Complications Ensue: The Crafty TV and Screenwriting Blog
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty TV and Screenwriting Blog



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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Time has an article about 51 things you can do to save the environment.

Here are my two proposals:

1. Install an air vent opening in your dryer exhaust. Your dryer vents hot air to the outside. In the summer, great. In winter, it's a waste of hot air. A simple Y joint that allows you to vent the hot air into your house in winter will save on heating bills. And the place will smell like fresh laundry.

2. If you live in an apartment building, put a large carboard box downstairs for people to put reusable packing materials. Plastic peanuts, bags of air, foam, bubblewrap: why have to buy it when your neighbor just got a bunch of it?

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Chris writes:
Q. I read through some of your entries from last year about your pitching at Banff and I have a few questions. I'm considering entering the PitchIt! dealie and wanted to know what makes a winning pitch. What's the difference between a winning pitch and a not-winning pitch, is it theatrics? Quality of the show? A clever balance of both? What are some pitch do's and don'ts? How long do pitches usually run and is their running time mandated? How should I structure my pitch? What would you have done differently in your pitch?
The PitchIt! program is an event at Banff where creators (including creator teams) pitch their idea to an audience of 150+ people. To pitch, you submit 750 words on your idea, and 300 words on you or your team, and the best five are selected. At the pitch, you get 4 minutes to say or do whatever you like, and then a few more minutes to answer questions from the panel of judges, who are network execs.

Needless to say, not how pitching usually happens.

I submitted four pitches last year, and one got into the program. I didn't win, so I can't claim any special brilliance there.

What gets you into the program, I have to imagine, is a good 750 word pitch. To me that means about 300 words on what your show is; 250 words on who your characters are; and 200 possibly story ideas. They don't have to be in sections like that, but for most shows that's the simplest and cleanest presentation.

I memorized a four-minute pitch down the word, honing it constantly, and pitching it to anyone who would give me four minutes. I thought it came off well. I did lousy at the Q & A, though. I didn't understand what one of the judges was asking, so instead of answering the question in two sentences, I rambled on incoherently.

That's okay. I eventually set up the project in development at a cable network here, with a 20 page pitch that answered pretty much every damn question anyone ever asked me when I pitched them, including the one I bobbled at PitchIt!

What were the others, lessee ... A comedy about a heavy metal band that performs for kids ... A comic procedural about health inspectors ... a comedy about two drunken louts who used to be the Hardy Boys and now solved mysteries about their missing beer can and the like ... can't remember the last one. I thought Sarah Timmins' health inspector show was the best pitch among the others (obviously I have no perspective on my own). The Hardy Boys guys did some schtick onstage and then showed a trailer they'd shot. The heavy metal guy seemed a little shaggy, and so did his pitch, but he won the prize and the audience prize, so there you go.

Personally I'd stay away from theatrics. I don't want to be judged on how well I bring off the theatrics. I want to be judged on the value of my idea. And if you have a great idea, all it needs is for your to explain it coherently and cleanly. If you don't, no amount of theatrics will rescue it.

My pitch was fairly complex, so I spent about two months moving bits around and trying them out over and over to see if they would go into people's brains better. I started with an image, then my main character, then her problem, and expanded from there. I ended on a mystery, and my theme. I was doing other things during those two months, but whenever I had a spare moment I worked on my pitch. I practiced it while I went running. I pitched it to absolute strangers. I pitched it to my (then) 10 year old son.

(As a side note, it is always a good idea to pitch your idea to a fifth grader. If there's anything he can't understand, the odds are excellent your story is too complicated.)

The biggest question you need to answer in any pitch is, I think: how is this a series. An obvious question, you'd think, but not all of the pitches answered it well. Some of the ideas seemed good for a show, or maybe even five shows. But 100 shows? If you can't explain out how you're going to come up with ideas for at least three seasons, then maybe your idea isn't a tv show.

I'll be submitting a couple of things to PitchIt! this year too. Whether or not your pitch wins, you get a lot of exposure pitching in front of a huge crowd like that, and it structures your visit to the Rockies. It might help you get the show set up, but expect for it to take six months to a year to get anything solid out of your Banff trip.

Good luck, and hope to see you at the podium!

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Party in a Metro car. Tomorrow, 9 pm.

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Pavement & Stars has rounded up an assortment of real live show bibles, and then adds a few more.

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Craig Mazin blogs about why screenwriting is a young man's game. He points out that he is a better writer at 36 than he was at 25, but as you get older, and you have a family, it gets harder to work the long hours, and anyway, it gets harder to suck up all the disrespect.

I think there's something else. At 36, Craig is still loving writing the Scary Movie sequels. As I get older, I find myself less and less interested in watching a broad swath of popular entertainment. For example, I can't watch a hero shoot a bunch of minions without thinking how much trouble the minion's parents went to raise them; and now they're dead. Silly, I know. As I become a more thoughtful person (from an admittedly low baseline), I find it harder to enjoy thoughtless entertainment. I lose patience with shows like Lost that I suspect aren't going anywhere. If I'm going to watch a show where people get tortured, I want it to be in a political context that speaks to the real world, as in the cleverly transgressive Sleeper Cell, not in a right wing revenge fantasy like 24.

What you don't enjoy, you can't write well.

Fortunately I am not too thoughtful. I am loving rewriting my medieval zombie picture (though there is a suspiciously high amount of theme in it). And if I'm successful enough, then I can just hire younger writers to be thoughtless for me...

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Q. Will you read my spec COLD CASE episode query? Here it is.
I don't evaluate other people's work for free unless I know and love them. But you don't really need me to check out your spec episode query anyway. A feature query has to impart a lot of things in a nutshell, including who the protagonist is and what the venue is. With a spec episode, the show you're speccing gives you that. We know who the characters are and what they do for a living. All you have to do is tell us a few words about what makes your CSI, HOUSE or DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES special -- what's the heart of the episode -- what's the main character's fresh and interesting problem. E.g., "House discovers his dying patient is genetically his sister."

