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This is my old blog, which I no longer update. Feel free to browse around old posts and such, but the much more recent version of my ramblings are to be found at MarilynAnneCampbell.com

Monday, July 28, 2008

My Career-Stalling Attempts at "Professionalism"

I've just added a new blog to my reading list after coming across A Tale of a Boy and his TV Show. On it Brandon Laraby is chronicling his clearly focused efforts to break into TV writing in Canada. I was hooked on the first post I read, likely because it's about his interview for the CFC's Prime Time program. As I mentioned in my comment, this struck a chord because I clearly remember my interview for the same... and the subsequent phone call telling me I was one short of making the cut.

I hadn't thought about that interview in a long time, mostly because my career moved into other writing realms. But it just happened that less than a week before Brandon's post I found myself in my first TV interview situation in several years - and as more and more days go by without a call, I'm fairly certain I've failed to make the cut on this one, too. The big difference between my most recent interview and back when I sat at the CFC table is that this time I think I know what I did wrong - and I suspect it's just about the worst mistake any writer can make.

Not getting into the CFC didn't bother me as much as it could have, because it was hinted that it wasn't a matter of writing skill but rather that my style and interests didn't mesh with the showrunner's vision for the year. That seemed to me like the best worst-case scenario. But last week's interview was with a production company I already knew was interested in the kinds of stories I love.

And yet when I sat at the table, the love was gone.

I buried it. Something way back in the job-interview mode of my brain decided that rambling on about the awesomeness of this or that was unprofessional, so away the enthusiasm went only to be replaced by very dull statements about my skills and experience and blah blah blah.

For some reason I assumed there would be asked a direct question about what sort of film and television I liked best. I was saving the giddy, geeking-out part of me for that moment. But the question never came. What did happen was the interviewer started giving me vague run-downs on the genres, styles, tones and target audiences of projects they were working on.

I'd done research ahead of time, but these were concepts that were in the earliest stages, not mentioned anywhere on their website or in any other publications. Not one but two of the concepts were so far up my alley that he could have been describing specs I've been working on myself. But still I kept nodding and saying things like "That sounds really great" instead of what I was thinking, which was more along the lines of "Oh my freaking god, are you serious?! That's fantastic!".

As if that wasn't enough, this all took place just after the stunning conclusion of Dr. Horrible. The company I was meeting with does a lot of its distribution over the internet, so at the very least I could have replied to "Do you have any questions for me?" with "Yes. Have you seen Dr. Horrible?" At which point the TV love would have come spilling out whether I wanted it to or not (this is Joss, after all).

But I didn't talk about any of those things. Instead I rode the streetcar home - my most professional-looking bag under my arm, filled with professional-looking writing samples - and cursed my inner geek for turning timid when I needed her most.

I'm not going to let this bother me though. I can learn from this mistake. The geek can be made stronger.


  1. I think, especially with writing, it's a fine line between "fan girl" and "professionalism." In TV writing you... have to know the stuff and like the stuff so you can be there. There's definitely nothing wrong with being emotional about the topic. And it's a great thing to learn (because... really I've no idea where I fall on that line, and sometimes I question it) but if you love something I don't see the point of hiding it, y'know?

  2. Oh, exactly. I don't see the point in hiding it either, but for some reason in that moment I did it anyway. Oh, post-interview regrets...

    I do agree it's a fine line though. Too much enthusiasm is probably just as much of a bad thing.