#Follow Character Bios, part 2

The last three featured characters in the pilot of #Follow:

Eric Dunphy –

Eric is more than just best friend and business partner to Connor. He’s an artist, a dreamer. Where Connor provides the business sense, Eric is the idea generator. Though he’s had no formal training or schooling, he is extremely intuitive and talented when it comes to creating new software, and channels the rest of his imagination into his painting and sculpture work. Eric has long pined for Bree, but she has always been unavailable and even a little distant at times. He’s never really liked Doug very much — he thought their group was better without him, but since everyone else seems to like having him around, he tolerates him.

Bree Sanders –

Bree fancies herself a party girl with limits. She’s put her ‘crazy’ days behind her, but she still loves to drink and have fun with her friends. Lately she’s been feeling like something is missing in her life, but she really can’t imagine what it is. After all, she has a great job – she’s written a couple of chick-lit books and spends a lot of time on the lecture circuit. A boyfriend would be a distraction, but that doesn’t keep her from going out and having a good time (or an occasional hookup).

Doug Litwiller –

Doug met this circle of friends more recently. He loved their adventurous spirit and enthusiasm for traveling together and having fun. He’s only been around for a couple of years, and if you were to ask him how he met the group, he’d probably tell you that he feels like he’s always known them. In truth, no one else really remembers when he started hanging out with them either…

Posted under writing

This post was written by Shawna on March 24, 2011

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Wild World of Webseries

I can’t say I was really surprised by the results of my informal survey early this week.

I asked the question ‘Do you watch webseries?’

I figured that based on the percentage of views to actual comments that 90% of the people who read the question and didn’t answer WOULD answer in the negative.  The remaining 10% who did comment split about 7%/3% yes/no.

So 93% of my readers (or so) do not generally watch any webseries.  That’s what I gather.

As I said this was informal, and just because someone didn’t comment doesn’t mean they don’t watch, but I’m gonna assume that, because…well, just because.

That means I have 7% who might care about this post.

The reasons stated for why you don’t watch or what is frustrating are all valid.

The quality isn’t there.

I can’t dispute this.  The internet is a firehose.  Finding the good among all the bad…the signal to the noise — it’s not easy.

Still let’s face it, the web is democratic.  You create a vision, you distribute it, and the people decide to watch or not watch.  There are however ways to get improve your chances that someone will watch it.

I don’t know where to find webseries to watch them.

Also valid.  Much like the cable TV landscape, there are dozens and dozens of websites that act as distributors for web content, and that doesn’t count those who just put up a website to host their series without any distribution platform (although, to not use Youtube at a bare minimum seems a bit short sighted)  There are sites you’ve heard of, and a whole lot you haven’t heard of.  There are original web series – documentary, mockumentary, reality, drama, comedy, horror, animation, news…it’s just like any other “older” medium – a wide variety of series for people to enjoy.  A few are studio produced and distributed, many webseries are independent productions.  There are webseries which are directly tied to other content, whether it is a film or tv series – “The Office” and “Battlestar Galactica” are known for having webseries that run alongside or tie into their main shows.  Some have spin-off type content for web.  Some web shows have even made the jump from the web to television — “Sanctuary” started out as an episodic series on the web before Sci-Fi (pre-name change) picked it up and made it a television series.  “Children’s Hospital” on Adult Swim was a webseries on WB.com first.

Probably the best known independent productions don’t have huge stars, but have quality and devoted fans.  “The Guild” has managed to attract a large audience, which got attention from Microsoft.  Now that series is exclusively released on Microsoft XBox and MSN platforms before it hits Youtube.

Of course, most writers know about Whedon’s foray into the web during the Writer’s Strike a couple of years ago, and “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog” was born.

A series can be three episodes, or eighty.  It can have seasons or cycles, or it can stand alone, as a one shot.

The variety and flavors of webseries are vast, but the issues remain: How do I find the good ones?

Well, how do you find anything “good”?  You rely on word of mouth.  A video goes “viral” when it is shared and distributed by a swarm of people.  You post it or link to it and then some else sees it, does the same and so on… There are a few aggregators out there now, and sites like tubefilter.com try to cover the landscape of web entertainment.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to start highlighting blogs, twitter accounts, facebook pages, and websites which try to highlight the good, find the signals among the noise.  They don’t always succeed, but you stand a better chance of finding something you like after you investigate them.

Why do I care?  No matter what, I am a storyteller first – if I can tell a story on the web and make it as good and as interesting as any independent film or tv series, I have a better shot at getting it seen eventually by a larger audience.  The power is no longer in the hands of gatekeepers – it’s in your hands, you as a creator and you, as an audience.

It’s a wild, uncharted landscape out there.  You can stake a claim.  What are you waiting for?