As a side note, I'm not sure you should be speccing COLD CASE. You should be speccing a contemporary hit show. Your spec is useless unless the person you're sending it to is familiar with the show. Personally, I've never seen COLD CASE; I've only seen one episode of the Canuck show it was apparently ripped off from inspired by, COLD SQUAD. I might be able to tell if you're a bad writer, but any special brilliance you demonstrate in nailing COLD CASE would be lost on me.

UPDATE: J.M. comments:
"Cold Case" is rated #10 in this week's U.S. Nielsen's. If that's not a contemporary hit...
True. But numbers don't tell the whole story. You need a show that's a hit with showrunners and network execs. That's often a show that people talk about. Usually it's a show with great writing. I haven't seen much media at all about COLD CASE, which is why I brushed it off. I suspect few or no showrunners are watching the show; while probably all showrunners checked out STUDIO 60 even with its lousy numbers. (Not that S60 is a good spec either.) Entourage is a good spec because everyone in Hollywood watches it, or has at least checked it out.

You need a successful show, yes. But you need to spec a show that appeals to the people who will recommend or hire you, because if they don't know it, they won't read your spec of it.

How do you figure out which shows people want to read? Ask an agent's assistant. Just call up a few lit agents at big agencies -- CAA, ICM, Endeavor -- and ask their assistants what they're recommending their clients spec. I suspect COLD CASE is not on the list. But don't trust me. Verify.

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Scott the Reader asks his readers which commentary tracks contain master classes in filmmaking, as opposed to the ones where the director thanks his wonderful d.p. and relates a funny story about the dog and the craft services table. Scott's readers oblige.

Via Pavement and Stars.

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Paul Graham is a smart guy who funds inventive people in Silicon Valley. Periodically he writes bright little essays about the high tech world. Many of them are worth reading because high tech has similarities to showbiz. They are both worlds filled with smart people who like to very hard, but only on projects they're passionate about. Some of them are worth reading for sheer inspiration. His latest essay is about all the reasons people don't start a startup, and why they're bad reasons. Some of these may apply to you and Your Showbiz Career.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fox International Channels' FX in the U.K. has picked up the science-fiction series Charlie Jade ...
No indication when it will appear. Bug your local FX affiliate.

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Ellen Sandler explains what not to do in a TV writing room.

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The (Canadian) National Screen Institute is renewing its Totally Television program:
... taking applications from writer/producer teams looking to develop a series through its Totally Television, a 10-month program aimed at fine-tuning scripted series.

"We're, like, totally looking for awesome writers and producers who are way poised to create hits for the scripted television industry in Canada and around the world," said program manager Kit "Big Kahuna" Redmond (From the Ground Up with Debbie Travis) in a release.
(I may have altered the release slightly to conform to its title.)

The NSI deadline is May 15. See www.nsi-canada.ca for details.

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Q. I'm having withdrawal pains from not being able to write. It sounds a little crazy, at least it does to non-writers, but I was recently diagnosed with tendinitis in both hands, wrists and elbows. I can't type anymore.
There's an easy answer to this one. Get yourself an ergonomic keyboard.

Regular keyboards are not arranged for the convenience of your hands. They are arranged in a straight line. Your hands come in at angles. So, you have to squinch your wrists in order to type. When you're young, you don't notice. As you get older, your hands start to resent the imposition. An ergonomic keyboard places the keys at an angle that is natural for your wrists.

I used to use my laptop as a desktop, using its own keyboard. My hands started to hurt. I got an external keyboard. The pain went away.

Ergonomic keyboards cost as little as $20 on eBay; more if you use the fancy split-keyboard type and pay retail. You might want to buy two, one for the home, one for the office. Or you can just buy one, and take it back and forth with you.

Safetype makes an even more ergonomic, if utterly weird looking keyboard. That's $295.00.

You might also think about getting yourself a Herman Miller Aeron chair. You get tendonitis because you're in an awkward posture. If your elbows are hurting, it's because they're not in a position they like to be in. The Aeron chair allows you to adjust everything -- back support, arm rest height, chair height, resistance to leaning back. There's a reason you see them everywhere, and it's not their easy-to-clean, breathable seat. They make it hurt less to sit.

The Aeron is expensive. But how much did you spend on your car? How much of your life do you spend in your car? Now, how much of your life do you spend in your chair?

You might want to think about buying an Aeron chair for your office, if that's where you spend most of your time. See if you can get your job to pay for it on the grounds of it being cheaper than your being disabled. If not, see if you can get your doctor to prescribe one so you can at least deduct it from your taxes. Even if your job won't pay for it, ask if you can bring yours in. (Have it put on the office insurance, in case someone else pinches it.)

You can also get an adjustable desk; though if your chair is adjustable you may not need one. I have a nice big old desk from the 1930's with drawers. It is not adjustable at all. I love it.

Ergonomic keyboard, adjustable desk, Aeron chair: probably a lot cheaper than ten visits to the physiotherapist, and they address the cause rather than the symptoms.

At the same time, you might want to have a physiotherapist come look at you at work. There may be things you're doing wrong that would be obvious to a professional but not to a layperson. And, you're more likely to listen to a professional. My beloved wife insists on typing while lying sideways on a bed or couch. One of these days her back is going to make her pay for that.

(For the ultimate in ergonomics, check out Craig Mazin's post on all his spiffy writing gear.)

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Does anyone know anything about the Screenwriter's Boot Camp in PEI this June? (Not the Writer's Boot Camp.)

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A lot of shows, particularly on cable, have taken to violating the physical reality of a character in order to show their emotional or metaphorical reality. For example, in the Six Feet Under pilot, David Fisher screams at the top of his lungs at a wake... and then we cut back to the beginning of the conversation and we realize he didn't scream at all, he just wanted to. I've heard it referred to as "magical realism."

You can't do that when you have a fantasy show. Or rather, if you did, it would indicate actual time travel.

The bargain a fantasy show makes with the audience is, If we show you something, it really happened. Otherwise, it gets too confusing. Is that ghost an emanation of guilty conscience, or a spirit of the restless dead?

The new series Raines didn't impress me -- it's just a vehicle for Jeff Goldblum's schtick. The gimmick is that Raines talks to the victim whose murder he's trying to solve. As he learns more about the victim, he changes. I don't know how far they can go with that. Imagine how confusing it would get if Raines starts actually seeing the ghost of the victim?

