Seeing Stargate SG-1 cancelled is a bit of an eyeopener, not really something I had expected to see for a while yet. I had heard that ratings were down so far this season, and I guess Sci Fi feels confident that it can replace the show with something better, though I am not convinced. Just yesterday I was working on an Atlantis spec that needed to be retooled. It had to be shorter, it needed a stronger B story, and it just needed to be better than it was. I did that, and started back up on it today when I heard about SG-1. Here I am working my butt off trying to get a job on one of the two Stargate shows, which I've been told is damn near impossible, and now all those guys on SG-1 are looking for jobs, just like me. It's a tough racket.
That's quite a wake up call on so many different levels. SG-1 is an old show, 10 seasons is just unheard of territory for any show, much less science fiction. Targeting something that old isn't the best idea in the world. First, the prospects for advancement are just about nil. Everybody on the show that's in the producer ranks are making careers out of the show and have no plan on leaving of their own choice. They have a writing staff already that they know and trust, and many have earned the right to stay even if they've lost their creative edge. Beyond that, agents and producers aren't going to want to see specs for shows that have been around a long time, because chances are, they've seem too many to count already.
It also reminds me that I'm not in this just for Stargate, though I would love nothing more than to open a career with them. I'm in this for writing; doesn't matter where. I'd take a job just about anywhere that would take me, because getting in is all that matters today. So while as a fan I'm sad that SG-1 is cooked, I have to find a way to bury that and get the Atlantis spec done so I can get the hell away from that show. There are a lot of other shows out there that undoubtedly need good fresh writers, and those are the places I really should be looking forward to.
Truth is, I knew years ago that I was coming into this too late. When Enterprise was on the air, I would have loved to write for that show. It's Trek, so it doesn't matter how much everyone else there sucks -- it's sci-fi, and that's my gig. But it didn't matter how much I liked the show or how bad I wanted on staff, it was already in its third season when I started thinking about this and right then I knew it was too late. Even if I managed to get an agent within a year, and a pitch meeting within another, that would have been one year after it had been canceled. And even if it had not been, what kind of future do you have on a show in its fifth season? Two more season at most and it's cooked.
Best case scenario is you write a couple of great specs, and get a couple of freelance jobs that work out to where people notice you, and you go on a their list for a later date. Then when a new show starts up, they hit their list and you pray that your name is on it, and you get in on the ground floor. Once you're in, then it's a whole other deal.
There was always Trek, and there has been Stargate for almost a decade now, and there's BSG, and there was Firefly, and there was Babylon 5 and Crusade for a while. There are network Sci Fi pretenders like Lost (Lost is not science fiction) and other shows. When you start up, you see the great ones airing now and want so badly to get in on them at their peak, but the reality is you can write off any shows currently on the air; you're just getting in too late. You have to hope that when your name is called, the next "Stargate" has just finished a really great pilot and is looking to put a staff together. And then you're in.
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