Friday, November 30, 2007

This is all very questionable

I was on the phone with a Potential Date the other day. The guy's a writer/director with three produced features behind him and when the strike is over hopes to resume his work on a studio feature starring some Oscary type people. So far, so good.

The first time I go out with somebody I like to pretend sex doesn't exist. The first meeting is about sizing each other up in the personality game and learning things about each other slowly with no pressure and no assumptions. Also, recent events have made me an untrusting soul.

I don't take compliments well either, especially when I just met you. I think it's because they come across as fake, or because I watched my smooth talking father talk women right out of their money time after time growing up so I don't really trust a guy who's quick with the flattery. Just ask me questions or tell your stories, don't try to get in my pants.

This has also made me "hard to read" according to Ex-Boyfriend, who didn't even kiss me on the first date because he thought I didn't like him even though I thought it was the best date ever.

Potential Date seemed really cool except he broke my rule. He mentioned how close he lived to me and that he could be over at my house in six minutes and we could watch TV together. He referred to me as "hot teacher." He wanted to read my zombie script even though I'm only halfway through the first draft.

Hey, Potential Date, I don't know you. Back off.

But I decided to give the guy a chance because he seems okay despite what I'm writing here and we have a lot in common. We'll see. I made it a day date in a nearby public place with no alcohol because I have learned.

Anyway, he also said something that kind of annoyed me. He asked if I prefer TV or film and I said both.

"Oh, honey, that's not a good idea," he said, as if that unwillingness to attach myself permanently to one form of writing destines me to a tragic end.

Now, this guy knows way more than me about the Industry. He makes a living writing and directing films, so he has an educated point of view.

But what is with this idea that you have to pick one? Is that true? I have to pick long form or serial form, but both is unheard of?

There are writers who do both, I know there are. They start in one and move to the other.

I have specs in both categories so if I meet a TV producer I hand over a TV spec. If I meet a film producer I pass him my feature. Is that wrong?

I don't understand why I have to choose. Don't make me choose.


  1. I think he's just passing on the fairly accepted knowledge that in order to sell yourself you have to have a clear identity as a writer.

    Jul and I are (more or less) focusing solely on TV, but I still worry because we've written both comedic and dramatic scripts (though all hourlongs) and I've heard that THAT confuses potential buyers too.

    In some ways, it's kind of like high concept vs. (for lack of a better term--is there one?) low concept. I imagine it's a lot easier for an agent or producer to sell Hotshot Horror Writer with Five Horror Specs than Brilliant Writer With Specs In Horror, Feature Animation and Family Dramedy.

    If some horror guy likes your horror spec but wants something SLIGHTLY different, what's the poor agent going to give them? I don't like it, but I understand.

    TV vs. feature is probably similar. How do they KNOW that a brilliant feature script means that you can write a brilliant TV script...or vice versa.

    That being said, I think you're on the right track in terms of being able to provide a great script for either medium and then (probably after a decent amount of success) finding a way to translate that into success in the other medium.

  2. Hey Emily,

    Good luck with the new fella!

    I've heared some arguments for "dedicating" oneself to one or the other. Sam & Jim's podcast being one example. The decision seems to be one that can be addressed once your foot is in the door.

    Then again I don't know shit about shit so...


  3. Anonymous10:49 AM

    Hi Emily,
    I am not a hot Russian guy - I am a middle-aged Russian gal (and living in the US so nothing exotic here). But I saw your blog because you-know-who-started-it-and-it-did-the-rounds in the Russian internet. Anyway, I happen to like what you say and how you say it (including this last post). I am adding your blog to my bookmarks. And I wish you to recover quickly from your recent misadventure.

  4. Don't choose, just produce good solid scripts in both and you'll eventually get noticed. Most writer's dabble in various mediums and from my experience it can make you more appealing if you can do it well.

  5. Anonymous12:56 PM

    All the pros I know would've answered pretty much the same way as your new friend did.

  6. I think that "Oh, Honey..." beginning should be a warning, not to mention the "choosing" thing. Film or TV? Ummmmm...where's HBO in all this?

    I'm guessing that this is not going to work out between you two.

  7. What a weird question. I would've never asked anything like that, nor even think to ask it, and even if I did think to ask it, I wouldn't do it. My first dates are usually simple coffee dates over lunch, then a walk around a park or something, and that's about it. I just want to know if she'll be fun to be with.


  8. Hey, if worst comes to worst, just do what Stephen King did. He had a backlog of books, including a handful that were not in his usual writing style. So he dreamt up "Richard Bachman" while listening to a Bachman Turner Overdrive record, and the rest is literary history. Have one identity for your movie scripts, another for your TV work. Just use a middle name; it'll seem less deceptive. Emilio Estevez used his mom's name instead of his dad's (Sheen), Kiefer Sutherland used a fake name early on to avoid riding his dad's coattails into the business - having another name to work under isn't exactly rare in "the biz".

  9. Yeah, that J.J. Abrams guy is such a dilettante, scrambling to find some niche as either a TV guy or a movie guy or whatever. He'll never amount to anything until he commits to just one form.

    Like Ed Zwick. And Ron Moore. And Aaron Sorkin. And David Mamet. And... (etc.)


    "write more gooder"

    Meanwhile, next time New First Date Dude offers such advice, reciprocate with something like "Oooo... and always use mouthwash before picking up a girl for a date."

    Quid pro quo, Clarice. Quid pro quo.

  10. Anonymous8:19 PM

    Probably the biggest difference between Theatrical films or Cable movies and TV or TV movies are the breaking for commercials and budget involved. Some people can do both well, some people can only do one well, and some can't do well at either (and usually end up in some other job, like a producer). Only you can know which you are.

    Besides, the three features Mr Producer has is something, but were they worth seeing? Don't know him, so I can't say, but it sounds like he is rather full of himself.

    Finally, Lunch dates are good first dates. When I have to do a first or second for a night date, I like going to a comedy show. Even if the date flops, I usually at least get a laugh out of it.

  11. Anonymous9:04 PM

    He's just passing on textbook knowledge that never applies to successful writers. It's the same tbhing as staying in university for 5 years to get 'a better job'. It's bullshit. Actually, being specialized in the global economy is suicide. You need to be versatile, and I'd imagine the benefits that come from being versatile (competitiveness) has and always will apply to writing movies/tv.

  12. Anonymous9:36 PM

    JJ Abrams had a 10 year career in features before he even got into TV.

    There's always going to be those who can do both, unfortunately that is not the norm.

  13. Just write well and from the heart with an eye on the pocketbook. No need to take a hard line.

    And I agree with Jake H, what you should be concerned about is the condescension. Sounds like a tool...

  14. I was really trying to pretend I was excited about this date. You guys aren't helping.


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