When I read Michael Ausiello’s recent interview with Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino, two things impressed me. Not what’s going to happen to Gilmore Girls now that the show’s creators have left. Not who fans will blame. Not what will happen in the show’s storyline.
What I noticed was about Dan and Amy:
- They’re passionate.
- They’re story geeks!
Reading what they had to say about their passion, I found myself writing about mine.
The story begins as they wanted a two-year contract so that if Gilmore Girls is renewed for an eighth season, they can plan “to be around to protect the show.” The studio wouldn’t even discuss it.
Amy: And, frankly, it’s very stressful for me every year not to know, “Do I end it this year? Do I not end it this year? What do I do?” Which has been the way it’s been every single freakin’ year…
Dan: For the six years, we’ve been working seven days a week… We’d break every story, we’d edit, this last year we directed seven between ourselves, we have written 90-something scripts.
Amy: We also take a pass at all scripts that go out and by the time our season ends… it’s mid-May. We start back June 1. We work through every holiday…
Dan: So, having done that for six years, we really wanted to expand our personnel base. We wanted more writers, more bodies in that writers’ room, we wanted a director on staff, which I think every other hourlong show has, except ours.
Amy: But what we asked for from the studio had nothing to do with money. Dan and I never even got around to discussing price, because we just wanted our other issues to be talked about first… And we have done nothing but devote every single aspect of our lives for the last six years to this show. We haven’t had time to do anything else. We haven’t breathed anything else. It never occurred to us. And now that it’s over, we’re very, very sad.
Okay. How many of us have been here before? Hands, anyone? (Every hand in the blogosphere goes up.)
The motivating factor
Why do they say, “Write what you’re passionate about”? Because passion makes good business sense. As Rachel Cunliffe reported on Problogger, quoting from the 37 Signals book Getting Real, “If your [blog] doesn’t excite you, something’s wrong. If you’re only working on it in order to cash out, it will show. People can read between the lines.”
Money is not a motivating factor for the best software developers, writers, artists, and entrepreneurs. Passion is. Dan and Amy could have only done the minimum necessary. But this show was their vision. They had to do whatever they could to make it the best it could be and to make it better and better.
Doing crazy things
I’m frankly impressed that they kept this up for six years. A friend of mind once told me he could only two years of intense work before he takes a few months to decompress. I myself can only do two 7-day weeks in a row before my brain turns into mashed potatoes.
Passion makes us do crazy things. For example, I hate to travel. I get stressed out exploring new places and meeting new people. And I don’t want to leave my family, who depends on me being around. But when a filmmaker friend of mine asked me to help with his latest story and suggested I fly out to Seattle for a week, I jumped at the chance. Actually, I told him I’d come out if he threw me a dinner party and invited me to some people I should know. I didn’t know how I’d swing it with my family or my job, but I knew I’d work something out. I’m passionate about writing and about stories, and passion makes us do crazy things.
Don’t take it for granted
When we take passion for granted, we discourage the best motivator we have. We can see how this happened to team Palladino. Even Amy Sherman-Palladino admits, “Businesswise, we spoiled them, because why spend money on other writers when you don’t have to? … If I’m saying, ‘I’m tired, I’m exhausted, I feel like I’m going to flip out and be a Margot Kidder in the hedges with my teeth gone at Episode 6 if I don’t get some help,’ somebody should listen.”
She’s passionate. (Knock on wood.) Don’t jinx the passion.