Writing Your Way Up

The hierarchy of a TV show staff is a many-layered thing.  Specifically, a TV writing staff is a confusing place where half the people in the “room” are called producers.  This whole system was confusing to me until a few weeks ago when one of our guest speakers explained it in depth.

A few terms to know:
“the room” refers to the writers room.  It is often an actual room with a conference table and white boards and or cork boards on the walls where the writers will sit together and figure out the story of a TV show.  Sometimes there are ping pong tables.  Or at least, that’s what I hear.
“Staffed” is to be working in the room.  All the positions I’m going to list are staff positions except for the last two.

Rolling credits (shown in the list of names under the first few scenes of a TV show):
Showrunner–This one is actually not listed as “Showrunner”, but as “Executive Producer”.  This is the one in charge of everything.  He or she is the person to whom everyone is asking questions of how the show is going to look, feel, sound, be written, and everything else under the sun.  Often, this is also the person who created the show.
Executive Producer–Sometimes also referred to as the “EP”, there will often be more than one of these, and they are the second in command.  These guys are in charge of the room while the Showrunner is busy with other things.
Co-Executive Producer–“Co-EP”.  Similar to the EP in a lot of ways, but with slightly less pay.
Supervising Producer
Consulting Producer–This is sometimes someone who was brought in for their knowledge on a particular subject.  A doctor on a medical show, a commander on a military show, ect.
Producer–All types of producers can be involved in varying degrees in aspects of the show besides writing.
Co-Producer

End Titles Credits:
Executive Story Editor
Story Editor
Staff Writer–Credited as “Writer” in the end credits.  Not be be confused with “Written by” in the opening credits, given to whoever wrote the specific episode that is being shown.
Script Coordinator–This person is not directly involved in Writing the show, but getting the scripts from the writers to the directors, producers, actors, and other technicians who will turn it into a full TV show.

These guys, and their friends below are not members of the Writers Guild and are therefore not protected by mandatory minimums like the more senior positions are.  There is a significant pay difference between the Script Coordinator and a Staff Writer.  Also, while there is only one Script Coordinator, there can be multiples of all the others above.

Writer’s Assistant–The coveted job among low level people.  This person is pretty much the note-taker for the room.  They listen to the discussion and take notes on what’s being decided.
Writer’s PA–The guinea pig for the office, the one getting coffee and lunch orders.  Not all shows have them, sometimes the Writer’s Assistant will take on these tasks.
Writer’s Intern–Again, not a position every show has, but some shows will have an intern available to do research.  This is especially pertinent if it’s a historical show because they want to be accurate whenever possible.

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Of course, all this should be taken with a grain of salt.  This list is nothing official, and is only something that was discussed in the class I’m taking.  Titles and positions will vary with different shows, networks, showrunners, and studios.

While there is a loose system, this is not like the corporate ladder.  The most significant difference here is that if a writer/creator is talented enough they can jump the hierarchy.  A new writer who pitches a show and gets green-lit can jump from zero to Co-EP with the push of a button.

What’s the organizational structure in the job that you’re hoping get?

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This Has Been: July 2013 Edition

July

It’s amazing to me how quickly this month passed, but I know that it only passed so fast because I was drowning in school work most of the time.  Because I planned ahead things were pretty calm on the blogging front, but a few favorite things from this month:

Other things from this month?  I spent the vast majority of my time either at school or working on school related projects.  Or attending networking events that my instructors suggested.  Or hanging out with my classmates.  Or seeing old classmates that have since graduated.  Lots of networking.  Lots of creative work.  And while it was a lot to do, I’m so glad for the opportunity.

Thankfully none of those things are boring.  Hanging out with classmates on the 4th, seeing fireworks and going to In and Out.  Come to think of it, a lot of this month was In and Out.  A murder mystery party that recently graduated friends put on complete with fake identities and fancy dress.  A day at Comic Con alternating between fangirling and attempts to network.

Of note, two weeks in a row I left and electronic device with a specific friend of mine (my phone plugged into her car, my charger at her hotel).  I think I’m done with that pattern, but my phone has been giving me problems since Comic Con.  I think the convention center ate it’s soul.  Calling my mother has been on the to do list for almost a week, but whenever I start to my phone dies or it’s too late.  It will happen this week mom, promise!

Writing About Writing (week of July 22)

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They say if you want to be good at something you need to practice every day.  I started Writing About Writing as a way of keeping myself accountable for how much I was writing outside of my school work.  Everything counts.  Emails, journals, scripts, blogging, even excessive tweeting.
Over time this space has become a way of keeping track of weekly goals in other areas of my life as well as writing.  A statement of what I’ve done, and what I want to do.  A weekly record of my successes and failures, for better or for worse.

