Thursday 4th February 2021

I’ve been a wreck today.

I’m doing a series of courses this week  from Netflix on scriptwriting.  It’s not that I’m focused on writing scripts right now but that the opportunity came up and given how I really want to know more about the industry… I took the opportunity to learn.

The problem is that the sessions are being run virtually at 7:30pm PST, which means 3:30am in the morning.  It’s only 3 days so I figure I can cope with fucking up my sleep schedule for a few nights.

They’re being hosted by Netflix Animation and they’ve been pretty informative.  There’s no real call to action for me as my focus is short stories for the next couple of weeks, but I’m making a lot of notes that I can go back and review at a later date.

But by the time I get to bed, I’m not up and about until midday, and so I’ve been chasing my tail.  I only had a few hours before I needed to get ready for a second zoom conference, this time at a more reasonable 7pm.  This one was about pitching TV series to Netflix.

It really feels like Netflix is trying to snap all the writers at the moment and there was a lot of good advice that again, whilst not really actionable for me (I don’t really have a series to pitch nor a manager to pitch it), could be very useful in the future.

They did a lot of breakdowns of popular TV series such as Breaking Bad.  They looked at season arcs and episode arcs.

What was VERY interesting to me is that a lot of it married up with how I work.  Black As Knight has a similar concept to the season and episode arcs but with contracts and novels.  They spent a lot of time going on about theme and story circles… which are areas of craft I’ve put in a tonne of effort over the last year.

As a result, a lot of the 3 hour call was validation of how I approach story.  I came away thinking that this was something I could do if I so wished.

There were a few new things that I came away with.

On theme, it’s important that every main character links into the Theme as part of their emotional arc.  I feel like I know that but might have forgotten it somehow.  I watched The Dig the other night and I could immediately see that the film was all about death.  From characters dying or nearly dying, to threat of death, to death of relationships.  It worked so well because the theme was central to the character arcs.

The thing is that the plot really didn’t have to do with the act of death.  It was about things that were already dead.  The big take away from this and tonight was that theme should link heavily into character’s emotional arcs but maybe not plot.

The other thing that got me thinking was character traits.  There was a lot of talk about how those traits have a history that informs character and how opposing traits can be great for conflict.  This is something I need to think on a lot more.

I have one final zoom call in the early hours of tomorrow morning, this time on feature animation for adults.  I’ll once again take notes, and hope to learn things that will be useful in the future.

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