Friday, August 28, 2009
Click here for all the info.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
No. Writers write spec scripts (sample episodes of existing TV shows) as examples of their work, usually so they can get a job on the writing staff of a show. (And generally, a different show; I've heard it's poor form, for example, to use a TWO AND A HALF MEN spec to try to get a staff job on TWO AND A HALF MEN.) Specs are useful because they demonstrate that a writer can mimic the characters and tone of another person's show, and therefore be a good addition to a staff. You don't really pitch the idea to anyone except your friends and, if you have them, your agent or manager. People like producers and creators wouldn't hear about a spec until it's done and someone sends it to them as a writing sample.
In recent years there has been a trend toward using original material (pilots, plays, features, short stories, etc.) as writing samples instead of specs. The idea is that original material gives readers a better sense of who you are as a writer - what your individual voice is, what unique characteristics you'd bring to a staff, etc. But since specs are still used (and only specs are considered in many fellowships and workshops, like the ABC/Disney Fellowship and the WB Writer's Workshop), it's probably a good idea to write both specs and original material.
Personally, I recommend tackling a spec first. The characters and world have already been created, and you'll have several episodes to watch, break down and use as templates. You also might check out the old posts from Jane Espenson's blog - she wrote a lot about perfecting your specs and pilots.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
This program is not for beginners. It is for writers who can write at least a one half-hour comedy or a one-hour dramatic television script in English within a five-week period of time. The program will take place in Los Angeles, CA from November 7 to December 12.
Each participant is expected to complete at least one script by the end of the five-week session, which will then be read by network executives. Those writers whose scripts show promise will be interviewed and mentored by the network executives with the idea of placing them on a show. Nine of our writers from previous sessions have already been placed.
A stipend of $250 per week will be given to each participant.
Flight, housing, and meals will be provided. The program will commence on November 7. If selected, you must be available to fly and stay in Los Angeles, CA from November 7 to December 12, 2009. Writing samples must be in English and television scripts are preferred. Please note that writing teams are ineligible. The deadline for submissions is September 14. Scripts will be evaluated and program participants announced on October 19.
For writing samples to be considered, please submit the following:
Writing sample (1) hard copy and saved on a CD (PDF format)
Notarized release forms
A paragraph explaining why you want to write for television
To download program application and release forms, please visit http://www.nhmc.org/documents/Writers_Program/WP09.pdf
Writing sample must be postmarked by September 14 and sent to:
National Latino Media Council
55 S. Grand Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91105
For more information please call Acasia Flores at (626) 792-6462.
Program Sponsored by: NBC, ABC, Southwest
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I think this is the most important quote:
"Cost-cutting isn't going to cure our ills," one network boss says. "At a certain point, you can't cut any more. There has to be a change in the business models."
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Cleempfshk. That's the sound of my plastic hangers sliding across the wooden bar in my hallway closet. (Okay, I'm no onomatopoeia expert - but I do love metaphors.) I just moved all the skirts and pants and button-up-shirts of my work attire out of my room, because I'm not really going to need them anymore.
Friday was my last day at the agency.
No, I didn't get a sweet writer's assistant gig (though I interviewed for eight). No, I haven't sold my feature spec for some huge number against some huger number. And no, I didn't get fired! I quit. Here's the thing - I started working at the agency in October 2007, telling myself that it would only be a year. Then I spent a few months in the mailroom. Then the strike hit. Then I finally got a desk and the year started over. Finally Day 365 on the desk came, and I announced I'd be looking for jobs. Then Day 366, and 367, and 368...
Cut to July of 2008, day 4-something-but-I-stopped-counting-a-while-ago. I was still in the same job. I was lucky enough to score some good interviews through friends, but none of them panned out. I got a lot of "We love you, but"s. We love you, but we're hiring the showrunner's friend. We love you, but we're promoting from within. We love you, but we're cutting the budget and not hiring anymore. Then staffing season ended, and my prospects started to dry up. I started considering development jobs, feature jobs, whatever, at least they pay more - but those are pretty scarce. Problem is, nobody's getting promoted right now - which means no assistants are leaving their posts. Most of the people I know who work at production companies and studios have been in their positions for two or more years.
But I couldn't stay at the agency forever. I had learned what I was going to learn, and I had made the connections I was going to make. There really was no point to staying there any longer, especially since the salary didn't allow me to save any money. So I started looking for other things. I had heard about other writers finding well-paying work as tutors, so I started applying for tutoring jobs. And I think because I have some experience from college and some experience from volunteering with WriteGirl, I was able to find one with a reputable company. It's not a full-time thing (although 16.5 hours a week of tutoring would pay the same as 40 hours of my old job), but with a little blogging and possibly other occasional part-time gigs, I think I should be able to make ends meet. It helps that I'm not used to making much.
