“Super cute script, girl.”

Posted by on Aug 10, 2012 · 40 Comments

I was driving home from a features meeting yesterday listening to Scriptnotes, a podcast by Craig Mazin and John August. If you are an aspiring screenwriter and you haven’t found Scriptnotes yet, I highly encourage it. Craig plays the cranky rich guy who grumbles when a screenwriter finds this job hard while John soothes with his kind voice and gentle encouragement. I think it’s the kind of balance you need inside your brain if screenwriting is the kind of thing you want to do to your life. (“Oh, just shut up and write, you whiny baby! …and good luck, you can do it!”)

Lately Craig and John have been taking a few minutes out of their podcast to ponder why there are so few women in this industry. As a woman who had just taken two general meetings that day in features, slammed in the middle a week of no less than five TV sitcom pitches, I wanted to shout back, “I’M TRYING, GUYS.” Craig and John gave some stats based off their own recent inquiry for submissions — only 12% of the writers who sent them pages were female — and with less than a third of Nicholl submissions coming from women and only around a quarter of working screenwriters with the Guild being female, they eventually somewhat concluded: “I guess they just aren’t as interested.” And then I got really bummed out.

This doesn’t seem like the regular argument I’m sick of and already wrote about at length. This isn’t “Are women funny and if so/not why aren’t more of them writing television?” Craig and John weren’t wondering if women could do the job. They wanted to know why they didn’t seem to be applying. And I can’t talk to this like I can in television, because the features world is so isolating.

In the TV world we all seem to eventually run into each other — at meetings, on staffs, during pitches or punch-ups, at parties. But I rarely get to talk to another screenwriter, and when I do I would have to say if the screenwriter is working (meaning: “getting paid to write what they’re writing”), that writer tends to be male. If the screenwriter is working on a spec while balancing some other paid work (usually in television), I find she’s female. But that doesn’t mean she’s not hustling. Perhaps I don’t run into working screenwriters in general very often because my funny friends who got TV work stayed there, as it’s much more reliable, much more predictable, and much less frustrating than trying to secure work in the feature world.

This is what pitching looks like.

Right now, I’ve got a well-received novel making the rounds in features, and a spec feature that’s also circulating, another spec script that’s optioned and securing attachment before going out for financing, and a number of television show pitches with different producers and studios that are lined up for the auction block of network pitching. Combined with the two scripts I’m writing that are paid gigs (they are movies, but for a television channel) and the graphic novel that will be coming out in the future (all of which I get to announce at some point some time, but I don’t get to talk about them yet) I’m definitely a working writer (even though less than five of the things I just listed off actually pay me money). But all that work doesn’t even begin to include all the work I do to try to get work in features. And that is a completely different kind of hustle that mostly doesn’t pay a penny.

I’ve chased a few feature jobs this year, where you go in for a general and you’re pitched either an idea or what’s called an Open Writing Assignment (which means the idea/property/concept is the equivalent of a job description and they’re looking for applicants). You then go home and write up a pitch or come up with your take on a rewrite of the script they have and don’t like. You come in and pitch. They give you notes and you go back and work on that pitch again and sometimes you get notes on those notes and rewrites on top of that and the next thing you know it’s been four months of back-and-forth writing and pitching and your pitch is now some kind of enormous outline and there’s more phone calls and now it’s down to you and four other (nameless, faceless) writers, or you and one other (fuck that guy) writer, and while it’s tempting to walk away from the whole thing and go back to television where you know the weeks they are hiring staffs, the weeks they are hearing pitches, and the weeks they aren’t hearing anything so you should work on your specs. And sure, all that doesn’t pay, either, but at least you can live a life that has some sort of order and sense.

When it’s down to you and one other person on a feature job and you’ve already spent more than a quarter of the year trying to get the gig, it’s hard to walk away. Because what if??? This is also when I like to say, “I am still in the running for America’s Next Top Screenwriter.” So you keep trying, keep rewriting, keep working part of your week completely for free, only to find out they went with the other guy, or they decided to regroup and try another direction, or they are no longer pursuing the project.

