Writing Television Sitcoms!

IMG_5657One night I got caught in one of those youtube traps; clicking from video to video and not knowing how I got to one place to another. I came across an old web series of these two girls in New York called, Broad City. It was different and as a video director — do able! I enjoyed their interview with Amy Poehler about writing a sitcom.

If you were to see my Netflix Instant Queue, you would see nothing but sitcom’s being watched. Its a dying art that I cheer to come back! Give me can laughter, bright lights and punch lines! Maybe I’m just a child from the 90’s who grew up on this stuff or maybe I have a natural liking. Either way, I started to think about episode I would create.

My first amazon search gave me Evan S. Smith, Writing Television Sitcoms. This book is amazing! It was like going behind the scenes and sitting at the writers table. Of course that first thing I picture was 30 Rock.

writers-room

For a few weeks I listened to my friend’s jokes and pin pointing why it was so funny which made it difficult to find anything funny. When writing tweets, I started to think about how I was setting up my thought.

“‘displacement’ of an audience’s train of thought; as in, the setup for a joke causes to have certain expectations, but the punchline yanks the rug out by providing a very different, incongruous payoff. The result? Tension is discharged and the audience laughs.”

“On another level, all humor incorporates some elements of surprise within its structure. When we create a funny scene or joke, we try to reel the audience in with a realistic setup, then hit them with a surprise twist at the end.”

“…an unfortunate truth of the sitcom world is that “three-quarters of all writing is rewriting.”..It’s not uncommon for the staff of a show to rewrite a script five or more times.”

I started to see how I could use this new found knowledge in other areas of my work. Learning how many times a script is re-written before they go in production help me at work prepare to share drafts with other. Feed back is gold! I’ve always been the artist that would say, “Don’t look, its not done!” When I started to ask my co-workers to view my work and tell me what they think I would get very insightful help. Usually they would pin point what wasn’t working. Also allowing my clients to see the drafts before the deadline to get some feed back.

The biggest revolution was when I was reading the chapter about the premise driven comedy, which to me, means the story, (the- what happens question).

When You Can’t Find the Right Punchline, Here’s a tip: When you can’t find the right punchline, go back and check the setup. Once, I agonized over a joke through several drafts of a script, spending hours trying to replace a single weak punchline. A producer who was passing by my office tossed off a casual suggestion – “Change the setup?” Hmm. I went back, tweaked the joke’s premise, and suddenly – half a dozen great punchlines popped into my head. Problem solved.”

I started to edit my videos differently after I read this. How important the setup was! Especially when it came to testimonials. You build up the story and the best part of what happens becomes more powerful.

Half the book was about the writing and the other about the business. I forced myself to read the details about the business but I’m glad I did. It gave me a better idea about the piratical part of writing in as a career.

As for my web series, now I have no excuses. Time to write. But first, I must watch a few more sitcoms for research!

 

 

Podcast Guest on The Way We Tell

920!x300!_8803817I met filmmaker, Jesse Koepke on twitter a few years ago. Since then we’ve kept in touch talking about our faith, storytelling,  videos, and encouraging each other about working in post as editors. He recently asked if I’d like to be a guest on his new podcast The Way We Tell, a podcast about storytelling.

Hear about how I started making videos and what it’s like being a media director at church.

You can listen here at: The Way We Tell and subscribe to this new podcast on iTunes.

Blog: The Director’s Cut

The director’s cut is when the editor creates a specialized version that represent the director’s own approved edit. This sometimes means having more scenes with more information about the characters and can ultimately have a different ending.

The past few weeks I’ve been living the Director’s cut. Which isn’t bad, just not what I pictured. I prefer fast transitions and getting to the point, but it seems the Director is fond of subtle transformations that hold significant lessons. I am noticing these unexpected scenes are indeed adding beauty to my story. There are times when I receive random snippets and have no idea how they will fit with each other. Its up to me to do something with each component and prepare for what the Director gives me next. I can expect to make a few mistakes along the way, but all I can really do is learn from them.  Sometimes as an editor, what may have been a mistake might be the very thing I was looking for. So Im allowing myself to take a few risk.

I can see the theme of faith, hope, and courage. The heart of my character is being challenged. I am learning a lot about overcoming fear and trust. Though I am tempted to question the director’s art, I trust Him. He knows what He’s doing and where He is taking the story. After all, He knows the end.

The amazing thing is He listens to me. I tell Him what I think about the story and the vision I see when I close my eyes. He takes all my ideas in to account. When I least expect it, He hands me something better than what I dreamt of. I say, “Wow, you got this from my idea?” and He answers, “It was our idea, we dreamt it together, this project is as much as yours as it is mine.”

I want the movie of my life to be God’s heart beat.   Although I am eager to know what happens, I am telling myself to enjoy the journey and to keep on being a diligent worker- to be open, to learn, grown, create, dream, pursue, read, laugh, visit, travel, seek and love.

Quote: Sharing a Part of You

I recently asked a friend about writing short stories and publishing them publicity. He had a great responds:

“It feels really personal writing like that, when you express yourself creatively. It comes from a real place. You’re saying more about yourself than anything else..it feels like anyone reading it can read a part of me.”

Every artist feels this at a point; the fear of sharing their work. It’s powerful when we overcome that fear.
When we share our work with each other we then are able to share our feelings.

And talking about feelings can create an interesting dialogue.

