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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I always wonder, when I hear about, say, Marc Cherry rewriting the Desperate Housewives spec pilot for six months, what that actually means. Was he sitting down at the computer for six hours a day tinkering? Because I don't see how you keep your perspective if you do that. Was he getting endless rounds of feedback from different writer friends? Chatting in coffee shops about themes? Chatting in coffee shops about old episodes of The Rockford Files?

Right now I'm fighting with a spec pilot. By Marc Cherry standards I haven't been at it long at all. But by, say, David E. Kelley standards, I feel like a slug. It's not the 10+ pages a day I can get when I'm working on a show, or the 5+ pages a day I'm used to getting on any given feature. (Of course, a spec pilot is about the hardest thing you can write, if you're doing it right.)

To be fair to myself, I've got a bunch of other irons in the fire, and those take some juggling. Since the spec pilot has no real time sensitivity just yet, if I have to choose between spending an hour on it, or an hour taking a meeting, or making phone calls, I usually try to keep the irons, uh, up in the air.

When you're working on a script for months ... are you mostly sitting in front of the keyboard? Mostly thinking? Mostly doing other things that urgently need attention?

Labels:

8 Comments:

All I can say is see Parkinson's Law: work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

A spec pilot with no concrete deadline would be very expansive I would think.

By Blogger wcdixon, at 11:05 PM  

I believe you just described how Marc Cherry spent those six months.

By Blogger jimhenshaw, at 11:21 PM  

How do you fund yourself writing a spec script for 6 months, especially if you're on the computer 6 hours a day?

By Blogger The_Lex, at 8:50 AM  

I think Marc Cherry got a loan from his mom.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 8:53 AM  

Speaking as someone who spent 10 years researching, writing and re-re-re-re-writing one -- and only one -- project, I can tell you that it's a little bit of everything. I researched for a bit (evolution, ancient mythology, demonology, Arthurian legend, the Illuminati, structural engineering, the US legal system, mental illness...) then wrote for a bit. I saw where I went wrong in the 10 or so pages I wrote, then researched & wrote some more to fix it. Then, after writing a few more pages, I learned some tricks of the screenwriting trade that would improve what I'd previously written, so I'd start over from page 1 and re-write everything I'd written to date. Then, a few weeks later, I'd see that I needed to do some more research and...well, I think you get the picture.

Ten friken years...I still shake my head when I think about it.

And then I cry.

KJC

By Blogger Kelly J. Compeau, at 1:21 PM  

Kelly

I presume you have other projects in the fire as well though...

By Blogger theblankscreen, at 7:21 AM  

Yep. Quite a few, actually.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 8:42 AM  

theblankscreen:

Nope. I have no other projects in the fire right now. Nore do I ever wish to have any other projects in the fire. Unlike most of you guys, I have no desire to be a career screenwriter. I have a very busy life, owning and managing several successful businesses.

I was just sorta thrown into showbiz head first back in the late 90s when a few folks who work in the biz told me I should turn a rejected manuscript into the pilot for a TV series. I thought it was a great idea, even though I knew virtually zip about screenwriting or how the industry works. Over the years I trained and mentored under some of the best in the business so I could craft and mold the project intelligently, and even though I have no interest in writing any scripts for the show, myself, I learned and studied hard so that I could recognize a good freelance script for my show when I saw it, and tweak scripts and story ideas with an intelligent hand.

It's no secret that I want Alex to be co-exec producer (showrunner) on my show, I want Denis McGrath to head the writng team, and I want Will Dixon to be my main director. I've already got an all-star cast lined up and a list of music industry mega-stars who want to contribute new and already existing songs to the show.

I'm getting lots of interest from prodco execs at some of the biggest companies in North America. The problem is money. I don't want to get into the details here, but you can read all about my frustrations on my blog "The Black Tower - A Rant".

Anyway, once the show has run its course in international syndication, I intend to leave the industry and go back to my life. Maybe open up an art gallery in Vancouver.

KJC

By Blogger Kelly J. Compeau, at 2:16 PM  

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