Inside The Writers' Room

Inside The Writers' Room



the term showrunner doesn't appear in the credits ever but what it really means is the writer producer generally who is the decider as george w bush said and it's i guess it's a role similar to director in a movie which means that i've hired all the cast and all the writing staff and you know i do a lot of editing spent a lot of time in the editing room well fresh mates this show which we do which is most like a sort of classical team written show if there is such a thing and see do we recruit recruit all the writers together with args extra producers and producers so we meet them all interviewed and read their scripts and they'll obviously higher than them first thing we do any series of fresh meat is set around a big table and spend a few days or a couple of weeks just all of this kind of brainstorming coming up with ideas putting the writing staff together is what i imagine putting it may be a baseball team together would be in that there's different positions and you're trying to get a balance and you know as you're hiring you you have a lot of good joke people but you need some story people or you have people who can sit around and discuss character all day but you need somebody who understands dialogue and speaks the way people speak nowadays i guess the thing is about a british writing team is it's smaller than the u.s. writing team so in a way in an american writing team you can look for more different qualities in the room maybe we just look for somebody who's going to write a good script that's all all we're really interested in and some people are talkative in the room some people are Sparky and some people aren't that kind of person they're welcome to because because often those people can write great scripts I'll usually read hundreds of spec scripts and then get about 40 that I want to meet the writers of and then when you're meeting them you're pretty much just looking for a bottle of wine that's gone bad you know it's like you're not you're most people are pretty nice and funny but some people are just really weird and in person you realize like I don't I don't want to hang out with them for intensely for the next ten months or something you know the main thing is not what happens in the writers room is what happens in your room at home when you're writing so when we're interviewing four writers the main thing 90% 80% 90% of what we're looking at is the script that you've written to see what you know how good you are and then the rest it's kind of purely nice guy great if you're not it sort of doesn't matter that much you must be a man though oh you must be a man or at least have been a man at some point mostly in comedy shows the writers get together every day for the entire day and they form something called the room and what you want to come out of the room is ideas so you you you you know the the reason that probably Sam and I works you guys were in a partnership rather than our own is because in that dialogue between you you get more ideas quicker than you do when you're on your own and hopefully the room multiplies that by another factor it's the job of the the showrunner to to try and make sure that everyone feels safe in the writers room you know you that's a balance because if there feel too safe then they just talk and talk and talk and no work gets done and some rooms that I've been in for example The Simpsons is a very quiet room and there's a very high standard for what you have to say and that's the way they liked it and I remember when I was working there they hired a pretty young writer who just loved talked and drove everybody crazy because in that little silence where they were all you know sifting through the possibilities and trying to think of the funniest line he would just fill it up with attention needing stuff and so they got rid of him pretty quick I think I deal right through has a mix of people of different genders and different backgrounds that's nice to have different voices in the room and not a kind of echo chamber of all the same types of people so that's quite nice to have and you know the probably the cardinal rule is to be to some degree positive if if there's a negative feeling and your people feel like ideas are going to get struck down that's bad for coming up with new ideas I guess one of the things I've learned over the years about a writers room is that even though there are a lot of different personalities in different minds and it's a great benefit to have all these different people they're all kind of cut from the same mold in the sense that they're all comedy writers and I've I've learned to take take the consensus of the room with the grain of salt at times and check other non writer types because writers do have a lot of prejudices and personality quirks and you know sometimes it's good to ask the prop master what he thinks or she thinks of something and I used to have little focus groups where I'd bring the accountants the show accountants in and play them scenes because you know I don't even know if they liked the show they were very they would certainly not like the writing staff which was completely engaged in every detail so the accounts would look at it they go yeah that's offensive but I like that well I mean in terms of tips when you writers I think the writers room is such an unusual environment in British TV that really it's almost you're likely to end up writing in a submarine probably as a writers room but unlike in the u.s. where it's so common so the main thing is just work on your script work on your script work in your script because you know it the writers room is still very much secondary in British TV and even an American TV you still go away and write your episode you know I think people have a myth that it's getting written in the room nothing ever gets written in the room but it helps you come up with the plot break the plot but you won't even get in the room unless you've written a cracking script so right right right there's no there's no alternative to that I'm a big fan of originality so I like to hear jokes and stuff that I've never heard before I'm sure a lot of people are that way and I also feel that there's a you get a sense of the morality of the person who makes suggestions from how they make suggestions you know so they're not how but what like for example what they think is an appropriate ending to a story whether they think that you know certain behaviors should be rewarded with positive successes at the end of the story or whether it makes them really laugh when innocent people run into horrible outcomes you know you kind of get a sense of what the person's like the dudes are to come and be ready with lots of ideas and be as much as you can a normal human being you know you don't you don't sort of going to be a dick but likewise don't be frightened little Maggs I think that's the key isn't it just normal human interaction or fake normality you can fake normality then you'll join your fit in well with writers yeah you

3 Comments

  • DC Adapted says:

    I love this: The UK showrunners say when hiring writers they're most concerned (90%) with the person's ability to write well, whereas the US showrunner is almost entirely interested in hiring people with whom he can "get along."

    The Brit guys go on to say they like having a mixture of personalities because it helps with creativity and when evaluating ideas, whereas the American showrunner talks about having to go out and ask someone like the prop master for his opinion on a new joke because the American writers are too much alike!

    Is it any wonder at all that most UK comedies are so much better than most American comedies?

  • SamuelDaram says:

    This video is a real treat. Only  eight minutes?

  • Torc Handsomeson says:

    lol that american guy is so sombre, you wouldn't think he's in comedy from his demeanor. 

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