I be a good righter.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Doing it for Love

Okay, so debates are raging throughout the scribe-o-sphere. What to spec: pilot v. existing show? The answer's in the post below. So, in the vein of doing both, I'd like to talk a little bit about portfolios.

Now, there are two trains of thought on this one (or at least people think that they're two thoughts, I think they're one):

1. Only add/write specs that are current and will complement your portfolio.
2. Write what you love.

I constantly find myself in conversations with friends discussing what to write next. Invariably we talk about the shows we love and then end up talking about what we'll actually spec -- I always end up going back to what I love.

Case in point, I've just discovered Battlestar Galactica. I'd been loathe to try it out, because a friend warned me that I'd have to get through the miniseries (by her own admission, it was subpar) and then get into the series (which was awesome). So, you know, devoting six hours to a show that my friend who loves the show considered subpar? Not high on my list of priorities. But, there's been a lull in new episodes of my favorite shows lately, and a hangover from hell on Sunday. So, I bit the bullet. The miniseries wasn't great, but immensely watchable. The series itself was fabulous. I'm already most of the way through the second season at this point! But, as watchable and fun and poignant as the show is, I don't think I luuurve it. Don't get me wrong, It's awesome. But in terms of cable shows I love, I can think of only one show I'd could spec: Dexter. Mainly cuz I'd get to kill people. And, I could watch the episodes over and over and never get bored (which is my litmus test for speccing a show).

Sidebar: Frak. I hate this word. It's the FCC friendly substitute for fuck. But, "fuck" is only bad, I believe, because it means dirty sex. Not the sanitized "love-making" that I assume the FCC people do only when they're trying to have a baby -- as in, only when they have to. I'm assuming FCC wives don't even the benefit of an orgasm in this FCC approved sex. But, uh, fucking? Well, that's dirty. And, if frak is a substitute for fuck, well, the FCC are idiots. But then, I believe that fuck, damn, shit, cock -- they should all be allowed on network TV. Because what the FCC fail to realize is that people can actually turn the channel if they're offended.


There are a ton of shows that I'd write specs for, if there were more than 24 hours in a day -- but since I limit myself to what I love (which begets my actually enjoying writing), for me there are only a few. Oh, and I never go by the whole "it's what's hot right now." Because, you know, if you can't show the love in your spec, and you're just chasing the trends, your spec is going to end up as sanitized as the FCC doods fucking, sorry, making love to their wives.

So, here's what I'd spec (some may be considered "hot;" some may not -- I cannot advise on that, because I think once the masses hear what's hot, a show gets inundated with those "hot" specs, and I tend to shy away from those because I'd prefer my scripts stand out) if I had all the time in the world:

(Loved it: I already specced it; love it: I'd spec it in a heartbeat; admire it: would spec it if I were out of things to spec)
24 (LOVE IT)
Battlestar Galactica (admire it)
Big Love (LOVE IT)
The Closer (LOVE IT)
Cold Case (admire it)
CSI (I did very well off a 12th season Law & Order -- so I don't think it's past its prime -- LOVE IT)
Criminal Minds (admire it)
Desperate Housewives (admire it)
Dexter (LOVE, LUST, PINE for IT)
Friday Night Lights (admire it)
Heroes (LOVE IT)
House (LOVED IT)
Law & Order Criminal Intent (this show's really grown on me -- admire it)
Medium (LOVED IT)
Numb3rs (admire it)
Prison Break (LOVE IT)
Psych (LOVE IT)
Supernatural (LOVE IT)
Ugly Betty (LOVE IT)
The Unit (admire it)
Veronica Mars (you might be taking a chance here, as 4th season isn't a lock -- LOVE IT)
The Wire (admire it)
Without A Trace (LOVED IT)

So, you've got your trusty specs, and you're thinking about a pilot. Or, you've got your pilot and you're thinking about what to spec. The most important thing to do is write what you love. Especially since you could end up on Grey's Anatomy when you're more a Supernatural kind of person, but hey, a job is a job!

But, I'm of the opinion that while we're not staffed, we should enjoy writing as much as possible. Which means that a clinical approach to your portfolio is probably smart, but might not end up in the best spec you could ever write. The reality is, it's most likely going to be one script that gets you staffed. Would you rather that script be something you're passionate about or something you chose because you want your portfolio to be well-rounded (not that there's anything wrong with that -- especially if your goal is to find an agent).

Monday, January 22, 2007

... now they're toilet paper?

Okay, so, uh... Jane's post, "it finally sinks in" totally freaked me out.

I've been hard at work on some specs of existing shows. And, then, I read her post. And, I'm like, well. Great. Shows aren't reading specs of existing shows anymore? So, I go through my pilots. The outlines and existings. It's slim pickin's. Oh, it's great if I want to get a job on the Disney Channel or Supernatural (uh, actually, I'd love that), but I really need a pilot that's more universal. Something that has the potential to get me on a lot of shows. If that's possible. So, I go to my trusty list of ideas. Yeah, I have one. And, I remember this sliver of an idea I'd had a while back. Apparently it's been percolating in my brain while I've not been consciously thinking about it. So, I've got something. Maybe. So, first I'm all mad at Jane (when in doubt, kill the messenger). Then I'm like, wait, this affects me not at all. Then I'm like, wait, she's talking about an agent. Then I'm like, wait, I could blog about this.

So, I decided to get some inside poopage from a friend who's on a hit show:

I ask:

Am I just supposed to wipe my ass with my specs of existing shows now?

He kindly responds:

The best answer is that you need both [a pilot and a spec of an existing show]. Agents want to see original material because they want to know that their client can develop - down the road that's where the money is. Showrunners like to see original material because they're looking to add something new and unique to their show, inasmuch as it also fits within the established confines of its existing voice.

