Typing Faster

January 26, 2011

Web Series Week: Pretty in Geek Creator Elize Morgan

Filed under: Uncategorized, Web Series, Working — petertypingfaster @ 9:16 am

As promised, today’s follow up post is an interview with Elize Morgan, writer / creator / actor of the upcoming web series Pretty in Geek, transmedia superstar working with the team of Tights and Fights: Ashes! and all around digital media consultant. Hopefully y’all get a little something, something out of our conversation!

TypingFaster: Intros – Give me the bio, you know the drill!

Elize Morgan: I’m a transmedia and TV 360 writer from Toronto Canada. With a background in TV from the Canadian Film Centre, Elize also has an MA in TV/digital interactivity. She has completed a webdoc about biking 2000 kilometers in Europe, is a transmedia story producer for Tights and Fights, and is currently filming her webseries Pretty in Geek. She also likes pie.

TF: Tell us a bit about your projects (PiG, Tights, whatever else you’ve got cooking)

EM: Currently I’m producing/acting/writing/creating (right, showrunning is that term) a webseries called Pretty in Geek (http://www.prettyingeek.tv). We’re filming right now. Pretty in Geek is a series about a group of tabletop RPG gamer girls and the LARP (for those not in the know: live action role player) guy who wrecks up their game. It’s a fun, frothy comedy with lots of hair pulling. I’m also working as a transmedia story producer on Tights and Fights: Ashes, a series about vlogging superheroes in Toronto. And there’s a couple of super secret projects coming up.

TF: Why a webseries?

EM: The thing about webseries to me, over TV or film or other medias, is that you can make a show you’d never have a chance to otherwise. You can hit a niche audience (like the Guild or Red VS Blue with gaming) that would normally never get to see themselves by other mediums. So thus we have girl gamers (a long-thought non-existent species. We’re changing that), or people who play WoW, or a guy who gets sucked into the Legend of Zelda. It’s a fun, immediate medium in a lot of ways. Drama also works fairly well, as you can also show things that wouldn’t get play otherwise, in the case of web drama Anyone But Me (which hits the LGBT audience and has a very devout fan following).

You also get to see sides of things you might never in TV or film, as everyone ends up doing more than one job. And, for those who have been in development hell, it’s nice to be able to get something up and running in less than five years.

TF: What are some of the biggest conceptual differences between developing a series for the web and developing a regular old TV concept?

EM: Beyond the obvious, it’s usually shorter (though not always!), developing for the web, for the very successful properties, instead of aiming for a wide audience, you really aim niche. The web loves to see itself, its people, and loves to create communities. So my advice to anyone is to create something that hits a niche audience. The most successful web-to-TV properties did just that – like Riese and Sanctuary – and were very successful at it. But, beyond that, it’s no different than creating a TV concept. The characters have to be real, the world has to be interesting. Just because it’s online or “web only” doesn’t mean that the quality is lower. Ruby Skye PI is a great example of a show that is very high quality, was made for web, and for a niche audience.

TF: What kind of ideas lend themselves to web series? What kind don’t?

EM: I may have answered this a bit more already, but one of the key things that I think works for web (and let it be reiterated: no one really ever knows “what works” fully – be it for TV, web or film), but a strong webseries is something people can jump into easily (they often don’t start at episode one), is short and pithy, and hits a niche audience.

A great web show can be a drama, comedy, or experimental series (the NFB have a few great examples there). All of the above have been made successfully. It helps if you have a recognizable star, but you don’t need one. Sanctuary and Riese, of course, had Amanda Tapping. The Guild, Felicia Day, and a variety of others. Red VS Blue had a bunch of friends who wanted to make something funny… and did.

A great web concept is not, however, a cut up film, an ill defined market (this just needs thought), or something you can’t make on your budget.

TF: Tell us about the development process for PiG? How long? How many rewrites? etc.

EM: Pretty in Geek was in development for about a year and a half to day of principal photography. It was bumped back, admittedly, because I had a documentary project last summer, and GopherX was shooting Tights and Fights: Ashes in the fall of 2010.

The thing about web is that a lot of people may assume there aren’t as many rewrites going into it as opposed to television. Because we had a lot of time in lead up, we did just as many if not more rewrites on Pretty in Geek. The concept changed a lot in development, but it was a great process all told, and I’m especially grateful to have had Scott Albert on board as our EP because he is a fantastic story editor.

