First off, a Happy Birthday to my idol. I love you, Dad.
Now for some Q’s and A’s.
Al starts us off:
If I am lucky enough to get a meeting for an assignment with a showrunner, what does that meeting look like? What should I prepare? Obviously be ready to talk about story ideas for the show, but what else should I consider.
Know as much as you can about his show. Otherwise, besides having some story ideas in your pocket, just be yourself. Don’t try to dazzle him. These are usually casual meet-and-greets. Always follow up with a thank you note.
Also, I was raised to wear a suit to any job interview, even at McDonald's but somehow I think a suit would be inappropriate for this sort of meeting. Am I off base about this?
Unless you’re meeting the showrunner of SUITS I would go more “business casual” (if there is such an expression). Sports jacket, collared shirt, nice slacks, decent shoes.
My partner and I once had a meeting with a showrunner to pitch story ideas. A young woman writer also had an appointment to do the same thing. She came in a see-through blouse. Guess who got the assignment?
From Ben K.:
When my young nieces were visiting recently, I became aware of a whole new world of preteen sitcoms on the Disney Channel and other cable stations. I'd heard of "Hannah Montana," but now there seem to be dozens of these things. They appear to be based on a very traditional sitcom format, though with more slapstick and extra-broad humor.
So could shows like these be a stepping-stone to "regular" sitcom writing? Or are they a ghetto that a writer would never get out of?
Quite a few young writers have made the jump from Disney shows to network series, but often it will require a spec script from an existing network show.
When FRASIER co-creators, Peter Casey & David Lee originally wanted to write for CHEERS they had to write a spec CHEERS first. And at the time they were the showrunners of THE JEFFERSONS.
Melissa C Banczak asks:
How much outlining do you and David do before you sit down to write a script?
About ten pages, double-spaced. We try to be as detailed as possible, often including lots of jokes. The better the outline, the easier it is to write the script.
But one caveat. You have to be willing to deviate from it once you get into the draft. Don’t lock yourself into the jokes or story turns if they don’t seem to work. Sometimes problems will arise that you only discover once you’re in the middle of it.
So think of the outline as your GPS system. Sometimes you realize there’s a better route and take that instead. The GPS will adjust. It may hate you but it will re-calibrate.
Jim wants to know…
Have you ever been approached to write scripts for video games?
Since there’s another Ken Levine who created BioShock and is one of the Gods of the gaming world, my guess is he’s the one who is sought out to write video game scripts. And if anyone would contact me, I bet it would be by mistake.
I once got a call asking if I’d write a jingle for a commercial. I thought, huh??? Turns out there’s yet another Ken Levine, who’s a musician.
But if someone wants to create the AfterMASH action video game I’m available for the script.
What’s your Friday question?