Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie

Chapter 72 – Guerilla Filmmaking
by Leesa Dean

This week I had planned to attend two YouTube workshops and ended up blowing both of them off. Why? Instead, I took a 3 day, 21 hour online course with Ryan Connolly called Guerilla Filmmaking held by Creative Live. It was intense. And GREAT!guerilla

Ryan, for those who don’t know, is the guy behind the wildly successful web show Film Riot. He gives indie filmmakers tips, tools, strategies and opinions. It’s been going on since 2007 and it’s terrific.

The class covered everything from scripts, to coverage, cameras, motion, lighting, direction, SFX, tips, tricks and more. Hands down, it was the best camera/directing class I’ve taken and I bought it after so I could watch it over and over when I finally get my camera.

What’s really interesting, and what Ryan touched on, is how wholly interconnected filmmaking and writing are. Whether you’re doing a film, tv show or web series. Even if you’re not an indie person like me and doing it all, it’s crucial to be informed about all sides of it. It definitely helps you as a writer but it’s really mandatory as a director.

One happy consequence of the class is the brand new Facebook group. Creative Live not only had a chat with two separate rooms going throughout the course, but a side bar, Google Hang style where you could ask questions live and Ryan would answer them AND some people in the audience took it upon themselves to set up a Facebook group. We all joined and it’s great. We’re all sharing info, tips and more. It really speaks to what an incredible tool the internet can become. Simply put, aside from the class being wildly informative and inspirational, having those connections with other people taking the class has really been the icing on the cake.

For anybody reading this blog and planning on getting into any of this (writing and/or directing tv, film and web series), the resources are out there. And I can’t say this enough: this is the greatest time to get involved and do something. You don’t need much money. You don’t need to go to school. And if you distribute it online, ultimately, somebody will pay attention. It’s all out there for the taking.

Finally, like everyone else, I was shocked and heartbroken to hear about Robin William’s death this past week. He was such a major inspiration and a comic genius. Rest In Peace, Mr. Williams. Rest in Peace. You are missed.

You Too Can Write About DOCTOR WHO


No, we didn’t say “for,” unfortunately, although you never know. That would take is a lot of perseverance, talent, and, we’re thinking, an in with either Steven Moffat or Peter Capaldi.

But it turns out that the blog known as Life, Doctor Who and Combom, which TVWriter™’s opinion is the best of the myriad sites devoted to new, views, and overthink about DOCTOR WHO, is looking for new writers to bring their insight and sense of engagement to the Whoniverse’s discussion of the series.

Here’s what they’re looking for:

You must:

  • Be able to regularly contribute to the site.
  • Be able to stay committed to the site.
  • Have at least basic English skills. (Punctuation, spelling, etc)
  • Preferably have Skype to be part of our Team Chat (text only)

If you’re interested then please drop us a line with the following:

  • Your name, age and general location.
  • Why you want to join Team Combom.
  • What you think you can bring to the site.
  • Any past experience.
  • A sample Doctor Who news article or any similar work, if available.
  • Anything else you wish to add or ask.

Send your application to the site’s webmaster at webmaster@combom.co.uk and, who knows? It might change your whole life.

We return you now to your mundane, not-writing-about-Doctor-Who life. You know, the one that’s just like – sob – ours.

Writing is Work! (Why didn’t somebody tell us sooner? $#@!)


by Rita Karnopp

If you’re honest . . . you’ll agree . . . writing is hard work. If it was easy – everyone would be doing it.  Actually lately it seems everyone is.  The problem I’m seeing with that is those new authors think all there is to writing is to write.  For them writing is going to be a breeze.

There’s a lot more to writing than one would think.   There is plotting, dialog that’s exciting, pacing, internal and external conflict, character development, a beginning, middle, and an end?  Really?  Yep!

Wait ‘till you’ve been dragged down the bumpy road toward finding a publisher a few times.  It’s not easy at all.  You can’t get into the door – unless you write a good book.  They don’t expect it to be perfect, but they do expect you to know ‘basic writing skills.’

Might I add a pet peeve of mine that has developed after months . . . even years of writing?  Maybe you’ve seen it too?  The author who decides their book is the next Gone With The Wind (Maybe we all think that).  They can feel a bidding war over their book coming on.  If that doesn’t happen right away – they decide those publishers and editors don’t know what they’re talking about (even though they’ve been in the business successfully for umpteen years).  This author won’t want pay to have his/her book professionally edited, so they decide to self-publish!  Yep!  It’s going to be so much better in print!

Read it all

TV Writing Deals: Does TV Need Yet Another Version of THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO?

old monte cristo tvwriter.net

No, this isn’t bad photoshopping. It just looks that way.


by munchman

Spike TV is developing this ancient but exciting story as some kind of undetermined limited series thing, and yer munchy one, for, um, one, is unimpressed. The pic above is from the 1934 film version starring Robert Donat.

There was no WGA to make the studios put writer’s names on the posters back then but the writers of this, the first talking version of the novel to go to film, were Philip Dunne, Rowland V. Lee, and Dan Totheroh, who may or may not have been household names back then.

I’ve seen most of the versions of ze Count and have even read the book, which is loong, let me tell ya. This particular film probably is the best telling of the story ever, and because of that I’d planned on doing a rant about how worthless re-tellings are.

But then I realized that I’m always attracted to re-dos, whether I want to be or not. When it comes to stories of any kind, yers truly is like a 2 year old who wants his (can’t say “her” if it’s about me, can I?) daddy to read the same book the same way every night. So why should I be surprised that studio executives and, yes, it’s true, audiences go in for the same thing?

