Zack Stentz Profile picture
Screenwriter (Thor, X-Men: First Class, The Flash, Booster Gold, Rim of the World, Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous.) Novelist.
3 Mar
Brief thread on TV writing inspired by @JoseMolinaTV's "bring back 22 episode seasons!" comment from yesterday. I love long seasons of TV. Here's the challenge: in genre TV, it's really difficult to pull off given the demands for serialized storytelling.
In the old days of Star Trek or Mission: Impossible, it was simpler. The characters went on a different adventure or solved a different problem each episode, with little to no continuity between episodes. But over time, serialization came to genre TV...
At first, this manifested itself in shows like The X-Files & Buffy, which had serialized, often season-long arcs, but with many or most of their episodes being standalone "monster of the week" episodes. But there's been pressure to drop those as "filler..."
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1 Mar
Die Another Day is widely considered the nadir of the Brosnan Bonds, but it's underappreciated just how WEIRD it is. It's got surfing Bond, young Rosamund Pike with a sword, and boldly asks "What if Kim Jong Un went to a Cuban clinic that turned him into Richard Branson?" Image
Also, even if you hate it? Right in the middle of the movie is one of the greatest action scenes of the past 20 years-- the sword fight where Bond & Graves get madder & madder at each other and smash up a gentleman's club sword fighting each other.
Also? Bedraggled Bond escaping custody, swimming ashore & walking soaking wet into the lobby of the fanciest hotel in Hong Kong where they're all "Your usual suite, Mr. Bond?" CLASSIC Bond moment.
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21 Feb
Bridget "Biddy" Mason had one of the most fascinating & dramatic lives in early Los Angeles. Enslaved by a Mormon pioneer, brought to 1850s Los Angeles & kept in slavery despite California being a free state, Mason was rescued by a sheriff's posse led by two free black men...
...Charles Owens & Manuel Pepper. Mason then petitioned for freedom for herself & her children in court & won after the man who enslaved her first bribed her attorney not to show up, then skipped town himself. Mason became a pillar of L.A.'s nascent black community...
...using her skill as a midwife & herbalist to deliver hundreds of babies & provide medical care to many more. By the time she died, Mason left a fortune of 300,000 dollars (worth several million today) & had founded the city's first black church...
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9 Sep 20
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!
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5 May 20
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.
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1 Apr 20
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.
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