(Okay, you COULD do that, and it would be kinda cool, but you'd have to explain to the audience what you're doing. Like, have Raines say, "Oh my god. You mean I'm actually talking to a ghost this time?" It would become what the whole episode is about. And as Denis explains in his comment below, it might kill the series.)

There are all sorts of ways you can effectively violate straight narrative. You can have flashbacks. You can have unreliable flashbacks. But be consistent. Pick one violation of linear narrative and stick to it. LOST couldn't have an unreliable flashback because they've established that their flashbacks are reliable. Likewise if you do have unreliable flashbacks, then you can't count on the audience relying on the truth of any one flashback.

UPDATE: Shuggie points out in the comments below that Buffy violates this rule in several famous episodes, for example "The Body" and "Normal Again." This goes to show, first of all, that Joss is a writer god and the rules do not apply to him.

More importantly, though, look how "Normal Again" >and all the similar SF episodes discussed in its Wikipedia article not only make the narrative violation the point of the whole episode, they also provide a regular narrative to make sure the audience gets it. In "Normal Again," before we start seeing Buffy in the insane asylum, being told her whole Slayer experience is just a schizophrenic hallucination, she's stabbed by a demon's tail, and we're told that the demon in question generates just this kind of hallucination. So the audience isn't confused. In the brilliant Star Trek:DS9 episode "Far Beyond the Stars", in which Avery Brooks plays not only the captain of Deep Space 9 but also a 1950's SF writer struggling against prejudice, the Captain is zapped by some alien device that gives him hallucinations.

To be really transgressive, they could have skipped the alien device and just done an episode set in the 1950's, and left the audience wondering.

I probably exaggerated when I said fantasy can't disrupt narrative. You can do most anything you like in fantasy so long as you know what you're doing.

But I think I'm right that even fantasy can't disrupt narrative inconsistently. You can have an alternative reality for real (Buffy, "The Wish") or an alternate reality in someone's head (Buffy, "Normal Again") or a daydreamed reality (Buffy, "The Body"). But you can't do them in the same episode.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

And it is Monorail Cat:


Via Webs.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

My post about bittorrent weirdness provoked an interesting back and forth in the comments about the morality of illegally downloading something you can't get otherwise.

The law is clear. But there are immoral laws. So let's discuss the morality of it.

I'm on the fence about this. I was a Computer Science and English double major. The English major part of me (and the writing professional) would prefer that people not pirate creative content, because if no one's paying, my job will cease to exist, and so will the movies and tv shows I would have created.

On the other hand the retired hacker part of me believes that "information wants to be free." Which doesn't mean it has to be gratuit, no cost; but it should be libre, free to circulate. If the Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film of 1970 is only viewable by those of us with a 35mm film projector, does that absolve people who download it for free?

I do believe there is a moral difference between pirating bits and stealing something physical. If I steal your bicycle, you no longer have a bicycle. If I watch your movie without paying you, I have shorted you some money, but you are not actually worse off than you were before.

On the other hand I don't buy the argument that "If I had to pay for it I just wouldn't watch it, so there's no harm in pirating it." If you couldn't pirate, you'd eventually get bored of watching nothing, and you'd start paying for stuff.

But what about the case where the rights owner won't make his property available at all? Say there are several rights owners and a court case that's dragging on endlessly. Say the music was licensed for film but not for videorecordings, because videorecordings didn't exist yet, or because it didn't occur to anyone that there would be a market for a DVD set of The Wonder Years. Is there a still moral obligation not to download a pirated copy?

You could make the case that by downloading it for free you reduce the financial incentive for the rights owners to clear their situation up and distribute the film. But you could also make the case that if at least some people are watching it, it keeps the piece from sinking into obscurity. Either way I think the damage or gain is not very big, and de minimis non curat lex.

Also, does it make a moral difference if you are watching the movie as an end-user -- for entertainment -- or for research? Does it make a difference if you're a student writing a paper on Ennio Morricone, or a filmmaker studying Italian style of the period, or a novelist wanting to see how the story was told because you've got a book with a similar theme? Isn't the culture harmed when an important piece of that culture is hidden away? If nobody could see Michelangelo's David because the owner was keeping it in a warehouse, could people be forgiven for illegally sneaking inside and just looking at it?

Does the age of the piece matter? Many people (I'm one) think that copyright has been extended far longer than is right. Copyright gives artists the incentive to create things knowing that their creations won't be stolen. But at what point should the content enter the public domain, otherwise known as "the culture." Where would we be now if the Shakespeare Estate still controlled the rights to Romeo & Juliet -- and, say, protected the brand by refusing to license any productions not set in 16th Century Verona? That's where we are with copyright. Every time Mickey Mouse threatens to come out of copyright, Disney pushes the US Congress to extend copyright further back in time. It is now 95 years from the date of release; or the death of the author plus 70 years. At that point, we're no longer protecting the incentive for creators. I can't imagine anyone saying to himself, "I was planning to write a novel, but my descendants will lose the rights only 50 years after I'm dead, so it's not worth it." At the current duration, we are just protecting corporate assets.

So, what do you think?

a. Does the moral obligation to respect intellectual property extend to property that the owner refuses to distribute in a reasonably timely fashion?
b. Does it matter what purpose you're pirating the material for?
c. Does it matter how old the material is?

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Friend o' the Blog Stewart McKie has authored a handy tool to create a word cloud of your script.

Now, you may ask: for why? As Stewart points out, (a) you might discover a theme you didn't think of, and (b) if your biggest word is "goes," you might want to reach for the thesaurus. And let us add (c) it is good silly fun and (d) it is less daunting than actually working on your script.

Enjoy!

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Friday Night Lights is airing its final four, with its renewal hanging in the balance. Maureen Ryan of The Chicago Tribune has a slew of stories about it.

One talks about how they shoot the show, with location shooting, multiple floating cameras and a lot of improvisation. Yikes! Wow! I am in awe.

One's an interview with Jason Katims, the showrunner.

And here's an interview with Kevin Reilly, head of NBC Entertainment, on how they're trying to find an audience for the show rather than changing what the show is.

There's some overlap, but they're all worth reading.

