Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rewriting, ganked from bang2write

Because all of the Grinders out there have been engrossed in a rewrite debate all week, and because I happened to come across this blog posting from one of my favorite bloggers, Lucy Vee, I decided to repost it for all your enjoyment. Read it here.

Approaching Rewrites
from Write Here, Write Now by Lucy
For the lovely H who asked last week for my thoughts on rewrites. If you have a query for the blog, leave a comment or send me an email and I'll get to it as soon as I can.
The thing to remember with your spec scripts is: it's a work in progress. It's never finished. You may do three billion drafts of a spec before it gets an option, but chances are you'll end up doing a billion more AFTER the option. I have never heard of a writer optioning a script and a producer or director making it the way it is (if it isn't a collaboration, that is).

Even if your spec ends up languishing on your desktop, chances are you will go back to it at some point in your lifetime. I had a spec I thought completely, hopelessly dead; I hadn't so much as thought about it in years (except in "Aaah, that was so crap, how sweet" kind of way) until someone phoned me up and said "I need a pitch for something to do with space pirates." I said (somewhat foolishly I might add), "Oh, I have one of those." Then freaked out when I remembered how crap my original draft was. Luckily they only wanted a one page pitch, not an actual draft, so I was able to think about how I might approach the crap execution I did all those years ago now I'm a little more experienced. So I redid the premise. And lo and behold, it works. As a pitch, anyway!

But how do you approach a redraft once you've got that all-important, actual first-first, words-on-paper draft?

Well, as in all things scriptwriting-related, it's entirely personal. I know writers who write a first draft and then workshop it with actors before attempting a second draft. Others print out said first-first draft, put in a drawer, then come back and hack at it with a red pen. Some stare at their drafts on a PC screen like madmen and ring people up to complain about how shit their work is and how they're going to give up screenwriting. I know writers who send their first-first drafts to readers and friends in the first instance; some only allow their agents to look at their stuff when it's in a bit of a state (as all first-first drafts are). Others do a combo of all of this.

If I was giving general advice on approaching a redraft, the first thing I would look at in a second draft is structure and plot. I've said before that dialogue is the last thing I look at, but even character comes after structure and plot for me. Why? Because characters can always be re-aligned around plot in my eyes, but a good plot can't be drawn OUT of a character. I read too many scripts that have interesting characters that don't do anything much to think plotting is subordinate.

It's easy to get sidetracked by the likes of character and dialogue when you really should be looking at how your story works as a whole; otherwise it's like you're moving around the tiles in one of those annoying puzzles where you have to make a picture, yet one tile is always out of sync. By investing in plot and structure in the second draft, you can really work on your characters' arcs and make us care about them in the third. However a plotless or badly structured script can mean messing around with the incidental scenes and moments, hitting your head against a brick wall in my experience.

Way I see it, the first-first draft is a throwaway draft. You might feel a sense of achievement for getting the thing finished, but don't let that euphoria fool you and make you believe for one second this draft is anywhere near finished. It isn't. Yes there will be some good stuff in there - stuff that might even make it into the final version of the first draft you send out. But nine times out of ten, you can do better. Scrub that: you MUST do better. There will be incoherent chunks, woolly characterisation, on-the-nose dialogue. There will plot opportunities wasted; there will be moments that can be realigned, leaner, cooler.

In short: even if your first-first draft is good, it's not as good as it CAN be. And writers that come through Bang2write generally get this. What they don't appear to always get is that drafts AFTER the first-first draft won't be perfect either. I've lost count of the number of times I've heard something along the lines of:

"Thanks for your notes, I agree with your points... It's a shame I still haven't written a shootable draft".

A shootable draft?? There's no such thing. Even when your drafts ARE shot, there's a good chance you will see things you *should have* written, even if people tell you they love your work. What's more, with filmmaking being a collaborative effort, you may not agree with a director's choices or a producer's demands in a rewrite - yet you will have to do it. It's the way that is, hence the back-handed compliment I've heard writers sometimes give each other: "Hey, congratulations on getting a prodco to fuck up your script!"

