The Week at TVWriter™ – June 6, 2016

In case you’ve missed what’s happening at TVWriter™, the most popular blog posts during the week ending yesterday were:

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Diana Vacc Sees OUTLANDER Episode 7 “Faith”

LB: Where Did THE FALL GUY Live?

5 Questions with a Writers’ PA on a network drama

Frank Spotnitz on Creating Complex TV Series

And our most visited permanent resource pages were:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

The Teleplay

The Logline



Major thanks to everyone for making this such a great week. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed. re-read what you loved, and, most importantly, come back for more soon!

Troy DeVolld: “We’d need you to work as a local.”

Odds are that if the show can't pay for your travel it ain't gonna send a car like this to meet you either!

Odds are that if the show can’t pay for your travel it ain’t gonna send a car like this to meet you either!

by Troy DeVolld

I don’t complain about much. I’m good with long hours, I don’t mind working a little harder to get a show in good shape and turned in on time.  I can even handle parking blocks or even miles from a location and cramming into a shuttle with 7-23 other people to get to set.

Being asked to work as a local states away from home, however, bugs me.

What that means is finding (and paying for) a place to stay when you’re many hours from home, sometimes out of state or even the country working on a project.  It’s not uncommon in reality’s non-union universe, as it saves the production company money on their most tightly-budgeted shows.

Of course, for most people, it means shelling out for rent or hotel out of their own pocket. That is, unless they happen to have an accommodating friend or relative near location who’s willing to put them up for weeks or months as goodwill slowly wanes after too many nights of rattling keys in the lock at two in the morning.

I actually enjoy the road, though I’ve become fairly post-production-centric as the years have rolled by.  I live on the edge of Los Angeles, but have been put up on location over the years in great places like New York, Northern California, Vancouver, Nashville and even Texas on shows that not only provided me with a roof over my head during production, but usually a polite per diem (usually $30-40/day) to cover the cost of eating and purchasing incidentals.

It can be a lot of fun to be away from your hometown, but unless you’re able to secure a rate that makes it worth it to you, working as a local is, in my opinion, best left to the actual locals.

Reality friends: Have you had great or tough experiences working as a local or hiring people willing to work as locals?

Troy DeVolld is a Larry Brody buddy and one of the masters of the reality TV genre. This article originally appeared on his Reality TV blog. And while you’re thinking about him, why not buy his book, Reality TV: An Insider’s Guide to TV’s Hottest Market?

How To Be A Film & Movie Producer

And now, from the “pages” of (We know! Who’d a thought?) comes an excellent article holding y’all by the hand and taking you – okay, us) through one of the scariest processes in the known universe – becoming a gen-u-ine film (or TV) producer:

by Team Tom Cruise

Yeppers, these are iconic silhouettes we all should know!

Yeppers, these are iconic silhouettes we all should know!

For the film lover who aspires to do it all in the entertainment industry, learning how to become a movie producer puts you in the driver’s seat of a film production. The producer is possibly the most misunderstood, yet most important person involved with any movie. The producers – people like Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg and Jerry Bruckheimer – all join a film project at the very beginning and commit themselves to seeing it through to completion. In short, they’re the generals running the entire production, doing it all.

Fans and film aficionados who want to break into the industry to produce their own films may feel overwhelmed. It takes a ton of knowledge about a variety of fields to climb the mountain in becoming a movie producer. However, the team at again has assembled a guide to give you some resources outlining the basics of film producing. While not completely exhaustive, we hope this gives the aspiring film producer a first marker on the road to becoming a success!

Every team needs a leader. For movie fanatics with leadership skills and tons of energy, becoming a film producer may be your calling. With the right combination of intelligence, people skills and tenacity, we definitely believe you can make it happen!

As we did in the posts for emerging actorsdirectorsscreenwriters and visual effects artists, the team hunted for the best information online to bring you a guide to begin your journey into the world of movie production. We’re hoping this sets several of you off on a trip ending with you screening your blockbuster or, perhaps, grabbing the last gold statue awarded on Oscar night. :)

Here’s what the team has included for you in the post:

As always we welcome any comments to the post to share other resources we can add to the guide in order to offer more complete information. Any reader with experience in the field, we love to hear your thoughts! Let us in on your wisdom, or point us to links, and we’ll add it.

So, here we go movie fans and aspiring producers! Buckle up for the first mile of your journey to becoming the head honcho on a movie production: a film producer….

