Blog Archives

Fishism. Bygones. : My Thoughts on Ally McBeal

I don’t know what compelled me to do so, but I have started watching Ally McBeal on Netflix (to my husband’s chagrin). The first 15 episodes were basically amazeballs. Seriously. Peter MacNichol is stellar (and he remains so throughout the series).

And then the show fell into this weird ebb and flow of creativity, cringe-inducing moments, and oddness. In either case, I think this show is an interesting case study in how a showrunner’s point of view can clearly dominate, and evolve as a show goes on.

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The End Is Near

Image

The end of the year, that is. As mentioned before, I’m currently creating a basis of research on understanding women in society, as an audience, and as consumers. In addition to that, here’s what my next 6 months look like…

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Know thy audience

Women with Guns!!

Two things happened this fall, that made me further understand who I’m writing for, and what I’m writing exactly.

1. I was talking to my mom about my docket of script ideas I want to tackle in the coming year, and I said, “Basically, none of my protagonists are male or over the age of 30.” Interesting, since my mom is an acclaimed young adult writer who focuses a lot on young women and girls. The legacy lives on!

2. My husband and I were brainstorming the b-story for the next screenplay I’m going to be working on after I finish my current script, and then my television pilot. In doing that, I realize that almost all of the projects I’m most driven to are comedies with dark elements to them: corruption, death, addiction, and unconventional relationships between people.

Both of those epiphanies happened in one week. It’s inspired me to go on an in-depth journey to further understand my audience: females ages 15-30. It’s such a large span while still being an often neglected or misunderstood segment of people. And what’s great is that there are so many different life events within this group: high school, college, first grown-up job, getting married, having children, first love, getting your license, the dreaded quarterlife crisis, your first apartment, all-things-dating, learning about who you are as an individual, and so many other things we all experience. And among all of that, we’re so varied in our lives, beliefs, experiences, and tastes.

One of the serious lessons I learned from my summer at UCLA was that defining your audience is part of defining your personal brand. One of the reasons I’ve become more motivated toward this career switch is that I’m fed up with the kind of programming that’s out there for young women. So, starting this December, I’m going to work on a little extended research in understanding who young women are now, what they want, what they don’t want, what entertains them, and what motivates them. Hopefully out of that, will come some badass awesome material and a better understanding of my own people: people with vaginas, and the men who roll with them.

What I learned during UCLA’s Professional Program in Producing

I'm the black one.

Two weeks ago, I finished an amazing program, the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television’s Professional Program in producing. My 50+ classmates and I were met with a fairly rigorous schedule: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., four nights a week, for 10 weeks. Personally, I didn’t go to film school, unlike quite a few of my classmates. This IS my film school. So I was pretty grateful to learn as much as possible, despite the fact that I was exhausted half the time.

At the end of 10 weeks, my UCLA two-subject notebook is now filled, cover to cover, with notes, lecture quotes, budgets, handouts, lists, diagrams, and reminders. I cannot fully encapsulate the things I learned — – it was a good amount of information — but here are the things that stick out to me, looking back.

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Show Business — Oh Yeah, It’s a Business

The Most Amazing Photo Filed Under "Business"

Years ago, when I was trying to decide upon what my next move would be after college, I briefly considered getting an MBA in Entrepreneurship or Management. I have to admit, I am incredibly happy that I decided against it. Just like my rationale with film school, I figured there was little point in sinking $100,000 into a degree if it’s not necessary. In fact, after turning down (twice) a chance to earn an MA in Journalism at USC, I told the vice president of human resources at my job last week that the last five years have BEEN my MA program — and I earned money while learning!

Anyway, all that being said, I know that I have a lot to learn about business in general. It does help that I am somewhat entrepreneurial and business-driven. I just don’t like the ickiness of being A Suit. Really, I commend the people who have a punch card at Brooks Brothers and looooooove to talk dividends, but that ain’t me. At least not completely. I find finance, economy, management, leadership, startups, all that stuff to be kind of interesting. But, if I want to be a producer, I have to know things beyond “oh, that’s kind of interesting…”

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Wait — an hour?

OK, so I’ve pitched my pilot to several people, and even let my sister read the first few pages. Many of them have suggested that it be an hour. An HOUR. Like, 44 minutes of television programming.

I did a little research, and watched the pilot for Ugly Betty, one of my old favorites, and read the pilot, written by Silvio Horta, who adapted the show for English in the United States. {Read the pilot script here}. This pilot is a great model for my pilot, and it actually inspired me to take my story into a different direction for a stronger ending.

However — an HOUR?! That’s a lot of time! I realize that many dramatic comedies, like Ugly Betty, and Desperate Housewives, Psych, and¬†Glee are an hour long. Still, come on! I totally envisioned that it would only be a 22-minute, wham-bam, in-and-out kinda pilot.

But I fear my friends, family and mentors are right. This show has to be an hour.

Don’t they know hour-long shows have a bajillion-acts! Don’t these people know how much more work that is?! The Ugly Betty Pilot is 61 pages. I’ve seen some Grey’s Anatomy scripts that are seriously like 70 pages. What is a girl, used to a solid 30 pages, supposed to do?

I guess get cracking.

Unfortunately (and fortunately) I only have a week and a half until I should send this out to people. I’m writing this pilot for FOX’s writer’s program, so everything’s due June 30 — that includes getting someone who is already in the industry to read it and then sign off on it.

Also, my protagonist is Liz Lemon, essentially.

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