And that can be financially tough. And emotionally brutal. “This is why everybody’s going to television,” I’ve been told by other writers, agents, the producers who were telling me I didn’t get the job. “This system is messed up.”

But that doesn’t explain why the majority of people going for those gigs are men. Or is it that the majority of the people landing those gigs are men? I don’t know. This is very difficult for me to do, but I’m going to try to form an answer based off of gender, off of how women tend to handle conflict and adversity.

We are pretty fluid. When we find something that isn’t working, we tend to try to look for another answer. That often gets bad-mouthed as “people pleasing” or “weak,” but I think it’s crafty. “Oh, this script isn’t working? I will try another.” “I’m not getting my point across with this pitch? Maybe I’ll film some of it for YouTube, or try it as a pilot, or see if there’s a novel there.” “I’m going to work on my voice on my website for a while and see where I can make things stronger.”

But there’s a flipside. Thinking it’s great to be adaptable makes you less aggressive. Makes you take steps backwards. Maybe the reason there are fewer female screenwriters is because we don’t attack it, we don’t bully it. We say, “Okay, thanks for the feedback, I’ll try again” instead of “NO I WANT I WANT I WANT THAT NOW GIVE ME IT GIVE IT. NOW.”

I don’t want that to be true, by the way. I don’t want to think we have to start “acting like men” to sit at the big table. Because I don’t think all men act that way, and a whole lot of them are working in this business. But I don’t know a lot of lady-bullies. I know a lot of male bullies. I know ladies who can be arrogant, who aren’t interested in helping others, but I don’t know them to be assholes. Again, maybe I’m just lucky that way.

I started out as an actress who found her way to comedy who learned pretty quickly that it was easier to make money in comedy if I stayed away from the stage or camera and just wrote the words for other people (often dudes) to say instead. My first industry sale was a feature, but it was an adaptation of my own novel, and pretty soon after that I was getting steady television work that kept me from having the time to pursue the seemingly endless marathon that is getting a feature gig. Sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened if I only kept writing feature specs, specifically in one genre. If I decided to pigeonhole myself from day one. Or what would’ve happened if I kept doing comedy five nights a week, if I’d spent the past twelve years on a stage instead of behind my laptop. If I’d logged my 10,000 hours doing improv, would I be on SNL right now? (Answer: Probably not.)

It’s hard to answer Craig and John’s question of “Where are the women?” because I am one of the women who keeps trying. Who keeps writing and pitching and taking meetings until my passenger seat is overflowing with empty water bottles. I chase the assignments and write the specs and keep up with the connections and try to remember that 80% of this career is looking for work and 20% is doing the work you get so well that it makes the other 80% a little less painful. That there are days when you hear “No” three times in an hour that destroys months of hard work, and other days when one little yes changes the rest of your year.

But I don’t write action movies. I don’t write about superheroes. I don’t even know how to begin to write a heist film or a bullet-riddled crime drama. Is that why there’s not a lot of screenwriting work for me? It’s only recently that female-driven comedies are seen as something people will “go to see.” And every time I write an ensemble dysfunctional family comedy I get told, “We’d buy this if it were a book.” It’s still a world where features are targeted toward young men holding videogame controllers. Is that why it’s harder for a woman to get a script to screen?

I keep concluding that it’s just hard. Period. It’s difficult and there are so many other things that beckon a talented screenwriter who knows how to tell a story. It’s so easy to do something — anything — else. But to conclude that women aren’t interested is just brushing them aside.

Okay, let me address one real gender issue, since I’m going to be very honest, here, and this thing drives me batshit insane.

