Twice in the last couple of days I've been chatting with my agents and they brought up three
new shows that are just airing. Had I seen them? What did I think etc. [They hadn't seen them] I was able to say yes to all three and give an opinion.
Wow, where do you find the time to watch so much TV? They almost asked. Well the truth is I don't. I very rarely watch a whole episode of something. If I want a general view of style, pace and tone - 15 minutes, tops.
That's when I'm watching as a writer. And that is my job. It's my job to know what nearly every show on TV is about stylistically, I don't need to know the plot or outcome of an individual episode. I watch differently as a viewer, strictly for pleasure. That changes of course if you have a sniff of writing for that show. Then you become an avid viewer, more avid that the geekiest fanboy imaginable. You listen for the WAY that characters say things, not just what they say. You look for act breaks, how many stories per ep [A B C and D] Memorise snippets of back story. Do they use wipes, fades, jump-cuts? Study the characters motivations for clues as to how they might react in a given situation. In other words, be ahead of the game.
So, with the possible exception of soap, you don't have to get square eyed watching TV until that assignment is in the air. Up til then all you need to know is ''enough'' What do you think God invented box set DVDs for? And think of the time you're saving to actually write?
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3 years ago