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Old 09-12-2019, 09:47 PM   #11
Mark Somers
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Default Re: Pilot Development

Thanks. You guys are awesome triple covered in a tangy zesty awesome sauce. And crushed acorns for some reason.
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Old 09-16-2019, 01:36 PM   #12
GucciGhostXXX
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I would DEFINITELY NOT (!) spec an existing show. No one wants to read that. PROMISE! or your money back...

NO ONE IS READING THOSE. THAT MARKET IS DEAD!

Example: I was up for and moving forward with these shows... TRAINING DAY, DESIGNATED SURVIVOR and... (I'm blanking, two other cop type shows). What was my sample?

................A pilot about a chef. My chef is fukking brutal (think Tony Soprano as an A-list chef). They could make the connection, plenty of sex, drugs and violence in my chef pilot. They didn't want to read more cop shows. (Btw - sold that show, didn't get made, close, but no. Later it's been used as a writing sample for sh!t you'd think doesn't make any sense. Like the shows mentioned.)

Just write a pilot to sell it (with attachments). You can use it as a sample later when it DOESN'T sell. Ha!

But, like Jeff said, dude.... bruh... it's fukkin HARD to sell a pilot.
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Old 09-16-2019, 08:36 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GucciGhostXXX View Post
I would DEFINITELY NOT (!) spec an existing show. No one wants to read that. PROMISE! or your money back...

NO ONE IS READING THOSE. THAT MARKET IS DEAD!

Example: I was up for and moving forward with these shows... TRAINING DAY, DESIGNATED SURVIVOR and... (I'm blanking, two other cop type shows). What was my sample?

................A pilot about a chef. My chef is fukking brutal (think Tony Soprano as an A-list chef). They could make the connection, plenty of sex, drugs and violence in my chef pilot. They didn't want to read more cop shows. (Btw - sold that show, didn't get made, close, but no. Later it's been used as a writing sample for sh!t you'd think doesn't make any sense. Like the shows mentioned.)

Just write a pilot to sell it (with attachments). You can use it as a sample later when it DOESN'T sell. Ha!

But, like Jeff said, dude.... bruh... it's fukkin HARD to sell a pilot.
I second this suggestion, especially if you're trying to get staffed onto a show - instead, write an original pitch perfect authentic pilot that blows their socks off. The reason is this: just because a writer can imitate a voice doesn't mean they're an amazing writer. But an amazing writer can imitate a voice.

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Old 09-16-2019, 10:57 PM   #14
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Default Re: Pilot Development

I wanna add a bit to my previous post...

Look at how my pilot is NOTHING like what they're "looking for" (on paper). They were doing straight ahead network shows, mine was dark drama premium cable (but with some dark-ish satirical humor).

The two don't go together on paper.

Or do they?

They're looking for "voices." Stop for a second and put yourself in their shoes. What would be the EASIEST way for you to TRUST you've found a voice to compliment your show? IMO... someone doing something totally different than anything you'd think of. If I was a showrunner the last thing I'd want is someone mimicking my voice BEFORE I asked for it. I'd want someone where I'm like "Ahhh... cool voice... they fill in one of my blindspots. I don't write like this, but I dig it."

IDK... maybe Jeff can chime in, but I'd guess that showrunners are generally not looking for writers who look like exactly what you'd assume they'd want. I think they'd rather be surprised with something a little off-grid.

With a show like the Simpsons, It's already pretty fukkin nutz. IDK how you could flip it to be the exact opposite of what we'd expect, yet it makes perfect sense

See that Peanuts project as an example of smartly flipping our expectations. There was ROOM to do it. With The Simpsons, nope! IMO. Which is to point out that the person flipping The Peanuts on its ear is WAY more likely to land a gig on The Simpsons than the person specking a PERFECT episode of The Simpsons. If I'm the showrunner, I'm gonna find your spec of my show boring and uninventive no matter what you do.
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:43 AM   #15
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I may be repeating some of what other people said, but:

Specs are dead dead dead as samples. The reason is, there are just too many shows. Everyone used to be familiar with Friends or Seinfeld... that just doesn't exist. Your great Veep sample is going to be lost on a lot of employers.

The only reason to ever write one is for a few contests/fellowships that want them.

All of that said...

I miss reading specs of shows I know. When I hire someone on my staff, I want to know if they can write in other people's voices. It does me zero good if I establish a character and a writer can't nail it. It just means that I have to rewrite everything. The job of TV is largely "the same, but different."

Plus, writing a pilot is fucking hard. Create an interesting world, create unique characters... and then come up with a compelling plot? Jesus. Probably 90+% of writers will never create a show, but you have to be able to do it to sit in a room and pitch on someone else's characters? Bonkers.

But, doesn't matter. Too many shows out there to have a spec be useful.

Old man story warning: I broke in with a Larry Sanders spec that got me work for probably a decade.
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Old 09-17-2019, 12:32 PM   #16
GucciGhostXXX
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Jeff...

Do I understand you correctly that on your new show you WANT specs of other shows? First choice of what to read?

I think a tough thing is: What if the show isn't out yet, how do you spec that as a staff writer? Although, on TRAINING DAY I could have specced it because there was preexisting material to draw from.

Would you do something like: Narrow the field down, then once you have your "recommends" you hand them your pilot and ask them to spec episode 2? Just to learn if they can write in your voice? What will your process be for staffing your new show?

I think it's maybe a little different if it's an ensomble cast, one may want different voices in the room (EMPIRE etc). But, I can see where if it's one main dude/chick where it's gotta be a consistent voice, seeing as we never really deviate from HIS/HER POV.

(Not asking for a job. I don't write comedy. Just curious what your staffing process will look like)
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Old 09-17-2019, 01:38 PM   #17
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No, I used to love specs of other shows. But they're just not realistic with how fragmented the tv landscape has become. If it were a spec of a show I loved, I would be excited to read it - but that basically means someone would have to spec a British sitcom, since that's pretty much all I watch.

(I would never be able to read a spec of a show I created - too open for a lawsuit.)

I just think writing a pilot and writing a spec are two different skills, and I need the latter skill more from someone on my staff.
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Old 09-17-2019, 02:08 PM   #18
GucciGhostXXX
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Ha! British Sitcoms. You and my lady would get along great! That's all she watches.

Gotcha, kinda...

I'm still not clear on how you plan to find people good at speccing seeing as so many writers are doing original pilots. I'm guessing referrals (previously staffed writers) from other showrunners etc?

Then again, I get that every showrunner is different in their needs.

Follow up question: What is THE MOST trustworthy referral you'll consider for the top of the pile, agent, showrunner, studio? Or does it not matter to you?
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Old 09-17-2019, 03:25 PM   #19
JeffLowell
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I'm finding people with pilots, just like everyone else. I just used to like the spec world better. I'm adapting. The trouble is sometimes you hire someone who wrote a great pilot about their life... and they can't write about anything but their life.

The #1 referral is from a writer I've worked with and trusted. #2 is my agent/manager, who know my personality and taste. #3 is the studio, who are mostly just sending you people they love, rather than people who they think will work well with me. The pile is #4, but I certainly have hired people that way. If I love the script and meet them and they're great... I roll the dice.
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Old 09-17-2019, 04:16 PM   #20
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Time to dust off that The Office spec that almost got me a Disney fellowship. It must be back on the air by now...
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