Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Do you want over 40 hours of screenwriting lessons?

If you answered 'yes', read on!

I've spent a lot of time recently watching episodes of TV written and/or directed by Tim Minear. Most people out there will know the name - he's written loads for Joss Whedon, namely 'Angel', 'Firefly' and 'Dollhouse'. The thing you'll notice about Tim's work is how tense it is - every single scene seems to have great amounts of character tension. Sorry, the first thing you'll notice about Tim's work is his love for slo-mo - something he uses with amazing effect!

Here's one scene with semi slow motion and it works great, adding depth and emotion to the moment.

Anyway, I was listening to the commentary to 'Lullaby' ('Angel' season 3), which Minear wrote and directed. There are some great insights into the writing process and some great tips (like how rain can improve a scene). You also might want to transcribe everything he and fellow writer Mere Smith say, as it's fucking hilarious!

Joss Whedon is a fine writer. And he has an amazing ability - he finds writers just as good as himself - the best of the best. On the DVD boxsets (of 'Buffy', 'Angel' and 'Firefly') there are many commentaries from the writers and directors.

Even if vampires or spaceships aren't your thing, you should definitely buy the DVDs. If for no other reason than you're guaranteed a few hours of screenwriting lessons for every season*

So get buying! I see writer's commentaries as one of the greatest sources for information and you should too!

*Number of commentaries in Whedon's box sets:

'Buffy' season 1 = 2
'Buffy' season 2 = 4
'Buffy' season 3 = 4
'Buffy' season 4 = 6
'Buffy' season 5 = 4
'Buffy' season 6 = 6
'Buffy' season 7 = 7

'Angel' season 1 = 2
'Angel' season 2 = 2
'Angel' season 3 = 3
'Angel' season 4 = 7
'Angel' season 5 = 7

'Firefly' season 1 = 7

That comes to a grand total of 61 commentaries from three TV shows. Each commentary lasts 40 minutes (an hour and a half in the case of one) so 60 x 40 = 2400 minutes = 40 hours + 1.5 hours = 41 hours 30 minutes.

Yes, that's over 41 hours of screenwriting lessons! I think you know what to do!

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