You are watching the show, right? Wednesday nights, NBC, 8 pm.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The corrolary to William Goldman's famous "Nobody knows anything" remark is the notion that large masses of people collectively tend to know a great deal more than they ought to about a lot of things. While no one can count on getting the number of jelly beans in the jar right, the average guess is often surprisingly close. As James Surowiecki writes in The Wisdom of Crowds, large numbers of people are often right about things that experts get wrong, like how long it will take to find a cure for AIDS. (I seem to remember this coming up in John Brunner's prescient sf novel The Shockwave Rider.)

Anyroad, a company called Intrade allows you to trade futures in events, like whether Alberto Gonzales will take a fall, or whether the US will bomb Iran. If you have property in Tehran, you can use it as a hedge. If you don't, you can just check out the odds that various futures are getting. They may be closer to the real odds than what you read in the paper. (At Intrade, for example, Gonzales is two to one to stay in office, at least till the end of the month; which is not what the papers would have you believe.)

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J. Kelly Nestruck, who (full disclosure) was kind enough to interview me for the National Post last September, bemoans how he failed to make friends with all the future famous musicians he bumped into in his college years.

I can dig it. I was way too cool to try to make actual friends with Jodie Foster at Yale, even though we went to the same parties and took the same Psych class. Of course, she was already a certified Famous Person -- her stalker shot the President! -- and one would have felt like a rube to try to chat her up.

I hear her freshman year was awful.

Amazingly, I ran into her years later at a premiere, and she seemed to remember who I was. I suspect this has more to do with Jodie being really smart than my being particularly memorable.

Jenny Beals lived off campus, so I don't think I ever even saw her.

Had I known where I was headed, I might also have tried to make friends with Jenny Goldman (her father's some sort of screenwriter) at Dalton. But probably not, because I had a massive crush on her, therefore would not have been able to talk to her. Her yearbook photo was nearly nixed because it was way too sexy. She was in a jumpsuit, showing only her ankles.

Weirdly, she is writing screenplays in Philadelphia. Has been for years. Long before Philadelphia became the new Hoboken.

According to Kelly, the moral is: befriend those with talent. Even if they have sexy ankles.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.
I've always wondered if this block of typesetting gibberish was real Latin or not. Apparently, it is.

(Bracelet via Shana.)

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Q. I want to shoot a short documentary about my team's participation in a local trivia bowl. Will I need to secure release forms for everyone I interview or film?
I would. These days, it seems like you want to get a pretty airtight release from anybody who could later on claim infringement of privacy and get an injunction to block distribution of your pic. Most festivals will want to be sure you have the right to show everyone you're showing, too, and so will broadcasters.

Does anyone know where a good standard release form lives on the Net?

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Q: From the technical point of view, what is the difference between the one-hour episode Four act structure and the feature three act structure?
The difference is huge. Not because three acts are different from four. In feature structure, the second act is often twice as long as the first, and there's a flex point in the middle; so you could just as easily call it four act structure. The difference is that act structure in features is only a way of looking at a screenplay. There aren't really three acts. There is just beginning stuff, middle stuff, and end stuff. You could just as well treat your screenplay as having seven acts. Personally I find seven acts more useful than three or four. So long as you're spinning a good yarn, you don't have to worry about structure. You only use structure to figure out why your pacing seems off.

TV act structure is real. A TV episode is chopped up into bits divided by commercial breaks. That means you have to end each act on some sort of powerful moment that leaves the audience wanting more -- an "act out." The lengths of the acts have to be roughly the same, too; you can't have a four minute act or a fifteen minute act. TV writers struggle with their acts and act outs. (Except for Amy Sherman-Palladino.)

I have chapters in both my books going into some depth about feature act structure and TV act structure, so check those out for further info.

Oh, and ... four act TV structure is on its way out. Most new dramas are five acts. Some writers used to four acts hate this, but they have to suck it up because the network wants shorter commercial breaks. I have noticed that five act structure often seems to seem to conclude its story at the end of the fourth act break, but then take the story one step further -- emotional fallout, interpersonal aftermath -- rather than stretching the old middle from two acts to three.

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/* begin geekfest */

A friend of ours is trying to download a certain movie it is impossible to obtain on DVD. And the torrents are misbehaving something fierce. He is using two Bittorrent clients on two computers, but though they are on the same torrent, they don't see the same number of peers and seeders. Nor do they even see each other. One has downloaded 600+ MB, the other only 300 although it has been at it twice as long. Both are set for high upload rates, but they're not uploading anywhere near the ADSL limit, so it's not a question of jammed pipes.

Moreover, when one stops the torrent because it sees 0 seeds and 0 peers, and then restarts it, sometimes the client finds a seeder that it didn't see before.

Any experts on torrents out there who can suggest what might be wrong and how to fix?

/* end geekfest */

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Q. But what about the studio? The network pays the license fee, but the studio fronts the production costs, right? So doesn't the studio do a lot of hand-holding on both ends? giving notes, rejecting notes, and acting as a buffer between the showrunner and the network when it comes to network notes... any thoughts?
Ah, well. That.

American networks have enough clout that they unlikely to tolerate their notes being mediated by the studio. They're going to want to talk to the showrunner. However, the studio will have its own notes, because they have to make up their budget deficit by overseas sales. Overseas audiences may want more action and less talk. (Action is universal. Talk translates poorly.) They may want less sex (except in France, but they have their own shows). They may be more sensitive to how Muslims are treated. Or Asians. Or Asian Muslims. And, anyway, it's their deficit dollars, so that buys them the right to have their concerns addressed.

The showrunner has to reconcile all the notes. Sometimes they contradict. On Galidor, if I remember correctly, FoxKids wanted "more action." YTV wanted "less violence." Different countries and different audience demographics. Imagine what fun we had (the showrunner, Tom Chehak, and his staff) delivering more action and less violence. We wound up with a lot of guys in costume jumping around and missing each other.

As always, "addressing concerns" is not the same as "doing as told." Sometimes it's more important to make the execs feel they're being listened to, than to actually do what they think they want. Sometimes you have to do what they're asking. A showrunner has to be a bit of politician to know which battles to pick with the people paying the bills.

