This has been sitting in the inbox for a while. My apologies.
I attended your Chicks with Bics panel and we met briefly during the BBQ at the Austin Film Festival. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak on the panels and share your experiences, and also for taking the time to talk with me personally. I am a novelist and an aspiring TV comedy writer so everything you spoke about has direct relevance to what I’m trying to do/achieve/be. Therefore, I am writing to express my thanks.
Your advice solidified my plans to start a blog and take an improv class, the latter of which frightens me to my very core (it was the only time I purchased something where I hoped my credit card would be declined).
With the hope that I’m not overstaying my email welcome, I do have a question for you – if you have the time. I wrote a half-hour comedy with the following logline: An orthodox Jewish family, desperate to have a child, tries to adopt a little Jewish girl but through a mixup at the agency, ends up with an African American one. (it’s sort of a Modern Family meets Different Strokes) I know it’s not necessarily a marketable idea but I hope it’s unique enough to get read and, in an ideal world, help me get staffed.
I received notes from a (film) producer friend who said it was basically too Jewish to sell and has too narrow of an appeal to use as a writing sample. So, my question: Is he right in that IF it doesn’t have broad appeal, could that be a problem? Should I be writing something that’s safe and appeals to the broadest audience possible so that agents, producers etc. know that I can, or is it ok to have an idea that may be a bit niche without them thinking I can only write to that niche?
Thank you again so very much for your time and assistance. It really is invaluable to receive advice from someone with your accomplishments.
Hi, Megan! It’s good to hear from you, and YAY on the improv class! I know it’s scary, but that’s the point. You’ll have more sympathy for the actors in the roles you create, and all actors want is love, attention, sympathy and everything else you have and then more than that and actors can be needy, is what I’m saying.
So, someone told you that your idea wasn’t that great. The next question to ask yourself is, “Do I want that person to be right?” Because if this is the story that showcases your voice, your point of view, your unique place in this huge world of writers and storytellers, then you have to stick with it. If you’re looking to get staffed, showrunners aren’t looking for writers with “broad appeal.” They’re looking for something new, something different, something funny with heart and talent. Did this story happen to you or someone you know? Even better. And even more reason to tell the haters to suck it.
Posting my Austin Film Festival info here for those of you who I want to see, need to see, or hope to see next week. When I’m not at these places, I’m probably in the Driskill lobby, or wherever Chuy tells me to be. Austin, please get your breakfast tacos and Mexican Martinis all in a row because I have only so much time to eat and drink between these fun things:
A couple of weeks ago I was having dinner with the smart and funny Linda Holmes. Linda was in town to cover the TCA’s, an annual two-week tv critic lock-in that sounds like the television equivalent of your dad forcing you to smoke a carton of cigarettes in a closet. It was her last night, and we got together to talk all things.
About twenty minutes into our conversation, I looked up to catch a glimpse of Famous Hair. It was hair so famous I knew without even seeing the face attached to it, who was standing in front of me.
I’ve been around enough famous people now to confidently tell you that the hair of the famous is just different. It’s better. It’s amazing. Even when it’s supposed to be doing nothing, it’s doing something. It’s sitting on a recognizable head being even better than regular ‘ol boring strands of keratin.
Over the past month I’ve had two encounters where I’ve been talking with friends I haven’t seen in a while — both of whom I know outside the industry but work inside it — when they said to me, “I thought you went home.”
“No, no, I’ve always been here,” I said.
“You didn’t go home and then come back?” Both of them said that, with a cock of the head. “I could’ve sworn I’d heard you left.”
Both of these people are Facebook friends, which pulls from my Twitter feed. This means I’m not doing a very good job of representing myself lately. And yes, I do a lot of work I’m not allowed to publicly discuss, and I’ve learned important lessons in my million years on the web about what is and isn’t wise to share on the Internet, so I probably err on the side of not enough information.
It has been a very busy year, so I’ll try and give something for everyone here. A little work update for those of you who enjoy reading about the writing life, a little bit of baby info, for those of you who want to know the latest on Qwerty, and finally for those of you who just want to know what Mom’s up to next, a little something special.
I’ve started a new screenwriting job that has me working at an office.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been a part of corporate culture. I worried it had been too long since I worked business hours with normal people, having co-workers who didn’t have tails or wear diapers. I worried not for me, but for them. It’s been a very long time since going to work means I have to put on pants.
It’s that time of year when networks are ordering pilots. This means tv writers are sitting around anxiously waiting to find out which scripts they’ll be viciously hate-reading.
It’s been a little while since I’ve had time to do a Weekly Procrastination, so I’ll do two today.
Wednesday: Dallas Quill Awards Gala
It is my first gala. It is my first time being a keynote speaker. I fear that these two firsts will combine to give me a moment like you see in comedy pilots for clumsy-girl-you’re-supposed-to-relate-to-but-will-be-worse-at-life-than-you-are-so-you-feel-a-little-better-about-yourself shows. You know, where I accidentally knock over the podium because I made a joke that didn’t go so well because I didn’t know someone important to the organization had just died of whatever thing I was joking about, and then when I try to fix the podium I accidentally rip off a toupee or two while having no choice but to bust into a freestyle rap about Dallas and then eventually I just grab the mic start talking about Tim Riggins because it’s the only way I know how to get all girls back on my side.
I’m off to the Austin Film Festival next week, where the number one question asked is, “How do I break into the industry?” This week’s Procrastination is for you.