Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Read That Last Part Back To Me...Like, All Of Act Three!

I know, I know...who cares about kids/tween TV...but actually I do, and was introduced to a whole new spin on room writing from showrunner Michael Poryes. Poryes has had a long career writing TV comedy primarily (Cybill), but lately several Disney Channel shows have been his meal ticket --- writing and producing That's So Raven, Cory In The House, and the focus of his Master Class, Hannah Montana.

So here's how his room works. The staff scribes gather round the table and begin to talk out an episode. A writing assistant writes what they are spinning....no, not writes as in 'takes notes', but types out the beats, and then the outline, and then, eventually, the screenplay.

That's right, types the entire screenplay...from Fade In to Fade Out!

Then as a group they will do another pass, verbally, working presumably from hard copies or off their own computers, as the writing assistant continues to type it...or 'retype it' in this case. Then, when each script gets published, they either all share in or divide up the writing credits equally between the members of the staff.

In some ways I'm sure this is how a sitcom room must work, but still...I mean, I've been in the room as the group will work together to break the story beats, but then at some point a writer or the appointed writer will go away to pen the outline. And then, after notes and revisions, that writer will pen the draft of the script. But I have never heard of a room hashing out the beats and the outline and script verbally as a group, while the assistant 'types' the screenplay proper.

Poryes says this method works great for them ---they blast through a draft of a half hour episode in a couple of days (when you eliminate the 'going away to write' part and then the 'sending around what's been written for notes' part, yeah...I'd say pretty fast indeed), and are usually home by 5pm every evening. Sweet. But still...pretty wild, huh?

In other news...caught up with Al Magee and got some of the scoop about his new role as co-executive producer of Little Mosque...and we started the ball rolling toward a follow up interview to the monster one we dumped on all of you last year. Stay tuned for that.

Also spent some quality time with writers and bloggers Diane Wild (who was handing out TV, eh? hats! Hats I tell you!) and Jill Golick and David Moses. Actually Moses, along with screenwriters Rick Drew, Matt MacLennan, Karen Hill, James Phillips, and several other deserving participants, are all part of the CanWest Showrunners Training Program being held in conjunction with the festival. I was very pleased to get the chance to chat with a lot of them...AND crashed their catered lunch (sorry, but I was starving).

Forging on....though it's been pouring rain all day, and the notion of trekking out to the BBQ only to slog through mud and shiver in a tent is sounding less and less appealing.

We shall see.

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