Me, I’m not waiting.  I’m writing a webseries.  So yeah, some of this is self-interest; I want an audience for what I make.  I want YOU to see it.  I figure I start with talking about webseries and finding some other good ones to share with you.  Then maybe together we can start making some magic happen…

Stay tuned.

Posted under writing

This post was written by Shawna on October 9, 2010

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A Tale of Two Showrunners

As I do every year, I attended a couple of Paleyfest panels.  I am almost never interested in what the castmembers of these shows have to say.  Thankfully, the creators or showrunners tend to do most of the talking, which is why I keep going back.

In past years I’ve discovered that not only did I like a particular showrunner’s writing, but I liked them as a person — their general demeanor.

I can say that is true again this year for one showrunner.  And for another… let’s just say, I determined that this is a person I never want to work for.

It’s fascinating, really, because when you read someone’s script you may or may not form an image of that writer in your head (depends on how good or interesting the writing is).  Usually you have to read an interview or listen to an audio commentary to really get a sense of who a TV writer really is, or what he/she’s about.

On the one hand, I discovered mad respect and love for Vince Gilligan this week.  I already respected the hell out of his show BREAKING BAD, but to listen to him talk about his show, answer questions from the moderator and the audience and interact with his cast/crew, I realized that he’s the real deal.  He’s a guy you’d trust to lead you off a cliff with his story vision and that it will make you fly rather than fall.

I won’t name names for the showrunner who was a big disappointment to me, but I will talk about why.  I don’t know him personally, and I can’t pretend that these panels give you the full picture of a person, but from what I saw of this person, I deduced that I would not enjoy working for that show, which is sad, because I really like the show this person runs.

So, I’m not sure what the lesson is here, but I think if you are going to be talking about your work in a very public forum, you should try to come off as humble (not arrogant), part of a team (not a sole reason for success), and not make contradictory statements about how you work.  It’s kind of annoying.

Posted under writing

This post was written by Shawna on March 15, 2010

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Blatant Promotion with some Substance

Yes, I like to promote my friends and their writing.  In this case, I’ve worked with the friend in question previously on writing our short film for the 48 Hour Film Festival, so I know what kind of twisted (but great) writing mind he has.

Bernie Su has written a webseries called Compulsions.  It isn’t like most webseries in that it is a straight up drama.  Dailymotion is hosting it exclusively for the next month, and each weekday a new episode is released.

The production value they’ve gotten for the incredibly limited budget is amazing.  You can also get insight into how this got made with the blog at their website, where Bernie talks about the process of writing, casting and shooting the series.  Right now, it is 8 episodes.  If it does well (and so far, by web standards, it’s doing quite well), hopefully they’ll be able to make some more.

I know it’s hard to stick with a webseries, particularly if it isn’t up your alley.  Bernie has made something dark and gritty and distinctively web-centric.  These episodes aren’t chopped up tv shows.  Each 4 to 5 minute piece crams a lot of story and character development, with the promise of so much more to come.  Watch them as they are released or a few at a time, but I do think you’ll be interested by what he’s doing.  If nothing else, hopefully it will give the drama writers some hope for the future beyond Funny or Die videos and Dr. Horrible.

Go check it out.  Wait, I’ll make it even easier for you.  Watch Episode 1 right here:

Now go click on the little linky link up there to go watch the other episodes. You know you want to.

Posted under randomness

This post was written by Shawna on December 4, 2009

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Compulsions

My very good friend and sometimes collaborator Bernie Su (@bernnotice on Twitter) has created and produced a webseries which will be hitting the web soon (I’ll let you know when it does).  Check out the teaser he released yesterday to Tubefilter.

I’m going to pimp the hell out of this, not just because Bernie is a friend, but because I think this project has the potential to crack through the wall that seems to prevent most dramatic webseries from reaching the size audience that humorous ones do.

Compulsions.  It’s a taste.

Posted under tv news

This post was written by Shawna on August 21, 2009

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TNT Picks up 2 Shows

This is real news (and no rick-rolling here!) TNT has given the greenlight to two new series, “Truth In Advertising” and “Men of a Certain Age”, the latter a return vehicle for Ray Romano. The two shows will join current TNT programming of “Saving Grace” and “The Closer” as TNT continues to build more original programming into its schedule.

No airdates announced as yet…

[Oh, and I’m testing Digg.]

