What Are You Speccing - Complications Ensue
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Every now and then, we at Complications Ensue ask you guys what you're speccing, and what you've heard people are speccing, so everyone can get a sense of what the hot specs are.

And it's that time again. Especially because the network, alas yes, pulled the plug on my pay cable series, and I'm debating between writing an hour spec or a half hour spec pilot.

What are you speccing, or what have you recently specced?

What have you heard other people are speccing?

Labels: ,

34 Comments:

Great success with my Always sunny in Philadelphia spec (I got hired for something), but that was two years ago. Still, a lot of young writers ask me to see it.

If I were to a spec right now it might be 30 Rock. If I could do a dream spec it would be Peep Show, but I'm not british and Americans don't know it.

By Blogger Dan, at 2:05 PM  

I'm in the middle of speccing an episode of "Leverage". right now. And I finished a "Gossip Girl" in November.

LOTS of "Mad Men", "House", & "The Office" floating around town - I'd say they're the most popular (nothing new there). And I'll bet "The Mentalist" specs start raining down, given its success.

By Blogger whit, at 2:52 PM  

Working on an hour-long drama pilot right now, but after that will probably be a Fringe. Figure it's best to wait until the end of the season.

By Blogger Sam, at 5:19 PM  

Spec'd Big Bang Theory and have a one-hour Lifetime (series) drama spec'd too. Also working on sci-fi specs.

Pol

By Blogger Polly, at 5:33 PM  

Just finished a 30 Rock. It was a lot of fun.

By Blogger Xander Bennett, at 5:57 PM  

Sorry to hear about your series getting the axe, Alex -- my series just got dumped too.

With that said, I've been getting great feedback on my Dexter spec, but I'm looking to do something lighter, so it looks like the next one will be Burn Notice.

I've also got my eye on doing a Leverage or Fringe spec too, but I'm going to wait to make sure that they get picked up for a second season.

By Blogger tommy, at 6:03 PM  

I'm writing a 30 Rock at the moment, and I'm still getting some mileage out of my Office (but I'm afraid its expiration date is nigh). I foolishly wrote a Pushing Daisies last year, but I can always keep it as a "Do you have anything else?" sample waaay deep in the pile. Next order of business is another pilot.

By Blogger Justine, at 8:31 PM  

I'm speccing Numb3rs because it's in its 5th year, I love the show and no one else is doing it. I think it's a good example of a procedural/tech show that I'm hoping will travel well.

By Blogger Stercus Accidit, at 12:02 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

By Blogger Neil, at 4:55 AM  

No shows just yet, but writing 3 pilots. One about a bunch of zombie hunters (don't ask), one about a private investigator and a kid's show about some psychics fighting evil.

Also a bunch of features about various topics; vampires, sci-fi, crime. One about Chaos Theory with a fellow aspiring writer (Michelle Goode). Very complicated stuff but I think it might be something big.

By Blogger Neil, at 8:24 AM  

Neil, you shouldn't start with spec pilots. You should start with spec episodes.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 8:55 AM  

Yeah, that's the thing. At the moment, I'm still at uni and not 'looking' for work. So if I wrote a spec for a show now, it would probably be dated by the time I can put it to use. So until then, I'm attacking my own original work. Might as well use this time for something.

By Blogger Neil, at 10:04 AM  

On the other hand, your spec pilots will probably be useless until you take the time to learn how to write other people's shows. You're getting ahead of yourself.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 10:29 AM  

Yes, I see your point. What I'm doing, is keeping an eye on Brit TV and what I might like to spec. Upcoming shows etc. So I can get a head start and attack those as soon as they're out. Other than that, I'm focusing on features.

By Blogger Neil, at 10:40 AM  

Like @Justine, I wrote a Pushing Daisies and get to toss that in a file now. I've been thinking of doing either a Burn Notice or a Leverage. The fact that the latter got an additional 6-script order from the network makes me hopeful that they'll like the ratings and what they see in those scripts and order a second season.

I'm also thinking of speccing a Without a Trace. I know it's less popular than a lot of the other procedurals, but that might help my script stand out in a sea of Houses and CSIs.

I truly wish there were a half-hour comedy I felt like speccing right now, but unless I rip and restructure my two-year-old HIMYM, I just don't feel it.

By Blogger R.A. Porter, at 11:13 AM  

I'm putting together a Big Bang. It's actually pretty fun.

By Blogger just some guy trying to write, at 12:23 PM  

I'm currently writing a Mad Men spec, for which I've been doing research and prep for the last month. I started actually writing the script over the last week. I'm now on page 10, and it's due in 3 days to my writing group, so that's all I'm doing this weekend!

