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Thursday, April 21, 2005

I'm in an odd state of being up for a bunch of things, and having many irons in the fire, but not actually having much paid work. Various producers have put me up for various projects, from series to features to rewrites, but who knows when any of them will actually make the call to my agent. I've got a director attached to Unseen, and we're ready to pitch producers, so one of them can pay me to do the next rewrite -- I could just do the rewrite, but then all they'd do is option the script, which defeats the idea of getting paid to write. Exposure has a producer and network interest. I could spec a pilot for it, but it would be better to get paid to write the pilot, which seems likely enough that it makes me hesitate to spec it.

It's the old spec conundrum. Writing a spec pilot puts you ahead if it's a good spec. It crystallizes the series you're proposing to write. It gives the network more to say yes to. And, of course, it's a writing sample, though not as good as speccing a hit series.

But it also prevents you from getting paid to write the pilot. And more insidiously, it prevents the network from getting involved in developing the concept with you before you write the pilot. If you write the pilot, you're giving the network more to say no to, too.

(Of course this only applies if you've got a reasonable chance of getting the network involved pre-pilot-script. If no one is proposing to hire you to write it, then writing is the only way to get it to the next step.)

Of course, I've got the book. The book is at a stage where the sections I've written seem good enough, but the sections I haven't written don't seem to be well structured. I've got a comedy chapter, and I've never written comedy. I've got a rewriting chapter, and I've got good stuff for it, but there's no plan to it -- a section on pushing vs. pulling, a section on geography, etc.

I met some good agents in Toronto, who if unleashed might very well get me a staff job on a show there once the CTF comes through and people start hiring. I'm oddly nervous about that. The money would be nice, and you always learn from a new show, and knowing more would help me when my own show goes, ins'Allah. But I'd rather be in Montreal, and I'd rather be setting up and developing Exposure.

In other words I'm trying to be careful what I wish for, since I might get it.



It's an interesting conundrum, but riddle me this - if you're in negotiations with them about the project, wouldn't the fee for said pilot script be included in those negotiations?

This is aside from your other concerns re. them having more to say no to...

And also:

"more insidiously, it prevents the network from getting involved in developing the concept with you before you write the pilot"

There is that, but on the other hand I find it useful to see the characters do their thing for a script or two before finalising anyway. Having a script on the table generally helps nail the characters, and weeding out some elements that seemed good in a general concept kind of way, but don't really work once you try to walk them through a story.

Back to the general point, though - wouldn't the price of a pilot become part of the financial negotiations?

Even if it ultimately isn't used, which nobody would know at the time of negotiations anyway...?

By Blogger Electroglodyte, at 4:47 PM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Blogger Electroglodyte, at 4:48 PM  

Yes, of course, if they buy the project they'll pay me to write the pilot. That's a given. (Actually, it's a contractual point.) But they haven't bought the project yet. Hence my question: to spec or not to spec.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 9:32 PM  

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