September 30, 2013 by bck1402
The very first time I tried writing a script was when a friend told me he was working within the industry. He was writing for a local show, and he shared with me the format preferred for the local industry. At this point in time, I had also taken to reading screenplays and found it fascinating the disparity between the what was written and what ended up on screen. It wasn’t always the case. There were a few – a very small few – where the original draft was almost exactly what we would see and hear. It’s just really rare.
Anyway, aside from the format of a local screenplay (which, by the way, I never really followed), there was also several forms which allowed one to develop an idea and make a pitch for a series. You would have to come up with a concept, a brief, a list of characters and how they relate or interact, the format of your proposed show, etc.. He showed me how he used it, but I don’t know if he actually pitched anything. If he did, none of what he shared turned up on our local screens anyway.
In using the formats he shared, I came up with what I thought would be a challenging series for a local market. Set in a nondescript locale, the main setting would be this hotel on a hill, there would be a little hamlet of a town nearby. The event manager of the hotel is an amateur magician, constantly booking magic acts so that he can learn from professionals as they pass through town and put on shows at the hotel. Because of our local culture, my friend suggested that the magic angle may not fly with local producers, especially with demons rampaging around and black magic being bandied as weapons. Still…
I developed my own series just for the heck of it, laid out a plan for four main arcs, broken down to three episodes per arc for a grand total of twelve episodes. From there, I developed the first arc further to have a complete plot and story, with beats for commercial breaks. Then, I proceeded to write the screenplay… and everything else fell apart. To keep pace with my planned structure, I really needed to add a few more characters and beef up some dialogue to meet the estimated page requirement (approx one page = one minute of screen time).
As I pressed on, not really knowing what I was doing even if I was trying to follow stuff I had read before, The whole episodic structure wasn’t really working out. I relied on descriptive writing to pad out the pages. Scenes I thought should have taken five minutes were done in two pages. Pages of action being described would have translated to a minute or two of screen time. What the heck was I doing and what was going wrong?
Still, I had it in my mind what I wanted – hoped – this to be. A kind of silly and fun action horror comedy hybrid with this amateur magician being caught up with mystical stuff that’s way over his head. If I couldn’t do it as a TV show, I should at least complete the damn thing as a full singular script.
Nope. Never really happened.
A lot of other things came my way and this sort of fell by the wayside. I did revisit it every now and then, write a couple of pages and then moved on to something else. As a script, it remains uncompleted, but the whole story was plotted and laid out. The beats are all there. I just needed to join the dots, IF I could just hunker down to it. Not to mention that there are three more that were meant to follow up, two of which had plots developed and a basic storyline laid out, the last only in plot form. I still have a fondness for these characters and I do love their interactions. I think they were well thought and planned out.
The hero is Crichton (can you tell I’m a bit of a ‘scaper? Or maybe named him after my favourite author?) but with no first name mentioned. There’s Terry, his girlfriend. John Knight, his best friend and head of security at the hotel. Rebecca Weisz, the beautiful and tough Assistant Manager of the hotel. A pair of cops, Bill and Ted (guess where that came from), and a magician called Simon Black (why not?)
In any case, I’ve compiled the first portion of the script (clickety click for it) for your kind perusal. If the original structure was maintained, this would have been the opening up to the first commercial break. There is much, much more of course, but I think you’d get the feel I was going for here. Enjoy