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Fan Productions Creating our own Trek canon!

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Old December 31 2013, 09:18 PM   #166
Maurice
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Re: Fan Film Writer's Primer

Jumping back a bit to Dramatic Structure, and specifically 3-act vs. 5-act vs. other forms, I was working on an episode template for a proposed series and in doing some research on various approaches I came upon a blog which had some posts I thought might be useful to some of you here.
  1. An entry about (link) Arch Plot and Classic Design, which breaks down a three-act story into 11 Story Beats.
  2. In the above, there's a (link) very nice diagram illustrating these points re a motion picture script. It also lists a bunch of alternate terms for the same beats, which should make it easier to align this with other sources you may have read.
  3. And here's (link) a breakdown of Toy Story which illustrates this structure in practice.

I hope this is of some use.
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Old December 31 2013, 09:29 PM   #167
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Re: Fan Film Writer's Primer

Great and succinct little essays. Thanks Maurice.
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Old December 31 2013, 09:50 PM   #168
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Re: Fan Film Writer's Primer

Ditto. Loving all of it. Thanks for sharing, Maurice!
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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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Old January 13 2014, 01:16 AM   #170
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Re: Fan Film Writer's Primer

This is great cause I am not formally educated in writing for film and really haven't written a story since HS. Good stuff here and in the other thread as I said.
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Old February 2 2014, 03:26 AM   #171
Maurice
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Re: Fan Film Writer's Primer

I was digging through some very old paperwork last night and ran across this, back from whence I (unsuccessfully) tried to sell a script to ST:TNG. Unlike some others, I didn't go the "open door policy" method but rather got an agent (in fact, mine was Ron D. Moore's first agent) who had contacts with the show. This is why I was able to submit some written pitches instead of spec scripts (though I did those as well). I thought some of you might be interested in the kind of feedback one gets from actual writing departments.

One thing you'll notice is that the memo very carefully sidesteps suggesting that the author do anything because the WGA would look upon that as an "assignment". Instead the memo points out things that could potentially be issues with the stories pitched.


I'd forgotten what a lot of these pitches were until I dug them out of my files, and in retrospect it's obvious that most were too plot-centric and not about the characters propelling the story. Also, I should have genericized the aliens instead of doing callbacks to earlier shows, since that made the stories seem more "gimmick"y than they actually were.
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Old February 2 2014, 03:03 PM   #172
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Re: Fan Film Writer's Primer

And one of my few complaints about TNG was that we never saw most of the aliens we met in TOS and never found out what happened to any of them. It seems to me there could have been the twice-a-year script which had a really good story which happened to involve a race we'd already met. I don't see why that's any more gimmicky than repeated Q stories.

OTOH, I confess TNG is my favorite ST series, so it's hard to argue with results.
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Old February 2 2014, 06:42 PM   #173
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Re: Fan Film Writer's Primer

''the producers often hesitate to employ what they refer to as ''gimmicks'' from the original series''...

Perhaps they should have decided to use the gimmick that might have made Riker, Troi, Crusher, LaForge, Wesley actually compelling as characters, hmmm?
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Old February 2 2014, 06:44 PM   #174
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Re: Fan Film Writer's Primer

Barbreader wrote: View Post
And one of my few complaints about TNG was that we never saw most of the aliens we met in TOS and never found out what happened to any of them. It seems to me there could have been the twice-a-year script which had a really good story which happened to involve a race we'd already met. I don't see why that's any more gimmicky than repeated Q stories.
barb, that's TNG keeps using and using the few antagonist character the audience DOES like until they become a shadow of what they were initially...(the Borg, the Dominion, Q, etc...)
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Old February 2 2014, 07:34 PM   #175
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Re: Fan Film Writer's Primer

Bixby wrote: View Post
''the producers often hesitate to employ what they refer to as ''gimmicks'' from the original series''...

