Well, it’s been a while since I was here last (yeah, I know almost all of my blogs start this way) but it’s not because I’ve been slack.
I present to you…
The pilot script and series bible for The Edge of the Woods!
Yep, our lovely government film body gave me and my producer (my producer and I?) some money to develop the concept for an adaptation of my own novel. It’s been amazing and I couldn’t be more excited or proud about the script we’ve come out of it with.
So that this blog has actual content between me showing you that I’m still alive, let me run through the process for you cool kids.
OCTOBER: We apply for a government funding round aimed at developing local television concepts. My producer, the wonderful Kate, and I apply with a comedy high school series and win one of six spots in a week of development meetings and pitching with and to some very cool, very successful Australian writers and producers. In our first meeting with our mentors, producer Helen Bowden (Devil’s Playground, The Slap) and Samantha Strauss (Dance Academy) ask me to talk about The Edge of the Woods. Taking to the concept and characters and being generally impressed with all the nice reviews (you fine people!) they suggest we explore an adaptation instead of our original idea. Kate is very keen on the idea, and I am very susceptible to flattery. We spend the week figuring out how to even approach a TV version and, after some minor panic attacks on public transport, we come up with a basic pitch. They put us through the ringer making us pitch the concept over and over to them, the other amazing, impressive and quite terrifying mentors, the other writer producer teams, and the entire bloody room. It’s exhausting but cool, and we get really positive feedback. At the end they give us alcohol, but at the time I’m completely off alcohol. Green tea does not have the same effect. I have another small freak out on the train home.
NOVEMBER: We win! We get a deadline of June 1st. Kate sorts out a bunch of legal stuff. I dance around the house and am generally insufferable.
FEBRUARY: Kate takes me out to a fancy dinner and Jupiter Ascending in celebration. Writers and Producers who perv on freaky Eddie Redmayne together stay together.
MARCH: (Things take quite a while to organise because legal stuff is very confusing and luckily Kate is very good at her job). Kate and I fly to Melbourne for three days of story conferencing. I am allowed to hire two other writers and take on two very talented people I worked with at Neighbours, and who have gone on to do other amazing things with rad lady leads like Wentworth.
Day One: We have a chat about major changes proposed from book to TV series and then spend the rest of the day working on getting to know our characters. Different backstories and situations affect some personalities, and some characters who have only a small role in the books – and who are seen only from Emma’s quite limited and biased perspective – need fleshing out. Every character is given strengths and flaws, wants and needs, and a series arc. Relationships are plotted and shipping occurs. A wasp attacks us at lunch.
Day Two: We stick butchers paper all over the wall and figure out the season arc, and then the key events for each episode, and then (the gist of) what every main character will be doing in every episode. The climax and finale is enthused over.
Day Three: We plot the pilot episode in detail. The word danceballparty is coined and frequently used. We finish early, discuss how awesome the show is and how we all want to watch it immediately, throw around casting ideas, and hug. I am back on alcohol, and I drink some in celebration. It’s a very fun and unnervingly easy few days. Kate and I fly back to Perth in very good moods. No freak outs on any public transport is had.
APRIL – MAY: I write the script based off our notes. Normally I’d start with a scene breakdown, but because we went into so much detail I begin with a zero draft, which is where I write an informal script (unfit for any human eyes other than my own) filled with placeholder dialogue, notes and swearing to figure out content, pacing and scene order. When I’m happy with this, I start on a proper draft, filling in actual dialogue, content and working out choreography. When I feel okay about this, I do another draft, going over everything I just did and working out whether I’ve conveyed enough or the right information, set up everything I need to set up, introduced everyone in a clear and interesting way, etc. Once I’m happy that I’ve done this, I go back and start slashing as much needless exposition and redundant information as I can. I tweak the dialogue to keep it natural, fun and interesting. Then I send it to a friend for feedback and incorporate it into the final draft. I think it’s the most fun I’ve ever had writing anything.
While I’m doing this, I also work on the series bible – a document that works as both a selling tool and a reference tool. It has a one-page pitch for the show, information on how the show works and what demographic it’s aimed at, character profiles and a summary of the series arc and forward story for season two. Don’t even ask me how I wrote this. It’s just a solid week of me shrieking at the screen.
JUNE: I send my finished script and bible to Kate, who sends it to ScreenWest and some other people I can’t talk about. But she’s doing her job and trying to get our rad series to the next stage of development, which will – fingers firmly crossed – eventually lead to The Edge of the Woods getting on your TV/computer/whatever you watch stuff on screen!
So there you go! Busy busy. But now that the ball is out of our court for a bit, I can go back to working on the other kind of writing! Which, this month, consists of working on a short story for a sci-fi anthology to be releasing in late August/early September (more on that some other time) and other short stories for my own collection of fairytale retellings to be released later this year (more on that some other, other time!). In July I’m off to the UK and Paris for a holiday with Mum, and then when I get home in August it’s back to the grindstone proper.
And now, dear friends, I’m out. But not for quite so long this time :p