Friday, May 11, 2007

TV pre-production

Imagine, if you will, a world where the writer is treated like a human being. Where they are invited to meetings, kept informed of everything, shown concept sketches, preliminary designs. Imagine a world where they get to sit in a big meeting with all the people who do the effects, costumes, makeup, designs, graphics, stunts, etc etc. Where, in that meeting, they will get asked questions like "what do you think", or "is that how you imagined it", or "what do you like better". Where the answers they give to said questions are listened to. Where their opinion counts. Where they are an important part of the process.

Well, you don't have to imagine it. It's real.

It is a world that I like to call "TelevisionLand".

There were sandwiches. There was tea and coffee. There were even biscuits. Someone brought me a glass of water, without me even asking. And all through it, I was part of the team, my opinion was valued. Crazy! I know! Whatever next?? Rain will go up, and the sky will be green!

What an eye opener. It's amazing, seeing what you can and can't do on TV, what is easy, what isn't. Things you would expect to be simple turn out to be awkward, and vice versa. For example, say you wanted to explode a building, you'd think it would be easier to just do it with computer graphics - but no, first they would have to map the building in 3D so they can do an overlay that will explode, effectively recreating it in the computer. So it would be a big effects shot, that might take longer than just building a false front on a building and blowing that bit up. Another example - it's cheaper to blow up a car than to just have lots of ordinary cars just driving around. Lots of cars in a street means blocking the street, police, crowd control, hiring *each* car per hour, plus drivers - whereas blowing up a car means you buy 2 cheap, identical cars, and just blow one up, preferably somewhere out of the way.

Basically we just went through it, scene by scene, and discussed how to do things, and what the departments needed to do. Scenes involving characters talking on their normal sets were fine, and needed no discussion. Pretty much everything else had some sort of trickery, even ordinary scenes, because they might have something on a television in the background, for example. Several concept sketches were passed around, for various things I had written. One was completely different to what I originally meant, but it turned out to be much cooler, so I was quite happy. It's so exciting, seeing the designers take something you described and run with it, making something that looks exactly right. It was a long day, but everyone was really jolly so it went very quickly.

Exhausted now. 5.30am start to make sure I caught various trains, and a long day of talking and thinking and eating biscuits. But it's brilliant fun.

Sorry to keep being so secretive, but all will be revealed soon, you've all been very patient. Once I'm allowed to say what the show is, I'll tell all, and I can go into a bit more detail about the nuts and bolts of doing an episode of someone else's series.

6 comments:

Lucy said...

You lie. No such place as this exists! Writers are shaftd constantly with broom handles and no vaseline, they are forced to write and rewrite in small broom cupboards whilst being fed Ryvita and tonic water with NO GIN, never seeing the light of day!! Bluuuuuuuuuuuussssssssgggggggggffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff

*James has blown Lucy's mind*

Thank you. Come again. (Eeeugh, that wasn't waht I meant)

Martin said...

Sounds like you're having fun. Do you know how long (ish) it'll be before you can reveal all?

Robin Kelly said...

Thanks for taking the time to offer the insight and the best of luck with it.

No need to apologise for the secrecy, you have no choice. I would be surprised if it isn't the show I hoped it was when you first mentioned it but I accept you can't say.

potdoll said...

Well done Mister!


Would you like another glass of water?

James Moran said...

Shouldn't be too long, maybe a couple of weeks. Hang in there. If it's any consolation, it's killing me to keep it all quiet...

Robin: It's not the show you're thinking of - at least, the one I think you're thinking of... But there will be surprises linked to the announcement itself. Ooh, I'm an enigma, me.

Potdoll: This water is ROOM TEMPERATURE. I asked for it SLIGHTLY CHILLED. You will NEVER work in this town again. As a water-bringer.

Oli said...

Respect and you get to make people blow shit up? Yeah, I still want your job.