Getting you ready for the long Memorial Day Weekend with Friday Questions. If you have one, just leave it in the comments section. I answer as many as I can.
Jeremy gets us started:
You have had a ton of success with a writing partner in your career. I know you have shared what to look for in a writing partner, but I wanted to know how to find one. Is there a special screenwriter classifieds section somewhere?
Not that I know of, although I’m sure there are Facebook groups or other online communities. I haven't checked Craig's List. The WGA occasionally hosts events like speed dating except for writing partners. Check with the guild.
One good way is to take writing classes and see if there’s a fellow student who shares your aspirations and sensibilities and is open to teaming up.
So much of it is luck. My partner and I met in the Army Reserves. Peter Casey & David Lee met while both were typing scripts in the middle of the night for a script typing service. David Pollock & Elias Davis were network pages at CBS. I don’t know how the Charles Brothers met.
The "Cheers" episode "Rat Girl" is currently available (on my system at least) on TVGN On Demand. The story ends with the suggestion of a second child for Frasier and Lillith but that never transpired. Is there much difficulty in writing something into a single episode which could have a major affect on the future of a series?
Well, you certainly have to clear it with the showrunner. And today probably the network, studio, federal government, and the Pope.
In the case of Rat Girl we weren’t really making a major commitment. There was no immediate game plan to have Frasier and Lilith raise a second child. It’s not like Bebe herself was pregnant. But it left open several options (none of which we ultimately took).
Ken, why is it so rare to see sitcom characters laugh at each others jokes? The writers clearly seek to cause the audience to roll on the floor with laughter but the other characters to whom the line is delivered usually don't even break a smile. Is character laughter some kind of unwritten rules violation?
There’s a certain amount of creative license. To me there are two types of jokes. In most cases the characters don’t know they’re saying something funny and in other cases they’re consciously making a witty remark. In those cases, I love when characters laugh.
We use humor to disarm people, to charm them, to needle them. In those cases I want the characters to react. There is a definite motivation behind telling the jokes.
The trouble is when characters laugh too often or too loud it sounds very self congratulatory. Look how amazingly funny we are. I cringe at that. Same with characters saying, “That’s the most brilliant idea ever!” Essentially the writer is saying, “I came up with the most brilliant idea ever. Aren’t I great?” Let the audience decide how brilliant it is and how great you are.
And finally, from Chris:
In a bar/restaurant scene, who choreographs the extras, especially if you have 40 of them? Do they just move freely or does someone tell them what to do? Sometimes in bar scenes, some of them take their jackets and exit, who decides that?
Have a safe and sane weekend.