So if you're striving for perfection in your rewrite second time around (or even four, five, six times around and more!), you're setting yourself up for disappointment. You won't get perfection. Your reader won't come back to you and say, "Hey, this is fine now, send it out", they'll hopefully say something along the lines of: "You've worked out [these issues], now you need to concentrate on [these issues]." This is a GOOD thing, it's a sign you're making progress, not a failure - because your second first draft will be what it is: a slightly better first-first draft.

But there is one other thing when considering rewrites: don't be afraid of returning to page one. It's not a sign of failure or even weakness and you can still use your original draft(s) as a foundation for the new script. When I wrote Thy Will Be Done, I wrote nine drafts of my first draft and three of them (a third!) went back to page one. Each time it was needed and each time it got stronger as a result. Now I have a script in my portfolio that I am confident with and that I know is good - even when people have told me they didn't like it. I know it's story preference, rather than craft. And that counts for so much.

How do you approach rewriting?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another word about deadlines

As we at the Grind, by which I mean me at the Grind, often do, I'd like to clarify the previous blog entry, as I have been getting a couple of questions about it.

While I think that imposing a deadline can be a very good thing for a first draft, I do NOT recommend imposing deadlines for final drafts, unless you've found that it works for you.

I like to work in a world where I will do 1-2 drafts in a day for x number of days until the project is done. Then, I will vet that script with a select group of people whose opinions I trust. Then, I will do the same thing, over and over. For every x number of drafts I do, I will ask for an opinion, sometimes from the same person, sometimes from another person. For me, I know that usually by the 10th draft, a script is solid enough to stand on it's own and after 20 drafts I've cleared out all the bugs down to the smallest typos. But, that doesn't work for everyone, or possibly anyone else.

It's not always a good idea to give a time limit for a final draft because yes, it does, or could, lower what you would consider your best work. Only after mulling things over, stewing on them, and kicking them around in your brain will you be able to see if there is a clear reason for what you are doing. On the other hand, professional writers work on deadlines constantly, and if might be good to get in the habit of learning a skill like that, if it works for you.

An exercise I like to do is AFTER writing a first draft of a script, step away from it for a month and start a new project, then, come back to in 2 weeks-1 month later. After that amount of time, you'll be able to have a new perspective on your script. Then, take your time molding and crafting your story, your characters, and your dialogue. Whenever I do one of my "cycles", I try to step away from the script for a couple of days until I get notes so I can see the script with a clear head. I recommend this to everyone, because having good friend to tell you what sucks or what doesn't in your script is invaluable. Not your mother, either. They love everything you do, even the horse manure.

The only deadline that should be imposed is if an outside force (i.e. contest, fellowship, or, god willing, client) put an outside deadline on you. But then again, that's how my mind work. It's all about what works for you to create the best product in the end. And even after it's a finished product, who knows in a year you might think of a brilliant piece you want to add, and I encourage that too, if it works for you.

P.S.-Part of the joy of writing comes in finding what methodology works for you. If you're a chronic procrastinator, or work really well on a deadline, consider setting a deadline up...who knows, it might work for you.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Imposing deadlines...

I read an interesting post today at Raving Dave's blog about the pitfalls of using deadlines.

While I agree with the issues, I disagree that it is necessarily a bad thing as mentioned here:

I’ve seen it happen so often: A looming deadline encourages you to move the goal posts, lower the bar, relax your standards. The closer the deadline approaches, the more crap you’re willing to see through your fingers, despite your intuition quietly telling you not to.

IMHO, there is absolutely nothing wrong with lowering your standards on a first draft. A FIRST DRAFT, and nothing else. I'm under the impression that Dave is talking about a deadline to finish a script in a final form, in which case I would completely agree, but it would totally ruin my post. So, I'm going to speak to using deadlines as first draft.

Imposing a deadline for a first draft is not only a good idea, but sometimes a necessary evil to put words on the page. I'm a huge fan of garbage drafts, and think that if you're thinking too much about your first draft, you're going to lose momentum. If I didn't have specific deadlines for first drafts, I would NEVER get ANY writing done.

