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Each TV Network Does Dramas Differently: Here’s How

Terry Curtis Fox examines the strategies each television network employs in their crop of scripted television shows.

Girls

Thirty years ago, when I began writing episodic television, there were network dramas and syndicated shows. These days, when I’m teaching one-hour drama, that single catch-phrase encompasses everything that fits the time slot. But the explosion of different outlets means that one-size no longer fits all. Each type of network behaves differently. What follows is a taxonomy of the four major kinds of networks and how their shows differ from those on other kinds of networks.

A few necessary caveats:

I’m generalizing here. You’ll find counter-examples. I can find them, too.

No human being can watch everything good – much less everything – on TV today. I’ve left out an entire class of network – the blue-sky network – mainly because I’m not as familiar with what goes on there. As for the networks I do discuss, I’m drawing on the shows I’ve been watching in some depth. There are others, many others.

There are shows and networks discussed below where I’ve worked with the creators and executives and those with creators and execs I’ve never met. While I’ve written and produced for more than a few of the networks, I haven’t for any of the specific shows cited.

IndieWire | Read the Full Article

How to Maximize Production Value on a Minuscule Budget

Filmmaker Joshua Caldwell made his feature film Layover for just $6000; he cast his friends, borrowed a Canon 5D, and now it’s competing for the New American Cinema award at SIFF, and he has decided to share what he has learned about maintaining high production value while keeping costs down.

Layover-1-616x264

 

At the beginning of 2013, inspired by seeing several articles about Ed Burns making sub-$10,000 films, I set out to do the same. It had taken me a while to get there. I spent a lot of time and energy developing and writing projects that required other people to give me money and a greenlight, instead of creating a project I could do on my own terms. It took me lifting my head up, looking around and saying, “I have everything I need to make a movie for very little money: access to cameras, actors, crew, post-services. So why am I not doing it?”

So, I took an idea that I had floating around in my head about a girl stuck on a layover in L.A., developed out the story and wrote the script. Then, with my producing partner Travis Oberlander, we raised a little bit of money from a family friend (enough to pay the cast, rent a few locations, and food), cast the film with actor friends whom I knew spoke French, borrowed a Canon 5D, set the schedule and over the course of five weekends, shot the film, and then spent another eight months or so editing (off and on).

The entire film was made for $6000. That’s right.

And now, this little film that I just decided to go and make will be having its World Premiere at the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival in competition for the prestigious New American Cinema award. Immediately following SIFF, Layover will have its California/Los Angeles premiere at the Dances With Films Festival as one of only 16 films chosen to screen in competition.

No Film School | Read the Full Article

How To Write Creature Features

Lucy V. Hay covers five key points to keep in mind with writing the next big creature feature.

Godzilla

It’s really easy as writers to say, “story is everything,” but we only need to look at huge CGI blockbusters like GODZILLA to realise that’s not always what audiences sign up for. And that’s not because they’re dumb, either. And sure, we can say why not have BOTH: big, epic arenas, scary monsters AND a story and great characterisation? **Why Not** indeed … But fact is Hollywood has been churning out these things for some time now: whether they add a great story and characters to big monsters fighting and/or chasing and eating humans, it doesn’t really make any difference to Box Office revenue. In short, people like what they like and that’s spectacle and awe – and on that front, GODZILLA delivers, whether you thought it was a weak story or not (hey you still watched it, right? Here’s some Godzilla – thoughts, reactions & pics I’ve collected in this last week).

Creature Features are never going to go away and I get a LOT of them at Bang2write, both from private clients and production companies. Some of them are excellent; some of them are in the middle and some of them are just plain drek. Interestingly however, I noticed a long time ago the ones that DON’T work on the page have many things in common, whether they’re about gigantic Godzilla-style monsters; gargantuan robots; acid-dripping extraterrestrials; satanic demons or something else. Here’s a rundown of things to consider then in trying to get your own creature feature on the page and in front of Industry Pros:

1) Hook Us. The obvious, yet I can literally count the great Creature Feature hooks I’ve seen in the past ten years on ONE HAND. Seriously. I cannot stress the importance of a great hook enough in all screenwriting, but in Creature Features it’s a “make or break” thing at pitch or submission level because it’s one of the first things someone will ask: “Okay, it’s a monster, but how is it different to X?” If you don’t know, no one else knows either. Ipso Fatso, as Bart Simpson would say. MORE: 4 Reasons Concept Counts, plus What Is A Genre Busting Screenplay?

Script Mag | Read the Full Article

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