Television staffing season is at hand! This is my busiest time of year. I work with nonfiction writers, novelists and feature writers, but the bulk of the work I do is in television. Most of my clients are already staffed and looking to move up the ladder; some are pitching their own shows, but that’s a post for another day.
Right now, we are at the beginning of the TV sprint, when most of the doors are (mostly) open for writers of network TV shows. Are you ready?
– Do you have a spec for an existing show?
– Do you have a second spec (ideally a pilot) for when they ask, “What else have you got?”
– Do you know what you do well – and can you say it in a friendly, clear manner?
– Do you have enough relationships to open some doors for you? (These may or may not include an agent and a manager, but should include television professionals who know and like your work.)
If the answer to any of these is “No,” then you need to get cracking. If your answer to all of them is “No,” you now have your to-do list for next year.
I know, it looks exhausting, but it’s all part of the job. You will be writing in someone else’s voice (just like your spec for an existing show), while at the same time, they want to get to see you at your best as a writer (which you can show off in a pilot). They need to know how you’ll play with others (friendly) and what you will bring to the table in the writers’ room (hence your pitch of what you do well). And they desperately want people they can count on; whose recommendations are they going to trust? Those of their friends, of other people who work in the trenches, who get what it’s like to write and shoot a television show every two weeks (or less) for months on end.
Get good at these things. There’s a lot you’ll learn on the job; this is what you need to do well just to get a shot at the job.