Closer to the final rewrites, there were many fantastic writers who came in to help with punch up and with going over story beats.

TF: Tell us about selling / landing an EP. How’d it come about. Advice. etc.

EM: I happened to luck into it, as I had met Scott Albert at some of the writer’s functions in Toronto – including the web version of WWTV – and had mentioned the concept to him in passing when we grabbed a coffee. I had pretty much thought it would end there, but GopherX had just brought on an associate producer, Courtney Wolfson, who took a shine to the concept. From there, we had a few meetings and went into developing and fleshing out what had basically been a logline into a full series.

TF: What about branding at the development stage. How early did you start developing a following for your projects.

EM: As early as possible. Pretty much once you have an official logo that fits and works with the series get your social media up – don’t push it yet, but make sure you have them. Around the stage where you’re shooting, put up production pictures, tell your friends, tell your mom. Tell the crew and cast’s moms. Get your facebook and twitter pages started so that once you do have your pilot up and running you have someone to tell that you have a pilot going.

Developing community is slow, so knowing your brand/marketing plan (i.e. who your audience is) from the beginning is key. Take your time, make a plan. And right before you launch any episodes launch a facebook ad that targets your exact audience. It works for pretty much any budget (including the $20 your mom lent you), and you only pay if someone likes your page.

TF: Tell us a bit about what it’s like being a writer / creator during production. How involved are you. etc.

EM: I happen to also be acting in the show, so I am very involved. This is fairly common in web. I’ve heard of a lot of different set ups. Most writer/creators are also producers on set, so you’re putting out fires while also directing, acting, making sure people are fed, and holding the boom if need be.

I’m also helping with craft, and am heavily involved with production meetings. I have creative control over art, wardrobe and the like with our very talented director Vivian Lin. So while things are very busy, but it is also really exciting.

TF: Any advice for an aspiring webseries creator?

EM: At the risk of getting a C&D: Just do it. Really, figure out what you need to do to get it done and go and make it. Having an EP, or a production company, that knows what they’re doing is great, but there’s so few that have strong web success, so get a team together that’s strong make sure you trust them, and make your series.

I also have a blog over at http://www.elizemorgan.com/ where I share a lot of advice on this, from other creators and the like, so feel free to drop a line over there if there’s any other questions!

TF: Thanks so much for answering my questions! Good luck with the rest of production.

Later this week we’ll be talking with Producer Courtney Wolfson and Director Vivian Lin to get their respective takes on the process of putting together a web series. Thanks for stopping by!

January 25, 2011

Web Series Week: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Web

Filed under: Web Series — petertypingfaster @ 9:41 am

I’m the first to admit that it took me a while to warm up to web series. Like everything else on the internet, there’s so much crap out there that the signal to noise ratio is terrible. Sometimes it’s hard to see the point. Why would I want to watch a web series when there’s much better television to watch? Why would I want to create / write a web series when there’s so little chance of my creation actually being noticed in this sea of suckitude?

I’m still not sold on the first half, I barely have enough time to watch television so I don’t particularly feel like watching a bunch of web series. But I’m definitely starting to come around on the second.

A few things happened to bring me around. First off, a few projects really opened my eyes to just how good web series can be. Shows like The Guild and Dr Horrible were amazing, but I don’t think that they’re really accurate depictions of what an independent web series can realistically do. Not many of us are walking around with a sponsorship from Microsoft, nor do we happen to be Joss Whedon. But series like Ruby Skye, P.I., on the other hand, really showed what was possible for us to accomplish here in Canada.

The other big factor was I actually got involved with a couple of web series. 2010 was the year a good friend of mine really started to gain traction with Pretty in Geek, a web series concept of hers. She landed an EP, wrote the first season (eight, five minute long episodes) and, soon enough, was racing into pre-production. I wound up helping out with punch up and story editing of the first eight scripts.

From there I’ve gotten involved with a couple of other projects. One is another straight up web series that I’m in the process of helping to write. The other project I got involved with is Tights and Fights, but with a large transmedia component. I’m part of the transmedia story team (guess my title is technically Transmedia Story Director / Writer). We do weekly live twitter episodes, multiple weekly low intensity stories that play out through scheduled tweets, blog posts and facebook status updates. The amount of work is huge, but we’ve got a great team to help spread the load.

I’ve learned a lot from getting involved with these projects. Writing for the web is, in a lot of ways, identical to writing for television. The difference lies in the flexibility. Writing for the web doesn’t hem you in as much. It’s not television, and you shouldn’t approach a web project as such. Part of it is a matter of scale, part of it is a matter of audience.

