Encouragement can go a long way . . . It’s like a small thruster on a space craft: a little burst can turn you in the right direction or propel you further than you thought you’d ever go. Today, we had two really nice thrusters in class. Two guys who were more interested in seeing us succeed than trying to impress us with their stories of ill will and hard ship. No one want to hear how hard you’ve had it. Join the club – no one has had an easy life. No one gets things handed to them in on a silver platter . . .
Unless your hardship story ends with a, “It was hard, but I did okay and you’ll be okay too,” no one wants to hear it. Instead of, “It was hard and it sucks so get ready to have a horrible life,” tale a pill and get over it. The very industry we’re striving to break into rejects the stories on principal: no audience wants to see a crappy ending. They want to see the hero succeed. They want to know that everything will be okay. WE ALL LOVE HAPPY ENDINGS.
That’s why these two guys were great. Let em start with the second speaker; Fred Rubin, a television writer/producer for the past 30 some odd years. Never heard of him? Oh. Well, have you heard of these: Mama’s Family, Webster, Night Court, Family Matters, Step by Step . . . yeah, that’s Fred Rubin and he’s unbelievably smart and charming. He asked us not to record his lecture so I have to assume I shouldn’t write down all he taught us.
I can say this, his lecture was all about pitching to producers. This has been the subject of many of our speakers, but the detail and length into which he was willing to inform us far surpassed anything else we have heard. He went from preparation to scheduling to the day of the meeting to being in the waiting room to the actual pitch to the moments and days after. I wish I could just give you the play by play (his lecture took up more pages in my notebook than any previous speaker) but just know – I think we’re all well prepared.The first speaker was a manager named Noah Rosen. All he did was prop us up – and not in an unrealistic way. he was honest but spoke to us a colleagues, not doomed sociology projects. Asking each individual what their goals were, he helped lay out a road map that may not be easy, but as he said, at least you have a map now. Even his advice for writing characters made me think about what we should do as actual, living human beings:
Make your characters do shit — they’re not real people, they’re movie people. They make choices that we won’t.
That’s advice all “real” people could use — not just writers.