I just handed in about 60 pages of story: breakdowns for all ten episodes of my pay cable series (including the three I've already written), averaging about six pages each. That's four stories per episode (one for each of the core cast), so 24 fairly detailed story breakdowns. They're not technically
breakdowns since I don't have everything split into acts -- which I would normally do even though there are no acts in pay cable. But if you are the network, and you want to know what the series is, it's all there.
(And if you are not the network, alas, I can't show it to you.)
This is not how shows are done in the States, of course, or even in Canadian broadcast. If you've been reading Rogers' blog
, you know about shooting a pilot, getting a greenlight, then hiring yourself up a writing room. Our process started with a pitch bible. Then the network kindly commissioned a pilot script, then two more scripts. Then we had a three week writing room with two other writers and a writing assistant. Then I spent another month or so reworking the stories we'd come up with in the room. The point of this unorthodox system is to allow one writer to write all (or almost all) the episodes of a short season of television himself. I am constantly amazed at the networks' faith in me on this series.
Now if you will all just kindly say a little prayer for me, or chat up Lady Fortune, or sacrifice a black lamb to the Joss... one day I may be turning these breakdowns into scripts.
I'm on hold with Lady Fortune's office. Surprised she's working late on a Friday.
I've been laying out my crime mystery series myself, with much lower expectations.
I think the way they have you doing it is actually better. I imagine paying you and your staff to lay out the whole season was cheaper than producing a pilot of a series that might not have any legs.
I think that a lot of creativity is stifled by the system as is.
If every network took the money spent on one pilot and set up a farm system to nurture pilot writing and season development, we'd see some better, longer lasting television. And there could be a couple Rick Rubin guru types to extract the most out intrigue out of a spec series before anything has been shot.
Young writers obsess about how to perfect their Ugly Betty script, when they could be striving for originality, longevity, and a spot in one of the network farm systems.
I guess the Disney Fellowship is the closest thing.
But definitely best wishes for your series.
I have a question for you on format. How would you write a one-sided phone conversation?
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