Typing Faster

February 7, 2011

The First Gig: 18 to Life’s Andrew De Angelis

Filed under: The First Gig — petertypingfaster @ 9:00 am

Full disclosure. I’ve known Andrew for a couple of years now. I was lucky enough to go through the Canadian Film Centre’s Prime Time Television Program with him. Let me tell you, I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. Andrew De Angelis is, quite simply, one of the funniest comedy writers I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Dude’s hilarious.

Here’s Andrew talking about his first (paid) gig.

Typing Faster: Give us the intro – you know the drill!
Andrew De Angelis: Graduate of the CFC Prime Time Television program (2008-2009). An avid hunter and outdoorsman, I’m just waiting for the day when killing people is legal, or at least decriminalized.

TF: What was your first paid writing gig
ADA: I did a stint as a story co-ordinator on 18 To Life with a half-script.

TF: How did it come about? How were you hired?
ADA: I had a massive horseshoe up my ass. Seriously. The stars aligned for me in so many ways, it’s almost laughable. When I started in the CFC, Virginia Rankin was supposed to be the one helping us with our original series ideas. At the last minute, Virginia had to pull out of the program and was replaced by Karen Troubetzkoy. Luckily for me, Karen liked me and thought I was funny. Even luckier, she just so happened to have a show that was potentially going to be green-lit by the CBC. She told me that if it did get the go ahead, she would hire me as story co-ordinator. Well, her show got the green light, and true to her word, she hired me. The show was 18 to Life, and the rest is inconsequential irrelevant history.

TF: What are the big lessons you learned from it?
ADA: Writing TV was a dream job for me. A fantasy, if you will. When I found out I was accepted into the CFC, I triumphantly quit my government job and literally sauntered out the front door. I thought that life would be a breeze from that moment on. Going to work would be ‘fun’. While I do enjoy this job and genuinely don’t think I am meant to do anything else, what I learned from my first gig is that it just that – a job. Writing is easy from the comfort of your room when you have no deadlines and no notes. When you have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to propel you forward. It’s a whole other ball game when you have to be funny on command, get notes, write to a deadline and write fast. It’s work, hard work. Yes, there are genuine moments of fun where I can’t believe that I get paid to do this. But those moments are few and far between (perhaps that’s what makes them so special when they do happen). This is work – people are paying you good money to produce, not just dick around.

TF: What are the big lessons you’d pass on to newbies?
ADA: Talent is great, and you need some, for sure, but you also need to work your ass off. Everyone thinks that just because you’re writing TV you’re entitled to fuck the dog, phone it in, or even just be entitled. Working on a show is no different than working for a Heating and Air Conditioning company. You are there to execute someone else’s vision, not yours. Of course, if it was your show/company, you would do it different – but it’s not. No matter how stupid you might think something is, you have to do it because that’s the job. Sure, you must absolutely voice your opinion (that’s another reason you’re there), but after that, do what you’re told. Passion is wonderful unless it’s unbridled – then it’s just annoying. When it’s your show, you can call the shots and know that the people you’ve hired to help execute your vision will ultimately work with you, not against you.

TF: What were you able to parlay that first job into?

ADA: After my first season on 18 to Life, I got hired back for season two as a story editor with a script and a half.

TF: Any other advice/words of wisdom?

ADA: Although people admire talent, they truly value and appreciate work ethic. And don’t be assholes.

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