Monday, April 5, 2010

Why the hell does *that* guy have an office?

Contract completed! And, second imdb credit acquired!

I have finished my job as the Script Coordinator for the CBS Pilot Blue Bloods, and (so far) it seems like I did it without any major fuck-ups. Which is all I can hope for, really.

To be honest, I think I did a good job. And I think that was because I was fast, since I knew my way around Final Draft so well. The writers would essentially hand me a printed script that they had scribbled all over in pencil, various things crossed out, and entire scenes written in the margins of the page, and my job was to first decipher their handwriting, and then enter it into the script in the correct format. So it's also a good thing that I know screenplay format like the back of my hand (thank you Screenwriter's Bible!). I'd quickly put it all in the script, print it out and hand it back to them, and we'd go through this again until they were satisfied. Then I'd release the pages to the crew in the correct revision colour. If there were minimal changes (less than 50% of the pages) then I'd just release pages and people would, for example, put the blue pages in the white script. However, if the changes were major, (more than 50% of the pages) then I'd release the script again as an entirely new colour. Most of the time it was an entirely new colour. There was effectively a brand new script released every three days.

I also dealt with clearances. CBS had hired a research company to double check names of people and organizations, and I had to stay on top of it all to make sure that we had cleared every name by the time we started shooting. We only picked the names of the major characters (Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg's characters) the Friday before the first day of principal photography (which was on Monday). You wouldn't believe how difficult it is to pick a name. It has to be a name that there's either no one in the country with that name, or more than 3 people. Because if there are two people, they might sue you, especially if your character is morally bankrupt.

I started out working in the production bullpen before the writers arrived in Toronto, and I basically was a glorified PA for a couple days. Then when the writers arrived, I found that I was too far away and asked if I could use the office of the Executive Producer, who wasn't arriving for a couple weeks. Thing was, that this was one of the nicest offices on the lot, with big windows and a large mahogany desk. So when the director came by (who directed most of the entire first season of Dexter), he took one look at me and then asked the assistants outside the door, "who the fuck is that guy?". And they said, "oh that's the script coordinator". But that didn't go over well because the director's office did not have a window. Later, I moved into another spare office to be close to the writers and once again every person that passed, including the director, asked "why the hell does that guy have an office?". I even had a couch. I was told that is not the normal script coordinator experience and I shouldn't expect that next time. It was good.

So it was a great experience, I got to work with two of the best writers in the business, witnessed their writing process first hand and made some great connections. Obviously it would be ideal to work on a show that continues shooting in Canada (it's unlikely that they'd bring me to New York as a mere Script Coordinator), but now I know I could handle the job on any show since this was a particularly busy and intense one. That's the drawback of being part of a Canadian crew on a US show - if the US show gets picked up, you probably don't. But as a writer, the experience and contacts are invaluable.

For now, with my new found freedom, I'm going to continue writing specs (I've finished my Fringe spec and am just tweaking it before handing it over to my agent).

Oh, and I'm going to the gym. Film catering is evil; one should not have cake after lunch every day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You said you worked in the "production bullpen" before the writers arrived. I have heard this term elsewhere and am completely at a loss as to what it means!

Please, tell me, what is a "production bullpen" in regard to a tv series?

Googling has just brought me to your blog1