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Why Its A Good Idea To Find Work In Hollywood As a Writing Team!
by Peter J. Fogel WGA
For years, youve watched films and television,
either one-hour dramas or sitcoms, and now youre ready to take the plunge. You
want to chuck your 9-5 job with the great health and dental plan and go to
Hollywood and make it as a writer.
Beware: Hollywood is tough gig and it has no
mercy. You need a leg up on the competition. And one way to do it is to enter
into a writing team. Ive been in both a sitcom and screenwriting team, and my
advice is to do it because
Hollywood Loves to Hire Teams!
Number one. Two heads are better than one.
Thats right. Except for a few prolific geniuses out in the market place
(William Goldman; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, David Kelly;
Alley McBeal) most times a script coming from a team will always be
better than a the script coming from one entity. Hollywood wants the best
product, and they also love cha-ching- to get two writers for the price of
Why Writing With a Partner Makes Sense!
Writing alone in a room for hours at a time
gets lonely. There is no immediate feedback from anyone until your boss says,
"Hey, this sucks
start all over."
With a partner, youre getting immediate
feedback, and bouncing ideas off of each other. If youre having a bad dayhe
can pick you up. Youre there for each other though thick and thin. Both of
you know each others weaknesses and can overcome them. He sees things in the
script that you miss, and vice a versa. A script will get done faster, which
means your re more efficientwhich can lead to more income.
Youre both writing half a script, so half the
pressure is gone. As a team, you can both concentrate on marketing. You
network at one party, he at another. (If hes not drunk in a corner. Okay, I
am sharing way too much here.)
The Best Way to Find a Writing Partner Thats A
Good Fit For You!
Writing groups that give feedback on your
work, are excellent places to find your "other half."
Someone who gravitates towards your material
and gives you good constructive notesmight be the one to approach about
teaming up. Taking writing courses at local universities, or attending the big
seminars that screenwriting gurus such as Robert McKee and Syd Field teach is
a good idea. Network with other writers and let the universe bring you
together. If youre in a sitcom workshop make sure both of you thinks the
others funny. (Youre going to spend a lot of time together.) Also on-line
chat rooms are very helpful to finding that perfect writing partner. As
always, go with your gut!
The Most Effective Writing Partner to Team With!
Naturally, the best writing partner is one
that compliments you. One that has skills you dont have and can bring out the
best in you as a writer. In other words, you are both on the "same page," and
you both bring something tangible to the team.
If youre in sitcoms maybe youre outgoing,
love schmoozing, and are good at character development and jokes. And your
partner is quiet, very analytical and, has a knack for story and structure.
Either waywriting together you churn out great scripts. Hes your yin, to his
What Type Of Writing Partners Do Hollywood
Hollywood likes to mix things up a bit. Its
all about marketing yourself and of course, who you know. Certain shows have
certain needs. Some need minorities on staff. Others want a womans point of
view. There are plenty of all male writing teams. So youre competing against
that. So if youre starting outmy suggestion is if youre a man, team up with
a woman. And if shes a minority even better. Yes, it sounds manipulative, but
no one said life is fair, right? I guarantee you if youre a Jewish male
teamed with an African-American woman who is in a wheel chair -- and youre
really good writers
agents will parachute into your living room to represent
Youre unique and they can sell you to
producers much easily. Remember: Its show "business."
The Best Way to Market Yourself As A
Schmooze and become good friends with a
working writer who can possibly open some doors and introduce to you his
agent. But before that, you have to have the goods. Have two great spec
scripts (samples of your work). More is better in Hollywood. It proves youre
not a one-script wonder. Try to focus on the type of shows you both want to
write for. But if you can, be versatile. Have a one-hour "Dawsons
Creek" and have a "Buffy."
Two different styles.
Show runners (producers that hire) want to
know you can write for their show. My sitcom partner and I had eight spec
scripts not including three original pilots. (We were focused and very serious
about our craft.) Help your agent to help you. Give him as much ammunition as
you can to help sell you!
"How Much Money Can You Make As A Writing Team,
or the Downside of Writing Together!"
The standard WGA rate (Writers Guild of
America, wga.org ) is approximately $18,000 for a half hour $25,000 for
a one-hour script (not counting re$iduals) The downside of writing as a team
is that youre splitting the money.
During the lean times this might take a toll
on both of you. Things arent going well, and one of you might want to break
away and go at it alone. As a team, youre in a marriage.
So make sure you get along with your partner,
and if possible, spend as little time socially with him. After all, youre
writing a lot during working hours, so its important to have separate lives.
If things get too intense
go to couples counseling. (We did.)
Unfortunately, if you do break up, be prepared
to start all over. The industry will always think that your partner was the
talented one. But dont fret! Just go out there and write another brilliant
spec script by yourself. You know how to do it!
All in all, writing as a team can be very
rewarding and a great way to work in Hollywood.
Just look at the credits of all your favorite
shows on the air and youll see that most of the executive producers are teams.
Get the right partner, make magic together
and who knows, the stars could be
aligned and you both could create the next "Will & Grace." Good
© Copyright 2003, Peter J. Fogel WGA
Peter J. Fogel is a NY based comedian/writer/copywriter who performs around the country. He's appeared on Comedy Central, HBO, and Evening at the Improv. He's
also worked on such shows as Married With Children and Unhappily Ever After. Out in LA, with his partner, he was a member of the elite Warner-Bros. Comedy Writer's Workshop (class of 1999) and is also a WGA member. His material has been quoted in such books as The Comedy Quote Dictionary. Past assignments include writing for Germany's #1 award winning
sitcom Rita's World. (Yes. They have comedy in Germany.) His website is http://www.peterfogel.com. He can reached at CompellingCopy@aol.com.