Saturday, November 29, 2008

You're invited!

Chad Gervich over at Script Notes is having a party for his upcoming book SMALL SCREEN, BIG PICTURE and he wanted me to extend the invite to all of you!

When: Thurs 12/4
Time: 7 pm
Where: The Standard - Poolside Bar
Address: 8300 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

I'll also be posting a review of the book on here when I get my hands on it!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Still alive

Sorry to be MIA. (I'm surprised I haven't gotten heckling instant messages from my sister by now). I've actually been home sick with some kind of flu or something these last couple days. Being home during the week, listening to's quite strange indeed.

I've been getting into SIX FEET UNDER. It's delightfully weird.

By the way, rumor has it that ABC/Disney fellowship finalists have been notified. Guess there's always next year.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Write. And listen carefully.

There was a great feature in The Hollywood Reporter today about feature writers John Patrick Shanley, Jenny Lumet, Dustin Lance Black, Andrew Stanton, J. Michael Straczynski and Thomas McCarthy. I think the biggest lesson to be taken away from it is their major dedication and discipline. These people write for hours and hours, every day. We all have moments of doubt or hesitation (I definitely have room for improvement myself), but sometimes I think writer's block is a thing of amateurs. Really successful writers just write. All the time.

I also love Jenny's line about listening very, very carefully to people.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

The flow of ideas

Ryan writes: What does your writer's notebook look like? I'm always curious about how other writers "just write." Do you just jot down what happened to you that day? Ideas about life? About characters? About specs or pilots running through your head? Do you write in full sentences or just jot down key words and remember later? Basically, what works for you in writing now and culling good ideas together later?

I don't really have a notebook. When I was younger I used to keep journals of daily ramblings, what happened to me, etc., but that seems like quite a waste of time now. I need to be writing actual scripts. But sure, I get ideas all the time, and jot them down on post-it notes or receipts or whatever. If often seems the best ideas come in the car or the shower, when it's not so convenient. :) Luckily (or not so luckily) I'm at a computer all day at work, so I'm also a fan of emailing myself, or creating Word documents of ideas. If I'm in Final Draft I often write my own internal discussions onto the page, asking questions to be decided later and highlighting any unfinished thoughts in yellow. Probably my favorite part of a script is dialogue, so I'm always listening to people talk and writing down the gems.

I think it's great always to be thinking of new ideas and jotting things down, but you also can't be afraid of sitting down at the computer (or notepad, or whatever) and writing when you are NOT compelled by sudden inspiration. That's what will turn your writing from a hobby into a career.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

How much to send?

Greg writes: I have a friend who is signed to an agency, and she has offered to forward some material to a writer's agent. I'm planning on sending a half hour spec, a half hour pilot, as well as the first three (5-8 pgs) episodes of a web series that's based on the half hour pilot. In your opinion, is this too much to send? Web Series are still relatively new, so I was wondering if you have ever heard of writers submitting material for a web series to an agency?

I don't think that's too much. As long as you think your work is polished and the best it can be, pass it along. Agents will only read as much as they want to, and may very well pass off some or all of the load to an assistant to filter it first anyway. I think the web series is fine too...many agenices have agents who deal solely in the interactive realm, so even if this particular agent doesn't make web series deals, they may work with someone who does. On any account, if agents aren't interested, they just won't read it. But I can't see how it would be a strike against you.

Good luck!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Andrew Jackson

For Thanksgiving my friend and I are going on a "platonic getaway" to a resort in Carlsbad and I can't wait. It's such a weird phrase, isn't it? Not platonic getaway, that one's perfectly appropriate, but "can't wait." I mean, sure I can wait. And I will. But I can't wait, you know?

I'm just exhausted, from everything. I've been staring at this screen for half an hour, thinking I should work on my new pilot, or my old pilot, or the MAD MEN spec I started brainstorming about today. In the morning I always have the best intentions, such ambition and determination to come home and crank out masterpieces...but then I sit here and stare at the screen and my eyes are so tired from staring at screens, plus itchy since around age 19 I developed a severe allergy to life. So I find a fancy Urban Outfitters notebook I bought a few months back and scour my apartment for a pen only to find that my cat has stolen them all and batted them away into oblivion. Seriously, if I was about to be wiped off the earth I would have to leave my message to future generations in lipstick or purple Sharpie. I sneeze. I think about how I want to compare something you say you'll never do but then end up doing anyway to dating a Republican, but I cannot come up with the first part of the comparison. I sneeze again. I think about using a theme of powerlessness for my MAD MEN spec. Then I feel powerless. I want to write a SAMANTHA WHO spec because over the weekend I watched all of season one and I love the show because:

1. it is funny
2. it is female-driven
3. the music is really cute and catchy
4. despite its silly premise, it manages to be about something (choosing to be a good person or a bad person, and re-experiencing big life moments)
5. Barry Watson is hot

But I think I'd better write a one hour spec now, since I already have a WEEDS and there are literally only like 13 lower-level staff writer positions on half-hour comedies in this town. So your odds are just way better with dramas... and nobody will staff you on a one-hour drama based on a half-hour comedy spec.

Another cure would be to write both... and I have intentions to do so. But you know what happens then. Staring and sneezing and all that.

For the record, Bodega wine bar in Santa Monica does "Andrew Jackson night" every Tuesday and all bottles of wine are $20. I don't get it either, but I like the wine. (For another record, I am not drunk. This is just a vintage blog post, a throwback to the time before I used to be so practical and answer questions.)

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Friday, November 7, 2008

When to move to LA?

Rich writes: When is the best time to move out there to start pursuing a career in television writing? I figure I should be out there some time before pilot season to get settled and try to score an agent, but when would the be? What month are we talking about really?

It's true that television development runs in seasons. From what I'm told, staffing season (when writers are being hired to staff the new TV shows) happens between February and early June. Development season occurs from June through November - and down time is generally from November through January. Regardless, I don't know if it's really wise to base your move on that. If you are somehow well-connected (like, your uncle is a big agent at CAA or your friend from college is an EVP at a studio kind of well-connected) and you think you'll be able to get an agent quickly (ummm...I'm inclined to say something mean and snarky here) then sure, come right before staffing season. But it doesn't often work that way.

The work-your-way-up-from-the-inside approach that most of us are taking is all kind of on rolling admissions and it won't matter what time of year you choose. I would advise NOT moving here between now and January. Nobody's really hiring right now, and Hollywood will basically close up shop from Dec 18 - Jan 5. Agencies especially take long breaks, which almost makes up for the embarrassing salary. But after the new year, come whenever.

Also keep in mind that cable shows run on different schedules than networks, and there are more and more scripted cable shows popping up, as well as more cable networks breaking into scripted programming (Starz, AMC, A&E, etc.) - and they don't adhere to the traditional seasons.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes We Can

If you're on a voting kick, I've been asked to throw out there that 92 WICB, the college radio station that inspired my pilot (and featured my voice on many a morning), is up for an mtvU award.

Help them out by voting here!

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