I got this email today:
I know Tom Scarpling wrote the last episode of Monk, Mr. Monk and the Kid, which aired on Friday last. I was well dissapointed in it. It failed to show any real cleverness on Mr. Monk’s part. I don’t mean to be critical. I don’t watch the show all that much, only when I can come home from working 69 hours a week!
The acting was great, the human experience intriguing and endearing. But the sagacity and creativity was wanting.
I still have the 15 page episode which might shed new light on Monk’s abilities. I have written two novels already. I am not a professional but I can’t believe that true talent and creativity are relegated only to the experienced.
I’ll alert the MONK writing staff to stop whatever they are doing until your "15 page episode" arrives. I’m sure there’s a lot they can learn from it.
"True talent and creativity" are not relegated only to the experienced — but experience, and a smidgen of knowledge, might have taught you that there’s no such thing as a "15 page episode." Hour-long, episodic teleplays are roughly 58 pages. Experience might also have taught you that telling the creators, producers, and writers of a show that you, whose only connection to the program is infrequent viewing, can "shed new light" on their characters is outrageously arrogrant and probably not likely to win their favor. Oh, one other thing…the episode you saw last Friday was a rerun from last season. A little research doesn’t hurt, either.
UPDATE: After I posted this message, something he wrote still nagged at me: "I still have the 15 page episode," as if it was something I should be familiar with. So I did a quick scan of the emails I’ve received over the last year to see if I have heard from this man before. Sure enough, I got an email from him last month:
I have enjoyed the Monk series over the past few years. I have a credible episode I’d like to submit. 15 pages in
length, the story utilizes Monk’s knowledge, humorous situations, and the
cleverness of the crooks who, were it not for Monk, would get away clean
while framing another innocent bystander.
The episode also shows how
vulnerable we are in a world where identity theft has raised its ugly
head. I have a master of divinity degree and am working on my third novel.
I believe this episode, Mr. Monk Rents a Movie, would be of use by NBC
but stiking a deal useful to them and myself (I have bills to pay,
five children to feed). But as to the logistics, I would need my
services solicited by them.
If I emailed you the story, could you get me
connected? I know you are successful and quite busy. I work 69 hours a week
and need a break, not from working, but from standing on the other side of
the NBC wall. Anything you could do would be helpful.
I told him that I am not the one who buys stories on MONK. I’m a freelancer on the show. For obvious legal reasons, I won’t look at any MONK
stories or scripts by anyone other than the MONK staff. I also told him I wouldn’t pass along material to the producers from someone I don’t know. Apparently, he didn’t get the message.
7 thoughts on “How NOT To Get a Freelance Assignment”
You’re a lucky guy, Lee. Sagacious and creative and really clever. You have true talent and are experienced.
She’s kind of tied into that 69 hours a week thing, isn’t she?
Well, she certainly seems proud of the fact that she works 69 hours a week…
//Experience might also have taught you that telling the creators, producers, and writers of a show that you, whose only connection to the program is infrequent viewing, can “shed new light” on their characters is outrageously arrogrant and probably not likely to win their favor.//
But…but…I know all about the characters! I could tell you stuff the writers never even knew! For example, inside my head, Benjy Fleming had a crush on a girl who turned out to be Stottlemeyer’s niece! Sure, it didn’t happen on the show, and nobody ever thought of it except me, but it’s really true! Don’t just think that because you write for a show that you know more about it than someone who watches it every once in a while!
‘K, I’ll give the sarcasm a rest now.
This really is annoying because time after time the regular folks out there think they can just up and do this work from anywhere. Yet, they don’t even look into what’s involved. It’s the whole vanity press syndrome all over.
Or she could just submit her story to a “Monk” fanfic site …
Question for you, I know you probably hear this alot or get asked often. What would you say is the best way to get into the business you’re in? I don’t want the secrets, just an idea of what one would have to do to get to the point you’re at, and I know everything depends on different factors, but what would you say is a place to start? Would it be freelance writing, submit ideas to tv shows and see what happens? I’m interested in tv writing and writing in general, just trying to find someone out there who can give me some information on things to try. Thanks.
It would take a book to answer your questions — luckily, I’ve written one with my writing partner, William Rabkin. It’s called SUCCESSFUL TELEVISION WRITING. You can find a link to it on the column to the right.
Not the best way to go about breaking into showbiz, but I do feel bad for the guy. It’s nice to see someone passionate enough about their television to actively engage.
“This really is annoying because time after time the regular folks out there think they can just up and do this work from anywhere.”
God forbid regular folks should have the audacity! 😉