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The TV facts of life — By JACK

23 Oct

I’ve started a TV writing class.  It’s been too long since I’ve been in a class room setting. It’s nice. I’ve missed it. People ask me why I want to write TV opposed to theatre or film or even novels. Then they ask me why I’m going after something that’s so hard to get into. As if maybe I should set my sights lower. Fuck it. I’m already in my late 20’s. I’ve only ever seen myself doing something in entertainment. I’m not going to change now. I can’t imagine myself in a 9-5 working for someone else’s benefit. If I’m going to devote 40 plus hours a week of my life to something, it’s going be creating some thing unique from me and meaningful.

The first thing the teacher said: “In TV writing you are not creating anything unique. You’re following a formula pieced to together from vaudville, film, and radio. It’s been perfected. You write in that formula or your fired.”  Well fuck. I still want to do it.

Here are the TV facts of life.
1. Less writing a script as you are executing a brand.
As a TV writer it is your job to safeguard the characters. A brand has been establish and it’s essential you protect it. Characters don’t change. They return to saneness. The audience identifies with something in the character. If we change that, we change the reason people watch the show

2. There are no pre-planned story arcs.
Each week you as a writer are given notes. From the top. YOU MUST FOLLOW THESE. The notes come from 3 sources which decide the direction of the show. Always.

Committee of Experts (bigwigs)
Primary Advertisers
Focus Groups

3. All news for about the inner works of a TV show is fake.
      A TV show’s news if a fiction that the network want to keep going.  Curb Your Enthusiasm isn’t improved, it has 14 writers.  When it comes to interviews every writer/actor/etc, is given talking points. If you deviate from that, you’re fired. The network spends a lot of money on the show and they’re not going to let anything get out that they don’t want.  Even the Charlie Sheen scandal was spun. You didn’t hear about the armed guards keeping him out of the studio.
Am I selling my soul? Probably. But I’ve spent a lot of time doing art and not getting paid for it. I still love shows like West Wing, LOST, Twin PeaksBreaking Bad, and 30 Rock. If I get to be apart of anything like that, I’ll consider myself incredibly lucky. Even if it means I have to do crap the rest of the time.

-Jack out.

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1 Comment

Posted by on October 23, 2011 in By Jack, Writing

 

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One response to “The TV facts of life — By JACK

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