Half Hour Is a Pain in the Brent ButtComplications Ensue
Complications Ensue:
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Q. You mentioned that an hour show is no more work than a half hour show. How do you mean? Is it that once you're already rolling on a show idea, its easy to keep pumping out pages? Any other reasons?
When I signed on to CHARLIE JADE, I'd just spent a year fussing over eight half-hour scripts for NAKED JOSH with my co-creator. I landed in Cape Town, and our writing room immediately started banging out hour scripts, three in the first week, then one a week for every week after that.

My impression is that a contemporary half hour script has almost as much story as an hour does. On NAKED JOSH, we had A, B and C stories. Sometimes we even had a runner on top of that. In CHARLIE JADE we had an A, B and C story. We simply had to work harder to fit that much story into 22 minutes.

The stories in NAKED JOSH were smaller stories -- more about observing the vagaries of metro life than, say, saving the multiverse -- but you could easily have unpacked them to hour stories to make a FELICITY-esque hour show.

When I started in writing CHARLIE JADE scripts, I found that I had a few more beats in each story than on NAKED JOSH, but not that many more. We were doing four acts instead of three. But the scenes could breathe more. Instead of the scenes being 45 seconds long, say, they were a minute to a minute and a quarter. (I'm guessing.)

I think it's telling that half hour sitcom staffs are much larger than hour drama staffs. Of course comedy is harder than drama. But I think if you take a typical half hour and plot it out, you'll wind up with almost as much story as you do for a drama.

I have some half hour pitches I would love to set up. But I know that if they do, I'll wind up working just as hard or harder on them as I will on my hour material!

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Instead of the scenes being 45 minutes long, say, they were a minute to a minute and a quarter.

I think you meant seconds there because a 45 minute scene is awfully long for a 22 minute show.

By Blogger Hawise Gadarn, at 11:16 AM  

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