Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What to spec

First, deadline reminders:

June 1 - Austin Film Festival Teleplay Competition. Make sure you read the fine print about the separate title page and cardstock.

June 1 - CBS Writing Mentoring Program. A friend's boss is one of the mentors, so I have it on good authority that it's a very worthwhile program, and that they definitely consider women as a minority (woo!). I don't know if I'll be applying, though, because in addition to a spec, the program requires you submit either a play, short story or screenplay. Another CBS assistant who's applying theorized that they'll read whatever is shortest, so you're safe entering a crappy screenplay, but not a crappy short story. Hmm. I do have a crappy screenplay. But I don't really want to be sending out anything crappy, you know? I guess there's always next year.

A lot of you have been asking about what shows to spec, so I got some more advice, this time from one of the agency's tv lit assistants who also happens to be an agent trainee. First, though, please heed my advice that you should ALWAYS write something that you're passionate about, and not just try to follow industry trends. Also remember that every opinion will differ a bit. If you're on page 32 of a spec that's not on this list, it doesn't mean you should throw it out.

She says that current half-hour specs she sees are 30 ROCK, MY NAME IS EARL, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, some TWO AND A HALF MEN still, and occasionally CURB and ENTOURAGE. For one-hour, it's DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, GREY'S ANATOMY, UGLY BETTY and HOUSE, and she has also seen DEXTER a lot recently.

As for cable shows: It depends on the popularity and general social familiarity with the show. A couple years ago you saw a lot of WEEDS, but as that show is winding down, it's not much in vogue anymore. DEXTER is popular right now, as was THE SHIELD two seasons ago. As a rule she would stay away from big costume pieces like THE TUDORS - besides, the story is so lock step anyway. Although, she's starting to see MAD MEN pop up. That actually would be a good up-and-coming spec to work on.

And yes, it's too late for THE OFFICE. Some execs refuse to read them, even.

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9 comments:

Justine said...

Ugh, that's so disheartening about THE OFFICE. Do you have any thoughts about writing a PUSHING DAISIES spec?

Robbin said...

Are you positive that the CBS program considers women a minority? Someone else told me that too but I couldn't find that stated on their website. I so want to apply.

fgd said...

Good to hear about Mad Men. Thanks for the news Amanda, keep rockin' this bitch(your blog).

evanshaffer said...

Per cable shows; any thoughts on RESCUE ME or CALIFORNICATION? I just spec'd both these past couple months and they have been renewed for a fifth and second season respectively.

Debbi Mack said...

What about a spec for a show like THE CLOSER, which is pretty episodic and (I'm told) popular?

GetOnMyMap Media said...

I'd also recommend Friday Night Lights and Flight of the Conchords, for drama and comedy, respectively.

Amanda said...

Robbin - That's what my friend said. That's all I know. Honestly, I think the best attitude to have is that your script is the most important thing. No executive is going to toss aside a script s/he LOVES because the writer isn't a certain color. There's no fee, so I say go for it.

Robbin said...

thanks for the response---and encouragement--you're right--I will go for it--the script's the thing!

Lisa said...

Any thoughts on LOST as a spec?