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Old 08-13-2015, 10:54 AM   #1
opie
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Default TV Pilot Specs vs. Feature Specs

If this is the new golden age of TV, shouldn't the great unwashed lot of unproduced writers (including yours truly) be writing TV pilots instead of feature specs? Aren't the odds of selling a pilot (HBO is buying 200) better than selling a feature spec?

Also, are TV pilot specs helpful in a crossover way, e.g. do good TV pilot specs ever help secure OWAs (similarly to good feature specs used to get TV meetings)?

Last edited by opie : 08-13-2015 at 11:06 AM.
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Old 08-13-2015, 10:58 AM   #2
JoeBanks
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Default Re: TV Writing

or, do both.
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Old 08-13-2015, 11:07 AM   #3
Ronaldinho
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Default Re: TV Pilot Specs vs. Feature Specs

Yes.

I suspect you'll find that a lot of managers are pushing their clients towards TV today. The simple truth is that there is much more work in TV - 2.5 times as many writers work in TV in a given year.

The challenge is that, in my opinion (and I write this as someone who has only done pro work in features) a good pilot is harder to write than a good feature. A pilot has to do more (tell a complete story AND set up a series) and less space to do it in.
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Old 08-13-2015, 11:25 AM   #4
docgonzo
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Default Re: TV Pilot Specs vs. Feature Specs

Quote:
Originally Posted by opie View Post
If this is the new golden age of TV, shouldn't the great unwashed lot of unproduced writers (including yours truly) be writing TV pilots instead of feature specs? Aren't the odds of selling a pilot (HBO is buying 200) better than selling a feature spec?

Also, are TV pilot specs helpful in a crossover way, e.g. do good TV pilot specs ever help secure OWAs (similarly to good feature specs used to get TV meetings)?
I've gotten feature meetings from pilots in the past. Mostly generals, but they did get me in the door with feature people.
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Old 08-13-2015, 05:10 PM   #5
juunit
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Default Re: TV Pilot Specs vs. Feature Specs

There are those who will tell you that as a baby writer, you should focus on features, because there is a stigma with baby writers and pilots. There are also those who think that's nonsense.

All depends on who you ask, really.

People have gotten general meetings at Bruckheimer off of plays. It's a crazy, crazy world.
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Old 08-13-2015, 09:43 PM   #6
opie
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Default Re: TV Pilot Specs vs. Feature Specs

Thanks for all of your responses. Appreciated.

Does the lifestyle of writing TV pilots emulate the ebb and flow of the feature writer on some level? Obviously not if one of your series sells, but I suspect that doesn't happen very often.
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Old 08-13-2015, 11:17 PM   #7
artisone
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Default Re: TV Pilot Specs vs. Feature Specs

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Originally Posted by opie View Post
Thanks for all of your responses. Appreciated.

Does the lifestyle of writing TV pilots emulate the ebb and flow of the feature writer on some level? Obviously not if one of your series sells, but I suspect that doesn't happen very often.
Try not to to think of it like that. If you're writing pilots, and you are good, you'll probably get a chance to staff before you actually sell something. If you're thinking television, think about staffing. It's a more realistic possibility, not that you can't sell a pilot, but the odds are better. Also, the lifestyle of a writer on staff is not bad at all.
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Old 08-14-2015, 12:20 PM   #8
UnequalProductions
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Default Re: TV Pilot Specs vs. Feature Specs

It really depends on what you want to write and where the ideas take you.

Do you want a career in television? Spec pilots.

Do you want a career in film? Spec features.

They're both long shots, so the odds either way shouldn't be influencing you one way or the other. Write what best shows your strengths. Follow your passion. You're doing specs for free anyway, so why write anything other than the things you're excited about?
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Old 08-14-2015, 12:25 PM   #9
opie
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Default Re: TV Pilot Specs vs. Feature Specs

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Originally Posted by UnequalProductions View Post
It really depends on what you want to write and where the ideas take you.

Do you want a career in television? Spec pilots.

Do you want a career in film? Spec features.

They're both long shots, so the odds either way shouldn't be influencing you one way or the other. Write what best shows your strengths. Follow your passion. You're doing specs for free anyway, so why write anything other than the things you're excited about?
Makes sense. I can get excited about either. I might as well position myself for where the trend is going.

Last edited by opie : 08-14-2015 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 08-14-2015, 01:17 PM   #10
juunit
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Default Re: TV Pilot Specs vs. Feature Specs

Quote:
Originally Posted by opie View Post
Does the lifestyle of writing TV pilots emulate the ebb and flow of the feature writer on some level? Obviously not if one of your series sells, but I suspect that doesn't happen very often.
Not really. I mean, they're both script writing jobs. But, not really.

The biggest difference is the collaborative element of writing TV. There are a couple guys who write entire TV shows by themselves, and that's par for the course in England. For the most part though, you spend a lot of time working with other people and their ideas and their writing. Compare that to film, where you write the script on your own (or with a writing partner, if that's how you work).

Then of course there's the producer element of TV. Although I suppose if you had no interest in that and you wrote good enough scripts, you could recuse yourself from those responsibilities and someone could be found to take your place. I don't really know of many examples of that though.

Here's a good little article I just read recently from Amy Jones, who went from features to TV, and talks a little bit about those differences:

http://www.ssninsider.com/screenwrit...ter-amy-jones/
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