Monday, December 8, 2008

Ink Drinks

Went to the "Ink Drinks with Jim Henshaw" event on Saturday and it was great! Basically it was an excuse to get a whole bunch of TV writers (pro and burgeoning) together to have drinks and chat. And naturally, most of what we talked about was TV. I'd only been to one other TV writer event, the Writer's Watching TV series a couple weeks ago, but I didn't really talk to people much there, as I just watched the show, heard the writers talk and then went home. This event on Saturday however was an entirely social experience. It's nice to be around people that think about the same things I do; mostly when I'm around my family and friends I bore them to tears with talk about the industry, which is almost all of the time. About 13 people showed up while I was there. I wasn't sure what to expect, I thought maybe we'd just be listening to Jim talk but actually he didn't dominate the conversations at all, but was there to talk to us about his experiences, and whatever we wanted to talk about. Also, Denis McGrath showed up, which was a pleasant surprise since I'd missed the last Ink Drinks event where he was the official guest. Denis is as animated and passionate about Canadian politics and the industry as he is on his blog, which makes him perfect for facilitating great conversations (not that a group of opinionated writers need much facilitating, but still). Also present were some members of my writing group, including Ink intern (and organizer of the event) Brandon. I highly suggest any writers in Toronto (or any other cities that have these kind of functions) check these events out in future. I'll definitely be at the next one.

I really have been amazed recently at the usefulness of Facebook when it comes to career networking. I'd never heard of these events until a few weeks ago when Alex Epstein mentioned the Canadian TV Writing group on Facebook, Ink Canada. Until recently I was the only person I knew actively trying to become a TV writer (despite having taking Radio and TV at Ryerson), and I had no idea how to meet other TV writers. Since reading that post a few weeks ago I've joined a TV writer's group, attended two industry events and increased my network within the scripted TV industry exponentially. For anyone interested, the facebook page for Ink Canada (a group for TV, film, and new media writers) is here.

As for how my career is doing right now, it's not pretty. I just finished my contract with the doc/tribute/roast production company. I have enough cash to carry me through January on a pauper's budget, so I can apply for work until then but in reality the industry seems to be in the toilet right now. With the 300+ people just laid off from Much Music, CanWest, and who knows how many others, I'm now competing with people with much more experience than I have. I'm hoping that in January when production starts up again I can get an assistant job with a scripted series, but realistically I may need to keep my eye on reality and lifestyle opportunities as well. So I guess I'll also be looking for assistant, researcher, writer and Associate Producer positions with those kind of companies.

Of course, I could also end up walking down the street wearing a sandwich board for Pizza Pizza. Which is unfortunately more likely.


Anon said...

I may be joining you in a sandwich board! Good luck! I know it's tough in media right now. MTV/Viacom just slashed about 800 jobs as well.

jimhenshaw said...


It was great meeting you last Saturday as well. And don't worry about the ongoing hiccups in the industry. It's always a "terrible" time to be getting into the business and there are never enough opportunities for people with talent and especially those just starting out.

Just keep reminding yourself that there are always new movies being made and new shows on television. People will never stop wanting to be entertained and that means there is always a future.

Keep doing what you do, getting better and building a portfolio of your work.

And if you have to slip into a sandwich board from time to time, remember that there's no dishonor in earning an honest living and that story material is everywhere.

Trevor said...

Thanks Jim, I'll remember that. That reminds me of an interview with Steven Bochco that I read, where he said that people should go to medical school (or anywhere else) instead of straight into TV, because it gives you more life experience (and therefore more material). Sometimes it's hard to remember that when all I want to do is write TV, but in reality it's not going to happen overnight, and I need to pay rent, so I might as well acquire stories in the meantime!

And it's interesting that, from what I've seen, it seems people only talk about those "good times" for writers once those times have passed!