Saturday, August 15, 2009

Large victories are reached by climbing small failures.

Well, I didn't get in to the CFC this year. I did hear, from people that have taken the program before, that making it to the interview stage is a very significant thing, as they only interview approximately 20 people, 8 of whom are picked for the program. And that this year there were many more applicants than usual (probably due to the economy).

Last week I got a follow-up call from the CFC. They told me that they liked my writing, but that applicants in general were extremely strong this year. They gave me some very insightful notes on my pilot and spec, and implored me to apply again next year. They knew about my writing group (5 of us applied to the CFC, 3 got to the interview stage, 0 got into the program), and they said that having a writing group is a great thing, but that I'm at the point in my skill level where I could use the eye of a professional story editor, someone who does TV writing for a living. Well, OK, I said, that's a great idea but where would I find a person like that? "Oh, we might be able to help you find someone." That blew my mind - that a program I didn't even get into would go to all that trouble! I'm not sure what exactly it entails, but it's certainly above and beyond what is expected of the CFC, and it really gave me a confidence boost.

In agent news, there is a particular Toronto agency that I'm interested in having represent me, and I called them up and they surprised me and asked to see my pilot and resume. I promptly sent those out and quickly got an email back saying that they had read on my resume that I had two specs, Mad Men and Heroes, and asked me to send them both. I was worried, since Heroes was my first spec, and I believe my weakest, but they insisted on seeing them both, so I sent them. About a month later I got a call back, and they said that they thought I had talent, but that my specs were problematic, and then they gave me some great notes. They said in order to take on a writer the writer would have to have 2 TV specs that were at least re-writeable, but unfortunately, the types of corrections I'd have to make would require me to completely re-write the storylines of the specs, so they suggested that I start a brand new spec. In the meantime they said they can't yet offer me representation, but they are willing to read my new scripts and give me notes on an unofficial level. Though of course I had wanted representation, I actually agreed with their notes and jumped at the chance to have them be at all involved with my career. Having professional eyes on my work can only be a good thing, and who knows, it could lead to representation in the future. So now I've decided to write a Fringe spec. Heroes and Mad Men were bad specs to choose, I think, since they are either too serial or too unusual in structure to be a good spec for a new writer such as myself. Fringe, as long as I stay away from the serial elements, will be a good, episodic, normally structured show to show my chops with.

I'd like to note, on the spec vs. pilot debate, that they had not read my pilot. In fact, they couldn't have cared less about it, and it was only on my surprise about that fact that they even offered to read it. They said the reason they don't care about pilots with new writers is that our first job is going to be writing on someone else's show, so it's important that we have 2 specs of other shows that are brilliant.

So all in all, this has been a sobering, humbling past month for me. I've realized that I still have some ways to go before I'm at the level that I thought I already was at. But it's also given me hope because at every point, I have been encouraged and nurtured, even by the people who have turned me down, and this has to mean something. So I carry on.

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