No writer is attached to the Spike project yet. Who knows? One of us could even end up with the gig. If you get it, promise you’ll try to make it good, okay? I’ll do the same. Because you asked for it, or would’ve if you could, here’s a taste of the target we want to outdo:

YouTube Preview Image


TVWriter University has a few openings!

No, not really TVWriter U. This is Harvard - which some folks think is almost as good.

No, not really TVWriter U. This is Harvard – which some folks think is almost as good.

If you’ve come to TVWriter™ in the past, you probably know that we have a kind of sub-site we call TVWriter University. It’s listed to the right, under the bigger heading “OUR WORKSHOPS.”

TVWriter University is a thing we do online throughout the year. Recently, we’ve been focusing on two specific workshops:

  1. The Advanced Online TV and Film Writing Workshop
  2. Larry Brody’s Master Class

Both classes are, in fact, taught by the Boss of this site, Larry Brody, whose credits you can find HERE and HERE. LB’s been teaching online (and running TV writing contests and slaving away at this website) for about 15 years now. It’s a retirement gig with a vengeance – producing 1 Acme Ton O’ TV Shows can create a lot of bad karma, and he’s trying to claw his way out of the hole he’s worried that he’s fallen into.

We, the loyal minions of TVWriter™, have very little reason to believe that LB’s immortal soul is in any danger and suspect that he’s been joking about that. What we’re sure of is that he knows his stuff and genuinely wants to share that knowledge with as many people as he can.

LB probably would tell us that we’re taking way too long to get started. His mantra, which those of you who know him or have taken his classes – which, yeppers, means you know him, is “Could be shorter, could be cleverer.” Clearly, we’ve fallen short of that so we’ll cut to the last scene:

  1. Beat One: The next Advanced Workshop starts Thursday, August 28th, and as we write this there are several openings left – mostly cuz the Boss is feeling pretty generous these days and is looking to increase the number of students he can reach by offering two separate sessions of the class. That means that potentially there are 10 spaces to fill instead of the usual five.

    You can find out more about what goes on in the Advanced Workshop HERE. We suspect that it’ll fill up quickly, so our suggestion is that you get in touch with LB about your interest ASAP. You can do that HERE.

  2. Beat Two: The next Master Class will start sometime after the first week in September, by which we mean whenever LB has enough students to hold it, by which he means 2 or 3 writers who either are pros or write like pros. So if you’ve been a Winner or – maybe – a Finalist in either the People’s Pilot or Spec Scriptacular, are successfully freelancing, or are thisclose to getting a writers room gig, odds are this one’s for you.

    You can find out more about what’s expected of you in LB’s Master Class HERE. And you can get in touch with him HERE.

Seeya on campus?

Cara Winter: The Anglo Files 2


by Cara Winter

As we established in my last post, I am an unabashed Anglophile.

My friends, rather than shunning me, or trying to get me to watch LAW & ORDER: SVU, or finding me an A(ng)A meeting to attend… are full-onenablers.  Case in point:  on a recent trip to LA, my best friend (who long ago introduced me to BLACK ADDER) sat me down, and told me I was about to watch a show from the UK called MIRANDA.  It was February, 70’s and sunny in LA, I’d just left behind sub-zero temperatures behind in Chicago…  so naturally, instead of frolicking on a beach somewhere, I remained seated while she queued it up.

MIRANDA is a fantastically funny and gloriously absurd sitcom written, created by, and starring comedienne Miranda Hart.  Pretty much everything takes place in the title character’s tiny flat, and the joke shop she runs in the floor below. Miranda’s best friend Stevie (played by Sarah Hadland) helps her run the shop.  Occasionally they venture down the block to a restaurant where the chef is her other best friend, Gary (played by the dishy Tom Ellis) – who Miranda is secretly in love with (of course).  Within the first minute of S1 /Ep1, I felt something of a kinship with Hart – as would anyone who’s ever tripped over their own feet, passed gas at an inopportune time, or forgotten their underpants.

Hart has a masterful wit, both as a writer, and performer.  The character she’s created is at once lovable, cringe-worthy, absurd, and spectacular.  It’s like someone spliced Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, and Buster Keaton together, then sent her to an all-girl’s boarding school and told her men were aliens.  In a TV comedy landscape full of busty, tiny cupcakes who all start to look like the same person, Hart stands out.  Not just because of her tall personage, but because she shimmies, sings (enthusiastically, and off key), sashays, and shuffles-off-to-Buffalo like she’s been possessed by Tim Conway. (Yes, I know he’s still alive.  I was merely trying to paint a—never mind.)

Miranda never misses an opportunity to laugh at herself, or anyone else.  But it’s all in good fun; it’s never at someone else’s expense.  And even more refreshingly, MIRANDA openly attacks “adulthood” itself, with childish mania.  (Why would you spend time balancing your checkbook, when dressing up in a full-body Velcro suit and catching Nerf balls with your body is so much more fun?  Why would anyone go clubbing, when you can stay home and paint your bestie’s face to look like a cat’s?  Who wouldn’t want to dress up like Where’s Waldo, and go to the mall?  And isn’t cake just …awesome?  It’s this element of fun that I appreciate most of all; makes one feel free to be a ridiculous and silly, and embrace the absurd.  Because life is absurd, and so are all of us. Aren’t we?  Absurd, are we?  (Sorry, catch phrase– watch and you’ll understand).

While it has been reported that MIRANDA will not be taping another season, they’ve promised Christmas specials, and currently there are 3 seasons (18 episodes) available for free on HULU.  If you know what’s good for you, if you’re interested in comedy, or if you’ve ever had your skirt pulled down exposing an extraordinarily hard-working pair of Spanx, or if your mother outwardly seems to hate you and everything you do… check it out.  The kind of laughter MIRANDA elicits is just plain good for the soul.