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Old January 7 2014, 09:53 AM   #169
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Re: Fan Film Writer's Primer

Heres another little fun nugget. Many Trek fans are pretty familiar with the Writer's Guides to the various shows, and especially the do's and don'ts from the original, but it's rare to encounter such notes for other series, especially Star Trek's 1960s contemporaries. Well, I found this little gem (link) related to the long-running NBC series Bonanza:

Part of a Series: Exploring the David Dortort Archives

At the beginning of each month, Project Archivist Mallory Furnier explores the donated papers of novelist, screenwriter, and producer David Dortort. Click here for other entries in the series.

Writer’s Digest cover, volume 48, number 12, December 1968. David Dortort Archives, Autry Library, Autry National Center; T2004-118-5

Although David Dortort created the television series Bonanza, it took the talents of multiple writers to bring the Cartwright family to television each week. An article by Nancy Vogel in the December 1968 issue of Writer’s Digest outlined seven rules from Dortort for writers adding their imagination to the Bonanza canon:

1. Absolutely no railroad stories, or yarns which require mine interiors, floods, blizzards or fires.

2. Because of the color requirements, exterior night shots should be avoided if possible, with the exception of the Ponderosa ranch house and barn, which are located on stage.

3. Stories must always deeply involve the Cartwrights. We do not want the Cartwrights ‘looking in’ on the problems of someone else. At times we have used, and will continue to use, guest stars of considerable stature, but when we do the problem is still to be a Cartwright problem and the solution a Cartwright solution.

4. The Cartwrights must never be cast as ‘do-​gooders.’ In other words, the problem should never become a Cartwright problem merely by having the Cartwrights push their way into it.

5. We often have a surfeit of Indian stories. Forget, too, any stories concerning a ‘wife’ showing up, or someone claiming to own the Ponderosa, or the young, misunderstood rebel who regenerates because of the Cartwrights’ tolerance and example.

6. We have many stories submitted in which the townspeople ‘turn against’ the Cartwrights. Unless the story is truly unique and believable, this area should be avoided. The Cartwrights are too intelligent in their behavior, too respected and too prominent to have such a thing happen.

7. What we do want is Western action and Western adventure, concerning a worthy and dramatic problem for the Cartwrights, and strong opponents. We want human drama built around a specific locale and specific period in the country’s history; simple, basic stories as seen through the eyes of Ben, Hoss, and Little Joe Cartwright, and Candy.
Points like this are very similar to those in the Trek Writer's Guides, especially those about involving the main characters and seeing the stories through their eyes, something which a lot of fanfilm writers need to cleave to.

I find particularly interesting the ones which concerns technical and cost limits (no outdoor night shoots, fires, mines, etc.).
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"There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
—Will Rogers
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