my advice to the son of the friend of the mother of a friend i had growing up, that i haven’t seen or spoken to in over ten years.
I got an email from Marcia XXXXXX, asking me on behalf of your mom, to try and help you out, while you’re in the land of the lotus eaters. I grew up with Marcia’s kids, Stevie and Audrey, haven’t seen them since before even the days of MySpace, but i get the occasional ‘XXXXXX Family Update’. I remember how scary it was it was when i first moved here, the few connections i had before getting to town disappeared as soon as i got into LA County, never picking up or responding to texts, except if they needed help moving, or until i’d run into them later at events, and they’d sheepishly dance around the avoidance.
LA can either chew you up or make you stronger. depends on your rejection threshold, and how long it takes you to bounce back- Knowledge and Information are some of the most important things you can have in this town, followed by an opinion, then connections, a sense of direction helps, and after a laundry list of other abilities, actual Talent is the least important trait to have in this city. Disappointing to hear, but the longer you’re here, the more you will find this true.
The email said you wanna write. Do it. write. as much as you can, every day. doesn’t matter about what. just pen to paper. Tweets can be helpful for formulating short jokes or stories, getting a perfect 140character joke is referred to as a “Twoosh” by a few people at least… Have a blog. write in it. doesn’t matter about what. but you want to be a writer. dammit, write. Having inspirations work as well. at Meltdown Comics on Sunset, most sunday afternoons, they have the “Nerdist Writers Panel” tickets are $10, or you can just subscribe to the podcast for free. That’ll be one of the best pieces of advice i can give you. Its a show about TV writers, talking about writing TV. How they got started, what their processes are, etc- I’ll save you from it right now. Do Not Go There With A Script In Hand. the absolute worst thing in this town is desperation. you may be desperate. but never say it. never act it. never let on. its a weakness, and no one wants a part of it. when people see or smell desperation, its worse than an elevator fart. its like becoming a sobbing blubbering sack of mush that no one wants to be around. you know what people want to be around? cool people. i don’t mean ‘trendy’ i don’t mean ‘pretty’ i mean people that are confident. you can be a nerd and be cool. you can be cool, and looking for more opportunities. Cool is just the state of mind. not everyone can be Zack Morris. except for Mark-Paul Gosselar.
Write spec scripts. (Spec = speculation = i wrote this for free, hoping someone can read it, like it, and buy it)
do you know who Donald Glover is? YES! THAT Donald Glover! from Community! when he was in college, doing early YouTube videos with his buddies (who all now also write for shows and such) He wrote a spec Simpsons script. that had Homer and 50cent doing community service… i don’t remember the details, but it got out there, Tina Fey, read it, and hired him to be a writer on 30 Rock. He left after 3 seasons to join Community as a cast member, and now he’s left that to be a rapper, and now he’s lost his mind.
not that many people are writing spec Simpsons scripts anymore, but if you feel, that you understand the story structure of, and the voices of characters for a show you like, that is also popular, and that people could read it and say “i could see that as an episode” then you have a good spec script. write it. write one for every genre you can think of.
its a lot of home work. it’ll be a lot of revision. but you’re young, you’ve got time. take a couple months to get your first spec, to the point that any given person that reads it, that knows the show says “i can see this as a real episode” do it again. with a different show. but faster. If you get to the point where you can write a 21 page episode of a TV show, that is original and funny, in about 2/3 weeks. you’d be able to work on a show.
Contact the Writers Guild, head to their HQ on Fairfax, near The Grove, inquire about writers assistant jobs. about Writing Boot Camps and Studio workshops.
you’ve written a webseries? great. write another one.
you like video games and machinima? great. make the next Red vs Blue. Source Filmmaker is FREEEEEEE so you don’t even need actors! use XtraNormal and have digital bunny rabbits say your words.
take an improv class. meet people there. go to shows at Upright Citizens Brigade. do open mic nights to work out material, if you want to see if a joke is funny. write tumblr as an ongoing espionage novel, comprised of the dead drop correspondence between a veteran spy and his rookie handler, that becomes a love story. Listen to Kevin Smith’s Smodcast.
listen to Martini Shot on KCRW (also a podcast)