If a writer is too self-conscious about a first draft, it's going to cause them to sit on their laurels and try to construct the perfect story. And that's not a good thing, especially for a new writer. As a new writer, you should be WRITING, because that's the only way you're going to become a better WRITER. I've never known a writer who has written a good first script, or third, or fifth. However, the things they learned from those scripts helped them become a better writer, and eventually a great writer.

I just talked to a good friend of mine on facebook this morning. The conversation follows, the names have been changed to protect the newbile.

Teach me the art of writing a screen play

start by reading about 1000 screenplays and analyzing them.

hahah ANAL-yzing

then, buy final draft, then read about 10 screenwriting books.
then buy the hollywood standard so you can learn all the formating.
then write 10 screenplays.


the more i think about it - michael bay should be directing my movie idea

seriously though, it's a lot about formatting, understanding structure, dialogue, and how to make a movie look good on the page.

The issue is that this specific writer thinks that he will be a great writer the first time out, that michael bay will be interested in his movie, and that he will immediately be a success, and that's just not true.

Different experts have different opinions, everywhere from "You'll sell a script when you've written 1 million words" to "Once you can stack you're work 18 inches, you'll sell a script" to "Writing ten scripts" and everything in between. But the key is that, PEOPLE DON'T SELL THEIR FIRST SCRIPT, OR THEIR SECOND, OR THEIR THIRD (caveat, I'm sure it's happened, but it's rare).

So, instead of trying to craft the perfect script the first time out, just get it out there on the page, look at it, and analyze your own work just like you analyze other scripts. Then do it again, and again, and again. And one day it will click, and with each script it will get better, but it's silly NOT to set a deadline, FOR A FIRST DRAFT, because you're trying to craft the perfect story. The most important thing to being a good writer is to WRITE. And if this doesn't work for you, figure out the best way to WRITE. After the draft is on the page, then you can re-write til your heart's desire.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Questions Answered

Another Question came through the comments section, and I'm all too happy to answer.

Blogger Rob said...

One thing I don't get about this advice, and it may be obvious to you, is that you stick to the same genre. Don't you want to demonstrate to someone that you are flexible enough to do different things?

As loyal Grinders know, we did go over this several posts ago, but since I'm SOOO bad at labeling posts, I'm more than willing to do a quick refresher.

The simple answer is because an agent/manager is going to want to package you as a "type" of writer. Eli Roth is the Horror guy, Kevin Smith is the filthy guy, and David Lynch is the weird guy, and so on down the line. So, when an agent looks in your direction, they're going to want to know what they're selling and why they should be selling you. If you only have one script, or your like buckshot all over the place, agents have a hard time packaging you to producers.

The other answer is because a writer wants to get on the list; to be THE go-to guy for a specific genre; or at least on the short list for that genre. That way, when producers (okay, producer's assistants) make their lists of who they want to interview for an assignment in your genre, they immediately think of you. If you're not on the list, you don't get called for the assignment, and you don't get paid.

So what kind of writer are you?

The Base Level of Bullshit

Living in LA, one thing you quickly learn is how to tell if someone is legit or not. It's at every function, every networking event, every time you go out with friends. It's usually goes one of two ways:

The way you don't want it to go:

Person 1: What do you do?
Person 2: I'm an actor.
Person 1: What have you been in?
Person 2: Just a couple background.
Person 1: Any speaking roles?
Person 2: No.
Person 1: It was so nice to meet you, I'm going to see who else is around.

The way you DO want it to go:

Person 3: What do you do?
Person 4: I do a bunch of stuff. Mainly I'm an actor, but while that is picking up I got a screenplay optioned and I directed a couple of shorts. I'm helping a client of mine develop a script.
Person 3: Really? What genre?
Person 4: I write mostly [genre].
Person 3: And have you short films been anywhere?
Person 4: Well, mostly still in post-production. You know what a nightmare that is.
Both Laugh.
Person 3: Do you have a card so we can keep in touch.

