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The Writer's Circle / Structuring Episodes
« Last post by Matt Latham on Today at 15:28 »


Back in the day, MZP stuck to the principle of a screenplay being 55-60 pages in a four act structure with 13/22 episode seasons. We had some flexibility, but mainly we were emulating the network model.

In 2018 we now have streaming services that give a lot more creative control to the showrunner to have the flexibility to structure an episode in any way that they want. I think many high profile creators are flocking to streaming because of this.

So does this have a knock on effect on Virtual Series? Does this mean that there could be more acceptance in a deviance to your normal rule of structure? Many Netflix series appear to slow down the pacing of it's stories and take time to bring everything in, and not bother with any episodic resolution by the pilot's end. Netflix don't seem to be interested in trying to enforce any brand or style identity to its shows; which I think works for and against it. If you compare it to The USA Network - where every show feels like it has got a formula so rigid you can tell what network it's on without the logo.

So back to my original point and question: do you believe that we're in an environment where we should be encouraging more freedom in experimentation?
The Movie Zone / Re: Horror Movies
« Last post by Vaughn on Today at 13:13 »
Jessica Chastain is in negotiations to star in New Line’s “It” sequel as the adult version of Beverly, sources tell Variety.

Director Andy Muschietti is back to direct. Gary Dauberman will pen the script. Beverly was played by Sophia Lillis in the 2017 horror hit.

Sources stress that negotiations are early and that the script is still being worked on, but both sides have officially begun discussing her coming on to the project. Bill Skarsgard is also expected to return as Pennywise. The sequel will bow on Sept. 6, 2019, with production expected to start this summer.

Chastain has been linked to the sequel for some time following its monster opening weekend, as the Muschiettis mentioned her in an interview with Variety as a top choice to play adult Beverly in the sequel. Rumors even surfaced of a post-credits scene in which Chastain could have made a cameo, though that never came to fruition.

Another layer to the rumors: Chastain has worked with Muschietti before, having starred in his first studio hit, “Mama.”

This was never in doubt
The Writer's Circle / Re: Showrunners 101 Class
« Last post by Vaughn on Today at 11:42 »
Along with all the other things on Lee's To Do List :D
The Writer's Circle / Re: Showrunners 101 Class
« Last post by Lee A. Chrimes on Today at 11:38 »
Heck yes, we will have a shiny new version of this in due course.
The Writer's Circle / Re: Showrunners 101 Class
« Last post by Vaughn on Today at 08:50 »
There you, I've added them all above. I made a couple of small adjustments, and fixed the links

Keep in mind, again, that this was all written 13 years ago, and the VS landscape has changed since then
The Writer's Circle / Re: Showrunners 101 Class
« Last post by Vaughn on Today at 08:03 »
My guess about what's in them:

"DVDs? Never gonna catch on."

"Mark my words, everyone is gonna have a Myspace Page by 2013. We can't escape Tom and his evil overlord-y ways!"

The thing that stands out currently is Lee describing the structure of a 22 episode season

Ahh 22 episode seasons. Remember those?

*cries at even attempting 10 episode season*
The Writer's Circle / Re: Showrunners 101 Class
« Last post by Vaughn on Today at 08:00 »
(originally posted by wzychee)

The storyboards around the MZP shows have gotten considerably longer as time has gone on. Back when there was only Lee, Ian, and myself working on things, the storyboards were maybe a sentence or two for each act because we all had a very vivid idea of what was going to happen anyway, it was just to keep pace.

Now, however, with newer writers who might not be as familiar with things as the showrunners themselves, they're getting a tad bit more elongated. I know that I've had a few storyboards that have turned out to be well over two pages, including a few lines that I wanted included.

If you're storyboarding it for yourself to write, however, you may not need such a detailed diagram to work by. I'm writing an episode of Angel right now that I didn't storyboard at all because a) it gives me the freedom to be able to change things without a second's thought and b) it's the kind of episode that I'm not even perfectly sure where it's going to end right now.

I've also started including a few key notes with my storyboards so the writers are perfectly aware of the arcs that need to stand out. I may try to find a storyboard so you'll have a few more to go by.

Here's the storyboard for 7X01 "Past Sins" of Angel. If you've read the episode, you'll see how much it changed by the time that I actually wrote it...decided to drop the whole 'going back into the Angel's past bit' and several other things, but this is basically what we go by on Angel. Of course, we also typically give ourselves room to improvise because, honestly, that's where some of our best moments come from.


