I personally do not fancy myself a writer. It’s not anything I really tried to pursue professionally, but over the years, I did find myself in many positions, including a staff position at a Motion Media company, where writing was at least part of my job.
While I was living in LA, I met several professional writers, and even more aspiring writers. And there’s no mystery to how each of those writers got their jobs, they wrote/write the equivalent of “fan fiction” for the show they’re applying for. All writers do this. Even the seasoned/successful writers, must send in what’s known as “spec scripts” to the shows they’re applying for.
A friend of mine was a full time writer for Law and Order: SVU. When the show ended, had to go find a new job. How did he do that? He submitted scripts to the shows he wanted to get on their writing staff. In otherwords he wrote fan fiction.
A person I used to work for was not working as a professional writer, but wanted to. And he spent his free time writing “spec scripts” (aka Fan Fiction) for the shows he wanted to write for - I remember one of his specs for My Name is Earl was particularly good.
So what’s a spec? Here’s the wiki definition:
A spec script, also known as a speculative screenplay, is a non-commissioned unsolicited screenplay. It is usually written by a screenwriter who hopes to have the script optioned and eventually purchased by a producer, production company, or studio.
Spec scripts which have gone on to win Academy Awards include: Thelma & Louise (sold by Callie Khouri to Ridley Scott’s production company for $500,000 in 1990); Good Will Hunting (sold by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to Castle Rock Entertainment for $675,000 in 1994); and American Beauty (sold by Alan Ball to DreamWorks Studios for $250,000 in 1998).
So essentially, all writers are writing Fan Fiction, unless they’re writing an original work.
This is a perfect example of my myriad beefs with the “if you’re not a part of our special little clique” mentality of LA that I have - if someone writes a script that ISN’T already a professional union writer, it’s instantly dubbed “fan fiction”.
Or say for instance someone dresses their own sets for their own personal projects; that gets dubbed “table scaping” vs. what the Academy calls “Set Decoration.”
What’s the difference? There isn’t any. Just egos at play. To quote Yoda, “There’s no difference. Only different in your mind.”
Are you starting to see why I didn’t work out in LA? I just don’t have the ego for it. And I’m OK with that. I have let the shit out of it go. I’m just waiting for the rest of the world to realize what they’ve done and catch up to me.
Oh and those professional “writers” whose job it is to go into people’s personal lives and make fun of them for it, they get to call themselves “comedic impersonators.” But it looks like old fashioned grade-A bullying to me.