Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Thursday, July 31, 2008

You can't always get what you want...

Just got an email from the CFC.

Unfortunately, it would appear that my CFC endeavours for this year are over.

My mind, well, my mind's kinda spinning right now - as upset as I am to not get in (it's a punch in the gut) the thing that's weighing on my mind is 'Why'?

Hopefully that'll be something that'll come to light soon as it would appear that in my rejection letter (not a cut and paste job - thank you for that) they mention that they'd like to talk to me further. My main hope is that it'll have some real grains of constructive criticism in there, something I can turn into the mortar upon which the next chapter will be laid.

Fuck. It sucks and I'll be honest about it, it hurts. But you know what? Let's be real. Let's take a moment, push the emotions aside and take stock.

With no professional writing experience or teaching and under my own steam (and the assistance of some very helpful friends and allies) I managed to make the top 20 of the CFC and get an interview on the very first try.

I am on the right track. I am doing something right.

One of the things that they complimented me for in the interview was that I have a lot of ideas, ideas that they really seemed to like. That's good news. That means there's gold in them thar hills... I just gotta figure out how best to mine it.

If I had to get self-critical, I think my fatal flaw was that I lost track of the plot in my Battlestar spec script, ended up letting it take a back seat in favour of the character moments. It was the only thing they really seemed to ding me for - there were other problems, other comments, sure. But that's the one that really seems to stick.


What now?

I'm going to accept this failure for what it is: A chance to push myself forward. They liked my work I know that much. I saw their faces, I know they liked the content.

I think it was the structure that tripped me up.

And I think that's something that's entirely fixable.

So now I'm going to go home and do what I do best: learn. I'm going to focus my own studies on the more technical side - the hard, barebones structure of what makes good TV. I think the biggest thing that would help me would be to understand WHY the structure is the way that it is. I mean I get the concepts of peaks and valleys (I think...), etc. but maybe there are some intricacies that I'm missing.

Either way, this is not the last of me by a long shot.

This just means that I have to work harder, keep networking, keep writing.

There's more than one way to break into this industry.


P.S: If anyone has any good links or notes or advice they can pass my way - anything to do with structuring TV, or Film - that'd be very much appreciated.


kdubb said...

Hi Brandon -

I am particularly sorry to hear this. And even more convinced than ever by what you write here about it that you'll make it, with or without the farm team stint.

I think now's the time to remind you a lot of the most admired writers in Canada never got a chance at the CFC either. It hasn't even been around long enough (TV-wise) to cover 1 generation of us.

What the letter says may be important, what you make of it is so much more important. You know what you want to improve on already. Go for it. Keep reading Jill, and Denis, and TV, Eh... Keep working as hard as you already are. There are no magic wands in showbiz.

Abd meanwhile, I'm very proud to continue to support such a vibrant, intelligent and graceful talent like you. GRACE THEY CAN'T TEACH. Let me know if there's ever anything I may help with (I'm all over that short script, I'm just slow).

Maybe in the meantime you'll consider becoming ink canada's first ever other Officer. Because we're learning as much from you, as you are from us.

Keep the faith, and yes, study hard, practice, read - and above all, to quote you, keep writing. You are one of the top twenty new televisions writers of the year, no matter what.

All my best,
Karen Walton
Head Cheerleader
Team Brandon - King of the Newbies

SeeDoubleYou said...

I'm sorry to hear about that, Brandon. I was rooting for you.

The thing is, the CFC isn't looking for the 8 *best* writers. They are looking for 8 really good writers that will complement each other. It's just like building a story room - you want to make sure there's diversity. I know I learned just as much from the other 7 people in the program as I did from the showrunner and producers. So, maybe there were 2 other "genre" writers (whatever that means) applying this year and they wanted to have one genre writer and one animation writer... you just don't know.

Even though it's sort of personal, it's sort of not. Applying 2 to 3 times is not abnormal for the CFC, lots of people apply a few times before getting in.

And Karen made a good point. The CFC is not the only way. There are young writers out there kicking the ass of CFC grads (Vera Santamaria, for example) because they pushed through with talent and drive, not the CFC stamp of approval. Heck, I've got the CFC stamp and I'm not working right now. ;)

You'll do great things, I know it!

DMc said...

Aw, Brandon, that's too bad. But there's so much in your reaction and this entry to cheer.

You've got the right attitude. That kind of positive tenacity will get you where you need to be, if you hang on, believe, and quietly continue to work your craft (and don't fear asking the questions.)

There are plenty of reasons to not make the cull, and not all of them are craft or worth related. You're right though -- if they say they want to talk to you a little more, it's because you DO have merit.

I'd hope you'll continue to work toward your dream, with or without the CFC. You learn so much on every script. I kind of hope that amidst your reading, you make room for the single most positive thing you can do next:

Start thinking about that next script.

Hang in there, Bud. You're barely out of the teaser.

Elize said...

I'm sorry Brandon.

It's tough, no matter what to have that happen.

Each way to get into the industry isn't easy though, and keeping at it the way you have been is the best way -- really. You're already in Toronto, and there's not much holding you back from keeping going. You just got to keep pegging at it.

jimhenshaw said...

First, don't take it personal. And second, you're right about there being more than one way into the factory.

I lost out in two attempts to get into the National Theatre school. Five years later the actors who'd beaten me out had left the business and I was making my first movie.

If you want it you will have it. Nobody else decides your future. It's all in your own hands.

Marilyn C said...

Hey Brandon

I too am very sorry to hear you didn't get the call this year, but as everyone above has said far more eloquently, you'll get there. Whether it's through the CFC next year or your own path, it's clear from your passion on this blog that you'll be writing for the medium you love in no time at all.