It’s nice to be wanted.  Really.  Over the past few weeks, my agent has brought me no less than three potential show running opportunities on projects (presumably) ready to go.  All are interesting possibilities.  Of course having said that, interesting things generally command closer scrutiny, and closer scrutiny commonly yields explanations, details, and demystification.  What at first may seem very interesting often ends up being much less so.  For a variety of reasons.  Well, in the case of show running opportunities, two: creative and production.  Creatively:  Is it any good?  Am I on the same page with the producers/broadcasters? Do we all want to make the same show?  How willing are they to allow me to address some of the issues I have with the show’s premise or the existing scripts?  Will they trust me to make the best show possible? Production: How much money will we have to make the show?  Given the concept and the existing scripts, is it possible to make the show within the established parameters?  Where will the show be shot?  Will they trust me to make the best show possible?

Ideally, the answers to all these questions will be yes, yes, yes, very, yes, a lot, yes, somewhere I’d enjoy spending time, and yes –  but, realistically, you’ll probably have to compromise on a couple of these points (and sub-points).  And just how much you’re willing to compromise will depend on several things – like how much you love the project, how much control you’ll have over it, whether or not it’s a good opportunity, and whether it will be worth your while.  So far as I’m concerned, the easiest type of project to say no to is one that fails the creative questions, especially the first one: Is it any good?  I have to like a show to work on it.  I know, I know.  It seems obvious, but I’d hazard to say that there are a lot of people out there working at jobs they hate.  Film and television is no different.  Still, after 11+ years on Stargate, I’m thankfully in a position where I can be a little choosey.  I have to like the show I’ll be working on.  Unfortunately, liking a show isn’t enough. There’s nothing worse than being offered a fantastic show and then not being given the tools to properly execute its potential.

So many things can go wrong on a production, but when they go right, the results are spectacular.  And, looking at some of the spectacular shows I enjoy, I see the same like variable: a strong creative show runner driving the production, whether it’s David Chase on The Sopranos, Vince Gilligan on Breaking Bad, Shawn Ryan on The Shield, Mitchell Hurwitz on Arrested Development, or Larry David on Curb You Enthusiasm.  I’m not saying that all shows with strong creative show runners are necessarily great, but I am saying that every great show I can think of had a strong creative show runner at the helm.  All extremely talented; all obviously very passionate about their respective series.

So, in the end, that’s all I ask for: the opportunity to work on a show I can feel passionate about; a show that will prove as interesting on its first day of production as it did on the day it was first pitched to me. Is that too much to ask?


22 thoughts on “March 10, 2012: Opportunities, opportunities…

  1. Too much to ask? No.
    Hard to find? Hell, yeah.
    Worth holding out for? Absolutely.
    You’re in the rare position of being able to hold out for what you really want and will enjoy… Do it! All of us who haven’t achieved that level look forward to sharing in the results you can achieve. All best wishes.

  2. Confucius says: Chose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

    For the most part I’ve had the luck to do that. And I’m 33!

  3. It’s always the risk when you’re the one being pitched for a job. Good luck with whatever your decision.

    On the TV shows, I’ve never seen you mention Community. Others have voiced their #sixseasonsandamovie love for the show but interested to hear what you think of the writing. It’s nice to watch a US show without canned laughter.

    @das – I believe @Line Noise summed it up well. You’ll also find calloquialisms can be local to States. I notice Adelaide and Far North Queensland the most. I’m in Melbourne. Ie: For ‘can’t’, we say ‘carnt’. Adelaide say ‘caurnt’. North say ‘nahcarntmate’.

    @tam dixon – Jon Stewart says he ages in dog years so it sounds like he’s already in training.

    @Deni – Left you a pic on Twitter 🙂 Had their kelpie cousin over tonight, along with my Dad, Brother and a Weber BBQ.

