Monday, July 13, 2009

Part Four: Television

A TV show follows the same pre-production procedures as a film, with a Scriptwriter, Producer and Director working together to create a medium. After that, a series takes on a life of its very own.

The life of a television series is tenuous at best. A successful series takes a huge time commitment from a strong ensemble cast. Just one season requires 22 episodes of the show to be produced. Too many agendas can bring the whole thing apart…and that’s before the ratings arrive. Poorly rated series can quickly head to the pop culture dustbin long prior to finding their core audience.

1. Scripting
A television series begins with a single overarching idea. The Screenwriter may then script each individual episode. The “Script” may be as simple as “The One with the New Monkey” or may be expanded to include information on each character’s story arc, dialogue and action. It’s your story. Make it your own. Your scripting decisions may help the Director generate new casting ideas.

2. Casting
Casting a television show differs from a film in that the Actors must agree on a number of episodes in which they will appear. It breaks down like this:

Lead – The one or two characters that the series is built around
Ensemble Cast – A character that appears in every episode
Supporting Cast – A character that makes a one time appearance in a bit part
Regular – A character that appears in less than half of a season’s episodes
Guest Star – A high paying, high Presence or Credibility role in a single episode

3. Schedule
Once the leads and ensemble cast are selected, the Director has the option of proceeding to the scheduling of the season. Build the supporting cast on an episode by episode basis after that. Thus, each episode will have different production costs.

4. Shooting and Airing
But keep in mind that an episode is treated as if it is live. The week it is scheduled for shooting is the week that it airs. Don’t get to your shooting date without an ideal cast in place.

5. Renewing
If at season’s end your show is pulling decent rating your show may be given the option of renewing.

Over time, a successful series acquires juice. The actors involved will become more prominent in the public eye; the director more skilled; the audience more loyal.

Commercials can be an excellent source of quick income, but beyond the brevity of the projects there is a business side of producing adverts that can make for great game play.

1. The Basics of Commercials – Getting a Job
Unlike in Film or Television, the job of making commercials isn’t generated by an independent screenwriter with an idea. In the commercial game, there are hundreds of businesses with the agenda of advertising their product. It’s up to you to best represent them.

Take the biggest businesses as an example. Corka-Cola is a huge multi-national conglomerate that generates billions of dollars. Every year they’re going to flood the market with commercials and generate lots and lots of job opportunities for Tinseltown characters. So in these scenarios the very biggest companies contact the very biggest Producers with the opportunity to shoot their $10 million commercial scheduled for the First Week of the year.

If he agrees, it’s up to the Producer to prepare the very best commercial possible on time and on budget…or lose millions of dollars. If the commercial is a success, everyone involved gets a big paycheck with a small time commitment and the #1 company stays on top.

2. Making It Happen
Making commercials happen works in the same manner as film – a Producer hires a Director who in turn casts the Commercial. Look for the best personnel for the job.

3. The Leader Boards
Every industry has a #1. Keep up with the Top 50 Beer Companies, The Top 10 Insurance Providers and more on the Tinseltown Industry Leader Boards. Companies will rise and fall based on the success of their advertising. In the commercial game, do your best to move your employer up the charts and get recognized for your success in the annual Advertising Awards.

4. The Big Game
Every year The Big Game is played on the First Week of the year. This is the day when the leader boards are shaken up the most.

5. Or…
As a screenwriter, you have the option of introducing a new product into the industry. Your product goes head to head with the biggest businesses in the industry. You’ll write scripts for your product’s advertising and hire a producer to take care of the rest. Find a healthy level of success to match your enthusiasm. It’s all good income.

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