By Blogger Trevor Finn, at 4:06 PM  

What's the next step for your pay cable series. Do you begin to shop it around or let just let it rest?

By Blogger George, at 10:42 PM  

George, we're shopping it to other networks. Conference calls next week.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 11:52 PM  

I did a CSI NY and now I'm working on a Dexter. I need to decide what to do next, maybe Life, what's it look like for that being picked up next season?

By Blogger daytimedrama, at 12:54 AM  

I have a Chuck in limbo, but I'm waiting to see how a third season looks. And I disagree about writing pilots. I think it's good to have both and you learn different things writing both. Neil should practice writing specs for shows even if he never gets to use them, obviously, but feel free to write spec pilots and then see what his strengths/weakness are in each and work on that. He'll learn from both.

By Blogger Little Miss Nomad, at 1:49 PM  

I agree with Alex on this one. I'm sure it's good to be writing something than nothing, but in terms of learning the craft and using your time most effectively, if you're actively trying to become a tv writer you need to first master writing specs of other people's shows. Because you won't be able to create TV worth watching if you don't have the basics down cold. It's like learning the guitar and just skipping over the whole "learning cords" part. It's just not wise.

By Blogger Trevor Finn, at 1:56 PM  

I just wrote a How I Met Your Mother, and have been surprised that that show doesn't get spec'd more -- it's got such a strong and consistent structure and voice. I found it really easy to write. But, you know, better for me that not too many people are doing it, I guess!

By Blogger Seth, at 9:34 PM  

My partner and I started with a 30 Rock, decided it was a "first pancake" and we were better off concentrating one-hour. We then did a Friday Night Lights and a pilot that was also a youth ensemble. Now we're choosing between Dexter, Damages and Leverage for the next one while we send the spec-n-pilot around.

By Blogger The Captain, at 10:06 PM  

While deferring in all other respects to Alex's experience and authority, I would respectfully disagree with the instruction to Neil about speccing pilots.

While it is always good to have at least one existing show specced, my agent and just about every showrunner and producer I know will INSIST upon reading original material, be it a pilot, feature or play. Right now I'm happily working now off the specs I wrote, but I have very definitely lost opportunities due to not having a pilot. I was lucky enough to have an aging feature to dust off, but showrunners are busy/lazy, and would rather read 60 pages than 120 if they can get away with it.

Our PA, an excellent writer, has had WMA, ICM, CAA and my own agent tell him they're willing to sign him -- but only as soon as they see he can write more than a killer Mad Men.

A few years back, show specs were all the rage. 2009, the pilot is king. Something to consider before you spec show after show -- back it up with a pilot sooner rather than later.

By Blogger taylor, at 7:12 PM  

Thing is, Neil has NEVER written an episode. You may not want to write spec after spec after spec, but you better learn how before you go trying to write your own show.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 7:36 PM  

Er, yeah. I probably should have read all his posts before I launched into a three-page screed about it.

Nevertheless, I would hold with the idea that a spec pilot is becoming increasingly necessary, not to say critical, in a market swamped with would-be entrants. A Fringe or House spec may garner some interest, but two specs may not be better than one. A pilot almost certainly won't sell, but proof of an original voice is gold.

By Blogger taylor, at 9:04 PM  

A novelist friend has a few vampire romance novels published. I normally don't care for that sort of thing, but I loved her work. I asked if I could take a bite at adapting the first one into a feature, and she agreed. I'm just about to start on it; if we count brainstorming, I've already started.

By Blogger Steve, at 5:14 AM  

No-one in the UK reads specs for shows; they demand nothing but spec pilots or features.

So it's a spec pilot for me.

By Blogger Piers, at 11:36 AM  

Dexter. It's been a bit hard, because the tone and direction of the show changed so dramatically this season. (Not for the better in my opinion, but that's a topic for a whole different post.) And I started my spec just before the new season.

Anyone have advice on what to do in this kind of situation? I assume my spec should be more like the "new" tone/template?

By Blogger Norma Desmond, at 5:04 PM  

'Don't start with a spec pilot' just sucked out a lot of enthusiasm I had for a pilot I've been working on. Damn.

By Blogger Derek, at 7:10 PM  

I am speccing "Chuck," at the moment, but I worry about its chances. Oh well, I'm having such fun with it. Maybe I should stop speccing shows I enjoy... With exception of my "Office" spec, every show I've done has gone off the air shortly after I've finished. Haha.

By Blogger Midtown Mandy, at 7:16 PM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Blogger sex, at 3:26 PM  

I did a Psych. I'm more comedy-oriented, so it was a good way to get to do both that and a procedural story. And it was my first hour-long.

By Blogger Jim, at 6:06 PM  

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