Friday, January 30, 2009

Pilots, The Internet and You...

Kay Reindl - she of Seriocity blog infamy - has a new post up on the pilots being put forward to production, genre, and network branding. You should go read it first. I'll wait.)

(Reads comics from Boom Studios, takes cold meds, masturbates)

Okay - great. Now you've read it. It's a long post that covers a lot of subjects about that multi-billion dollar entity we call Television. But in the interest of giving you "news you can use" let's focus on just a couple of things - namely pilots and branding - and how they can relate to your use of the internet:

Kay writes:

But let's look at it in all seriousness. Masterwork, for example, the Paul Scheuring pilot for Fox, which is about people who travel the world and collect artifacts. We pitch this show every year, and we're not the only ones. But if you're a Fox executive and Paul Scheuring and Jane Writer pitch the same idea, who do you buy it from? Jane, who's never gotten a pilot shot no matter how much staff experience she has, or Paul, who had a show on the air on your same network? The choice is clear. And the executives can't really be taken to task for that. It would be wonderful if the idea were the only thing that mattered, but that's not how it works. Of course a network's going to buy from people who've produced for them.
I can't find fault with any of her logic here - it's sound as a pound. You can't blame the networks for backing a horse with a proven record. So the point is - you have to have a record, a body of work to show what you do, and how well you can do it. These days, anyone can write a pilot script and try to sell it. The market is tough enough that the guy with the track record is going to sell his, even though the ideas are the same, and yours may even be better written.

Enter internet. Stage right.

The internet is your first job in the industry. It can be your network, marketing machine and production hub all in one. It is a place where you can show what you can do. You create shorts and serials and put them up on the web for all to see and marvel over... But you also back that up with spec scripts you've written for other shows. This aspect of your personal career growth and marketing strategy is going to be super important as more TeeVee folks cross back and forth across the web-o-sphere.

"Hmmm...Big name writer is going to create aweb serial for us. He's going to need a (small) writing staff to meet the deadline...wait, I know. I saw this guy's short on the web the other day. [click, click, click of the mouse] Yep, and he's a writer too. He'd be perfect - watch this. "

You have to invest in your career as if it were your business (because it is). As Kay puts it:

What's most interesting is that two of the ABC pilots -- V and Happy Town -- were written on spec. I don't know if Scott Peters has an ABC deal, but Applebaum and Nemec do, and they wrote their pilot on spec. Very interesting. There's something I like about networks buying spec material, and also about writers believing so much in their idea that they'll write a script to prove the veracity of said idea. It's also selfishness on my part. I'd rather write a pilot than pitch one. We'll see what happens with all of these pilots. I'm certainly looking forward to reading them.
If your goal is to be a TV showrunner - then write the show, produce it and put it up. It shows your writing skill, your producing skillset and your brand (what sort of stuff gets your creative wheels turning enough for you to invest in making it happen). And if TeeVee never comes calling, then at least you have something to work with in order to build your company, your brand, and explore other options.

Because as things change, there will be more options outside traditional media.

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