Mea culpa time, everyone.
Look, my goal here has always been pretty basically stated: as a novice writer, I got a lot of invaluable help on my way up, and I feel like I’d be a tragic asshole if I didn’t try to pay that forward…so that’s what I’m doing. I mean sure, in reality, being a tragic asshole is one of the only things I’m truly good at. But that doesn’t mean it has to leech over into something that negatively affects you.
So recently, as I paid more and more attention to more and more people who are in the know practically, I started to believe that some of the advice I’ve been offering has been, in no uncertain terms, incorrect. And thereby, even if accidentally, misleading. So if you’ve ever read my advice on breaking into TV and taken it to heart, I’m 1) incredibly sorry for giving you bad info and 2) hopeful that you’ll read this before you got too sidetracked.
Recently I polled a couple of currently-working TV writers as to my advice re: breaking into the TV industry. As it turned out, to a person, their response to my assertions was, “Yeah, no, you’re pretty wrong on at least half of everything.”
According to these people who I trust and who have no reason to lie to me, writing a spec pilot, even while never having worked in TV or film, IS indeed something that a number of writers have found success with. In fact, it blew my mind to find out that it might even be AS viable as taking the PA —-> Writer’s Assistant —–> Staff Writer route – which, everyone I polled also agreed, is a solid traditional way of doing things as well. So I’m not a total fuck-up if you take that into account. Please take that into account.
There was a little more contention as to whether or not it was viable to write a spec script of an EXISTING show as a means to making the same break, but suffice to say…it is done, and it has happened. The opinions as to whether or not this is a smart way of approaching things in the current climate was mixed, but far from the, “What? No, never, you fool,” stance I’d developed.
So listen: if I’m going to offer advice to anyone about anything, first and foremost I need you guys to trust that said advice comes from a place of goodwill, honesty and validity. No matter how much my heart was in the right place or that I believed I was passing along good information, I failed you on the last point, which is unfortunately also the most important. And if I set any of you back through it then I just feel awful and, again, I can’t apologize enough. I righteously rail enough against mouthy charlatans that it’s only fair turnabout to recognize when I’ve become one of them. Just as writing is rewriting, learning is an ongoing process, and unfortunately, in this realm, I’d stagnated.
That in mind, I’m placing a moratorium on any advice as it pertains to breaking to the TV industry until I feel as though I have a strong enough grasp on the landscape to be a helpful source of information on it. Yes, I still believe your efforts are better spent breaking into film as opposed to TV if the two mediums are of equal aspiration to you. If I see evidence that this viewpoint has become stale as well I will immediately correct course, but for now that remains my feeling. Still, the last thing I’d ever want to do is lead you astray, so as it appears the televised medium is less closed-off than I originally thought, I’ll just suture-secure my gaping piehole until I’m more confident in analyzing the terrain.
Allow yourself a teachable moment alongside my own: no one has all the answers on every journey. If you’re on the way up as a writer, continue to seek out ALL relevant sources of knowledge and glean from that what you believe helps you keep climbing. From my end, if there’s any question in my mind as to the veracity of my opinions going forward, I vow to admit as much and shall aspire to absorb the best possible answer(s) for you before I pass it along.
I’m sorry for not having always held myself to this standard until now. I will do better going forward. But remain confident that, if you need to know whether or not to write an unsolicited Marvel Universe adaptation, I’m still the guy you want telling you to fuck right off.