So my first class in Television writing was on Tuesday... it turned out to be pretty good. The teacher seems knowledgable and is interesting to listen to, even though he is prone to tangients. And best of all, he is currently a working writer in the industry. That counts the most to me because the last thing I need is advice from a career screenwriting teacher with no credits. I know they say "those that can't do, teach"... but in this case my reply is "But those that CAN do... teach better". Well maybe not better but at least they have earned the right to tell me what is what is what.
In this class, over the course of 10 weeks we are going to write a 10 page outline for a one hour drama spec. And for those lay peeps out there, that means write a stand alone episode of an existing show. This class is not for writing pilots, its for learning how to write spec scripts so that you can get an agent who will hopefully get you paying work writing for TV. The spec script is like a portfolio piece... basically a writing sample that proves not just that you can actually write, but that you can write in the voice of an established show.
So most of my classmates are doing HOUSE specs or GREYS ANATOMY specs... I'd say two thirds of the class. Some of the other possible specs by students are CRIMINAL MINDS, HEROES, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, LAW AND ORDER SVU (shout out to David), THE CLOSER, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, and THE WIRE. Me... I'm having problems deciding. Most of the shows I love have been on the air for 5+ seasons and have maybe a year or two left in them. That's a problem because your specs should feel fresh and current. The rule of thumb is to spec a show that has been on air for two seasons or less and is critically loved. For some reason the teacher doesn't seem all that concerned about the two seasons rule since HOUSE, BATTLESTAR and GREYS are both in their third season.
Right now I am waffling on what to do... I have the basic story idea for a Grey's script I was gonna spec last year, but I'm not sure I want to do a show everyone else is doing. I feel like you need to set yourself apart and not be just one of a million wannabes doing the same show. But in the interest of making things easier for myself, what I might do is proceed with the Grey's spec... but also do a spec of The Closer. Season 2 comes out on DVD in June (already ordered it)... so I figure by the time I'm finished with the Grey's outline I can jump on The Closer. Then by the end of the year I will have TWO writing samples to send out... not only that but the shows are very different so it would show my astonishing versatility as a writer. :) One is a soft show (medical melodrama)... the other is a police procedural. If anyone wants to weigh in on whether they think my idea is stupid... feel free to comment.
So that's pretty much it on the TV class... Last night I went to see Grindhouse with some fellow from The Cow. My expectations were pretty low because the reviews from my amigos who have seen it have ranged from luke warm to outright hatred. After having seen it... I can say that it wasn't the best thing I ever saw, but I liked it. Of course I liked Quentin's movie WAY MORE that Robert Rodriguez's.. but I expected that to be the case. I like RR's direction a whole bunch and I think he is a very good filmmaker and someone to admire for his ability to wear multiple hats and basically make a whole movie from his house. BUT... I don't like his writing. All my criticism of RR's movies comes from the writing side. I honestly think he should let other people write his movies. As far as Quentin's movie, DEATH PROOF, I think it started a little slowly... but it really picked up steam and after 10 minutes I was totally into it. I think the dialogue for the second set of ladies was a lot better than the first. Also I must mention that ZOE BELL is my new hero! She rocks a lot and I hope to see her in more stuff. I think she looks and sounds very interesting... and she is a total ass kicking, daredeviling badass. That, my friends, is a sure fire recipe for being a hero. The more I think about Q's movie, the more I like it... From Kurt Russell's tantrum after getting shot... to Zoe Bell beating the shit out of him with a steel pipe... yeah... I liked it.
That's all for now...