seinfeld
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  • So How Do You Get a TV Series Off the Ground?

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    dytman

    One of the most crucial steps into the film and television industry for any writer is finding and landing the right agent. It’s one of the first obstacles for any film student, especially after graduation. So, the New York Film Academy was excited to hold an informative Q&A with the Senior VP of Gersh Agency, Jack Dytman. His long list of clients include TV series show-runners, executive producers, story editors, staff writers and feature writers in all aspects of the business. His clients have worked on network and cable television series such as Breaking Bad, Dexter, Sons of Anarchy, Walking Dead, Desperate Housewives, Castle, Criminal Minds, Hawaii 5-0, Smash, Lie To Me, Frasier, Without A Trace, Law and Order: SVU, X-Files, Alias, Hill Street Blues, Suddenly Susan, Murphy Brown, Boston Legal, Barney Miller, Law and Order, Chicago Hope, NYPD Blue, Married with Children, Carnivale, and more. Numerous clients have been nominated for Emmy Awards, ten clients have received Writers Guild Award nominations, and four have won. In the last five years his clients have received nine Producers Guild Award nominations.

    Given his background, Jack provided much insight into the world of the business. He spoke about the current popularity of television, noting, “I have a long line of feature writers trying to get into television, but TV is different…you need to be able to lay the pipeline for 100-150 episodes. It’s not just three acts and an ending!” He also stated that the people that you may need to pitch to are “smart and have heard everything, so the work needs to be unique.”

    dytman2

    Tova Laiter with Jack Dytman

    One of our students asked Jack the popular question, “How do you get your foot in the door at a network show?” He suggested that, “If you want to get in the door, be a writer’s assistant. If you can’t do that, do something else – sweep if you have to!” Typically it can take up to ten years to develop a writing career for networks, but there are exceptions. One exception he mentioned was the creator of Burn Notice, who had never written for a show. So while it’s rare, it can happen. “You should find your niche and focus on that genre. Understand the networks and cable  – what are they branding? Understanding the difference between ABC, CBS and SHOWTIME is important.”

    While Jack admits it was difficult to predict what shows would become hits, he knew Magnum PI was going to be. However, other shows such as Pushing Daisies simply didn’t catch, even with the top people on board. Then there was Seinfeld, which took about three years to turn into a good show. Go figure.

    Jack also walked our audience through the Development process for TV shows, which was quite telling.

    1. Writer goes to agent with AN IDEA.
    2. If agent says “it’s great” they go to a studio or network.
    3. If it moves forward, they will create or develop a creative team together.
    4. The team will, among other things, BRAND the show. An incredibly important part of network television (each studio and network have branding branches.)
    5. If all goes well, the pilot is picked up once written.
    6. The pilot WILL receive notes, accept them and work with them!
    7. Hopefully pilot gets made, then shown, then repeated.
    8. This process repeats itself annually.

    If you don’t like receiving notes, you’re in the wrong business. Jack stressed the importance of being able to take notes and establishing a relationship with producers and executives. The old cliche about the industry being, “Half about ability and half about like-ability,” is true. “A lot of it is about relationships – you have to network constantly.” He closed with these words of advice, “Have someone refer you when trying to get your work out there.”

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    August 1, 2013 • Guest Speakers • Views: 6944

  • Larry David Is a Pretty, Pretty Funny Writer

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    We’re wishing Larry David a happy birthday, even though he hates The Happy Birthday Song. The man wouldn’t even sing for Ben Stiller. Like most things in life, it’s a whole “to do.” This is essentially the core of Larry’s humor. His witty observations about the nuances of life and rules of society are the basis for arguably two of the best comedy programs ever made. Seinfeld, which he co-created with Jerry Seinfeld, revolutionized the sitcom. At a time when sitcoms were churning out an A story and a short B story, Larry was packing in four intertwined character arcs into one episode. Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine were integral parts of each episode. If you dissect individual episodes, you would find that a lazier show runner could have easily created four whole episodes out of one show. Each of those episodes would still be funny, but that’s not Larry’s style. This is what puts Larry above the rest. His show will forever be a part of popular culture. One can compare everyday situations to episodes of Seinfeld, as if the show was a handbook for life. Even quoting Seinfeld is a part of life for some. Here are some of the more popular phrases from the show, in case you’ve been living under a rock.

    After Seinfeld, Larry was given a little more freedom with his own HBO show, Curb Your Enthusiasm. Again, breaking barriers. His loose, single camera improv approach to comedy was refreshing and new. We no longer needed the three camera sets and canned laughter to let us know when it was safe to laugh. Plus, Larry brings himself in front of the camera, and he’s actually “pretty, pretty” good at it. The plots and subplots of the episodes are established in an outline written by David and the dialogue is almost all improvised. Much like Seinfeld, the subject matter in Curb Your Enthusiasm often involves the intricacies of daily life and problems of a conventional society. Larry David always has the need to express his feelings of such problems, which almost always leads him into awkward situations. The situations range from absurdity to pure bad luck, and yet we somehow relate. Check out some of these hilarious moments from the show.

    After eight seasons of Curb and nine seasons of Seinfeld, there’s no telling where Larry can go next. One thing we can tell you, is the man has made quite a pretty penny on his brilliant comedy creations. But, his unique character can never be swayed by money. He is a true individual with an unmistakable personality that can only be, Larry David.

    Tweet us your favorite moments from Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm @NYFA!

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    July 2, 2013 • Acting • Views: 8667