Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Screenwriting links: Tues, Feb 26

How 'House of Cards' Writer Beau Willimon Got the Inside Dirt on D.C. [The Hollywood Reporter]

From Script Reader to Warner Bros Latest Acquire: Meet Ashleigh Powell [ScriptMag]

Little change for Parks and Rec, says showrunner [Canada.com]

'The Walking Dead': Showrunner Glen Mazzara discusses the latest 'edge of your seat' ending [Entertainment Weekly]

God Is in the Details - Interview with David Magee, writer of Life of Pi [WGA.org]

Friday, February 22, 2013

Does my sitcom pilot need a happy ending?

Mark writes: I have a question about TV pilots, though maybe there is no definitive. I'm writing a 30 minute spec pilot that's a dramedy (not a regular sitcom; it's more of a cable show like ENLIGHTENED, HUNG or GIRLS) and I want to end it on a down beat. However, most of these types of pilots seem to end on a little positive beat. What do you think? Do you think it depends entirely on the story told OR is it a necessity to appease readers/viewers of darker material?

Just my opinion: since it's your pilot, you can (and should) end it however you want; your script should show off your personal voice and perspective as a writer. Don't worry about appeasing people until you sell it to somebody. Once people are paying you, then you kinda have to do whatever they say. (It's not the worst problem to have...my favorite quote from EPISODES is when someone suggests to Matt LeBlanc that catchphrases are cheesy and he responds, "Tell that to my house in Malibu.")

I would just make sure that:
1. Your ending is in the tone of the rest of the episode. You don't want a moment that feels out of place in the world; we shouldn't think, "Whaa? That would never happen!"
2. Your ending still makes us feel like there is somewhere to go. If you kill off your main character, then what's the show? You have to get people excited about tuning in for episode two, so make sure your ending doesn't feel so much like a conclusion as it does an opening of a can of worms/Pandora's Box. A TV producer I've worked with often talks about "series journeys" - what your character is going to aim for/struggle with/learn over the course of the show.

Maybe think less about "positive" or "negative" and more about how your ending can be a twist that turns your story in a new direction and creates new conflict. I love how ENTOURAGE often ends on a little twist. It also couldn't hurt to watch a bunch of similarly-toned pilots and think about their endings, why you think the shows end that way, why the endings work or don't work, etc. Always be learning from the pros.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fellowship available at Westside writing workspace theOffice

If you're looking for the perfect place in LA to leave the distractions of life behind and finish that screenplay/novel/short story/what-have-you, enter now to win a FREE 6 month Premium Membership to theOffice (worth $2500+). The fellowship starts April 1st and goes through September 30th 2013.

theOffice is a quiet, communal workspace on 26th Street in Santa Monica (across from the Brentwood Country Mart). There are 26 ergonomic workstations in the room equipped with Aeron chairs, wifi, daily newspapers, a reference library and all the coffee you can handle.

Charter and current members include J.J. Abrams, Jim Uhls, Blake Herron, Gigi Levangie Grazer, Gary Glasberg and others. It's where writers go to get it done.

The deadline to apply is March 15th and the contest is free to enter.  The winner will be announced the last week of March.

For more details, visit theOfficeonlineBlog.com

Monday, February 11, 2013

Nickelodeon Writing Program applications due Feb 28

If you're a comedy writer, be sure to enter the Nickelodeon Writing Program - one of the only paid writing programs in town. It's not just for children's writing; many alumni go on to write for mainstream network comedies (and you should submit such a spec to enter).