Assuming you are interested in writing TV, here’s your syllabus for the next few months:
Brainstorm three features. Pick one to write.
Pick and write a TV spec.
Outline the feature. Start writing the screenplay.
Once per week, revisit your other feature pitches and refine them.
When the second feature screenplay is written, start showing it to trusted readers.
Rewrite/polish the TV spec.
Brainstorm a TV pilot script.1
Either write the TV pilot script, or rewrite the second feature.
Whatever you do, don’t confuse “waiting for people to read” with “waiting to get started on something.” It’s great people like your script. That’s your cue to write more.
isoS: But even if you’ve been through it a lot, don’t you have to believe in it?
LCK: Yeah, it’s the only way. That experience is necessary. You have to bet all horses on it, you have to sell the house and do everything, and you have to believe it’s gonna happen. That feeling of horrible… the hangover? It’s just part of your job. You can’t protect against it. If you’re in a project and you’re preparing yourself psychologically for failure, then your failure’s gonna be easier, but what the fuck kind of goal is that? I mean, you have to assume it’s gonna work, and not just because there’s some kind of magic to that, but because that’s the kind of energy it takes to make the thing happen. Everyone you deal with has to see in you that the show’s gonna happen, you have to have more faith in it than anybody else.
Finish this sentence: The biggest challenge in producing a sitcom is …
Managing egos. It’s like you live in a world where shoes only come in extra large or extra small, and everyone is wearing the wrong sizes.
A great simile, right there.
GQ: You strike me as a guy who has a powerful code for behaving properly. Are there some rules you could share with GQ’s readers?
Nick Offerman: I would say, first of all, be prepared. I can’t say enough about that. Right now I’m traveling in New York City, but I still have my Swiss army knife on me. I grew up among farmers in Illinois and so you always have to have the tools you might need in the eventuality of a flat tire or a broken window. In the traditional role of man, it falls to you to keep the weather out and fish in the boat. Two: Be polite. Good manners have gotten me as far as anything else in this business. The first film I did, Chain Reaction, was with Keanu Reeves and Morgan Freeman. I had some really nice scenes as Keanu’s building super, which were then completely cut from the film [giggles]. Anyway, at the end of my day on set, I hung up my costume in the trailer, and the wardrobe assistant came to pick it up. I said something involving please and thank you. She stopped, put her hands on her heart, and said, “Can I just say thank you so much for treating me like that, and for hanging up your clothes?” I said, “Are you kidding me?” And it quickly became clear, as I continued working, that having manners was equivalent to a superpower in the business.
Woody Allen. The last line kills me.
Given the odds of making it as a comedian, I am amazed at how little
effort so many comedians make, while complaining bitterly about their
lack of breaks. I mean, you should be thinking like an olympic athlete
but you think like dorito-eating high school brats, doing nothign and
expecting everything. Of course I’m not talking about YOU, whoever is
reading this. I’m talking about YOU, over there. Yeah.
Every time I run, I reach about fifty points in my run where I want to
quit. I reach about 100 points where I am SURE I’m going to quit. But
I keep going and when I finish, I’ve just proven to myself that I can
survive self doubt and exhaustioin. This is an invaluable tool for me
as a comedian, writer and producer. Everything I do is helped by
exercize. Even if I can’t spell it right.
The Undertones - Teenage Kicks
“Maybe once a fortnight, after a few days of listening to sizzling new releases and worrying that the music is merging into angst but otherwise characterless soup, I play Teenage Kicks to remind myself exactly how a great record should sound. “But what’s so great about it?” people, from my own children to complete strangers in wine bars, have asked. I’ve never yet come up with an answer that pleased me much, falling back each time on: “There’s nothing you could add to it or subtract from it that would improve it.”
That’s the best I can do, and even that sounds slightly excessive for a record that, upon its original release in 1978, was in the charts for a mere six weeks, rising no higher than 31st place. Teenage Kicks was reissued in the summer of 1983 and charted again, this time for two weeks.
Yet we’re talking about a record that even now reduces me to tears every time I hear it. The first time I cried was when, stuck in traffic on the M6 near Stoke-on-Trent on my way to the football, I heard Peter Powell play my copy of the EP on Radio 1. I had written “Peter. This is the one” on the inner sleeve. To my alarm, I found myself weeping uncontrollably and I still can’t play Teenage Kicks without segueing another track in afterwards to give myself time to regain composure.”