View Full Version : Creating a Series Based (in part) on Personal Experiences
02-06-2019, 11:28 AM
i've had this idea for a TV series for a couple of years, but i've been focused primarily on feature film. my one time manager/producer thought this series/pilot was a good idea, but i wasn't ready to go into it, because i really like writing big sci-fi features. action is where my heart is.
anywho, i'm thinking about the projects i'll complete in 2019 and this idea is still nagging at me. whenever i have told people about this idea, they've (audience) been very engaged and interested. (i realize that doesn't meant the series would be :( ) so, at least i have reason to believe the "content" is interesting enough to hold an audience's attention.
i have some questions about using personal experiences as a bases for the show, because it involves things i know about people who have been a part of my life. this would be a fictionalized narrative, but i've got some really good dirt. i mean you almost can't believe it. :)
i would only be using, expanding upon, and fictionalizing based on my own empirical knowledge. not digging into anyone's life. what can you use of someone else's person's life so that you don't have to be worried about someone thinking they can cash in or someone feeling a law suit is in order? I don't think this would happen.
if i write something i absolutely want to make sure i retain all rights and that whomever might be interested in the project would also be protected.
with that in mind, names would be changed. similar situations, but not the reality.
any thoughts? this question has always been the thing i get stuck on, but i think it might make a good female driven ensemble in the vein of Big Little Lies without the high income/affluence angle.
any thoughts? advice?
PE: just realized i probably placed this in the incorrect category. Will, maybe this should be moved to the TV writing section? sorry.
02-08-2019, 03:42 PM
Thoughts only. I'm doing something (maybe) dumb. i'm writing a sci fi TV show where my family are the characters.
Me: somewhat obnoxious and old skool step father
Partner: loving mother and partner, utterly supportive of her whole family
Child 1: very intelligent girl, mid teens, but inclined to attack verbally like a rabid dog at anyone and everyone
child 2: Fortnite (or whatever is most popular online) is his world. From time to time we pry him out of his little electronic shell and show him "the real world" 12yrs going on 36, should be a lawyer, will probably work in the produce department of a supermarket
My parents: living in a flat out back of the house, utterly riddled with dementia
My brother: an invalid (actually a sister)
Neighbour: lives for causing **** (made up character)
Child 2's friends: Aidsboy and Special needs (actual nicknames) (hearings aids under long hair and needing special things from minecraft so there you go, not remotely unPC:D )
etc and so on. I know (think) I'm going to have to alter the 4 family characters eventually before trying to sell this beast but right now, like real life, they work pretty damned well together but there are plenty of rough edges for conflict before the sci fi element arrives.
02-09-2019, 07:39 AM
I think on some level people know and understand that you, their writer friend/family member, will write about them in some way, shape or form. That doesn't mean it's any less shocking when they read something that sounds vaguely familiar. And because most writers have drawn from personal experiences since humans have been writing, I don't think there are really any legal issues unless you directly slander someone (then again, I'm not an attorney).
Right now I'm developing a pilot where one of my main characters is based on a best friend who was an addict, and has now since passed away. I changed the name and even the gender, but this character is definitely him in personality and in the internal struggles they face (though the plot she's driving is entirely fictional).
I honestly wouldn't spend much time worrying about this, if at all. If it's a good idea, just dive in and write a great script. Don't let this hold you back.
02-09-2019, 07:05 PM
thanks, docgonzo, i appreciate the help.
02-13-2019, 04:43 AM
i have some questions about using personal experiences as a bases (basis) for the show, because it involves things i know about people who have been a part of my life. this would be a fictionalized narrative, but i've got some really good dirt. i mean you almost can't believe it. :) On this you have no problem thus far.
i would only be using, expanding upon, and fictionalizing based on my own empirical knowledge. not digging into anyone's life. what can you use of someone else's person's (personal) life so that you don't have to be worried about someone thinking they can cash in or someone feeling a law suit (lawsuit) is in order? I don't think this would happen. To help avoid the legal “trouble” whereof you speak, here you would need a first-person narrator so that you describe only your experiences, only things that happened to you, that you saw, or that you heard, and not the perspective of any other characters (do you see what that limitation imposes?). This is good for prose, but perhaps not so good for a teleplay. For you to avoid more legal “trouble,” attorneys must be employed for their sage and experienced wisdom to answer your questions.
if i write something i absolutely want to make sure i retain all rights and that whomever (whoever) might be interested in the project would also be protected. Once again, here the solution is “Lawyers, guns, and money (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lP5Xv7QqXiM)” BEFORE the **** hits the fan.
Legal Resources For Writers: How To Find Legal Representation (https://www.sidebarsaturdays.com/2017/08/12/httpwp-mep7vddb-v2/)
California Lawyers for the Arts (https://www.calawyersforthearts.org/)
If it's a good idea, just dive in and write a great script. Don't let this hold you back.
This, and then get an attorney for this project. :)
02-13-2019, 12:57 PM
Thanks,TigerFang, both for the advice and the corrections. Clearly I did not read it before posting. My bad.
Yes, the first person perspective would be limiting.
Could it be “inspired by” if I changed enough of the story, I wonder? I’ve got some thinking to do?
03-18-2019, 10:58 PM
Lisa ... I skim-read most of the replies.
Here is the way that it works in the law. Someone can always hire a lawyer who will go down to the courthouse and file a suit against you. It is just a risk of doing anything that in any way allegedly has an impact on someone else.
But forget about that. Every writer uses things that he has heard or seen. People are often recognizable in a literary work. You are never going to be perfectly safe unless you write strictly about fantasy worlds where only nonhuman entities live — and even then someone could claim that you have committed slander. Stop worrying so much.
When you start writing about these people and events, you will — I promise — change a lot of things and add and delete things. In the end, you will only have strong hints as to who these people might be in real life.
Just use these people and events as springboards into a story. You will be all right.
I would really love to hear more about your idea. I might be able to offer some comments. I think you probably still have my email address. If not, just ask for it.
Oh, and forget about any "inspired by" stuff. You would just be crediting someone or something unnecessarily. And you could still be sued. You can always be sued. It does not matter how solid your legal basis is.
03-19-2019, 06:18 PM
thank you for your comments they are helpful and definitely put my mind at ease. i have the title and ideas, but the concept isn't fully developed.
thank you for your gracious offer to listen to the idea and i promise, when i'm ready i'll definitely take you up on your offer. i do have your contact information.
thanks for the encouragement,
Everything I write and probably everything most writers write are based on personal experiences, right?
I'm just saying that's what writers do. We listen to steal ideas for our work. And we rename our friend Mark - Zack and our friend Cindy - Mindy, and off we go...
04-26-2019, 08:08 AM
Aside from choosing script topics out of interest in said topics:
I have written two pet-centric scripts, and I'd only have done so after having had critters around the house for the past 35 years.
I've written a zomedy set in a grocery store, because I spent over 4 long years as a part-timer in one during my teens.
And on and on.
And then there're all the snippets of scenes and dialogue and circumstances that make it into my stuff. Many aren't part of the plot, but sure spice up the story. I've no doubt that my readers, when they come across these precious bits, say to themselves "Now that must have happened to the writer, in real life!"
I like to think zomedy is a zombie comedy and not just a typo.
04-26-2019, 10:39 AM
Funniest version of it, that I saw, was on one producer's website who'd produced a "zombedy" with the "b". :)
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