Jane Espenson and Brad Bell: Ten things I learned by Diane Larowska
As I ran past Peter Capaldi crossing Cambridge Circus on a gloriously sunny Monday morning on my way to “Breakfast” with Jane Espenson and Brad C Bell, I knew the goddess of geek was smiling down on me.
Writer, producer and TV deity Jane met the fantastically gifted writer, actor, producer Bell through twitter. A friendship and later a creative partnership was born.
They were at the London Breakfast Club to discuss and hold a Q&A on their current joint project,’Husbands’ a brilliant sitcom they co-write (and starring Brad), that is broadcast online. The show is pure gold sitcom with a classic rom com premise, young couple get married after a crazy weekend in Vegas opt for trying to make their marriage work rather than get a quickie divorce. The couple happen to be two men. Traditional and ground breaking, “Husbands” is above all very, very funny. The third current season is exclusive to view on the prestigious CW network, an innovative online broadcast joint venture between CBS and Warner Brothers.
Here are ten big pearly, pearls of wisdom I gathered from a fascinating and very entertaining morning.
1 Seriously consider making your own television. Jane got into the business by sending spec scripts to Star Trek; next Generation and joining their new writer’s programme. Brad wrote and made his own work getting out firstly on You Tube. There are different options, pursue as many as you can.
2 Think like a producer if you are making your own TV. have in mind your budget and access to locations. Write great scenes in a room or house rather than a midnight thunderstorm in the grounds of Buckingham Palace.
3 Love your writing! it’s one thing to have a healthy ability to be objective and edit your work but you do have to champion it. delight in laughing at your own jokes. Jane and Brad do.
4 There pluses and minuses to collaborating with someone with someone with the same creative mind. Your strengths will be double but so will your weaknesses. As long as your aware, it won’t be a problem.
5 Television is a concept that goes beyond traditional broadcast embracing streamed and online programmes that can be accessed through computers, smart phones or even good old fashioned TVs. Brad is passionate about this concept. Even the Academy of Television Arts & sciences, giver of Emmys, agree. House of Cards- say no more.
6 if your writing a spec script, write in the voice of the show. Show runners like Joss Weedon don’t want to be able to tell which writer has written which script. Fascinatingly, Battlestar Galactica was an exception, making for in Jane’s words “ a kaleidoscopic approach” to creating the show.
7 US and UK television have different approaches. In the US it’s more collaborative, at the start of writing a season the writers work together for two weeks beating out and breaking down all the major arcs and more minor stories before writing individual episodes. In the UK there is more likely to be an initial meeting outlining where the season is going and the major arc, leaving the writers to work out more of the smaller story lines as they write individual episodes.
8 Writers can learn a tremendous amount from sitting in on the editing process. There is nothing like seeing your words in action to see what is really working and what could be cut.
9 Writers meet with a lot of “supportive”, smiling, rejection in LA. To sum up Brad’s hilarious rendition “That’s fantastic, good for you. But do you have anything written about a bigger girl? We’re really looking for something written about a bigger girl right now.”
10 Don’t waste your energy trying to create something to order. Unless you really have written something about a bigger girl in which case go for it. Stay true to what you want to create. And….Buffy the Musical is Jane’s favourite episode of Buffy! Because it’s a musical!