Thursday, October 22, 2009

3Questions: Erik Bork - TV Writer-Producer

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Erik Bork, a writer-producer on Band of Brothers and From the Earth to the Moon.

"I'm a film and TV writer who comes up with ideas for movies and series pilots, and either writes the script "on spec" (i.e. nobody pays me and I hope to sell it when it's done), or I 'pitch' the idea (in television) to a chain of people starting with my agent and going up through producer, TV studio executives, and finally network executives -- and if it goes all the way, they pay me in advance to write the pilot script. Then, if I am very very fortunate, they decide to produce the pilot episode, and possibly beyond. I've been writing professionally for about ten years, including features, cable movies, and miniseries, much of which I was paid for but was
never produced.

He also runs the website, Flying Wrestler, where he provides professional script consultation and feedback. "He's not interested in telling you what’s wrong with your work. But he can and will coach you into making it better – more satisfying to you and more marketable professionally – from the point-of-view of a successful writer-producer who’s been where you are, and knows the process from the inside."

HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?

EB: I worked my way up as a temporary office assistant on the 20th Century Fox lot, eventually landing as an assistant at Tom Hanks' production company, Playtone Productions. I got an agent by writing sample sitcom scripts (Frasier and Friends) on spec, and ultimately Tom Hanks read those and offered me a big promotion that led to me helping write and produce the HBO mini-series From the Earth to the Moon.

HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?

EB: Nobody ever loves my ideas or drafts of outlines or scripts as much as I want them to and I have to keep working on them! And often they don't sell at all, and if they do, they don't get produced.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to become a television writer?

EB: Keep writing things you love and be very open to feedback, especially from people who really know what they're talking about (and which you may have to pay for in some way, since they're busy and you don't yet have anything to offer them in return). Understand that it's a journey and it's all about improving your craft, which can take a long time and many scripts -- but that ultimately, if you stick it out, and reach a level where the marketplace would be interested, they will find you.

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