29.10.07

Fact: TV writers rule

You know, I do believe writers are the finest people in the world. And among those people, TV writers are the finest of the fine.

Upon what do I base this massive generalization, you ask?

Screenwriting Expo 6, I answer, quite emphatically. I'm not sure what the emphasis is for, it just sounded good, and since this isn't a script, I don't gotta cut it. So ha!

Sorry. My brain is fuzzy and smudgy from spending four days in an airport hotel.

OK, focus.

Even though I got free Expo admission because I was a finalist (no, I'm not done bragging about that yet), I'm so glad I decided to volunteer at the Expo. Not only do you get free lunch and free parking, even on the days you're not working, you also get to meet hundreds of writers, volunteers, guest speakers, hotel staff... I'm a bit of an introvert, but when everyone around shares a common interest and everyone is so darn nice, smiling, shaking hands, and having a bit of a chit chat is actually fun. I highly recommend volunteering for next year's Expo if you're in the area.

I ran into the winners of the competition in the TV category – in Drama Frederick Kim for Lost and in Comedy Brian Lubocki & Ryan Harris for Family Guy. Brian and Ryan also got into the finals with their Desperate Housewives and got into the finals last year with their screenplay. Frederick was telling me about other comps he's won in previous years with other specs. Talent coming out the yin yang, and all three were super-nice as well.

See? TV writers rule.

More proof, which I will detail in my next post, came in the shape of Bill Lawrence - possibly one of the most enthusiastic and generous writers on the planet.

But before we get to that, here are my Expo highlights and lowlights, including some nuggets of wisdom I'm sharing with all y'all.

Speaker highlights
Richard Walter – Attitude vs Gratitude: Strategies for Securing an Agent
I wouldn't say Mr Walter's workshop was particularly on topic (it should have been called: How Not To Be Your Own Worst Enemy), but it was damned entertaining. The mail bag portion, in which Mr Walter read letters written to him from rage-filled writers was hysterical and shocking in equal measure.

I managed to take away one sweet nugget of advice:

Write to a few writers you admire, tell them why you like their writing, and ask them a question. The theory is, as a writer, they won't be able to resist writing back, and before you know it, you have a connection.

My additional advice on this subject: Don't pick a "famous" writer, like Shonda Rhimes or Jane Espenson. Choose someone slightly more obscure who probably doesn't hear from their adoring public on a regular basis.

Heather Hale – Power Networking
Yes, another networking seminar. You see, I know a lot about writing, so the writing seminars all seemed to be a rehash of things I've heard 100 times already. Networking, on the other hand, is a topic I know ziggledy squat about. I used to think of networking as an inherently despicable yet unavoidable activity. After Ms Hale's workshop, I came away thinking networking might be kind of fun.

Her advice was all about follow-through. Meet someone nice at a conference? Send them a card the next day saying "Hey, it was great to meet you." Maybe ask them a question you simply must know the answer to, or send them something they might find interesting. Just like Richard Walter said, that person may be interested enough to write back. After a while, you have a connection.

Heather also emphasized the following: BE SINCERE. Don't write to someone just because they could help you, even though you found them to be an irritating ego-maniac. Write to them because you're truly grateful for their advice, or you want to share something you think they will find valuable. I used to think networking was all take, take, take - blech. Now that I understand that it can be about building a mutually beneficial relationship, I have renewed respect for the process.

Biggest disappointment
Tim Minear – Breaking the Story
He canceled. We were sad. Poor Tim, he had a nasty case of the flu, and while we wouldn't have minded him sneezing on the front rows, I guess it's probably better that he stayed home. Still, this class is supposed to be a blast, and as one of the few TV events at the Expo, the ticket-holders were most bummed. A few enterprising people suggested we stay and break the story anyway, so that we did. About 8 of us hung out, breaking the Firefly episode that would have taken place right after Serenity. I think Tim would be proud.

The one thing I really didn't like about Expo? TV Writers seem to be second-class citizens there. First, there are only a few workshops specifically designed for us. But most importantly, the winners of the TV Category got $1,000 each. That's it. Not bad, until you consider that the genre winners in movies each got $2,500 and the overall winner got $20,000.

We TV writers really need our own festival.

1 comment:

Maggie said...

Well, that last little bit is why I didn't go this year. (Among other, much better reasons.) But I missed out on all the generalized inspiration so thanks for sharing that part of it!