There’s a word I sometimes get after a pitch or in a critique. It’s a word that I’m positive men don’t get when they’re done talking. The Scriptnotes podcast I listened to yesterday, after Craig and John wondered why women just aren’t going for the gold, they decided to intentionally critique a female writer’s submission to their Three Page Challenge. They go through a description of the pages — it’s a female superhero named Awesome Girl and from what we can tell she turns broody, sad boys into men through her awesomeness. And when John finished describing the pages, Craig started his critique with this:

“You know, it was cute.”

Do men get that? Do you get told, “It’s cute!” when you’re done speaking? Because I get it, even when I’m talking about sad things or nasty things or raunchy things. “So cute.” Like I want my scripts and my party dresses to be judged under the same criteria. Like I’d just held up a pair of shoes. “Cute! CUTENESS! I WANT TO PUT IT IN MY MOUTH LIKE IT’S MADE OF BABY TOES!”

It breaks my heart.

When I was three I asked my mother to cut off all of my hair, because I was furious that all the grown-ups kept calling me cute. My mother chopped off all my long ringlets, sure they’d just grow right back, but they didn’t. I had stick-straight hair for years after that, and my mother never forgave herself.

But even at three I knew that word was very female-dismissive. I was just starting to approach other people with my thoughts and ideas. I didn’t want to be a Care Bear. I didn’t want a pat on the head and given a smug smile, pinned with a ribbon that says “I try my best!”

I don’t want to be “cute.” I want to be good. I want to be smart and right. I WANT TO BE RIGHT. I WANT TO BE PAID AND I WANT TO WORK.

Having my stuff called “cute” makes me want to set fire to it all and just walk away. Because there’s nothing I can do about that. It’s not that I’m writing cute. It’s that that’s the word people use for female writers and it’s maddening. Please, tell me I’m wrong. I would love to hear that you are a guy who goes in there with your comedy pitches and gets immediately told, “So cute.” And then you get the job. Please. I’m dying to know that we’re all getting told we’re cute, because then I won’t think of it as the immediate equivalent of “NO.” Because that’s all I hear.

Do you think Wes Anderson finishes his shit and people are like, “Wes! Your newest is super cute. Love the orange colors and the kitty in the basket. Adorbs.”

Nope. “Warm, whimsical, and poignant, the immaculately framed and beautifully acted Moonrise Kingdom presents writer/director Wes Anderson at his idiosyncratic best.”

And then you get:

“Ruby Sparks review: When Cute Becomes Cutesy.”

“Miranda July is as cute as her ideas.”

SUPER CUTE WORK, LADIES. NOW LET’S GO GET SOME SHOPPING DONE BEFORE TONIGHT’S EPISODE OF THE NEWSROOM.

It’s hard to keep trying when you can be so easily dismissed, but I have no choice other than to keep writing about love and family and relationships and pissed off teenagers and I’m going to keep pitching troubled people who make mistakes and how hard it is to love difficult people and I’m going to keep writing characters who do not have it all figured out, and I know I’m going to keep hearing how cute it all is, and I’m going to just wait for the day that it isn’t news that people of my gender can’t catch a break in this industry. Now that has my interest.

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40 Comments

  1. Dani
    August 10, 2012

    I do find it kind of craigmazing that

    Reply
    • Pamie
      August 10, 2012

      Oh, how much I wish the rest of your comment hadn’t been cut off. “Craigmazing” will now enter my lexicon.

      Reply
      • Dani
        August 10, 2012

        LLOL! I seriously stared at his name in the tags for quite a while before I decided that it probably WAS his actual name, and not a pun. And really it seemed destined to be a pun.

        Reply
    • Dani
      August 10, 2012

      WTF, internet explorer!!!

      I do find it craigmazing to see the “Oh, girls must just not be into this” juxtaposed with “Oh… that script was cute.”

      There must be words I’m not aware of that people use to be dismissive of guy work. “Funny”? “Interesting”, if it’s not intended to be funny?

      I wonder to what extent people are unconsciously being dismissive of work by women, and to what extent they’re being dismissive of something they would be dismissive of anyway but using a women-specific word.

