Tag Archives: Spec Script

And, It’s Done…

There’s not much for me to say about this one. At 12:45 p.m. yesterday afternoon, I sent out my Always Sunny… spec to the powers that be in Los Angeles. Next week, I’m including the script in another application. Now, all I can do is wait and see.

But, damn: I actually did it, kids.

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One Down, Another To Go

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Well, it took me long enough, but I finished my original pilot script for The New York Television Festival. It got intense at the end: as the June 15th deadline approached, I was juggling a volunteer stint at Sketchfest NYC 09 (which was awesome) and a four-day visit from my mom. It finally came down to four drafts of the script, and making the finishing touches to it at 4:00 in the morning on the final day of submission. By then, I wanted to just get the thing registered and to the NYTVF. By 4:30 a.m., Six Month Grace Period by Matt Fried was done and submitted. I sent off the final draft to the friends who’d help me out with a reading of the script the weekend before, and then I collapsed into bed.

Now, the next assignment: finishing my Always Sunny… spec by July 1st.

It’s funny – in the past, I always felt I could juggle everything. I thought being an actor, doing improv, and writing were full-time gigs that were interchangeable. But, it wasn’t until I made the firm decision to solely focus on writing this month, that I saw what I had missed by being all over the place. Now understand that writing is what I’d rather be doing. That’s not to say, “I’m done with performing.” However, in order to give these scripts a full focus, I left my improv group, and have limited my stage time to The Matt Fried Hour – a once-a-month commitment. By taking the time off, I’ve realized that performing is more of a release; an escape. It’s the most fun for me when it’s not the end-all, be-all. With writing, however, it was different. Opportunities to get my stuff read by actors, in front of an audience, seemed to just fall into my lap.

So it hit me: when a trend like that starts so early on, you have to follow it. But I’m cool with being a writer. I like writing. It’s easy work that doesn’t require pants. There will always be a part of me still wanting to perform full-time. Still wanting to be the center of attention. But I think I’m ready now to be the quiet guy standing in the back. Which is a weird thing to consider, but it’s true. Rather than demand attention through exhibition, I’d like to enjoy the quiet satisfaction of hearing my words said by someone else. And then, go to bed, wake up, and do it all over again. And – once again for dramatic emphasis – while not wearing pants.

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This Song Is Stuck In My Head….

“Her Morning Elegance” by Oren Lavie. It kind of reminds me of one of my female characters, Jessi, in my pilot script.

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The Second Draft of Matt Fried

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So, consider this post me coming up for air after being submerged in a sea of writing and rewriting. Some days, you feel like you’re riding a tall wave – just you and what God gave you. Other days, it feels like straight-up waterboarding, and Dick Cheney is holding the bucket.

In the last week, I’ve plowed through work on an original pilot script and I’m still working on my Sunny script. During those same days, I’ve found myself inside my apartment for hours staring at a computer; rarely leaving except for the gym, grocery shopping, and maybe – just maybe – the occasional night off. This kind of cabin fever does something to your head. You find yourself going one-on-one with your talent and your ego. Your talent is always assuring you to press ahead; don’t be too hard on yourself if it isn’t perfect. Your ego is screaming at you “STOP. NOW. It’ll never be as good on paper as it is in your head.” Suddenly, you begin to wonder how long it’ll be before you start collecting your own piss in jars. Though (now that I think about it), I wouldn’t mind a stained glass window in my place.

I’m beginning to see that sometimes, the creative process is not easy. I mean: it’s easy in the respect that an idea comes to you, you think through it, and then you write it out. For a few hours, you feel brilliant. However, the hard part comes after: you need discipline to sit back down again and let yourself change a few things around. Worst of all, you need to let go of some great stuff that isn’t meant to work, and allow yourself to replace them with some new ideas that kind of fit, but they sound nowhere near as good as your first ideas. The big hope is that time, massive rewrites, and maybe a reading or two will ultimately take you to a newer, better idea that’ll knock you on your ass and make you say “I can’t believe I didn’t think of that before!”

And that, kids, is supposed to be how perfect comedy scripts are written.

All of this writing has taken a toll on my performance life. In fact, I’ve recently decided to take a break from improv until I get these scripts done. On any free nights I have, I’m trying to go out to open mikes and work on written solo material I have (known in some cultures as “stand-up comedy”). And of course, there’s still The Matt Fried Hour. It has occurred to me in the last week that perhaps part of the reason why I stuck by improv for so long – and found excuses to not go after other comedic pursuits – was simply because I knew the work involved would be big. There is something way easier about showing up somewhere, making shit up, and then a little later getting all the praise and a girl’s phone number. Since I decided to pursue writing these scripts, there have been many things I’ve done that my ego demands I avoid. Because it moves me away from a place of total security and artistic self-assurance. But, truth be told, I’m learning that when I do hear that voice in my head, it means I need to move toward what it wants me to avoid. Even if it means staying up until 3:00 a.m. trying to figure out how to make a joke about Samuel Beckett funny. If I don’t, then I wonder, “If not now, then when?”

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The Philly Spec

I spent yesterday working on the sitcom spec that I started in class a few months ago. This was the class I dropped, but then promptly returned to, once I was contacted by my teacher. She asked me to come back and give what I could in class, even with my crazed schedule. This woman really is something amazing – if you’re in the NYC area and looking to learn how to write sitcoms, I highly recommend her class at The Peoples Improv Theater.

Anyway, I decided to write an episode of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Originally, the plan was to write a 30 Rock script, but that’s a spec many aspiring TV writers are covering. I also considered Entourage, but something was telling me to save that for a second round of writing. It’s Always Sunny…, however, went untouched in my class, so I went after it. Plus, it is my hometown. And – no offense to my fellow Delaware Valleyians – but the fun of the show is its wild exaggeration of “the Philadelphia crazy”. Now granted, I never knew anybody who fed his friends raccoon meat, but we are talking about the town that once pelted  Santa Claus with batteries.

It’s very exciting: sitting down, brainstorming, writing this stuff out, cross-referencing (which means actually watching episodes of the show). There is, of course, The Fear. It’s something that’s been on my mind ever since I began to consider writing as a career option. When enough time has gone by – and that initial rush from a great idea comes and goes – The Fear finds a way to settle in: no money, odds against you, wondering if you’ll be 30 and actually be getting paid to do this stuff. The Fear can easily derail you. I’ve fallen victim to it, as have all writers. In fact, I would say it’s the same for humanity in general – who among us has ever lived fearlessly?

Here’s the way I see it: nobody has guaranteed me anything. If I want it, I have to work for it; and even then, there’s no time stamp on my birth certificate that says “Will completely succeed on xx/xx/xxxx.” When I think about that too much, it becomes easy to let myself get sidetracked; make my spec (or screenplay) a second priority. But instead of taking the easy way out, I remind myself, “What will be gained if I do so?” The answer is the same thing every time – regret. The way I see it, you can make money anyway you want at any point in your life. But if you don’t do what you want, when you want it, then you’re just wasting time. Maybe it sounds corny, but I didn’t come to New York to live with regrets. So – even when I do have those moments of anxiety – I try to remind myself that I am talented at writing. Somewhere out there, someone appreciates what I’m doing.

So, the spec is coming along – I wrote the beat sheet a while back, and the goal is to get the outline done by the end of today. Once the outline is done, revise it, make sure it makes sense (in context to the show), and then I’ll probably send it to my teacher before I take a crack at writing the script itself.

In between, I’m trying to come up with some new stuff for my next open mike on Tuesday night. Right now, I just seem to be talking about dating. Hey, it’s a start.

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