TV network exec meetings in staffing season: three things that surprise me
So here’s a run-down of staffing season thus far for this aspiring TV writer:
March: Bang out original spec script at behest of agent.
April: Lurk in L.A. waiting for meetings.
Careful what you wish for. Suddenly, I’ve got meetings out the yin yang.
I’m taking what are called general meetings, or meetings with network and studio executives who want to get all up in my grill and figure out who I am. No, that’s not really true. (But it sounded good, right?) Basically the meetings are what in the real world we call informational: hello, how do you do, and who the hell do you think you are that you think you can write for the greatest medium in existence?
Three things surprised me:
• No one has any interest in reading your spec, unless it’s original. If you’re a long-toothed TV writer or a Starbucks barista with big ears, you know this: no one of consequence wants to read a spec by a no-name writer for an existing show. Which is jarring when that’s the magic formula we’ve all been taught. Every TV writing class you take and every TV writing book you buy will tell you that what you need to do to get a job in TV is to go write a fake episode for a real show. No: what execs today want to see is a writing sample for an imaginary show you’ve dreamed up all on your ownsome. No matter that it’s terrible; it’s original.
• They want to talk about your (original) script. Where did the idea come from? What happens next? How does the series play out? Just FYI, this answer does not play: “Dude, it’s just a writing sample. How the hell do I know?”
• Network execs are people, too. They have kids. They break their ankles. They go to church. In other words, they’re totally nice and relatable. Who knew?