      But ime, people have a hard time relating to work that doesn’t speak to their experiences… and unless they’re trying consciously to bridge that gap and imagine what this other audience would enjoy, they’re kind of already being dimissive. Not these guys specifically, but they’re presumably as subject to it as anybody else. So yeah: “cute”?

      (Also, “interesting” and “funny” are at least things that a script is SUPPOSED to be. Cute is something that a small dog or a hairstyle is supposed to be. Basically I’m being as fair as I can, and this dismissiveness… still ain’t cute.)

      Reply
  2. Heidi
    August 10, 2012

    Amen, sister. Good on you for making an effort EVERY DAMN DAY.

    Reply
  3. Dani
    August 10, 2012

    also – and I mean no offense to whichever scriptwriter that was, because I’m sure the script itself rocked out – based on the plot summary, maybe “cute” is their idea of a nice way to say “boring”?

    or “boring, but written by a lady who might be hot?”

    Reply
    • Sarah
      August 10, 2012

      Hi! I’m the writer of the script called “cute” (well, this particular script) . You can read the 3 pages they critiqued here:(http://johnaugust.com/Assets/sarah_nerboso.pdf) and judge for yourself. Awesome Girl is the comic book created by the main character and who she aspires to be, but real life is more complicated.

      Anyway, thanks so much to Pamie for writing this column. I definitely winced when the pages were called “cute”. And I joked to my friends who listened about the irony of following up a discussion of the dearth women writers with declaring pages written by a woman “cute”. The word doesn’t have to be a dismissal, but it is usually is. It usually means you’re not being taken seriously. So much is in the tone … but it’s hard to imagine when it’s ever a positive for a script.

      Reply
      • Norma
        August 10, 2012

        It’s the Internet equivalent of patting you on the head. Repellant. I liked your pages (very curious about where it’s going) and yes, calling your writing cute is being dismissive. This is clearly not in their wheelhouse, so they must deride it. I would call Mazin’s brand of comedy bro-sgusting. No way he’s going to get your voice.

        I’d prefer, really, that men just stop commenting on this altogether. The assumption that women must not want to be writers because they don’t get a big bag of red CAA scripts from women is totally misguided. Because it cannot possibly be that women really AREN’T getting the opportunities. It’s too threatening to some men to consider that.

        I could go on, I’m so mad. Just one more thing: Why is it that men can go to meetings looking like they were just rolled in a 7-11 parking lot while women get criticized for not being pleasing to the eye? I’m a writer, for God’s sake, not a contestant on America’s Next Top Model. And yes, this is feedback that actually happened.

        SIGH.

        Reply
      • Pamie
        August 10, 2012

        Hi, Sarah! I just read your pages, which I really liked. And then I immediately tried to find a review that called Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World “cute.” I didn’t see one. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/scott_pilgrims_vs_the_world/

        I winced so hard at “cute” because it was immediately the answer to “why weren’t more women interested in hearing our thoughts?”

        And I’m going to say it later down on another comment, but I’ll mention it here, too: I don’t hear “cute” mostly from men. I hear it mostly from women. And what they mean is “too soft.”

        From a man I’ve once gotten, “That joke is too soft. It sounds like a girl wrote it.” That’s a horrible thing to say, but at least he didn’t call me “cute.” Like I’m a puppy trying to pull a blankie off my head. And he said it because a man had to say the line, and it didn’t ring masculine enough. And THAT is a fine note, not masculine enough. But “cute” is a fake compliment, and I have a difficult time sitting through it, or saying “thank you” after it.

        Best of luck, Sarah, with your script. I definitely want to read more of it, and I hope you get to sell it — at the very least – as a graphic novel. (In fact, email me, would you?)

        Reply
  4. Katy
    August 10, 2012

    I’m certain Nora Ephron got “cute” until it was clear she could out-write all of them…with her eyes closed. “Cute” we can probably get passed. Just, dear god, don’t get called “pregnant.”