Read it all at TomCruise

Top UK Showrunner Anthony Horowitz: ‘This is the golden age of TV’

Anthony Horowitz’s name is as well-known as any TV writer’s name can be – in the UK where he has written and produced some of the best written and most popular police procedurals in the history of British TV. We’re talking about Foyle’s War, Collision, Midsomer Murders, and many more. The article below gives us a chance to go beyond the usual puffery and actually learn a bit about the mindset it takes to succeed as a major TV force in any country:

Anthony Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz

by Tim Masters

As its title suggests, New Blood endeavours to offer a fresh journey along the well-trodden path of TV crime drama.

But even an experienced writer like Anthony Horowitz admits it wasn’t easy making fraud a sexy subject for the small screen.

“Fraud is very difficult to dramatise,” he says after a private screening of the first episode.

“People are not going to sit there and listen to figures and share movements.”

As part of his research, Horowitz made several visits to the Serious Fraud Office, and an SFO adviser was attached to the production.

“The SFO is brand new to TV, so what the world will understand on how they work comes from me,” says Horowitz.

“I had a duty to be true to the sort of people they are, but at the same time I couldn’t make them boring or show investigations that last two or three years – they have to be solved in three weeks.

“It’s an interesting balance between reality and fiction. I hope I’ve been responsible.”

The seven-part series, set in contemporary London, stars Mark Strepan as Stefan Kowolski, a junior investigator for the Serious Fraud Office, and Ben Tavassoli as young PC Arrash “Rash” Sayyad.

They find themselves investigating seemingly unrelated cases connected to a dodgy pharmaceutical trial in India six years earlier.

The cast includes Mark Addy, as an old-school detective, and Anna Chancellor as Stefan’s boss.

But Horowitz’s focus is very much on what he calls his “Generation Y” characters – those born in the 1980s and early 90s – and the challenges they face living in the capital.

“The kids who read Alex Rider [Horowitz’s best-selling series of teenage spy novels] were aged eight, nine and 10 and now they are Generation Y,” he says.

“Stefan and Rash are Alex Rider grown up, in a way.”

As with Peter Kay’s Car Share, viewers will be able to watch New Blood on the BBC iPlayer next week, ahead of transmission on BBC One.

Horowitz acknowledges that it’s a good way to launch a show about a younger generation, but he’s keen not to exclude other viewers.

“I didn’t write this TV just for 20- and 30-year-olds,” he says.

“I’m 60, and I binge watch TV.

“It’s the way things are going.

“It is also true, and the BBC are aware of it, that we have to nurture a new TV audience.

“We can’t just write drama for mums and dads and grandparents.

“I was always told with Foyle’s War that it was ‘everybody’s mother’s favourite programme’.

“It used to occur to me why couldn’t it be their favourite programme too?”

Horowitz’s other TV writing credits include Poirot, Murder in Mind, Injustice, Robin of Sherwood and Crime Traveller.

As an author, he resurrected Sherlock Holmes in his 2011 novel The House of Silk and its 2014 sequel Moriarty.

Last year saw the publication of his James Bond novel, Trigger Mortis, and the premiere of his satirical play Dinner with Saddam.

While he adapted his own Alex Rider novel Stormbreaker into a 2006 movie, most of his screenwriting is for the small screen….

Read it all at the BBC Website


LB: Envy – Deadly Sin with a Positive Effect?

by Larry Brody

Just discovered the above video on the interwebs and definitely believe it’s worth sharing.

One of the dirty little secrets I’ve learned over the years is that many a showbiz biggie has gotten a boost from at least one of the so-called “7 Deadly Sins.” Whenever I say this, most people’s brains automatically zoom right to the sexier sins and the casting couch. But in my experience the most helpful sin has proven to be envy. It’s helped some of the most – and, yeah, least – talented biggies in films, TV, music, et al over some otherwise impossible hurdles.

Sorry if I’m bursting any bubbles. (But you’ll thank me later.)


LB (aka The Motivator)

What Hath Peak TV Wrought?

Remember when you could count on TV? You could schedule your life knowing what shows to watch and when to watch them? How sweet the past! How innocent! Just between us, TVWriter™ is mighty glad those days are over, but it turns out that there are others whose opinions differ:


by Lara Zarum

When I’m old and grey and yet still, in the words of Carrie Bradshaw jetting off to Paris, “impossibly fresh-looking,” I’ll sit my grandchildren on my lap and tell them the story of Peak TV: “Between 2009 and 2015,” I’ll croak, “the number of scripted series on TV practically doubled, from around 200 to just over 400.” To which my grandchildren will respond, “What’s TV?”

