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Posts tagged as “Flashpoint”

Seven Years of TV Writing (and advice)

Television writing is, for all intents and purposes, the core subject of this website.
It would be foolish to recap seven years worth of TV writing-related content and advice in a post.
Let’s do it anyway.

We began our journey by tackling a very simple problem: how to land that first job in television. Yes, that “simple” comment was sarcasm.
It was shortly thereafter that I started mentioning a few of my favorite TV business books, and some great TV writing books.
Note to self: make another updated list. Other note to self: add previous note to self to to-do list.

June 2010 meant kick-off time in South Africa, which led me to write what the World Cup can teach you about TV writing. Hint: it does not involve corruption.

A big event of the past seven years was also my “spec experiment” in 2013 of writing and publicly publishing my spec pilot of Star Trek: Terran.
I explained my thought-process in a much-debated post entitled “Breaking Rules” — Speccing And Sharing Star Trek: Terran.

Television is a collaborative medium. We’re not writing novels, we’re making episodic scripts. And we should be learning from each other.
Sadly, besides produced scripts being traded in the shadows of Internet, there’s almost no TV writer, aspiring or pro, willing to openly share their work.
And I have to say: it’s weird.
I’m not talking about sharing projects currently in development/production or making the rounds. What I’m referring to is all the other stuff. The failed pitches, the finished projects, the canceled ventures.
This isn’t a question of getting/wanting validation from the outside. It’s obvious most writers already have a group, or an entourage whose opinion they care about. It’s about sharing the craft. The experience of TV writing.
That’s one of the reasons why I put Terran out there. Like any spec, it’s an ongoing work in progress, and I do welcome any feedback I get. Yet, I don’t expect it to be made (copyright issues notwithstanding). I put it out, in part, to share the process (good and bad).

I concluded with the following sentiments:

Writing can be a personal affair, but TV is communal. It’s teamwork. We’re all in this together.
I wish writers were more willing to openly share their work, especially when it comes to television.
It’s high time we started learning from each other’s craft. Why not become a team writer yourself?

Sounds like people need another bump to the bum!

Moving on to one of our most popular TV writing series–
Screenwriting Lessons From” is a great little series of articles where I reverse-engineer screenwriting lessons from finished series. We’ve tackled Coupling, Friends, Parks & Recreation, Farscape and Six Feet Under.
Last December, this tweet happened:

Yes, that’s a tweet from motherfrelling Farscape creator Rockne S. O’Bannon praising my “Screenwriting Lessons from Farscape” post! I’m still in shock that happened.

And speaking of professional TV people and popular series (greatest transition ever?), we’ve had since last year our “Profiles of Television” interview series, which mixes both TV writing and TV business advice. Posted as of today:
Kiyong Kim – TV Writing Fellow (Nickelodeon/NBC WOTV/CAAM)
Meghan Pleticha – TV Writer’s Assistant & Script Coordinator (Silicon Valley/Married)
Jill Weinberger – TV Writer/Story Editor (Chicago Fire)
Matt Thilenius – TV Literary Assistant (CAA)
(and someone else we had to remove for secret reasons)
Fun fact: this is just the beginning! I’ve already got four upcoming interviews in the can, ready to fire off. All that’s left to do is the transcript for each. Shouldn’t take more than hours and hours of work.

Of course, our big takeaway for most people have always been my annual spec script lists. I’ve published, so far, 13 spec lists since our creation (or, more accurately, since 2009).
It’s fair to say that over the past few years, our focus has slowly shifted to the TV writing fellowships and specs.
The first venture into the “how-to” spec guide was with the super-duper Canadian police procedural Flashpoint and our “Spec Flashpoint” series. I broke down over seven articles how I specced that show. Everything from research to, well, development.
Let’s not forget also the various how-to articles on spec scripts, mainly how fresh a show should be to spec it, and ten spec writing rules (and why you should care).
Over the past seven years we’ve had a ton of other articles on TV writing, including:
The difference between a “spec script” and “spec pilot”
How to land a writing gig on a TV show
Script Registration 101
How to get a TV agent
How late you can spec something
Animated vs. live-action specs
Is a pilot script needed when pitching?

And many more.

It has been a very fruitful journey so far, and I hope you continue living it with us.

