Showrunner Rules from Jeffrey Lieber: Numbers 81-90

February 19th, 2013 by

Jeff Lieber is a screenwriter and TV writer. His movie credits include Tuck Everlasting and he is currently an executive producer of the USA Network series “Necessary Roughness.” On Twitter (@JeffLieber), he has run a series of tweets called Showrunner Rules. For background on Jeff and this Twitter series, go here.

Today: Numbers 81-90:

Showrunner Rule #81: Audience will shut off TV 2 seconds after major conflict is solved. Got your “killer” early in act 4? Go back & re-break.

Showrunner Rule #82: Writing INT. FULL AUDITORIUM is writing INT. $12,500 in 250 extras at +$50 a head. Locations have budget consequences.

Showrunner Rule #82A (addendum): When writing a spec pilot… fuck budget consequences and write something great. You’ll figure out $$ later.

Showrunner rule #83: If interviewing script supervisor, drink water w/ 1 hand. As they leave, ask WHICH hand. If they know… join the show!

Showrunner Rule #84 (1 of 2): When you find an all-in, sure-fire, decent-person, character-actor like, say, Michael O’Neill…

Showrunner Rule #84 (2 of 2): …DON’T tell anyone, ’cause then that actor will be on someone else’s show, not yours. (Wait. Wait! Untweet!)

Showrunner Rule #85: When on set for 1st 3AM Fraturday, get crew coffee cart/ice cream/SOMETHING. It’s 1 week for you… 20 weeks for them.

Showrunner Rule #86 (1 of 2): Must have clear rule on line changes, i.e. script concerns must be raised 48 hours before a scene shoots…

Showrunner Rule #86 (2 of 2): …leaving time to republish for production. Biggest avoidable time suck: negotiating lines while crew sits.

Showrunner Rule #87 (1 of 2): Ratings speculation infects set like flu. Must ACTIVELY manage day after premier response, so that whispers…

Showrunner Rule #87 (2 of 2): …of potential shut down don’t turn into entire crew on phones looking for next job.

Showrunner Rule #88: Resist temptation 2 get cute w/ slug line. No “dusk” or “gloaming”. 4 productions sake its NIGHT (dark) or DAY (light).

Showrunner Rule #88: Gotta have AT LEAST 3 scripts to Production Draft by 1st day of shooting. Anything less 8 you’ll be on fumes by EP 8.

Showrunner Rule #89: Figure out when natural room lull is & schedule calls then. You won’t recover from derailing story momentum at 10AM.

Showrunner Rule #90 (1 of 3): Breakdown of 36 days from Story Break to Production Draft (AKA Rule #36 here.

Showrunner Rule #90 (2 of 3): 7 days story break, 8 days outline (including notes), 10 days internal draft, 5 days to Studio Draft…

Showrunner Rule #90 (3 of 3): …4 days to Network Draft. 2 days to Production Draft (on first day of Prep). Get’m to the church on time.

For Showrunner Rules: Numbers 1-10, go here.

Numbers 11-20, go here.

Numbers 21-30, go here.

Numbers 31-40, go here.

Numbers 41-50, go here.

Numbers 51-60, go here.

Numbers 61-70, go here.

Numbers 71-80, go here.

Next: Showrunner Rules: Numbers 91-100.

I asked Jeff for a bio. Here it is:

One day in 1986, after blowing up a glass beaker in a lab in high school, Jeffrey Lieber’s science teacher, Dr. Nagoi, turned to him and said, “Jeffrey… you be an actor… you be a writer… maybe have a family… but please, dear God, don’t be a chemist.” And it was those words that launched a journey that has ended up with Mr. Lieber becoming a screenwriter, showrunner, blogger, father and husband (Credits? Go here). Every day, while pursuing his passions, Mr. Lieber takes a moment to stop and thank Dr. Nagoi for his sage advice.

Thanks, Jeff. Best of luck on the front lines of running a TV series and all your creative endeavors!

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