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I am thinking that the WGC needs a ballcap. Something black, say, with the logo in front, and "Hire a pro" in back.

What do you think? If they were available for $15, would you buy one?

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Q. I want to write a modern version of an old movie. Should I just worry about writing that script, or are there hurdles like rights?
If all you want to do is steal the concept, you're okay. Copyright does not protect an idea, only an expression of that idea. So if you want to write a movie about a guy who meets the girl of his dreams online, and she's someone he already knows and hates ... you don't need the rights from You've Got Mail. After all, they stole the idea from The Shop Around the Corner, where it was the same idea by regular mail.

But if your lonelyhearts are a publisher and a bookstore owner... you're getting into trouble. Sergio Leone should have got the rights to Yojimbo when he made A Fistful of Dollars, because the plot is virtually beat for beat the same. I guess copyright in Italy was a tad shakey in those days, and anyway, Yojimbo was apparently lifted from a Dashiell Hammett story, Red Harvest...

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Q. How much will it cost me to have a pilot script written for my one hour drama? Also how long would it take to write? How much for a pilot script and two additional scripts?
WGA scale for an hour episode is $31,000.

WGC scale for an hour pilot is around CAD $20,000 -- say around 17K US. Scale for an hour episode is about CAD $12,000. That's an advance against a production bonus, should the episode be produced, of roughly 2-3% of budget, split among the credited writers.

However, writers you would want to write your pilot are usually overscale writers.

The fellow who writes a pilot is considered to be "creating" the show, whether or not he came up with the idea. (Sometimes he'll agree to co-create, but don't count on it.) In Canada that usually entitles him to a royalty of, say, 1%-2% of the budget of every episode ever produced. Not sure what the deal is in the States.

The creator is not necessarily the showrunner. If the network doesn't consider the creator up to running a show, they'll pick a showrunner they like.

How long a pilot takes to write something depends on how easy a concept it is to write. I've written a draft of an hour script in four days, but that was on a show I was up to speed on, with a detailed outline. The pilot I just wrote took six weeks for a first draft, based on a finished pitch bible. If the concept needs reworking, add more time. If you choose to write without reworking the concept first, double your time estimate.

With writing as with all craft, the same tripod applies. Fast, cheap and good: pick two.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Q. I've read that the show SCRUBS relies heavily on stories that real doctors provide to the show. If I were to solicit stories from workers in the field relevant to my aspiring series, how should I approach them from a legal standpoint? Is a promise of "consultant" credit enough to protect me? "Story by" credit? I'm assuming I should create a form of some sort, that protects me and perhaps offers a token fee if the idea submitted is used in an episode.
First of all, so long as it remains an aspiring series, you don't have to do anything. Rights of copyright and privacy don't really apply to a spec episode -- obviously a spec episode is by definition a copyright violation, but it doesn't matter because it's not published or broadcast. It's only once you option the series that you have to promise that your work is original and doesn't step on anyone's rights.

In general I don't believe you need rights if you're using your medical interviews and research as a jumping off for your stories. Obviously you're going to filter the stories through your characters and your episodes. No one owns the copyright on a medical condition. If your doctor friend had a patient with a problem, you can have House have a patient with similar symptoms and a similar ultimate condition. So long as your interviewee's patients can no longer be identified from your episode, you're probably clear.

If you want to offer something, offer a "Medical Consultant" credit (in the end credits, not the front credits) for the relevant episode. You shouldn't need to offer money because most people are only too happy to tell you about their work; but if you want to, make sure it's payable on the "first day of principal photography," not any earlier. That's when all the funding is in.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Q. When notes come back from a network re a TV epiode... who addresses them?
The showrunner is responsible for all creative aspects of the show. So he or she is responsible for the notes. He may give the notes to the writer of the episode to execute, and then he'll do a pass to make sure what the writer did fits his vision and the network's needs.

The whole concept of the writer being in charge of the show is mysterious to people up here in the North. coming from years in LA, I am always amazed when I have to explain it. Simply put, someone has to be in command of the ship. In a movie, it's the director, but it hasn't always been. In the studio days, it was the producer, and sometimes you'd have three or four directors during the course of a movie, with the producer replacing the directors like Lincoln replaced generals, until he gets the results he's looking for.

In TV, it makes sense to have multiple directors (and multiple assistant directors). Rather than have one director shoot everything, you can have one director shooting while another director preps the next episode, and a third director edits the episode he shot last week. It means each director can approach the problems of each episodic script with a level head and plenty of time and enough sleep.

But if you have multiple directors, then none of them can keep track of the whole story you're telling over the course of the season. So who's in charge? In Canada that is often a non-writing producer.

In the US, it's always a writer. Why? Because TV is a huge beast that needs to be fed a fresh script every week or it lumbers into a hole and dies. And that script needs to be shootable. Which means that the writers have to work closely with the production crew to make the most of their creative talents while giving them challenges they can handle. Between the Production White draft and the last Double Blue draft, the script will need changes to accommodate the crew. We didn't get that arena we promised; where else can the hero's girlfriend be gunned down? We're expecting a major storm next week; can we move 40% of the exteriors inside? Hey, we can get a tractor prototype that walks on four legs! For free! It's really cool. Can we put it in an episode?

It just makes sense for the person consulting with the department heads to be the person who's evaluating whether or not the changes they're suggesting in the shoot are what's best for the story. Why separate those two jobs? Sometimes the story will not accommodate all interiors, or a four-legged tractor, and sometimes the story really wants to be shot outside during a storm. Department heads are not keeping the story in the forefront of their mind. They are (a) trying to make really cool costumes/sets/special effects/whatever, and (b) make their lives easier. Sometimes the coolest costume is not right for the character; sometimes the story requires an ugly set slapped together on the fly rather than the cool set they've made blueprints for. You can have a producer in the middle, mediating between the story department and the departments, but it's simpler to just put the top writer (often the creator of the show) in charge.

That doesn't mean there's no room for the creative producer in the mix. A good showrunner consults with everyone, and listens to them, especially when they can fire him. Only a fool ignores the people who are bringing the money he's spending. We're not talking about final say, either. The network has final say. (Ultimately the audience has final say.) But someone's got to have first say, and it seems to work better when that someone is a writer.