Bang. So you see, it can come that quick. In fact a lot of times I can tell if someone is legit in 10 words or less, and that's going to determine how interested I am in talking with them...AT A BUSINESS FUNCTION. And the thing that everyone is looking for at this type of function is...MORE WORK. So, if you can't do anything, or you aren't taking your career in your own hands, people are going to take you less seriously, or god forbid think you are not legit.

So, how do you become "legit".

A. Read the Hollywood Reporter and Variety everyday. Why? Because it's your trade and you need to know what's going on. However, there is a much more important reason...because EVERYONE ELSE is and they will discuss it or at least know what's going on in the back of their mind. It may sound phony, but just do it because you should.

B. Have multiple irons in the fire, but not enough to be bogged down. Being a background actor in one short film does not make you an actor, writing one feature doesn't make you a writer, directing one short or commercial doesn't make you a director. The only thing that MAKES you these things is a consistent string of churning thing out. If you're not continuing to pursue these avenues, like working on a NEW project, then you aren't an actor and shouldn't introduce yourself as such. However, if you have multiple projects going on, or are trying to produce a screenplay you wrote, then you have a VIABLE skill that people will look for and want to hear about.

C. Learn the verbiage. Know what a CE, DOD, and producer do. Learn the difference between DEVELOPING a project and PRODUCING A PROJECT. KNOW what COVERAGE IS and how to give good coverage.

D. Know what makes a screenplay or a project suck or succeed. In order to do this, you'll have to read a lot of scripts and watch a lot of movies and TV ANALYTICALLY. That's not just the ability to say I like it or I hate it, but the ability to say why in detail. At an event, this is very important because outside of giving funding to a project, the next best thing people are looking for are notes on how to make a project better, and if you happen to be great at it, maybe they'll want you involved in their project.

E. Finally, NEVER STOP HUSTLING. This is not a game. It's as much a hustle as anything and the people who succeed understand the hustle, understand business, and understand what THEY have to do in order to get and stay on top. The people who know how to hustle and have talent are the ones I sign development deals with, because I know they'll get their project to the next level, as long as they have ME to help them.

And, that is the base level of bullshit everyone in LA talks about at any event. In order to be good at these events, it helps to have produced a lot of stuff and be seen as a professional in the eyes of your peers.

But here is a dirty little secret: If you AREN'T a professional, make no bones that you are. People are flattered to be asked questions, and be offered to be taken out to drinks or lunch to have their brain picked. But please, if you've never had a speaking role in a movie, don't claim you're an actor. Take that to the bank.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How to get an Agent or Manager

One of my absolute favorite blogs, The Rouge Wave, Reposted a blog of mine, and I'm ever so happy to be able to return the favor.
So, Here it is:

"Everybody is eager to query and get repped. It will change your life, right? Money will be flowing to you in golden buckets and fame will be quick on its heels.

Not exactly. Getting representation hangs in the frustrating zen space between utter simplicity and very, very hard work. How do you know when you're ready? Only time will tell, grasshopper. Wax on, wax off.

The steps to get representation are quite simple:

1) write a great script
2) then write another one
3) stick with the same genre
4) have a dossier of several great ideas in the form of loglines
5) write a brief, powerful, polite, effective query letter
6) get hold of a Hollywood Creative Directory
7) focus on 10 to 15 agents or managers that seem like a good fit*
8) query
9) wait
10) wait more
11) follow up with an email or phone call if you haven't heard back in six weeks

Pretty simple, right? It actually is. But here is what writers often do - they jump the gun. They query when they only have ONE good script. They don't get feedback on what they think is a good script and so really have no idea where they stand. They query managers or agents all over town, indiscriminately, without doing any research. They send poorly worded queries with dull loglines and wonder what's up with the silence.

If a manager or agent likes your query, you should hear back pretty quickly. If they like the read, you'll hear back quite quickly. They'll ask you what else you have. They'll ask you about you - your writing experience, where you live, what competitions you may have placed in.

