(Writer’s note) The spec TV scripts I wrote for “Modern Family”, “30 Rock” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” are available for download at the bottom of this post. I hope you enjoy.
My TV writing experience… so far.
I hope sitcoms are not dead because in the past five months I have written three television specs that total 98 pages of finish screenplay. As a quick side-note people ask me what the word ‘spec’ means? It essentially means that no one is paying me to write these yet. The etymology of the word comes from ‘speculation’ or ‘speculative’, meaning that I am writing these 30 min TV scripts ‘on speculation’ that I can sell them at some point or at least have them be strong writing samples… I digress, now 98 pages is the equivalent of a feature length script, which is an amazing level of out-put and I’m quite excited about that. 98 pages would eventually equal about 66 mins (give or take) of actual screen time. So in 5 months I produced over an hour of polished comedy content. Which is incredible when you juxtapose that against my stand-up comedy out-put which took me 8 1/2 YEARS to produce my first polished hour. So that’s one of the reasons I’m really enjoying the process of writing for TV. The other is that I genuinely feel, for the first time in my life that I have found something that I am, out-of-the-box good at. As a kid I won a bunch of awards doing sleight-of-hand and then went on to have a healthy stand-up comedy career. But both endeavors required a Herculean amount of extremely hard work. As for TV writing, although it’s been time consuming, the words have been falling off the pen. Now maybe I’m being too hasty because I have not tried my hand at writing an original TV pilot yet. Although that may be true, my current pilot project (which is based on my first talent agency back in Minnesota) is taking shape and my guts tell me the writing will be equally as strong.
Couple things about the process: Because of the potential liability of writers suing a show for stealing their ideas, most shows won’t even read a spec because they’re afraid of litigation, which I don’t blame them. But the question becomes how do you get in? Well first things first, write well. I feel I have that covered. Next, have mulitple scripts in multiple styles. I believe I also have that covered. Then, write original content or what is called a ‘pilot’. Which is what I am currently working on. Now, I’m not sure where this path in my life is going to take me but I’m the most clear I have ever been as a creative and I look forward, with eyes wide-open, to the challenges ahead. My next step is to find a staff writing gig, I’m sure I’ll be in touch the second that comes to fruition. Keep an eye on the ole’ boob-tube, I’ll do my best on this end.
* If you actually take the time to read these, leave a note. I’d love to hear your feedback.