View Full Version : Notes from the network

04-17-2011, 07:09 AM
Thereís a tendency at some networks to micromanage to the point of really hurting what ends up being on the air. Itís very easy to blame the writers, but most people donít realize the process to get that one hour of television. The amount of cooks in the kitchen. And the amount of notes. There are hours of notes. Typically, on average an hour of notes on an outline from the studio, and an hour of notes from the network, and sometimes they contradict each other. And then an hour of notes on the cut. And so three hours of notes on each thing. So letís say that's six hours of going back and forth. Thatís average. When I found the process very helpful is when we sort of hit a wall, or when we got clear general notes -- not these nitpicky specifics that I think are destructive to the process.


How do these look like? Any examples?

04-17-2011, 11:18 AM
Notes are conference calls that usually last anywhere from half an hour to forty-five minutes.

ideally, one person from the studio or the network is leading the call, so there isn't this chorus of voices, but unfortunately that's not always the case.

They start with "overalls" - broad notes about the script, then move into "page notes" where you just go through the script and they point out beat, lines, or moments that they have thoughts about.

He's right in that the majority of the notes usually have to do with clarity. The studio and network always want things explained so that basically someone who's been cooking and eating dinner and flipping channels during the first half hour of your show can come in and not feel lost.

And yes, actors often bump on saying that stuff because it seems as obvious to them as it was to you, but there's an art to addressing notes so that the powers that be feel heard. Sometimes you just have to say the same thing differently. Sometimes you put the necessary exposition in the next draft so they can see the changes, then take it out before you shoot cause you know what you had there was going to work (but don't tell anybody I said that).

And often times they have very valid points.

As to creative freedom, I was on a network show, now canceled, where they clearly were trying to force us into a box that the concept of the show just did not support. All you can do is make the work the best it can be. They pay the bills so they get to call the shots. And the truth is they do know their brands.

I have found most studio and network execs to be smart people whose primary motivation is always to make the show succeed. We may differ at times on how to do that, but it's all just part of the process. TV is a medium that has many cooks in the kitchen so it's on you to find a way to get along with everybody.

05-02-2011, 07:22 AM
Thank you so much! :)

That was a great reply!