Pamela Douglas, Author/Professor of Screenwriting: If the question is deciding which to write for, it’s what it is that you want to write.
Film Courage: How fast do you have to write a television script versus a movie script?
Pamela: Generally if you’re on the staff of a show, from the time that your outline is locked, now we are talking about a process until you get that outline done, so there’s been:
-There’s been a story discussion
-There’s been a structuring
-There’s been an outline
-There’s been a revised outline
Starting from that moment which is at that point weeks in, you might have two weeks or three weeks to write a script depending on the show. That’s the traditional rhythm but there are shows that package up entirely before they ever shoot and if they are going to do a whole season in advance you might have more time.
A movie, if you’re doing it on your own, take the rest of your life if you want, I mean who cares? But if you’re working for a producer who has commissioned it, you will have a deadline. A deadline might be depending on the nature of it, you might have a month or two. But I find students, especially writing a first script, need much longer.
My students who write scripts at USC might take an entire semester of four months to finish a draft and then another semester of three or four months to polish that draft. That’s luxurious and it’s because they’re students and they are getting feedback…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
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Pamela Douglas is an award-winning writer with numerous credits in television drama. The Fourth Edition of her book Writing the TV Drama Series (2018) has been adopted by network mentoring programs, and foreign language editions have been published in Germany, Italy, China, Spain and used around the globe. She is also author of the 2015 book The Future of Television: Your Guide to Creating TV in the New World. She has been honored with the prestigious Humanitas Prize for “Between Mother and Daughter” (CBS), an original drama. Multiple Emmy and Writers Guild nominations and awards from American Women in Radio and Television went to other dramas she wrote. She was a creator of the PBS series Ghostwriter, Story Editor of the Emmy-winning CBS series, Frank’s Place and wrote for A Year in the Life, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. She has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America, west. At the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts she is a professor in the screenwriting division where she specializes in television.
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