I kind of expected all my assistant friends to gasp and say WHAT? YOU'RE LEAVING THE INDUSTRY? - but everyone has actually been really supportive. I've been congratulated a lot, which is pretty funny, the concept of being congratulated on quitting my job during a recession when I don't have a full-time job to replace it. Still, I'm really happy about it. I do realize that most people get staffed on TV shows as a result of being a writer's assistant or showrunner assistant - and I'm certainly not ruling out the idea of finding that kind of job in the future - but for right now, I'm gonna focus on writing while I pay my bills with non-industry stuff. I think it's also worth noting that in features, nobody really cares what showrunner loves you. You do need to get your script inside the iron walls of Hollywood somehow, but it seems that beyond that, it really is about the script. (As opposed to TV, where I've heard instances of assistants getting to write scripts even if nobody's read a word of their stuff.) Everybody loves the story of the guy who's living in his grandma's basement in Jersey and then he wins the Nicholls or whatever and gets plucked from obscurity. I started out being all ra-ra-ra TV, but since I've worked in features, and since I'm feeling good about my romcom, I've started to think maybe I could pursue that route. (Go ahead, make your joke about how I'll have to change the name of this blog.)
I still recommend getting a job in the industry for the learning experience, but I don't know if you necessarily have to stay there forever. There was an interesting interview with TV writer Scott Rosenberg on the Hollywood Writer's Office Assistants blog in which Scott recommended working in the industry for a couple years and then getting the eff out - he said he even became a truck driver. Because you don't want to get burned out, and you don't want your job to prevent you from writing. I think a lot of aspiring writers find themselves in one of two situations: 1. they have a grueling industry job and when an Important Person says "send me your script," they have nothing to show; or 2. they have a bunch of scripts sitting on their hard drive and nobody to send them to. You do have to gain connections somehow - but you also have to write. I'm hoping the connections I have will come through for me...and for right now it's writing time.
Bleh, okay, enough of that. If you have any questions about my agency experience, please do comment or email. I'm not going to reveal and juicy secrets, but I can certainly advise and reflect.
And as for this blog, expect more posts. And perhaps some weekly features - I've already decided that I'll be doing Thrifty Thursdays, where I feature cheap drinks, lunch specials, etc. for all my fellow economically challenged Angelenos. W00t!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Weds 9/9: Fox: Glee, The Cleveland Show, Brothers
Thurs 9/10: NBC: Community, Trauma, Mercy
Fri 9/11: CBS: Accidentally On Purpose, The Good Wife, NCIS LA, Three Rivers
Mon 9/14: CW: Melrose Place, The Vampire Diaries, The Beautiful Life
Tues 9/15: ABC: Hank, The Middle, Flash Forward, Modern Family, Cougar Town
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Presented by Humanitas with the Writ ers Guild Foundation
Tues, Sept 15 @ 7:30 pm
Writers Guild Theater
135 S. Doheny Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90211
An evening of discussion with major Humanitas writers as they discuss how their work has made a difference. How has their work helped to change lives? How have their stories been used to effect educational or social change? Speakers include Kirk Ellis (Anne Frank, John Adams), Greg Garcia (My Name Is Earl), John Wells (ER, West Wing), Paris Qualles (A Raisin in the Sun) plus TBA. Moderated by John Horn (LA Times). Presented with Humanitas to benefit the Writers Guild Foundation Shavelson-Webb Library and other Foundation programs.
Tickets: $20 General; $15 WGA member; $10 Student with ID
Monday, August 3, 2009
No. I think all of the studio-sponsored fellowships and workshops are absolutely worth applying to (even if you're not "diverse"), but keep in mind they are extremely competitive. As for some of the other contests, I'm skeptical. There's really no harm in trying, I guess, but I wouldn't count on them as the only way to try to get your work out there. I think that fellowships, workshops and contests are only a small part of getting people to read your work.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
A new edition of The Hollywood Standard was just released, and I encourage you all to check it out. No one will take you seriously until you have mastered script format. I maintain that the best way to soak it in is to read as many professional scripts as you can get your hands on (and if you don't work in the industry or have friends who do, there are some great sites with real scripts like Pilot School and Simply Scripts). Still, every now and then you'll come across a unique formatting dilemma and you'll need a guidebook. The Hollywood Standard is your book!