Monday, September 24, 2012

My, my, my... How Time Flies

The reason I started this blog now seven (wow, seven) years ago was to share my experience. I do think there are a number of well-written and nicely focused blogs that deal with the craft and mechanics of writing, pitching, developing and selling to Hollywood, from a writer's perspective. For my own writing, I've never been able to incorporate the craft tips into my process, but I'm probably tainted by my years on the other side of the desk, troubleshooting the drafts that result from them... and, really, that's a terrible habit to bring into the drafting process which sort of, by necessity, requires one to suspend one's own belief in order to get the words on the page.

I continue to write, pitch and consult which makes maintaining this blog a bit of a sticky wicket for me--I think this is part of the emotional pushback I've felt whenever I sit down to write a post. Hmmm....

So, I say all this to say.... Even though I love this blog, I've neglected it. I don't know how it fits in with the work I actually do, the information I think is vital for people to have in order to manage expectations and set goals (which is really sort of the heart of what's here, not to stoke the flames of delusion, or be a springboard for cynicism, or, even, to discourage or encourage people from choosing indie versus industry: those are personal decisions) and, frankly, the business is in a dark dark place for creative people. Like the rest of America, the Hollywood economy has become no place for the middle class. Abject materialism meeting zero credit means anyone not able to bring cash to the table is in a mini-bubble maintained by one's own hot air. For new writers, it means you will always be two pay checks behind the amount of spec work you've put in, at best. At. Best. For actors, directors and everyone else trying to crack into the agency or executive suite... Gladiator games would be kinder.

For some, this will be discouraging. I know for me it just makes me double down. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Coming Around the Mountain...

A very short post. I haven't abandoned the blog just had to reprioritize my writing to get more work on the book finished. I've been working loosely with a manager-friend the last few months, but mostly focused on getting a spec finished and hammering out the end the novel. It's slow going right now, but between my travels, moving, packing and hawking my (writing) wares I'm beat. I'm working up a post about creating competing agendas for one's characters. Something that goes a bit beyond talking about antagonists and protagonists.

In my own work, I tend to like anti-heroes and a lot of times I write characters who could be considered "evil", but that I like to think of as misunderstood. :-) Might be autobiographical issues at work here. LOL. Anyway, I'm doing what I can and hope to get the blog back up and running as soon as I'm settled and not living out of a suitcase.

Happy writing!

Friday, April 16, 2010


I'm deep into the novel right now. The TV pilot I wrote last fall is out to producers and I'm getting some positive and some not-so-positive-but-don't-stop-writing-just-maybe-do-another-draft types of comments back. It's hard not to stop and go back to the pilot, but until I get answers back from the three big production companies that I'm most interested in, I've vowed to work on the book.

Hard to sit on my hands and not second-guess this plan, but it's important to stick with the plan, at least until it's clear that a course correction is necessary... which is what led me to this blog post.

What does it take to get some attention in this town?

I've blogged about this before (here, here, and a couple other places I'm too lazy to find. LOL) but now I'm going to get back into the nitty gritty of what types of samples, the numbers, the quality, the subject matter, all the good stuff that we, as writers, fumble around trying to figure out... sometimes for years. **Le Sigh**


You need 'em. Don't disillusion yourself into thinking you can move out here with a hope and a pitch.


Those pitches you read about in the trades, or hear about on some blog somewhere, those pitches aren't real. They don't exist. They are FANTASY PITCHES. In today's marketplace, there may well be an idea or two IN A GIVEN YEAR that sells based entirely on its "hotness", but the vast majority of buyers are holding out for a package, an engine, something they can put their money on and defend around that long table, or maybe just to their boss, or their boss's boss. This means that even though a writer may not have a completed script, the pitches that are being purchased nowadays are essentially ready to go to script once the deal is inked. Sure, there might be some perfunctory passing around of outlines, etc. once the ball is rolling, but for the most part, buyers are demanding, and getting, fully worked out stories. This means a LOT of work has been put in before feet hit pavement.

It wasn't always like this, and for certain market segments there is some leeway, but for you, the novice writer, or maybe mid-career writer who is changing formats (TV to Film) or genres, the pitch without a celebrity attachment is basically just another way to work on spec 3-6 months and then face outlining on spec for 3 more months if people are interested, and THEN finally getting paid to draft... at which point you've listened to a lot of cooks tell you how to make the soup. Unappetizing if you ask me.

All of this assumes, of course, that you have at least ONE high-quality sample -- preferably one that's been purchased and/or produced -- but a well-liked spec can get you in the door for the meeting that leads to the opportunity to pitch -- again, more free work you are giving away but some folks like to do that....

There are a lot of fair to middling folks out there in development land. They will believe that your sample is the second coming. DO NOT TRUST THEM. You're sample may well BE the second coming, trumpets, horseman, many-headed beasts, the whole nine, KEEP WRITING. As writers, we have the unique advantage of being able to make more acreage. If you have a sample that gets a strong response, great, it will make selling your next script easier. A writer's power lies in the ability to generate and execute story. At some point, a buyer will realize that you are an endless supply of ideas that have been committed to paper in script form, and will reward you with a wonderful overhead deal like the ones enjoyed by the big A-List writers (who are coincidentally all White men, but that's a post for another day...). Until that deal is signed, KEEP WRITING.

I know I sound like a broken record here, but, seriously, KEEP WRITING. Write script after script. When your newly acquired agents call you to pitch job opportunities, imagine their delight when you tell them you have another script that will be ready soon. Trust me, they will piss themselves with delight. As will your producer friends who have just found a nice foreign financier and need something to wrap a check around.


Hmm... it's pretty late and I have a chapter to finish, so I'm going to leave off here and write a lengthier post after I talk to a few folks. Remember: KEEP WRITING.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Writing... pitching... Happy Holidays!

I've been hard at work these last few months, so, even though I vowed to keep blogging here, I've fallen off. Eek, please forgive me!

Right now I'm finishing up a TV pilot spec. That's all the rage right now for those of you out there trying to break into the TV business. The one I'm working on is a premium cable show idea and I'm planning to shop it directly once it's completed. The curse and the advantage of having been a producer is that I'm unwilling to hand it over and wait by the phone for someone else to figure out how to do the selling. :-)

I've learned quite a bit over the last year and half working on various TV projects (those that lived and those that didn't). Feel free to post questions in the comments and I will answer or get answers.

And Happy holidays!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Still Alive and Kicking... barely

I do still check in on the blog from time to time, I just haven't felt moved to write very much. There's a glut of blogs out there sort of "covering" the topics I'm interested in, and doing a much much better job. I guess I just felt redundant. LOL.

I've been doing less freelance work this past year. A lot less. I wanted to push myself to finish the novel and get a few other personal things completed. I'm gearing up for another push this fall (after the High Holies) but took the entire summer to lay low and rest. I wrote a couple of scripts last spring (one for freelance $$ and one as a TV sample) and I have to finish a feature spec that I pitched out last spring (got some interest but no sale). I'm not that exciting right now.

I have been working on a few ideas about craft that I'll post here. I've done a bunch of reading over the summer, specs, novels, novels-in-progress, etc. and a note that keeps coming up again and again is: what is this piece about? I have some thoughts on how to keep all of that straight while writing, and also, I thought I'd write a piece about critique -- how to give it, how to take it, and when you shouldn't look for any but keep your head down and keep pounding out the pages.

For now, just know that I'm out here. Writing, reading, producing. I hope you are too.