    Reply
  5. jive turkey
    August 10, 2012

    I am trying to come up with a non-cheesy way to say this (who am I kidding? It’ll only come out ‘cute’), but you are and always have been someone I really admire.

    This post was great.

    Reply
  6. Mere Smith
    August 10, 2012

    Hey Pamie –

    Long time reader, first time commenter, been writing for TV for 12 years, so I’ll keep it short:

    Thank fucking GOD I’m not the only one.

    By the way, your blog is so *cute*!

    Adorably yours,
    -Mere

    Reply
  7. Annie
    August 10, 2012

    oh jesus god yes. YES.

    Personally, I got called “cute” until I was like, “Fuck you with your cute, I’ll be so damn cute you will watch this and your eyes will water out of your head with your laughter and tears you bastards. Big blue eyes and curls my ass.” Quirky is another hellacious option.

    …though a friend called a script “adorabadass” and that made me really happy.

    Reply
  8. tls
    August 10, 2012

    need more women at the top. that’ll cut down on the ‘cute’ response to female writers.

    Reply
  9. Trisha Lynn
    August 10, 2012

    This is why the first script I’m writing to teach myself how to write scripts is a criminal procedural.

    Reply
  10. Kenny
    August 10, 2012

    I’ve had scripts called “cute.” Maybe it comes out differently when it’s said to a woman, but generally I think it’s used whenever something’s not bad, but the reader doesn’t particularly like it either. It’s always frustrating though because everybody knows it’s not a real compliment.

    Reply
    • Kenny
      August 10, 2012

      Actually, a better way of putting it would be: “Cute” is used to describe the work of a writer the speaker doesn’t take seriously. The reason the writer is not being taken seriously may vary, from sexism to simple professional condescension.

      Reply
  11. Mary Sue
    August 10, 2012

    Your first problem is, seriously, listening to anything Craig Mazin has to say.

    Reply
  12. pete275
    August 10, 2012

    Take for example the well-known passage from Super cute script, girl:

    “I’ve got a well-received novel making the rounds in features, and a spec feature that’s also circulating, another spec script that’s optioned and securing attachment before going out for financing, and a number of television show pitches with different producers and studios that are lined up for the auction block of network pitching.”

    It would have been quite impossible to render this into Newspeak while keeping to the sense of the original. The nearest one could come to doing so would be to swallow the whole passage up in the phrase “hollywood bullshit talk”.

    <3

    Reply
  13. Caitlin
    August 10, 2012

    Thank you for writing this. So true!

    Reply
  14. reed
    August 10, 2012

    How many women screenwriters have heard men say, “There’s no sexism in Hollywood. If you write a good script, it’ll find a home.”

    Hmm. Now who is assessing the script? Usually a man. You think “the male gaze” and male tastes AREN’T playing a role in their decisions?

    Anyone who thinks Hollywood is a meritocracy is naive or hoping the great lie continues.

    Reply
  15. Krysia
    August 10, 2012

    Hey Pam, I loved your post. I do have to tell you however, that I’m a guilty WOMAN. I’ve told male writers that I thought what they’d written was “cute”. I didn’t realize I did this until a couple years ago, when one head writer I was working with replied , “Cute? Yeah, I definitely don’t want it to be cute. “Cute” is the last way you want your sketch or a joke described.” Yes, he was a guy, yes I am a girl. And no, it wasn’t the first time I’d said it. But you got me thinking. Why use that word at all? This is what I think: It’s a gentler way to say “It was only okay. It didn’t bowl me over”. Now, when I feel the impulse to tell a writer something is cute, I check myself. I think, “What’s a better way to say this?” And I try to be more direct.
    I’m sure the word “cute” still slips out now and again, but I’m certainly not trying be sexist. Lazy, maybe! Non-confrontational perhaps. But definitely not sexist!

