People today are discerning about the shows they consume. With entertainment more accessible than ever before, our binging habits have increased, we are choosier about what we invest our time in, and we are quick to lose interest in shows that do not grasp us. That means that writers and producers have to know what will capture an audience and what is relevant. One of Hollywood’s most successful writing duos, Berg and Harberts, have successfully navigated the pre-streaming Hollywood era to the current days of Netflix, Hulu, and HBO.
Berg and Harberts started writing in Los Angeles after they graduated from Northwestern. While they were not super close during their college years, both certainly showed potential and talent for screen-writing and production. The two reconnected post-college while trying to break into Hollywood. Through a happenstance housing situation, they rekindled their relationship and through time, found they had a creative and productive working relationship. They began writing together and haven’t stopped since. The duo’s writing includes Beverly Hills 90210, Pushing Daisies, Revenge, or the original showrunners for Star Trek: Discovery. The quality of their work is reflected in the awards and nominations they have received including the Peabody Award Nomination, Saturn Award, Logo’s NewNowNext Award, and a GLAAD Award Nomination.
Hollywood is a cut-throat industry, and in order to stay on top of your game, you need to understand what motivates you. When starting out, you hear “no” a lot more than you hear “yes”. Once you are established and in the game, you still need to hone in on what your motivation is. In a creative industry, keeping your energy focused is essential to producing quality work. Gretchen Berg has said that seeing the work translated on the screen is incredibly inspiring. She also enjoys working with other writers, and truly enjoys writing herself. To Berg, her career does not feel like a chore. Aaron Harberts is motivated by the stories that touch people, as they hopefully recognize parts on themselves in those stories. He also has said he enjoys working with the people, actors, and crew, who bring their work to life.
It’s easy to watch successful people in the Hollywood realm perfect their craft, but sometimes it’s difficult to understand why some people get their big break and others done. Berg and Harberts met with students at the University of Southern California to talk with them about how they met, broke into the industry, and what their daily duties consist of while developing a new project. They also focused on mentioning the business side of things, including securing an agent and how that process has changed over time. Additionally, they discussed what catches their eye in a spec or script, and the budgeting process of any given project. Out of all these things, they stressed that everyone’s path is different, and it’s important to network.
The writing duo expresses a sense of gratitude and gratefulness when they talk about their jobs and experiences in the industry. Berg enjoys engaging in the creative flow of their work, using imagination at work, and collaborating with others imagination. Harberts loves people. He enjoys the creative process and says it’s an extremely rewarding experience to see all that hard work come to fruition and share it with the different parties that brought it all together. Aaron and Gretchen couldn’t have planned their reconnection which lead to a successful career and working dynamic. If they had only searched for new and unknown talent, they might have missed out on learning how naturally and balanced they work together. It’s safe to say that keeping an open mind played a role in their success. While many people come to LA for a fresh start, there might have been something about their Midwest background and college experience that bonded them in a unique way while they were navigating the uncharted territory of Los Angeles. Today, they both work and live in the town they set out to make a name for themselves in. When Aaron Harberts isn’t busy working, he is cooking and baking for his friends. Meanwhile, when Gretchen Berg isn’t working, she is rooting for the Pittsburg Stealers. While the team is highly committed to their professional work, they are also invested in their life outside of work, making relationships with the people in their lives a priority.