Seinfeld Producer Alec Berg Gives His Best Career Advice

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Answers by Alec Berg, Writer/Producer/Director: Silicon Valley, Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, on Quora.

A: It's sounds really stupid, but if you want to be a writer you need to write. That's honestly like 99% of it.
Write and write and write. Classes are fine, but I think the most important aspect of a class is that it forces you to write.
Books are fine if they inspire you to write. But learning to write from a book written by someone who is dissecting screenplays is a little like listening to a demolitions expert to learn about architecture: they know how to take things apart, but that doesn't mean they know how to build them. You can only really learn that by doing. So so it. A lot.
Get scripts of your favorite movies or TV shows, read them, learn their format, then write your own.
i wrote a lot of samples. the first ones I wrote were unreadably horrible. that's the process. I think a lot of the scripts we wrote from season one of Silicon Valley would be tossed out today. We've gotten better by doing.
When I was starting out I called a lot of people and asked them to simply give me ten minutes of their time to tell me how they got their start. If we hit it off, i asked them to read my stuff.
You have to remember that asking someone to read something is a big imposition. It takes a lot of time and energy to read something critically and give thoughts. You need to be respectful of people's time.
The simple operating procedure here is "don't be an asshole." Honestly. Just don't.
Also, before you send somebody your material for God's sake proofread it. Again, this sounds silly but it's the God's honest truth. If I start reading someone's sample and it's full of typos and formatting errors, it makes me feel like they didn't care about their material enough to reread it. Why should I care?
i just read someone's ample and there was a typo in the first line. It definitely colored my impression of everything after.


A: Writing with others vs solo is often a question of features vs tv. TV is generally a team sport. Our staff is about 10 people. You need a lot of minds to generate the volume of material needed for a series. We air 5 hours of produced comedy a year. That's 4 or five feature films worth of screen time.
If you like working alone, you may be better suited for features where you can sit in a room with your thoughts and craft the material before you deliver it.
I've always enjoyed working with other people. i think better when I think out loud. And I think comedy lends itself to collaboration. i've always written with other people, even when i was doing a lot of feature work.
But I'm friends with a lot of feature writers who vastly prefer to sit in their offices alone and work that way.


A: The EP title is a sort of catch all for a bunch of different jobs. It sometimes implies a show-running role, but just as often it goes to people with very little day to day role. It's admittedly confusing.
Some people are granted that title contractually (many are the managers of the show-runner or the star of the show and are given the title from the beginning of the show).
Some are writers who have either created the show or have risen to the level of seniority where they're granted that title (I was an EP my final season of Seinfled).

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