Saturday, July 25, 2009

Teleseminar feedback

Thanks to everyone who participated in my teleseminar. What did you think? Was it worth the no money? Since I'm a newbie at this teleseminar business any feedback would be helpful -- good or bad. What did you find valuable? Was there any point where you thought to yourself, "Here's five minutes of my life I'll never have back"? Again, thanks. Hope you had as much fun listening as I did pretending I knew what I was talking about.


Brian Phillips said...

Thank you very much for this opportunity. This is invaluable advice and it dovetails with some of what I have read.

Baylink said...

I hate the jacuzzi.


My thought was, though Twitter is the in thing these days, this is actually a job for IRC.

You don't have to publicize it much, or even provide a client; anyone who really wants in will figure it out.

Enjoyed the seminar; hoping that my money and time circumstances work out for the Room this year. It doesn't conflict with WorldCon or my local SF con, so that's good.

Pamela Jaye said...

still listening!

frustrating not to be able to feed back in the moment.

till we figured out where to twitter.

mjohn5 said...

Hi Ken,
Thanks for your time, and I would not advise you change a thing. It would not be as interesting if you didn't have the freedom to answer the questions the way you do, and the questions were chosen well too.

Tom Parker said...

Great insight Ken. It's like we all sat down a huge lunch table and got to pick your brain.

Be sure to introduce yourself to the Hollywood Stars as Beaver Cleaver. Bring a sharpie to autograph boobs.

Anonymous said...

Crap I registered & missed it!

Replay available anywhere?

Other options if you're cool with Twitter are (for uploading recorded video) or (use a webcam, it records & archives what you say)

By Ken Levine said...

A recording will be available for a nominal charge. Here's where you go:

Unknown said...

hey ken - loved the seminar. tremendously insightful, and well worth the "no money" afternoon. well done!

towards the end of the call you mentioned twitter. i think that this would be a great avenue for soliciting "real-time" feedback in future sessions. i was (shamelessly?) tweeting highlights of your seminar throughout (@JohnMichaelMee), and a handful of fellow writers were exchanging some great feedback as a result. learned some killer tips and earned a few new "tweeps" as a result -- so again, my thanks!

thanks again for this. really, really great advice throughout.

Ben K. said...

Great stuff, Ken.

Now that it's too late, I just thought of a couple more questions:

You mentioned "Mad Men," and it occurred to me that a lot of hourlong shows are incorporating as much comedy as drama these days ("Desperate Housewives," "Burn Notice," "Rescue Me," etc.). Does it make sense for someone who sees him- or herself mainly as a comedy writer to go up for these shows as well? Is there much crossover between writers for these shows and sitcoms?

Also, now that there are about to be six major late-night talk shows (counting Leno at 10), are there more opportunities for joke writers on those shows? How do you go about trying to get one of those staff-writing jobs?


Sérgio said...

Mr. Levine,

Thank you very much. I really enjoyed listening to your answers.

The only suggestion for improvement that I could give is that Dan gives you the questions already some days before the seminar so that you can focus your answers. It gives you the opportunity to answer them in a more structured way and also it means that you haven't have to give answer to 8 questions in 2 minutes. :-) Fortunately you took almost half an hour more to answer those 8 questions. That was nice.

But anyway, you give a lot of interesting insight, your tips are very valuable and the whole seminar gave hope and inspiration, even if it's clear that for a "new guy" it isn't easy to enter into that world.

Many thanks, cheers,


scottmc said...

Quite good. I want to resist the temptation to say that it ran slightly long but it did ramble at times. But it was well worth it. I loved the story of you and your partner audio taping MARY TYLER MOORE and then writing an outline of it to learn how they did it.

The advice regarding rewriting was valuable. How the best feedback is whether the script makes sense. And the importance of relationships rather than locale when writing a spec script.

I loved the Larry Gelbart 'Radar Speech' story and how the stenographer couldn't keep up. (One minor point; Gelbart co-wrote 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum' with Burt Shevelove'

Margie said...

Hi Ken,
I was not able to listen at the time. I paid for the transcript. I will wait to listen to it and I will gladly post a comment. Yesterday, I registered for another seminar from Final Draft and they simultaneously stream the seminar call by a webcast where you could write your questions and download the MP3 after the seminar was over. Of course I paid a fee for the MP3. It is worthy.
I can't wait to receive my copy of your seminar.

Ralph Burkey said...

Hi, Ken.

This has nothing to do with the tele-seminar, although I do wish I had caught it, although I have long since given up my dream of comedy writing.

No, I am watching an episode of "Frasier". (I have the entire series on DVD. Yes, I like it. Shut up.)

The episode is "Crock Tales", the clip show made up of original clips showing the development of the characters over eleven seasons of the show. My question is, couldn't you afford better wigs for the ladies? My God, they look like nylon leftovers from the bargain bin at Walmart.

Anyway, everything else in the series is great! Thank you.


(BTW, nobody does righteous indignation better than Kelsey Grammer)

Mowsh said...

I enjoy the teleseminars. I think you nailed on the head the problem I have with certain classes being taught, which is who on earth is teaching them? Would I enjoy taking a class? Sure, if it's with someone with a good track record. I was fortunate enough to have a semester with Gordon Farr who not only gave me great feedback, but whom I also happened to like personally. Here in Canada, we just don't get the same opportunities.

But in the end, it's just about doing it. These things never used to be taught, per se, you learned on the fly, had a mentor and/or sat your butt down in front of the tv and deconstructed everything you saw until certain truths about whatever show you were watching began to emerge and you followed them. If it didn't work, you tried again. You just have to do it.