Monday: journal (1)
Tuesday: school – game deck
Wednesday: journal (2)
school – game deck
blog – letters
Thursday: journal (1)
school – IP bible editing
Friday: journal (2)
Saturday: nothing
Sunday: journal (2)
blog – this post

Last week was mostly about school work and more school work.  The class had a few tours earlier in the week and were able to do a soft pitch of our show/game/whatever.  It was good to be able to give it a try as that will be our entire existence this week.  I’m happy with the amount of journaling I did this week, and I happily got slowly return to my quiet times.  Yay!

My goal for this week is to give specialized pitches to each of the companies we’re pitching to.  I want to be sure to focus on an aspect of my IP that falls in line with what the company typically works on.  I think this will help me go in with my best possible option.

Anything I get to do beyond that is a bonus.  I’m hoping that part of that bonus will include a few blog posts, but we’ll see how that goes.  It might be a bit of a sparse week for the blog, but next week I should be back in full force.  In fact, I have a very long idea list for next week that I’m excited to dive into.

What I’m Reading: March to May

Since one of my goals for the year is to read 26 books (that’s one book every two weeks for those of you playing along at home), I thought it might be fun to share some of the books I’m reading and liking with the internet.

This is round three, and I’m at 20 books so far for the year.  I feel like I’m slowing down, so maybe my goal of 26 wasn’t too far off.  The program I’m in right now is kicking my ass so I haven’t been able to read as much as I would have liked.  In fact, I had hoped to be done with at least one more book before this post went live.  Alas, it was not to be.

In the meantime (sort of) since I last did a book review round up I’ve joined Goodreads, a site that helps keep track of books that I’ve read and what I’d like to read.  Now if only that would sync to the public library and they would just send me stuff.  Like a Netflix for books.  That would be awesome.

Goodreads makes it really easy for me to make up this post because I review books as I read them and then to make this post I simply copy/paste the reviews into WordPress.  If you’re on Goodreads, let’s be friends.  You’ll also be able to see what books I’m currently reading (usually about three), and leave comments.

Fed Up with Lunch by Sarah Wu
I remember following Mrs. Q when she was blogging back in 2010. I was a regular reader all through the project, but got a little lost afterwards. I knew there was a book and I’d been meaning to read it, but never got a chance until I saw it on sale at my local bookstore. A really fun read, and a very insightful book about everything that’s not quite right with school lunches.

Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty
I have adored the Jessica Darling Series for a long time, but somehow only just got around to reading this fourth in the series. I’m planning on reading Perfect Fifths soon too and I’m so excited. While the other books took place over years, this one is the thoughts and musings of Jess from only one week, the week the infamous Marcus Flutie has given her to think about weather or not she wants to marry him. As a life-long shipper and a big fan of Marcus, I had to quell my excitement over this development, somehow knowing it could never be that easy. This book is full of references and mentions of the previous books, but also brings in new characters and surprising stories that did nothing short of make my heart exceedingly happy. So exceedingly happy.

Maus by Art Spiegelman
Maus is the fantastically told, true story of a jew and his family in Poland during the rise of the 3rd Reich. Woven in between horrors, the narrator tells about dealing with his elderly father (the protagonist in the WWII story). Both stories are ripe with depth and honesty. The artist uses personified animals to show the different races and sects of the characters. I was moved by this telling of the Holocaust like i had never seen it before. Highly recommend to anyone interested in WWII/Holocaust stories or fantastically rendered characters.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
I have been casually interested in this story for years, always remembering in the back of my mind the story of a young man who died in Alaska. I don’t know how i came upon this when I was younger, as Chris died before I was old enough to understand what death was, but regardless I am glad to have stumbled upon this book. I think Chis was brave, perhaps a bit under prepared, but nevertheless a strong character and someone I would have been proud to know. His story is told well in these pages, with a heartfelt honesty that is both refreshing and shockingly simple. Well done. I hope that Chris’ story will continue to be an inspiration as well as a cautionary tale.

Writing Movies for Fun and Profit by Robert B. Grant & Thomas Lennon
This is not my usual reading material. For one thing I’m much more interested in TV then movies. I’ll admit my naivety, but most movie-specific guides turn me off from the get-go. To add onto that, I’m not really interested in making the “boat-loads of cash” they keep talking about in this book..

My Life Without God by William J. Murray
I finished reading this book in two days. There are a few factors in how quickly I managed to get through it. For one thing it’s good. The writing is easy to follow and I continually want to know what happens next, though… Another reason I read it so quickly because i kept waiting for the turnaround. To have a life without God implys that there was also one with God. I kept wanting the author to find God already so he could stop making mistakes. I kept thinking ‘oh, it’ll be in the next chapter…or the next one’ it’s literally the last chapter and I wish that he had gone more into how his life was changed after. The last and least of the reasons I read this book so quickly: no internet at my new apartment.

