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Old 07-05-2019, 08:55 PM   #11
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 91
Default Re: Shadowing a Writers Room

Thanks to everybody who offered advice. I figured I'd follow up about how this played out.

I spent last week in the writers room for the show I mentioned, and it was definitely an amazing experience. From the writers' assistants to the showrunner, everybody treated me really well. It was a great opportunity to watch them pitch ideas, break stories, and generally just go through their process. I've always been the crazy, creative misfit in corporate offices where I've worked, so it was probably the first time I've ever felt comfortable in a professional setting. haha

So, on my last day there, I asked several people in the room if I could get two minutes of their time before they left. Everybody was happy to accommodate, even the showrunner. I ended up getting a lot of great advice about how to navigate the TV world in an attempt to break in at some point.

Of course, the creator who invited me was at the top of the list, so I sent him a text to ask for a couple minutes of his time as well. He said yes, but something ended up keeping him away from the office for the rest of the day. Not a big deal. I was just really grateful for the opportunity.

So, I'm about to leave, and he responds to my text again asking if I want to meet for a drink later that night. Long story short, I show up, we make conversation, and he finally says, "So, you're looking for advice?"

I respond, "Yeah, what do you think I should do moving forward to give myself the best chance of writing for TV?"

And he says...


So, I'm just sitting there with this really stupid look on my face. And he's legendary for being really funny, so I'm thinking this might be a joke, but he's not laughing. I open my mouth to try to clarify, and he says...

"I'm going to bring you on next season."

And I'm speechless, but I have to say something:

"Wow. So, like ... a PA or a writer's assistant?"

But he's looking at me like I should understand what he's saying. He continues:

"No. As a writer."

Of course, I'm waiting for the punchline. But it doesn't come. This is real. And it's one of those rare shows that will definitely have that next season.

"Really? Do you want me to write a spec?"

"No." And then he gets this look like he's about to break my heart. There's some kind of a catch. "But I'm paying you the minimum."

I could only laugh.

And I think back to one of his interviews I listened to a while ago, even before I knew him. In relation to breaking in, he suggested that ideally " want them to come to you."

So, that's what I did. I had written several pilots in the past, two of which were promoted by the Black List for high scores, but I could never get more than a couple of people to read them. So, I quit screenwriting because I knew it was my only chance to break in. Sounds crazy, but I believed it.

It was basically a poor man's Diablo Cody sort of thing. I made a crazy podcast unlike anything anybody else in the genre was doing. He recognized my unique voice, became a big fan, and was compelled to help me.

Last year, a legit film exec contacted me to say she and her producing partner, who worked in reality TV and had sold a show recently, were interested in pitching me to a network that was buying a lot of shows in the same genre as my podcast. She came to me. But when I asked about the possibility of writing for TV, she said due to my age, race, and heritage, I had absolutely no chance of ever breaking in at the entry level.

I never believed her. Not for one second. If she was interested in my unique voice, then it stands to reason someone else might be too. That happened.

When I was writing features and pilots, all I did was desperately think about what others could do for me. Once I let go of that disposition, and adopted a policy of giving as much as I could through my podcast, without the promise of anything in return, people started to notice. And I became a better person.

So, if I ask myself how I got that one miraculous "yes" after years of failure, it was by working on my own character arc, no matter how painful the process became. I'm not comfortable speaking into a mic. And I don't like my voice being broadcast to thousands of people. It's terrifying, and the criticism is brutal. But if I never recognized the need to change as protagonist of my own story, why the hell would anybody want to hire me as a writer who replicates that process?
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Old 07-05-2019, 09:53 PM   #12
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 2,846
Default Re: Shadowing a Writers Room


this is the best news.

congratulations GhostWhite!

all of your efforts and your hard work are paying off. what an amazing story. tell every new writer you meet. it's all possible.

i've been watching your thread because i'm like, what happened?!

so happy for you.
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,” Pablo Picasso
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Old 07-06-2019, 12:02 AM   #13
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 3,721
Default Re: Shadowing a Writers Room

I take full credit for all your hard work and success.
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Old 07-06-2019, 01:37 PM   #14
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 1,377
Default Re: Shadowing a Writers Room

Congratulations GhostWhite! It's an incredible opportunity, and you get to write on one of the most interesting shows out there today, and one of my favorite shows ever.

My advice is that based on the interactions you've had with the co-creator, he's enjoyed the vibe you bring. I'd use the same template going forward.

Also, people often get hired on shows to bring something that's missing, so never forget the unique POV and knowledge pool that you bring. Remember what it is that makes you special, and think about how it can add value to the show (with a light brush, especially in the beginning).

I recommend you listen to the entire run of the Children of Tendu podcast (in case you haven't already). The advice on there about working in TV, and how to excel in a writer's room, is invaluable.

Best of luck!
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Old 07-06-2019, 09:49 PM   #15
Mark Somers
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,281
Default Re: Shadowing a Writers Room

Congratulations, ghost.

Hey! You might do it in your house, but in this house we don't lick our butts. -- Mother Teresa

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Old 07-08-2019, 01:00 PM   #16
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Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 1,281
Default Re: Shadowing a Writers Room

WOW! This is legendary! Way to go! You killed it, good for you!
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Old 09-14-2019, 12:50 AM   #17
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 151
Default Re: Shadowing a Writers Room

This is really cool. It really is all about networking (assuming we do the work as a foundation, of course).

So my understanding is that you have a popular podcast (about entertainment or writing) and the creator of the show brought you in to interview you... for their own podcast?

I understand age and race can be problematic (I'm assuming 35+, and white would be the only race someone would say that about so directly), but what heritage would make it difficult after race?
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