But They Make Up All Their Lines, Don't They?Complications Ensue
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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Q. Do you think Friday Night Lights would be worth speccing? I don't know if I should bother trying to write a script for it since the reader will know that the actors are encouraged to ad-lib a lot of the time.
As far as I know, they're encouraged to ad-lib off the script, which they've memorized. That means they might change a few words in a line here and there, and add handles ("Look, ...") and hems and haws. But I guarantee you there are lines in them there scripts. Check'em out yourself.

As far as I know, FNL is a good spec these days. The tricky thing, as always with a serial, is how to fit your spec into their timeline. You can either try to squeeze one in between two episodes, try to make your ep relatively free-floating, or write a season opener. The latter will be tricky, because as you know, Coach is no longer coaching the Panthers as of the season finale, and who knows who's going to be in the show next year. (And it will do you no good to just make up a slew of new characters, since that's not what a spec script is for.) But that's another headache entirely.

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My partner and I have a Friday Night Lights spec that we wrote late last year before Season 3 aired. It's set comfortably between Seasons 2 and 3, which we noted when we sent it out to fellowships this year. We did a quick scan for contradictions to our spec coming in Season 3 -- while there were a number of events that took a different turn from our predictions, there was no reason they couldn't have happened like we said and then turned around, e.g. we had the mother of Jason's child deciding to leave the baby with Jason and go to art school, and Jason deciding to move back in with his parents -- no reason it couldn't have happened, then changed.

It's a great show and it was deeply satisfying to write, but because of the timeline we assume we'll have to abandon it after this round of fellowships. On to the next!

(Actually, we wrote a next, but had to abandon it when Chuck aired an episode with a substantially similar premise and one exactly similar scene. The price of being in tune with the Zeitgeist.)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:15 AM  

Thanks for replying to this, Alex, and thanks for the link.

By Blogger Will, at 7:47 AM  

Great spec. We hired our staff writer off her FNL (and a pilot).

By Blogger taylor, at 9:02 PM  

Going off what Alex said, were the events in this particular FNL spec up to date, or did you allow a lot of leeway?

By Blogger Will, at 10:32 AM  

A lot of leeway. You can really get away with quite a lot in a spec as long as it's good and doesn't read like a complete near-verbatim lift from an existing show. Everybody here knows the deal with specs -- you're writing them over a period of time while the show is in production, and there are bound to be overlapping themes, details, etc. Best advice I got was "don't worry about it -- just make it good." If it feels like a real FNL, it's probably good.

By Blogger taylor, at 4:19 PM  

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