Peer Production: PIVOT POINT

Who says that the interwebs can’t take on traditional genres and do just as good (or bad?) a job as network TV? If you’re a cop procedural fan, then this is the series for you. Every beloved writing and directorial cliche, plus a dash of interweb tastelessness to add “realism.”

And you thought we automatically loved every web series. Ha!

Of course we could be wrong. Have a look for yourself and let us know whatcha think:


Really. Let us know!

Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 4/22/14

Latest News About Writers Who Are Doing Better Than We Are
by munchman

  • Frank Spotnitz (X FILES) & Nicholas Meyer (HOUDINI) have created the ultimate crime series: FREUD: THE SECRET CASEBOOK. (That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that it’s being set up in the UK, which means that most likely the show will take its sweet time coming to where we in the U.S. can see it without doing something illegal.)
  • Pivot TV has announced a whole passel of new shows for, you know, “younger viewers,” as in the same obnoxious demo that all TV shows these days are made for but presented as though only Pivot is doing this. Yer Friendly Neighborhood munchman is especially interested in FORTITUDE, created and run by Simon Donald (LOW WINTER SUN). (Cuz it’s set in – get this – “the Arctic town of Fortitude…surrounded by the savage beauty of the polar landscape,” and if there’s one thing this munchy one loves its looking at barren wastelands for at least an hour a week.)
  • Speaking of barren wastelands, Pivot also has LEADER TOWN, an animated comedy about an American family trying to fit into a Russian town, created and showrun by THE SIMPSONS’ Jeff Westbrook. (Warning note: This particular wasteland is a moral-ethical one. The town is where “the world’s deposed ex-leaders…live out their lives in luxury using their ill-goten gains.” Oh well, if there’s one thing THE SIMPSONS writers know about it’s…yeah, you guessed it, moral-ethical dilemmas.)

Peggy Bechko: Character Motivation – The Wounds That Don’t Heal

motivationby Peggy Bechko

Have you considered what motivates your characters? What their background is? Whether it is your hero or a villain or some other character in the piece he or she has been affected by life. We’re all bombarded by tiny wounds, hurts and influences (sometimes large ones) throughout our lives. Your characters should be no different.

Think about it. Everything that happens, or we cause to happen defines us. Painful things even more so. They influence character. Whether focused on one ‘big one’ or a culmination of multiple lacerations (death by a thousand paper cuts) those things can chip away or blast away at a character’s self-worth, or can elevate it to the point of ego-mania.

So think about this; what kinds of events can come together to form this mudball of experience?

Well, there are literally thousands, and of course much depends on the grounding the character already comes equipped with, but understanding what or who has contributed to that ‘mudball’ can certainly help you as the writer move the story forward and without doubt does the same for your reader (of script or novel).

The obvious is something physical. Like a deformity or a scar or some disability that’s in your face. Such a thing can cause a character to feel alienated, alone, like he or she will never fit in anywhere. It can be very demoralizing and have great ramifications on the character’s self-esteem and undermining confidence. It can also cause a character to reach heroic heights while overcoming that physical ‘wound’ that’s carried. Which way would the character go?3399402-877974-dog-needs-a-meal-a-hungry-puppy

Another is mistakes. We’re human, we all make them but some are huge and some are every day. If it’s big enough or the character self-centered enough on a tiny mistake, it can be devastating. Guilt because of a bungled surgery can set a doctor character on a new path. A mistake that crashed the computers at work can make a worker fear for a job. A mistake or failure that affects someone else directly can make a character a target for revenge. Mistakes are a huge issue.

So is trust – when it’s misplaced and results in betrayal by another character. If it’s a real betrayal of trust it can send the character off on a trail of vengeance. Even if it’s not for that matter, if it’s perceived it’s dangerous. Is it a friend? A loved one? An acquaintance at work? Does it result in anger and the desire to strike back or more like a crushed feeling of disappointment that makes the character who was betrayed feel worthless?

How about injustice? It’s everywhere. Someone serves a long prison sentence for a crime he or she didn’t commit. A worker is blamed and fired for something someone else in the office did. A character’s dog is accused of biting someone it didn’t and is put down . How has the character reacted? How WILL he react?

