Cartoon: ‘Carpe Diem’

Grant Snider schools us on leading the creative life:

TVWriter™ loves Grant Snider and his Incidental Comics site. And we’re absolutely certain you will too!

WGA 2017 Contract Talks Entering 2nd Week

If you’re a working TV writer, or genuinely aspiring to become one, this matters more than most people realize. Our futures are at stake here, in so many ways:

“Progress Being Made” at WGA Contract Talks

by David Robb

After a week of hard bargaining, a source close to the ongoing WGA contract talks told Deadline that “there is progress being made and it’s very cordial.” The negotiations, which began Monday, are being held under a strict media blackout at the Sherman Oaks offices of management’s Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.

Rescuing the guild’s ailing health plan, which has run at a deficit in all but one of the past four years, is one of the hottest hot-button issues in the negotiations. Several sources have told Deadline that writers are “willing to strike” to maintain current levels of health coverage.

Another flashpoint for a potential strike is the downturn in weekly compensation for series TV writer-producers. The WGA West’s annual reports show that in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, TV writers earned $803 million in wages under the guild’s basic contract, which is over 75% more than the $454 million they earned in 2006.

But those numbers are only based on guild minimums and don’t include the money they make as writers employed in additional capacities, such as producers and executive producers. And that’s where TV writer-producers are taking it on the chin, according to a recent two-season survey conducted by the guild of some 2,000 working TV writer-producers, which found a 23% overall decline in their median incomes from the 2013-14 season to the 2015-16 season.

The leading cause for the downturn is the shortening of many shows’ seasons, with fewer episodes meaning fewer dollars for writer-producers. And that has hit writing teams especially hard because they afford producers two writers for the price of one. Prior to the talks, the guild said that it intended to “address inequities in compensation of writing teams employed under term deals for television and new media series….”

Read it all at Deadline

TVWriter™ Don’t-Miss Posts of the Week – March 20, 2017

Time for TVWriter™’s  Monday look at our 5 most popular blog posts of the week ending yesterday. They are, in order:

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Ethics in TV Storytelling from ClexaCon

BritBox is Here!

Kate G Sees THIS IS US – Season Finale

Ethics in TV Storytelling from ClexaCon: Part II

And our 5 most visited permanent resource pages are, also in order:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

The Logline

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT

The Outline/Story

TVWriter™ Writing & Showbiz News Feed

Major thanks to everyone for making this another great week at TVWriter™. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!

Have You Seen this Trailer for ‘Duck Tails’ Return to TV?

Art from the upcoming DUCK TALES TV series

by Larry Brody

Phooey!

Donald Duck’s Uncle Scrooge McDuck has been one of my favorite comic book characters since, well, since I first saw him in a comic book when I was 5 or 6 years old. (What? You expected me to give you the year that was? No way.)

He was smart. He was flawed. He was, of course, rich. Most importantly, he was perfectly – yes, I said perfectly – drawn and written by Carl Barks, a true genius of comic art. And, fortunately for all concerned, especially fans of the fantastic everywhere, Barks’ comic book successors have kept the level of Uncle Scrooge’s adventures almost as high. Even today’s versions are beautiful enough to frame.

Art from current Uncle Scrooge comics by IDW

Because of the above, I was as excited as a kid myself when I heard that Duck Tales, a Disney TV series about the adventures of Scrooge, Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and the rest of the WD gang that I’d watched with my children was coming back.

I assumed that the reboot would be as good as the original and that I could share the new show with my youngest grandkids.

But, from the look of the new trail for the new show, I’m now assuming I’m in for a disappointment. Ain’t nothing here that’s even close to the glory that is the real Uncle Scrooge:

Did you watch? Am I right, or am I right?

Where’s the glory? Where’s the travel? The treasure? The glorious greed that made Scrooge…Scrooge?

Maybe I’ll be proven wrong when the show starts this summer. Maybe there will be something magical there. I sure hope so. But until then, all I can say, once more screwing my mouth up into a spit-soaked version of Donald Duck’s voice is “Phooey!”

Oh, mighty god of TV, why must thou promiseth us so much and then delivereth so…little?

So You Want to Create a Web Series

Step 2: Pre Pre-Production
by Bri Castellini

Plenty of screenwriters might go their whole careers without ever filming something themselves. But you, my friends, have chosen that web series way of life — indie film at its most indie. In general, making a film is broken up into three parts: pre-production (planning), production (filming), and post-production (editing). In reality, though, each of those parts is a process unto itself. So today, we’re going to talk about the pre production you do BEFORE pre-production truly begins.

Pre-pre-production is essentially where you answer the question, “can we actually pull this off?” Spoiler alert: probably.

Since you’re fresh off your script writing, a good next step is doing breakdowns. Make a document or spreadsheet of every element of your script. This will then become your shopping list as you move forward in the production process. Elements include characters, locations, props, wardrobe, etc. For my breakdowns, I like to have the basic list, plus a version that’s organized by characters and locations. This will be super useful during *real* preproduction when you’re preparing your schedules, because you’re almost certainly not going to film in order of your script. In reality, film schedules are driven by when you can get the correct group of people in the designated location. Knowing who needs to be where for the whole story will be invaluable for those decisions.

Filmmaking is a collaborative process and at this point you’re going to want to start bringing more people on board. If you haven’t done much film production before, find a trusted person who has, and make them a producer. The producer’s job is to know what’s going on at every level of production and make sure each task gets completed. The most valuable quality in a producer is experience in film, even if they’ve never actually held the role of “producer” before. They’ll provide a vital perspective and knowledge-base for turning your awesome script into an awesome show. They’ll fill in blanks you might not even realize were there, and suggest shortcuts to make your life easier.

