Sunday, May 21, 2006

Staffing Season

Back home with much to catch up on, including sleep and 24 but not in that order. A travelogue on my trip will follow later this week.

Now that the networks have announced their fall schedules and have done their dog and pony shows for disinterested advertisers who are only at the upfronts announcements for the booze and to ogle the girls from the O.C. …


When a showrunner hears from the network that his pilot is not being picked up, his typical reaction is “Oh shit!” If he hears that it is getting a pick up, his reaction is also “Oh shit!” Because now he has to make the show. First order of business is putting together a staff and crew. Showrunners will get calls from agents they’ve never met, climbing on the phone and saying “Hey, guy, how was your weekend?” Like they give a shit how your weekend was. Submissions will be arriving by the truckload.


You’ve slaved away for months. You’ve given it to people you trust and have revised and polished it. You’ve wisely taken out that dream sequence. Now you’re ready.

A couple of things to remember: Readers WANT to like your script. You may only get five or six pages to grab them but they’re desperately looking for the next great writer. Even if there are 500 scripts in the pile, if yours is good it’s going to be recognized. So make sure it’s in that pile.

If you have ANY connections, now is the time to use them. Call in favors. Reconnect with your estranged father. Email your former fiancĂ©e who you caught sleeping with your estranged father if her new boyfriend is in the biz. Drop the lawsuit against her even if she’ll make a call on your behalf. So what if it’s humiliating? You’re a writer. Get used to humiliation.

If you can get an agent, even a shitty agent, get him. As long as the agent is a WGA signatory you’re in business. It doesn’t matter that he’s currently renting Philip Marlowe’s old office and his last successful client wrote for MR. PEEPERS. You can do the legwork yourself. Print a bunch of copies of your spec, get his office to stamp them, then send them out yourself.

In some cases being with a small agency can be a plus because if you’re with WMA you know your agent has bigger clients he’s going to push first. That said, if WMA will take you on, thank the Gods and take it.

Check to see which, if any, studio will accept unsolicited scripts.

And finally, send your script to EVERY show you can. Don’t be picky. Send it to network shows, C/W, cable shows, Disney Channel shows, the Cartoon Network – anybody.

The goal is to get noticed. The goal is to impress. The goal is to get hired.

New writers will get their first break this staffing season. New writers will get discovered. Why not you??

Now get on that pile!!!


Beth Ciotta said...

"So what if it’s humiliating? You’re a writer. Get used to humiliation..."

:) I'm going to have to tape that near my desk. Best wishes to the submitting writers and welcome home, Ken!

Julie W. said...

Worst. Staffing. Ever. This is the first year in my career (7 years) that I haven't even had a showrunner meeting. My friends, many of whom have been at it even longer, are saying the same thing. Everyone's freaking out. The sitcom may "come back" eventually, but right now I'm thinking of starting up an internet porn site with female Jewish sitcom writers sprawled naked on a bed of lox.

Welcome back -- from a (former) lurker, (current) stress case and (future) Barista.

Bethany said...

Coming from a non-screenwriter--but a writer nonetheless... this is a WONDERFULLY inspirational post. One that says, "Get your a$$ out there and get noticed!"

No writer can refuse that advice! Thanks...

Whaledawg said...

right now I'm thinking of starting up an internet porn site with female Jewish sitcom writers sprawled naked on a bed of lox.

It's been done.

Not that it's a bad idea. I mean I masterbated to it.

Shawn said...

So you're saying -- and I hope I have this correct -- that if we can get representation, manager or agent, we can send specs to showrunners ourselves without any effort from said agent or manager, provided he or she is guild signatory. Is that right?

Hoffman said...

Glad you're back, Ken. Over the past two weeks, I was able to clean out all the beer cans, pizza crusts, stale Krispy Kremes, several animal pelts, and some large furry food product you left under the "Happy New Year!!!" post last December. It took several bottles of bleach to neutralize whatever that was.

It was an honor being your blogmaster in your absence. I'm proud to say that no one was seriously injured here under my watch.

Nothing the paramedics couldn't handle anyway.

Will Teulllive said...

I'm not a showrunner, I don't have a spec. script, hell I barely even watch T.V.

But,I would like to know how to get women on my staff?