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Old 01-07-2008, 12:59 AM   #31
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Default Re: Disagreement with reps on a note -- need your opinions

Originally Posted by Ire View Post
If it was a screenplay, I'd be more inclined to support everyone that said stick up for your creative instincts. But since this is a matter of an intro for an existing series with an existing format, I can't fully agree with that reasoning. F-ck it if it means a sale. To my knowledge, spec writers for TV series are not the source for re-vamping the format of a series.

If it is a matter of a sale and it's hinging on the opening, f-ck it, you're not the showrunner, you're not the exec producer. You're a writer with a story, not just an opening. Your opening is only part of your story which if it's produced, might set you apart in a collaborative medium. If you want to be incorrigible regarding a spec episode for a established TV show, go ahead. Good luck.
Ire, I think you're misunderstanding. This is Ele's original one-hour pilot spec. His reps are merely stating that nearly all television shows begin with the main character (which they don't - as evidenced in this thread) and so his shouldn't break form.

On a somewhat related note - as far as I know, existing shows don't even buy spec episodes from outside writers. Matter of fact, if you want a staff writing position on a show, you don't even write a spec for that show, you impress them with specs of other similar shows.


"I've got vision up the butt, so just go with it!" - Dewey Finn, School of Rock
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Old 01-07-2008, 11:09 AM   #32
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Default Re: Disagreement with reps on a note -- need your opinions

Originally Posted by elephant1978 View Post
It won't work as a simple swap, as they've suggested. If I were to do this it would require some new transitions. The east coast scene would then have to essentially be a flashback, which I think feels weird and forced. I'll basically have to rewrite other material that they already like.

The thing is, they love the first ten pages. However, they also had me trim them down. So if they ask me to swap this thing and I have to write new material to fit it in, I'll have to lengthen these ten pages. It's difficult because it's all setup info that has to happen there. And I've cut it down to the bare essentials.

I almost feel like they need to look at this situation and realize that they can't have it all. The math just doesn't work out. And that's what's bothering me about this whole thing. They don't seem to understand that moving this one scene will require the other things they liked to change. There's a bit of limited thinking, IMO. And that's what is making this so hard.

I'm sure they haven't even considered the math.

As usual they're looking to psychically discern possible concerns buyers may have about the script. They want to sell the pilot first.

And they may be thinking you're just a writer too in love with your darlings.
Disavow them of this idea.

Write a memo with bullet points explaining the math and the logic as to why their suggested change would negatively impact later episodes and everything else they like about the pilot.

Overwhelm them with pure unemotional logic, see what happens.

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Old 01-07-2008, 12:01 PM   #33
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Default Re: Disagreement with reps on a note -- need your opinions

I'd like to add this:

Make the change and try to make it work.

There will be three possible outcomes:

1- It will not work.
In that case let them read it and they will come to their sense. And you have shown them you are a writer that can take notes.

2- It will work.
And you may like it. And you have shown them you are a writer that can take notes.

3- You honestly can't decide which one is better.
In this case, do not show them the new draft, keep the one you want. But tell them that you tried and you were not happy with the results. And you have shown them you are a writer that can take notes.

In any case, you would have grown as a writer.
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Old 01-07-2008, 12:04 PM   #34
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Default Re: Disagreement with reps on a note -- need your opinions

ele, is this supporting character going to be a major part of the series, or is he/she a one-off? I only ask because because I've recently dealt with this same issue, not as the writer, but as the critic. The original pilot started out with a certain character, and it was a pretty big scene. Then the next scene introduced the supposed main character, but it wasn't nearly as big or interesting as the opening scene. My first instinct (one that was hard to shake for the rest of the teleplay) was that this supporting character was actually the main character. It didn't help that the supporting character had some of the best lines and competed for air time throughout.

