Adam and Me at Vasquez Rocks.
As you likely saw on my social media feeds, my writing partner, Adam Hunault, recently came to L.A. to visit for two weeks. It was really great to have him in town for a number of reasons, the first of which (of course) is that he’s one of my best friends and I like having him around in general.
But second, I realized something new while he was here. Or rather, his being here confirmed something that I wasn’t sure was entirely true.
You see, before I moved to L.A. from New York, I resented the fact that if I wanted to write for television, I “had” to move to Los Angeles. After all, tons of shows film in New York, so I didn’t understand why they couldn’t be written there. What’s more, I didn’t understand why one couldn’t just apply for TV-writing gigs, fly to L.A. for an interview if need be, but then join the writers’ room via Skype or Google Hangout or something. Surely, advances in technology should allow for more wiggle room in the television industry! Or so I thought.
Having lived in L.A. for two and a half years now (Time flies when you’re having life!), I realize that there’s no way in hell I could make any headway career-wise without moving my ass out here. It really is all about who you know – and not in a sleazy, superficial, casting-couch kind of a way (there is no Writer’s Couch that I know of, but if it gets that soap-operaesque, I’ll let you know). In the entertainment industry, and particularly when it comes to writing, it seems, jobs are pursued and obtained by word of mouth. It’s more likely that you’ll get your first shot at a job from a friend of a friend who works at a studio than it is to “apply” for a job (however one would even do that – especially without an agent). The entertainment industry is based in large part on people helping each other out. So, if you’re not out here to meet those people…well, good luck on Monster.com.
That was the other reason Adam came out here. In addition to seeing me (and writing with me, but more on that later), he was scoping out L.A. to make a final decision as to whether or not he’s going to move out here. As we’ve applied for the writing fellowships, he started to realize that his not being here is a bit of a hindrance. A pro writer I know graciously agreed to write us a letter of recommendation for the ABC Writing Program despite having never met Adam in person. Meanwhile, another pro writer I approached graciously turned us down, in part, because he had never met Adam and didn’t feel comfortable vouching for a team whose members he didn’t all know, which is completely understandable. So, after this two-week trip. Adam is planning on coming out here in a couple of months for a 3-4 month stint to really get a feel for the city in order to make his final decision.
I’ll be glad to have him when he does move out here.
Adam and Me at a friend’s birthday pool party. SEE? He HAS to move here, for we have sunshine and pool parties ALL THE TIME.
The Needing to Be in L.A. to Pursue a TV Career thing I already knew. The thing that Adam being here really hammered home was the fact that there’s nothing like writing with someone In Person. We’ve been long-distance for our entire partnership (though we’ve known each other for over 10 years, and were housemates for about 7), but our best work has always been when we’ve been able to be in the same room to hash out our ideas. There’s something in the air when your collaborator is in the same room as you. The energy is infectious, and it’s easier to get points across and pick up what your partner is throwing down. It’s also more fun! When we broke our first original pilot, Rocket, it was during Adam’s previous visit to L.A. in February of last year. We had a couple of meetings over dinner for 2-3 hours at a time, and we figured out our show and broke the pilot. Adam went back to New York with a complete outline of the episode, and we worked on finishing our assigned scenes in different cities. When I visited New York in October of last year, we went over our first draft (second?), and hashed out all of our notes, realized what needed fixing, and had massive changes for a new draft. Things that would’ve taken forever to hash out going back and forth over email were handled in a couple of hours. And for some reason, the creative conversation doesn’t run as smoothly over a screen, or over the phone. Those things are great for quick follow-ups or notes. But breaking a story? Getting to the nitty-gritty of a new work? That needs to happen face to face.
I finally understand why all the TV writing needs to happen in one city, and why writers’ rooms need to be attended in person. Hashing out ideas over Skype will never be as effective or organic as sitting in a room with someone, feeling their energy, and telling a story together. So, yeah. Lesson learned.
In the two weeks Adam was here, we not only broke a new pilot (which I’ll tell you more about once it’s more than an outline, but for now the working title is Scion), but we also figured out stories for two new specs of existing shows we want to write. We already have Rocket and our Elementary spec. By the end of the year, we want to finish the Scion pilot, write two new specs, and at least outline a third original pilot. AND, Adam and I are now going to be partnering up on a web series I’ve been wanting to do FOREVER. Now, instead of writing it all myself, I have a partner to help, and he seems as excited about the idea as I am! This summer and fall is all about churning out new material!
Before Adam approached me with the idea that eventually became Rocket, I never thought I’d ever want a permanent writing partner. It gave me heebly-jeeblies to even give an editor control of words I’d written, let alone a partner. Writing was always a solitary activity to me, and I was very protective of my story babies. :) But after working on Rocket, I realize that there are times when having a partner is the best thing for you – having someone who’s on the same page as you as far as the kind of stories you want to tell, but who brings a different perspective that you might never have considered on your own. Someone talented who forces you to step up your writing game lest you get left behind. Someone to hold you accountable.
Someone to write half the fucking pages. ;)
But seriously, allowing myself to have a writing partner for my TV stuff is the best decision I’ve ever made. I feel like I’m doing some of my best writing now, and I’m so glad to be working with someone with whom I don’t feel competitive. We each want great things for the other, and we both want what’s best for our scripts, no matter whose darlings end up getting killed. It’s a great thing.
And I can’t wait until he’s back in L.A. so that we can be writing things together in the same room again.
Me and Adam at Swingers Diner in Santa Monica. He has resting Raspberry Face.