Shoe on the Other FootComplications Ensue
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty Screenwriting, TV and Game Writing Blog


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Monday, January 28, 2008

My pay cable series has been greenlit for more development -- scripts 4, 5 and 6. (I've already turned in the pilot, 2 and 3.) And I've been authorized to put together a small writing room to help break the rest of the season.

It's an interesting experience. I've hired writers before. And I've supervised writers before. But right now, we're looking for two top drama writers -- which means lots of the people I've been looking at have more experience than I do. Some of them are a bit older than me, too.

Suddenly, I understand why people get nervous hiring writers older than they are, because I'm nervous. One doesn't want to be disrespectful, but then one also doesn't want to have to defer to the other writer just because they're older -- or more experienced. It is after all your show.

It was an interesting process, going through the resumes. I kept going back to my own resume to see how it reads. Not all credits help you. I rejected some people with years of experience because their experience was all the same: procedural, procedural, procedural. My show is not a procedural. I'm more interested in someone who's staffed on a procedural, but also written a movie or two, and developed their own comedy pilot.

You want to avoid getting pigeonholed. I've become kind of a comedy writer of late. Unless I only want to get comedy work, I've got to change pace. Fortunately, this series is a metaphysical drama, so it shows range.

I find I don't always absorb credits well past the first page. You want all the impressive stuff on the first page; even better if there is only the one page. So I took off all my less-than-impressive credits. I've written or helped develop or produce some pretty unspectacular movies. Better to write "selected features" and "selected TV" and only include the good stuff, I think: the hit film, the series I co-created, the Head Writer gig, the directors I've written for.

I also find that the people I like wow me in the first five pages of their samples, with fresh, distinct characters and situations. The merely competent establish a situation with stock characters. The fresh writers don't always structure their screenplays well -- the screenplay may not deliver on the promise of the first five -- but if there isn't something distinctive in the first five, there isn't going to be in the rest of the script.

Now we're waiting on network approval for our development budget. Stay tuned!

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But maybe the people with procedural credits are dying to get into something else but nobody will hire them to work on anything else because all their credits are procedural.

By Blogger Emily Blake, at 12:46 PM  

Their agents can put them up for stuff. They can develop half hours and option them to the network and put the optioned series on their resume. There are ways to let people know you're not all about the crime stories and the steady paycheck.

You can, for that matter, turn stuff down if it's going to pigeonhole you. (Or start overcharging for it, which is the more lucrative way to do the same thing.)

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 12:53 PM  

... and I guess the older writers can invent some kinda time machine...

i kid, i kid...

By Blogger Frank "Dolly" Dillon, at 12:58 PM  

Good luck, Alex. And may the Force be with you.

By Blogger Kelly J. Crawford, at 1:05 PM  

You know how hard I'm hoping....

By Blogger Webs, at 9:43 PM  

Good point about leaving out the not-so-good stuff on a resume. If I had three pages worth of credits, and The Brown Bunny was one of them, I'd leave it off the list. But if I had to mention it so the page didn't look too sparse, I suppose I would. But fortunately, I had nothing to do with it.

Anyway, good luck with the show.

I enjoyed the Crafty book, by the way, and was pleased to discover that this web-log is also readable as a Livejournal syndication feed.

By Blogger Unknown, at 5:00 PM  

Best of luck!

By Blogger Piers, at 8:30 AM  

As I read this post I realized that, even with all of the blogs & writing books I've read, I've never seen a writer's resume. Would you mind posting a sample (or your own, if you are so inclined, of course)?

By Blogger Ralphie, at 12:27 PM  

I dont think it is just writers. I have managed salespeople in the past and you wonder if they are better. There is a certain tug at the ego that makes one feel uncomfortable.

In my case, if they are better than me, great. I'd make more money. It's the bad decision that kills us. That's the one who sits around and just talks about old times.

There is no need to defer. In the words of Robert Mitchum as Admiral "Bull" Halsy in "Midway," "When in command, command."

I'll follow your advice as soon as I have a resume.

Great blog first time here! Reading the book now.

By Blogger Matt, at 9:02 PM  

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