In a Vulture cover story that ran last week called “The Business of Too Much TV,” reporters Josef Adalian and Maria Elena Fernandez spoke to showrunners, writers, directors, crewmembers, actors, talent agents, and executives in an attempt to understand how “Peak TV” — a term coined last summer by FX president John Landgraf — has affected the industry. As Adalian and Fernandez illustrate, we’re in the middle of a boom time: from line producers to writers to port-a-potty rentals, demand is fast outstripping supply. Movie stars are commanding millions of dollars per episode of the next hot Netflix or HBO or Showtime series. There’s more opportunity than ever for a creator with a strong vision to get her show on the air.

And yet, and yet, and yet: it’s harder than ever for veteran TV actors to compete with those buzzy silver-screen names. A creator with a huge hit on his hands won’t see nearly the kind of payoff from Netflix as he would from a traditional network. The pressure to make TV episodes that look like movies — not to mention the demand for experienced crewmembers — has pushed up production costs.

If you care about television and also fear change, it’s a scary time. On a good day, it feels too good to be true — Peak TV hath wrought Orange is the New Black and UnREAL and Mr. Robot and a Hulu-assisted fourth season of The Mindy Project and myriad other blessings. But the big worry, according to insiders, is that we haven’t yet reached real Peak TV — that networks currently focusing on cheap-to-produce reality shows will turn to scripted series, a stock-market “hiccup” will scare the new streaming giants into cutting costs, and the bubble will burst.

In the past few years, streaming services have come off as the saviors of quality television. A show like Orange is the New Black, with its racially, bodily, and sexually diverse cast made almost entirely of women, would have had a hard time making it to air on a traditional TV network; the same has been said of Amazon’s Transparent, among the most critically lauded series of the moment.

But as one showrunner points out in the Vulture article, Netflix has started to rein in its marketing efforts for some original series….

Read it all at Flavorwire

The Whole Crazy Process Of Creating A TV Show, From Pitch To Pilot

Charlie Jane Anders, our favorite sf-fantasy critic, has turned her discerning mind to illuminating the darkness that makes websites like TVWriter™ and contests like our People’s Pilot Competition possible. That’s right, kids, it’s time to home right in on This Amazingly Cool TV Show Creation Thing That We (Try So Hard To) Do! A big tip of the hat to CJA:


by Charlie Jane Anders

During pilot season, tons of TV shows are ordered and then enthusiastically spruiked in trade magazines. And then, nine months later… most of them will not be on television. What is this mysterious crucible? Here’s our step-by-step guide to the process of pitching a brand new television show.

[Full disclosure: A TV show based on my story “Six Months, Three Days” is in development.]

Right about now, we ought to be in the middle of watching the first season of Hieroglyph, a show about gods in ancient Egypt that was “ordered to series” by Fox. But Fox pulled the plug on Hieroglyph, even after ordering a full season in advance, and we never even got to see it. That’s just one extreme example of a more common phenomenon — to casual observers, it looks like things are getting ordered all the time, then never showing up.

To find out more about the many stages of the TV development process, we talked to some seasoned TV professionals — some of whom are quoted below, and some of whom asked to remain nameless. So here’s a painstaking guide to the various stages of the TV development process, and all the jargon you’re likely to hear. (This is slightly more geared towards US broadcast networks, but the process isn’t hugely dissimilar across the western world .)

1. The Pitch

This begins in June or July for the broadcast networks. In a nutshell, you pitch a studio, and once you have studio backing, then you go to the network. Often, you’ll pitch a producer first, and the producer will have a deal with a particular studio that he or she will bring the project to. On occasion, a producer can go straight to the network, skipping the studio — but networks like to know that a studio is backing a show, because that makes it more likely they will actually get the show they ordered.

This process, from producer to studio to network, can take weeks — or it can go incredibly fast, if you have J.J. Abrams or Steven Spielberg on board as a producer, or if your show is based on a well-known comic book or beloved property.

Javier Grillo-Marxuach, creator of The Middleman and writer for Helix, explains:

It helps if you think of the studio as a bank. What they do, in the broadest and most essential sense, if advance a showrunner/show creator the money and resources to actually make the show in advance of the network paying their fees (networks basically “rent” shows for a premiere showing and a number of repeats. They also get a creative oversight because the fees they pay cover most of the show’s cost. That much said, if the show costs more to make than what the network pays — which is most of the time — then the studio has to deficit finance those costs, so their interest is to make sure the show stays around long enough to be sold into syndication, which is where they bounce back from the deficit.

Read it all at Lifehacker (Australia)