Posted under Uncategorized

This post was written by Shawna on April 1, 2008

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Saving Grace gets 15 more episodes

TNT’s press release, below:


TNT’s Critically Acclaimed Hit Series SAVING GRACE Spreads Its Wings Wider as Network Orders 15 Additional Episodes

Provocative New Drama Stars Academy Award® Winner Holly Hunter Series Claims Top Spot as Ad-Supported Cable’s #1 New Series Launch for the Year to Date Among Viewers and Households


TNT’s provocative, critically acclaimed series SAVING GRACE, starring Oscar® winner Holly Hunter, is set to fly ever higher as the network orders an additional 15 episodes, according to an announcement today by Michael Wright, senior vice president in charge of the Content Creation Group for TNT, TBS and TCM. The series launched July 23 with ad-supported cable’s biggest audience for a new series premiere for the year to date. It airs Mondays at 10 p.m. (ET/PT), following THE CLOSER. SAVING GRACE comes to TNT from Fox Television Studios and creator Nancy Miller (Any Day Now), who wrote the pilot and is also executive-producing with Gary A. Randall (A Little Thing Called Murder) and Artie Mandelburg (Leaving L.A.). Hunter also serves as producer.

“SAVING GRACE is wholly original, thought-provoking show with a dynamic, gut-wrenching performance by one of Hollywood’s top actresses at its center,” said Wright. “We’re thrilled at the response to the show and happy that it has connected with its audience. And we’re proud to be extending the run of this exciting new series as it continues to build on its success.”

SAVING GRACE stars Hunter as Grace Hanadarko, an intense and cynical Oklahoma City police detective. Despite being at the top of her field, Grace lives life hard, fast and on the edge. Wicked-smart and tough, she hits bottom one night when she slams into a pedestrian while she is driving drunk. Horrified at the realization of what she’s done, Grace uncharacteristically asks for help and receives it in the form of an unconventional angel named Earl. The journey for both of them will not be an easy one. For Grace, it will bring up life’s most complicated issues. Each episode of SAVING GRACE revolves around a specific case that the detectives are trying to solve, while delving deeper into the characters’ lives. Leon Rippy (Deadwood), Kenneth Johnson (The Shield), Bailey Chase (Las Vegas), Bokeem Woodbine (The Big Hit) and Laura San Giacomo (Just Shoot Me) co-star.

SAVING GRACE premiered July 23 to more than 6.4 million viewers and 4.8 million households, flying to the top of the charts as ad-supported cable’s #1 new series premiere for the year to date, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. The debut episode also joined the list of ad-supported cable’s Top 3 series premieres of all time in household delivery. To date, SAVING GRACE is averaging 5.5 million viewers.

Turner Network Television (TNT), television’s destination for drama and one of cable’s top-rated networks, offers original movies and series, including the acclaimed detective drama The Closer, starring Golden Globeâ winner and Emmy® and Screen Actors Guild Awardsâ nominee Kyra Sedgwick; Saving Grace, a provactive new drama starring Oscar® winner Holly Hunter; and the epic television event The Company, executive-produced by Ridley Scott and starring Chris O’Donnell, Michael Keaton and Alfred Molina. TNT is also home to powerful one-hour dramas, such as Without a Trace, Law & Order, Las Vegas, Cold Case, ER, Charmed and Judging Amy; broadcast premiere movies; compelling prime-time specials, such as the Screen Actors Guild Awards; and championship sports coverage, including NASCAR and the NBA. TNT is also available in high-definition.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, is a major producer of news and entertainment product around the world and a leading provider of programming for the television industry.

Posted under Uncategorized

This post was written by Shawna on August 8, 2007

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2007 Upfronts: ABC announces Fall Schedule

First, the schedule:

MONDAY:

8:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars”
9:30 p.m. “Sam I Am” (new comedy)
10:00 p.m. “The Bachelor”

TUESDAY:

8:00 p.m. “Cavemen” (new comedy)
8:30 p.m. “Carpoolers” (new comedy)
9:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show”
10:00 p.m. “Boston Legal”

WEDNESDAY:

8:00 p.m. “Pushing Daisies” (new)
9:00 p.m. “Private Practice” (new)
10:00 p.m. “Dirty Sexy Money” (new)

THURSDAY:

8:00 p.m. “Ugly Betty”
9:00 p.m. “Grey’s Anatomy”
10:00 p.m. “Big Shots” (new)

FRIDAY:

8:00 p.m. “MEN IN TREES”
9:00 p.m. “Women’s Murder Club” (new)
10:00 p.m. “20/20”

SATURDAY:

8:00 p.m. “Saturday Night College Football”

SUNDAY:

7:00 p.m. “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
8:00 p.m. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”
9:00 p.m. “Desperate Housewives”
10:00 p.m. “Brothers & Sisters”

“Cashmere Mafia,” “Notes from the Underbelly” and “October Road” will premiere after “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Bachelor” conclude their fall seasons.

“Lost” returns in January.

Missing from the schedule: “What About Brian”, “Knights of Prosperity” and surprisingly “According to Jim” which have all been cancelled, but it is a safe bet that “Supernanny” and “Wife Swap” are waiting in the wings to sub in the spring for any open timeslots.

