January: The Week of Dead Silence
January. The most dreaded month of the year. Not because everyone has taken down their merry holiday decorations and now all we’re left to look at are our own questionable design choices (although there is that), but because for those of us who work in network television we’re faced with the most stress-inducing time of year: The Week of Dead Silence.
It’s that sickening week after network drafts have been turned in to the studio. For three months, writers and producers have been working tirelessly, going through round after round of studio and network notes to create their story docs and outlines and drafts. We ignored family and friends and basic hygiene. We worked through the holidays and through countless weekends to hone the script. And finally, after consuming gallons of coffee and LaCroix and coconut water and whatever else we weird Hollywood types drink to make us feel better through the intense development, the baby is born. The draft is delivered.
And now begins the week of long, awful silence, in which we, our writers, and producing partners all being to obsessively question our life choices. Why did we just go through all of that agony when they could kill our project in one phone call? Should we have changed the blow to the third act? Why did I even get into this profession? Am I even good at this? Why does everyone hate me?! WHY AREN’T WE HEARING ANYTHING? WHY ARE THE PHONES SILENT?!
Then you start hearing things here and there. The early pickups happen. A friend’s pilot just got picked up. Yea. We’re happy for them. I want to vomit, but I’m happy for them, really. You’re happy for anyone that just went through the same thing you did and came out alive. But the dread starts to set in. We just know we’re not one of the chosen few. Something we’ve been working on since May of last year is suddenly gone. Now we have the unfortunate responsibility to tell our writers that the project is dead, never to see the light of day.
We resign ourselves to the disappointment that we’re never going to get “the call”. While everyone else is off in a panic casting and crewing up, we’re telling ourselves this is a good thing. Well, at least we don’t have to worry about freezing our butts off in Vancouver! Hey, we’ll get a jump on next season! I’ll have time to take that spinning class! I’ll see my husband! It takes a few days, but eventually we calm down and accept our fate. We’re excited about the new projects we’re working on and will jump head first into new development. It’s fine, we don’t need a pilot.
But, wait… wait, is that the phone ringing? Oh my God, the phone is ringing!! Gotta go.