Friday, May 28, 2010

Sell Your Screenplay to a Gaffer & Why Bad Screenplays Sell

"I’ve been receiving this question a lot lately so I thought I’d write an article about it. The question is, “Really? This script sold?? This is what passes for worth half a million dollars these days?? Are you f’ing kidding me??” Loose translation: “Why do bad scripts sell?” I think it’s a fair question to ask. But I don’t think it’s the right way to ask it."

Read the rest of this insightful article on the blog Script Shadow. It's worth a read!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Interview with TV Writer Jacqueline McKinley

Check out my interview with a real live, breathing TV writer, Jacqueline McKinley. Together with her writing partner, Antonia March, Jacqueline has written for four sitcoms — Smart Guy, Just Jordan, Will and Jada Smith’s series All of Us, and the Emmy award-winning Bernie Mac Show. The short films Move and Oxtails, which they wrote, produced, and directed, have appeared on Showtime and BET. To top it all, she’s a fellow UF alum! Go Gators!

One highlight from the interview:

"Can you share any Hollywood horror stories or funny anecdotes about breaking in or moving up staff ranks?

I have tons of horror stories. Getting fired off of my first staffed position on Smart Guy was my most memorable. I told my agent, I think they hate us, and she said that she hasn’t heard that at all and that I’m being paranoid. (I don’t know a writer who isn’t paranoid.) Well, I did the math; if we were able to go out for Thanksgiving break, then our option would have gotten picked up. It was the last day before the break, and the showrunners wished the staff a nice vacation. I was so thrilled; I thought we made it through. Antonia and I started to walk out the room when the showrunners said, “Jackie and Toni can we have a word with you,” and my heart fell.

A lot of my horror stories come from when I was a writer’s assistant. On Cosby, I’d leave work seeing the hotdog carts making their way into the city for the morning set up, and then after two hours sleep people would call me wondering where I was. On Cosby, that was my first time seeing how a big network show works. There was a lot of stress and firings. I remember this one showrunner was fired, and he was just kind of wandering through the assistant’s area. I asked him if he would like to order lunch, and he says to me, you know I just got fired. I said I knew, but he still has to eat. As an assistant, I knew his days were numbered before he did.

On another show, a fistfight broke out on stage between a writer and a director. There was always drama on that set."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

From Nottingham to Robin Hood

If you've got a half hour to spare, check out this insightful and painful-to-read post about how an apparently brilliant little feature script called Nottingham (about the titular Sheriff using medieval forensics to catch a terrorist stealing from people under his jurisdiction) was ripped apart and rebuilt to become the -- and this is literal, folks -- 111th movie about Robin Hood.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dear Showrunners Seeking Script Coordinators and Writer's Assistants

Hi there.

I know this is a bit unorthodox, but I thought I had just about as good a chance to reach you this way as I've had emailing friends and acquaintances, "networking," and desperately tracking down and calling production offices.

Here's the deal. I'd really like to work for you. I have experience as a writer's assistant, script coordinator, and Showrunner's assistant. I'm good, dedicated, and thrilled to work hard and utilize the skills it's taken me years to learn to make your show that much more awesome. You will be glad you hired me and comfortable knowing that my responsibilities are one less thing you'll need to stress about.

Unfortunately, there's a problem. You won't hire me. And it's not because I'm not qualified. It's not because I'm not great at my job. It's not even because I weirded you out in the interview. I never even got that interview because you don't know me. Or know someone who met me at a gym/bar/park/party/sex club and recommended me. Believe me, I understand how important your time is and how frantic your schedule must be, but I've seen just as many regrets as successes come from the friend/family pipeline.

So here's my proposal: this season, see just one person from that pile of hundreds (or thousands) who faxes or emails in their resume despite having no discernible connection to you. Think of it as giving back. Worst case scenario, it wastes the same amount of time as the weird kid your old boss asked you to meet. But if it does work out, you'll have one very grateful employee who knows they have you to thank -- not their old boss/uncle/friend on staff who convinced you to talk to them in the first place.

Thank you for your consideration, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Liz Tigelaar on her Writer's Room

The WGA has an interview up right now with Liz Tigelaar of Life Unexpected. She has some interesting things to say on writer's room dynamics and career advice.