Patience, grasshopper. Get an arsenal together before you start to query. Get feedback from someone, somehow whether it is professional or a friend. Proof your material before you send it out. Spend a lot of time crafting an excellent logline.

Getting an agent or manager isn't complicated - but you need to slow down and approach the process with care. Make sure you dot every "i" and cross every "t" before you begin. I don't recommend E-blast queries - they are impersonal and scatter shot. Spending money on an HCD is the best money you'll ever spend. Take a deep breath and make sure you're actually ready to query. Keep writing and developing ideas while you wait to hear back about your queries. Do not put your life on hold. Be ready for rejection. Rejection in Hollywood usually comes in the form of dead silence. Know that obtaining representation will not change your life but it will advance you to the next level of the game.

I know writers very well and I know that most of you skimmed this and are ready to put an HCD on your credit card but really don't know if your script is that great and don't have enough material ready. But you will query anyway because you think you are special and you won't need more than one script at the ready. You think you are different and that you will get repped quickly and easily. You think this blog post is for the suckers. You can't wait to get going with all of this, you can't wait to get repped and be in the game.

When the Wave-inatrix was but a mini-W, my mother spent a lot of time sewing. And I remember vividly being so excited to just put the pretty fabric under the sewing machine needle and press that foot pedal and SEW like a maniac and turn straw into gold. No, my mother said - you have to first wash the fabric. And dry it. And iron it flat. And clear a large space on the table and get out the pattern and measure carefully. Oh - how dreary! How dull! How painstaking! And I wondered, time and again, why my completed project was lopsided and ugly. Now, when I sew, I slow down and I enjoy the entire process. I know that the quality of my project is utterly dependent on the care I put into each step along the way. Unwashed fabric will shrink and warp upon it first washing. Sloppy measurements and dull scissors will doom the fit. A chaotic sewing kit makes finding the right thread and right needle an exercise in anger management. My mother, in all her wisdom, knew exactly how to sew something properly but I would not listen. I knew how to do it! I was special! My fabric was special and my pattern was genius! Ah....youth.

You want an agent or manager? Of course you do. But s-l-o-w down. You may not be ready. Hollywood isn't going anywhere any time soon. If you don't have at least two great scripts in your arsenal, you are not ready. If you have not gotten feedback from a pro or an experienced colleague, you are not ready. There is no quick fix, there is no magic answer. You must do the work. And you are not special - the fabric of Hollywood is what it is and it yields to no man.

*Only query agents or managers (I recommend a manager if you are very new at this) that have offices in LA or New York only. Avoid those who charge ANY kind of fee. "

Think of it as Film School...

...when you're starting your career. The beauty of film school is that it's an incubator for people to have terrible projects. And trust me, everyone's first project is a disaster. so is their second, third, and fourth.

It doesn't matter if you are an actor, a director, a cinematographer, or a writer, you will invariably SUCK when you start your career. If you are beginning in a career in entertainment, look in the mirror and tell yourself, "I SUCK".

Don't worry, there is an upside, because you are SUPPOSED to suck. The only way you become GOOD at something is to do it A LOT! and I mean A LOT A LOT. For example, every actor in LA is in some sort of acting workshop, even working actors go to classes to improve their craft. Because they know that it's a constant process to improve and that in every class they get just a little bit better.

When I first started working, I was on hundreds of projects feeling my way, and getting to a point where I thought it was time to direct. And my first three shorts were a disaster. This was a professional cinematographer, who had been on hundreds of shoots, and when I edited everything together, it was tragic. Luckily, I moved past it, and eventually became comfortable enough in my own skin to direct a feature and a couple TV shows.

So, why do I bring it up...because you should let yourself suck. Don't expect your first script to be perfect, or your first directing experience to be flawless. It's too lofty to think you should be great from the outset. Allow yourself to suck for a while. Now, if you've written ten scripts, or directed ten movies, and you're still terrible, that's another issue.

Since moving to LA, I've found that just as many people SAY they are something as actually are doing something. It's very easy to call yourself a writer because you've done a script, or a director for having directed one short film. However, the truth is that Actors act, ALL THE TIME. Writers write ALL THE TIME, directors direct ALL THE TIME, and producers produce ALL THE TIME. And THAT is how they get better.