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Oh, that was six!  For some reason I thought there were only five since last update.  6!  Awesome!  Have you read any of these?  What did you think?  Any recommendations for me?

Previous Book Review Roundups:
January to March
March to May

What I Wish I Had Time For

emmys

Dear Emmy’s.
I’m so excited about your nominations.  I only got to look at them for a few minutes, but I’m excited to find out who wins.  Don’t get me wrong, there were a few snubs, but overall I think it’s going to be a good awards night.
See you in September,
Rachel

Dear Comic Con,
I went to you.  Just for Friday.  And you were both overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time.  There was so much happening on the floor that I started to block it all out.  But I loved the panels I got to go to and I and still loving the footage of all the things in Hall H and Ballroom 20.  I can’t wait to go back.
Much Love,
Rachel

Dear Second Post on Dollhouse,
Will you please write yourself?  Just take the notes I took when I finished the series and write yo… hey, come back.
Dangit,
Rachel

Dear Newsroom,
I love you.  In my crazy week of insanity I still make time for you.  And you are gearing up for a fantastic second season.  I can’t wait to see what you have in store for Maggie and Jim, and Mac and Will, and Slone and Don.  Yes, I’m a shipper, so sue me.  No, Will, don’t actually sue me.  Please.
Love, love, love,
Rachel

Writing About Writing (week of July 15)

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They say if you want to be good at something you need to practice every day.  I started Writing About Writing as a way of keeping myself accountable for how much I was writing outside of my school work.  Everything counts.  Emails, journals, scripts, blogging, even excessive tweeting.
Over time this space has become a way of keeping track of weekly goals in other areas of my life as well as writing.  A statement of what I’ve done, and what I want to do.  A weekly record of my successes and failures, for better or for worse.

Monday: journal (2)
blog – WAW
school – treatment #2
Tuesday: journal (2)
blog – Bars and Tone
Wednesday: blog – not ready
school – IP bible edits
Thursday: journal (1)
Friday: nothing
Saturday: journal (1/2)
Sunday: journal (2)
blog – this post

Last week things are finally started to normalize, and then life got crazy again.  On Tuesday a cable guy came and connected my internet connection.  I was so excited I nearly cried.  Then I spent nearly all my free time working on my next school project with was due on Thursday instead of Friday… because on Friday we went to Comic Con!

And that’s the root of all the crazy from last week.  Comic Con moved up a deadline, took up my entire Friday (not that I mind), and then I accidentally left my phone charger in my friends hotel.  So I’ve been sans-phone for about two days now.  Awesome.

This week may be my first normal week since I got to LA.  And it probably wont even seem normal yet.  I still have boxes that need unpacking and I still don’t have a reliable way to get around town.

Goals?  This week I need to work on a game deck (basically a slide show) and I have no idea how to do that.  So getting through that with minimal trauma and panic would be ideal.  I’d also like to read some and just try to be as organized as possible.

I Was Not Ready For That

not ready

The sole party I went to in high school was my class’ graduation party. Technically, that means that the only party I went to in high school I actually attended after high school, but let’s not get bogged down by logistics here.

After I had been there about an hour or so, hanging out with some friends of mine, last chance signing a few yearbooks, someone came into the living room and started talking up whatever it was he was about to do. “You’ll ready for this? Are you ready?…” As much as we said we were ready he wasn’t taking our word for it.

Suddenly he flipped the lights off and turned on a strobe. He was wearing gloves with lights on the fingertips and did cool tricks with them. As much as I had claimed to be ready, I was so not ready. I shut my eyes tight and waited for them to turn the lights back on. Clearly there was a reason I didn’t party much in high school. Or college. Or whatever this college/post-college time turns out to be.

Coming into this program, having gone through the all-day, all-week classes once already I figured it would be simple enough. The topic and work would be different, but overall it would be a similar experience. #nope

Maybe it’s because I’m living further away from the studio. Maybe because I literally just got internet access two days ago. Maybe this program is more work, or the different format is throwing me off. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I don’t know why this round has been so much more exhausting, but it has. So much more.

Tomorrow I’m going to San Diego Comic Con. This is the holy grail of nerd-dom. It’s also the largest convention of iconic pop culture in the world. As much as I’m excited – and don’t get me wrong, I’m excited – I’m also slightly exhausted at the thought of it.  All those people and all these things that I’ll want to see.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and little miss introvert me is going to need a full day of recovery after.

The good news is that I know a few out others who are going, so I’ll be able to meet up with people I know, having friends always makes things much less intimidating.

Have you ever been completely overwhelmed? What happened? Are you going to be at SDCC? If you’ll be around, let me know and we can meet up!