We find Angel standing in the corner of a shadow laden room, staring lifelessly out the window into the daylight. We watch him for several moments, pushing in on him until we’re standing right behind him as we slowly work around his left side until we’re standing beside him to reveal a hideous demon hanging down from the ceiling, whispering into his ear.

A few moments later, Whistler enters with the line, ‘It’s kind of annoying, isn’t it?’ He goes on to start explaining to Angel that there’s only one way to make it stop and, in true Whistler style, tells him to stop being so selfish and do his damn job, but goes on further to start talking about Connor’s death. When he does, Angel comes unglued and immediately takes him by the throat, but Whistler only laughs, saying that’s good and he’ll need that rage.

As he begins getting into the jist of things, however, he’s interrupted by Wes and Illyria talking, bleeding over into the scene, snapping us into reality to find Angel sitting in the corner of a room in the UTF and we learn that he’s been that way all summer.

We cut in at the end of a bloody battle with Spike and Sonia killing off the last of their enemies in the middle of a pile of demon bodies, both apparently enjoying themselves.

Act One

Spike and Sonia returns to the UTF base, both covered in blood and singing their own praises, to find an apathetic Wes, complaining of Spike’s methods. He gets the normal ‘hoorah’ for his efforts as we follow Sonia into the bathroom to a waiting pill bottle. Spike asks if ‘the boys’ are almost finished with the refurbishing.

Angel is forced to listen to Whistler as he takes him on a journey of important dates of his life. He is shown his siring and complains that he was there and knows history only for Whistler to get somewhat philosophical and tells him that to know the past is understand the future, leaving them to move on.

Back at W&H, Lindsey and Holland congregate over Angel’s condition. Lindsey seems to be more like him old self than ever, especially in regards to Angel. He asks why they’ve let the fang gang alone all summer when they could have easily taken them out, but Manners reminds him that it’s a necessary precaution to keep Angel in his current state…now more than ever.

Act Two

We pick back up on Angel’s past life, his first kill – his father. Whistler continues on with his cryptic rhetoric, quizzing Angel about why he thought he did this and that, Angel maintaining that he was a demon, but Whistler keeps pushing for a deeper answer.

Wes excuses himself from a suspicious Illyria, who follows him. Spike and Sonia take note, Sonia asking if they should warn Wes, but Spike asks where the fun would be in that. We find Wes in an abandoned warehouse, meeting with some shady looking men, who are talking quietly and make a transaction while Illyria basically stalks him.

Spike and Sonia receive a call for help and Spike is quick to suggest moving out. Sonia offers that they could call some of her boys from the UTF in or to wait for Wes to come back, but Spike says there’s no time, that people could die…and besides, it wouldn’t be nearly as heroic.

They get to their location to find an entire hoard of demons that are preparing a ritual sacrifice and are looming on a city wide invasion to ‘retake their world,’ leaving Spike asking Sonia if she brought her cell phone, but she says he didn’t give her time.

Act Three

As Spike and Sonia try to back out of the battle in favor of backup, they’re discovered as being there and are forced into fighting for their lives, doing so valiantly, but against overwhelming odds. In the rafters of the building, we see a stoic Lindsey, watching the fight unfold, sighing deeply that he can’t take part in the fight. We cut from the action of the fight to more action with Angel and Whistler.

We find Angelus and Darla in the midst of an onslaught of villagers, the clichéd pitch forks and torches and flash back to what they had done, killing the whole of a plantation of an aristocratic family, its workers, and peasants. Whistler works his way through the story to start explaining choices, which Angel still defends as the demon until Whistler takes him to the day that he allowed Dru and Darla to massacre the W&H team of lawyers.

Angel has no retort for this as Whistler gives the ‘you can’t fight evil with evil speech’ and goes even further into the truth of choices, taking Angel to watch Nina as she unknowingly betrayed Connor.

We find Spike and Sonia are held captive by the demon hoard and the leader speaks of using a vampire with a soul as a sacrifice and it will surely please their god. We black out from the scene of imminent doom.

Act Four

Just as the demon leader is about to execute Spike and Sonia, Wesley busts in with the cavalry. He, Illyria, and the whole of the UTF work to rescue their comrades and to destroy the demons with Lindsey watching all the while.

When asked how he knew where they were, Wesley reveals that he had the phone tapped months ago to try and keep up with Spike’s eagerness to fight. Illyria confronts Wes about the warehouse and he justifies his actions by saying that he was looking for a way to get Angel out of his state, but didn’t want to get everyone’s hopes up again. When she leaves, however, we get a glimpse at the text that shows he’s trying to get Fred back.

