Nickelodeon writing program

27 01 2014

Hey writers looking for your break! Its now or never for applying to the Nicklodeon writing program. Find out all the details and the important dates if you’re going to apply. If so and you want me to read your scripts to get them into the best shape possible, check out my contact me page. I’m a tough audience which is exactly what you need if you’re working on your scripts that the world will see.

And when you get in, get me a spongebob key chain!

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TV writer fellowship season

11 03 2013

guy-at-computer

Hey guys, so it’s about that time of year!  You’re all thinking about what scripts should I submit for the disney or warner brothers or nickelodeon upcoming fellowships.  It’s pretty exciting!  Check out my posts below on which comedies and drama specs to write and which ones to straight up avoid.  Why waste your time on a script that might not be use-able in 6 months right? 

I’m here to help get your scripts into shape! I read them and give you tons of notes to address some of the story problems or character problems that all us writers come across in our daily writing!  I mean every single writer is given notes on the most granular details of their scripts, but what ends up happening is those notes always  make the script better.  I have no seen a time when notes ruined a script… okay, that’s not true. One time on That 70s Show a writer got re-written and I’m not entirely convinced it was needed! (BTW it was not me!) Sometimes writers on staff get re-written and the re-write is totally linear. But whatevs it happens.  But it won’t happen to you! So contact me, send me your scripts and let’s do this!

 





Happy New Year – Time to Write a New Spec Script

2 01 2013

TV_Spec_Script_LC_2012

 

Yeah yeah yeah, we’ve heard all the commercials about getting into shape for the new year.  New Year, New You… but lets talk about what you really need to do: write a new spec script.

That’s right. It’s that time of the year again.  Fellowship deadlines are 5 months away. That’s not a lot of time so let’s get cracking. What spec script should you write?  I’ve written on both dramas and comedies, so I have a lot of experience writing spec with both genres because well if you want to get a job writing comedy you need a few great comedy specs and the same applies for dramas.

So what shows should you be speccing out? Well today I’ll talk about drama specs since they take longer to write. Later this week I’ll write about comedy specs that would be great to write.

Now I read a ton of drama specs. A ton.  And so I know the trends and I know which shows are over-specced (i’m pretty sure I just made that word up) out. So if you have written one of these shows and love it or just think it needs a re-fresh I’m happy to help and please don’t stress out, you can still submit them to all the fellowships, however, if you’re starting out tomorrow writing a drama, I would avoid the following.

OVER SPECCED

Grey’s Anatomy – You might love this show and totally get all the McDreamy and Christina, but please don’t write a Greys. The show is far too out dated and no one reading your scripts (read: agents, managers, show runners etc) have no idea what is going on in the show and won’t even know that McSteamy is dead.

Breaking Bad – The show is over, soooo I think this one is a no-brainer.

Dexter – This is such a great show, but because of all the twist and turns and the recent season finale… who has any idea where they’re taking this show. I don’t. This town is littered with Dexter specs.

Mad Men – Again, this is over-specced and I think everyone in Hollywood had a Mad Men spec.  While it’s a great show, why go up against all that competition?

Gossip Girl – The show is done, so don’t start writing one, I’m a huge fan, watched the series finale and even I don’t remember what happened… it was 2 weeks ago!

SPEC-TASTIC

These are a really good choice to spec. Very well known by all readers and still have life left in them and they’ll be fun to do!

Bones – This is light procedural can really showcase your comedy and police chops.

The Good Wife – This could be over-specced, but I have to be honest, like I said I read a ton of dramas as a TV Script consultant and haven’t read one Good Wife.  I wish I read more since I love this show.  There are so many great places to go and you can showcase both your legal drama writing and personal stories. It’s a win-win.

Sons of Anarchy – Hard show to Spec but a great one.

Parenthood – No way to know if it’s coming back next year so it might be a risky write, but still a heart-warming family drama and family shows are a great one to have in your script portfolio.

Justified – Read a few and really enjoyed the read.

True Blood – This show might be done for, but they definately have one season that they’re writing and shooting right now (which my good friend is show-running! Yay!) so you still got some time!

Homeland – Best drama of the year, might be worth speccing. I haven’t read a single one.

Castle – I’ve not become a loyal follower, but this light police drama is beloved by it’s fans and performing well in the ratings.  These types of shows will always be around, so a great type of script to have in your portfolio.

WRITE IT, MAYBE

These shows fall on the border of whether or not they should be written. Some might come back, some might not, some are just all over the map even I wouldn’t know where to begin (I’m looking at you, Revenge)

Revenge – I’m pretty sure I have no idea what is happening in this show and I have been a fan since day 1.  But I love the soapy aspect of it, which is why I heart this show.  I think it could be an interesting, albeit risky show to spec.  Again it’s all over the place, but if you like soapy dramas, then go for it, this won’t be the last one to come out and when the next one does, you’ll be well positioned to go out for it!

