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.
On Orville. I don’t know if this is transferred to England yet but it’s — who’s seen Galaxy Quest — Alan Rickman. I love Galaxy Quest. That is a movie that is survived by the writing. It could have been a silly piece of nonsense that was just a couple of gags joined together but the story is so strong, the movie is actually really good and Alan Rickman is of course always wonderful but Seth McFarlane talks about this idea. You have to tell the stories of your life. You stumble upon things by saying this happened and that happened or I had a friend to whom this happened right? One of my early episodes of Touched by an Angel had to do with a couple who was going to having a baby and they found out it was going to have Down’s Syndrome and then they had to make the decision were they capable of being the parents of a handicapped child and of course there was a moment where they could have chosen abortion. They did not but they had that discussion right because drama’s built around making a choice and that’s probably the biggest choice a person could ever make right? So that was built on the fact that somebody in the room one day, that was happening in their cousin’s family and they were talking about it and how they’ve been on the phone with them and we thought oh my gosh that’s an excellent story to try to move into and why would you what are the possible reasons you would make this choice? What are the reasons you would be talked out of making this choice? How do you deal with that problem? It just came up in personal conversation. So being a good conversationalist makes you a good writer because you can tell stories about your life and your friend’s lives.
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