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Author Topic: The Great MZPtv Reboot 2018  (Read 2881 times)

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Offline Lee A. Chrimes

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Re: The Great MZPtv Reboot 2018
« Reply #75 on: Tue Dec 12 2017, 16:30 »
I agree with Tony. While it did become a bit of a love-fest towards the end, the intentions behind Pilot Season was right.   If done again, I think whoever judges it needs to go in with more of an open mind.  Sometimes you can have an awful script but an amazing concept pitch, other times you could have an amazing pitch but awful script. With a little more encouragement to those that pitch with interesting ideas, it could lead to new material being commissioned, or at least given a trial development of some kind to help develop a writers talent.

I'm not saying we'd have an influx of amazing material, and some may not be up to the standards of past - but it could strengthen the site while ushering through new writers who are learning, or those yet to be discovered.

There needs to be an understanding going into that process that there is a difference between critique and a bad review. You can't sugarcoat criticism if you want it to be effective, but some clearer rules about that should help. Some writers have fragile egos, some can take a bad review on the chin, but it needs to be part of the mission statement to say something to the effect of 'if we say your work is bad, we will also help you make it better.'

Also, a 'service level agreement', to use a corporate term, about how long it will take us to offer feedback, so that people know what we can deliver and when.


I'd like to think as seeing MZPtv as not only a site of some great pieces of written work, both past, present and (hopefully) future - but maybe as a site to guide and nurture undiscovered writers who wish to learn, write and where possible, to showcase their work to everyone interested.

That last line is basically our goal here, and a nice way of putting it :)

Offline Lee A. Chrimes

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Re: The Great MZPtv Reboot 2018
« Reply #76 on: Tue Dec 12 2017, 16:40 »
Oh, I do agree that pilot season was first introduced with the best of intentions, but I think in retrospect we probably took it several steps too far. It made all the sense in the world to the admins and mods and established showrunners, I'm sure, but I have no doubt there were new members (and potential new members) who saw that and were like "who do these arrogant assholes think they are?" and took a pass on MZP as a result.

Ha ha yep, most definitely! This is a live and learn situation, one I am keen not to repeat.

Also, and this is something I've thought for many years: weren't we all spread a bit too thin looking back? Tony has touched on this with you, Lee, and the idea that you were trying to be everything all at once rather than having more help with the actual day-to-day running of the site. But I think there were plenty of others, too. How many showrunners did we have running multiple shows at once? How many were also writers/producers for other shows while also producing their own? How many were doing websites and graphics for 2-3 shows while running their own and pitching 2-3 others every 6 months? I count myself in that last one for sure.

We absolutely were. I regularly ragged on Tony for having eight things on the go at once, and as he's said earlier, the more the original members lost time to work on the site and their writing to the real world, the harder it became to keep things going in our absence. That's one thing that starting small again should help - fewer plates to spin until there are more people to help.

I always wanted to have more instances of a producer setting up a show then handing it on to others, and I think we were guilty of being possessive of our creations to the detriment of our ability to work on them. It can only be a benefit to get a great show started then let somebody else have a chance to run it, if you don't have capacity for it yourself.

I always did wonder how good it could be if we all pooled our efforts and energy into one project rather than dividing our time/energy/resources into a dozen different shows/movies. There were always plenty of good ideas; that we certainly never lacked. What we did not have was the time (or staff) to properly develop all of them. So why bother? Why didn't we just pick one and pool our efforts and see what we could come up with? With that kind of staff we'd have been able to actually do the whole concept of the virtual series justice. Because, in the end, I don't think that concept ever really worked (at least in the long term) using the approach we as a community took, trying to build an entire network of multiple high-quality series with what was, even at our height, a pretty small number of people.

Now this is an interesting idea, and it's one thing the Fiction Vortex guys have a good handle on. The whole concept of having a shared universe spanning multiple projects is designed to keep a bunch of like-minded writers bouncing their ideas along the same path.

