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Monday, February 09, 2009

Q. My wife is from New York and is itching to move home, and I'm not adverse to the idea (hey, it's New York, right?) But although I obviously knew that the heart of the industry is in LA, I was surprised that it really seems like NY is a big fat zero for tv writing, even freelance? Is this still the case? Will I simply be on the wrong coast?
There are not a hell of a lot of shows in New York. There's LAW & ORDER, and 30 ROCK, and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, and probably some shows on The N (which is based in NY) but the vast majority of shows are shot in LA. Or if they're shot in Vancouver, their writing rooms are often in LA -- see BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.

But it's worse, because while a writing room may be in New York, they may staff out of LA. If you're trying to start a TV career, there is simply no substitute for being in LA. You need to be able to take the meetings.

In the film department you're a little bit better off. No one really cares where a spec script's writer is living at the moment, and if you make a big sale, you can come to LA for the meet'n'greets then.

But the other thing to consider is that you are writing, on the whole, for people in LA. If you're not meeting them on a regular basis, and overhearing them at lunch, and getting honked at by them on Wilshire, you may have more trouble getting a sense of what sort of people you're writing for. LA has a mood and a flavor. It's hard to track that if you're not there.

UPDATE: The same is less true of Canadian TV, but it's still true. There are shows that are written and staffed out of Vancouver, Montreal, Edmonton and so on, and there are producers based in most major cities. But the majority of the shows are staffed at least partly out of Toronto. Writers from Toronto regularly get jobs in Montreal, Vancouver, Halifax, etc; writers from those cities almost never get jobs in Toronto. I recently lost a shot at a job because I wasn't in Toronto to have drinks with some producers from another city while they were in town. So yeah, it's not impossible to survive as a regional writer in Canada. But if you're breaking in, you probably should move to Toronto, at least till people know who you are.

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3 Comments:

Can the same thing be said of Toronto, if you're writing and speccing for Canadian TV?

By Blogger theextramedium, at 8:38 AM  

A semi-relatedquestion: I live in LA and my wife's from here, and we have kids in a great public school, so we're not going anywhere anytime soon. My question is, how hard is it to get into the industry with kids?

As you said, I know I could write movie scripts in my spare time and maybe luck out and sell one, but if I were to pursue being a television writer, I'm imagining incredibly long hours and an environment unforgiving of kids' illnesses and other things. After all, there's lots of talented people without kids wanting to get into any spot I might have worked my way into.

By Blogger Gunter, at 6:46 PM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Blogger sex, at 3:22 PM  

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