A guest column from screenwriter and TV writer Tom Benedek (Cocoon):
People will say TV is swallowing film. But perhaps it is the reverse. The best TV is becoming more like feature film — evolving into the feature form more and more. With a few differences, of course.
The “one hour” TV shows are not 60 minutes long necessarily. They are more visual, more cinematic, with more evolved design.
If you want your script to move in that direction, let it happen. TV writing can be movie making. The material can dictate the scale, duration, style. It’s not talking heads exclusively.
Hugh Laurie is an amazing nemesis in The Night Manager – miniseries on AMC.
Cast, designed, shot like a motion picture.
The undeniable demand in TV writing – solid character canvas. There must be an interesting set of situations which your characters are inhabiting, struggling with, yearning through. Consider the evolutions of their emotional connections along a time line. Even a spread sheet. One thing about TV, character stories get spread out over time, multiple episodes, seasons, an entire series even. So are a character’s feelings toward another person changing? Do deeds of enterprise impact relationships? In the realm of TV series slow burn dramatics, the audience wants a character to move into a relationship but that person can’t move forward. Until… You’re the writer. You decide.
Have a 1-hour TV pilot concept you want to develop and take to script? Here’s a great opportunity to do that in Tom’s upcoming session of TV Pilot Script Workshop which begins Monday, May 9. Go here for more information.