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Posts tagged as “DV-2010”

Immigrants: We Get the TV Job Done! (PT56)

Alex and Nick share stories about being immigrants in the US and working in the TV industry as foreigners.

Should you move directly to Los Angeles or first get experience somewhere else like New York or Vancouver? When would a show hire you if you’re not a US citizen? What are cultural differences and initial difficulties to watch out for when moving countries? What is the visa and green card process for TV writers? What are some unique setbacks of being an immigrant in the TV industry?

Plus, we talk about Shonda Rhimes’ move to Netflix.

The Paper Team migrates…



Paper Scraps: Shonda Rhimes moving to Netflix (00:45)
1 – Before arriving in the US (05:36)
2 – First months in Los Angeles (14:05)
3 – Cultural differences and expectations as an immigrant (19:14)
4 – Getting settled: driver’s license, credit score, social security (29:18)
5 – Staying and working in America: visas, green card and citizenship (35:47)
6 – Representing our home countries (50:39)
Resources and Next Week On (53:54)


“Netflix signs Shonda Rhimes in counterpunch to ABC and Disney” – New York Times
“Moving to Los Angeles (and Things We Wish We Knew)” (PT01)
“How to Meet People in LA (When You Don’t Know Anyone)” (PT03)
“Managing Finances as an Assistant & Staff Writer” (PT16)
J-1 Visa
E-3 Visa
O Visa
US Diversity Visa Lottery


ImmigrationPortal Forum
Australians in LA (Facebook Group)

This episode brought to you by Tracking Board’s Launch Pad Writing Competitions

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Special thanks to Alex Switzky for helping us edit this episode.

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Seven Years of My Life 101 (or Life of Alex)

And now for something completely different. Or exactly what this is all about.

We’ve seen the evolution of TV Calling’s content (and form). Today, I’ll be talking about, well, me. Alex. The man behind the machine. Or the keyboard.

This site is named A TV Calling for one simple reason: television is my calling. I created this website to chronicle my own journey into the TV writing business.
I used to talk daily on this site. After all, it used to be a more traditional blog. Fortunately for readers, it evolved into what it is now. (But what is now?)

You can track seven years of my life through this site. I feel old.
When I started A TV Calling in June 2008, I wasn’t even in Los Angeles. Or the US. Or the Americas. I lived in Paris (not the one in Texas).
As I wrote in the very first post of this site:

If all goes to plan in 5-year time I should be in L.A. for good.

700 days later, I had moved from one side of the world to another. I was living in Los Angeles.

For people who are wondering how I got to live and work in the US–I won my green card. In the lottery.
On October 2, 2008, I registered.
On May 28, 2009, I got the white envelope.
On March 13, 2010, I received my Green Card.

I explained the entire, lengthy process in “How I got my green card“.
Before I had it, I looked up all my alternative visa options, then listed them in details in two parts: Visa Breakdown (Part One) & Visa Breakdown (Part Two). There’s also the post about the application process for the lottery.

Yes, it was, and still is, fairly off-subject with the whole TV writing business thing. But I’ve had a couple people request direct links to these.
And we’re talking about my life here!

I get to be a little off-topic at times. A lot of the times.

There’s that time I mentioned I had a Furby.
There’s that time I had issues with one of my hard-drives. And that time I had HDD troubles yet again.
There’s that time I posted a photo of Waldo.
There’s that time I posted a photo of my suitcase.

It’s relevant!

Oh, in June 2009, I chronicled my ten days at the Cannes Film Festival, or as I put it: “How I Survived the 62nd Cannes Film Festival”. There was just so much to say (and show), that I did it in three parts:
Episode I: The Sleep Deprivation Menace (Thursday, May 14 to Sunday, May 17 2009)
Episode II: Attack of the Celebrities (Monday, May 18 to Wednesday, May 20 2009)
Episode III: Revenge of the Films (Thursday, May 21 to Sunday, May 24 2009).

On September 2009, after the Fringe bashing I mentioned yesterday, it was officially reveled that I am an asshole.
It’s always a good laugh to read flaming comments, so here it is for the seven year anniversary:

If you honestly think that your stupid post will steer people away from watching Fringe, YOU ARE SADLY MISTAKEN! Grow up, asshole!


In August 2010, I moved to Los Angeles (meaning I’ll celebrate my five-year move this year).
Incidentally, it was then that I cut back on the personal meanderings.
Maybe I should get back to that at some point.

Several of the Scribosphere Carnival topics were related to my own processes. One was about my TV writing workflow:

Unlike some writers, I actually prefer to write in the comfort of my own home instead of going out to a coffee shop (and spend $5 on a latte).
With that said, I like to create an appropriate “space” for the magic to happen. Even if my desktop is in the bedroom, I will try to physically separate the “writing workspace” from where I sleep by moving stuff over to the living room.

Another (lengthier) one was about criticism: how to give it, how to take it, how to get it. Did that sound dirty?
And the very first Scribosphere Carnival was a time-capsule from 2013 for the year 2014. I was hoping to nab a writer’s assistant position by then. Things didn’t work in my favor. Alas.

So. Seven years later. Where am I? Who am I? What am I?
Existential questions we won’t get the answer to.
But one thing’s for sure: life is hard. And that’s that.

Looking back at seven years’ worth of personal content makes me almost teary-eyed. Or my allergies are acting up again.
I hope to continue aimlessly writing about my journey on this big ball of dirt hurling through space.

Let’s conclude with one of my favorite quotes, and the one thing summarizing everything we’ve seen up to this point: “Never give up, never surrender.”

By Grabthar’s hammer, what a site!

