From time to time, I get approached with questions from people wanting to get my take on what’s happening for them in the worlds of writing or performing. I reply here through my website in this feature called “Ask Rich.”
IN A TAILSPIN…
I finished a solid draft of a new 1/2 hour single-cam pilot. I sent it out to members of my writers group and a few friends (all who I trust their notes). Not everyone read it, but those who did, had mostly all positive things to say about it. I just heard back from a Borris Santiago* (NOTE: *CHANGED NAME FOR ANONYMITY – RT) a working writer/producer…film and TV, whom I was intro’d to and met with recently. He read the script and had issues with it. Like, “trash it and start over again” issues. So, this has, sort of, sent me into a tailspin.
I’ve already started outlining my next script. Deep down, I want to move on and keep writing what I just started. But, with the goal of finding some representation (manager or agent), just the thought of this finished script not being ready for anyone to read…makes it harder to breathe. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in this situation before, but how would you handle it? Move on with what’s currently making you excited about writing…or go back to the work that you can’t bare to even look at any more?
Hope you’re well, man!
– Jason S.
Yes I’ve been there many times when friends or employers or both did not respond to something I wrote. Happens all the time. That’s just the nature of doing anything creative. I think it’s okay to put a finger in the wind and see what people think of what you’re creating. Then I wonder, is it possible you are creating a “tailspin” situation by just asking too many people?
No one KNOWS what is “good” or what will work. And, a script is not the final product, it’s an early treasure map that many people will try to follow to the gold. Everyone is forecasting best they can. And, if it is a spec piece, you’re writing (meaning it’s a door opener) the only opinion that truly matters is yours. Sure— consider other’s feedback, but ultimately you have to make the executive decisions. Sometimes you will be wrong, sometimes you will be right. Most important thing is that YOU dig the material you are sending off to convince an agent to represent you.
Another thought— is it possible that the note from Boris sent you into a tailspin because maybe deep down, you believe there’s an bit of truth to it. You know, if you had total confidence in the material, an army of Boris’ could not infiltrate your airspace and send you into such a whirl. As with all notes, take what you think can help you push your vision of the project and leave the rest of the notes behind.
It’s important when writing to have asked and answered all the questions that the audience might have. Think about the script from every point of view. Asking friends for critical feedback on your scripts can be helpful or painful when too many opinions puts you in a spin or if you realize that negative notes might be right and this script is not the “chosen one.”
Writing should be fun and fulfilling for you. Try to keep it loose and approach even the most dreadful re-writes with a positive attitude, see each writing problem as a chess problem to solve. Try to enjoy the painful opera of creation. And, there’s nothing wrong with juggling both projects if you want to do both at the same time. Why not. Maybe you combine them. Choices are endless. If you don’t know what to do, you just don’t have enough information. So, keep asking questions till there are no more and get comfortable taking all the responsibility for what you’re putting out. Take heart: you’ll be right some of the time!
FYI: The Writer’s Guild website has a list of agents in town.
And, to hell with Boris Santiago anyway, I never liked that guy.
FORK IN THE ROAD…
I was wondering if I could get your advice about a question I have been pondering, I feel your experiences would add great value.
I took classes at COMEDY THEATER 1 here in LA, years ago and completed their curriculum, took some workshops at COMEDY THEATER 2 and other places as well. Earlier this year I challenged myself to take a class at COMEDY THEATER 3 after having long stayed away due to it’s reputation of how one advances in their structure.
I found their intro class and saw their style was not to be for me and thus didn’t pass since I wasn’t charactery enough. Now my ego wants to say two contradicting things 1) screw that I didn’t like their style anyways and 2) get back on the horse and knock it out of the park.
I was curious if you would see any value of redoing the course from a learning stand point or would you recommend that my time and money best be spent elsewhere?
Thanks for writing.
You know it all depends on what you want to achieve. There are many, many dojos in LA teaching a large range of comedy styles. Many different teacher/ interpreters of those styles. Students of comedy today, enjoy a huge range of possibilities.
I signed up for Second City’s classes in Chicago back in 1992. I failed the audition many times to get into the training center. Finished training and then proceeded to fail the auditions for Second City’s Touring Company three years in a row.
Did I get mad? Did I cry?
But, during each of those years between auditions, I kept working out at Improv Olympic and other small theaters in Chicago. I did as many shows as I could and eventually found my rhythm. Students need something reliable to grind against to shape their style.
Presently, you are at a fork in the road. Which way should I go?
I think you could go back to THEATER 3 and say; “give me another shot!” As long as you’re doing it with the right intentions, you will be fine. You could also go to theater 4, 5, 6. Just keep going.
I’ve said this before in these postings, but I think we (people in the arts) are all creatively trying to level up in some way. So, just do what you can as best you can every day to push yourself closer to your goals. All that honest effort will add up in a variety of ways, many you couldn’t predict. Whatever you decide to do, just try to get to be the best performer you can be, right now– whatever the road looks like. Everything that happens from now on is an obstacle or an opportunity, the choice is yours.
(c) BRONZE MEDAL ENTERTAINMENT – 2015
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