The gang hauls Angel out of the base in a wheelchair and all of them seem excited about where they’re going when they end up back at a fully restored Hyperion. Spike asks the UTF boys if it’s all in place and they outline the new, fortified design of the hotel.

They wheel Angel in, talking that they hope the familiarity of things will help to break him out of it, but we go back inside to find him with Whistler, still explaining the art of making choices and that a massive one is approaching for Angel to make.

Key Notes:

We’re going to play heavily on the title of Past Sins with everyone feeling the burden of being without Angel and each trying, even too hard, to fulfill their duties and do their part for the team. While it sounds good in theory, it causes problems and a great deal of friction for them.

- Spike is trying desperately to fill the role of the champion and leader of the group, often leading to quarrels with Wesley and getting himself into more trouble than he can handle. He’s also reeling, privately of course, from Skye’s departure.

- Sonia is obviously fighting herself over losing Taylor and Connor so she’s putting on a show for the others to think that she’s okay and playing ‘renegade’ with Spike.

- Wes is the de jure leader of both the UTF and the fang gang, but finds it more of a hassle to deal with Spike’s impatience without Angel around. He’s also been secretly searching for a way to bring Fred back.

- Illyria is becoming more comfortable being Fred as we find her in bed with Wesley, all Freded out, but also harbors a great deal of guilt with her new feelings and intimacy with Wes.

Also, a few pertinent flashbacks for each character would be really great if you can find a way to work them in. Spike, looking back, thinking that he failed in saving the day in 6X22 and losing Skye, Sonia losing Taylor and Connor, etc.

to give you an idea of how this breaks down, it's generally:

Teaser - short scene to set up the episode. maybe a mini-cliffhanger or just a moment of humour.

Act One - lay out framework for story. get characters to where they need to be and start with the info. good place to start misidrecting people. end with a little bit of drama, but always on a note that pushes the story forward a bit.

Act Two - start getting into more action as the cast execute the plans from Act One and delve further into the story. This is where you can throw in a complication or two. The act break should add a little more drama, setting up...

Act Three - action. the characters know what to do and go about doing it, but this should always end on a good cliffhanger moment.

Act Four - the resolution. solve the problem from the Act III cliffhanger, give the characters a few moments to catch their breath, and then either close it off (standalone) or throw another twist at them (for a story arc episode).
The Writer's Circle / Re: Showrunners 101 Class
« Last post by Vaughn on Today at 07:59 »
The Beauty of Being Virtual

- Changes of cast come without contractual obligations.

- Extra detail in stage direction to allow the audience to 'see' what you're describing.

- Delays aren't going to leave you cancelled, likewise revised and updated versions of old episodes can be released to improve the series as a whole.
The Writer's Circle / Re: Showrunners 101 Class
« Last post by Vaughn on Today at 07:58 »
The Future

Foreshadowing - set up events in one season that will come to fruition in later episodes.

Staff changes - if there are staff you have had problems with (lateness, lack of participation, sloppily written episodes) then now's your chance to drop the dead weight. Promote writers to producers if they've impressed you, and consider giving your first season newbies some more responsibility if they've handled themselves. Always keep an eye out for new talent as well!

Early S2 planning - as S1 progresses you'll start to see how your characters are growing and following their story arcs, so you can start coming up with ideas for them to develop in S2 and beyond. Always be logical - a drastic change in personality must always have a solid reason to do so!

Unanswered questions - did you end on a cliffhanger? How will you resolve it? What questions remain after the curtain goes down on S1, and how will you address these next season?
The Writer's Circle / Re: Showrunners 101 Class
« Last post by Vaughn on Today at 07:58 »

With the episodes written, proofed and checked, the only thing that remains is to air them, either once a week, once every two weeks, once a month, or on an unscheduled basis.

Pay special attention to audience feedback. Don't feel like you have to respond to everything that's posted about your show, but try to answer any questions or queries people may have about the latest episode.

Don't be afraid to pull an episode if someobody points out a glaring mistake in it - just re-release the edited version as soon as possible!

Not everyone is going to like your show. Be prepared for bad reviews and don't feel like you have to defend your show to every flamer who throws in a 'ur the sux noob!' at you...

Listen to what the fans have to say. Give them what they need, not what they want - if there's opposition to a particular character, find out why! If you know there are developments in store that will change their mind then stick to your guns, but always be open to altering your plans a little if what you're doing is putting your audience off!
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