    Reply
    • Pamie
      August 10, 2012

      Hi, Krysia!

      I should’ve mentioned in the post that most of the time I hear “cute” I actually hear it from women. I guess when I was writing “Totes cute” and everything I wasn’t clear that it’s normally not coming out of a man’s mouth. When a man calls my writing cute, I definitely bristle, because yeah, that’s some head-patting. But for the most part I hear it from women, as they gather up what they really want to say when they pass. I know the pass is coming as soon as I hear “cute.”

      And oh, man, “cute” = “death” in sketch comedy and joke-writing.

      Reply
  16. Gary Kline
    August 10, 2012

    Congratulations for continuing to pursue those feature assignments.

    I’d concur with Kenny’s comment – “Cute” pretty much equates to “Not bad”.

    What’s also tough is that men and women are attracted to such different things in stories. It’s hard to please both. I’m not saying it can’t be done (“Brave” is a great example), but it can’t be easy.

    Reply
  17. Mike
    August 10, 2012

    Annie: “Cute? Baby ducks are cute. I HATE cute! I want to be exotic and mysterious!”

    LaLoosh: “You are. You’re exotic, and mysterious, and … cute … and … that’s why I’d better leave.”

    Reply
  18. Jen
    August 10, 2012

    Thanks and nicely written.

    Reply
  19. Rob
    August 10, 2012

    Last year at the Austin Film Fest pitch competition finale, every time a woman stood up to pitch, I’d whisper to my friend “romantic comedy.” I was never wrong.

    I doubt the Coen Bros. ever hear “cute,” but I bet John Hughes heard it all the time, so I don’t think it’s specifically gendered except to the stories women tend to write. If 80% of the women who make up 25% of the writers write “cute” then that word will keep coming up. Or they’ll use “adorable” once they catch on that “cute” is making you cringe.

    My suggestion would be to write in more kersplosions.

    Reply
    • ace
      August 28, 2012

      Ouch. Rob, I know what you’re saying is true and it makes me wince. I’m a woman, and I write what I love: science fiction, thrillers, and action-comedies. And I have to admit it pains me to see SO MANY women writing romantic comedy specs (or family dramas), because it does, imo, perpetuate/pander to the stereotype that women are best suited to write “small movies about relationships.” I wrote an adventure spec that got a lot of heat and got me repped at a big agency, and I noticed that all the meetings my agents (both male) were getting me involved either romantic comedy or Disney tween comedy type OWAs. When I confronted my agents about this mismatch between my samples and the OWAs, they told me in very diplomatic language that I had to be realistic, that studios felt more comfortable hiring a guy to write “guy movies,” and that women basically do not EVER get hired for big summer action films. It was suggested to me that young cute hip women could best get noticed by writing an edgy rom com/sex comedy that will hit the BlackList. After a couple of years and just one sale (a romantic comedy…grrr), I have to admit despair set in and I kind of walked away from Hollywood. Does that mean I “didn’t really want” a career as a screenwriter? I guess that’s how it would be interpreted.

      Reply
      • Rob
        September 10, 2012

        I wrote an action thriller with a Latina lead, where two of the main supporting characters are a Pakistani journalist and an English mercenary. Oh, and they’re women too. Best damn action thriller H’wood will ever see! In short, I despair of ever even getting representation.

        Maybe if I described them as “cute.”

        Reply
  20. Andrew
    August 12, 2012

    Wait, so how much more does a person get paid writing for films than for TV?

    It’s weird that movies would be the holy grail for screenwriters, because it seems like TV writers get more name recognition. I can think of several famous writers for TV shows off the top of my head, but I can’t think of any famous movie screenwriters except for writer/directors.

    Reply
    • Pamie
      August 13, 2012

      I don’t think it’s entirely about money. It’s also about the art, and only recently once cable expanded television possibilities and more work was available in television (where you could create higher quality programming and have more creative control) did TV start beckoning the screenwriter, who used to look down upon television as the slums.

