S2 E2: GREG GARCIA – TV WRITER - DIRECTOR
Talking with Greg Garcia was easy. He was disarming, welcoming, humble, and extremely generous with the amount of detail he gave us regarding his career and exactly what it takes to create a TV show.
The first lesson he taught us was something other creatives have also shared: total immersion. In Greg’s case, this was about his devotion to watching sit-coms starting at a very young age. While he acknowledges that not everyone who loves TV ends up being a writer, it’s clear it will help you become a writer if you love and immerse yourself in TV. The same can be said for art, photography, music, puppeteering, distilling, and essentially any creative work you can think of.
Another thing Greg said a few times was that he was lucky. The old saying is, luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Couldn’t be more appropriate here. To us, every time Greg said he was lucky, it seemed abundantly clear that he had taken steps to create that moment of luck for himself. Whether it was his encyclopedic comedic knowledge or the spec scripts he had available to get his early writing jobs or simply the way he treated people, all of the instances were a lot more than luck.
Most importantly, Greg went deep on pretty much anything you could wonder about as an aspiring TV writer. He had tips on developing new ideas (ex., takes classes about something you’ve never done before—like becoming an electrician—and you’ll be exposed to a whole new world). He pulled back the curtain on the network pitch process (tip: don’t be afraid to lie). He also discussed how this might be the best possible time to be a comedy writer since there are so many new distribution outlets that make it possible to take a lot more risks. Niche ideas and niche audiences aren’t non-starters anymore.
It was an honor to talk with Greg Garcia, a guy who has more than his fair share of Hollywood success. The episode is packed with fun AND actionable lessons, which is a killer combo. Here are his Three Big How’s:
THREE BIG HOW’S
MAKE THREE LISTS
Greg has a self-developed method that has worked for him as a writer and in general. The method is to make three lists:
1. Big, Huge Goals – The first list contains your biggest goals. Buy a house, sell a show to a network, become independently wealthy.
2. What You Need To Do To Achieve Those Goals – The second list breaks down the bigger goals into their steps or component parts. It will be a lot longer than the first.
3. Daily List – Write down Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and then populate the days with the “to do” items from the second list.
WRITE A SCRIPT FOR YOUR FAVORITE SHOW
If you want to be a writer and think can be a writer, a good way to find out is to write a script for your favorite show. The characters and general setting are baked in, so you have a head start. Greg said the script doesn’t even have to be good; you just have to get through it to prove that you can. You’ll learn whether or not you have the wherewithal, and then you can concentrate on being funny.
MOVE TO LA
If you feel like you’ve got the desire and the writing chops, you have to take that leap of faith…move to Los Angeles. Greg put it very simply: that’s where the jobs are and that’s where the people who make the shows are. He also said you should get around people you want to be. If you want to BE a TV writer, be around TV writers. They’re in LA.
Greg’s candor and graciousness with detail were really helpful for anyone who has even the slightest interest in learning to be a TV writer. It seems in his nature to be able to break problems down into pieces, and that’s exactly what he did for us. While it wasn’t easy, it seems very clear in retrospect that he was preparing for success in this discipline for his whole life…in some cases without even knowing it.