Writers Vault - Industry
- Producer / Writer / Director
our continuing series of interviews with key TV
industry professionals, we're thrilled to have
Dave Pullano sit down with us and share his first
hand experience and perspective. Dave is
an Executive Producer, Writer, and Director, working
in both feature films and reality-based programming.
He was a Senior Producer for 5 years on the hit
syndicated series, "Blind Date", and
most recently penned with writing partner the
feature film "Porky's" for the Weinstein
Company. He's produced pilots for ABC, and
overseen production at various cable networks,
Thanks for taking some time out to sit down with
us, Dave. Let's roll back the clock... You have
a sketch background, as well as writing for the
but what was your first job in the film and TV
My first industry job was as the receptionist
for Miramax Films. I was just happy to get my
foot in the door and the relationships I made
during that time are still paying off today. My
first real writing job was for an MTV animated
sketch show called "Head Trip." It was
at the peak of the "boy band" frenzy
- - 'N Sync and Backstreet Boys ruled the airwaves
and I was like, what the hell happened to MTV?!
Great experience, though.
you first started writing, were you always focused
on story and spec scripts, or were you formulating
concepts and "ideas" for shows as well?
A little of both. It's really hard to sell anything
without some sort of track record. I'm finally
at a place where I can pitch movie projects because
the buyers know I'm capable of writing a script.
do you think are the most important elements in
a good project for television? As a producer,
what do you look for, and what do you try to create?
and character. Did I mention character? In television,
I'm not a big fan of "high concept."
Look at Cheers, Friends, or Seinfeld - - just
great characters who you want to watch every week
sitting around in bars, coffee shops and apartments.
On the unscripted front, the same thing. On "American
Chopper," I could care less about how Harley's
are built, I just like watching Paulie and sons
Let's talk about "Blind Date"... what's
involved in a daily syndicated series? It must
have been a madhouse producing enough content
to air. Can you describe the dynamics of how a
show like that is produced?
TV is like a widget factory... you need to constantly
feed the beast. Luckily, we had a very funny writing
staff of 10 to help pull it off. And then there's
casting, which can be a bitch - we needed about
700 daters each season. Then, the field crews
were shooting almost every day and night. And
of course, you're screwed without a good post
department. They'll make or break ya. Bottom line,
you need a very large and talented crew.
you're editing coverage of real people, what's
the approach? What are you hoping to get out of
Staying true to character. Any given episode could
be edited a thousand different ways. In "Blind
Date" for instance, you watched what people
said about each other after the date and worked
backward to support their statements. You also
want your content to follow basic story structure
when possible - The classic "man overcomes
obstacles to reach goal."
also had some success optioning your own
tv show concepts to larger companies in television.
When you're the one doing the pitching, what's
your typical approach in a verbal pitch? In contrast,
what's your written pitch like?
I really feel if
you can't pitch the concept in under a minute,
you're screwed. My written pitches include a simple
log line, why the concept's different, and the
breakdown of a typical episode. Remember, you're
rarely pitching to the final decision maker. You're
trying to make it easy for the exec you're meeting
with to explain to
their boss. I have an agent who's
great at playing Devil's Advocate before the pitch,
so I'll be able to nip potential problems in the
For the new Writers out there, are there better
chances of breaking in with the sale of a reality
tv concept, or a scripted project?
Reality TV is getting harder and harder to pitch.
People have heard EVERYTHING. But if you do the
work and find some interesting real characters
that people will want to see every week, you might
have something. The next Dog, or Ace of Cakes
or American Chopper - - real, interesting, non-actors
that anyone trying to break in can find on their
own and base a show around. There's so much crap
on the air that everyone thinks it's easy to break
in, but it's not. With no experience, scripted
TV is even harder. BUT, a good spec feature script
always stands on its own merits.
you see reality television expanding or flat-lining?
I think there will always be ebbs and flows with
"reality" on network TV, but most cable
networks can't really afford to produce scripted
television. Reality will always be a staple and
I can't see it ever going away. It's cheaper to
produce and can be just as entertaining when done
advice can you give to a writer just starting
out in the business?
A bad idea scribbled on a piece of paper is better
than the greatest idea in the world floating in
your head. WRITE! REWRITE!! WRITE SOME MORE!!!
Join a writer's group where you can get constructive
feedback on your work.
So what keeps you going in such a competitive
Fear. Love of what I do. Painkillers.
are some of your favorite shows? Can you enjoy
TV after working night and day in it? Or do you
do other things for entertainment to escape the
I get inspired by the amazing work of others,
so I stay tuned in. Current faves on TV: The Office,
Entourage, Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The
Daily Show, Lost. I'm a total geek with Lost.
I check out message boards and freeze-frame for
clues. On the unscripted front, "The Most
giving anything away, what types of projects are
you working on now?
different unscripted pitches, I just finished
a spec for a horror movie, started my own website
going out with two feature pitches, and a sitcom
treatment. Oh yeah, and I just submitted a proposal
for a children's book. It's all about the hustle.
On the issue of copyright protection, what advice
can you give to a writer out pitching a
concept for television?
If you really want to protect yourself, register
with the WGA
your work. Still doesn't mean you won't get f--ked,
though. Try to stay clear of the sleazy people
Hollywood a "closed door"?
The beauty of this town is that any idiot can
make it. It's also one of the problems.
now have your hand in features, most recently
with the Weinstein Company. Will you be focusing
your career more in the direction of film now?
My game plan when
I moved here was to have TV as my steady gig and
write features in my down time. I'm sticking with
Thanks for taking time out for us. We'll watch
out for your next show!
Please do! We could
use the ratings.