Last week I attended a networking event with a manager/producer guest speaker who said outright that screenwriters should focus on television. The television market is where it’s at, which is obvious with all the new original programming options at Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, among others. Movie attendance is down, so the studios are mainly looking for projects with a built in audience. Hence all the superhero movies, remakes, and those based on novels.
I wept a little inside. My screenplay, the one I’ve been struggling to rewrite, the one I wanted to use as my calling card, I could see was about to fall into the realm of obsolete. The advice given was to create two original pilots. Gracious. The one area I’ve been struggling in, and now I needed to create two different shows?! I barely had a viable concept for one. And what was worse, I had to write them. I couldn’t just have a fleshed out idea that I could pitch. There’s that pang in my chest again, even knowing what I do now, writing this out causes a twinge of anxiety, again. I left the event a little deflated but thankful for some honest advice from someone active in the film community. As writers, isolated, no matter how much we read or discover about the business, until we’re on the inside, we don’t know what’s really going on.
When I got home, I started looking through my half-baked ideas, and the gravity of the situation started to sink in. I have been working on my portfolio, trying to get all my ducks in a row, and I thought I only needed ONE tv pilot or web series idea, not a whole script. I started to bounce around some ideas, and thought I had come up with a couple of fairly solid ones, until my sister enlightened me. My fifth screenplay, Projection, influenced by the likes of La Femme Nikita, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Alias, could definitely work as a tv show. And the bonus, it would only need a little reworking as I had already written about 50 pgs. I know the characters, I know where I want the story to go (at least for a season or two), and who wouldn’t like to watch a female spy with special powers kick ass?!
So there you go, fellow screenwriters. A little advice from the field. I started following a few writers, a screenwriting career coach, and the editor of Script Magazine on Twitter, so I’ll hopefully have some more solid advice to share in the near future.