Well…”work”. Technically, yes, it is. “Research” to be more precise. But that doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy it. Still, it’s a hell of a daunting pile to get through – hopefully in record time. A little less than half I’ll actually be re-reading to refresh my memory. The rest will be first-time forays. Give me an “On your mark. Get set…”
And, if I start to tire and become bleary-eyed, I can always switch gears and get some writing done. There’s plenty of that on deck as well. I’m about halfway through the southern gothic pilot and have started work on that horror feature. I await the go-ahead to go to script on the show we’re developing and have already received word we’ll be heading to L.A. in January to pitch another. I have a call scheduled for next week in an attempt to clear up an impediment that has stalled that super-secret project I alluded to in previous blog posts and, if successful, should start scripting immediately.
If it seems like a lot, that’s only because it is. I’m launching a full-scale creative assault on multiple fronts in advance of next year’s mid-April deadline. Mid-April, in case you didn’t know, is when staffing season begins in L.A., a window in which the networks seek out writers for their new and established programming. Ideally, I’d like to land something here – something I created that I can show run in Vancouver – but barring that, it’ll be time to pull up stakes and get a real job, working on somebody else’s show. And that’s fine. I’ve done it before and enjoyed it immensely (for the most part).
Having said that, it really would still be preferable to have my own show on the air.
So, hopefully, one of the approximately ten projects I’ve got in the works will pay off big within the next four months. It may seem like a lot of balls in the air but I’ve learned that, in this business, you have to multi-task because, while you may work quickly, everyone else you’re dealing with progresses at a snail’s pace. Need to schedule an emergency phone call? No problem. How’s next week look for you? Have a strong, detailed vision for a script that everyone loves? Great! Everyone will love to read it. Right after they approve the outline. Eager to hear word on that pilot you delivered last month? Relax. Take some time. Take a trip. Have a baby. They’ll get back to you.
It’s mystifying really. Downright incomprehensible. I remember a time, early in my career, when I was a development executive. Every week, everyone in our department would get together for a lengthy board meeting during which we would update each other on ongoing projects. These meetings were, in a word, “excruciating”. Realistically, we could have simply sent our updates to an assistant who could have just as easily edited them together and sent them back in a mass email – taking maybe thirty minutes to accomplish a task that normally took us four to five hours. Instead, it was always the same thing. We would gather. No one would say much of any real relevance for half an hour. Then, we’d begin our updates. No one would get to the point. They would meander and we would all end up taking a twenty minute conversational detour before veering back onto the topic at hand. Fully three-quarters of these meetings would be commandeered by individuals who would say absolutely nothing – but take hours to not do so. Then, on the other hand, there were those who actually said something – the exact same thing in fact, in thirty different variations. It would take forever to finally get to the point and, when someone finally did, said point would be beaten to death.
I know, I know. Everyone has their own way of doing things. And that’s fine. I just don’t understand why everyone else’s system takes so damn long. I’m reminded of another incident, this one during my final year on Stargate: Atlantis. We got the news that Amanda wouldn’t be coming back for season 5, so we would need an new commander. I immediately thought of Richard Woolsey played by the wonderful Robert Picardo. Someone in the room suggested I contact business affairs and get the ball rolling on the negotiations. I hesitated, knowing full well what that would mean: calls, missed calls, calls never returned, miscommunication, lost messages, more calls, delays because individuals go away on vacation, and more calls until, finally, a deal…maybe a month or two down the line. So, instead, I just picked up the phone, called Bob, and asked him: “Hey, do you want to be the new commander of the Atlantis expedition?” Bob thanked us for thinking of him, said he would discuss it with his family, and get back to me. An hour later, he called back. He was in! Pleased, I phoned up our casting director and had him make an offer. Within the hour, we received a counter. We countered back and closed the deal. It took all of an afternoon.
So, given my experience, I’m convinced that the truly successful people in this business are those with either infinite patience or a near infinite amount of projects on the go. And I’m not very patient.