We tried that a few times here - we had the Aliasverse of The DSR, Walker and Schism (plus a host of great spin-offs that never happened), and the Jossverse with all its shows, but making more of that concept is something I'd like to explore.

Lots of other VS communities back then had one or two shows that they were all focused on delivering, and it kept everything on the same rails. Now I know I want MZPtv to be the land of opportunity in a lot of respects, but I'm starting to see that having a handful of flagship shows in rotation alongside a more pen plate of in-development opportunities should get that working. We'll have our 2 or 3 big guns that are open to all, and room to work on your own projects behind that.

One key issue we always had was pushing every new show onto the schedule straight away. I'm proposing something more like a Netflix model - get the majority, if not all, of a new series done before we start releasing anything.

Offline Lee A. Chrimes

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Re: The Great MZPtv Reboot 2018
« Reply #77 on: Tue Dec 12 2017, 16:45 »
I’ve been around MZP since 2006. At least one message board, maybe 3 or 4 website redesigns, two Tony Black spin off networks, a fanfiction only spinoff,  and a serial kickstarter ago. There is probably more I missed. My point is that you guys have tried to change a lot, but I don’t think there is a good way to address the fundamental problem with the entire endeavor. MZP doesn’t attract people that want to read other amatures work, it attracts people who want to write.

It does, and that's one of the biggest points we keep coming back to. My thinking so far is to embrace that - the writing is done here, the audience is potentially elsewhere. Critique from other writers is invaluable, but if we go down the route of only having a few projects 'airing' at any one time, we don't need audiences who will be expected to read and feed back on eighteen different things at once.

Also, bonus point for being old school, because we deffo need badges or something for that.

You guys attempted to let be a part of the gang. I know that the rest of the guys from Stargate Destiny weren’t fans of you style. However, at least to me it seemed like you guys were willing to give guidance on writing, and take a young writer under your wings. I pitched like two or three horrible show ideas. You guys gave great feedback on that. Eventually you even let me be in the writers room on a few shows.

The projects I got to work on were mostly doomed to failure. I don’t remember how many episodes of a show I was given an outline for that ended dying 6 episodes before mine, not that I finished all that many of those episodes. When I did manage to have a couple episodes go out, I got little feedback from the wider community. I think Tony gave me some generous reviews, but I had maybe one comment in the episode threads for my two episodes. No one read my work, probably better for them, but it was disheartening,

And it's exactly like you said - the 'wider community' was a bunch of other writers who were too busy with their own shows to bother to read and review what others were putting out. So what if we didn't just air our content on MZP, but rather found other opportunities to get it out there? Or only aired a select few things per season on here and made sure other writers found their own spaces?

This is a developing idea but I'm increasingly thinking it's a way around one of our key roadblocks in the past - we take our product to the audience rather than relying on them to come to us.

If you guys took Jay’s idea and agreed to work on one cool show, that was actually going to be finished, then it would make me want to stick around. This time to read it.

That's two votes for that so far...

Offline Lee A. Chrimes

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Re: The Great MZPtv Reboot 2018
« Reply #78 on: Tue Dec 12 2017, 16:47 »
I think that the readership problem is real, but it's a major issue of every writer/fanfiction board (even the infamous Fanfiction.net has thousands of wannabe writers and not so many reviews beyond "I like this" or "you suck" kind of comments).

I think that MZP, with a focus on scripted fiction, was a niche project from the start, and for such a limited audience we've done a lot of great work (hundreds of scripts for sure). Maybe we need to expand our focus a bit, and promote ourselves more on social media, but I don't think we can expect to have many more readers than writers.

Not on here, no, and that's why helping writers air their work on platforms of their choice will benefit us in the long run. The writing and development takes place here. There are a few flagship shows with their own discussion. Other projects are helped to find their own space, hopefully generating a mutual flow of other potential writers back to here. We'll even have readers who decide they want to write and find their way here through any of the outlets our members publish on.