Perhaps they should have decided to use the gimmick that might have made Riker, Troi, Crusher, LaForge, Wesley actually compelling as characters, hmmm?
I found them perfectly compelling, nor am I alone. Mileage, clearly, varies. Do we really need yet another TNG vs TOS, 'my show is better than yours' debate? Or maybe we can just agree that people have widely varying tastes and leave it at that.
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Old February 3 2014, 12:16 AM   #176
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Re: Fan Film Writer's Primer

USS Intrepid wrote: View Post
Bixby wrote: View Post
''the producers often hesitate to employ what they refer to as ''gimmicks'' from the original series''...

Perhaps they should have decided to use the gimmick that might have made Riker, Troi, Crusher, LaForge, Wesley actually compelling as characters, hmmm?
I found them perfectly compelling, nor am I alone. Mileage, clearly, varies. Do we really need yet another TNG vs TOS, 'my show is better than yours' debate? Or maybe we can just agree that people have widely varying tastes and leave it at that.
Agreed.

Bixby: I found all the characters on TNG quite compelling, thankyouverymuch. To each his own.

The other thing to consider is that Roddenberry had basically laid down a veto on bringing back aliens from TOS. He was against Worf's existence, for crying out loud. That we got Vulcans, Klingons, and Romulans isn't altogether surprising but let's remember the context of that first year on the show when leveling our criticisms, shall we?
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Old February 3 2014, 12:49 AM   #177
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Re: Fan Film Writer's Primer

Maurice wrote: View Post
I was digging through some very old paperwork last night and ran across this, back from whence I (unsuccessfully) tried to sell a script to ST:TNG. Unlike some others, I didn't go the "open door policy" method but rather got an agent (in fact, mine was Ron D. Moore's first agent) who had contacts with the show. This is why I was able to submit some written pitches instead of spec scripts (though I did those as well). I thought some of you might be interested in the kind of feedback one gets from actual writing departments.

One thing you'll notice is that the memo very carefully sidesteps suggesting that the author do anything because the WGA would look upon that as an "assignment". Instead the memo points out things that could potentially be issues with the stories pitched.


I'd forgotten what a lot of these pitches were until I dug them out of my files, and in retrospect it's obvious that most were too plot-centric and not about the characters propelling the story. Also, I should have genericized the aliens instead of doing callbacks to earlier shows, since that made the stories seem more "gimmick"y than they actually were.
Did you ever rework them? Ever actually write a script based on any of the pitches? Just wondering…
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Old February 3 2014, 02:39 AM   #178
Maurice
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Re: Fan Film Writer's Primer

I actually wrote "The Day Before Doomsday" and "None So Noble". I don't recall the dates they were submitted, though. I'll have to look in my files. I also wrote one more titled "The Unseen". Partly as possible submissions and partly just to get the hang of writing teleplays. "The Unseen" was never submitted, and I really liked it except for the last act, where I overreached. These were all before my agent explained to me that the show was typically resistant to use elements and characters created by non-staff writers because of potential payments around their re-use, so I stopped using them on my later pitches.

Here's the top of Act One for "None So Noble":

ACT ONE

FADE IN:

EXT. SPACE - THE ENTERPRISE (STOCK)

The Enterprise comes out of warp.

INT. ENTERPRISE - BRIDGE

Picard, Troi and Riker are their regular places. Worf studies the Tactical panel intently. Data emerges from the aft turbolift, sees Worf, and moves to his side.

DATA
Sogh worv. ghorgh pat'oghwI'wa'
yuQvagh maH paw?

Worf is so involved that he doesn't catch on at first.

WORF
We are entering orbit in--
(it registers)
You spoke Klingonese!

DATA
In preparation for this mission, I have
memorized nineteen dialects of
Klingonese, and reviewed all Klingon
related material available through the
Starfleet database.

WORF
(skeptical)
Including "batlh Qu' je" by T'loran?

DATA
Yes. An intriguing analysis of the
concepts of honor and duty. However, I
believe that "'Iw qul je" by Nihwad is
a far better work.