Write on.

One Year of Writing (and Tips)

One of the major points of this blog, or at least supposedly, was to give interesting links, tips and thoughts around writing, both in general and especially regarding TV.
Hopefully, you appreciated and continue to appreciate the various thoughts gathered on the issue.

You’ll be Swimming with Sharks in no time.

Greatest reference ever?

As we saw again this week, I like to talk about the future of entertainment.
Nonetheless, in November I wrote a piece on “Why TV is where you must be“.
Although the article could be seen as an argument on why TV is a good place to be as a viewer, it is mostly in regards to why I (still) believe television is the best place to be, as a screenwriter.

Very early on I rounded up writing books dedicated to writing, especially television-wise, as well as the TV or Entertainment industry in general.
A lot of my earlier posts on writing were somehow linked to myths and heroes.

I had just seen The Dark Knight and was deep in my reading of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces and was very into this whole “Hero/Myth” thing so I wrote two articles on “mythic structures and hero psychology”.
One more centered on TDK and heroes themselves:

It especially got me thinking about a post I read a while back about (super)heroes and their flaws.
I believe TDK correlates directly to that idea, especially for both Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent.
To make a hero believable, we need him/her to be flawed. We need him/her to have limits. We need him/her to be vincible.
Bruce Wayne is a human that becomes a vigilante at night. But he is still a human behind his (too-much-technologically-advanced) suit. This is reminded to us early on in the movie when he is bit by a rottweiler (physical failing).

Another a more general one about structure and myths:

Structure has been analysed for centuries, even millenniums, way back when Homer wrote (or rather told) his Iliad.
In the last decades, this analysis has been transposed to scripts and screenplays. Scripts and movies were broken down and compared to other literary pieces to try to found out the common links, not the least of which being Robert McKee’s Story.
Besides script acts, and structures, “heroes arcs” and “heroes journeys” have been analysed and also broken down. These mythical archetypes lead obviously to mythic structures.
This is one of the specialties of mythologists, including Joseph Campbell.
Campbell wrote a fascinating book around his theories of the journey of archetypal heroes in various mythologies from around the globe. This book led to a memo written by Christopher Vogler (a development exec) to Disney studios about how to use Campbell’s book for screenwriting. This memo led to various critically-acclaimed movies Disney movies such as The Beauty and the Beast, Aladin and The Lion King. Vogler also worked on a small movie called Fight Club.
Soon after, Christopher Vogler expanded his memo and published a book around it where he explored not only Campbell’s work (and Jung’s) but expanded it to correlate directly to screenwriting.

Continuing on straight tips and links, there were some about the basics of script registration, an interest technique to land a job on television, as well as interesting online links (when I’m too lazy).

One of the most vital writing step in breaking in TV is making a spec script.
Back in March, I gathered some info to make a guide on “What is hot and what is not” to spec.
I also made a guide to Spec Flashpoint.

Education-wise, I unearthed a secret Showrunner program at UCLA’s TFT.
And last but not least there were a few TED talks on creative writing and technology.

Hope you got some good advice out of those articles and you’ll be able to get some writing done.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
A page a day keeps your procrastination at bay.
Speaking of scripts, see you tomorrow.

The Guessing Game 2009 – Renewals and Cancellations

The Upfronts are fast approaching and I need to post what I think will happen (if only to say TOLDJA!).

Let the Guessing Game begin!

First, the renewals.

Lots of shows are on the bubble as always this time of year.
Ergo, it’s the perfect moment to play the guessing game of what is coming back/getting canceled.

Some of the educated guesses on here are mainly follow-ups to my durability thinking in the Spec Script 2009 list I gave a couple of months ago.

Shows that are not on this list have either been already declared canceled (My Own Worst Enemy, Prison Break, etc.), have already been renewed (24, Ugly Betty, Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, etc.), or I don’t care much about/forgot about.

Since I’m crazy, often wrong, and especially suicidal, here is my guess list:

Cold Case
My guess: Canceled
Why?: This renewal fight is between Cold Case and Without a Trace. Given that Trace has more decent numbers than Cold Case,
Why not?: The show is the youngest of the two.

Eleventh Hour
My guess: Canceled
Why?: A lot of other, new, procedural-type shows are coming CBS’ way.
Why not?: Bruckheimer.