Canada seems to be transitioning from the producer-driven system to the American writer-driven system, but it's a difficult cultural change. Producers aren't used to trusting writers to run their shows because they haven't seen that system working; and, not that many writers have experience in production. Catch-22. But the best shows are writer run -- e.g. Corner Gas and Slings and Arrows -- and I think that speaks for itself.

Of course, I would say that. Wouldn't I?

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Marc Librescu writes to let me know he is blogging about how he's adapting a book about a dog with human intelligence into a screenplay...

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Q.: I'm about to get started on a new spec script (Rescue Me) and would like to challenge myself to write faster. What's an ambitious but realistic deadline to set? I'm watching episodes but haven't done a beatsheet yet.
Assuming you're writing on a full time basis, a reasonable pace could be:

a. a week to come up with the story lines. What happens in each story line, in each act? What are the act outs? [In a previous draft of this post I said that Rescue me is a full hour without act outs; it's on FX, so it does.]
b. a week to beat the story out
c. two weeks to write the first draft
d. tinker till satisfied you can't do better.

On staff you might spend a day breaking down the script's story lines. But you'd have a story department to work on it with you, and you'd be breaking down a whole slew of story lines at the same time. On your own, it will take longer, and you'll also have to try out many story lines but only pick one, while in the room you can try out many story lines and pick several.

On staff you might have only two or three days to beat the story out the first time, but then you'd get notes and you'd end up spending a week on it one way or another.

On a broadcast hour show you might spend a week writing a first draft script. But Rescue Me is more intricate and more outrageous than most broadcast hours.

The key is to remember that while you should write as well as you can, keep your forward momentum and try to get 5-10 pages a day once you're writing pages. On staff that will be more like 10-15 pages a day. But on staff you know the show and you have other writers to help you solve problems you're bumping on.

Good luck!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Q. What digital camera would you use [for a short]?
Depends on your budget of course. If you want a professional look, there are plenty of excellent "prosumer" (professional/consumer) digital video (DV) cameras. Google "prosumer digicam".

The step up from there, I believe, is HDV (high definition video), and the step up from there is HD (high definition television). High Definition Video is the top quality video for a regular TV (NTSC standard in North America, 525 lines of definition); HDTV is another standard entirely (1080 lines of resolution, requires an HD television to play). You don't need HD unless you're planning to screen your short on a big screen at festivals. We'll shoot HD if we have the budget for it, otherwise HDV. It's the difference between $750 a day to rent and $750 a week, I believe. You can buy a prosumer DV camera for a couple thousand bucks, I think.

But let me open this question up to the readership. What cameras have you used, and what were your experiences with them?

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Q. I'm planning to shoot a 25 minute short...
Why do you want to shoot such a long short? I would think you can show your chops in a 12 minute short. Then if they like that you've got a feature script they can fund. I think you're going to grab more attention with a snappy short of ten minutes or less than you will with something that people have to really sit down and watch.

Unless, of course, your 25 minute short is a big chunk of the feature you want to shoot, e.g. Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade, which became Sling Blade three years later. But that was also a showpiece for Billy Bob Thornton.

I shot a 27 minute long thesis film for my MFA, but I wish I'd done something shorter. Right now I'm putting together a 6 minute short. I think if the six minute short really scores, it will convince people I can direct a feature; and if it doesn't really score, making it four times as long won't help me.

Readers, what have been your experiences with longish shorts and short shorts?

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Just got word that BravoFACT! has approved our short film, TWELVE WAYS TO SAY "I'M SORRY" for funding. That gives us a broadcaster and a big chunk of our budget. Exciting! If SODEC comes through, we're good to go.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Q. To get into TV writing you have to write spec scripts. But to get into Canadian TV, should you write specs for Canadian shows? One Canadian and one American? Or does it matter?
You should write specs of shows you are pretty sure people are watching.

Canadian showrunners and network execs watch American shows. American showrunners don't watch Canadian shows. (Though they ought to watch Slings and Arrows on Sundance. And Corner Gas on WGN. And they probably watched DeGrassi Junior High when they were in high school, oh, about nine years ago.)

If you're not planning to show your spec to American shows, you might set yourself apart by speccing a Canadian show. But you don't have a lot of choice. Among the Canadian shows, you could probably count on Canadian network execs and producers having seen Slings and Arrows, Corner Gas, possibly not more than one episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie, possibly not more than one episode of Trailer Park Boys.

But you're probably safer speccing the usual: Heroes, Desperate Housewives, House, maybe Battlestar Galactica if you're a spec fiction fan.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Q. I am in the middle of writing a querry letter and wanted to know if I should mention that the screenplay (which is completed) is already registered with the WGA.
I never do. It seems amateurish.

And moreover, personally, I never register my scripts with the WGA. I will copyright them with the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress if someone asks me to. I have perpetrated a whole section of my FAQ on this very issue.

But mostly, I don't bother. I don't believe anyone's going to steal the idea; and there are usually lots of people (my wife, my assistant, my agent) who could testify that when they first read the material, it had my name on it.

Networks are not in the business of stealing material. Neither are producers, really. Who wants a lawsuit when you can just option the damn idea and then hire someone else to rewrite it if you don't like the way it's executed?

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Someone has put together a very convincing imitation of Bob Dylan, circa 1966, singing songs by Dr. Seuss, complete with album art. It's called Dylan Hears a Who!

"I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham" is priceless.

Via Neil.

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If one loves words, sooner or later one comes across the rarer nouns of congregation, e.g. a murder of crows, an ascension of larks, a shrewdness of apes, a greed of bankers.

Does anyone know from whence these come? Who came up with them? When did they come into use? Has anyone ever said "a murder of crows" just by-the-by, without thinking "I am so clever, I'll use the fancy term instead of just saying 'flock' like a normal person"?

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Q. I've come across what I believe to be a fantastic true crime story with a built in narrative and many interesting details to work with. Is it possible to tell a true crime story in screenplay or comic book form and not get buried under a mountain of lawsuits?
My understanding is that you can use anything that appears in the public record. Trial transcripts are public domain, and as I understand it, one has no right of privacy as regards things that have already appeared in public.

