August 6, 2014 by bck1402
It was as far back as mid-April 2014 when I was first approached about this project, which shall remain nameless for now. An animated series with a planned thirteen episodes, and all scripts to be completed by mid july. When asked about my schedule, I mentioned that on the last project, I could churn out one script in ten days. I also mentioned that those were 12-15 pages per script for shorts running approximately ten to twelve minutes. My contact seemed stunned at the speed I was putting out a script. Ten days? That was fast!
It made me wonder what the actual turn-around time was for other script-writers. How did it take for them to churn out a script that would be about ten to fifteen pages for a half-episode short?
I was asked if I could take on six episodes, and I responded by asking for details.
A thirteen episode series, with each episode running 20-23 minutes for a half-hour show (at least 25-30 pages per script), there would be a head-writer in charge of the concept and episode breakdowns. After all, there was a serial element to the concept, and we’re aiming for the junior market. With the deadline more than two and a half months away, it seemed doable. If they could provide me with sufficient information about the settings, the characters, the concept and the episode breakdowns, I’d do six, with a possible seventh, time permitting.
And then the days fly by.
It isn’t until the first week of May, about two and a half weeks later that I get the show’s bible with some character breakdowns, a very rough idea for the opening episode, where the story is going and mere sketches of what other episodes might have and how one such episode might play out. I also get some character designs – and no, I can’t share those either. No breakdowns in terms of structure as yet.
Another two weeks go by, during which I’m asked if it’s okay for me to handle episodes 4-6 and 11-13.
The last three episodes for the season are mine to tackle, but I still don’t know how they get to that point. I had a rough idea – very very rough idea – of what was to happen, based on the information in the show bible I got earlier. No breakdowns for the episodes. No idea what was going to happen in eps four, five and six.
Another week of waiting, I decided to do the breakdowns myself, at least for the last three episodes. Following the little bit of information I had, knowing where the characters were to end up, I drafted out a epic three part finale and sent that off to the company. It took a while more before they agreed I could go ahead with episodes 12 and 13. Nothing said about 11. Into the second week of June, I started writing the first script. It also meant that I now had less than a month to churn out the six scripts I agreed to. After I submitted it, I pushed on to episode 13.
Then came two pieces of news, one of which I was surprised did not come up earlier. The first was that I not make the episodes end with cliff-hangers. Each episode had to stand alone and have a proper conclusion. Given how I had laid out the last three episodes, this was a toughie, especially with how the story had been structured for 12 and 13, the scope of the finale was huge and needed a two-parter. I did the rewrite, taking the conclusion of a particular event out of episode 13 and putting it into episode 12, removing some elements that got pushed to ep 13, pushing the script for ep 12 just beyond 30 pages. It also meant that episode 13 would now fall short, having lost a major set-piece. I had to create a new set-piece and then dropped in a whole different approach to the conclusion. They seemed happy with that.
The other bit of news was that the deadline would be pushed out to mid August.
Phew – a little breathing room of four weeks.
And I pushed ahead with episode 11 before they actually said to go ahead; which they did a couple of days later.
Getting through episode 11 was a bit of a struggle because I now had to line everything else up with the events in episode 12 and 13. Sure, some writers will say it’s good to start at the end and then work your way there. Plotting things out would be easy, except this wasn’t really my story.
Between writing out episode 13 and rewriting episode 12, I was sent a promotional clip for the show. So I got to check out the planned animation, and check out the characters. Only three of the characters had bits of dialogue, so at least, I had some additional voices in my head, and some action and movements to reference. It also had the core concept of the show, and designs for the environment to work with. Still not a lot, but it was something I could work with.
Just as I was struggling to wrap up episode 11, the other shoe dropped. The deadline was now August 8, because the company had to make a presentation to the financiers. If the scripts weren’t ready by then, the project would be dropped. I had no idea what any other writers were doing, but I agreed to submit the six scripts I had agreed to do. This was just past mid-July. For episode four, five and six, I was asked to adapt three of the oh-so-rough ideas from the show bible, two of which I could imagine every other writer passing on. I had to find some way to make those work as full length episodes.
So, my focus ended up there, and I skipped a bunch of movies and shows. Oh, there were other things that I still had to do, and there was the matter of trying to do a fine-tune edit on the Journal (yes, I know, I’ve harped on this so much before) to get the text ready for printing. I did make sure not to miss Guardians of The Galaxy (my review here), a brief moment of respite among the super-stressful days. Oh, yeah, there was Sharknado 2: The Second One too over SyFy. That sure sparked a few silly ideas. How cool was it to have Robert Hays as a pilot and Judd Hirsch as a cab driver?
On August 4th, I submitted the last script, approximately 50 days since I first started with episode 12. I caught up with some sleep the next day, and got all caught up on Defiance, managed to relax a little.
There are still revisions and rewrites to come, but for now, I’m going to catch up on the other movies I’ve missed, or maybe it was okay to pass on those shows. Tomorrow, it’s the Ninja Turtles. Not too sure if that’s enticing enough. We’ll see…