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05/19/2008: Why You Want It, Not What You Want
Part of returning home involves being handed a big stack of blogmail that piled up while I was gone. Let's take a peek inside:
Amita, in Ontario, wants advice about applying to the ABC Fellowship. (First off, I don't know for sure that you're a Canadian, but your letter comes from there, so you'd better check the application, Amita -- I think the program might now be limited to US citizens -- WHOA -- I just checked and it looks like now the only requirement is US work eligibility. Is that new? Is that hard to get? Aren't you glad you wrote to an expert, Amita?)
She asks about the resume and Statement-of-Interest parts of the application. She's got interesting (and slightly conflicting) concerns: fear that her resume isn't enough like everyone else's, and fear that her statement is too much like everyone else's. Well, set aside the fear over the resume. A pre-med background and living experience in Europe is far cooler (and more marketable) than any film/tv degree. The program isn't looking for a fat resume, but for talent and diversity -- diversity of background and experience. You'll do beautifully.
In terms of the Statement of Interest, she fears she'll be writing the same "I wanna be a writer" statement that everyone else will write. What other interest would someone express, after all, if they're applying for a writing program? Here, I'd venture to guess that the key isn't content as much as enthusiasm and expression of motivation. In other words why do you want to write for television, and what inspires you about it? Are you trying to accomplish something through what you write? Or is it about fulfilling something more personal to you? Just like when you write a character, you don't just have to know what they want, but why. Tell them about the why.
There are always a few letters that I simply don't know how to answer. Please enjoy the following non-answers:
John in Hong Kong asks about how established British writers can pitch a children's show to US producers. Sorry, but that's a totally different world from my own. I guess I'd try to set up a pitch at Nickelodeon if I were you? Are they still the big kid-tv provider? I'm not even sure. But I hope you get to the right people and that you have the best of luck!
Richard in Maryland is looking for a co-writer. I don't want to become the writers' matchmaker, so I'm not sure how to help. Perhaps those networking sites like Facebook or Livejournal would be a good place to start?
And a thank you to Kelly in Ontario, Canada, who writes in with a success story about selling a comic book series after a career in film and TV. I love to hear that people are taking the creative path in that direction too. Congratulations!
Lunch: That chicken and heirloom tomato dish from the "nice side" of the Universal Studios Commissary.