by Larry Brody
In the words of Miranda Hart, who may well be the funniest woman in the English-speaking world, “Such fun!”
I’ve been giving the entries in the People’s Pilot that closed a week ago Monday what’s turned out to be a glorious preliminary look-see, and I’m feeling damn good about them and what they tell me about the contest, the state of the Industry, and today’s awesome new writers.
Here’s what I’m smiling about:
- Two years ago, the PP received more entries than ever before in its history. Last year we got one entry less. This year, we’ve reached a new record high of 10% more than in 2013. About half the names were familiar to me from previous contests, TVWriter™ comments and email, and the various classes I teach. (Yes, if you’re a TVWriter University student of course you can enter both the People’s Pilot and the Spec Scriptacular. Otherwise, what would be the point?) But just a shade over 50% of the entrants were new to me. Which I love because it means that not only is the contest growing but so is all around interest in creating exciting new content for TV. So the next time you hear a network exec or showrunner say s/he can’t find new writers, look ’em right in the eyes and say, “Must be because you’re not looking.” Believe me, you’ll be telling the truth.
- Last year, 41% of the entries were half-hour shows and 59% were one-hours. This year, 45% are half-hours and 55% are one-hours. This makes half-hour scripted television shows a bit more popular than it seems to be with television executives, which tells me that the most creative members of the audience – I’m talking about the writers – are actively looking for comedy that works and are prepared to step up to the plate and make it happen themselves. Now if we could only get the gatekeepers to listen….
- In keeping with this train of thought, My scanning of the half-hour entries shows that the vast majority are pure sitcoms, with a few animated action shows being the major exception. Last year, science fiction and fantasy series counted for almost a third of the one-hour entries, but this time around that percentage seems down to roughly 20%, with the majority of the rest of the one-hour entries either police procedurals or – and this is a first – primetime serials, usually about beautiful, wealthy, and morally destitute human beings. Just between us, I love how the entrants into the 2015 People’s Pilot are making their 1% characters suffer.
- In the past, entrants of this contest have demonstrated an almost uncanny ability to come up with intriguing titles. This year is no exception, with the following series names practically grabbing me by the throat and demanding to be read:
BOTTOM OF THE RIVER
STATE OF EMERGENCY
THE DEVIL’S ERRANDS
ADAM & EVE and STEVE
THOU SHALT ROCK
THE COUNCIL OF ABOVE-AVERAGE GENTLEMEN
- Once again, we had more one-word titles than I expected, although not nearly as a high a percentage as last year. These stand out:
- FWIW (I put it this way because the judges never seem to agree with me about titles), my favorite title in the half-hour category is UNRAVELING: A SADISTIC MUSICAL. My one-hour fave is KIMCHI COWBOY. (I really am giving away much to much about myself, aren’t I?)
Our plan for announcing winners remains the same as it was when we the contest opened. We hope to announce Semi-Finalists and Finalists during the last half of July and Winners early in August. That’s going to be sooner than it feels, so keep checking back with us. Wouldn’t want anybody to be a Winner and not know it. After all, what good is a victory if you don’t use it to make your big career move? (Or at least rub it into those who didn’t believe?)
Thanks again to everyone for taking part and being so talented! More to come!