Step 2: Writing a one-pager
by Dave Addison
If you’re reading this second installment about selling a pilot in Hollywood, then either you A) like me, even though you have no idea who I really am. B) You’re a frustrated writer working as an Uber driver hoping for some good pointers other than, “Um, you do know this is a one-way street, right?” Or C) You ate really spicy Indian food last night and you’ve been sitting on the toilet for the last two hours with nothing left to read.
I have no pride, I’m just happy you’re back.
Okay, in my quest for getting this pilot actually made (as opposed to just being written, read, tossed and then shredded by some environmentally-conscious PA), it’s essential to always be a team player. That means making friends with the good folks at the network – in this case, Pickaschmodeon, and jumping through lots o’ hoops.
So, here’s the first hoop: they ask me to write a “one pager” describing the show and all the characters. I have no idea why it’s called a one pager because trust me, it’s never just one page. It’s like eight. But that’s what they call it.
By the way, there are lots of odd slang terms we television writers use. Like ‘chuffa’ – which is the part of a script that doesn’t further the story. It’s basically filler written by a writer basking in his own brilliance, but ultimately will get cut out. To put it simply, chuffa is the fat you skim off the top of the brisket before you serve it.
Another great term heard in writers rooms across Hollywood is the classic ‘knockamora”. That’s when you write a joke and then repeat that same joke several times in a script. Which is not a bad thing if the joke is actually funny. It only becomes a knockamora when you’re at a table read and that first joke gets no laugh whatsoever – nothing, nadda, tumbleweeds across the plains, zzzzzzzz, wake me when lunch gets here. And now you feel like throwing up cause you know that same awful joke is comin’ down the pike a few more times and there’s nothing you can do about it but suck it up. Knockamora. It’s like the proverbial silent fart. You can smell it and pretty soon, everyone else in the room will be smelling it too.
So I wrote my six-page “one pager” and happily handed it in. It took almost two weeks before they finally called with notes. They liked most of what I wrote but felt the two leads (the twin 10-year-old blonde girls from Texas) needed to be more defined and each should have their own “one pager”. I said, “You mean a one page one-pager or a three page one-pager?” They said that one page for each character is fine (which is actually two pages – who are we kidding?) and they’re not concentrating on the pages I already wrote describing the pilot because those pages will probably change since I’m rewriting the new two page one-pagers.
I once knew a Schmizby Flannel writer who checked himself into rehab while in the middle of developing his first pilot. Now I know why.
DaveTags: "Chuffa", "Knockamora", Dave Addison, Entertainment industry, Hollywood, Selling a television pilot, Television, Television writer, Writing Advice