How to be a Film WriterBecoming a filmmaker
After more than 20 years of producing, creating and directing TV and feature films, Jeff Lowell can be proud of his accomplishments. Lowell, a New York native who grew up in Arizona, graduated from high school to follow a literary careers in L.A. When asked to consult emerging authors, he gained years of practical knowledge to provide a better insight into TV vs. film, what it took to be a winning writer, and much more.
What is the difference between TV and film? On TV, the author (showrunner) is responsible. There' s a moviemaker, but the show runner can overrule him. Often a show runner or another manufacturer is present in the individual cameras when it comes to answering a line or question. An author observes the actor during the execution of the screenplay and then writes what doesn't work (with a group of authors).
The author is seldom on the film. The film is the director's media; as soon as the screenplay goes into action, authors are only used occasionally. Occasionally a sympathetic film-maker will leave the writer hanging, but that would be the rare thing. There' only one vote speaks to the actor, and that's the stage-man.
When do you interfere with an actor? Movies are made with the help of film-makers. On TV, there are rehearsals by filmmakers without authors, but the shooting takes place with an author on television to help the actor comprehend intention and reason. You think a writer should have the ability to act? Above all, it will help me to comprehend how to speak to actors.
In all honesty, it gives me a liking for what performers go through: exposure, having to respond with a single lens one feet away from their faces, of course, to everyone they work with. An author who understands this and assists the performer will always get better results. We try during the audition to get the cast as close as possible to what we think the characters should be.
As soon as a show is in full swing, the player becomes a comedian. That' s more the case with TV. There is really no such thing as the ability to modify the characters on the fly. It takes a whole weeks to do[30 minutes] of footage to really let the author in and put things in order.
There' rewriting in the movie, but the work gets harder because everything is out of order. Will you be present as an author while you edit or loop? On TV, 100 per cent of the goddamn tim. Only with a very safe and tolerant moviemaker. So what do authors want to see in their work that the actor knows about?
An actor may think that a writer wants a robot to say the words literally; others think that an actor doesn't follow the words they' re writing. If an author (or director) says: "Let's try it the way it's meant to be, and then we can try it your way", don't think of it as a boob. The best possible author or scriptwriter will use the best possible release, not his or her one.
And I think I've also learnt how much acting gets them into their part. At first, many authors believe that the term is royal. You want everything to be exactly as you imagine it, but over the course of the years an author will learn to appreciate the feedbacks of the performers and will hopefully have the self-assurance to see things differently when it's better.
TV is unbelievably cooperative. I' m working with a writing group. I also work with the actor and the producer. Authors must be much more socially responsible and better at interacting with others, not just with words on one page. There is no deluxe of writer's death or postponement period.
Only a few short working hours and then the next one. It' s another why TV is the writer' s media. It is an beast that swallows pages, that needs good authors to pump out great stuff over and over again.