      Reply
  21. Ellin
    August 13, 2012

    You know, so often I read synopses or loglines of winning scripts in major competitions and just get depressed. Invariably the same old same old that I would have no interest in seeing even if they do ever get made. Drug deals gone wrong, rogue/heroic cops, man trying to prove innocence, technology threat/meltdown, bromance, spies, war, male protagonist, male protagonist, male protagonist…zzzzz

    Reply
  22. MKP
    August 13, 2012

    OMGOMG YES. So, a friend linked to your blog and now I’m here and so excited bc I’m at the very very beginning of gearing up to try and break into TV/screen/playwriting while doing an MFA in creative nonfiction….and the #1 comment I get (mostly from people outside my genre but still) on basically anything that is not SuperGrim or Angry is “Oh, cute”. I’m working on a graphic novel about alcoholism and sexual assault that was apparently ADORABLE and I have just had it. When I was 6 and riding the school bus for the first time all the older boys called me Gizmo (“Because you’re so cute!” and it annoyed me even then because I could tell I was being dismissed.

    Seriously considering titling my thesis collection of essays with “THIS IS NOT CUTE”.

    Reply
  23. Paul Tabachneck
    August 15, 2012

    “Did you see the series finale of ‘Entourage?’”

    “Ohmugod, so CUTE!”

    ….If anyone ever calls “You Take It From Here” cute, I’d call them out on it.

    What the hell is cute about Miranda July’s ideas? I’ll admit, my girlfriend and I text that ))(( symbol back and forth, but that is us being cute about something that is. Not. Cute. The Future was downright bleak, and while “cutely bleak” sums up Cat Power, it’s not applicable here.

    I’m pretty certain that Joss Whedon has been reviewed as cute before, but have you seen him? He’s freakin’ ADORABLE!

    Reply
  24. Val
    August 21, 2012

    Just curious… Are male and female writers paid approximately the same? Say you and a guy were working on the same show and had relatively the same experience. Would the pay be the same? I’m wondering if the condescension carries over to the monetary compensation.

    Reply
    • pamie
      August 22, 2012

      At the very base starting level, no. There are WGA minimums that aren’t gender biased, but then you start having something called a “quote,” which is what your agents/managers/lawyers negotiated as your pay rate for your last job, and that’s the starting point where you begin negotiations for your next job. Quotes differ from writer to writer, and the writer doesn’t get to negotiate with business affairs over salary and/or title. (You just get told what they came back with and you either take it, leave it, or have them continue with negotiations.)

      It’s the business people and the management people who go back and forth on what you’ll make. So at a certain point, yes, a man can start making more per episode or per script than a woman might be making, even on the same show with the same experience, because it’s often about the negotiating skills of the writer’s representation.

      Reply
  25. Eilis Mernagh
    August 22, 2012

    I’ve thought a lot about this as a female writer, simply because when I got to networking events, it’s nearly all guys. My writing group is 70% male. When I go to AFF, it must be near that. I’m a minority as a woman who writes feature scripts.

    But I have no choice – I don’t watch much TV, I watch movies! Films are what I’m drawn to write, what I’m passionate about. Novels, maybe. Graphic novels, definitely soon. TV, no.

    My theory is that in many professions, women start off earning less than men because they don’t ask for more from the very beginning. They don’t hustle enough. And this industry is no different. And also, achieving a script sale means pitching, selling yourself and your ideas. And a lot of women seem to find that off-putting.

    I’ve seen very mediocre male writers get ahead while talented female writers hold themselves back because of not wanting to seem arrogant or pushy. Well we need to get pushy!

    Reply
  26. Ken Shipley
    September 6, 2012

    For a second there I thought Dani had beaten me to the punch; I wrote to Marc Maron and recommended you as a guest for his podcast.

    You know, boys are different than girls, and vive le difference and all that, but sometimes it ain’t right.

    Ken

    Reply

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