Showing the Spec of a Show to That Show - Complications Ensue
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A friend of the blog is in a bind because he's done several specs of a show -- let's call it TELEPORTERS, a show about interstellar luggage -- and the producer of the show just asked to read his stuff.

It is generally maintained that you can't show a TELEPORTERS script to TELEPORTERS. They will hate it, because, while it may appear to be a perfect TELEPORTERS show to viewers, the writers have all sorts of attitude about what they're trying to do on the show, and you don't know what that is.

I can verify that the few times I've looked at a spec NAKED JOSH, I found it irritating. And in the paid world, I have rarely read a free-lance script for a show I was staffing -- a free-lance script, not a spec, a script based on conversations with the writer and often even an outline that we wrote for the writer -- without the urge to fling it across the room.

On the other hand, Lisa pointed out just now that in every screenwriting book she's read, the author repeats the rule -- and then says "that's how I got my first job, but don't do what I did."

It's showbiz, Punky. The rules aren't really rules, they're just how things are typically done. They're the path of least resistance, and you don't want to create more resistance if you don't have to. But if you find yourself in a situation where the rules aren't helping you, and you can do it convincingly another way, go for it. You'll stand out from the crowd. And if you can't do something convincingly, it won't help that you're doing it the same as everyone else, will it?

I know one writing team that got their first break by snarking on an X-FILES website that Chris Carter happened to be reading. He asked them how they'd have fixed the episode. They answered. He asked if they had a spec. They said they did. And wrote one over the weekend.

That's definitely not how you get a break in showbiz. Except for them, it was.

What's been your experience? Have you ever got a break by showing a spec of a show to that show? Do you know anyone who did?

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2 Comments:

As someone who's read "Crafty TV" a few times, I remember you writing about Glen Morgan discovering a pair of "Millenium" writers in the same way.

Too bad Carter's crew isn't more active nowadays...sounds like they were actively cruising the boards looking for new talent back in the day!

By Blogger whit, at 11:38 AM  

What writing team is that? It's an awesome story.

By Blogger wrigleyfield, at 3:50 PM  

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