You also need the spec though, but not just to show you can do the voices as common knowledge suggests. To me, it's like the home version of Iron Chef: the ultimate goal is not to faithfully duplicate what somebody else has already done - it is to take the same ingredients and create an episode that is unique for that established world, work that stands out and is memorable even as it is familiar. To say that a spec is used to demonstrate that you can do the voices for an existing show is only to state half the battle. Just as important, you have to prove that you can put your own stamp on it; not in a way that breaks the conventions of the show, but one that furthers them.

I would marry this guy if I weren't married and he was Hugh Laurie...

So, guys, there you have it. Write both.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Sparkly Flip Flops!

My gal Kristen has started up the engines on a new blog. Read it, know it, love it.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Regrets? I've had a few...

What follows is a litany of paths I've chosen to make other people feel good.

Contrary to popular belief I'm actually a nice person. I know, it's hard to believe with all my bitching and shit on this blog. But, I am. I worry (to a fault) about other people. Their feelings, their well-being, their... at the expense of my own well-being. It's a trait given to me by my mother. Or, by taking care of my mother. Or, something.

Example #1:

I heard about that job. The one a while back, before moving to Dublin. I could have called in a favor or two. Instead, I chose to help out a friend. That friend maintains that I would have never gotten that job. This might be true. It might not. I might have been shortlisted after she was fired (which is apparently what happened). Who knows? Well, actually, that's the point, no one knows, because I didn't even try. Chances are, things wouldn't have gone my way. But instead of sitting here with regret, I'd at least know, if I'd tried.

Example #2:

This is a weird one, and one I just found out about from an old acquaintance-slash-new friend. Okay, so, uh I was bidding on a lunch with the writers from some TV shows at a charity event/fan party. I outbid the person I was bidding against and seemed poised to win the lunch. This would be a great coup, I thought, because I was being told by others that I needed to meet some people in the business, and what better way to network than to have lunch with these folks?

So, I bid the extent of our credit limit. Mr. Boom was a-okay with this, as he knew it was important. The girl I was bidding against checked the auction list, and saw that she'd been outbid. She began to cry. I overheard her talking to her friend, she was seriously upset. So, I struck up a conversation. Apparently she was from out of town, and had flown in special to bid on this event.

Did I mention that the amount I bid was the exact amount we had left in credit? Did I mention that the hubby and I were unemployed? Did I mention the fact that without credit, we'd be broke -- like, no groceries?

It was a no-brainer to withdraw my bid. Besides, the hubby mentioned that maybe I should meet the writers under my own steam, and not as a fan -- maybe I'd be taken a bit more seriously that way. I somewhat concurred. So, I asked the girl how much she could afford to bid, she told me, and I said if she bid that much, I'd withdraw my bid. And, I did. And, for that evening, I felt good about it, I'd garnered some money for charity and done something nice for this girl, and hey! Hubby and me? We'd be fed for the next two months -- without having to do the embarrasing hands-out-to-parents. All good things. Right?

I woke up the next morning with a pit in my stomach. I'd made the wrong decision. I should have been going out to lunch with the writers to network. Who cares if I was a fan, I could charm them into realizing that I wasn't an uberfan/obsessive fan/stalker fan. That I just loved their show(s) and needed some guidance. That I wouldn't ask them to read me or get me a job. Just, you know.

Fast forward about five years. My old acquaintance-slash-new friend knows about all of the above. She knows because she knows one of the writers of the show(s). And she's heard horror stories of the girl who "outbid" me. You know how I said I wasn't an uberfan/obsessive fan/stalker fan? Uh, well, turns out that girl is. It also turns out that she's not from out of town. That that whole show (the crying, etc) was to get me to lower my bid. Which just screams "Kuhrazy" to me.

Would life have been better if I hadn't let her outbid me? Would I be friends with all the people I could have gone to lunch with? I'm friends with some of them now, so things have worked out well. But, really who knows?

Example #3:

I regret the whole Disney thing. It weighs on me. It makes me doubt that I'll ever have a career. Oh sure, I might, and that will be grand. But this is my depressing post about regrets. Actually, this one isn't something I did for someone else. But, of all my regrets, this is my biggest. It's that one small moment that could have changed everything -- if I'd just THOUGHT. But I didn't.

So, we come to the resolution. No regrets. I just can't stand living like this anymore. Wondering what might have been if I'd only looked out for number one. So, here it is:

No more Mister Nice BooM. I'm sick of being nice. I'm sick of putting things out into the universe and not getting anything back (though the no cancer thing was really really really good -- so, you know, that's a point to Karma). I've already got wheels in motion. I've already done some things that are somewhat integrity-challenged. And, I'm not looking back. I'm going to start calling in some serious fucking markers. Hell, at one point I even thought about blackmailing my way onto staff. Uh, but I won't be doing that, because there is a point that is actually too far.

But, everything else? That bullshit about not asking my friends to read me? Out the window. I told my agent last year that he was not to contact any of my friends (he went against that with one of my friends -- but she was cool about it and said that's what he should be doing). This year, watch out. I'm telling him no holds barred -- contact anyone and everyone. I really really really really need to get on staff. And, here's why:

My resolution is nice and all, but the hubby's is way better. His is: to not be as stressed. The major component in that "not being stressed" thing? His job. So, yesterday, he quit. We're moving back to LA in Feb (with a quick detour to NY to see my dad get his award!).

Oh. And bitches? I'm writing. A lot. I'll be armed and ready for staffing. So, you know, get yer armor on.

Also: Happy New Year everyone! May you all be as determined as me, and if we're up for the same job? May I get it.