  4. Not too much to ask. too much to hope the answers are always the ones you want. but there are those with good track records in running more than one successful show, so you have no reason to think you won’t be able to duplicate the success(and fun) you’ve had with the Stargate franchise. And you know we’re all cheering you on….

  5. Agreeing with the others—hold out for what you want. Oh, and I finally got Dark Matter 2 yesterday. (I know, I know, way behind the curve.) Very, very good!! Can’t wait for the next issue.

  6. Go for it, Joe!

    And I didn’t get a chance to post yesterday, but:

    @Maggiemayday: Great story! I don’t need pictures, you already conjured up an amazing mental picture for me.

    as for the rest of the stories: oh, my.

    and das your post brought back memories of my beer-bellied Italian uncles on a hot summer day.

  7. Personally I would imagine the most important factor would be, does the show have a long term future? It would’t be worth the effort if its doesn’t

  8. Not too much to ask for, but hard to find and you have to have the breath and nerves for the wait.

    I have the same problem. I really want to work in the aerospace industry, but I am choosy about the subject I want to work on and so far found nothing. Same goes for the art. Never found anything that made me go for the art direction. Especially since I find there is no real German industry. I think your German colleges will tell you the same.
    And I was a wuss when I had to decide to live my life outside of my home country forever.
    So I will work hard and hope that such a workplace will come along in my life in the engineering direction that I chose. I won’t stop searching and I won’t be satisfied with a half-assed solution.
    Here’s the BUT.
    It will take time and it’s a frustrating journey.

    You’ve come so far. Don’t hold back now, Joe. You’re awesome, you’ll find the right work for you.


  9. Interesting post Joe, and I agree, if you are in a position to pick and choose, then of course, do so. Creative choice/leeway is also important in my chosen field. Unfortunately, as to the cost area, it’s always the same, do it spectacularly, with efficiency and oh yes, do it for less or as cheaply as possible.

    Presumably, the people from which these 3 show running offers have come, also read your blog? Now they are quite clear about your criteria and desires.


  10. Whatever you decide, we will enjoy hearing all about it. I hope you decide to continue blogging for a long time.

  11. Do you feel like you’ve been a bit spoiled by your experience with the Stargate franchise? And that you judge every project by those standards? If so, it will be a tough competition for any new project to win your affection. But I agree with others, if you have the luxury to be patient and choose something you love, do it!

  12. By the way, good luck with any future project Joe, hope you pick the right one that you can really get behind and invest years into.

  13. Hmmm, it sounds like you don’t want to take another job like the last one. You have a good nest egg that will allow you to pick and choose your nest assignment. I’d say you are one lucky dude!

  14. @Bailey

    To make a great TV show, you have to aspire to hit the heights, even if the end result doesn’t make it. I agree it’ll be tough to better Stargate, but, it’s still got to be the aim

  15. Sci-Fi? Horror? Crime? Funny? Any brand you’ve had any association with before – and, if so, what’s spinning differently this time? Not in Canada, at least for the moment?

    Anyway, those biggies are what-ifs. Instead, how about an update on your other projects, besides Dark Matter. What and how are they going? You didn’t mention any of them, or Dark Matter – i.e. pushing ahead your own creative IP – when giving the interesting run-down of questions you’ll be asking yourself over the show runner opportunities.

    Let’s hear how your own IP weighs in the balance of opportunities, and whether the back burner is going to be re-lit for them. Still, you’re young..!

    best wishes – and great to hear the new mix to the menu of choices.


  16. There is a weird TV vibe this year; there are lots of great shows but not that many that are must-sees. For a while there I had too much to watch; we were always backed up with DVDs, DVRs, Hulu favorites. I like Archer, Portlandia, Person of Interest and Downton. But I haven’t been that into any of the new stuff; haven’t watched Touch, Alcatraz.

    I like Fringe but I’d love to see a new X-Files-ish show, and a great new comedy like Arrested Development; which may just be new AD thanks to Netflix. Maybe the best show for you is a show you and your friends create and run; I am very impressed with the world of Dark Matter.

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