Lauren Bachelis runs Tumblr blog #hollywoodassistants. The blog features animated GIFs focusing on bad things that happen to Hollywood assistants. For example, one blog post’s headline is “When an Assistant Can’t Make Rent and Asks for More Money,” featuring a GIF of presidential candidate Mitt Romney laughing. Another is “When Someone Tells Me I’m Being Difficult,” and the post features a GIF of Peter Pan saying, “Everyone else thinks I’m wonderful.” Recently, CBS agreed to turn the idea behind Bachelis’ blog into a sitcom called 20-Somethings — she only launched the blog in May. SocialTimes caught up with Bachelis to discuss the minimalist strategy behind her blog, her own experiences in the entertainment industry, and how she ended up with the CBS deal.
Focusing on bad things that happen to Hollywood assistants is a very specific topic. Did your own experiences working in the entertainment world spark this interest?
My own experiences definitely were part of the reason I created the blog, but it was really inspired by other assistants I knew who were being treated like garbage. I am also a big networker, so I’d often go to drinks with other assistants who would tell me horror stories. Luckily, I don’t have too many of those myself from my assistant and intern days.
Talk about your own experience in the entertainment industry – where have you worked, in what roles? How did you like it? What bad experiences did you have?
My very first Hollywood job was a PA — production assistant — on Judge Judy the summer after my freshman year of college. I was 18 and remember thinking how cool and ridiculous everything was. The following summer I worked as an intern on Heroesthrough NBC Universal, and it was there that I was introduced to this wonderful thing called the writers room. I sat in the room for a week and absorbed the TV writers’ lifestyle. These staff writers came to work, ate good food, made jokes, said ridiculous things, laughed and then ate more good food. I thought, hey, now here’s a career I will enjoy doing every single day. From that moment, I focused all of my attention on becoming a writer. When I graduated college, I got an assistant position to a TV Lit agent at CAA, the company I interned at the summer before my senior year. I told him that I wanted to be a writer in our interview, and he respected my honesty and hired me in the room. I figured that there’s no better place to network than a talent agency where all the action happens. My boss was incredible at CAA. Unlike most bosses in Hollywood, this guy was a mentor to me and is the reason all of this is happening right now. I left CAA to go work as the creator’s assistant on New Girl, which was a great but short-lived experience because of the CBS deal.
It wasn’t all fun and games though. I had to put up with some hard tasks in the last five years. I remember one experience very vividly. A producer on one of the shows was so busy that she asked me to go to her apartment in North Hollywood and pack a suitcase for her because she decided to go on a last-minute vacation. I wasn’t close with her, so it was an awkward task, but very typical for a Hollywood assistant. I drove to her place, and of course she had one of the scariest-looking dogs I’ve ever seen. The dog tried to attack me when I entered, so I remember running as fast as I could to her bedroom door and shutting it. When I was putting this stranger’s underwear into a suitcase with a dog ready to eat me just outside the room, I thought to myself, welcome to Hollywood.
When and how did you come up with the idea behind the #hollywoodassistants blog? Why did you launch it, and why did you decide to use animated GIFs to illustrate your point?
I came up with the idea in May 2012. I launched it because I wanted to inform people how funny my job was. GIFs are a big trend right now, and I liked how quick to the point they were. Sometimes, a GIF is worth a thousand words.
Where do you get the animated GIFs from for the Tumblr blog?
I pull the GIFs from all sorts of places on the Internet. You can Google “sad GIF” and then a bunch of GIFS would appear. I also made a few of them myself on a GIF-maker website.
Your blog is being turned into a sitcom by CBS – how did this happen? Was it luck? What is the status of this, and how involved will you be in the process?
There’s always a bit of luck when things like this happen, but I think I put myself in the position to be able to have this happen. You can’t just wake up and say, ‘I want to be a writer.’ You have to write, then write some more, then throw that away and start to write something new. In the last year especially, all I’ve been doing in my free time is writing, reading and networking. CBS liked my blog, but they also liked my pilot sample that I wrote. Someone at CAA set me up to work with Fred Savage, who is now a producer and director, and he was a huge reason we sold this project.
What advice would you give to other bloggers wanting to transform their blog into a TV show?
I think the scope of television is changing right now, so it’s a very exciting time. If you have a unique voice and can blog about something important to you, there’s a good chance you can get recognized. I think the key is simplicity. Agents, managers, and development executives don’t have time to read long blog posts. Think about it like this. What would you rather read … a few Twitter posts or a novel? I think the attention span of this generation has decreased, so if you can accept that and make your content short and sweet, you may have yourself the next TV show.