How to Get the Showrunner to Ask to Read Your Script - Complications Ensue
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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Q. I recently got hired onto the staff of a scripted comedy TV show as an office production assistant.  I'm a fairly extroverted person and through the first few weeks of production I have become friendly with the writers and the executive producers.  The top executive producer is a firmly established and well connected industry guy, and he also seems to be more amiable than I would have imagined, given his status. I would love, at some point, to get him to read one of the spec scripts I've already completed.  What are the ground rules in this situation?
You're right, this is a sticky situation. As you've probably noticed, he is extremely busy, and already has a lot of scripts to read.

Here's what I would do. At some point when he is obviously procrastinating -- e.g. showing you a video of an elephant painting his self-portrait -- ask him a specific craft question about a script you are working on. The question should be something you can't answer yourself; don't ask him something you ought to be able to figure out on your own. It should be something that can be answered quickly, but only by someone with great experience. Since you are constantly working hard on your scripts at home (right?) you should have a few of these questions at any point.

Get his answer and thank him. 

A couple of weeks later, ask him another thoughtful question.

If your questions are interesting, they will show him that (a) you're a thoughtful writer and (b) you're writing an interesting script. If he has even the slightest willingness to read your script, he will ask. In fact, he won't even be able to keep himself from asking. (If he never asks, there's your answer.) 

Showrunners like to answer questions, especially when the answer can't screw them up later. And you didn't ask him to read your script, so you have not stepped over the line.

See what you're doing here? Instead of pushing story at your audience of one, you're hooking him in. You're making him want to know more. 

That's the essence of great storytelling, isn't it? Give the audience something that makes them want to hear more story. Hook them hard, and then reel them in. 

Don't be a pusher. Be a hooker. That's how you get ahead in Hollywood.

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6 Comments:

" Be a hooker. That's how you get ahead in Hollywood."

I KNEW IT! LOL!

By Blogger Joshua James, at 9:50 AM  

Hrmm after reading this post the only question I have left is:

Should I wear Fishnets or Silks?

By Blogger Brandon Laraby, at 1:21 PM  

Silks, baby. Fishnets are good from a distance, but they make you look cheap up close.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 1:25 PM  

Thanks for the response, Alex. That should come in handy with some of the producers. I should have mentioned, though, that the top executive in question is not one of the writer/execs, but just a stand-alone executive producer. I'm not sure if asking for help on a script would apply in his case (He's almost strictly business, and not creatively inclined). Any tactics you might employ for that circumstance?

By Blogger aldentre, at 2:44 PM  

If he's not a writer, why do you need him to read your script? So he can recommend you to an agent? Just ask him to point you to an agent, he'll be relieved he doesn't have to read anything.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 2:59 PM  

I suppose the ideal outcome, in the case of a spec pilot or screenplay, would be "...Gee, this has a lot of promise, I've got a friend at [studio] who might be interested in this."

Okay, so I may be reaching high, but I might as well be prepared for any possible response. ...Hey, if I didn't think I could cut it in LA, I wouldn't have moved out here.

By Blogger aldentre, at 3:11 PM  

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