Friday, November 21, 2008

Writers Watching TV

Last night I went to my first Writer's Watching TV series, put on by the WGC. It was held at Camera on Queen W., in the screening room, and it was packed full. They screened two episodes of Flashpoint, the CTV/CBS production, and then afterwards had a discussion with the creators, Stephanie Morgenstern and Mark Ellis.

I really think I've been underestimating Canadian TV, because I admit I hadn't seen the show before and I thoroughly enjoyed both episodes. They've managed to infuse a procedural with a high degree of emotional weight and moral complexity. It was interesting to be in a room full of writers watching the show because the questions asked were much more focused than a regular crowd's would have been. I thought the event would be mostly aspiring writers, but in fact it seemed to be largely composed of established writers. Interesting then, that those that have already broken in find it educational to go and listen to their peers speak about the craft. Obviously then it's important for those of us not already part of the Guild, so I'm going to make an effort to go to these as often as I can.

Stephanie and Mark talked about switching from acting to writing and they solidified my intention to go and audition as an actor. I know being an actor helps you as a writer, but they brought up another point which was that when you are in auditions you are constantly reading scripts. Next to being a pro reader, that's probably the next best way to read the best and worst scripts out there.

On another note, I'm thinking about switching writing groups. My current group is composed entirely of screenwriters, and I'm the lone TV writer. As well, I'm not sure about the skill level or seriousness that my current group members possess. While some of them are more talented and more serious about becoming a pro than others, I feel like they are outweighed by the hobbyists. I need to find people that are as serious about it as I am - this is what I want to do for a career. And though screenwriting and TV writing are related, I think the two spheres use different skill sets and therefore I need to find a group that can help me grow as a TV writer. Saying all that, I may have found one. Through Ink Canada on Facebook (I knew it was good for something!) I've signed up with a few others to meet tomorrow and talk about possibly setting up a TV Writer's group. Exciting!


Jill said...

So glad you enjoyed WWTV and that it made you think about Canadian television in a new way. The idea behind the event is to give writers more opportunity to talk about craft. But the event really started taking off when I started inviting local writers to bring their work. Turns out we want to see our own shows and hear from our writers.

But what's amazing is really how the internet has created a writing community in Toronto -- across Canada with what Karen Walton's doing with Ink and also Denis McGrath's blog Dead Things on Sticks. Glad you're finding it helpful!

Trevor said...

Jill, thanks for organizing it! It's helpful to have those events and networks, to learn from experienced writers and have a dialogue with other writers of all levels. Being a TV writer (especially a new one) is a lonely business otherwise! And it's exciting that Toronto's writing community is growing through the net. It can only be good for our industry!