Thursday, July 10, 2008

Friday question of the week

I couldn't think of an appropriate picture so as is my policy, here's another photo of Natalie Wood.

Today’s question is from reader Matthew Price:

You write about Cheers, Frasier, and MASH a lot, and it's obvious that you really loved working on those shows. I'm pretty sure you were well compensated for your time, too.

I was wondering if you've ever worked on a project that you loved, but you didn't make much money on. An indie comedy, perhaps, or a spec pilot that didn't go anywhere?

It's great to hear about getting paid to do what you love, but if most of your readers are like me, we're not getting paid much (or at all), yet. What was that time like for you?

It’s easy to look back nostalgically at those “hungry years” since I made it but the truth is I loved that period. After years of saying I’d like to be a comedy writer I was actually doing it. Yes, there was the tiny detail that no one was paying me and there was no guarantee anyone ever would, but still. I loved the process.

And still do.

I have a running joke with my friends now that my quest is to write as many things as I can that will return no money even in success. This blog is a great start!

I also have a play that has cost me money, a musical I co-wrote, several spec pilots, and numerous spec screenplays (some romantic comedies, two indie type features, and even one straight drama. My coffee table is littered with unsold scripts.

Side trip: When I called my feature agents and told them I was bringing in a new spec they were very excited. I then mentioned it was a drama and the silence was deafening. They didn’t even hide their disappointment. “Why would you do that?” they asked incredulously. I told them it was subject matter that resonated with me and I wanted to stretch myself. “Yeah, but you’re a comedy guy,” they said. “I know, but I’m also a writer.” Another long beat of silence and they said, “Well, are there any jokes in it? Maybe we could sell it as a dark comedy?” I am no longer with that agency. And by the way, I love that script.

If you intend to be a writer solely because you see it as a way of making fast money, find something else to do. It’s hard work. The money's not as fast as you think. And when people pay you they have the right to make suggestions. That can make it VERY hard work.

But real writers are compelled to write. They’ll suffer through those assignments just so they have the opportunity and freedom to write what they want, what’s in their hearts, without the benefit of helpful notes.

That said, if someone would like to buy my 60s memoirs, travelogues, play, musical, pilots, screenplays, outlines, treatments, beat sheets, articles, college essays, letters from camp, or advertise on this blog I'm open for business!


Bob in Venice said...

I'll buy yours if you buy mine.

emily said...

The check is in the mail...

Anonymous said...

Grammer's Mother Dies
9 July 2008 9:02 AM, PDT | From | See recent WENN news

Frasier star Kelsey Grammer is in mourning following the death of his mother Sally.

Sally Cranmer Grammer, 80, passed away on Monday at her home in Westlake, California. She died of natural causes.

Grammer has paid tribute to his late mother, admitting she will be sorely missed.

He says, "I was proud to be the son of Sally Grammer. I will miss her laughter."

Sally Cranmer Grammer is survived by her actor son, his wife Camille and three grandchildren, Spencer, Mason and Jude.

Mary Stella said...

If you intend to be a writer solely because you see it as a way of making fast money, find something else to do. It’s hard work.

Can we get a big Amen?

People think that I'm raking it in because I have two books published. Oh, if it were only true!

Paul Duca said...

I can imagine Kelsey's kids trying to say "Grandma Cranmer Grammer" three times fast...

growingupartists said...

I'll bid one dollar, and a postcard of North Dakota (and a tour of the Lewis and Clark trail)...and maybe I can get you in with Cody to hunt some mule deer.

The Minstrel Boy said...

when i talk with kids about whether or not it would be a good idea for them to try being a professional musician i usually end up quoting miles davis:

if you can imagine yourself being happy doing anything else,

you should go. do. that.

i think writing's pretty much the same.

Max Clarke said...

I've never seen a bad photo of Natalie Wood, I still recall the short appearance she made in the Robert Redford movie, The Candidate, and that was back in the 1970s and seeing the movie once. Special.

Anonymous said...

Id buy your 60s memoirs, but my first note would be "needs more drug use, sex and hippies (the rock&roll is all right)".

Amy said...

How can one read your plays!?

Eric Weinstein said...

Ken, I might be interested in your letters from camp. My son's letters could use a little spiffing up...