18 Russell T Davies and Doctor Who from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video] (40 seconds)

18 Russell T Davies and Doctor Who from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video] (40 seconds)

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.

Transcript:

I got a beloved chance to interview Russell Davies who came to the states to do the fourth season of Torchwood and the editor Written By knew how much I love Doctor Who, so he asked me if I’d like to interview him? Which I did and this was something that he said that meant a lot. Again you probably know he’s an openly gay man and it bothered him what he was seeing on television. So obviously, he invented Queer As Folk, and from that, he invented and revived Doctor Who and invented Torchwood, which allowed us, Captain Jack. it was just so adorable. I can’t stand it, but not on my team. So there you go. So this is really important. He was recognizing that in what he was creating for television and again made the programming more inclusive.

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18 Where Are The Women? from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video] (40 seconds)

18 Where Are The Women? from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video] (40 seconds)

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.

Transcript:

Kenny moved into The Incredible Hulk really the first superhero show on tv that ever survived and then he did “V” which was redone a few years ago and then he did Alien Nation which is where I met him. I worked on that show. So but in all these early drama rooms, there’s something missing. Who’s not in that picture? Audience: Any woman. Thank you. There you go. That’s the problem because most all these stories are being funneled through the minds of guys and you can’t blame a person for writing about what they know and what means something to them. That’s what writers do and that’s why a room wants as much inclusivity as possible right? So we don’t have any girls.

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17 The Bionic Woman from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video] (56 seconds)

17 The Bionic Woman from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video] (56 seconds)

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.

Transcript:

And better than, that she was the last episode of the first season of this show and the studio killed her so that there’d be a great tragic ending and Kenny, who was a young writer then, said this is like the middle of the second wave of the feminist movement. You can’t kill the most engaging woman that you have had on your program and the network said yes we can. Nobody wants a love interest for the lead character because women want to imagine he’ll fall in love with them and they don’t want to get in some of the girl’s way. That’s rude, right? So they killed her and the mail — because there wasn’t yet email — that they got complaining that they had the audacity to kill the most accomplished woman who had ever appeared on that show meant that miraculously at the beginning of season two she wasn’t actually dead. They had bionically saved her and then she got her own program and Kenny became an Executive Producer of his own program because of his creativity because he had come up with that character. He now owned that character.

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16 Producer, Kenny Johnson from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video] (51 seconds)

16 Producer, Kenny Johnson from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video] (51 seconds)

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.

Transcript:

Kenny Johnson is a guy I worked for as an assistant. He invented The Bionic Woman — again writer’s voice. He was on staff at Universal. They came in one day and they said “Hey we’re doing the Six Million Dollar Man. We need a storyline” and he said — which is a nice tip — know the classics — we fall back on classics all the time. Sons of Anaarchy is Hamlet on motorcycles. That’s how they got pitched right? Empire is King Lear in a rap record recording studio. Seriously, knowing Shakespeare does you well in life. I promise you. The Bionic Woman that’s that’s the Bride of Frankenstein. He walked in the room and said you’ve created Frankenstein. Why doesn’t he have a bride?

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15 More On Writers-Producers from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video] (51 seconds)

15 More On Writers-Producers from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video] (51 seconds)

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.

Transcript:

Likewise, we have Stephen Bochco who really started the idea of multiplicity in storylines in Hill Sreet Blues which is a very famous show. We have Dick Wolf who gave us the Law & Order franchise that was on for 19 years. Didn’t quite make 20. This show’s made 21. I saw it just airing on Sky TV the other night so it’s something available in Britain and of course, there was a British version of Law & Order. They actually did one where they took early scripts and they transferred them here. Didn’t do great but what do you know? Don Bellisario gave us basically military heroes which were pretty big in the states but he himself had been in the military during Vietnam War and so he came out. People may not know it but the Magnum story was that right? He was a Vietnam War vet and then as Bellisiario moved through and these shows all ran a good ten years apiece. so long-running programs.

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14 Writers-Producers from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video] (56 seconds)

14 Writers-Producers from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video] (56 seconds)

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.

