Saturday, August 19, 2006

Spec Etiquette

I’ve had several people ask me what NOT to do when trying to get someone to read their spec. It’s a case by case basis of course but I’ll just share some of my own personal experiences or things I have witnessed.

I’ve had people give me spec scripts at high school reunions. Not a good idea unless it’s from the person you always had a crush on and they haven’t gained 300 pounds.

A well known comedy director was in temple during High Holiday services one year when a fellow congregant reached inside his tallis and pulled out a spec script. Not kosher.

When I was announcing for the Orioles I once got thrown out of Bobby Valentine’s office for asking tough questions. He was then the manager of the Texas Rangers. Fifteen minutes later I was summoned back, obviously to receive an apology. No. He had heard I was a writer and pitched me a movie. Try not to be an asshole first.

And then there was the time I was in a funeral home with my father making final arrangements for my grandmother who had just passed away. At one point the mortician asked what I did. When my father said I was a writer the ghoul launched into a twenty minute movie pitch. If my dad wasn’t there no one would believe that story. But it’s true. Pick your spots.

What you need to do is first introduce yourself and try to establish a relationship. How intimate is up to you. But here’s my favorite story. Years ago I and another writer, Larry, were asked to speak at a UCLA extension class. I was a story editor on MASH at the time and he was story editor of RHODA. As we stood in front of the class lecturing, a friend overhead one young woman saying to another: “I think I’ll fuck Larry. I’d rather do a RHODA”.


Julie O'Hora said...

Stupid girl. MASH was such the better show.

Beth Ciotta said...

I've heard a couple of shockers from editors regarding writers' efforts to get them to read their manuscripts while at a conference.

One writer cornered an editor in the bathroom, slipped the manuscript under the stall door. Another writer talked a housekeeper into sliding their manuscript into the editor's suitcase. Needless to say, the editors not only ignored those manuscripts, but committed the writers' name to his/her sh*t list.

I've also hear editors have loooong memories.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Levine, just discovered your blog and am enjoying it quite a lot. Entertaining and informative. By the way, I wish I could say you were the author of my favorite Cheers episode, "An Old-Fashioned Wedding," but I believe that was David Lloyd. No offense!

Anonymous said...

SO sounds like you might have passed on "Six Feet Under" ???

Dwacon said...

I discovered early in the game that relationships matter. It is presumptuous to believe your script is so good that it will magically draw a reader's eyes despite any rude or obnoxious behaviour exhibited in handing the script over.

I continue to cultivate my relationships with A-listers and B-listers and also the has-beens who could always enjoy a reinvention at some future moment. Whether I ever choose to pitch to any of them is not the issue... it is the relationship that counts.