My unasked for 2 cents on the whole "can you believe all these young TV writers who aren't familiar with classic television?" debate: all of us came to writing from different places. Some grew up mainlining MASH & I Love Lucy, others think TV began with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Is it good to have a deep well of knowledge about the classics, especially in the area you're writing? Of course. Is it productive to scold young up & coming writers for having a different frame of reference? Well...
Speaking only for myself, if I were showrunning a show with clear antecedents in classic TV & my young staffers weren't familiar with those shows? I'd ask them to watch them! Josh gave us assigned reading on Sarah Connor Chronicles-educating your staffers (without shame) is good!
We all have different ideas of what shows, books & movies are canonical, & we all have holes in our educations. For those of us with more experience, it's a wonderful opportunity to say "Hey, here are some things that influenced the things you love/this might blow your mind."
And of course it runs both ways--staffers, especially those who may be of different ages & different backgrounds than you--might just turn you on to a show/movie/music you never heard of or had been resisting!
We're all learning, we're all teaching, we're all doing our best to make good stories that will touch and entertain others. So let's be good to each other, and elders & newbies alike come into the (virtual for now) room from a place of humility, openness, & collaboration.
One last thought: it's actually possible to be a TV writer who's so versed in the classics that it makes your writing feel too like, well, things that have already been written.
On one show I worked on, we were working on an episode about a teenage boy who had a difficult relationship with his military father. The TV & movie-loving showrunner wanted it to play like The Great Santini, because that was the story he was familiar with...
But I had actually BEEN a military brat (stepdad in the Coast Guard.) I argued from lived experience that these stories are a lot more nuanced & complicated than dad acting like a yelling drill sergeant. And...the showrunner didn't want to hear it.
It became a huge point of contention in the room. And as the young punk consulting producer I probably wasn't as diplomatic as I should have been regarding my objections, but...the showrunner wanted The Great Santini. And The Great Santini already exists. So it was a problem...
And that was coming from a (mostly) white straight male writer butting heads with the showrunner. Pretty much every black TV writer I know has at least one story of a white showrunner thinking he knew how to write black characters best because he watched every season of The Wire.

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More from @MuseZack

5 May
This article isn't new but it's wonderful--in a corner of the Bolivian rain forest, the indigenous people play a homegrown version of Baroque music on classical instruments they make themselves, a legacy of the Jesuit missions of nearly 3 centuries ago.…
The story of the Jesuit missions in South America is known to most people through the 1986 film The Mission, but when Ennio Morricone composed his beautiful score, the indigenous Baroque pieces were thought to be lost, so the soundtrack is his imaginative reconstruction instead.
But when a Polish priest started talking to the indigenous people of the region in the late 80s, it turned out that they had preserved much of the music of the period, painstakingly copying it generation after generation as the manuscripts quickly decayed in the jungle moisture.
Read 6 tweets
1 Apr
I'm realizing I am using every trick I learned writing for syndicated action hours and The Flash to try and deliver spectacle on a...shall we say constricted budget for this script.
Zack's spectacle on a budget tips.
1: It's all a game of Jenga. Do all the VFX shots you like in the first draft, then see how many you can get rid of & still tell the story.

2: Play stuff on displays & characters' reactions wherever possible.

3: Do one big shot, then go tight.
4: Look at how Jaws & Jurassic Park handled their monsters-- a few hero shots & a lot of great, cheap things that suggested the monster without showing it--water rippling in a glass, barrels floating to the surface, etc.
Read 9 tweets

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