I wish I’d come across this on time to include in the post linking to my “how to break into Hollywood” Blogcritics article because it fits right in. This is an excerpt of David Shore’s Master Class at the Banff World Television Festival in 2006, which I wrote about back then.
This bit comes right after he’s told the story about his first ever script sale, a freelance episode of The Untouchables, which he barely recognized when he saw the shooting script. The sound quality is poor but I have a transcript:
David Shore: What you come to grips with is you’ve got a lot to learn. Now I’m rewriting other people, but hopefully not quite that dramatically, because if you rewrite people that dramatically, they don’t stick around for long.
Terry David Mulligan: So why Los Angeles? Why not New York or London or Toronto?
DS: Los Angeles is where TV is. But that’s actually secondary. The only other writer in the world I knew was in Los Angeles. A guy I went to law school with moved there to be a writer.
TDM: And what’s he doing now?
DS: He’s still a writer. He’s still doing OK. He and his partner went down there and oddly enough, his partner I just hired to be a writer on House for this coming season. [The timing and facts work for this to be David Hoselton he’s talking about, but it seems odd that he doesn’t refer to the fact that he also went to law school with “his partner.”]
TDM: And what told you that you wanted to be a writer?
DS: You know, it was one of the great stupid decisions of all time. In hindsight, there’s absolutely nothing … I was practicing law full time and I said you know what, I think I want to be a writer. The smart thing would be to write a little bit and figure it out from that. I was a partner in my firm. I quit the firm, got in my car, drove to LA, and then I started writing. I had no reason. I look back, I can’t understand it. I honestly look back on it and go, I can’t figure this out.
TDM: Even Neil Young had the guitar and a hearse to sleep in.
DS: I went down there, bought a computer in LA, started typing. I don’t know. So to everybody else, that’s what you should do.
TDM: Did it flow out of you?
DS: No! It was terrible. It was funny, I figured I’d write features and so I spent like six months writing this spec feature and gave it to my friends to read. And then I spent about a week while they were reading it writing a spec TV script, and they read both of them and said, you know, maybe you should do TV. I did better work on it. I don’t know, it may have just been because it was the second thing. The more you do it, writing is rewriting, the more you do it … you always look back on your own stuff … hopefully. I’m very leery of writers who are in love with their own stuff. You look back on your stuff hopefully you’re able to see the flaws, learn from them, and move on.
TDM: Writers are a quirky bunch, aren’t they? They’re like the drummers of the business, the Keith Moons.
DS: Uh, yeah, OK.
(This isn’t in the clip, but TDM went on to recount something about Keith Moon having piranhas in his bathtub, so DS said well, I don’t have piranhas in my bathtub. He really wasn’t going for that analogy.)
In finding my David Shore Banff post to link to, I rediscovered his own words about why he doesn’t believe in following the dictates of the audience, as was so controversial in my recent article on online fans: “Ultimately you have to write what you like. If you’re writing to your audience, you’re screwed. It’s very basic: you won’t do it as well.”