Tiffany Paulsen: Never Give Up On A Project You Believe In

In this post, award-winning actress, writer, and director Tiffany Paulsen shares her experience of writing the rom-com script for Holidate on Netflix, what improves a script's chances of getting read by people, and more.
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Tiffany Paulsen is an award-winning actress, writer and director originally from Cashmere, Washington. She's won both a prestigious DISNEY/ABC TV writing fellowship and a SONY TV Diverse Directing Fellowship. Tiffany wrote the feature adaptation of the iconic Nancy Drew for Warner Brothers starring Emma Roberts; and a 2016 sequel to the classic Adventures in Babysitting, starring Sofia Carson and Sabrina Carpenter. The movie was nominated for both DGA and IMAGEN awards. Tiffany was then offered a two-year over-all development deal at The Disney Channel for both features and series. 

Tiffany Paulsen

Tiffany Paulsen

(Interview with Umbrella Academy producer Jason Neese.)

After attending the New York Film Academy in 2016, her first original short film The Swan won Best Picture at the LA Live Score Film Festival, and was an official selection at the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival, among others. Tiffany has written for major studios such as Disney, Universal, Fox 2000, MGM and Sony; and sold original TV pilots to Fox, Freeform, and Nickelodeon. She has developed projects with Selena Gomez, Sabrina Carpenter, Willow Smith, and Oscar Winner Halle Berry; among others. 

In 2019 Tiffany wrapped two original features, Turkey Drop for Freeform starring Olivia Holt and Cheryl Hines; and her spec romantic comedy Holidate for Netflix and McG, for which she also served as Executive Producer. Currently, Tiffany is set to write and direct a romantic mystery for Netflix. She is adapting the best-selling children's book series Auntie Claus for Netflix, with Kenny Ortega attached to direct; writing a female ensemble comedy for Sony, developing her original short The Swan for series for Awesomeness TV and developing a sequel to the beloved 27 Dresses for Katherine Heigl.

Tiffany lives in Sherman Oaks, CA, with her son Jett, and their two cats. She is repped by David Boxerbaum @ VERVE and attorney's Adam Kaller and Duncan Hedges.

In this post, Tiffany shares her experience of writing the rom-com script for Holidate on Netflix, what improves a script's chances of getting read by people, and more!

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Name: Tiffany Paulsen
Agent: David Boxerbaum @ Verve
Script title: Holidate
Production company: Studio - Netflix
Release date: October 28, 2020
Genre/category: Rom Com
Previous scripts: Nancy Drew; Adventures in Babysitting; and Turkey Drop

Elevator pitch: To deal with the pressure of dating on the holidays, two strangers agree to be each others plus-one for an entire year. 

tiffany_paulsen_never_give_up_on_a_project_you_believe_in_scriptwriter_spotlight

What prompted you to write this script?

I wanted to find a fresh way into a romantic comedy that hadn't been done before. As a perpetually single girl, always showing up alone to family holidays, I had wished for a Holidate of my own. Once I landed on that premise, I realized the perfect hook was to explore a relationship that ONLY happened on holidays—following an entire calendar year—and where would they end up after ten dates!??

How long did it take to go from idea to release?

This was a script I'd worked on for a few years—off and on. I would take it out and dust it off and fall in love with it all over again—only to be told romantic comedies were dead! Thank God Netflix reinvigorated the genre! 

(3 keys to crafting chemistry between characters.)

Once it found it's way onto the desk of McG, we sold it to Netflix within 24 hours—in November of 2018 and were in preproduction by February 2019 and shooting in May and June. It was a mad dash to finish post by the end of 2019, and ultimately Netflix decided to hold it until the 2020 holiday season, which probably ended up working in our favor. 

It's a happy respite from all the Covid-election-craziness!

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the production process for this script?

Only that so many people had Holidate stories of their own—that platonic friendship they pulled out every New Year's Eve or Valentine's Day—and often wished it would turn into something more... 

From a practical creative side, what I learned most is to never give up on a project you believe in. Something great will always find its way into the light if you work hard and seize on the right moment!

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this script?

Once I created the ensemble—I was surprised how much the relationships stories of all the other characters wanted to be told. It really expanded beyond the two leads and we had so many happy surprise storylines that were equally as compelling to see unfold.

(5 elements that all good rom-coms should include.)

What do you hope your audience will get out of it?

A lot of laughs, joy, maybe a tear or two, and optimism that the right person is out there for all of us. I hope it's a mindless hour of silly happy entertainment.

If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?

My advice is always two words: WHITE SPACE! 

Make your script pages clean and efficient—and people will be much more likely to read them!

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