Worf doesn't like having Data an expert in his field.

WORF
That is a matter of opinion.

DATA
The database contains little
information about Azarbia V. Can you
tell me about the planet?

WORF
It was the... I...
(a little embarrassed)
I know nothing useful about the planet
or its inhabitants.

DATA
As it is one of the founding planets of
the Klingon Empire, I had assumed that
its history would be important.

WORF
Only Klingon history is important to
the Empire, not that of--
(stops himself from saying
something nasty)
--traitors.

The HAILING SOUND issues from Worf's console, sparing him from having to answer more of Data's questions.
I verbally pitched some new ideas to my agent in summer 1990 and one, called "Skin Deep", cast Riker in a heavy role where he actually menaced Troi, and in the end we'd learn that his body had been hijacked via a neural implant and he was being "puppetted" by a Romulan agent in order to create a false emergency, cause a saucer separation, and steal the stardrive in order to deliver it to the Romulans. In the end Troi was going to have to risk killing Riker to stop it, so it really would've been a good use of her. This was a season before "The Mind's Eye", so they hadn't really done anything like it at that point. That was the one my agent said "That one," to, but by then I got wrapped up in other work and put the Trek script pitching aside. Probably too bad because "Skin Deep" could have been a really good vehicle for Frakes and Sirtis to stretch, I think.
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Last edited by Maurice; February 3 2014 at 02:53 AM.
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Old February 3 2014, 12:42 PM   #179
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Re: Fan Film Writer's Primer

Very cool. Thanks for sharing.
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Old February 3 2014, 09:38 PM   #180
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Re: Fan Film Writer's Primer

doubleohfive wrote: View Post
USS Intrepid wrote: View Post
Bixby wrote: View Post
''the producers often hesitate to employ what they refer to as ''gimmicks'' from the original series''...

Perhaps they should have decided to use the gimmick that might have made Riker, Troi, Crusher, LaForge, Wesley actually compelling as characters, hmmm?
I found them perfectly compelling, nor am I alone. Mileage, clearly, varies. Do we really need yet another TNG vs TOS, 'my show is better than yours' debate? Or maybe we can just agree that people have widely varying tastes and leave it at that.
Agreed.

Bixby: I found all the characters on TNG quite compelling, thankyouverymuch. To each his own.

The other thing to consider is that Roddenberry had basically laid down a veto on bringing back aliens from TOS. He was against Worf's existence, for crying out loud. That we got Vulcans, Klingons, and Romulans isn't altogether surprising but let's remember the context of that first year on the show when leveling our criticisms, shall we?
I am aware of this rule. I'm also aware that Roddenberry and others came up with this when TNG was supposed to be more like its season one, stand-alone episodes and, like the original Star Trek, always stay out in deep space and likely never focus on Earth nor showcase Starfleet physically. But with television series being affected by the Hill Street Blues effect (continued storylines, overall arch, some soap elements, etc.) this was all changed...except some of those in charge, namely Rick Berman (the ''producer'' mentioned in Maurice's letter), never adapted that edict to the sweeping changes made in late 80s television and their own series.

I admit my arrogance re: TNG characters, sorry if it rankles many of you, though I do have great affection for the first 6 seasons of DS9.

But I got plenty annoyed with the mention in Maurice's letter about Rick Berman's dislike for TOS ''gimmicks'' (what the hell is that?)...A good story is a good story is a good story...If a stellar writer like Alan Moore (yes, the British comics writer) can craft amazingly textured, mature and thought-provoquing stories out of what many might perceive as childish concepts in american/british comic books, then why can't his writers do the same for Andorians and Gorns?...

That he did not bother to try tells me that he, Rick Berman, was NOT doing his job, which was to grow his audience numbers as best he can by rethinking what does or does not work, as evidenced with latter-day Voyager and Enterprise's constant ratings plummet.

But again, sorry for my harsh words about TNG...I did like many aspects of it, but disliked quite a bit as well...
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