Thanks to the gracious invitation from my Screenwriting Research Network colleague Paolo Russo – and a grant he was able to procure (and in the before-Covid time) I was able to spend a week at Oxford Brookes University working with the screenwriting masters students in Paolo’s course. At the culmination of the week, I gave this lecture on how writers rooms worked in the States.
I wrote this article for Written By which is about these writers and it was very interesting to go back and speak to them in their 80s about what their experience had been to write hippie characters in the 60s and it was all about how they shared stories. Some of them were more conservative. Some of them were already becoming hippies. Treva tells a funny story about her mother not understanding what it meant when she said she smoked pot. Her mother thought she was doing something in the kitchen. She didn’t divest her of that opinion right? So they all had a different attitude toward how they wrote but in one-hour dramas, things were done differently back in the day as everyone is fond of saying. They used writer pools. They would simply hire you under contract at a studio — Universal, Warner Brothers, Disney, whatever it was — and you literally sat on the line now that’s a that’s a pool of women typing. That’s how scripts were done before there were computers right? They had a bunch of women in a room. They had that ditto paper and you type and you get three copies with the little purple stuff and think about that. You’re doing that 24/7. If you’re doing Gone with the Wind, how many copies of that script do you have to consistently keep typing so that it’s ready.
Watch this entire presentation
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