Ken Levine on Interviewing for Writing Jobs

Dude nails it…again:

by Ken Levine

lookinggoodHere’s a Saturday question. It’s like a Friday question except the question itself is longer than the answer….

From Josh:

I’m writing to you because I’ve started to take some showrunner meetings/interviews for TV comedies and I find them perplexing. In the past, when you’ve given a young writer or writing team their first gig, what did you feel constituted a successful meeting? Do the ideas they have about the show matter? Is there any way to compensate for being totally green?

I guess I’m wondering what’s expected of me in these meetings. They’ve read my scripts…liked them. I’ve met with the studio…the network. That’s all fine, but I don’t feel comfortable yet with the executive producers. Maybe there’s an intimidation factor.

It’s much tougher for showrunners these days because generally they’re interviewing the newbie writer for a staff position. Back in the old days when dinosaurs ruled the earth (the 1980s and 90s) you could give a baby writer a freelance assignment and use that to determine whether they’re worthy of joining your staff. Now, the decision is based on a decent spec SCRUBS and interview.

Try not to be intimidated. Showrunners are just like regular people but luckier and more neurotic.

The first thing I look for is this: is this writer fucking strange? Does he creep me out? Does he have an Olsen Twins obsession? Does she dress like Lady Gaga?

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One thought on “Ken Levine on Interviewing for Writing Jobs

  1. Been there, done that…for more years than I care to remember. Or can remember. “INTERVIEWING FOR A TV JOB” is no different than interviewing for a job with the SANITATION DEPARTMENT. ‘HONESTY’ is the key. You obviously have some talent, and the fact that you’ve been given the interview shows some interest on the part of the production company. So…be yourself. You’re a writer. No big deal. The TV world’s full of ’em. But you’re the one they’re willing to give their time to. So you obviously have something the producers want. (And having spent close to 50 years doing this, and still at it, that something is your talent.) And you really don’t have to over-sell that. You either have it or not. So when you’re asked, “Why should we hire you?” And believe me, one way or another, you’re asked that, simply answer, “You like their show, enjoy writing it — as you can see by the scripts you’ve already turned in — and you can contribute a whole lot more if you were a member of the writing staff.” Simple as… “I wanna write this show… So when do I start?” (NOTE: ADDING THE SLIGHTEST SMILE WON’T HURT.) gs

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