Game of Thrones – Did you read the books and adore them like I did? I’m obsessed with Jon Snow and the actor who plays him. The biggest challenge when writing this as a spec is to come up with narratives that’s not already in the book. If the reader of your script is a huge reader of the books and you stick with that narrative they might not be as impressed!  I wouldn’t attempt if you haven’t read the books as well as watched the show.

Scandal – sure it was on some list for being the worst show of the year, but it’s a 2nd season show that’s really building in popularity. Coming up with interesting cases the team has to resolve could be great fun!

 

Glee – I think the time to write this show has passed.  The show has aged, the students moved on not sure it would be worth the time investment to write. I know this is considered a comedy in the emmy’s but it’s an hour long thus falls into my spec evaluation with the rest of the hours.

Leverage – Light procedural.  Not sure how much longer it will be on the air.

NO THANK YOU

Private Practice – Cancelled

At the end of the day, you want to write the show that you know you will write the best script for. If you’re a huge leverage fan, write that, if you really want to write a glee because you have this story you’re burning to tell, GO FOR IT! That’s the trick with specs, don’t get too bogged down in the rules and just write the best script you can! Your career will thank you for it!

 





Sometimes I wish I was famous

11 10 2012

I rarely wish i was famous… I live in the same neighborhood as a lot of famous folk and travel to the same coffee shops, restuarants and doctors as they do.  And I see a lot of what they have to put up with in terms of being hunted down by the papparazzi as they’re just trying to get a soy macchiatto.  I recently went to sushi with a friend and was at the valet with  Michelle Trachectenberg and some papparazzi who were snapping away so I jumped in front of the cameras. It was more for my amusement than anything else. But i digress…

Then there are times when I see them cut the line in the coffee bean and get handed a drink without having to pay.  Say what now??  Thats the look on my face if someone were to take a picture in that moment…  Or most recently, when I was waiting to pitch my TV show at ABC Comedy last week and I’m sitting in the waiting area with Ty Burrell from Modern Family.  There we both were waiting to go into our comedy pitches.  I was sizing up my competition and was NOT feeling good about my chances.  Along came the people we were pitching with… my team did not look as famous as his team. I saw the writing on the wall. I wasn’t defeated, but there was a little part of me thinking, I’m definitely going to have to work a lot harder to sell my idea than he will to have to sell his.

So it was no surprise that the same day I got my rejection from ABC I read on deadline that Burrell had SOLD his.  There was a photo of him and his brother who he sold it with in their matching Harry Potter glasses.  They were just missing their capes and matching lightning bolt scars. But they didn’t need magic to sell their pilots, they had a celebrity from the very same network!  I’m the one who needed magic… note to self, buy glasses, cape and scar for next pitch which is this afternoon so I might not have enough time.

And to continue my bitterness rant, I read the log line of Ty’s show and why did that show sell? A show about two families in oregon who want to make a better life without technology?!  That’s it?  Ok, maybe I changed my mind, dammit, maybe I do wish I was famous if for no other reason than to sell a show at the network level… oh and that free macchiatto!





Development season…

30 08 2012

Well it’s that time of the year again… development season. Where writers come up with ideas, do a dog and pony show pitching them to production companies and studios only to re-write their ideas, make it more someone else’s idea and then do another dog and pony show to the networks in the hopes of selling their own TV show and writing the pilot.

While I’ve had major success selling to cable networks like MTV and Spike, I haven’t had any success selling a pilot to one of the major networks. This shouldn’t be at all surprising to people in the business. It’s very hard to sell a pilot if you haven’t sold one before (catch-22 much?) or you didn’t write on friends. Google the NY times article on how many shows Friends writers have sold and how successful they have become to know what I’m talking about.

But year after year my representation wants me to get out there. Last year was my funniest idea to date based on my personal experience and it didn’t sell. I had everyone laughing at the networks and the Dreamworks guys who I pitched with were convinced this was a sure thing… guess what nothing is ever a sure thing. Suffice it to say it didn’t sell (see NY times article about the friends writers)

Just kidding, I know other people who sell shows who aren’t Friends writers, but I will say one of my best friends has been wildly successful in TV, now in the executive producer ranks of a new show coming out this fall and she rarely sells a pilot to a major network and this is a woman who has sold one before and produced it!

So what does it take to sell a pilot? Your guess is as good as mine. But I do know it doesn’t only take a great idea. That will get you into the door to the newtork, but it won’t be the end all/be all. You need a great idea combined with great credits, hopefully a previous pilot sale, a great company or studio working with you, you need to get in the door before everyone else has who has a similar idea, thus timing is essential, you need to put on a show in the room, entertain the folks for sure and you need a great story! Not to be confused with the show’s idea story, nope, you personally needs a great personal story. Just read deadline.com just to see how many people sell shows “based on their own life.” Go there right now and you’ll see one about some country singer. That’s right, a show sold by a country singer… did i mention you don’t even need to be a writer?

soooo on that note… wish me luck! haha. That’s one thing I didn’t mention you need.