If you are using someone's reportage -- say you're basing your screenplay on a series of articles by a reporter -- you're on shakier ground. Usually the studio will want to see that you've optioned the rights to the reporter's work. I believe that if you've based your screenplay on many reporter's stories, you might not need the rights. If a story element has appeared in two reporters' stories, then neither of them can be sure you took your information from them.

However, why not finesse the whole thing and adapt the truth? I doubt there are many true crime stories so compelling they can't be improved on. A knife becomes an ice pick. An SUV becomes a Hummer. An immigrant from Mali becomes a refugee from Rwanda. Your job in adapting true events for the screen is to distill what is cinematic and personal, what supports the story you want to tell, and to fill in the gaps. Unless the notoriety of the crime (Zodiac) or the reporter (Capote) is part of the attraction of the story, you may be better off without the rights. That will force you to judge each scene not by whether it happened, but whether it is necessary to the story. It will force you to ask yourself if you can't do better. (Should the playwright's lover bludgeon him to death with his award statue? Or with a hammer, and then bemoan how he should have done it with the statue?)

Then you can slap an "Inspired by a true story" on the script and you're off to the races.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Q. People say you should not write for a spec show that has been cancelled. Is there any leniency with this? How long after a show has been cancelled is it no longer a valuable script? I am writing a Veronica Mars. It's been taking me awhile because of its rather complicated and sophisticated structure and execution. But, as every fan knows, [the show is] in danger of extinction and the chances of it returning or not too great (but it might). Should I continue to write it, or should I wait to see its future?
As a rule of thumb, I think you should finish what you start. It's a bad habit to drop things in the middle. It's demoralizing. And no one wants to read unfinished work, so you can't get feedback.

How long you can get away with a spec of a cancelled show depends on the show. Because of where my career is, and because I've got a couple of spec pilots, I haven't written a spec script in a few years. I'm mildly embarrassed to show my Sorkin-era West Wing spec, but it still gets good reactions. Your spec is live so long as people remember the show: themes, characters, voices, storytelling style. For example, I suspect Entourage will be a viable spec for a few years after it's cancelled, if execs haven't overdosed on Entourage specs by then. Whereas I have a feeling that The OC, which was the hot spec a couple seasons back, will evaporate from people's brains like champagne bubbles.

On the other hand, you don't want people to think it takes you donkey's years to write a spec. When you spec a newish show, or the current season of an established show, you're proving that you can bang a good script out. Showrunners need to know not only that you can write their show well, you can write it fast. Until you have staff jobs on your resume, the only way to prove that is to write an up-to-date spec.

I would think even if VM dies the death, you could still show the spec around for a year afterward, so long as you immediately working on something new to go alongside it.

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Q. I've been writing a script for several years now that I just can't finish. I am really tempted to jump ahead and start writing scenes towards the end, going back later to fill in the middle. Do you recommend this method?
I recommend any method that works for you. Especially, any method that gets you unblocked.

I suspect also that you did not take enough time on your story. The best way to come up with a screen story is to tell it out loud, over and over, to anyone who'll listen. As you retell it, you'll naturally revise it, streamline it, embellish it, and play with it. By the time you're ready to write the script, you'll have a "just add water" outline.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Q. It's so hard to get production companies to read my [live action] pilot script, or even to talk to a producer or agent on the phone. What if I were to create an animated trailer on the Net? Wouldn't people be more likely to click on a link than call me back?
Not necessarily. People are busy. It's their job to read scripts. It's not their job to click links.

But you're right, people do love to fool around at the office clicking links. (The readership of this blog plummets on weekends, for example.) But now you not only have to pitch your script, you have to create a top-quality animated trailer. Because if your animated trailer lags in any way, people will close that browser window. If the animation isn't great, or the voices, or the editing -- if it isn't ready for prime time in any important way -- then most people will go back to 30 Second Bunny Theater. Most writers are not also superb animators; and if they are, they should probably quit writing for live action and go into animation full time.

Moreover, you've shifted to a new medium, with its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, the "actors" in animation aren't as nuanced as in live action. Their actions and words have to be bigger-than-life to make an impression. If you have an animated trailer that works, your show is probably overwritten for live action; if your trailer is well written for live action then it's probably underwritten for animation.

There are oh so many ways to get your script read, but the best way is still to ask people to read your script. As Confucius says: "The way out is via the door. How is it that no one will use this method?"

On the other hand, if you are pitching an animated show, and you have a concept so easy to animate and so simple to voice that you can create a near-broadcast-quality short film (not a trailer but a complete story), then go for it. South Park originated as a student project at the University of Colorado, which convinced FOX exec Brian Graden to commission a video Christmas card from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, which convinced Comedy Central to commission the series.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My dad was kind enough to babysit, so Lisa and I went on a date to see Zodiac. Not sure I'd recommend it as a date movie, but it's been getting such raves. ("A classic," says The New York Times.)

(I don't think there are any spoilers in the following, but if you're finicky, read this after you've seen the flick.)

I found the movie to be longer than it needed to be, extremely well cast and acted, and beautifully shot. What I was missing was the story.

Not astory. Obviously there is the story of an investigation; and a fine bunch of ensemble acting it is. But what the movie develops (far too late!) into is the story of Robert Graysmith, the novelist who pursues clues in the investigation long afer the police dropped the case for lack of leads. This is the story I felt the movie needed to tell, and didn't.

The tagline to the movie is: there's more than one way to lose your life to a killer. And as Graysmith's investigation continues, he puts his life at risk (will the killer make him a target?) and also his marriage (will his wife stay married to an obsessive?).

That's the point where I start wanting to know why. Why does Graysmith, a cartoonist, pursue a dead case at the risk of his family and his life? What is he trying to accomplish? Will it make the lambs stop screaming? Is there something he's trying to fix? To avoid? What does he get out of it?

What are the stakes? Why is this personal to him?

I feel that the movie never succeeded in connecting Graysmith to the killer emotionally. It never got into his head or under his skin. And yet if it is going to be his story, that is what it had to do. We watch a drama about someone who's slightly crazy, or flat out nuts, in order to understand what it's like to be that person. A Beautiful Mind did a nice job of showing us the insides of the mind of a paranoid schizophrenic.

