reader question: feature scripts for tv writers

question from emma:

I stumbled upon your blog, and I really enjoy reading it and getting an inside look of the industry. I’m an aspiring TV writer (drama), and I was wondering what your opinion is on TV writers having feature scripts. I’m enrolled in film program, and I’ve heard both things — 1.) if you want to write TV, it’s completely separate from the feature industry, so just make sure you have polished pilots and specs, and 2.) You should have some polished features, even if you want to do TV writing. If you have time, could you maybe shed some light on this? 🙂

hey emma. thanks for reading! i’m not a working writer so i can’t say i have a real inside look at the industry yet, but i’m on the fringe so hopefully i can break in soon!

anyway, i think a feature script is a great thing to have for a tv writer. i think the writing samples you want to have are (in order of importance):
1- pilots
2 – spec scripts
3 – features, novels, plays, comic books, short films, web series, etc. comedy writers might have sketches.

i would first write specs to learn tv writing and to use to apply to contests and fellowships, then write a few pilots, and after you have solid samples of both, only then would i think about a feature or another medium to showcase your writing.

feature scripts can be used for second round samples for some of the fellowships, and might make you more attractive to an agent or manager, but if you don’t have a feature or don’t want to write one, i don’t think that would necessarily hurt you in any way.

what i’m not sure about is how much benefit it would be for a tv drama writer to have a comedy feature, or vice versa. i personally might try to stick to one genre until i break in, but who knows. i like sitcoms but i also love sci fi movies.

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  1. I’ve been meeting with a couple managers based on my pilot and I was told a hot feature can open doors even in television. I know getting jobs in TV isn’t really the manager’s job but it was interesting to hear. Another manager told me a hot feature or pilot can open doors — who knows.

    Maybe if it happens in the next few months for me I can report back 🙂

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