When I get feedback on a project I rarely pay much attention. Unless they say 'We'll buy it'
Of course if most of the feedback points to the same fault then it's time for a reality check.
But this is about one piece of feedback I have just received from the head of development of a major prodco - I paraphrase -
''I really enjoyed this. It was well writen and fast paced. I did find the story too linear and the characters a little underdeveloped but I thnk that would be an easy fix.''
Now that sounds not too bad really. Except when you think about it there is a huge assumption that they are right and I am wrong. These people want to meet me. And no doubt I will. It just seems to me that the power of the writer is getting diminished to the standards of Hollywood.
The script editors and producers who haven't written a thing in their lives and are responsible for much of the shite we have to endure on TV make assumptions that they know best? I might go along with that if it weren't for the aforementioned shite.
Twenty years ago in that misty time known as Potter and Bleasdale and Kennedy-Martin the writer was king. Now it seems the writer is more and more subject to the whims of the 'I want to keep my job' exec.
They seem to want to create a 'one size fits all' TV culture. And I think it is becoming an embedded culture of co-dependence between the play it safe Exec and the writer in need of a paycheque.
Factor in the 'How to Create Characters' memmo written by some American Guru, currently doing the rounds of script eds and producers and seemingly assuming God like status, and the battle is even more uphill.
These people CAN'T WRITE. So they tick off the checklist. Do we know if he loves his mother? Does he give to the homeless?
PASS THE SICK BAG.
To me one of the major reasons for the decline of good drama is the introduction of soap writing into them. There's a time and a place for it. Not in every frickin' episode of every frickin' drama.
I don't want to sell the ranch character wise in Ep 1. I want to do just enough to empathise and intrigue the audience. There's a slow burn that has to be achieved and that doesn't mean spelling it out for the dumb audience.
Because the audience are not dumb. Okay some may not be able to articulate exactly in dramaturgical terms why they did or didn't like a show. But if they don't like it they won't watch it. And they are not watching in droves.
Okay I'll admit it. I've done my best to hype it up to myself but I was disappointed with The Outsiders and Robin Hood. The Outsiders I think screwed up completely on tone. This is probably nothing to do with the writer. More to do with editor, producer and director.
Robin Hood I found stilted and slow. I hear it gets better. Maybe I just thought it was a little strange that Robin Hood had a created by credit?
It's time the writer had a hell of a lot more input and real say in what actually appears on screen and has to pay less attention to the 'I can fix this' from non and wanabee creatives. There are good Execs out there for sure. Mostly in the Indies. But their hands are tied. Whatever they develvop then has to get past the networks.
If any other business had lost as many customers as network TV the board would have been sacked long ago. It's time they stopped blaming everything from the internet to Global warming for appalling ratings and started making programmes people actually make an effort to watch.
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4 years ago