Offline Lee A. Chrimes

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Re: The Great MZPtv Reboot 2018
« Reply #79 on: Tue Dec 12 2017, 16:48 »
Most writers are prolific readers and are the most interested in reading and giving feedback on others' scripts but it goes back to what Jay and others said, if everybody's neck deep in their own project there's little time left to read anything.

I like the idea of pooling our resources. Maybe instead of just one project, two or three that alternate scripts. So that only one is being worked on at a time but there's still some variety to keep things fresh.

Three votes for that!

Offline Ramble Robb

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Re: The Great MZPtv Reboot 2018
« Reply #80 on: Thu Dec 21 2017, 01:02 »
I'd be very much interested in a rejuvenated MZP. And, here's a shocker, as a reader and not a writer! I no longer have the time unfortunately with my career and life in general to devote to the immense work that I used to put into my work here. I'm lucky to now have a job where I often get to be very creative and to write a lot (non-fiction and poetry).

But I miss this place. I learned a lot about my imagination and creativity by interacting with the writers and stories here. Rise from the ashes MZP, and people will come (or come back). I'd love to see new material here, an active community again. You've got one reader right here.

Offline Lee A. Chrimes

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Re: The Great MZPtv Reboot 2018
« Reply #81 on: Thu Dec 21 2017, 16:16 »
Thanks dude - I'm compiling notes and will have some time over Xmas and New Year to do some initial spring cleaning of this place, then see how we get on from there.

And thanks to everyone for your thoughts so far - it is invaluable to get honest feedback from people who actually spend time around this place, past and present, so you can be sure it's all sunk in and will be listened to.

Offline worldbreaker

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Re: The Great MZPtv Reboot 2018
« Reply #82 on: Fri Dec 22 2017, 06:41 »
Whatever direction you guys take it, I hope that the website will continue on and provide writers or possibly artist a chance to express their creative freedoms.
"Life isn't divided into genres. It's a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you're lucky."
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Offline Tom East

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Re: The Great MZPtv Reboot 2018
« Reply #83 on: Sun Jan 14 2018, 21:53 »
I'll always remember Tom East talking about his first days doing a screenwriting course at University: everyone was amazed that he knew the lingo and jargon because of this place. It's stuff like that I think was what this place was *really* about.

Swooping in late (as per usual) to get a good chuckle out of this quote and how true it rings, even now. MZP absolutely had a huge impact on me and you'll all be happy to know that I came top of the class in every screenwriting module throughout my three-year course based upon the guidance I received here.

Perhaps on an even more amusing note considering I was but a mere twelve year old when I first joined the old probaords forum, I now teach screenwriting to my Film Studies classes and pretty much every technique I teach was learned right here. Things really did come back full circle far more than I expected them to!

Hope you're all doing well and at the risk of sounding like a sop, I'm happy to say that MZP still lingers in the forefront of my mind every time I teach the scripted format to my students!

Offline Lee A. Chrimes

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Re: The Great MZPtv Reboot 2018
« Reply #84 on: Mon Jan 15 2018, 10:21 »
That is legit brilliant, and the kind of thing that makes me a) glad I started this place and b) determined to keep it going

Offline Matt Latham

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Re: The Great MZPtv Reboot 2018
« Reply #85 on: Mon Jan 15 2018, 13:15 »
Perhaps on an even more amusing note considering I was but a mere twelve year old when I first joined the old probaords forum, I now teach screenwriting to my Film Studies classes and pretty much every technique I teach was learned right here. Things really did come back full circle far more than I expected them to!

"Right class! I want you all to pitch me a VS!"
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Offline Tom East

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Re: The Great MZPtv Reboot 2018
« Reply #86 on: Mon Jan 15 2018, 13:29 »
On that note, I actually used a script I wrote here as an in-class demonstration. They’re at least somewhat aware of the concept if a Virtual Series. There’s hope for the younger generation yet...

Also Latham, that is 100% my teaching style.

