Jurgen Wolff's screenwriting credits are impressive, including episodes he's written for Benson, Family Ties, The Love Boat, Relic Hunter and two ABC TV movies for the Olsen Twins. His original animated series, Norman Normal, has had 65 episodes produced, and he also wrote the feature film The Real Howard Spitz, which starred Kelsey Grammer of Frasier and Amanda Donohoe.
Jurgen has considerable television and film experience under his belt after 25 years in the business. "The first eight were in Los Angeles, then I moved to London because I love this city and kind of burned out in LA. Literally, unfortunately--I had a play opening in a small theater here in London and came over for the rehearsals. During that time, my house in LA burned down and destroyed everything I had. When I got back, I also developed a blood clot and while I was in the hospital I had time to think about what to do next and I decided to move to London. I make less money but I'm happier, which is a good trade-off."
Cartoon by Jurgen Wolff
Jurgen's first screenwriting sale was in sitcoms. "My first sale was for a series called Too Close For Comfort which starred Ted Knight (who before that was on The Mary Tyler Moore Show ). The producers made me show them five sample scripts for other series before they let me write a script for them. It took over two years of trying to get an agent and then get some pitching appointments before this first assignment. During that time, I was living in a studio apartment, eating mostly peanut butter sandwiches and trying to block out the noise from the hooker who lived next door."
Cartoon by Jurgen Wolff
Jurgen has been a consultant to the BBC Children's Programmes Department, and to Columbia Tri-Star Television. His books include Do Something Different (Virgin Books, 2005), Successful Sitcom Writing (St. Martin’s Press), and a co-author credit for Successful Scriptwriting (Writer's Digest Books, 1991). Jurgen is also the editor and publisher of the free creativity e-bulletin, Brainstorm, and teaches creativity workshops around the world.
When asked about the biggest misconception that new writers tend to have about screenwriting, Jurgen said that they don't tend to realize that once someone has bought your script, they have total control over it. "They can change it any way they want--and frequently do!"
Jurgen has also written an e-book called Time Management For Writers: Right-Brain Secrets For Being More Productive. An excellent book about how to manage one's time more effectively to be more productive, including some great suggestions for writers who work at home. I'm only partway through and am finding it hugely inspirational!
Jurgen's advice to aspiring screenwriters: "Write scripts that have stories that really have some meaning for you, not ones that try to out-guess what the marketplace might want. Your unique story may be harder to sell initially but ultimately it will stand out."
What he's working on now: "Preparing for the release of my new book, YOUR WRITING COACH, which comes out in the UK in April and the US in May--)I'm doing video interviews with several writers, agents, and others that will be on the book's website and serve as bonus material for each of the chapters. I'm also preparing a podcast to go with the book. Both should be live at the beginning of April. As far as script projects go, I'm in the early stages of developing an idea for a comedy-drama TV series that, ideally, would star an actor and actress who are also represented by my UK agent (it's too early to mention their names, as they don't even know yet that I'm working on this)."
You can find Jurgen Wolff's tips, ideas and inspirations for writers at his blog, Time To Write. You can also find his free creativity e-bulletin, cartoons, and other resources at his main Time To Write Web site.