Part seven in my interview with Tom Fontana, creator or co-creator of OZ, THE JURY, TATTINGER'S, THE BEAT, and THE BEDFORD DIARIES...
CRAFTY TV: When you're creating a show, are you analytical about the core cast you need? Do you decide how big a core cast you want and then fill in the positions? Do you try to have a love interest, a nemesis, a mentor? Or do you start with springboards?
TF: There's no hard and fast rule. Sometimes I think, "Here's a great arena to work in. Who'd be the people in this world?" Or, I think of a character, and I try to fill in around him or her. Certainly with a show like OZ, you think, here's the environment. Then I went back and looked at the individual characters and tried to think about them as people first. Then I thought, okay, that's who he was on the outside, now put him in this environment and how does that change him? Or doesn't it change him?
CRAFTY TV: How far ahead do you arc out your episodes? Do you really know what your 100th episode is?
TF: Five episodes. What I think happens if you get too much further than that is by the time you get to the 7th episode, so much has changed in the first five that it's almost useless to have a writer do a draft that far in advance. Also you'll write a part and cast a part and the actor doesn't deliver and it's not going anywhere, and you have to reduce the role; or the actor is so interesting, and you think, let's add a scene. Or boy, he really plays off her great, let's put them together more.
CRAFTY TV: Obviously that lends itself better to a certain kind of drama than to, say, 24 or LOST where there's a big climax or secret you're building up to.
TF: Yes, my shows are all more evolving interpersonal drama, not what's in the hatch. We try to figure it out as we go, alongside the actors. It's a creative process, it's jumping into the void.
CRAFTY TV: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me!
TF: You're welcome.
nice interview...well worth reading
Yeah. Incredibly informative and enlightening. Thanks, Alex.
Great Interview series - Fontana is one of my heroes and it's great to hear his thoughts on the work . . .
I generally don't do comments, preferring to lurk in my RSS reader, but this was such a huge endeavor and contained so many good insights that I had to post a thanks. So -- Thanks.
Thanks very much for that long interview with Fontana. Great stuff.
And now I've clicked the Amazon link and bought your book!
Holy crap I had a hard time signing in to publish this
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