- One of our clients told me that when sitting down with a Showrunner, I should try to act like a mirror, mimicking the body language and mood of the person interviewing me. This sounded like good advice, but my first Showrunner meeting was with someone who had recently undergone back surgery. When we sat down, he looked to be in terrible pain and was slumped over in his chair. I slouched a bit in my seat, but I ultimately decided that mimicking him wasn’t the way to go. Instead, I focused my efforts on making him laugh. I tried roughly 8 different personalities on him, none of which he found engaging. He checked his watch at least three times within the first ten minutes of our meeting, and the only time that he laughed was when I ran into the door on my way out. NEEEXT!
- My boss set me up to meet with a wildly successful comedy writer looking for a new assistant. Heading into the meeting, my boss advised me against using sarcasm because she didn’t think that the writer would respond. Well, that’s like telling Batman to leave his Batmobile at home – sarcasm is my armor. I absolutely loved this woman, but to avoid sarcasm, I somehow began discussing the most serious and depressing topics. On more than one occasion, the writer remarked that she might cry. This isn’t exactly the emotion one is hoping to tap into when meeting with a comedy writer. To illustrate how uncomfortable the meeting turned out to be, here’s an excerpt from my “thank you” note to the writer: “I hope that I didn’t bum you out too much with my talk of autism, bereavement camps, suicides, and paraplegics. I didn’t realize that it was possible to work all of that into a 30-minute meeting with a comedy writer, but I somehow managed to!”
- A few weeks ago, I interviewed to assist a Showrunner and a Non-Writing Producer of a successful Young Adult show. When I walked into their office, it smelled awful. One of their dogs had crapped all over the carpet. The Showrunner playfully asked, “You like dogs, right?” Unwilling to lose a job over my aversion to pets, I smiled and lied, “Oh yeah! I love them.” It didn’t sound very convincing, but I hoped that they didn’t notice. As we walked toward the conference room, the dog responsible for the mess began growling at me from across the office. The snarl grew more aggressive the closer I got, as though my mere presence in the office were upsetting her. The bitch was getting so hostile that I started to feel like Damien during the zoo scene in THE OMEN. The Showrunner tried to justify the dog’s response by informing me that the dog had cancer and was out of it. I feigned compassion while I secretly surmised that I could put up with the dog’s accidents for a few months until the cancer put her out of her misery. However, as the interview progressed, I discovered that there were three more dogs that took turns coming to the office, and I would be responsible for walking and feeding them. A disheartened expression covered my face, and I knew that was the end of that interview.
- Two weeks ago, I interviewed for a Showrunner whose new drama got a series order on a major network on Thursday nights. I was scheduled to meet with him at the studio at 9:00AM, but traffic was getting in the way. I arrived at 8:59, and by the time I found parking it was 9:03. I raced across the street and tried to enter through the studio doors when a guard started yelling at me. I was still discombobulated from my commute, and I could barely hear what the guard was saying. Without paying attention to my surroundings, I started to walk across the street to the guard’s booth. Just then, a car nearly PLOWED into me! He honked and I hustled out of the way. I caught a glimpse of the driver from my peripheral vision and prayed that it wasn’t the Showrunner. Sure enough, it was. I laughed and apologized when he greeted me in the lobby, but he didn’t seem to have a sense of humor about the incident. He just said, “Yeah I thought that was you.” Woof. The rest of the interview didn’t go much better. At that point I realized that I definitely needed to work for a comedy writer.
- To shake things up, I accepted an interview at a major production company that didn’t really have much to do with writing. Still, it had creative elements and I figured it would be a nice change of pace. When I walked into the lobby, the entire television department from a studio that I've previously referred to as WDW was sitting in there waiting for a separate meeting with the production company. I hadn’t seen any of the WDW folks since I had backed out of a job offer two years before, which didn‘t resonate well with them. After exchanging awkward greetings, they asked me what I was doing at the production company, and I confessed that I was there for an interview. When my interviewer finally appeared and saved me from this terribly awkward encounter, the WDW crew wished me good luck. While walking to the conference room, the interviewer asked me how I knew WDW. I explained that I had previously accepted a job there, but that I ultimately turned it down to work for my current agency. Not a stellar way to begin an interview, and I had a feeling that it had ended the interview before it even began!
- At my latest interview, the Executive started off by asking me about one of my old employers listed on my resume. He was strangely fascinated with her, and he wanted to “get the dirt.” I told him that I wasn’t big into gossiping about my previous bosses, which was sort of a fib but sounded like something future employers would want to hear. He pressed me a bit more and I finally caved. We proceeded to spend the majority of this interview dishing about a woman for whom I hadn’t worked in years. He laughed a lot, but when the meeting ended, he simply said, “You should take her off your resume,” and that was the end of it. I couldn’t tell if he ever even considered hiring me for the position or if he only brought me in to badmouth this woman. I took his suggestion about updating my resume as a sign that I wasn’t getting the job, since I wouldn’t need another resume if he were to hire me.
I haven’t posted a blog in almost a year, but I figured that the best way to cope with my recent professional struggles was through my writing. For the past two years, I have been working at the same television literary agency in Beverly Hills. I love my company, but ever since I ruled out being an agent last year, I’ve been itching to move on. I still wanted to be a television writer, so my colleagues encouraged me to pursue a job working for an established Showrunner (the person who has overall creative authority and management responsibility for a television program). My Master Plan centered around working for a Showrunner for one year and then charming said Showrunner into hiring me on his or her writing staff. But as I’ve learned these past two months, things never seem to go as planned. I’ve gone on eight interviews, but none of them has resulted in a job. I always try to find humor in my pain, so here are some highlights that shed some light on my recent interviews:
I grew up in South Bend, IN, but I recently moved to Los Angeles, CA, to embark on an entirely new career path in the entertainment industry.