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March 15, 2024

Making Saints: An Interview with Judy Zocchi

March 15, 2024
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This week, Judy Zocchi, The Merry Beggars' Head of Script Development, breaks down her process and technique for The Saints. She also shares advice and inspiration for aspiring writers.

From Concept to Reality

Q: What are your responsibilities as the Head of Script Development?

I have the privilege of ushering the scripts from concept to completion. I manage a stable of ten writers, a script consultant, the research director, and a development assistant. I work in tandem with the executive producer and a team consisting of the audio producer, casting director, and production manager. I am so fortunate to work with all of these talented people.

Judy Zocchi (second from right) Co-Producing a showcase of new works at the Times Center in NYC.

Q: How do you decide which Saints to develop?

Each series comes with many levels of development. In some cases, it starts with conversations with the Executive Producer regarding what Saints he'd like to feature in a series. I try to match a writer to the project given their background, interests, style, and voice. In other cases, a writer will pitch a Saint they are excited about and want to write.  After we select the season and the writers for each series, an intensive development process begins.

Q: Can you walk us through the development process?

Writers must research the Saint, their worldly life, their inner life, the historical time period, and much more. They then pitch the slice of the Saint's life they will zero in on. They develop a concept for all five of the episodes. They meet with the development team, receive notes, and come back to us with a detailed outline. At that point, they go into their first draft. After more notes, they go into draft two (more notes) and draft three. The writer then provides a series breakdown for casting and the script goes to the development assistant for a final proofing and copy edit. If all is well, I lock the series.

Inspirations and Looking Ahead

Q: What’s an upcoming project that you’re excited about?

Occasionally I'll write a series myself. I just finished the story of Bl. Stanley Rother - who I personally have a connection to - and I am presently writing about Saint Faustina. I am in awe of the lives of these two people.

Q: Why do you think The Saints is important?  

We as a society need more role models that are inspirational. This series comes at the right time given the chaos in the world right now. It teaches people of all ages how to hold on tight to their convictions.

Q: Who’s a Saint that you find inspires you during your Daily Life?

Elizabeth Seton and Blessed Stanley Rother have inspired me to take my charity work to another level. We all had some level of our formation on the same mountain in Emmitsburg, Maryland. I attended Mount Saint Mary's University - Blessed Stanley went to seminary there and Mother Seton started her school and the order of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph there.  I have some giant footsteps to follow in!

The Craft

Q: What’s different about writing for audio than writing for Film, TV, or Theater?

I love this question! You can't see anything! This presents a real challenge to the writers. They have to make the audience visualize the location, the time period, the physicality of the characters, and changes in scene - all with no sets, facial expressions, title cards, costumes, etc. In film, you do more in visuals than you do in dialogue.  On the stage, it's more dialogue but with a set, facial expressions, movement, and mannerisms.  In audio, it's voice only, with music and sound effects to help create the drama.

Q: As a writer yourself, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Writing is rewriting. Develop a body of work.  Stay true to your voice.  Don't take no for an answer.  Make your own path. And most importantly, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance.

You can hear every episode of The Saints at

Judy Zocchi is the Head of Script Development for the Merry Beggars. She is a professional writer, producer, and development executive. Judy is also the founder of Camp Jinka, a free camp for children who have lost a parent.

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