Dollhouse: The Serious

dollhouse

Dollhouse depicts an underground organization where people go when they are out of options.  The “dolls” sign a five year contract to allowing the company to program their brains with different personalities, after which they are released to continue their lives.  The show aired in 2009 and 2010.  It was canceled after two seasons, despite it being absolutely fantastic television.

The way I see it there are two sides to Dollhouse: the serious, moral side of what can be taken from it and what it implies about our society and culture, and the fan side in which I fangirl over how awesome the characters and their interactions are. We’ll start with the more serious side, because I think Dollhouse is a show that can be hard to be a fan of it you can’t get past the serious side.

On first blush Dollhouse is very, very wrong.  They are programming people to be whatever their customers want, taking away the choices that the original people had and using them as shells to fulfill selfish desires.  Objectification of women (majority of dolls are female).  Taking away freedom of choice.  What kind of world are we living in here?

But that question is exactly the point.  Because the stuff that exists in Dollhouse, does exist in real life.  You don’t see it on the streets or in the newspapers, but all over the world, women and girls, men and boys, are being bought and sold as slaves.  The world as is shown in Dollhouse isn’t quite there yet, but the technology could exist, and added to the framework of human trafficking that we know of, it’s a scary thought to think of all the things that could go wrong.

Dollhouse shows us that world, and then shows us people who, even while being a part of it, don’t want the extreme.  Adelle DeWitt is one of my favorite characters on the show because, not only is she a badass lady, she also cares deeply for the dolls under her command.  When she discovers that Sierra is being raped she finds and kills the attacker (“Man on the Street”) without a second thought.

Dolls that get out of hand are sent to “The Attic” where they are basically turned brain dead.  The Attic is actually a virtual world where the minds of those the corporation doesn’t want to deal with are trapped.  It’s not really death, it’s simply stasis that cannot be broken out of.  Unless you’re Echo, a doll who used to be a woman named Caroline, dead set on bring the Dollhouse down.

While the dolls are frequently set up on romantic engagements a lot of the cases are to solve a problem in the least intrusive means possible.  A security guard for a star who refuses to have a security detail (“Stage Fright”), being an example for a young girl in a bad situation (“Briar Rose”), and stopping a virus threatening to wipe out a whole university (“Echoes”).

Echo starts to remember what her old life was and remember the other people she has been imprinted with.  This knowledge begins a mission that starts with her and Paul, her handler, and eventually encompasses the whole dollhouse to stop this thing before it’s too late.

Epitaph One” and “Epitaph Two: Return” show the world after it’s become too late.  The two season finales show the world of the future in which doll technology has gone wireless and taken over society.  A world where being an “Actual”, the person you were born as, makes you not only a rarity, but a target.  This is the world that we cannot become.

For even with everything that this world has become, we are not immune to the way things should be.  We see the Dollhouse, in all it’s fictional glory, and understand that we can never stoop to that.  Meanwhile those who are victims to human trafficking know that we already have.

Bars and Tone

This message is to inform you that I am scrambling around like a crazy person to be sure .  Click the image for the full effect.  I will be back with you tomorrow with some juicy content, and next week I should be on top of my life enough to have a popsicle recipe up.

In the meantime check out last week’s apartment tour and Living Proof.

Writing About Writing (week of July 7)

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They say if you want to be good at something you need to practice every day.  I started Writing About Writing as a way of keeping myself accountable for how much I was writing outside of my school work.  Everything counts.  Emails, journals, scripts, blogging, even excessive tweeting.
Over time this space has become a way of keeping track of weekly goals in other areas of my life as well as writing.  A statement of what I’ve done, and what I want to do.  A weekly record of my successes and failures, for better or for worse.

Monday: journal (1)
Tuesday: nothing but notes
Wednesday: journal (2)
school – ip bible edits
Thursday: journal (2)
school – treatment #1
Friday: nothing but notes
Saturday: nothing but notes
Sunday: journal (4)

Last week felt so long.  Yes, I know that it couldn’t have possibly been more than however many hours are always in a week, but I was scheduled so tightly that it was exhausting.  My biggest goal for last week was to journal and quiet time.  Journaling absolutely happened, yay!  Quiet times did not, but I already think I’m in a better place for them next week.  Other than that was school stuff and networking.  So much networking.

As tiring as last week was, I’m excited for this week.  My school schedule for the week is looking good and includes a day at Comic Con.  You guys, I’m going to comic con!  *does happy dance*

The not-so-great news is that I’m catching up with the things I had scheduled for the blog.  I don’t even have this whole week planned out, and I still don’t have internet access at my apartment (there’s a guy coming tomorrow).  That makes one pretty high priority for this week blogging.  And comic con.  And quiet time.  And sleep.  Yeah, sleep would be good.