A Night with Tassie Cameron, Showrunner Rookie Blue

I had a rare honour of sharing a few hours one evening with Women on Screen. This month's salon event was hosted by Tassie Cameron.

Tassie Cameron is an award winning screenwriter and producer. She has worked on Degrassi: Next Generation (TV), Cake (2005, film), Flashpoint (TV), and my personal favourite, Rookie Blue (TV).

Among many things, what sincerely sparks my interest is her ability to write witty, humorous and emotional characters with fully developed lives.  Characters that draw you into a storyline that never seems to "get old."

Graduating from University with a BA in English Literature (like myself) she pursued her MA at NYU. After completing school, she entered the film industry and explored many post-production roles. Not really enjoying being on set or coordinating post work, she landed a job working for HBO and found her calling.

She said with a reflective smile, "in my twenties, I was making rent, and enjoying life." But, at HBO she felt different somehow. The change happened when she was introduced to the writing process: highly creative and in her field.

She had some great honest wisdom to pass down to the eager ladies (and one gent?) sitting in an intimate room on King Street West. Here are her writing tips:

  1. don't be too personal
  2. write with act breaks
  3. never leave a character too long on screen
  4. dig deep, be real
  5. feel your writing ("if I don't cry in a sad scenes then something is wrong")
  6. speak out loud when you are writing
  7. try an improv class
  8. go to CFC (Canadian FIlm Centre)
  9. be a part of the film community
  10. volunteer on short films
  11. cut out children, night scenes, and car chases to preserve the budget
  12. practice your pitch a MILLION times
  13. speak with authenticity and passion
  14. use coloured pens when you are recording different feedback on your script to keep your head sane
  15. don't worry so much about outlines

With some extremely insightful and some more humorous tips and tricks, I feel very blessed to have been sitting in a room with an intelligent, hard working, and dedicated Canadian writer.

- Jenn