Thursday, June 26, 2008

Favors, Cahones, Contests

A lot of people have been asking where they can find real TV scripts to use as templates for their specs. There were a lot of good ideas posted in the comments of the previous post - the WGA library, websites, etc. I have access to many as part of my job, but I'm afraid I can't post them or send them to guys. Leaking scripts violates Agency Rule #1, No Sharing of Agency Secrets, and it can get me fired.

That kind of leads me to another topic I've been thinking about: how to use your assistant friend or acquaintance. Let's say you meet an assistant to a big TV Lit agent. Or an assistant to an executive producer on your favorite show. Or a writer's assistant. The first thing that pops into your head is, I should get her to give her boss my script!

Hoooooold on. First off, boss/assistant relationships can be very tricky (I touched on this in my post about Respectful Networking). Second, your friend is dedicating a year or more of her life as an overworked, underpaid minion so that SHE can cash in a favor like getting a script read or having a phone call made on her behalf so she can get a better job. Why should she hand you a favor that she is working so hard to earn for herself? If you're good friends with this person and your script is really good, maybe something will happen. But all too often I see eager writers meet people and immediately say CAN YOU READ MY SCRIPT or WILL YOU GIVE MY SCRIPT TO YOUR BOSS? Dude, you must chill. If they're a high-up person, wait for them to OFFER to read your script. If they're an assistant and you've cultivated a relationship, go ahead and ask - but expect notes and advice, not that they're going to hand it to someone Really Important and make you a lot of money. If they think it's the Best Thing Ever, maybe they will pass it on. But you have to remember, the people you meet have their own motives and aspirations. Who the F are you to be asking for favors?

That being said, you do have to be assertive - you can't just sit around and wait for success to rain down on you. Ask questions and advice. Ask people to coffee or drinks, or be so charming that they ask you. Usually, people will be flattered that you're asking their opinion. I had drinks with a few people this week whom I thought would never want to meet me - but I took the initiative and made it happen.


A question from Mark: I wanted your take on contests. I've entered quite a few of them two years ago, but with no results. Should I re-enter the script? Or should I just try to market it another way?

Unless you've made some pretty huge changes to the script, don't re-enter it. I don't think the way you "market" it will make much of a difference if the readers just don't respond to your material (pardon my agentspeak). If you're sure the script has lots of potential, get some notes and do a huge rewrite. Otherwise, move on and write another one. Even the most successful writers have plenty of scripts that never went anywhere.

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Dave Ale said...

A good way to look at Hollywood (which prevents you from using people):

It's not about breaking in, it's about putting yourself in a position to be discovered.

So you cultivate relationships with people who are in a position where if they were looking, they could discover you. You should also actually like the person... but maybe that's just me. I try to like all the people I talk to.

I don't even like asking people to read my script (not that I have one ready at the moment anyway). Maybe it's a Canadian thing... we're all too darn polite.

Katie said...


Katie said...


Charles Jurries said...

Did you get around to watching The Middleman? I was very surprised at how funny and fast that show moved. And, although I'm not looking to write a spec pilot, I couldn't help but be jealous of the first couple minutes. Within the first FOUR minutes, the show had CLEARLY established the main characters, their dynamic, and also the feel and flow of the entire show. And it did not even feel rushed or crowded at all. It was incredible. (Both those four minutes, and both episodes that have aired.)

Dan Williams said...

At, Pilar Alessandra talks to Gayle Jackson, recipient of the Disney Fellowship and Cosby Fellowship, and winner of the Warner Bros. and AFI Competition.

All of Pilar's podcasts are excellent.