Just remember this, STEVEN SPIELBERG'S first movie sucked. If you could get your hands on it, he would be embarrassed. There may be flashes of genius, but he worked, and worked, and worked at it before he even got a small break. I heard a statement a couple months ago that a new writer will gladly give their first script to anyone, while a professional writer will never show their first script to ANYONE. Once again, because even professional writers SUCK when they start out.

At UPC, I read a lot of scripts, and its pretty easy to see who the professional writers are and who are the people that don't have it yet. The professional writers have all the tricks to make their script pop, because they sucked for a while until they learned how to do things. It's not that the other writers aren't good, but there is an intangibility to the writing that stands out with a professional writer.

And that is what film school provides, the ability to suck without fear of reprisal, the be atrocious without fear of repercussions. To be given a grade, and a way to grow into a career, to develop your eye and your voice. So, when thinking of your career, think of it as film school. Let's say a writer writes five full features in film school. Well, you should give yourself at least five scripts to develop yourself as a writer, instead of sending out your first script as gold.

Remember, it's okay to SUCK. It's okay to need more work, because everyone does. But, it's important to know your inadequacies, and be working towards changing it. And as I said in a previous post, it could take between 5 and 10 years to be discovered in this business, and some people are never discovered. Everyone in this city has one thing in common, they used to SUCK, and now they are at some level of not SUCKING quite as much.

Remember, YOU SUCK, and that's okay.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Reality Check

My friend at UPC sent this to me as a sobering reminder of the reality of making it in Hollywood. It is a direct post and response from

Question: **Redacted**

im thinking of taking a year off and heading to hollywood to make it as a screen writer/actor. i’m just curiouse about your oppinion on this matter. i love writing and acting and if i dont do that i’m most likely going to end up teaching highschool english.

Response: **Redacted**

Not to burst your bubble, but Hollywood is harsh. It chews up and spits out wannabe actors, writers, directors, etc. by the busload. Unless you are HUNGRY and are COMPELLED to “make it in Hollywood,” I’d recommend polishing your teacher’s credentials. I understand the lure and “magic” of the Hollywood mystique, but it is brutal. Unless you win the Hollywood equivalent of the Mega Lotto, it is likely to take you five to ten years to be “discovered.” Even then, you must fight to get work and moonlight as a waiter or other low-paying, flexible schedule job to supplement a sporadic, inconsistent, and often thankless “career” in showbiz. That is the reality of “Hollywood.” You know the fantasy.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tailoring your pitch... a network is perfectly demonstrated by two television shows currently on TV. These shows are amazing examples of how two networks can develop the same premise in two very different ways.

The shows:

USA's Psych and CBS's The Mentalist.

What is the premise: An man with a gift for noticing every detail of the world pretends to be a psychic and works with the police department to solve crimes.

However, that is where the similarities end. The development of the shows couldn't be more different. First, let's examine the shows' summaries directly from their website.

The Mentalist:

THE MENTALIST stars Golden Globe Award nominee Simon Baker as Patrick Jane, an independent consultant with the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI), who has a remarkable track record for solving serious crimes by using his razor sharp skills of observation. Within the Bureau, Jane is notorious for his blatant lack of protocol and his semi-celebrity past as a psychic medium, whose paranormal abilities he now admits he feigned. Jane's role in cracking a series of tough high-profile cases is greatly valued by his fellow agents. However, no-nonsense Senior Agent Teresa Lisbon openly resists having Jane in her unit and alternates between reluctantly acknowledging Jane's usefulness and blasting him for his theatrics, narcissism and dangerous lack of boundaries. Lisbon's team includes agents Kimball Cho, Wayne Rigsby and rookie member Grace Van Pelt, who all think Jane's a loose cannon but admire his charm and knack for clearing cases.