Confession

29 11 2011

I haven’t blogged about TV writing in a while because I’ve been in a funk. I can admit that, right? I just haven’t been in the mood to do any writing, thinking about writing, dreaming about selling a hit TV show… I’ve just been… funky.

Last month I went out with my pilot idea based on my life this summer. I met with every production company in town, people loved the idea and after much thought I took it out to the networks with Dreamworks. The people at Dreamworks TV are so awesome. I’ve worked with them before on a show for ABC and always knew that I’d one day be back in business with them.

So we booked the network pitches and went door to door pitching the show. And I had so many laughs, even the ladies at CBS laughed and for those of you in the know, you know they NEVER EVER EVER laugh during a pitch. It’s their “brand” i suppose. The guy from dreamworks was like “ive never seen them laugh like that in my 16 years of pitching to them. So as you can imagine, I was on a total high. AFter each pitch I would go home and dream of a bidding war that my idea was going to be involved in. I’m not a proponent of war, but this was a war I could easily get behind… but then nothing. No one bought the idea. And I was left with my pockets empty going huh? But eveyone laughed and loved it. even the cbs ladies… that has to mean something, right?

NOPE!

Naturally I was crushed, disappointed, thought of becoming addicted to something, wanted to run someone over with my car… only to realize I didn’t even have a car, it died along with my dreams of a bidding war, on my drive home from my NBC pitch. And hitting someone with a bike was clearly not going to be an effective way to get across my message.

so I went into a funk. Wanted to give up.

But instead, I kept my head down, my energy positive, and kept going no matter how frustrating it seemed, no matter how close I got, and no matter how impossible it seemed to get over that rejection hump. I regained my faith that things would work out. I had faith that if I kept my head down, kept writing, it would evolve eventually into the job that was right for me. MANY writers would have embraced their day job and put the writing aside much earlier.

Let’s face it, writing is freakin’ hard. You never feel like you’re done with a script, it means sacrificing your weekends, your time with your friends, spouse, kids, because you just want to get that script done outside of your 9 to 5, monday to friday job. It’s a hard thing to do when the reward is so minimal, so far off, and seemingly impossible to those around you. Most people don’t get our type of crazy obsession like that. Most people don’t understand that when you’re writing, you can be working on your story while you eat dinner, finding character traits in business meetings, and finding plot points on your morning hike. It’s a pretty constant obsession.

When people ask me ‘am I good enough?’ ‘Do I have what it takes?’ ‘Should I keep writing?’, I generally say the same thing. If you CAN stop writing, do. There are many more ways to make much more money, jobs that allow you some sanity when you come home at the end of the day, and many other creative outlets. But if you can’t stop, don’t ever see a world where you aren’t writing, then you’ve got the bug. And if it hasn’t paid off for you yet, use my story as inspiration. It will. I firmly believe that if you keep your head down, keep writing, the reward will come eventually. It becomes not a matter of IF my writing gets noticed, but WHEN you’re writing gets noticed.

And so I’m back baby! I hope you can find inspiration in my story since it’s not unique to me at all, it’s happening to every TV writer who went out this year and didn’t sell the show of their dreams. But that doesn’t mean they won’t go out and do it all over again next year because that’s what us writers do!





Hey all my TV writers!

19 10 2011

Breaking news!

FOX is launching a new diverse writers program! Always great to have another presitigious program to try to be a part of. It’s a great way to develop your skill in a safe, supportive environment.

I also know how hard it is to break into this business. You have these huge dreams, but dont have contacts and can’t just move from Ohio to Los Angeles to “see what happens.” That’s not always realistic. Initially the program is for more experienced writers but starting next year it’s for entry level writers.

“the initiative “is designed to nurture experienced writers with diverse voices, backgrounds and life experiences and create a strong pipeline of well-rounded talent for potential staffing as writers, story editors or showrunners on Fox productions.”

I was in the amazing Warner Bros. Workshop, having that gave me credibility and launched my career, so i’m a big fan of all these programs. I also used to read for the ABC /Disney fellowship and loved reading scripts from up and coming writers. I just love seeing who is coming up and how I can help them.

the deadline is november 9th for the program for more established writers and they have to be nominated by agents/managers/studios etc. Here’s a link for more infor. http://www.fox.com/audiencestrategy for some reason my blog wont link directly to it, so just copy and paste, i’m old school baby!

And good luck! I’m here to help get your script into the best shape possible to get you into these programs. I’ve been in your shoes and written scripts that got me into the programs that changed my life. Let me help you do the same!