Transcript:

The writer-producers and again they were mostly guys in the 80s and early 90s right mostly guys. I did a big article on these gentlemen as well because I had once worked for Kenny Johnson who’s a marvelous man in the corner with the Incredible Hulk. He did the first tv superhero which was the Incredible Hulk show back in the day. So all these guys came out of the Universal writer’s pool right? Stephen Cannell was so beloved that when he died he was NOT running a show called Castle which ran for nine years on network television but the people who ran this show had been trained by him and when he died at the ending of their program, they ran this logo which was how his tv shows in the 70s and 80s used to end and in honor of him they ran this and called him a colleague, a mentor, and a friend. That’s a big deal in Hollywood where mostly we say nasty things about people. So it tells you something about his personality.

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13 Characters and Susannah Grant from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video] (56 seconds)

13 Characters and Susannah Gra from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video] (56 seconds)

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.

Transcript:

All right, so. what I wanted to do for about half a minute is describe this woman. Visually describe this character. Her name is Erin Brockovich. You may or may not have seen this movie all right. So we might know something about her from the movie but visually — and she’s Julia Roberts, you can tell — quickly how would you describe her if you’re writing that action line in your script? If nothing else, think of three adjectives. We always start with that. Style comes from what you do in the action lines because the dialogue has to sound like your characters but the action lines sound like you alright. Shy doesn’t work in the writers’ room. If you don’t have an idea, I’ll stop paying you a contract and you go home. I always tell my students when they have to pitch, you better have an idea right away because you’re turning down $38,000 because if there’s a new script and we need one done next week and you don’t do it your friend just got that much money. That’s a lot of money to turn down because you’re too shy to open your mouth. So school is when you practice not being shy.

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12 Describing Your Characters from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video] (1 minute)

12 Describing Your Characters from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video] (1 minute)

 

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.

Transcript:

All right, so. what I wanted to do for about half a minute is describe this woman. Visually describe this character. Her name is Erin Brockovich. You may or may not have seen this movie all right. So we might know something about her from the movie but visually — and she’s Julia Roberts, you can tell — quickly how would you describe her if you’re writing that action line in your script? If nothing else, think of three adjectives. We always start with that. Style comes from what you do in the action lines because the dialogue has to sound like your characters but the action lines sound like you alright. Shy doesn’t work in the writers’ room. If you don’t have an idea, I’ll stop paying you a contract and you go home. I always tell my students when they have to pitch, you better have an idea right away because you’re turning down $38,000 because if there’s a new script and we need one done next week and you don’t do it your friend just got that much money. That’s a lot of money to turn down because you’re too shy to open your mouth. So school is when you practice not being shy.

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11 Style + Opinion=Writer’s Voice from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video] (22 seconds)

11 Style + Opinion=Writer's Voice from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV

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.

Transcript:

Everything that’s written that’s remembered is because you learned something while you were watching it. It might be that friends matter which is really the theme of all of the Harry Potter movies let’s admit it. That’s all you learned from those movies. They were quite fun but that’s a pretty good theme. In life, friends matter. Themes are universal. So this is my opinion but I think, generally speaking, people find this the opinion.

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10 The Writer’s Voice from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video] (1 minute 3 seconds)

10 The Writer's Voice from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV

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.

Transcript:

Stephen Cannell — who I’m going to talk about briefly in a second — he was in a writer’s pool and he was asked to write an episode of this one day and the reason he stood out and became then his own showrunner was because he had the craziest little idea. Rather than worry about what’s the crime this week and what’s the problem the cops are involved with, he just thought what would happen if the police were assigned to work in a police car which kept breaking down all day. Just a funny little idea which then was the theme of the whole episode. How do you do your job when you’re not providing the proper equipment and that made other people in Universal buzz about this new cool writer and they pretty much thought he had a particular voice and to me that’s the most important thing and you hear this word a thousand times. What does it mean? How do you do it? What does it prove? I’m gonna make you do a little exercise practicing that because writer’s voice is style plus opinion. You have a style of writing and you have something to say, right? That’s the theme. If you don’t have a theme you have no reason to write anything.

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