So, instead, for what felt like two and a half hours, we're just following Graysmith following the clues. And the false leads. And so what? Why should we care? The Zodiac isn't killing anyone new, and as characters in the movie keep reminding us, lots of people get murdered in San Francisco every year. And it's not Graysmith's job to catch the guy, either.

So why are we watching this movie? And why is this an instant classic? What am I missing?

Anyone else care to chip in?

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Monday, March 05, 2007

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.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Q. I've been out of school for 11 years and have a successful career in marketing. I wouldn't want to start at the bottom again. Would it make sense to change industries but stay in marketing and figure out how to squeeze my way into writing?
It would. It's good to have a day job that gets you close to showbiz, so you get a sense of what people want. And if you're marketing movies, you'll learn what sort of movies the marketers want. The kind of movies the marketers don't want get made rarely. And If you're a successful marketer, you might even like marketing movies.

My day job was developing and producing movies. I was a pretty good development guy and not a great producer. (I can't talk people out of money they shouldn't be giving me, and that is a crucial producer skill.) I learned a lot about what to write and what not to write. In fact, my experiences in my day job led to my first book as much as my experiences as a writer ever did.

If you're a successful marketer, you stand a much better chance of breaking into marketing than of breaking into writing, just because you have some expertise. But it is equally true that you stand a much better chance of selling your first script if you are marketing movies than if you are marketing widgets.

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Q. I recently started work on a spec pilot. I've been conceptualizing, outlining, and writing it with a network-model, teaser-and-tag five act structure in mind. A coworker recently advised me to ditch the act structure, at least at the script level. His claim is that putting act breaks in a spec pilot will set off 'amateur hour' alarms in the heads of prospective agents and showrunners, that an undivided script will read as more versatile and professional.
WTF? No. If you are writing a spec pilot for network drama, it darn well better have five acts -- and great act outs. Network drama is all about the act outs. You need to show that you know how to structure a story so that it has the right number of act outs, and roughly even numbers of pages in between. That can be a real bear. And it's what separates TV writers from those who are only qualified to write movies.

If you are writing a spec pay cable hour, of course, no act outs. (Though, inexplicably, I've read David Milch Deadwood scripts with three act outs.)
Q. Is one also obligated to raise the profanity, violence, and nudity quotients, and the page count, in line with the standards and formats of premium cable series?
Again, are you writing a pay cable spec, or a broadcast spec? If you are trying to get a job writing for broadcast, maybe you should be speccing a broadcast pilot, not a cable pilot.

If you are speccing a pay cable pilot, then you are allowed to raise the profanity, nudity and violence. But what you are obliged to do is write things that would not appear on broadcast TV. These might be profanity and nudity, or they might be transgressive in other ways. The cable pilot I'm writing right now does have some casual nudity where it feels appropriate to the story. But it is also cable because it pushes the darkness much deeper than broadcast will. Network TV is usually about families that fundamentally work -- whether families of blood or of choice. Pay cable is often about fundamentally disfunctional families. On broadcast, the heroes usually win; if they don't, it's special. On pay, the hero may be morally compromised.

I sometimes wonder if Firefly would have flown on pay cable. Joss Whedon would have been free to delve into the darkness that he so loves. And the pay cable audience would have been more tolerant of his unexpected plot twists; they might have been sophisticated enough to dig them the way writers do.

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Q. I am now looking for a screenwriting agent, and part of your advice says to make sure to address all queries to a particular individual within an agency. Having got the agency listing from the WGA, they do not list particular names. I have phoned a couple places to find out who I might address the query to, but have so far received only less-than-welcome receptions on the other end. Is there a particular way to approach these people, or should I just drop the cash and buy the Hollywood Representation Directory? Are email queries the way to go now?
I think email queries are the way to go. Environmentally friendly, free, and easy to respond to. If they won't take an email query, they probably will ignore a query by mail, too.

I would definitely shell out for the HRD, or get the HCD Online Directory for a one-week trial; it's about $25.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

I was skimming Made to Stick: Why some ideas Survive and Others Die in the tub. ('Cause we don't have a tub. We have shower stall that would comfortably fit an orgy of eight, but no tub. My folks have tubs.) I read that in the US Army these days, no set of orders is complete without a line at the top that explains what the Commander's Intent is. "No plan survives contact with the enemy" as the saying goes, but if you know what your commander wants to accomplish then you can improvise.

Outlined scenes often fail to survive contact with the pages; something that sounded good in the pitch proves hard to write. At that point it's always useful to figure out what is the one thing you need this scene to do. What is the conflict that must transpire in the scene and what is the outcome you need. Once you know that, there are many ways to write the scene -- front to back, back to front, middle out. But if you don't know what your scene needs to accomplish, then you have too many ways to write it, and you stand a good chance of writing nothing useful at all.

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I have all my books sent to my parents' apartment in New York, to save on shipping and customs. That means whenever we come to visit, I get to open a slew of boxes. It's like Christmas in March!

So, today I got prezzies!

Six Degrees of Separation (research for adapting The Alternative into a play)
Love and Human Remains (ditto)
Thinking in Pictures (autism)
The Ride Together (autism)
Our Journey Through (autism)
Hello, Lied the Agent (showbiz)
This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession (science makes you smart!)
Twilight of the Mammoths (ditto)
The Secret Language of the Renaissance (art is sexy!)
Lud in the Mist (Neil said to get it)
Micro Nations (um ... there could be something in there ... couldn't there?)
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (did I even order this?)
Making Comics, by Scott McCloud
100 Bullshit Jobs and How to Get Them (how can you not love the title?)
Absolute Sandman vol. 1 (research for ... oh, who am I kidding?)
Watchmen (because I didn't get it the first time)

These oughta hold me for, I dunno, 2 weeks?

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I don't usually link to other articles by scribosphere heavy-hitters like DMc because you probably read them anyway. But if you're interested in Canadian TV, write about it, hope to work in it, or, bless you, oversee it, or if you are Maureen Parker, please read Denis McGrath's latest. He has proposed some solutions that might work.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

I think we will wait until tomorrow to drive to New York. It is too lovely a day not to take the dog for a walk in the park.

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