Mike writes, with much urgency: I have an urgent question: If a person is looking to get work on a show produced (written/shot) in NYC, e.g., Life on Mars, e.g., because one actually lives in New York (I'm a writer for 4KidsTV in NYC), is it really the case that one would have to move to LA to get an agent so that one could get work close to where one USED to live before one moved to LA??? Sorry for the three question marks, but it's starting to sound like the wicked-step-mother of all catch-22's. I'd appreciate some perspective, or better yet, some knock-my-socks-off/I-could-kiss-your-generously-sized-feet advice.
Ok dude, chill. Tonight's one of those nights when my allergies make me want to scratch my eyes out of my head, and too many question marks really exacerbate the situation. And is it really urgent? I mean, is California drifting off into the Pacific and you have to hurry up and jump on? And why did nobody tell me about this?? And how did I forget to DVR the premiere of 30 Rock??? And is it possible your question mark disease is contagious????
Okay, so here's the deal. There are writers in New York. There are agents in New York. I don't think the writers who work on 30 Rock or SNL or Monk or whatever show you're thinking of moved to LA to break in just to move back to NY. However, there are waaay more shows in LA and it's a case of odds. It's probably not super easy to get a staff gig in NY. And if you really want to be a writer, you might not realistically be able to tell your agent, "Only submit my work to these four shows instead of dozens more." It's like having a store but only keeping it open on Wednesdays and Fridays. You're gonna sell more if you're more...open. Clever, huh?
I can't really talk about how to make it as a TV writer in NY. I don't know how they do it. If I did, maybe I would have stayed there instead of moving here. There are definitely opportunities in late-night and variety. But for straight-up regular TV, it just seems to be way easier in LA. There are more writers, more agents, more shows, more people for you to meet with and impress. More entry-level jobs for you to get so you can work your way up.
Overall I just think it's too narrow minded to say, "I am going to write for a show based in NY." You gotta start somewhere. Walk dogs that belong to Important People. Be a writers assistant. Write for an obscure cable show. Whatever. I mean, sure, it would be nice to just walk into the writers room , tell Tina Fey you like her better than Sarah Palin and then write her next Emmy nomination vehicle. But very few people get that luxury.
I've blogged before about things you can do outside of LA...but I'm inclined to think that if you really wanted to be a TV writer, you'd move here. I did. And so did lotssss of other people.