How I got my Green Card

I received my Green Card in the mail the other day.
People don’t really believe me when I say I won it at the lottery.
Either because they don’t know the lottery is real, or because it sounds plain crazy with under a 2% chance of winning.

I’ve been asked a few times to tell the story of how I got it, and since it’s a long answer, I decided to make a post about it.
And if you’re wondering what happened to me during the blog hiatus, the answers are also here.
A few cryptic tidbits were posted during the past year and a half (linked throughout this very post), and they will all be explained here.
It’s like Lost, only with an actual payoff and answers (and no retcon).

I’ve been talking about visas for some time (ever since the blog began actually).
I made a two-parter breakdown of the visa and green card opportunities for international writers out there. I talked about how to register to the DV Lottery (opened from October to December).

If you’re not really aware of what the Diversity Visa lottery is, it’s “a United States congressionally-mandated lottery program for receiving a United States Permanent Resident Card.”
Around 50,000 of those are delivered each year out of 13 million applications.

Here’s what happened to me.


On October 2, I decide to send in my application for the DV-2010 lottery.
The process is pretty straight-forward at first (online forms to fill out); although the specific photo ID they asked for was a pain to do.

To participate you do need to have a certain education level, and be a native of one of the qualifying countries.
Yes, what is taken into account is where you were born, not your nationality.
Sounds familiar?

As you might have guessed, some countries are blacklisted (China anyone?).
Russia has only been eligible since, well, last year.

What’s interesting to note is that Brits cannot enter the national lottery, so I had to play my French side.

Once the app is sent, there’s not much you can do except hibernate.
If you’re selected, you’ll get an actual notification letter from the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC), from where the lottery program is administered.


Over seven months later, on May 29, I receive a large white envelope containing a bunch of papers to fill and send back as soon as possible (with yet again a bunch of new photo IDs to do).
It looks like I’ve won. Can it be true?

It’s also at this point that you get assigned your Case Number. From it, you can guess when you’ll have your embassy interview (within a month or two).
This is of course assuming you’re “really” selected.
Indeed, even though you just received the notification letter, it is actually the first of two.
Not only that, but since a lot of potential DV winners don’t answer back, about 100,000 people receive this first notification letter (twice the amount of actual Green Cards delivered).
First come first serve basis at this point, so time is key.
The people chosen to receive the letters are randomly chosen (obviously their applications must fit the guidelines), although the amount of letters per continent and country changes every year based on the previous lottery’s stats. This is made to even things out.

I chose to fill my form on the computer and then reprint it.
Only, the thing is: there is no letter-size paper here (it’s all A4). So I had to quickly find some US paper (which I did at some cost).
Once I had my brand new pictures and the forms printed out, I sent it back as quickly as I could, meaning less than a week later (June 4).
On June 11, I get the confirmation the KCC received my first notification letter.

Yet again, the waiting game continues.

I get word three months later the KCC sent my second notification letter around August 25.
I receive it on September 5.
This letter informs you of a few things, but is mainly there to prepare you for the upcoming American embassy interview.
First, you need to gather a lot of documents. And by a lot, I mean basically your whole life.
On my part, I had to find, among other things, my birth and police certificates, bank statements proving a certain level of income, and evidence of the required education.
There’s also the small matter of your health.
Yes, you need to go to a certified doctor that tests you for all kinds of things, such as AIDS (you can’t immigrate to the States if you’re sick). And it’s expensive.
The doc appointment also needs to be done only a few days prior to the embassy.
Once over, you’re given a sealed envelope that will later be opened during the interview.
Speaking of, mine was scheduled for October 8 at 1PM.

I arrive early only to wait hours sitting inside the embassy with all my papers in order (no clue how many trees I killed with all the photocopies).
The whole place is über-secured with people talking at counters behind bullet-proof 2-inch-thick glass. No cellphones or any electronic devices are allowed inside. So you’re basically waiting doing nothing.

I’m finally called, but before I can even begin the interview process, I have to pay, a lot (almost a grand!).
Indeed, although the lottery itself is free, if you’re selected and go through the embassy interview, you must pay a fee, with no actual guarantees you’ll get a green card at the end.

Once done, my whole application (and my whole life) is reviewed bit by bit in front of my eyes.
Sometimes I’m also asked some questions about my past and what I want to do in the States.
It’s like a pop quiz, only it’s not a good grade you want.
At this point, they’re looking for reasons why not to give you the green card.
When you’re done being stressed out, and they’re done stressing you out, you hand over your passport.

They said I’d receive it back in a few days with (or without) a visa stamped on it.
Sure enough, on October 16, I receive a package containing my passport… with the (for now) temporary visa.
Holy hell, I really won.

But this is still not over, since I must now go to the States to process it in the following six months.
Also in the package is a sealed envelope containing all my documents and medical results, to be opened by a specific immigrant agent upon arrival.
And that’s around when I went into a blog hiatus.
Paperwork takes time.


On January 20, I embark upon a magical life-changing journey…
Well, not really. That’s more what’s coming this summer.
This was more of a 6-day recon mission, in New York.
Although short, I was able during my NYC stay to go on the Colbert Report.
So anyways, back to my arrival.
So I’m at JFK, and it’s time to get processed…like everyone else who just arrived.
After waiting what feels like (yet again) hours in the queue, I arrive at the immigration desk. The agent, turns out, doesn’t have the authority to open the sealed envelope, so he accompanies me all the away to the other side into the immigration office.
There, a Jack Bauer lookalike opens the envelope, and, once again, reviews the whole application from start to finish.
This is it.
He takes my finger prints, and then stamps the passport/visa.
It’s official: my visa has been processed!
I’m in.

Cut to:
Last week.
I open my mail.
In one of the letters is a laminated plastic card.
And I realize it’s true.
I’ve won a Green Card.