I got Saturday and Sunday night. I scored on Friday as ‘girl’s night’ but totally got the shows wrong. They picked ‘Big Shots’ for the post-Grey’s spot instead of “Dirty Sexy Money” which will air out of “Private Practice” Wednesday at 9. Overall the schedule has some bold programming moves, though I can’t say I’m thrilled that “The Bachelor” is back in the fall. I also think ABC is playing a dangerous game with their reality windfall “Dancing with the Stars” by airing a series in the fall and spring.

I did sit in on the ABC conference call this morning (at 5 AM) and jotted down some notes:

Cavemen – if it was just about the Geico cavemen, it wouldn’t work. Exec producer from 3rd Rock from the Sun has come on board.

Miss/Guided – From Ashton Kutcher. No matter where you are, you are still in high school. A woman goes back to high school as a guidance counselor.

Sam I Am – Christina Applegate stars. Single camera, fun romantic comedy.

Carpoolers – Bruce McCullough of “Kids in the Hall” is behind this show about

Tuesday and Wednesday are a big focus for ABC this year.

Lost is a better 9 or 8 PM show. The numbers aren’t down at all. Live plus seven ratings are the same, more people are using DVRs now. Lost will air 16 episodes uninterrupted in the spring.

People didn’t show up for the serialized dramas last year, but the shows that hit last year were escapist in some way or another. The Nine was not escapism where Ugly Betty and Heroes were. Shift in the viewer right now for what they “thirst for”.

Promotional efforts for so many new shows. Not all of these shows premiere in the fall at the same time. Certain shows will be priorities, but ABC feels they have the assets to launch new shows.

Geico will discontinue cavemen ads once show airs to avoid rights issues of the characters.

Testing process needs to improve – hoping to use the internet more in the future to tap into audiences and get immediate feedback on new shows.

Would have loved to have gotten Scrubs, but happy it is going on another year at NBC.

I am working on an article for another website and if it gets accepted, I’ll post the link here.

Posted under Uncategorized

This post was written by Shawna on May 15, 2007

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Welcome to Specville (or What to Spec, Part III)

It’s that time again. Time to knuckle down and hammer out a new spec. Based on a number of sources, I present to you a partial list of what shows are “specable”. Also, since most people assume a show not on the list should never be spec’ed, I include a list of the shows you should UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES condsider a spec for. Anything which isn’t on either list could be considered, but probably didn’t make the ‘hot’ list for one reason or another. Most likely, because no one mentioned it.

UPDATE: The Riches and Dirt on FX have been renewed. I think there *may* be a case for a spec of ‘The Riches’ — but I am skeptical about ‘Dirt’. I also think ‘Psych’ is a borderline choice. Stick with shows which actually get some ink in the trades or online…

Hot Specs (Drama):

Ugly Betty
Heroes
Shark (likely to be picked up next season)
Dexter
The Closer
House
Criminal Minds
Desperate Housewives
Boston Legal
Men In Trees
The Wire (one season left — get in while you can)
Big Love (I’m personally skeptical, but I know someone who mentioned it, so it’s on the list)

Losing Ground, but still viable (Drama):

Medium
Cold Case
CSI
L&O: SVU
The Unit
Monk
Rescue Me
Veronica Mars (until it gets cancelled)

Forget it; Spec only if you enjoy rejection:

Las Vegas
CSI: Miami
The Ghost Whisperer
Prison Break
Crossing Jordan (likely cancellation)
Close to Home (possible cancellation)
What About Brian (possible cancellation)
24

Hot Specs (Comedy):

Entourage
Weeds
The Office
How I Met Your Mother
My Name is Earl
The New Adventures of Old Christine
30 Rock

Fading, but still viable:

Everybody Hates Chris
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Don’t Bother (Comedy):

The Class (likely cancellation)
The War at Home
The George Lopez Show

Posted under writing

This post was written by Shawna on April 30, 2007

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The new hot specs list

While not all of this season’s crop of shows has had their fates decided, it’s getting easier to read the tea leaves. I’m also hearing buzz about certain show specs from friends and industry contacts:

New ‘hot’ one-hour specs: (in order of perceived hotness)

Ugly Betty
Heroes
Dexter
Grey’s Anatomy
The Closer
Criminal Minds
House
Brothers & Sisters

*This does not mean other shows cannot be specced. I’ll be posting the revised hot specs list within a few weeks.

New ‘hot’ half-hour specs: (in order of perceived hotness)

The New Adventures of Old Christine
The Office
My Name is Earl
How I Met Your Mother
Scrubs
Two and a Half Men
Everybody Hates Chris (this has really fallen off since last year)

Posted under Uncategorized

This post was written by Shawna on January 18, 2007

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