Building a Career: One brick…

I’m gazing longingly at Final Draft’s “Collabo Writer” button.  If I click on it, would my perfect script pal inflate from the back of my Macbook with a completed script in one hand and a cup of chocolate sorbet in the other? Instead of whizzing through several magical drafts of my TV pilot, I’m sighing dramatically over coverage the initial treatment received. Legendary newsman David Brinkley once said, “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” So, how can I stack these bothersome blocks into a wall of wisdom and wealth?

Whenever I feel unsure of my next step, I review my past accomplishments to find patterns, mistakes and opportunities. Recently, two of my blog readers, Angela and Laurie (thanks for tuning in, ladies), asked me to share the circumstances of my recent L.A. meetings, so I’ll start there. For those of you just joining us, let’s recap: got the Big Idea, OD’d on script coverage, placed in Final Draft 2010, then the meeting miracle (cue Hans Zimmer soundtrack), happy dance, embarrassed myself in front of a few celebrities, and scored with an impromptu pitch for a TV pilot.

The simple answer to the question is: ScriptShark scouting got the meetings for me. After achieving a “Recommend” from ScriptShark, my script was sent by Lee Zahavi-Jessup to her industry contacts. Referencing my coverage results, contest successes, and her firsthand knowledge of my personality, Lee introduced me to three fantastic executives. I consider ScriptShark to be an essential member of my virtual Board of Directors. Like any successful company, I’ve assembled an amazing group of people, who educate, assist and inspire all of my achievements. If you don’t have one, make one today.

Dear reader, did you just skip over the most important part of that last paragraph? These meetings were built on the firm foundation of a well-written script. Yes, Lee liked it, but she wasn’t the only one. I spent hours researching contacts, contests and coverage, putting together a target group of industry fans for my script. Although it has many professional champions, “Master’s Key” may not make it to the big screen. Imagine how many Hollywood supporters it takes to get a script produced?

I began this odyssey over a year ago with a basic business plan. I wrote specific goals and broke them down into daily steps. I don’t care what anyone says about baby steps, the first one always feels like I’m trying to leap the Grand Canyon. On a rainy October day, I attended ScriptShark’s Biz seminar and met the incomparable Lee Zahavi-Jessup. She shocked and inspired me that day, setting me on a path that suddenly felt inevitable and doable.

My business plan now had specific facts and names, with Lee and her coverage team cast as the ubiquitous Hollywood executives that I would soon encounter, who would demand both exceptional writing and consistent professionalism. In one of my earlier blogs, “Finding Someone To Love Your Script”, I recommended focusing on impressing one particular person, preferably someone in the industry whom you can access regularly. Why? Because the effort will cover important networking goals, including establishing rapport with people who scare the pants off you, learning to incorporate feedback into your precious projects, and demonstrating your ability to meet professional standards.

Now, as I gaze across the dark abyss of TV writing, I add a new section to my business plan. My virtual B.O.D. has an empty seat for an “experienced sitcom writer”. Contrary to what I’d read before L.A., I now know that Hollywood careers are made with excellent scripts and carefully cultivated relationships. I’m getting really good at both.

See? I feel better all ready.