Emmy award-winning screenwriter and showrunner Jeff Melvoin became Katch University's fourth guest in our speaker series. Melvoin is known best for his work on Killing Eve (2018-) and Designated Survivor (2016-).He discussed his beginnings in theater and journalism, and his transition into working in the television industry. Melvoin presented slides that he uses for the Showrunner Training Program, a highly selective organization which he founded that meticulously prepares aspiring showrunners for the job. The presentation featured an appropriate heading: "The Impossible Job." He compared showrunning to conducting a symphony, as it is necessary "to know what instruments you want, who can do what, and how you want to coordinate them."
On the topic of screenwriting, Melvoin stressed the value of studying scripts and writing specs for both practice and as material to present. He emphasized that writing is all about knowing the principles while still being flexible, a beneficial skill he fostered as a journalist. When asked how the industry has changed over time, he responded that there has been a push for bingeable shows, which heavily influenced the way he worked on shows that air on Amazon Prime. Although this sudden consumer shift is exciting in some ways, his personal preference is still episodes aired in weekly installations.
He ended his talk by addressing diversity in Hollywood. Melvoin agreed that change must happen to create a more inclusive environment with a wider scale of representation. "These changes that are necessary have to be embedded in the fabric of what we do," he explained, stating his hopeful outlook on the situation. "They can't simply be add-ons to what we're already doing."