Have a character who was rejected? Left at an orphanage and abandoned? Perhaps she is just an outsider in her own family with siblings that abuse her and ignore her, making her ‘odd man out’. A husband left in the lurch with a couple of kids by a wife who runs off with another man. A stalker who gets the brush off from the object of his desire.

All of these and many more feed into a character, created the person just as they do in life. Think back over yours. What were the influences good and bad? How do you think you might have changed had things been different?

Use it, use it all and your characters will burst into full life and give your reader whether script reader or editor a ride of a lifetime.

United State of TV: Binge watching brings us all together again

Binge watching as an activity that brings people together? When the reason certain of us here at TVWriter™ do it is cuz we can only enjoy ourselves…um, alone in the dark? Scary!

binge watchingby Doug McIntyre

Let me say upfront, I watch my share of television.

I’m not one of those people who shun the small screen for more exalted intellectual pursuits like re-reading the collected works of Flaubert or writing office emails in haiku. My television viewing habits are pedestrian and prolific.

I’m in the Time/Warner web so I have my Dodgers. It’s me and Vinny now through October.

I’m also good for five to 10 episodes a week of History Channel’s “Pawn Stars.” Granted, there’s not much history in “Pawn Stars,” but I feel better about my family after watching these people hate on each other, and I have to have my Chumlee fix.

I also watch “American Pickers” and like most Americans have questions about Frank and Mike’s sexual orientation.

Throw in “SportsCenter” on ESPN and NBC’s “Nightly News with Brian Williams” and that pretty much covers my TV viewing habits.

None of the shows I watch are particularly hip or cutting edge, but neither am I. They provide the kind of mindless distraction I require after a long day toiling in the opinion mines.

As a child of the ’60s and ’70s — OK, part of the 50s as well — I was practically weaned on television. “Captain Kangaroo” and Chuck McCann’s brilliant kid’s comedy shows were must see TV in our house.

Christmas morning 1967, my brother, sister and I stood in our bedroom slippers and robes, slack-jawed in front of the glowing, kaleidoscopic box in the corner of the den. Color TV! Santa had brought color TV into our lives! It was like God had come to our house.

In the age of 6,000 channels, it’s hard to remember when almost all cartoons were seen on Saturday mornings and only on Saturday mornings. If you missed your favorite show, you’d have to catch it in reruns or it was gone for good.

Today TV is portable and downloadable, and that means you watch it on your own time.

Read it all

Speaking of Motivation

Elsewhere on today’s page, the wonderful Peggy Bechko has a very helpful article on one of the essential ingredients of good storytelling: Creating believable motivations for your characters. We couldn’t resist being funny when it came time to finding illustrations for it, but now, here’s a more serious breakdown of what could be pushing your characters forward. (Or backward, or making them stand still, come to think about it.) Anyway:

Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needsMore about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs HERE

Great Writing Outweighs Celeb Overload

Ensemble shows demand good writing. And sometimes they even remember to hire good writers to do it. So don’t despair – write!

Um, no, that isn’t what this article is about. That’s what the article made us think. And any article that makes us think is worth highlighting, no?

TV Lincoln 1by Laura Wolford

Ensemble casts have always been a part of the lives of TV viewers, but recently this trend has multiplied and the results are spectacular. Ensemble shows like “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead” are massive hits with audiences.

Many of these ensemble series have huge casts, turning some viewers away since they find it difficult to keep track of who’s who. Yet other viewers would argue that ensemble casts only increase a show’s worth. The potential to weave a narrative around the multitude of characters and the standout performances they give are what pushes these shows from good to great.

“Thrones” and “Dead” have a fair amount of celebrities between them — Peter Dinklage and Sean Bean, and Andrew Lincoln and Scott Wilson, respectively. Yet these actors’ celebrity status does not overshadow the story.

On the other hand, some of these actors were unknown before working on “Thrones” and “Dead.” The shows have made them bigger celebrities through critical acclaim for their performances, but their newfound fame still has not hurt the show’s purpose of giving its audience interesting stories.

Read it all