Most projects have multiple producers, all with different strengths. A dream team would consist of someone with film experience, someone who’s really organized, and someone who has a big network. Sometimes you’ll get an all-in-one, and sometimes you’ll mix-and-match. It really depends on who you know and how interested in the project they are. Your producer team is your lifeboat in a sea of uncertainty and stress, and you’re going to want to sign them on as early as possible.

You’re also going to want to find a director, because without them, there’s no one to actually film the thing. Maybe you’re considering directing the series yourself, and if that’s the case, good for you! Just know that directing consists of more than calling “action” and “cut”— it’s about visualizing every angle you need for each scene, paying attention to pacing and transitions, and coordinating and communicating every person on set. It’s also about having all the answers to everything happening at any given time. I don’t say this to deter you, just to clarify that being a director is a massive undertaking, and having someone confident in their film experience in this position is going to be invaluable.

Got your people? Great. Schedule a meeting, share your script, and collectively go through your breakdowns. The goal here,, remember, is to answer the question, “can we actually pull this off?”

This is when your more production-knowledgeable friends and partners will really help you out. They’ll be able to point out places where you’ve made the script too complicated, or why certain props and locations might be difficult to attain, and offer educated alternatives. A lot of the time, you can accomplish what you want with your story in simpler ways. You just need to understand what your options are, and having partners with more experience allow you to uncover those possibilities.

Now it’s time for what I’ll call “realistic rewrites” of your show, accounting for the resources you have available and the realities of what you can accomplish on a microbudget. This can be as simple as changing a location from a busy club to an apartment, or as drastic as cutting a character. Compromise is part of the process, so get used to killing your darlings and making sacrifices where you can in service of actually getting this project to the finish line. Once you make it big, you can plan to revisit those more ambitious ideas, and you’ll have the experience to know how to make them count.

Before you bring any more people on board, we have to talk about money, which we’ll do next week. To be clear, we don’t have any to give you. But we’ll help you understand your different options for funding or simply affording your production. See you then!


Bri Castellini is an award-winning filmmaker and the Community Liaison at Stareable, LB’s favorite hub for web series. Check out www.stareable.com to find and read reviews of thousands of web series, all in one place. For more great articles about the craft of web series, visit the Stareable blog.

BritBox is Here!

by TVWriter™ Press Service

Netflix, Amazon, you guys over there at Acorn TV, brace yourselves because BritBox is here!

BBC Worldwide, U.K. TV giant ITV, and AMC networks have launched subscription VOD service BritBox in the U.S. with a price tag of $6.99 per month after an introductory free trial period.

Billed as “the most comprehensive collection of British television, across all genres, available anywhere in the U.S.” BritBox features new and established dramas, classic British soaps, comedies, and a myriad of other programs in a steadily increasing library of BBC and ITV shows, and will be offering new episodes of current shows as little as 24 hours after they appear in the UK.

Among the shows offered are New Blood from writer Anthony Horowitz, Tutankhamun from Guy Burt, The MoonstoneCold Feet, Silent Witness, the original version of The Office, Absolutely FabulousBlackadder with Rowan Atkinson, Gavin & Stacey with James Corden, Miss Marple starring Joan Hickson, Sherlock Holmes starring Jeremy Brett.

The service will be available on responsive web, AppleTV, iPhone, iPad and Android mobile phones and tablets, with Roku and Chromecast following shortly after launch.

 

“BBC and ITV are known for a vast array of diverse and award-winning programming that fans in the U.S. love and want to watch,” said BritBox president Soumya Sriraman. “Those fans now have a one-of-a-kind SVOD service option that offers a single point of access to an extensive collection of outstanding British programming to discover and enjoy.”

Does this mean that BBC and ITV shows will be vanishing from their current streaming haunts as mentioned above? That’s going to depend on a number of factors, especially on how well BritBox does in its first quarter or two online.

Will you be giving Britbox a try? We’d love to hear from all visiting Brit TVophiles.

ER’s Creator-Showrunner John Wells Puts His Money Where His Credits Are

If you’re a budding TV and film writer looking for the best place to learn your craft, we’ve got good news for ya. John Wells, of ER, The West Wing, Shameless, et al, has your back:

John Wells & some actor he’s worked with now and again

by Greg Evans

John Wells, the writer, director & producer behind such TV classics as ER, The West Wing and Shameless, has endowed a “significant gift” to the USC School of Cinematic Arts Division of Writing for Screen & Television.

Reflecting the gift, the division will now be called the John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television. Wells is a USC School of Cinematic Arts alumnus.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my career, a career that would not have been possible without the USC School of Cinematic Arts,” Wells said. “It’s where I learned to write, where I learned to produce, where I learned how to direct. My career would not have been possible without my time at USC and without the many wonderful professors who gave unselfishly of their time and expertise.”

Wells currently is the Executive Producer on TNT’s drama Animal Kingdom and Showtime’s Shameless. He was Executive Producer on Southland, Mildred Pierce, and China Beach. For the big screen, Wells produced Beach Boys biopic Love & Mercy and directed August: Osage County, among many others. He’s a a 1982 graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts’ Peter Stark Producing Program.

“We are so grateful to our alumnus John Wells for this support of the talented storytellers who make up the John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television,” said SCA Dean Elizabeth Daley in announcing the gift today.

The Division was dedicated last night, with a program that included a conversation between Wells and West Wing’s Bradley Whitford about “the power of story and writing in Hollywood….”

Read it all at Deadline