My guess: Renewed
Why?: Epic Friday ratings. Add to that the fact that more and more shows are being co-produced, and Flashpoint is here for the long run.
Why not?: No real reason.

How I Met Your Mother
My guess: Renewed
Why?: I think it still has one season under its sleeve.
Why not?: Average ratings for a CBS sitcom, and both The Big Bang Theory & Two and a Half Men have already been renewed for multiple seasons.

The Mentalist
My guess: Renewed
Why?: Duh.
Why not?: CBS execs have realised it’s a Psych copy-cat.

The New Life of Old Christine
My guess: Canceled
Why?: Has been disposable ever since it was launched.
Why not?: If the upcoming sitcoms are complete failures, the show might see another day.

Rules of Engagement
My guess: Renewed
Why?: The show is pulling in better numbers than CSI: Miami.
Why not?: Like Old Christine, the show is fairly disposable and has mostly those ratings thanks two its lead-in.

Without a Trace
My guess: Renewed
Why?: See above regarding Cold Case.
Why not?: The show is old and expensive.

Worst Week
My guess: Canceled
Why?: Pulled out of sked, low ratings.
Why not?: Jesus has returned.

My guess: Renewed
Why?: Like I previously said, I doubt NBC would leave to die a heavily-promoted show, especially after putting so much money in the 3-D episode, even if the ratings are average.
Why not?: Everyone and their mothers are saying it’s canned.

My guess: Canceled
Why?: Thoroughly under-promoted, a lame timeslot followed by an even lamer timeslot followed by the show being pushed back to Summer.
Why not?: Good question.

My guess: Canceled
Why?: The show was on average pulling worse ratings than Knight Rider or My Own Worst Enemy.
Why not?: My prayers worked.

My guess: Canceled
Why?: Because I want it to.
Why not?: Sundays at 10PM, right doc?

My Name is Earl
My guess: Canceled
Why?: Change is coming and they need to clean out a bit their Thursday lineup.
Why not?: The ratings, even though average, are still decent compared to the rest of the NBC shows.

Parks & Recreation
My guess: Renewed
Why?: The show pulls in pretty decent numbers…
Why not?: …despite its very late start.

My guess: Renewed
Why?: The show pulls in pretty decent numbers despite its very late start.
Why not?: NBC’s sked is getting smaller and smaller.

Better Off Ted
My guess: Canceled
Why?: In the same rating-zone as Pushing Daisies and Dirty Sexy Money once were.
Why not?: No reason why it should get renewed, Better Off Dead.

My guess: Canceled
Why?: Lackluster ratings (and reviews) and ABC needs to shed some shows to make room for the new.
Why not?: I don’t want Nathan Fillion to be jobless.

My guess: Canceled
Why?: No time for third chances.
Why not?: Why not, not?

My guess: Canceled
Why?: Everyone has moved on.
Why not?: It would be a good prank to renew it.

The Unusuals
My guess: Canceled
Why?: Very late start and mediocre ratings.
Why not?: ABC might take pity on Harold Perrineau.

My guess: Renewed
Why?: Decent to good ratings.
Why not?: Don’t you want to continue be bored?

My guess: Canceled
Why?: All those reasons.
Why not?: All these reasons.

My guess: Renewed
Why?: “By the writers of Star Trek comes the new season of Fringe.”
Why not?: In one of the many parallel universes out there, the show gets canned.

House M.D.
My guess: Renewed
Why?: Best. Ratings. Ever.
Why not?: The Upfronts will be on April Fool’s Day 2010.

Lie to Me
My guess: Renewed
Why?: Also has great ratings and a known star.
Why not?: I would be lying if I said it was gonna get canceled.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles
My guess: Canceled
Why?: More or less the same reasons as Dollhouse. The ratings are bad and FOX isn’t happy.
Why not?: Send back an army of viewers in time to watch the show.

Sit Down, Shut Up
My guess: Canceled
Why?: The poor ratings are tanking FOX’s Sunday night.
Why not?: The ratings the show would pull next year would be (sadly) funnier than the show itself. Yes, I’m harsh.

The next Guessing Game will be about the pilots that are going to get picked up, so stay tuned.