Duh Rocko, That Ain’t How It Works

I may just be in a bad mood today, probably because of problems I’ve been having with my email (Verizon sucks!), and I really don’t want to take out my gritting-teeth energy on y’all, but may I vent?  I give the impression, probably, of being a kind generous soul, motherly or grandmotherly even (in a sexy way), teacherly but not harsh, writerly but not morose, and so, I am approached all the time by writers.  Who want me to do things for them.  Free.  To continue with the schlong theory of success, which holds that in order to be a major success as a writer in the entertainment industry, one must 99 times out of 100 have a penis, I would like to posit the theory, with no proof or statistics whatsoever, that a man would not get the requests I do, two, three, four times a week, from writers or their friends, or friends of friends, who have heard how good I am, how helpful and knowledgeable, or who have heard that I know this One or that One, and who want me to read, view, or attend, to see what I think, and would I then give them my take?  Is this or that piece ready?  What can they do to make it better?  Would I set up a meeting between them and Big TV H’Shot.

The answer is no.  No, I will not view, read or attend for free.  No, I am not interested in having points in your project, first crack at executive producer status, or a percentage of your advance or option money, which you will probably not get.  When I say No—nicely—by suggesting that said writer go to my website (where this rant is appearing in print, probably to my lifelong regret) and plunk down a few bucks for my time and know-how, the writer usually takes a haughty tone. How dare she.  Ask for money? Is this how we act?  We are all friends.  I thought you were the sort of person who would help another person.  Free.  That’s what I would do.  Here is a typical email that I got just a few days ago, from a guy with an Idea for a reality TV show, when I said Yes, I’d be pleased to “check out” (the pop vernacular that has replaced “read,” which obviously implies too great a commitment) his proposal for a reality show and recommend him to Big TV H’Shot, if he’d pony up for a few hours of my time.   And here’s what he replied, law help me you cannot make this stuff up:

I thought this would take on a different tact (sic). Perhaps work out some agreement if the idea were optioned, quid pro quo or percentage to get access to a contact.  I and my writing partner will just have to continue to investigate other avenues to get the project seen and considered.

Yes that’s right, hon, you do that, you and your writing partner, you go out there, and see how many people are yearning to spend time watching your sorry-ass clip or your 10-minute student film or your demo, or read your 30-page sample TV script or view your no-count proposal and give notes, free, in the hope of having a percentage of your upcoming deal.  And don’t wait up.  Because you know what?  That is not how it works.

Let me tell you just a little of how it does work.  You cannot even pitch an idea; ideas are a dime a dozen; most reputable producers or execs will not even allow you to pitch an idea because then, in case they already have something like your idea in development, you could imagine they stole your idea, and sue them.  I was told by a major purveyor of reality show ideas, who makes her Mercedes living by getting ideas optioned to all the major networks and studios, and who has never gotten a single show actually made, never ever to put an idea in writing to her; this is how particular that bitch was.  (She really was a bitch, I’m not just using a bad word here.)

If you want to pitch, O Wannabe, you need to package your idea; to get some stars or some names attached; figure out the structure, the format; ideally raise the funds and shoot a sample episode; meanwhile, do your homework and watch reality TV; know what is getting made and what isn’t; what is the current trend; look past the current trend, the current trend is over; figure out the next trend and then be ahead of it; get an agent in the industry, get a partner with a track record; do something to show you’re serious other than approaching overworked underpaid grandmothers who haven’t got the time to put up with your pitiful ignorance, and don’t want to be the first to tell you, but hope I am, because despite everything, I really don’t want you to waste your time chasing people around the block with your TV idea in your hand.  But I also know that if I wrote back and said, simply, That’s not how it works, nobody is going to jump onboard at this stage and spend time on your project, gratis, for a percentage, unless they’re your mother or your writing partner, you would just say, She is negative, she doesn’t realize how much I want my dream, and I will go after my dream, and wanting and going after my dream are a surefire way to get it, right?

No.  So get a grip, shut up, and stop asking me for freebies.

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