Pitching Pants

So here we are at the Ides of March.  No one makes a big deal of the Ides of June or September. I’m guessing because it doesn’t have the same ominous ring or the whole Caesar’s death thing hanging over it.  No one fears the Ides of November, unless you are a turkey.

But I digress. There’s a shocker.

So, Julie and I are pitching a show around town, and it has been quite an experience — a whirlwind tour of conference rooms and offices — some are fishbowls, others look out on car parks and Century City.  Others have intimidating video conference setups which we never use.  Some rooms are located after a long trek down labyrinthine hallways along which the cheery assistant leading us to our destination must leave breadcrumbs for us to find our way back to civilization.  All of this and so much more.  I have a fine collection of various water bottles obtained from the many studios.  My favorite may be the pint sized (literally) bottle of Crystal Geyser.

The one thing I’ve learned to do in dressing for these meetings is keep it simple.  I’m not allowed to look too dressy (I’m a writer after all,) but I do believe in looking like I give a damn about being there, so I put on the make up and the nice cowl-neck sleeveless top, checking to coordinate with my sister so we neither matchy-match or clashy-clash. We strive for perfect color complement.  A pair of boots and a jacket which changes with the color of top chosen…but one component never changes.

My perfectly sized boot-cut blue jeans. My pitching pants.  I wear the same pair of pants because they are truly the finest pair I own — they fit me perfectly and even seem to have the magic ability to stretch or shrink to my waistline on any given day (I wish it would do more shrinking than stretching, but I have to get a handle on that problem myself).  I consider them my lucky charm, my talisman, until my sister snarkily pointed out last time I wore them that they were perhaps our albatross, preventing us from selling our show.

I really hope that’s not true. I’d hate to think I was wearing a dead albatross around all this time.

But all humor aside, there’s something about putting on my clothes for the pitch that feels a bit like dressing for a performance.  When pitching, you are performing, playing the part of “Writer” and within that part many other parts as you weave the tale you want to sell.  In this it feels imperative to give the attire careful consideration.

Next up we’ll hopefully start making the rounds for staffing season.  Maybe I’ll buy a new pair of jeans… just in case.

Posted under randomness

This post was written by Shawna on March 15, 2013

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Pilot Light

So, if you follow tv news obsessively like me, you know that the networks have been greenlighting pilots right and left for next season. It’s actually a little late for them, supposedly because scripts came in late to the networks — this makes sense to me because I swear no one went back to work until January 7th. I tried to deliver some belated holiday gifts to a few people at studios and everything was closed or people were still out on vacation. There is nothing harder than getting a studio lot ‘drive on’ to make a delivery when everyone is out of town.

But I digress.

I always get a little annoyed when anyone except Variety, Deadline or Hollywood Reporter reports on the pilots because they always seem to equate the greenlight of a pilot to ‘this is a show you’ll see next year.’ As we all know that is far from truth, and the town is littered with the dead — pilots made and tested that never made it to series.

The pilot season is a gauntlet. The first round is getting that script order. That’s a brass ring right there, just because as a writer, hey, YOU GET PAID. The second challenge is the pilot greenlight. You can write a great script, but it doesn’t guarantee you get to make the pilot (unless you have a pilot writing deal that comes with heavy penalties or with a straight to pilot or straight to series order, which are rare, but happen). Now is when things get tough. Now you’re competing with only a handful of projects to make it to series. Having had a front row seat to this process (but not directly in the process — my sister had the courtside seats for that), I can say it is brutal and heartwrenching when there are four slots and five or six pilots…and the one you worked on or wrote doesn’t make it. Brutal.

This year my seating is pushed back further, but kind of on the edge of things, like offstage (to continue this weird audience seating metaphor). My sister and I do not have a project in contention, but we are out pitching something for cable, so we are keenly aware of the process and our potential to get into it in the future, if not with this project, then with another somewhere down the line.

It’s scary.


Been catching up on the Scriptnotes podcasts from John August and Craig Mazin. These are great podcasts and if you aren’t listening to them, you should be.  I also listen to Rob Long’s Martini Shot every week — he does a great job of explaining this crazy business and distilling down an element of it in under four minutes. I still listen to Nerdist Writers Podcast and Meet the Filmmaker from time to time, particularly when the guest is a writer or filmmaker I am really intrigued by or want to hear more from. The nice thing about Scriptnotes is the focus on topics and not necessarily people. It’s a mechanics and business focus, which I enjoy. I know there are a multitude of podcasts, and I have over 500 downloaded which I have not yet played and heard.  Crazy.


Julie and I have been outlining and writing a pilot for weeks now and are finally nearing the finish line on the draft. It’s been tough — this one is very procedural, something we felt we needed for staffing season — and since it has been an idea we’ve circled for so long, I’m looking forward to finishing it so we can start working on something new.  I’m itching to write a feature spec.  I’ve no idea why, except I haven’t written a feature in a few years and I’d really like to try my hand at it.  I guess that’s the side effect of working for someone who writes features, tv and novels (!) — it makes me want to get out of my comfort zone with writing…

… which may be why I’m even here, blogging.  I needed a break from the pilot but I needed to keep writing something so I would be able to switch back to writing the pilot, approaching it feeling a little refreshed.  Not sure this is much of an update but more a collection of what’s on my mind.

I suppose that’s always been the point of blogging…just saying what’s on my mind.  Good to remember from time to time.

Oh, one last thing. My sister got a dog. His name is Gideon. My new side career is personal photographer.




Posted under randomness, Uncategorized

This post was written by Shawna on January 25, 2013

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The Education of Shawna

Yes, I know, I keep popping in, even though I’m on “hiatus”. I guess I just can’t stay away.

I don’t like blog posts that tease. You know, someone says ‘I have this awesomely cool thing to tell you but I can’t tell you so you’ll just have to sit there wondering what it is until I can tell you and even then it might not be as awesomely cool as you thought it would be.’ Or something like it.

I’m about to tease you. But really, I don’t mean it!

It’s just…it’s hard, when you have weird, amazing things happening all around you…and you just. can’t. talk about it. Not yet.

It’s still progressing in baby steps. A little bit this week. A little big next week. But as I stand back and look at the whole thing, it’s turning into an amazing journey. Lots of steps, taken together, that are going to make one hell of a story when I can tell it.

Let’s just say, I’m meeting amazing, interesting people who like my work, and might even want to work with me. These are amazing, interesting people that I would NEVER get to meet in normal circumstances, but some of you may know that my circumstances aren’t exactly normal. If you don’t know what my circumstances are, go back to January on this blog and you’ll figure it out.

For now, I remain bewildered. And it is so faaaaar from over.

Posted under blogs, writing

This post was written by Shawna on June 17, 2008

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