RTFMComplications Ensue
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty Game, TV, and Screenwriting Blog


April 2004

May 2004

June 2004

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

October 2014

November 2014

December 2014

January 2015

February 2015

March 2015

April 2015

May 2015

June 2015

August 2015

September 2015

October 2015

November 2015

December 2015

January 2016

February 2016

March 2016

April 2016

May 2016

June 2016

July 2016

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016

November 2016

December 2016

January 2017

February 2017

March 2017

May 2017

June 2017

July 2017

August 2017

September 2017

October 2017

November 2017

December 2017

January 2018

March 2018

April 2018

June 2018

July 2018

October 2018

November 2018

December 2018

January 2019

February 2019

November 2019

February 2020

March 2020

April 2020

May 2020

August 2020

September 2020

October 2020

December 2020

January 2021

February 2021

March 2021


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Q. I've written a TV pilot, but I don't know anyone in TV. I'm considering getting a screenplay evaluation, but am I wasting my time and money?
If you're hoping the screenplay evaluation will get you to a salable screenplay, you might be. Your first birch bark canoe probably won't survive the rapids. No one wins their first tennis tournament. It takes a lot of screenplays to get to the point where you know what you're doing.

Before you hire a screenplay evaluation, have you read my book on TV writing? I'm embarrassed to toot my own horn, but I wrote Crafty TV Writing: Thinking Inside the Box as a way of putting a pretty red wrapper around most of what I know about TV. If you haven't read any TV writing books, then why pay someone to critique your screenplay for a lot of money when you can read most of the same advice in a ten dollar book?

It's tough not knowing anyone in the business. That's why people go to film school. UCLA, USC, AFI, NYU, and Columbia, are all excellent. I've also blogged about fellowships and internships. Check out those posts.

In Canada there is a lot of support for newbies. The Canadian Film Centre has a kickass program. I also hear good things about the National Screen Institute.

If you can't take the time off to go to school, try forming a writing group over the Internet; or find some non-writing readers whose opinion you value -- maybe a few people who post intelligently to the Television Without Pity forums. There's no reason not to try to get your first script to agents, but it may be many scripts down the road before your scripts get you out of the house. Until then, you need intelligent feedback.

There are always ways in. I write about many of them in my two books, so I won't go into detail here. What they have in common is you need to leave your shame at the door, and be willing to work hard for almost nothing until you're worth hiring. If you really love film or tv, that will still be hard, but not as hard as walking away.


I would not concentrate show much on the pilot script as much as I would on your concept. As a new writer your script will be rewritten. Guaranteed. Is the concept solid? marketable? Are your characters strong? If you aren't sure, find out. You must do the research.

I read Alex's book and others. I researched as much as I could what producers and broadcasters were looking for (its mostly a guessing game) and how to go about getting your concept in front of them.

One thing I learned and advise others with.. DO NOT listen to those, Alex included, who say first timers can't get an agent or a producer or a broadcaster to listen to them. If someone tells you it can't be done, more than likely it's them that can't do it, not you.

Case in point, I too wrote a tv pilot based on a concept I created in film school. In February 2006 I went to a workshop to learn how to pitch and who to pitch it to. People told me it was pointless, no one would listen to you. "We'll see" I said.
I learned there was an industry event in Banff where producers and broadcasters go strictly to listen to concepts and ideas for new shows. I went. I made some appointments with the people who I thought would like my idea and threw caution to the wind. After an embarrasing lunch where my rather large frame got stuck in a tiny little chair, Alex should remember this he sat next to me, I ventured to my last meeting with a television executive. I pitched my idea, she loved it and now, six months later, I sit here having to choose between two well known production companies(who said no in the beginning) who are now vying for the rights to my show, because the network loved it so much. Can you believe it, they are now pitching me.

So, don't listen to the so called experts. Sure they know how to write, however, they know no more than you or I what will sell and what won't. If you believe in your concept, don't let anything stand in your way.

Sure, I beat some large odds to get to this point and there is no guarantee that it goes past development, a lot of shows don't, but, I did not ever take no for an answer. My reward for that, I get to write a tv show instead of a blogs about writing tv shows.

ps. There are lots of people who will read your script for FREE and will give you great advise. Do a little digging ang you will find them.

By Blogger george zawadzki, at 11:13 AM  

George's rather inexplicable hostility aside, he has a point. That is why I am careful not to say that first timers can *never* get an agent. Or sell a script. All I've said is the odds are against you. For every George, there are a bunch more people whose first concepts don't go anywhere.

I agree that no one knows what will sell. One does begin to get a sense what will probably not sell, and one gets a sense of what might work. But every time someone says "Westerns are dead" along comes a Western that works. It's a matter of rethinking it.

Success in TV is partly a matter of refining your crafty and partly doing what it takes to get it out there. George flew to the Canadian Rockies and paid over a thousand dollars to get ten minutes to sit with a network exec. I'm sure he had other meetings too, but that takes guts. Bravo George.

And absolutely: with the Internet, you should be able to find smart people to give you smart feedback on your scripts, for free. The trick is knowing how to interpret their feedback.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 11:53 AM  

Sorry, I did not aim to be hostile. If you sensed that, I apologize. It's just I encountered many people who said you can't do this and you can't do that. I have read blogs and books and articles steeped with negativity. Perhaps, I chose the wrong venue to vent some of my frustrations. If it is any consolation, I found Crafty TV Writing incredibly useful to get to point where I am now, and will without doubt need and want to go back to it for future reference.

By Blogger george zawadzki, at 2:25 PM  

I appreciate that. The question I was answering was, "Should I pay muchos dinero$$$ for a screenplay evaluation on my first script?" And my answer was, partly, "No, buy my book first, and get free feedback from other sources."

If the question is, "Should I submit my first script?" -- well, why not? If you can get someone to read it, maybe you'll score big, or maybe you'll at least score a little feedback. Buyer feedback is bound to be useful one way or another. Just don't be disheartened if you get rejected or simply ignored, is all I'm saying.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 2:59 PM  

Post a Comment

Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.

This page is powered by Blogger.