Offline Lee A. Chrimes

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Re: The Great MZPtv Reboot 2018
« Reply #87 on: Tue Jan 16 2018, 17:11 »
K everyone, I have moved a bunch of series boards around as the first stage in spring cleaning, and removed a ton of usergroups solely around show development.

The Purgatory development board should be right where it used to be, but I'll make sure that gets set up wherever we end up in terms of backstage development ASAP.

I'm also investigating how to help prune the memberlist - I know going off 'last active' isn't accurate because of people hiding their online status or using VPN, and I can't use post counts because of how many lurkers we have, so any suggestions on how to identify dead accounts would be great!

Offline Stevie_G

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Re: The Great MZPtv Reboot 2018
« Reply #88 on: Tue Jan 16 2018, 22:19 »
The Purgatory development board should be right where it used to be, but I'll make sure that gets set up wherever we end up in terms of backstage development ASAP.

Thanks, I'm currently doing some re-editing of 1.03 episode, and then be moving onto outlining rest of series, and writing. Also dividing time between that and Justice idea - which is coming along nicely also.  Fingers crossed will have one, hopefully both - completed in 2018.

I'm also investigating how to help prune the memberlist - I know going off 'last active' isn't accurate because of people hiding their online status or using VPN, and I can't use post counts because of how many lurkers we have, so any suggestions on how to identify dead accounts would be great!

Difficult one this, due to - as you say, people hiding their online status etc.  Not sure how to go around that.  The only thing I could think of, is anyone who registered prior to say, 2013 - and who has never made a post (still 0 posts) could be removed? Could start there and see what have left.  Then could do work on other years, bit by bit - and see how many can remove.

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Re: The Great MZPtv Reboot 2018
« Reply #89 on: Wed Jan 17 2018, 10:14 »
On that note, I actually used a script I wrote here as an in-class demonstration. They’re at least somewhat aware of the concept if a Virtual Series. There’s hope for the younger generation yet...

Also Latham, that is 100% my teaching style.
Just you wait. One day you'll get someone ask "What's a Gryffindor." Then you'll age ten years in an instant.

Offline RJ Alden Lackie

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Re: The Great MZPtv Reboot 2018
« Reply #90 on: Sun Jan 21 2018, 17:07 »
I have so many thoughts!! But I am also running out the door in a few minutes so I have to be quick. JOT NOTES!

- MZP means a huge amount to me because I was a 15-year-old dummy who learned more at MZP about screenwriting, alone and in a staff, than I did at uni. It let me get a jump start on a lot of skills and development that I wouldn't have gotten. Plus it was fun as hell.

- I think MZP at its heart has two really passionate userbases: writers who want to go pro eventually, and amateur writer/readers who want to have fun. With sometimes the latter transitioning over time into the former once they realise they love this form & community. I think the main problem has always been struggling to balance how to invest time and energy between the two streams. I also think part of that has been a muddying of waters between the two, rather than considering them two explicit groups with distinct goals and distinct needs (and a good amount of overlap between). I think there's room for an MZP that services both. It just needs the energy and organisation behind it to accomplish that.

More later. Love you guys, and love this place a lot.

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Re: The Great MZPtv Reboot 2018
« Reply #91 on: Today at 04:22 »
Hi all! Long time no see. Sarah-Jane here in case anybody has forgotten my user name.

I thought I'd throw my two cents in, even though I'm not exactly an MZP expert these days (and I'm a bit late to the party).

As someone who has had several failed attempts at in-person writing groups, I'd love to start utilizing MZP for that purpose. Selfishly, I'd love a place where I can get feedback on stuff I'm working on and get encouragement when I'm in a slump. However I also do really love talking about other's work in a group discussion environment and helping the writer brainstorm ways forward. The way things have progressed with me, I don't really have the time or interest to read or write VS just for fun anymore but I do really miss the sense of community and friendship that this place fostered.

I hope to make a re-appearance and join in on the MZP re-boot, even if it's just to drop by and talk nonsense with you all :)