Spec Pilots and Staffing Season, Cont'd - Complications Ensue
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Monday, February 05, 2007

Q. But Jane says agents are looking for spec pilots
She also says in a later post that spec scripts are still the way to go, among other reasons because fellowships won't look at spec pilots.

But a more important reason to write a spec script is it's easier. When you write a spec pilot, you have to write a compelling hour of television, AND create characters WITH their voices, AND create the world of a show, AND set the season arcs in motion, etc. etc. etc.

It is very hard to write a pilot. On many shows, the pilot is one of the weaker episodes. And that's after casting, directing and editing.

If you are writing a spec HOUSE, all you have to do is write a great episode of HOUSE. We already know what Hugh Laurie looks like. We know how he is going to deliver your lines. When your write a snippy little line, we know exactly how it's going to come across.

Agents may be open to looking at spec pilots. But most agents are still looking for a solid spec episodic script. And if you don't have episodic credits, they are really going to need to see one.
Q. And Jane says prime agent shopping season is January-March.
I've heard otherwise. Based on my conversations with agents, my impression is that you want to be hooking up with an agent in the Fall, so you can re-polish your specs in time for Christmas. January-March, your agent is already getting network execs and showrunners to read your specs, so when staffing season rolls around, they know your work.

In my own experience, and from what I've heard, if you try to get an agent to read a potential new "baby writer" client in March, the agent is likely to say, "Sorry, I'm full up right now. Can you call back after staffing season?" (Something, I suspect, that Jane hasn't had to hear in a while, if ever...)

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7 Comments:

I've been querying and meeting with several managers lately, and they're all in agreement that original material is of prime importance. Though I got in the door with my specs, they're much more interested in reading the pilot I'm working on. Could be a trend, could be a shift, I don't know. But the point is you need both, especially if you're looking for an agent, because they want material they can sell.

By Blogger Shawn, at 11:46 AM  

For what it's worth, here are blog posts suggesting that agents meet with and sign new writers in January and February.

http://rasah.blogspot.com/2006/01/repped_18.html

http://salcalleros.blogspot.com/2007/02/swimming-with-sharks.html

By Blogger Michael, at 2:06 PM  

Interesting. I'm going to try to get more information. But I should point out that one of the writers you cite went out in the very first week of January; and the other already had management.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 3:10 PM  

The agents and managers I have spoken to are all saying they need to read original material, preferably a pilot. A spec is great, but they don't need to read more than one spec to know you "get it". They are more interested in what you can develop and then selling your idea, not taking you on and staffing you (though that is the bulk of what they do)

By Blogger Patrick, at 3:33 PM  

What I want to know is why you're living a year ahead of us. The date on this blog is 2008!

By Blogger Real History Lisa, at 5:00 PM  

How do you know when to start looking? That's my biggest issue. I've got two features, a spec pilot, an award winning short and two substantial treatments. I just don't have that one great feature that I'm really proud of. Do I just say screw it and give them what I've got? Maybe if I don't I'll never be ready. Just venting.

P.S. I like your blog. I'm just getting into the whole blog world and there is so much to see.

By Blogger Clark Childers, at 6:15 PM  

Clark, I'm not in the biz. Nonetheless, if you've got stuff good enough to get you in the biz, GET IN THE BIZ WITH IT!

Just an audience member trying to get good talent to watch. =D

By Blogger The_Lex, at 8:44 AM  

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