Hollywood has a reputation of being a town full of assholes. I'm not going to deny that they're aren't some really nasty, unethical people out there, but there are a lot of really decent people out there too. That's one reason I always get a little irked when I see an aspiring writer act like an jackass, either to other aspirings or even professional writers. There's this sort of "fuck the pros" attitude that crops up on screenwriting discussion boards now and then, with real ugliness directed at the pro writers. This stands out to me because a great many of the nicest people I've met in the industry are working writers.
That's not to say that there aren't asshole writers out there. There are always a few guys who delight in being jerks or acting like pretentious big shots. Most of the time you can count on karma to get those guys. And as one writer I follow on Twitter said, most writers realize they're incredibly fortunate to be able to do what they do and don't feel the need to be some larger-than-life ass just to draw attention to themselves.
So take a lesson writers - being an egotistical ass is not a prerequisite for getting this job.
Why am I talking about this today? Because TV writer Liz Tigelaar is pretty much the perfect example of a genuinely nice person who has made it far. Over the past couple of years, I've gotten to know many people who've worked with Liz or interacted with her in the course of doing their jobs. Pretty much to a man, every one of them has made a point of saying how friendly and personable she is, and how much they enjoyed working with her.
I can attest to this too, and it's one reason why I knew Liz would be a great interview subject. It probably also didn't hurt that she was too nice to go back on my interview request once I informed her that (a) it was on camera and (b) she was going to be interviewed by a puppet. (At the time I made the request, only "Shit Script Readers Say" had been posted and there was nothing I could readily point to as an example of how the puppet interview would work.)
I've done several interviews (an archive of which can be found here) and I'm proud of all of them. However, this one is one of my favorites, both for the depth we were able to go into and also for the personality Liz brought to her answers. Seeing her spend nearly an hour talking to a puppet with all the repor one would have with a normal interviewer really put my mind at ease that this crazy idea of a puppet interviewer would work.
You can find links to each of the 13 parts of this interview below, but I've embedded a playlist of the full interview here. If you've got any interest at all in TV writing, you should check this out. And thanks again to Liz Tigelaar for being so generous with her time. You can find her on Twitter at @LizTigelaar.
Part 1 - Breaking in as an assistant
Part 2 - First Staff Writer Job on "American Dreams"
Part 3 - How Do I Get an Agent?
Part 4 - Selling a Pilot
Part 5 - Personal Themes in Writing
Part 6 - Genesis of "Life Unexpected"
Part 7 - First-Time Showrunner
Part 8 - Developing the second year of LUX
Part 9 - Dealing with network notes
Part 10 - Controversial LUX storylines
Part 11 - LUX lives on
Part 12 - Network overall deal, working on Once Upon a Time and Revenge
Part 13 - The Bitter Questions