Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Also Know Nothing About Music Producing, or Arboreal Maintenance

I am in love with a specific show ( which shall not be named) and wrote a script for it. I understand that it is not acceptable to create a spec script for the show that you want to write for, however the show that I am speaking about, is not looking for writers. The same group of guys write it,and produce it under their own production company, they are one of those people who only do the work that they create themselves. However I had a good idea, and at the risk of sounding like any other "writer", wanted to showcase it. I do not want to write for the show, I just had an idea for an episode. The writers have stated in interviews that they are running out of ideas, and the show has been comissioned for 2 more episodes, and also a movie! So does it count as being a "query letter" or a spec script"?My main concerns are that if I write a letter to them outlining the script that I had written, then they would use it as their own, or completely refuse to use it due to legal reasons as opposed to disliking the material itself. Also do you find that the UK does things differently? I read in a seperate blog that US is big on spec scripts but not the UK ( I live in Canada).
I Realize that I may have bombarded you with questions but have searched endlessly and found nothing that would answer my questions.
Unfortunately, I am a children's book editor, and so I know nothing about TV/movies. Good luck figuring this out.


Meg Spencer said...

Even not knowing anything about TV, it sounds like the writer answered their own question. 1. it is not acceptable to create a spec script for the show that you want to write for (I have no idea, but I'll take their word for it), 2. they aren't looking for writers, and 3. they only do the work that they create themselves. Sounds like writing a script for them is a good practice exercise, but there's no acceptable avenue for submitting it, so back of the drawer it goes and good luck with the next piece!

Meg Spencer said...

I'm sort of confused by this bit too: "My main concerns are that if I write a letter to them outlining the script that I had written, then they would use it as their own, or completely refuse to use it due to legal reasons as opposed to disliking the material itself."

Since you've already established that they aren't hiring writers, then aren't your only two options available that they would use your idea or (much more likely) not read it due to legal reasons? If all you're looking for is feedback you'd be better off looking for a workshop, class or beta group.

Chris Eldin said...

As EA's film agent, I can tell you she's not opposed to a sexy role in your new program.

Jm Diaz said...

I cannot be of much help, but did want to wish you good luck on your attempt. Also, it is somewhat relieving to see Editorial anonymous feeling similar anxiety's as the rest of us. Not that I wish the anxiety on you (by NO means), its just good to see that everyone has those ideas we want to see come to fruition.
Best of luck!

B. Nagel said...

So, I shouldn't ask you about how to treat a case of Amillaria Root Rot? BUT I THOUGHT YOU KNEW EVERYTHING!

Anonymous said...

Hollywood operates according to different rules than children's book writing does. Here's a Hollywood answer to your Hollywood question. [Warning: the following response may contain material that is unsuitable for younger or more sensitive readers.]

You say you understand that it is not acceptable to create a spec for the show you want to write for, but you did it anyway. Is this how you intend to show your professionalism? You putz. Even if they wanted to read your script (which they most fervently do not), their lawyers wouldn't let them.

WGA guidelines require all signatory scripted shows to farm out two episodes each season to non-staff writers as a way of keeping the door ajar for new writers. There is already a line a mile long of WGA members with produced credits and reliable track records who will go in and pitch a half-dozen story ideas for free hoping to get an assignment for one. If this is some small cable show that's not WGA signatory, the line is three miles long. I assure you, the show's writers are not facing a dilemma of either buying your script or facing the premature end of the series.

And don't worry, you don't run the risk of sounding like any other writer. You're operating way below that. You run the risk of sounding like any other clueless fanboy. I love the part where you imply that you're doing the pros some kind of favor, since they're all creatively bankrupt and you've got this script you wrote. Exquisite!

The truth is that you're radioactive. Everything you have done is wrong, wrong, wrong. You even posted this question to a children's book blog, for crying out loud. Are you still wondering whether your script is a letter or a script? It's neither. The only way it'll ever be worth anything is if you go buy yourself a puppy.

Just don't make him read it.
Now here's a more civilized response, better suited to a children's writing blog:

Go ahead and send it in. What have you got to lose? The worst they can do is say no, and that leaves you right where you are today.

But be aware that you've done everything you shouldn't. Nobody in TV is looking for scripts, they're looking for writers. They want someone who is dedicated and career-minded. They're looking for a goose that lays golden eggs, not someone who has one script for sale. (Sounds a lot like children's book writing, no?)

If you really want to sell your script to that show, your best bet would be to write a spec for another show that is similar in tone, and send that script to the show you love. If they like it, they'll contact you and then you break out the goods. There is a MUCH greater chance of them liking a spec script written for another show than them liking a spec written for their own show because they know their own show so well that even the tiniest accidental deviations you make stand out in a glaringly obvious way. Sending in the spec you've already written for their show will most likely burn that bridge in front of you. But if you have no further plans in that direction, then you have nothing to lose, do you?

Good luck!

AudryT said...

I can field the basics on this one.

1.) Learn to write. If you don't know what's wrong with the sentences you wrote in that email, you don't know how to write.

2.) No, they don't want your "script" and they don't want your ideas. They also have no interest in stealing your ideas, so get over yourself.

3.) Read this:

4.) Stop harassing literary editors and agents who have nothing to do with television.

5.) You searched endlessly? Like hell you did. Learn to use Google better. All the information you need is already out there; you just don't want to face it.

6.) If you hate me now, you're not built for script writing, because compared with Hollywood executives, I am being nice.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. Every time I visit this blog, I'm reminded why I don't anymore.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Dear EA - I admire your sage advice and thought you might be able to help me with a problem.

There's this man in front of my house. He just turned blue and fell down, and now he's coughing up blood on the sidewalk. So, in your medical opinion, should I call 911, or should I just yell out the window and tell him to 'walk it off!'?


A reader with a conundrum.....

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

The short answer to your question: TV producers DO NOT EVER consider unsolicited queries or spec scripts for existing shows. NEVER. If they feel the need for more writing talent, they'll either promote the writers' assistant (as they've been promising to do for a year and half) or they'll call up that guy they worked with last year who was really fun at parties.

So getting your script actually made is, alas, damn near impossible. But if you've got a spec teleplay all polished and ready to go, why not try your luck in some of the TV writing competitions? It's not a bad way to start getting credits and make a few contacts. There's a list of contests and other resources you may find helpful at:

Good luck!