” is in post-production. The Accelerator did a lot for my confidence. 


What would you say to a writer who's thinking of applying to the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator?

Do it! If you want to become confident at pitching and get real pitch opportunities, I don't know any better opportunity for an unrepresented writer!


What are you working on next?

I've got a few projects I'm working on — one is a dark comedy TV series about birthday party entertainers — and then I'm hoping my second feature “Séance” will be making its film festival debut later in 2024! And then I'm playing around with ideas for a high-concept sci-fi revenge thriller. 


ABOUT VIVIAN KERR


Vivian Kerr is an LA-based actor, writer, director, and producer.


SCRAP, her feature film debut, world premiered in competition and was nominated for the Grand Prize at the Deauville-American Film Festival and is currently on the festival circuit. She recently won a Special Jury Prize in Acting Achievement at the Phoenix Film Festival, Outstanding Actress at the Micheaux Film Festival, the NYWIFT Award for Excellence in Narrative Directing at the SOHO Film Festival, Best Director at Mystic Film Festival, the MINT Spirit Award at the Montana International Film Festival, and the Jury Awards for Best Narrative Feature at the Naples International Film Festival, Coronado Island Film Festival, and Fargo Film Festival.


SCRAP co-stars Anthony Rapp, Lana Parrilla, Beth Dover, and Khleo Thomas. Her screenplay for SCRAP was a Top 10 Finalist in Final Draft's Big Break Screenwriting Competition. Her second feature, SÉANCE, a Victorian-era psychological thriller, was selected for Wscripted’s Cannes Screenplay List and is currently in post-production.


She was a Finalist in Sony Pictures TV’s Rising Storytellers Search with her pilot FIVE POINTS, about the female-led gangs of 19th century New York, which was also invited into the Stowe Story Labs, the Story Incubator Writing Lab, and selected for the inaugural Moonshot Initiative TV Pilot Accelerator (formerly Women's Weekend Film Challenge’s Pilot Accelerator). Her feature script EXCHANGE placed in the Top 20% of the Nicholl Fellowship and her pilot NEWSPAPERWOMAN was a Second-Rounder in the Austin Film Festival.


As an actor, her work includes episodes of GREY'S ANATOMY, RIZZOLI & ISLES, SUPERSTORE, MASTERS OF SEX, CRIMINAL MINDS, NEW GIRL, CASTLE, FRANKLIN & BASH, and THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL. She has a BA in Theatre from the University of Southern California, during which time she studied Shakespeare in London. She is a member of SAG-AFTRA, Actors' Equity, NYWIFT, and Film Fatales.



Do you want to pitch your TV pilot to major companies and have your script read by industry members? Submit to our Moonshot Pilot Accelerator by April 14, 2024, for a chance to be one of our 2024 fellows!

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