Raised in Santa Barbara by a family of cops, Shawn possesses uncanny powers of observation honed by his police officer father, Henry, who drilled young Shawn to note even the smallest of details from his surroundings as a way of grooming him for his inevitable career in the family business. Unfortunately, when a rift develops between father and son, Shawn finds himself taking a series of random jobs instead of becoming the detective he was groomed to be.

However, for the fun of it, Shawn makes a habit of calling in tips to the police about cases he reads about or sees on television, and when one of his tips appears too close to the truth, the police are convinced that Shawn is an accomplice and arrest him.

Using his charm and well-tuned talent, Shawn convinces the cops that he's actually a psychic, and although highly skeptical of his explanation, they hire him to help solve tough cases. With the reluctant assistance of his best friend Gus, Shawn uses his skills of observation and charismatic personality to become the detective he was trained to be, opening his own PI agency – Psych – and solving cases for an ever-suspicious, but grudgingly impressed, police force.

As you can see, there are incredibly similarities in just the summaries of the show. However, while The Mentalist is a serious drama, Psych is a lighthearted comedy. In Psych the general lighting is bright and colorful, in The Mentalist it's dark and brooding. In the Mentalist, the main character's family is murdered, in Psych the worst that happens to Shawn's family is they get annoyed at his antics. Even the commercials show The Mentalist as a dark, brooding, and haunted man while the Psych commercials have Shawn and Guy goofing around with each other. Except for the premise, the SHOW couldn't look, feel, or sound more different.

So, what does this tell us about Television in general? Well it's something that we should all be aware, a show that works for one network may not work at another network. If you have a light hearted show, it would work better on USA than CBS. However, it also tells us something more. And that is how different channels will develop the exact same show. USA is known as the home for quirky, lighthearted characters (MONK, BURN NOTICE, IN PLAIN SIGHT) while CBS is known for serious drama (CSI, NCIS, THE UNIT).

As this also demonstrates, a show CAN be pitched to different networks with success. However, it must be massaged and geared towards the network. Any good production company with a pitch meeting at a network will do their homework to know how to pitch their show to NBC, FOX, HBO, or Comedy Central. Each of those networks could love the idea for a show, but the show will end up VERY different depending on where it lands.

It's not about changing the focus of the story, but it is about tone, structure, and pacing.

P.S.- This same theory works for movies at different studios. Different studios produce different projects, and if you're pitching a movie, make sure you know where you're pitching and what they're interested in.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


and why to put it on your IMDB page/acting resume.

It's not to stereotype or to typecast you.

It's because is every company in Hollywood, assistants are making lists daily. Whether its writer's list, director's list, actors list, or editor's list, the city runs on these lists, like an old fashioned locomotive. In order to make lists, assistant rely on STUDIO SYSTEM and IMDB. If it's not on either of those, you don't exist.

When looking to make an actor list, there are several things that are put into it. Name, agent, agency, credits, age, and ETHNICITY. If an assistant is looking for YOUR name, and they can't find the ethnicity, they have one of only a few options. They can search for 10 minutes to try to find it, they can LIE/make a guess, or they can take you off the list. Of those option, only the first one is really acceptable. But, what assistant has 10 minutes to try to find your ethnicity.

Why do people make lists? Because their bosses want to sort the lists to find out who is right for their next project. They want to be able to autosort by any of the categories and yes, they may need a Black, Hispanic, Indian, or Eskimo for a specific.

I've heard the other side, that actresses don't want to be typecast, that they should be judged for their talent, not their race or ethnicity, etc. I would counter by saying, if they are making a list of actresses in LA, don't you want to be on that list?

So... put your ethnicity on the list, so assistants can find you easily. While your at it PUT YOUR AGE DOWN. You're not fooling anyone, there is a picture RIGHT THERE. Because it's not about getting typecast, it's about landing the role.

While most people....

were getting one rejection to Warner Bros. I was getting two. I got rejected to both the Comedy and Drama program. Which is pretty awesome for a person who deal with telling other writers how to write.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Palin... beautiful satirized in this College Humor "trailer".

Pass it on.

I knew this election was a movie! Regardless of your political affiliation, everyone can appreciate good satire.