Archive for July 16th, 2008

Good Practice for TV

16th July 2008

The Stage has obtained an early copy of a new good practice guide compiled by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, which is designed to outline how broadcasters should work with writers of television dramas.

Called Working with Writers – A Good Practice Guide, it was put together by Anthony Read, a screenwriter with more than 200 credits to his name, and includes contributions from British Guild members Edel Brosnan and Ming Ho.

The guide points out some of the common problems television writers encounter during their jobs:

“As the director and his team take over, the script is often regarded as just one element of the overall production. It is easy to forget that everything else depends on the script. Regrettably, it has become common practice to keep the director and writer apart – producers and editors may fear that their own authority will be undermined, or believe the writer needs protection from the demands of the director. Either way, they do both writers and director – and themselves – a disservice,” it reads.

The guide recommends writers should be able to meet directors at least once because it “may spark off productive new ideas”. It also suggests “the creator of an original work should be involved in final casting sessions for their lead characters”.

It also addresses issues such as dropping writers from long-running series with no explanation, the best way to provide feedback on writers’ scripts, and recommended payment for story outlines and treatments.

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain will distribute the guide when it is published in September to broadcasters and independent production companies in the UK.

Horrible Online

16th July 2008

During the writers strike in Hollywood last year screenwriter and director Joss Whedon began work on an online comedy series called Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

The first episode of the three-act series (written by Joss Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, and Zack Whedon) debuted yesterday and promptly crashed the servers due to demand. After a couple of hours the show was moved onto servers that could cope with the pressure. The second and third episode will go online this week, also for free. On Sunday night all the episodes will be removed from free viewing, and after that Dr. Horrible will be available for download for a fee, and there will be the perquisite DVD later.

L.A. Times has run an article on Whedon’s new show, and questions the writer about the ethos behind how it is being distributed.

Whedon’s awareness of the Internet’s prevailing mood also played into his decision to make “Dr. Horrible” completely free–and free of advertising–for the entirety of its first week. But really? You’ve got a show that even with zero paid promotion has generated enough buzz to crash servers during the first hours it was available, and you don’t want use all that heat to mint some Whedon Dollars?

“Some brows have furrowed at the idea of putting it out for free,” Whedon said. “But that was part of our mission statement from the first: to create an Internet event for the fans (and others) to enjoy because we enjoyed it so much.”

Still, even if he takes a small hit in the short term, Whedon said that with merchandising, iTunes sales, and DVDs, he expects that Dr. Horrible “will go into the black within the first year.”

On his Dr. Horrible web site Whedon further explains:

The idea was to make it on the fly, on the cheap–but to make it. To turn out a really thrilling, professionalish piece of entertainment specifically for the internet. To show how much could be done with very little. To show the world there is another way.

It will be very interesting to watch how this online programme evolves.