How NOT To Get a Freelance Assignment, II

I got this follow-up email from the guy who wanted me to pass along his "15 page episode" to the producers of MONK.

At great risk to her own life Queen Esther sought an audience with the king. He could have easily had her head chopped off but decided to listen to her. Not only did the king have Mordecai, enemy of the Jews, killed, but in doing so, he probably prevented his own murder. Esther’s actions were not based on her own ego but on the compassion she held for her people, the Jewish nation.

Although I could not hope to touch her majestic slippers, I tried to approach the network towers to suggest a new episodic teleplay, only to be told that I was arogant (sic). It was out of my compassion for my five kids and wife that I would even dare to dream. Not interested in becoming a network writer, I only wanted to make a little money to pay some of my mortgage and groceries. Now, how egotistical is that. As far as distinguishing between reruns and newly aired shows, I was at fault. But shouldn’t they be of the same caliber? I am a consumer. Don’t I have a right to voice my opinion? Not all the episodic teleplays can be stellar.
I just thought mine could be considered. But in order to do that, I would have to be talking with one would needed to be more like the king who was willing to listen.

18 thoughts on “How NOT To Get a Freelance Assignment, II”

  1. Is he writing Purim fanfic? I suppose having Mordecai killed instead of Haman would have made for a more interesting story ending, if not a happier holiday.

  2. Of course, Esther went to the king. Had she stopped in at a pub five miles away from the castle, demanded the bartender make vast changes in the kingdom, then sulked away embittered when the bartender suggested the petition might be served to someone who actually had the power to grant it, this might make for a better analogy.
    Even then, I doubt Esther started her screed with “Hey, morons, I can run this country better than any of you.”

  3. Someone explain to this guy the difference between a consumer expressing an opinion and a professional approaching a potential client.

  4. The king already held Esther in high esteem when she demonstrated great wisdom and unselfishness to foil the plot of a racist prince. I regret that I am still missing the similarity being drawn here.

  5. Wait — did this person say you (Lee) are a “network tower”? Is that supposed to mean you are president of the USA Network, or that you are literally broadcasting a TV signal out of your head?
    (And why does this latest letter not reference the ubiquitous 69-hour workweek? Is it because of the holiday coming up?)

  6. I’ve come to the conclusion that, though I’m sure he is a very good person, he is an idiot.
    What kind of an ignoramus must you be to think that television series would ever simply buy a viewer’s idea? Or outline? Or, say, a full-legth, well-written script?
    As an aspiring television writer who understands how much hard work goes every episode of any series — even those episodes that turn out badly or that could have been “better” in retrospect — this guy pisses me off.
    He sounds like a kid, in fact. About 15 years old. And that’s all I will say about his presumed intelligence or level of education.

  7. Perhaps we can vow never to remember the name of this poster… by repeating it over and over again once a year (a tradition my non Jewish husband finds very confusing… So we want to forget his name, right?)

  8. Stay tuned for the next letter, in which he compares himself to a modern-day Samson, who metaphorically sleeps with a Delilah-like network head in an attempt to conquer the Philistines of Unemployment. Thank you for joining us on Failed Biblical Analogies.

  9. C’mon, guys. I’ll admit I only occasionally lurk on this site and I’m not steeped in its culture and conventions, but this is beginning to look as if you’re piling on this poor guy.
    Yes, he seems to have little sense for how Hollywood works–I suspect he’s not the only one here who lacks that knowledge (I certainly don’t know anything about screenwriting, which frankly, is one of the reasons I enjoy reading about it here). But I don’t think that displaying naivetĂ© gives anyone a license to skewer this poor fellow.
    Sure, in the opening of his first message to Lee, this guy made the mistake of presenting his ideas in an overly assertive, perhaps even cocky, manner. How many of us have read and heard self-promotion advice that instructs us to do just that? I don’t agree with such advice, but I can forgive someone who mistakenly imitates behaviors they think are a prerequisite for success in the ego-saturated world of TV and movies.
    I suspect there are a great number of professionals who visit this site–highly educated people from first-class universities with a lot of life experience under their belts. I also suspect there are many others without those advantages, and most are unlikely to succeed as writers.
    This guy acknowledged that he’s not a professional. He works long hours to put food on his family’s table (I have no reason to doubt his statement), and he dreams of a better life. I say, cut him some slack.
    Now, feel free to impale me and my arguments. 🙂

  10. Phil,
    You’re right, we are piling on. But don’t forget the context: we’re not ripping on a newbie’s initial naivetĂ©; we’re ripping on a third communication from someone who does, in fact, purport to be a professional writer–“…working on my third novel” and “I have written two novels already.”–although I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed that he doesn’t say “published” anywhere.
    Also note that Lee (and Bill) have written a book and teach an online class on writing for TV (plus the talks that Lee gives at his book signings), so it’s not like we’re expecting someone to know some obscure ritual that only high priests and acolytes are privy to. The knowledge is out there for anyone who’s truly interested.
    And finally, if you want to be accepted as a professional, it would behoove you to present yourself professionally. That means a) doing some research, see previous paragraph. And b) proofread, especially if you want to present yourself as a professional writer. (From the first email, “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).”) No, I don’t proofread all my emails, either. But I absolutely do proofread all my query letters (which is essentially what that first communication was), emails or otherwise.
    (And specifically for screenwriting, it also helps to take notes well. To paraphrase Lee, if the showrunner tells you to write dialog for a talking dolphin, you write dialog for a talking dolphin. What you don’t do is… well, what this person did. Hence the title of this exchange, “How NOT To Get a Freelance Assignment”.)
    After three strikes, don’t be surprised if you get called out – Mark

  11. Hey… I’m with you Phil.. I’m physically cringing for the guy now. And I’m a seriously uncompassionate conservative.
    Lee I’m beggin’ ya man; as king of your own blog: Mercy!

  12. I’m with Mr. Hawley. Eccentric people are usually treated scornfully by those other-directed people who huddle close to the Zeitgeist, but often eccentrics are the fountain of new literature, new visions, striking understandings. Many of them are melancholic, and back before psychologists decided to abolish depression, it was well understood that melancholia was the inner condition inspiring genius.

  13. I love that whole “Think of my suffering family!” undercurrent meant to inspire guilt.
    Here’s my recommendation. Take that brilliant idea, change all the characters names, switch around the back stories and alter a motivation or two, and then try to sell it.
    In other words, WRITE YOUR OWN DAMN STORY.


Leave a Comment