Reader Andrew writes in:
There’s a small independent film company looking to break into TV. I know the producer, and she’s offered me a writer’s assistant position while they develop a pilot. So it’s really more of a development assistant position, but she calls it “writer’s assistant.”
This makes me very nervous. On one hand, it could be a great opportunity. On the other hand, they haven’t done TV, and neither have I. If their pilot is picked up, they’ll bring in a whole team who will what – discover I have zero training? Same with if it’s not picked up and I apply to other writer’s assistant jobs after. I don’t ever want to misrepresent myself.
I haven’t decided whether to take this position or not yet – what do you think? Is this a learning opportunity or an I getting myself into trouble?
It really depends on how big they are in film. Are they consistently making movies that go straight to video? Or do some of their movies get modest theatrical runs? Just like people, companies can be overly ambitious.
You obviously can’t guarantee any TV series will go well, but a company with a more successful track record has a better chance of succeeding in the future.
That being said, if you’re in tight with the producers, they’re not going to kick you out as soon as the show goes to series. The time you helped developing the pilot counts towards experience on the show. In fact, this is exactly the sort of situation I talk about when I say “The only way you get a job without experience is if you’re on the show at the time that they need to hire someone.”
If you have a bad feeling about this (if you think it’s going to blow up in their faces), then don’t do it. Otherwise, take the shot. You’ll figure out the job as necessity dictates.