Sunday, May 27, 2007

What Price... words?

But a few words it is! I have been struggling with my screenplay for the Screenplay module from quite some weeks now and haven't, until this weekend, felt at all happy with it. This is a two-tier upset:
  1. The assessment asks for a 40 minute pilot episode for a proposed TV series, but I've wanted to push to 60 - go for the BBC length.
  2. Dreaded writers block has been throttling me.
I think I have overcome both.

1. Length
Linda Thompson took us through one of her Casualty episodes, and the script was only 49 Minutes in length. So, I didn't bust a gut going for 60 minutes. I mean, the Doctor Who episode that was on Saturday night was barely over 50. I'm currently at 35 minutes, I've distinguished it into a Teaser and 4 Acts so far... so have between 5 and 10 more minutes for the final 5th Act. That would be fine except for the fact that I was originally looking to take up my tutor's suggestion of trying for a Teaser and then 6 Acts, which would have been fine for a 60 minute episode.

But, I have one month left to write, perfect, re-jig the pitch, write the blurbs for the other 7 episodes and write the 2,000 word essay on the creation and how I've used the taught skills - oiye! So, I've got to get the script finished earlier than later, which means sticking with a roughly 40 minute episode, pairing it back to a Teaser and 5 Acts, splitting the previous sections differently to accommodate that and then filling in all the acts with the left over minutes (between 5 and 10).

Whilst I agonize over how to do that - given I've trapped my audience in with the protagonist, have a timelock situation and follow him throughout his fairly short day - you should digest Linda Thompson's Act breakdown of her Casualty episode:

Act 1 - Prologue - 12 Minutes
Establishes the themes, the mirroring of the parent/child fighting between Tess and Sam, the DJ and Simon, and the wedding couple and their kids.

Turning Point = Ernie (bridegroom) is knocked unconscious during the fight at the wedding, leading to snowball of other injuries.

Act 2 - First Remedies - 5 Minutes (Cum: 17 Minutes)
The mirroring continues, but this time between Nina (paramedic) and Lydia's (bride) adventures. This sets up the major misunderstanding between Nina and Abs.

Turning Point = Simon (the DJ's son) is hit on the head whilst in the back of the DJ's van and has an epileptic fit.

Act 3 - Crucible of Truth - 11 Minutes (Cum: 28 Minutes)
Conflicts worsen as we head towards the midpoint.

Turning Points = Guppy feels boring and Eileen tells him life is too short; Ernie's head CT; Ruth gives Ernie's backstory about Ernie being sad at his wife's death and then going out on the town with lots of women (foreshadowing the development of an older folk syphilis story); Ernie has an itch he wants Abs to check out; Ernie tells Ruth (Ernie's daughter) she has to go (Lydia must do this with her son if her and Ernie are to ever work out their relationship).

Act 4 - The Battle - 5 Minutes (Cum: 33 Minutes)
Conflicts are out in the open, decisions have been made, and people are resolute, no matter how unhappy it makes them.

Turning Points = Abs diagnoses Ernie's syphilis, leading to Lydia walking out on him; Abs takes on Tess's shift and Tess goes off for a night on the town with the girls; Guppy is told to go enjoy himself.

Act 5 - Resolution - 16 Minutes (Cum: 49 Minutes)
Everything comes to a close... except of course for the hook!

Turning Points = Lydia gives up her son and reconciles with Ernie; Guppy lets his hair down; Abs and Nina split after the "Truth Game" (which is also the name of the episode); the DJ and his son reconcile also.

Hook = The end of each wrapped up episode should provide a hook that will give the audience something to consider and want to find out in the next week's episode = Guppy and Kelsie, being very drunk, kiss, giving the audience the expectation that a relationship will develop...

Apparently it doesn't, but the hook's there anyway.

For Writer's Block, I'll start a new post...

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