Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Transporter Writers' Room

I've had the pleasure of being able to sit in the Transporter writers' room and see the writers break story over the past week. I'd never been in a proper writers' room before, so it was quite interesting to watch the Writers (Joseph Mallozzi, Paul Mullie, Alexander Ruemelin, Rob Cooper and Carl Binder) work their magic. By "magic" I mean efficient story breaking, as well as a massive amount of poo poo and penis jokes.

The process is quite simple. One at a time, the writers will pitch story ideas, and try to get the others excited about the idea. They may reject the ideas outright, or just not be crazy enough about it and move on. Eventually, ideally, one of the ideas hits a note and the room really responds to it, and starts riffing on it. Other writers say "yeah that's great, and how about then the genetically enhanced monkey genius turns on the time travel device and sends Frank back to the age of the dinosaurs" (that is actually the plot of the pilot, so I'm sorry for letting that one out of the bag). Once they find an idea they really like they write it down on the whiteboard, and start hammering out the acts, beat by beat. In Transporter's case, we have four acts (though apparently they're just for us because all the networks will ignore our act breaks), so a person (normally the writer that will end up writing the episode) stands up and writes down the beats of each act as the writers' room develops it. And they do that for each episode. Then one of the writers goes off to write the first draft.

They had already broken and started writing 7 of the scripts before I ever started on the show, so I didn't get to see those get broken. Since there will be 12 episodes in the season they have 5 more to break. In the past week they broke two of those episodes, which Carl and Alex will now go off to write.

In other news, the production company that optioned my pilot Merely Mortal is going to start pitching it to broadcasters in a couple weeks, and will be taking it to the Banff TV Festival next month! For those of you that don't know, Banff is one of the biggest and most influential TV festivals/conferences in Canada, so this is very exciting. And now I'm starting to think of ideas for episode #2 and #3, and to write treatments for those episodes, so they can show them to those prospective networks. So the next couple months should be really interesting!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

First optioned script!

I have reached another important point in my writing career - I have optioned my first script!

That is, it's my first option, but it's also my first pilot. Merely Mortal is a one-hour comedy/action/drama. It's still in the very early stages (I just signed the option agreement at the end of last week), so I'm not going to name the production company just yet, but it is an established Canadian production company, with quite a few feature film and TV series on the air.

Of course, that's great but it's not the end of the grind. An option basically gives the production company the "option" to produce it within a set amount of time. In my case they have 1 year, but they can renew the option for several years after that. Now the production company will go to networks and attempt to pitch it to them. If the Networks want it, then we can go forward with development. If not, then... not. And that's really all I know about the process right now. So this should be interesting! I have heard that they are thinking of pitching it in the US, which is pretty exciting.

This past weekend I also finished my new pilot, Garrotte, which is a western with a twist. I'm really excited about it and the people that have read it really seem to like it. I'm rewriting it now but am planning on sending it out to my agent and then production companies within a week or two.

As for my job on the Transporter, it's going quite well! I'm really enjoying reading the scripts and working with everyone here. What's not to like? The show has fast cars, guns, naked girls and ... what was I talking about?