Sunday, August 3, 2008
The Wire: Up Close and Personal
Many blog entries back, I mentioned some of my favorite shows. There are shows that I really enjoy viewing like Weeds, Dexter, Prison Break, Law and Order, October Road (I hope it comes back in the fall), and Ugly Betty. These shows make my top ten. But then there are shows that really knock my socks off, because they go beyond only having entertainment value, these shows seek to look at the past, may offer a perspective on a key figure in history or challenge viewers by addressing social issues that plague society . I'm talking about shows like The Tudors, Mad Men, and my personal favorite The Wire.
Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to get up-close and personal with the creator, a couple of it's writers, and a select group of actors from the critically acclaimed HBO series. About two weeks ago I received an email from Film in the City, they send me a bi-weekly e-newsletter with film reviews, entertainment job listings, and film screening or networking events in New York City. Listed was the panel discussion with the creator of The Wire, to be held at The Times Center, on 241 West 41 Street. The cost of the event was $20. I knew I had to be in the audience and put it on my calendar.
I had two reasons to go. The first is I'm a fan, the second was that I thought it would be a good opportunity to try and pitch a short script I wrote to one of the writers after the panel. You never know, right. So I headed down to the city after work. I made good time until I hit Manhattan, as usually it was a mess, I almost got hit by a city bus, but thanks to fast reflexes and fear of another car accident I dodged that Goliath. Eventually, I found parking. I decided to park on 38th, because that's where I know I can park after seven without getting a ticket or towed.
I made it to the theater about fifteen minutes late, the place was packed, and on the screen was a video with cast, crew, and critics talking about the making of The Wire. The video gave an indepth behind the scenes look that was funny, serious, and heartwarming. After the video, the event continued with a panel discussion that included David Simon, the creator; Clark Johnson, a contributing writer, director of various episodes, and actor in the series; Richard Pierce, a contributing writer; actor Wendell Pierce (Det. William 'Bunk' Moreland); actor Clark Peters (Det. Lester Freamon ); and actor Seth Gilliam (Sgt. Ellis Carver).
After the panel discussion was over I hung out in the lobby hoping I would have an opportunity to approach Clark Johnson. My first chance was a no-go, he got hit up by fans who wanted autographs, then he headedd over to a reporter and cameraman to be interviewed. I patiently waited. Once his interview finished I made my move, but was then cut off by a woman and her son. I wasn't giving up. I waited again and when they were finished and I made my pitch.
Needless to say, my dreams weren't answered. Mr. Johnson explained that he couldn't take my script. He was very cool about the whole thing. He took the time to ask me where I was from and told me that even though he can't look at my script, I shouldn't give it up. I won't. While I didn't think about it at the time, I have a feeling that the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has a policy where screenwriters can only solicit scripts through agents or managers. If I'm right he would be jeopardizing his own bread and butter and I wouldn't want that. It wasn't a complete lost. I did get to give him my business card and he did give me his email and let me know that if I had any questions from one writer to another, he would do his best to answer them.
I did email him. After cornering Mr. Johnson like I did, I felt I needed to thank him for his time. I wasn't sure if I even wrote down his email correctly and didn't expect to get a response. I'm pleased to report that I did get a response. Today actually. It was short and sweet, but Mr. Johnson took the time to write me back and I think that means a lot. It didn't turn out like I envisioned, but I took a chance. I'm still surprised I had the balls to go up to him and I'm glad I did. I'm going to have to take chances and that was my first of many.
Now I have to get back to the work, the writing, because at the end of the day it's all about a good, well-written, and character-driven story. While I'm getting better, I've still got a ways to go.