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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Q. Why is it that the majority of magazines etc. that cover screenwriting focus almost entirly on writing for film? Creative Screenwriting, Script, etc rarely cover TV writing and if they do it is only a small article or once a year during staffing season. Is it simply because Joe Schmo in Little Rock, AK can't break into TV writing...but can still possibly get rich quick with that amazing spec feature sale?
Good question.

I think you've partly answered it. It's much easier to imagine breaking in with a great spec script. You cannot break into television with a great tv spec or two -- you positively need to be in Los Angeles during staffing season and take meetings and 'rock in the room'. Also, if you succeed, you have now won the right to work in a TV writer's room for 14+ hours a day; while with a movie spec, you could theoretically stay in Little Rock, just in a much nicer house.

The realities of the two worlds are much closer, of course. If you sold your spec, your agent would want you to move to LA, and your life would then be a round of meetings and highly paid rewrite jobs and commissions. Very few feature writers can keep making it happen at a distance.

I also think this is a holdover from the old days of bad television. The movies used to be where all the innovation was. In the 70's you had Taxi Driver and Easy Rider and crap on TV. It will take another decade of Deadwood and Sopranos and Arrested Development and other envelope-pushing shows for "TV writer" to feel like the badge of honor that "screenwriter" is.

Another reason might be that television is so vastly huger than movies, in terms of hours made and stories told. On the other hand, that would argue for more serious coverage, not less. And the number of shows worth discussing is much smaller than the number of shows.

The reason may simply be that no one has successfully exploited the market niche. I'll be able to tell you in about two years how the market for learning how to write movies compares with the market for learning how to write TV. There are young people out there who want to learn TV. I know a kid at Dartmouth who'll probably become a "hot young writer" in 5-10 spec scripts from now, if he sticks to learning his craft. Maybe someone should start a TV writing magazine. Maybe you should!
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Hmmm...interesting idea.
But on the other side...I don't know shit about starting/creating a magazine...and I'm an abused hollywood assistant who makes $500 a week.

Wonder how successful magazines like Script actually are? I've seen a lot of them start up then vanish.

Starting a website completly focused on the craft of writing for TV, interviews with showrunners, producers, first time staffers...might work.

But then again...I could be using all that time to write my specs.

hmmm...interesting idea.

By Blogger CharlieDontSurf, at 7:20 PM  

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