And that can be hard when it's just you, alone in your apartment, with your computer staring menacingly at you for hours on end. And that's why I like the seminars, it helps to---I guess, re-set things. It gives me that little break and little boost and helps me remember to see things in the larger world and what I'm striving for. It connects me to a larger group.

At least we're all swimming upstream and it's not just me. :)

Sylvie Rochon said...

I’m so grateful to have listened to your teleconference. For the past week, I've been banging my head against the wall. Listening to your teleconference on sitcom writing has really helped me gain a whole new perspective on my latest project. Now I know what needs to get nuked (and why!).

Loved the advice and the great anecdotes: both insightful and inspiring.

Thank you,
Sylvie Rochon

Brandon Rudd said...

Just sat in on the teleseminar and was really informative. Can see how the seminar in LA would be sold out. Great all around information on all aspects of the industry.

Looking forward to promoting this seminar further as I found it to be a great investment.

Also, I would be sure to attend a seminar if you ever host one in Toronto.

Tim said...

I found the teleseminar very useful (and not just because you answered my question). I agree that it might help if you can look over the questions ahead of time. Still, I prefer the format of in-depth answers to one where you'd be racing through a longer list. The anecdotes were valuable, from studying Mary Tyler Moore to talking about Piper and "dumb" characters.

Mellish said...

Thanks for the seminar. I enjoyed it immensely and think that the only improvement might be fewer questions. While I gathered some wisdom from the direct attack on each query, I found great benefit in hearing the more anecdotal information (and I don't mean that in a gossipy way...well, too much, anyway).

Also there seemed to be much made of purchasing the mp3 of the seminar BEFORE the event instead of after. I'm not sure of the reason, but there was enough that occurred during the call that would convince me to buy it. Hope you open that up.

And speaking of one of (apparently) many Toronto residents on the line, I think we'd pay five times as much for the Sitcom Room to make it over here, but I'm leery of the price spike: doesn't the exchange defer that cost at all?

Thanks once again.

Michael said...

Thanks, Ken. A thoroughly enjoyable seminar. My wife and I enjoyed listening - and we ordered your book as we listened! $0.38 & $3.99 shipping.

We were first introduced to you listening to the Orioles after all.

Hope to make it to the Room one of these years. Take care.

Christopher Levi said...

the teleseminar was great. thanks for doing that. Thanks for taking the time to answer all the slated questions rather than cutting it off after 90 minutes.

Going to start working on a new spec script soon.

Anonymous said...

mp3 link?

Joseph said...

I really enjoyed the tele-seminar and thought the two hours flew by. Your answers we really informative and helpful.

playfull said...

Hi Ken,

Any plans for another 'sitcom room'?

I am interested in comming over from the UK so will need a little notice...

and time to save up...

and time to figure out how to explain to my wife that only one of us can have a holiday...

Hal Tepfer said...

Ken, this was, without a doubt, absolutely the best teleconference/phone seminar I listened to. On Saturday the 25th. Regarding sitcoms. Between 2P and 4P EDT.

Okay, fine: you gave me some great insight to the process. But, no "My Mother the Car" anecdotes? Maybe next time?

Kathleen said...

While I'm not writing a sitcom for television, I am working on my own performance piece and Ken, I found your seminar today invaluable. Your tips on finding humor in a character's reaction, humorously handling exposition, and seeing a character from the actor's perspective were only three of the tips that will help me with my writing, as I recorded many more in my notes. Thank you so very much for sharing your time, energy, and wisdom with us today. I could listened to you the rest of the afternoon! And thanks for answering my question.

Trent Davis said...

Thanks Ken! The teleseminar is a great idea. The two hours went by in a flash with a lot of great practical advice and interesting anecdotes. It was definitely worth the free price! As a stand-up comedian and fellow blogger, I found the thoughts on how stand-up, improv and blogging can help hone your comedy skills particularly helpful. Now I just have to move from Chicago to LA...

pete said...

Hey Ken - Great teleseminar, thank you for making your insights and suggestions available to us.

One question, I would love to have you post at some point about the actual mechanics of joke construction. Something akin to the kinds of posts Jane Espenson used to do, ie, tips for punchlines, how to create humor out of character foibles and situations, etc. Any insight (and examples from your work) you could provide on these points would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again.

Tom J said...

hi Ken. Thank you for your time. it was so worth it. i liked it all, but here are the parts i'd love to spend days discussing:

your first hand accounts of being in the room with Larry Gelbert and the Charles Bros., and any other actual H'Wood experiences you touched on (mtgs w/ unprepped execs, dealing with the studio system, current vs. traditional trends, showrunner POVs).

and most importantly, i liked the actual story / jokes / writing advice & elements for your pilot spec Q & A.

briansworld said...

I just paid for the teleseminar mps and it was well worth it. Thanks so much for offering it. I definitely will be interested in any future seminars!

Just a quick question - during the interview, you mentioned that the time to get spec scripts to agents is b/t the end of July and February. But later when Dan clarified, it was said end of July to September. I just wanted to clarify that point - it's b/t July and Feb, correct?

Thanking you already.

Anonymous said...

Very informative, but I was hoping Ken would name some current shows that make good specs. Which sitcoms? 1-hour procedurals? How about new hits (that are renewed) like Eastbound and Down? What if all my favorite shows are on cable, like Flight of the Conchords? OK to spec them, even if they're not as well-known as 2 1/2 Men? Etc.

I'd be grateful if we could get a few suggestions on the blog.

Thanks Ken,