I’ve learned a lot from my web series work. Its forced me to write faster than I ever have before (try writing multiple characters during a live, improvised twitter performance…makes you think on your feet). Its given me the opportunity to write for characters and genres that I wasn’t familiar with, and wouldn’t have had the chance to write for if not for the web. Writing for the web has also allowed me to get to know a lot of really great people that I wouldn’t have had the chance to know otherwise.

This week I’m really excited to feature the creative team of the upcoming web series Pretty in Geek. It was the project that marked my first steps into the wonderful world of web series, and I’m really excited to see it when it premieres.

Come back tomorrow for an interview with Elize Morgan, the writer / creator of Pretty in Geek.

January 21, 2011

Web Series Week Next Week!

Filed under: Web Series — petertypingfaster @ 2:05 pm

It’s the dawn of a new era here at Typing Faster. Instead of just rambling myself, it’s time for me to start soliciting the ramblings of others! First up next week: Web Series!

On tap for you the creative and production team behind the upcoming web series Pretty in Geek! We’ll be talking to:

As well as the thoughts of yours truly. Hope to see you then!

January 19, 2011

What Happened to the Script Library?

Filed under: Scripts — petertypingfaster @ 9:57 am

I’ve had a few people contact me privately to ask why I took down the script library.

Well, a few other sites that hosted scripts recently received cease and desist letters. There’s even (reputedly) a law suit that’s been filed. Give the rising legal tide I figured it was time for me to pull the plug before I got a nasty letter from some corporate lawyer thug.

That being said if you’re looking for a specific television or film script, drop me a line. I’ll probably be able to give you an idea of where you could find the script yourself.

January 18, 2011

The Plan

Filed under: Me — petertypingfaster @ 8:31 am

So I’ve given it some thought, done some of that deep, dark soul searching we writers are so known for, and I think I’ve come up with a plan for what direction I want to take the old blog. Basically it goes a little something like this…

Each week will have a different focus. Topics like:

  • Landing your first job
  • Advice for new writers
  • How to get an agent
  • What do development execs look for in a project
  • A writer’s guide to development applications

You get the idea. If anyone has any topics they’d like to see discussed I’m all ears.

Each week I’ll probably write a post or two on the subject, depending on how much I have to say about it. The rest of the week will feature interviews and guest posts from people I think could contribute to the weekly topic. I’m going to shoot for at least a couple of guest posts / interviews.

Hopefully I’ll be able to corral enough people to get this started next week…

So what does everyone think? Good idea / Bad Idea?

January 16, 2011

What? I have a blog?

Filed under: Me, Working — petertypingfaster @ 8:18 am

Obviously I kind of fell off the blogging wagon. Partly because I feel I’m running out of things to say, partly because it’s been a really busy few months. So what have I been up to since September?

Let’s see, (and in no particular order)…

  • Wrote another pilot, then promptly rewrote the shit out of it. I’m still rewriting (Draft number four! Wheeeee!). This is what happens when everyone around you are perfectionists, the notes just keep on coming…
  • Wrote 6…no 7…pitch documents. Some of them I’m happy with, some of them I’m not. Some of them I’m still working on, some of them I’m hoping will be quickly forgotten.
  • Wrote a spec, planning on rewriting the shit out of it. The only reason that I haven’t promptly rewritten the shit out of it is because I just finished it over Christmas break. Pretty happy with the way it turned out. Took a couple false starts before I figured out a story I was happy with, but think I got it. It’s a Good Wife in case anyone was wondering.
  • (Was) Volunteered to help write an ongoing webseries. Tights and Fights: Ashes! The best superhero comedy on the entire world wide web! It’s been a lot of fun. I think my title is Transmedia Story Director / Writer. I’m in charge of directing our weekly live twitter performances, and helping write our weekly low intensity (blog, twitter, facebook) character storylines. Though why anyone would put me in charge of anything is beyond me…
  • Helped story edit and write another webseries. Principal photography started today. Pretty in Geek!. Coming soon to a YouTube channel near you!
  • Writing another webseries with friends. We have first draft scripts for all episodes. Launching into rewrites next week.
  • Breaking and outlining a TV movie. Why? Because I’m a masochist, that’s why.
  • Story Editing a feature length documentary. I started out primarily working in the documentary world, and I kind of miss it. This was a chance to help some nice folks out with crafting a cool doc.
  • Oh yeah, and then there’s that freelance producing work. You know, the stuff that pays the bills. I helped put together five (six?) funding applications, digital media plans and other assorted miscellany in that time. My batting average is pretty good too. I think seventy or eighty percent of the funding applications I’ve completed in the past year received funding. I like to think that’s because of my application wizardry, not the creative material or the companies involved. Leave me my delusions.

