it’s been almost 3 months since i’ve left nickelodeon and have been unemployed. i’ve tried to be productive, but it’s hard to maintain momentum at the end of the year with the holidays. here’s my status report:

i finished my pilot script. it was my first one, and i have to say it was difficult to write. i want to start another pilot, and i’m hoping it’ll be easier the second time around. i already have the concept (it’s set in a mailroom) and most of the characters. i’m giving myself a deadline: the end of feb.

karen pushed the agent meetings back till mid january. i really hope that happens! ideally i can get an agent and have another pilot written, and be ready for staffing season.

karen is going to set up a simulated writers room class for the new fellows, and she invited me to take part in it too. it’ll be twice a week for 6 weeks, starting in january. since i wasn’t really able to join the room of a show during the fellowship, it’ll give me a chance to practice pitching at the very least.

during the fellowship, we took an abbreviated sketch writing class through ucb. i liked several of the sketches i wrote, and have been rewriting them, getting them ready to shoot. one of the three scripts is finished and ready to shoot. i’ll start looking for cast and crew early in the new year.

i want to end with one last story. during the nick fellowship, we got to meet fellows from previous years. our final meeting was with courtney lilly, a writer from the very first year of the nickelodeon writing fellowship. i’m going to try to retell what he told us as best as i can remember.

at the time the fellowship was run by karen horne, who now runs the nbc writers on the verge program. during his year in the fellowship, he got to work on the show invader zim.

after the fellowship, he wasn’t staffed, but he was able to get a manager. he worked some random jobs while working on some spec scripts (at the time, people still wanted to read specs, not pilots). a year or two passed, during which he got some meetings, but nothing happened.

then one year, he wrote a spec that got some attention, and he had an interview to work on a show called half and half. i think he went to the showrunner’s house and they chatted for 2 hours or something. the meeting went well and he thought he had the job. later, his manager called him and told him the showrunner liked him, but decided to go with a more senior writer. he was disappointed. he thought that was his chance.

but soon after, another opportunity came up, and he was hired to work on a little show called ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT ! amazing, right? he’s since worked on everybody hates chris, and is currently on the cleveland show.

what you might think is a setback or failure today might turn out to be for the best later on. you just have to keep going.

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  1. yes, good to keep going.
    always easier said than done.
    with over 20 buys in oct and nov in 2011 by warner bros of specs and other networks according to a tracking board of buys. it points to a great 2011. even in a recession people watch movies as a fall back in cutting back. we just have to keep plugging away and do our best. networking on rainy days puts a great chance when it starts to get sunny. it might come down to will power and putting out the right script at the right time.

  2. Great anecdote, including a reference to one of the greatest sitcoms of all time! Thanks for keeping us posted on your post-fellowship progress. Best of luck in 2012, Kiyong. Your blog has been a great source of information and inspiration and I expect even more from it next year 🙂

  3. I’m reading this post at the right time. I was a finalist for the Guy Hanks and Marvin Miller Screenwriting Fellowship (Founded by Bill Cosby, also referred to as The Cosby Program) and after a round of interviews got my rejection letter in the mail last month. It’s a new year, meaning new scripts to write, programs to apply to and opportunities to create. Time to get to work!

  4. Keep up the good work, Kiyong! Steve Holt!!

    Are both of your pilots half-hour comedies? How do you feel about hourlong comedies and dramedies for pilots? Also, any ideas about what shows will be wise to spec this year?

    1. thanks sarah. my strategy is to write pilots that are the same genre as my specs, which are half hour comedies. basically i want someone to read the pilot, clearly see my sense of humor, and can see what shows i would be a good fit for. i think writing a comedy that isn’t half hour or a dramedy might confuse someone, but if that’s the kind of show you want to write, then go for it.

      as for specs, i personally like happy endings, raising hope, archer. maybe it’s always sunny.

      1. Thanks, Kiyong–that makes sense. I was glad to see Ken Levine’s timely posts about this year’s spec options. Quick question (sorry to keep peppering you with them)–as I’ve been reading pilot episodes, I’ve seen a lot that were hourlong length (60+ pages) for half-hour shows (Friends, Happy Endings). Is it standard practice to write a long episode as the pilot?

  5. hey sarah. the happy endings pilot that i have is 34 pages. multi cam scripts usually run around 50, but i haven’t seen 60 page scripts for half hour shows. even if it were some kind of 2 part episode, i would imagine they would be written as 2 different scripts. i would just stick to standard half hour page length for the pilot.

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