I'd never suggest that you must always start with your main character. In fact, many shows have cold opening that never show or mention the main character(s). I would, however, suggest that you might be in love with your little darlings. I see nothing wrong with experimenting with a different opening or two. Why does it start in the East Coast? 'Cause it's necessary, or 'cause that's the way it is and you don't wanna change it? Your manager may be completely wrong, but you won't be sure unless you've explored all the options. You might just find a new little darling to fall in love with.
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Old 01-07-2008, 12:26 PM   #35
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Default Re: Disagreement with reps on a note -- need your opinions

This supporting character is one of the 5 regulars on the show. It's a scene just short of 2 pages and then we move on to the main character, who is clearly the center of attention. He's in 75% of the script. Maybe more. I would be pretty surprised if anybody would mistake the supporting character for the lead just because I showed him first.

I'm not going to lie. I do love the opening. I'm very proud of what I did with it. But the reason I wrote it in the first place is because of the logistics involved. You have a character on one side of the country who has to go west and get involved with the main character. There was a reason for it. The fact that I wrote it in a way that I love came second.

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Old 01-07-2008, 12:56 PM   #36
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Default Re: Disagreement with reps on a note -- need your opinions

This doesn't sound like an opening that sets up a problem for main character to solve -- like most detective stories or even House. And I wonder about putting too much emphasis on your supporting character.

Obviously though, none of us can offer an informed opinion. Without reading it's all pretty worthless.

My best advice would be to get a read from a writer, or two, that you trust. They'll be able to give you an informed opinion without the attachment. Your agent and manager may be right on about the note, but not be expressing the real problem with the scene.
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Old 01-07-2008, 01:59 PM   #37
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Default Re: Disagreement with reps on a note -- need your opinions


It sounds like you already have your mind made up.

If it were me, I'd do as someone said and first try to make the note work in my own way before I went to war over it.

You may also consider that your manager could be thinking about attachments. Stars love to be the focus and all want a killer intro, right?

Maybe your manager thinks it will make a more attractive read for actors if they can see that they are the "star" from page one.

I'm sure you can find an example of a pilot episode that didn't open on the main character, but that doesn't make this battle right in my mind.

If you really truly respect this manager and are happy to be working with him/her...then I think you should at least TRY to make the note work.

My 2 cents, either way good luck.

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Old 01-07-2008, 02:32 PM   #38
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Default Re: Disagreement with reps on a note -- need your opinions


Thank you. Yep, my bad. Posting under the influence of Ambien.

And yes, the most typical scenario is the spec is not for that series. My misunderstanding/misinterpreting/misconstruing went a long ways toward my mis-reply. I thought there possibly was a loophole through which Ele had gotten his script submitted to the showrunner/producer and there was the issue of the opening. It made less sense to me that Ele was resistant as far as the opening scene.


Time to take another pill before I reply.
#writinginaStarbucks #re-thinkingmyexistence #notanotherweaklogline #thinkingwhatwouldWilldo
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Old 01-07-2008, 03:20 PM   #39
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Default Re: Disagreement with reps on a note -- need your opinions

Just for the record. I have given this note serious thought and tried to see how I could implement it. I didn't physically change the words on the page, but from what I've figured, it won't work moving the scene later.

However, it did strike me that I could add a whole new scene before this opening. A short little intro with the main character. That way this tricky time shift stuff won't be affected. It will add a bit of length, but it could work.

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Old 01-07-2008, 04:54 PM   #40
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Default Re: Disagreement with reps on a note -- need your opinions

Try this:

-Open with the MAIN character on the plane/train/car/bus heading West.

-The original open with the SUPPORTING character is now a FLASHBACK.

-Cut back and forth between the two.

-During the flashback you show the supporting character leaving a message for the main character to come out West and help. Or, maybe it is someone else who contacts the main character and asks for his help without the supporting character knowing?

You have now killed two birds with one stone by giving BOTH characters equal screen time, established the conflict/obstacle and showing the stakes -- The supporting character needs the main character's help to resolve it.

Would this work?
Positive outcomes. Only.
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