So yeah, its been busy.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this blog going forward, but I guess time will tell…

Stay tuned!

September 22, 2010

Community Tweets

Filed under: Future of TV — petertypingfaster @ 3:38 pm

The NBC comedy that is.

The premiere of NBC’s “Community” will begin with a scene played out online, in 140 characters or less.

NBC has announced that ahead of the sitcom’s Thursday premiere, “Community” will present what it’s calling a “Twittersode.” A scene will be acted out on Twitter feeds devoted to the show’s characters, who will be planning their second year at community college.

The scene will be composed of 80 tweets and will debut at 7 p.m. EDT, an hour before the show is scheduled to air. It can be followed at http://www.NBC.com/CommunityTwittersode.

Guess you gotta do something…

September 21, 2010

Never Say No To A Panda

Filed under: Uncategorized — petertypingfaster @ 2:31 pm

Nothing to do with writing, but pretty funny…

September 17, 2010

ScriptShadow Tells You How To Write For A-List Actors

Filed under: Craft — petertypingfaster @ 7:00 am

ScriptShadow is a great, albeit controversial, site (run by a guy by the name of Carson Reeves) that breaks down and reviews new scripts. It’s a great place to go for one man’s insightful analysis of what’s working and what’s not in the current crop of movies.

Sometimes they’ll post pure nuggets of writerly advice, like a recent post on how to write for an A-List actor. I think Carson’s bang on when he says that “…there’s no quicker way to get your script sold or made into a movie than to attach a star”, so what can you do to increase your chances?

Carson does all of us writers a favor by breaking down the most recent roles of 25 A-List actors in an attempt to see if there are any commonalities. So what does he find out? What kind of things tend to attract top level talent to a given project?

First of all, the role has to be challenging in some capacity. True, many of these actors are slapping down product in the middle of the summer where mediocrity reigns supreme, but that doesn’t mean they want neutered down roles. These thespians have gotten to the top of the heap by playing dozens if not hundreds of characters. They’re looking for something new and different. Brad Pitt plays a character not only at many different ages in his life, but plays those ages on a reverse timeframe. That’s challenging stuff. Denzel Washington plays a character who rarely speaks, who emotes only with his eyes and his actions. That’s a challenge. DiCaprio operates in a dreamworld where he’s imprisoned his wife. Every time he then goes into that dreamworld, he’s faced with a sea of conflicting emotions.

Next up, I think your character needs to be heroic. A lot of these characters are saving other people. I hate to state the obvious but actors are very egotistical. They want to play God and save others. There’s nothing more heroic than that. Just remember, heroism doesn’t always mean stopping an asteroid from hitting earth. It can mean delivering the last bible across a post-apocalyptic U.S. It can mean committing suicide to have your organs save seven other people. Whether you’re saving a nation or saving others, look for ways to make your characters heroic.

The last thing I noticed was that characters should have something going on inside of them as well as outside. Running around shooting people is fun but it’s not stretching any acting muscles. You gotta give’em some toys to play with upstairs. Benjamin Button has an ongoing physical transformation as well as having to deal with the realities of being different from everyone else. Denzel Washington gets to shred people into sushi yet must learn to open himself up to others. Tom Cruise gets to fly around on cars but still must learn to be selfless before he can find happiness. Note how in two of these cases (Cruise and Washington’s) the internal stuff is tied to the character arc and in Benjamin’s case, it’s more of a general internal battle that never arcs. That’s fine. Whether you’re arcing your character or not, at the very least, give them some kind of issue they’re struggling with internally.

It’s pretty obvious stuff really, but worth mentioning again and again until we all remember it.

September 16, 2010

The Secret To Indie Movie Success

Filed under: Features — petertypingfaster @ 10:02 am

Just get two girls kissing. At least that’s according to Darren Aronofsky while discussing his latest feature, Black Swan. From all accounts it’s supposed to be a pretty good flick.

But when you’ve got Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis making out in your trailer you know you’re going to get more than a little buzz.

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