First off, before we get into the world of BJ's and Hollywood. It's contest season and Ras has an awesome post about what to concentrate on here.
Back to BJwood...I've been sick the past couple of days. Which, other than the whole "it's sucky being sick" thing, has been quite stressful. See, I *sound* sick. And, I've been waiting on a phone call that I was sure was coming. It doesn't seem as sure as I thought it was.
Here's the thing, as well as trying to get on staff (pipe dreams, I know) I've also been trying to get an assistant position. I have some experience, clearly indicated on my resume. I'd heard that it was harder to get an assistant position than it was to get on staff. I never believed it till now. I thought I was a total shoo-in for this job. I've got people calling the Executive Producer (the creator) on this show: the EP's former boss, a huge showrunner; the EP's former assistant (from a different show than EP's former boss); the EP's best friend; the EP's dog... you get the idea. Yet, the phone's been silent. I'm thinking I'm not getting the job.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret: I'm one of those annoying people who believes that if something doesn't happen it wasn't meant to be. That doesn't mean I can't stress out about things while I'm in the moment... so, I'm fine with not getting called by this show, but I do have to wonder what it takes to get that elusive assistant or staff writing job...
I started thinking, in my NyQuil induced state, about another friend who's been actively pursuing the same jobs as I. Not on the same shows, but he's been working it. His long-time girlfriend has a pilot that's been greenlit. A pilot that my friend helped shape which ultimately aided in his girlfriend selling the pilot. See, my friend's been trying to be a TV writer for years. His girlfriend's been pursuing other opportunities, with much success. But, his girlfriend stumbled on a great idea. So, the two created the pitch. The girlfriend, who had much more industry cachet, pitched it solo. When the pitch sold, girlfriend made it clear that her TV writing boyfriend had much to do with this pilot. The girlfriend was promised that TV writing boyfriend would be well taken care of, should the pilot be picked up (read: a job writing on the show).
The pilot's greenlit. And my friend can't even get a job as an assistant. All because the showrunner had her people lined up should she (the showrunner) have gotten on a show. Well, showrunner ended up on my friend's girlfriend's show. And, so, as Queen Bee, the showrunner handpicked her staff and assistants. And, my friend is shit out of luck. His girlfriend's put up a stink, but friend's decided that he'd prefer not to be in a place where he's not wanted. So he'll use industry contacts (and the guilt factor -- the production company's been very apologetic to my friend) to try to get another job. My friend made a joke the other day, "who do I have to sleep with to get a job -- cuz, it's clearly not my girlfriend!"
Then we have stories of people like a staff writer on a critically acclaimed show. As lore has it, the showrunner and she had been friends for a long time. They're both Young Adult novelists. She'd been a huge fan of his since long before he became a TV writer. So, he begs her to give up her life and come to LA to be staff writer on his show. In his second season, she agrees. Except, she hasn't watched TV in 15 years. She hasn't been out here killing herself to become a TV writer. She has absolutely zero passion for it. Yet, he's the showrunner AND the creator, so, she gets a job. Of course, she also gets fired in the same year when it's proven that she can't actually write for television (not everyone can) and has to be re-written. This is all lore, of course.
I've just recently heard of something similar happening on a hit show on ABC. Their new staff writer got the job even though they'd never actually finished a script (well, not without the showrunner completely rewriting it), because they knew the showrunner.
So, the answer to the big question:
Check your gag reflexes at the door for the showrunner.