David McMillan was looking at a hefty pile of television scripts when it hit him: He was just another starry-eyed Angeleno, wafting through a sea of wannabes attempting to break into the entertainment industry.
The scripts confronting McMillan were piled on the desk of an executive at Fox, where the 28-year-old was interviewing in yet another attempt to score a coveted job as a television staff writer.
“That was when I realized the stuff I was sending in left me just as faceless as any other job candidate,” McMillan said. “To the execs, I was just one more script they had to read.”
Heading into his third staffing season and still jobless despite being represented by the Paradigm agency, McMillan felt it was time for a more unorthodox approach. So he conjured up a David Letterman-esque top 10 video pitch on why someone ought to hire him and then posted it on YouTube last week.
“I have relatively good bone structure, so if you’re stuck in a writers’ room with me for 10 hours straight, hopefully you won’t get too sick of looking at my face,” he said in the video. Other distinguishing qualifications: his father’s cool name, Lemmon McMillan, and having penned the episode of “Judging Amy” in which Tyne Daly and Cheech Marin have sex.
Upon completion, he forwarded the YouTube link to about 100 industry contacts he’d amassed through his time at CBS Diversity Institute’s Writers Mentoring Program, which he’d been admitted to after earning a master’s from USC’s School of Cinema (Production) in 2003. McMillan hasn’t received any job offers since he posted the video last Wednesday, though he says he’s received “great feedback” from those offering to forward their words of recommendation.
“I love the bold move,” said Carol Barbee, executive producer of “Jericho” and the former show runner of “Judging Amy” who assigned McMillan his first script. “I think any way you can get people’s attention -- as long as you come off as competent and professional -- can’t hurt.”
“When assembling a TV staff, you’re also assembling a group of personalities to share a writers room,” David Rambo, a writer-producer for “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” said via e-mail. “The video conveys a personality, and that may help David in his job search.”
Landing a job isn’t easy. This year alone, said Glenn Geller, senior vice president of current programming at CBS Paramount, his studio expects to hire a mere seven writers out of the hundreds who apply for its 21 shows.
McMillan isn’t the first to create a video resume. Last fall, Yale student Aleksey Vayner was mocked by the media after his six-minute clip found its way to YouTube. McMillan hopes his effort will be seen more favorably.
“People will definitely know him after this,” said Carol Kirschner, who oversees the CBS Diversity Institute. “I mean, please. Somebody’s got to say, ‘What a clever guy!’ Show runners need people with good ideas, and David’s video is clearly a bright one.”