Blogging

I told myself I wasn’t allowed to blog until I completed this big project that I’m doing for a family. Since I still have two more days to complete it, I figured I could take a break and share a little.

Usually if I have a blog idea and then have dinner with a friend, I end up talking about that post idea to them. I am finding my blog is my way of having a conversation with the world.

To be honest, I’m not sure how much to share or not to share. I’ve been really inspired by Nick Campbell lately. He is a creative who does motion work, 3D stuff, blogging and lots of other things. He talked about the changes to his website and how he is going to post whatever he is in to.

Jon Acuff wrote a post about being truthful when it comes to blogging. Chris Guillebeau said it perfectly

Some of the people you expect to be your biggest supporters will disappoint you—and some of the people you rarely thought about, or didn’t even know existed, will turn out to be your true friends. This is how it works when you begin to share yourself with the world.

Since I’ll be looking for a new job soon in Vancouver, I wonder what they will think when they read some of my blogs. I enjoy creating videos, taking photos but most of all I love talking about God. I am no preacher or pastor but because I am an editor I am an observer. I find it interesting that all these great bloggers also face the same issue as myself, being truthful with themselves and with the world.

I once heard a person say, “Be the best you you know how to be.”

Have you faced any challenges when it comes to sharing yourself to the world? How are you overcoming that? Would love to know what you think about it. Jasmine Star suggest having two websites, one for business and then having it connect to your blog. Sounds nice and expensive. haha. I’m considering it.

 

 

 

A Monday

7am – Last night I had so many dreams, to many to remember. I saw faces that I haven’t seen in years. I time traveled back in to the history of my life, and felt feelings I had felt since the moment they were real. I woke up not wanting to leave my bed. “Oh, if my dreams could be true.” I thought about where I would be if I could be anywhere and be doing anything. I imaged myself in Iceland waiting for the train, observing the people around me. I could see small children in their handmade colorful sweaters looking up at their parents and then looking towards me, wondering why I was looking at them. I felt the cool air on my face and I could see the large shadows the small town buildings were making from the bright morning sun.

740am – I sat in traffic looking around at my city. All the building seem more than 50 years old. Most of the businesses don’t even exist anymore. There is this funny little sign that sits in the window that says, “Do not put your teeth on the wall.”  I laugh every time I see it but then wondering what it means. It looks like a child wrote it but then again some people are odd.  A homeless man walked across the street. His hair looks like it hasn’t been washed in months, his clothes are dirty. He looks young but walks hunched over like an old man. I wonder about his life, where he went wrong, when did his family give up on him, when did he give up on himself. I tried to guess what drug he is on. My guess is methamphetamine, since it’s San Bernardino most popular drug.

8:30am – Work. I begin to research for a new video project about some of the greatest headlines in the 20th & 21st century. I start with 1930 and begin to make my way up. For the first time these major events were coming to life.  Looking at old photos and watching video clips made me experiences each event as if it were breaking news. What gets me every time is reading about when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Then watching the video clip of his murderer getting shot on national TV makes it feel all so real.  I read about the youth rebellion, when drugs became a movement, when abortion became legal, when the Vietnam War called for a draft. Now that generation are the leaders. To think they were once so out of control. My parents tell me stories of how they found God. I love the fact  my parents made the decision to follow Jesus. In the 1970’s the Time magazine had a cover of Jesus with the subtext, “The Jesus Revolution.” Oh history, how we are all connected. Each generation.

1140am – Lunch. I left my office thinking about history. I wondered if my parents generation have regrets. I wondered about the people who fought so hard for something that they believe in like, Abortion and now being older  if they have the same perspective. Do they ever think of all the millions of lives that have been affected? In history there have been so many key people who have changed the world for the bad and for the good. When Bill Gates developed Microsoft in his garage, when Steve Jobs and his friend started Apple.

1210pm – I parked my car at the market and switched thinking gears. My stomach now was in control of my thoughts. As I shopped around I text my friend, “I wish I was a writer.” He responds, “Then WRITE.”  I grabbed a few things and then stood in line. When it was my turn the cashier guy didn’t say hello. It made me sad to think people don’t even say hi anymore. I stood there looking at his eyes, he finally noticed and looked at mine. I swiped my card wondering what was wrong, why was he so sad. I told myself to look in to his eyes again. I felt like he needed to know I see him. We again make eye contact and I walk away.

450pm – I look at the clock and it’s already time to go home. I walked to my car wanting to do something with my day. I come home and my bed looks at me. I know she wants me to go to sleep but chose not to. I have dinner with my mom and listen to her talk. I awkwardly ask her if a boy can come visit me for the weekend afraid she is going to ask a million questions. She says sure and I hurry and change the subject. I talk to her about Polaroid film.

600pm – I watch some of the Office and text my friend. He calls me on his break and I tell him about my history filled day. As soon as we get off the phone I go outside and ride my bike. As I ride I wonder what my neighbors must think of me when they see me outside their window. The site of a 27-year-old girl ride her bike as if she were 14 years old girl. I push myself to do another block and then returned home. It felt great to exercise. I felt inspired.

800pm – I turn off The Office and make myself a cup of tea. Time to write. And so I do.

923pm – More than an hour and a half later. I’m not a writer but hey would you look at that.. I wrote my first blog using words.  Now enjoy the music and tell me about your day. 🙂

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