Watch the January 2017 Winning TV PILOT Screenplay.
Genre: Comedy, Political
After being framed for treason and losing his job at a prestigious DC lobbying firm, an arrogant grad student finds himself forced to take an entry-level position at the second-worst federal agency in America.
Get to know the writer:
What is your TV Pilot screenplay about?
My pilot, Down With The Bureaucracy, is about an arrogant graduate student named Nathan who is forced to take an entry-level position at the second-worst federal agency in America in order to keep his academic scholarship. While Nathan is hostile to all of his coworkers at first, he finds he must convince them to help him save his job when his spiteful manager tries to fire him on the first day.
Why should this screenplay be made into a TV show?
Aside from the fact that I think it would be a pretty funny show, I think there’s a huge audience for a sitcom about how ridiculous it can be working at the lower rungs of the federal government. We certainly have some amazing shows like Veep that mock the people in the corridors of power, but there are plenty of people in the lesser-known agencies who could use the same treatment.
At the same time, I also want to create a show that demonstrates the good that the federal workforce can do. Not only could this show derive material from the incompetence of the federal bureaucracy, it can show that there are plenty of talented and dedicated federal employees who are keeping this country afloat. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a better way to endear people to their government than through a show about a group of bumbling coworkers who occasionally manage to do a decent job. Well, aside from a civics class.
How would you describe this script in two words?
What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?
It’s only rounding out its second season, but I think I’ve watched every episode of NBC’s Superstore about seventeen times each. It’s an excellent example of how to use an ensemble cast full of absurd characters to create a compelling and hilarious sitcom. The same can be said of The Good Place, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Community, Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, and all the other shows I find myself watching again and again.
How long have you been working on this screenplay?
I’ve been working on this one for about two years and a half now. I recently compared the first draft from May 2014 with this current draft, and while many of the core pieces remain intact, it is radically different than it used to be. Hopefully, it’s better too!
How many stories have you written?
This is a difficult question to answer, because I have several scripts in various stages of “completion.” I would say that I have four scripts in what you might call late-stage drafts, and many others that are in earlier stages of editing, drafting, outlining, or nascent, amorphous chaos.
What motivated you to write this screenplay?
When I was in grad school, I was also working full-time and I was very unhappy with my employment situation. I was bored and frustrated, and all of my job applications were met with silence, so I felt like I was stuck. I can’t even remember what the situation was, but one day, some nonsense happened at work and I said something to the effect of, “That is so stupid, it could be in a sitcom.” I started writing that very night. And I did end up leaving that job for something much better soon after, but not before taking extensive notes about working there that I’ve used in my pilot.
What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
I don’t believe it’s done yet, but there have been some obstacles in getting it to this point. The most vexing obstacle for me was and remains developing a consistent writing habit, then sticking to it. I try do some writing during lunch at work, and then after coming home and foraging through the fridge for a somewhat healthy dinner, I write some more. Some days are better than others, but I figure as long as I can get SOMETHING down every day, I can count it as a success.
Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Video games, a free and open internet, and naps. Pretty much anything I can do on my couch.
What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
I entered the festival precisely because of the reputation of the feedback. It can be challenging to find sources for insightful feedback when you’re outside of an academic or professional setting, especially if you’re just starting out and you have no connections. Several friends of mine who had previously entered the festival told me that the feedback they received was incredibly helpful, and I absolutely agree. After digesting and utilizing the notes I received, I can say with utmost certainty that my script is leagues ahead of where it was before the festival.
Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
Many people have said this in much more insightful ways, but I’d advise other writers to always be open to receiving constructive feedback, and to seek it out specifically. It’s not easy hearing something you’ve been working on for a long time isn’t as good as you think it is, but receiving that type of criticism is essential to developing your skills as a writer. Don’t take it personally, don’t ignore it, and use it to improve your work.
Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson