34 Margaret Nagle and Warm Springs from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

34 Margaret Nagle and Warm Springs from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

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 Margaret Nagle came off of Boardwalk Empire. She’s a pretty brilliant writer in many ways. She started her career — she was an actress. She moved into writing and she knew she needed to write something powerful and different. You’ve got to find something that hasn’t been done million times before and Warm Springs was the story of Franklin Roosevelt and the time he spent at a spa when he had polio. We’ve seen a million Franklin Roosevelt stories in America because he’s one of our big heroes right? We’ve seen the relationship with Eleanor. We’ve seen the relationship with his mistress. We’ve seen World War II in any different way you can figure it out. Nobody had done the story of how a rich boy dealt with being diagnosed with polio. What did he do and how did he survive and it was in the spa full of other people who weren’t famous or rich and he had to meet people he had never met in his normal life and that’s what formed the man who became the president who created all the programs that helped us survive the depression and the war and so that was a brilliant idea for us and it was just reading history and she stumbled on that thought. Why have i never seen this story? I’ll write it. What a lovely idea. Reading history is a brilliant thing to do.

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33 Terence Winter and Boardwalk Empire from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

33 Terence Winter and Boardwalk Empire from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

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:

Terence Winter on Boardwalk Empire. He came off of The Sopranos so he had a very good pedigree and then he moved into Boardwalk Empire and the idea of how you parse out the story and this comes from structure. At what point to do give out what information. How do you string the audience along. I think that’s really interesting. That’s a whole other conversation.

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32 Writer’s Room As Dinner Party from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

32 Writer's Room As Dinner Party from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

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:

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is in charge of Riverdale. Was that here yet? Based on The Archie comics which is kind of funny. First season, pretty good. Second season, getting a little sillier. Third season, getting a little sillier. Not very good but the idea that a writer’s room is like a dinner party and you’re just kibitzing with people and having a good conversation and from that people go “Oh wait. i like that and I like what you said. I’m gonna put all these things together and we’re gonna end up with a story which we all like.” Love Tina Fey. Tina Fey is a great example of going from acting because of the strength of her writing becoming the first woman to run the evening report the weekend update on SNL. Then of course she did Mean Girls. She got hired from her comic chops to write Mean Girls. May or may not know that was recently nominated for Tony because she turned it into a Broadway show. Writers own the product throughout all of its lifespans. Directors do not right? The director of the movie Mean Girls was not invited to direct the musical but she was invited to write it. So I think it’s powerful. So her and her husband. Robert Carlock is her husband so they’ve worked the last two tv shows together and that’s their opinion. Again, diversity in the room with lots of things even educational status is an important thing.

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31 Drama is about making a choice from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

31 Drama is about making a choice from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

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:

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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30 Safe…But Open from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

30 Safe...But Open from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

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:

Safe… but open. There was a huge lawsuit in the United States in Hollywood. The writer’s assistant on Friends, which everyone knows because everyone’s seen Friends a million times, she sued them for harassment because in her job of listening to them talk, of course, they talked a lot about their raw sexual experiences. That’s kind of what Friends was about. Although you didn’t really see that part of it right? You got the… it was more soft and she was embarrassed but she knew she was getting a job on a sitcom where that kind of thing was going to be discussed. So kind of a mess because that is the job but then you have to be gentle about how you’re doing that and recognize who’s in the room and think about how you honorably discuss these things. It wasn’t really part of how people behaved a few years ago. So it’s that’s a that’s a delicate balance that a writer-producer is trying to create in their room.

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29 Write What (Emotions) You Know from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

29 Write What (Emotions) You Know from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

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 I think that writing what you know emotionally is an important thing to think about because you have to be comfortable doing that to be a writer. Tennessee Williams, who is a famous American playwright, once said that writers write from the first — the emotions of the first six years of their lives. Which I kind of thought was like, how do you make that up and then I look back at a bunch of scripts I’ve written in my life and I have this recurrent theme which is telling men that they should be good fathers — that raising — that having a child doesn’t make you a man — raising a child makes you a man. I’ve used that line several times accidentally in different scripts. My dad left when I was six. So either Tennessee Williams was right or that’s a nice coincidence. I don’t know but that’s an important thing to remember. You don’t just have to write the history of the life you’ve led. It’s the history of the emotions you’ve lived. That can bring you anywhere right because JK Rowling didn’t go to Hogwarts. She doesn’t do magic but she understood being lonely as a child right.

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28 Bruce Miller from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

28 Bruce Miller from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

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:

Bruce Miller. He’s running The Handmaid’s Tale and there’s a whole lot of questions about that. He’s a guy and he’s running the handmaid’s tale, but he had the best take on the story. One of the things people will tell you in writing is to write what you know and you think that means write the experiences you’ve had but you can’t just write that or you’d be done right? So that’s where research comes in. So what do you actually know? What you know are the emotions you’ve had in your life. That’s what you know and anyone can recognize emotions of abandonment and fear and loneliness and all those things and bruce miller happened to come up with the best version of a pilot based on this novel of all the other people that they brought in.

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27 Inside The Write’s Room from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

27 Inside The Write's Room from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

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:

Let’s think about what happens inside a writer’s room. By the way, that’s not a bad book right there. A couple of really important showrunners in America right now and what they have to say about it right? Nahnatchka Khan is Fresh Off The Boat. I don’t know if that’s in England or not. It’s the story of an Asian American family immigrating to the United States. It was based on a famous chef in New York. He wrote a memoir. Now they turned it into a tv show. It’s a comedy. It’s quite fun and so obviously she came in she wanted people who were different. She was smart enough to know she needed people who understood being on the outside looking in because the theme of the show was how do you assimilate without losing the heritage you came in with. That’s the big question, right? So it’s a really, really important new show. It’s about the third season now.

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26 ShowUsYourRoom from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

26 ShowUsYourRoom from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

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:

This is a great hashtag. #showusyourroom is a challenge the Writers Guild put out to get more people to have inclusive writers rooms so of course it’s up on Twitter and anyone who has a writer’s room with people of color or people of different backgrounds — ageism is the thing in Hollywood too — so there’s some of that. They’re putting their rooms up there and people who haven’t put their rooms up there is because they notice they haven’t done anything different right? So it’s kind of fun.

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25 Video Game Writer’s Rooms from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

25 Video Game Writer's Rooms from There And Back Again: Writing and Developing for American TV [Video]

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:

So the thing about writer’s rooms is they had to evolve over time right? I was — it was interesting to watch them grow. So these are a couple of, you know, empires. I mentioned today. The new thing is that video game writers are using writer’s rooms and that’s huge. These gentlemen, Ralph and George, are with Blizzard so if you know Overwatch, right, and Diablo and those things. They came out of television. They were hired by the video game companies. They are now looking for television writers because they want people who understand how a writer’s room works and they were explaining at their writer’s room — most writers rooms now five six people — theirs go to 10 or 12 because they’ve got guys who are lore experts who are going to remind you of what this character did 15 years ago with his stepsister from the other kingdom whatever that is. They have to have people who are storyboard artists who are going to show you what the new characters look like. What their weaponry looks like. They are the historians who tell you what else should be happening in this village at this time. They have a giant room full of people plus about five or six writers who are creating the story lines for these characters. So it’s really a brilliant thing to be part of.

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