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Home » Archives » September 2007 » Adding by Subtracting
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09/23/2007: Adding by Subtracting

Are you working on a lightly-humorous hour-long spec pilot? Are you finding yourself getting bogged down in plot moves and client-story elements that fail to even capture your own attention? Are you longing to bring the focus back to the main characters? Here's a crazy thought: maybe your show isn't an hour. Maybe it's a (single camera) half-hour.

This won't work for all shows, of course. If you've got a cop or lawyer show that hangs on dense plotting, or if it's dark drama, it clearly won't feel at all like a half-hour. But if it's got a light tone, some funny, and doesn't necessarily hang on lots of plot moves and suspense-filled act breaks, then it might work well as a half-hour.

Imagine that you were given the job of going through a stack of "Ugly Betty" scripts and cutting them down to a half-hour length. What would you lose? You'd probably cut all the arc elements, the running mystery stuff. You'd simplify the A-story too, reducing plot complications while trying to keep all the funny character moments. "Ugly Betty" obviously works well as an hour, but I suggest that if it were a spec script, that a half-hour version of it would have definite appeal as a little gem of characterization: funny, fast, and short.

[CLARIFICATION: I am not suggesting writing spec Ugly Betty scripts as half-hours. I was unclear here. What I meant was that if Ugly Betty had been a spec pilot, it would have worked well as a half-hour spec pilot.]

It's not a prescription, but it's an option.

Lunch: Vietnamese pho, this time with tripe in it. Yum! Tripe's fantastic!


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