Q: Is it possible that act outs are a good idea even for pay cable?
Thinking about the Sopranos syndi deal with A&E... wondering if maybe the producers had more control over how the content was cut post-HBO since they not only simultaneously shot "clean" versions of scenes along with the originals, they also built in natural act breaks... any thoughts?
I don't think so. First of all, Sopranos
plays over an hour and fifteen minutes of broadcast television. How many acts is that? More than five, I'd think. You run the risk of writing in a hybrid form that doesn't exist, somewhere between the five acts of contemporary broadcast drama and the seven acts of a movie of the week.
More importantly, unless you luck out, your natural act outs are not going to space themselves evenly. Do you try to rejigger the story so that each act is more or less the same number of pages. Do you make sure that each act serves each subplot with at least one scene? Do you take care to go out on the A story most of the time?
Or do you write the best pay cable hour you possibly can, and let some brilliant editor find the act breaks some time in the future when your show is, inshallah, greenlit?
There's nothing wrong with having act outs. But don't write to
act outs if you're not obliged to by the form you're writing in.
Labels: Crafty TV Writing, five act structure, spec pilots