#writinglife: day in the life of a prime-time television series writer (part one)

On December 5th, 2011 I live-journaled a typical day in a story room as Writer-Co-Executive Producer of a dramatic television series in production, via our public Facebook Group.  The forum allowed members of the Group (other professional writers in film, tv, digital, our students, & keen friends in other disciplines) to interact as I published, so this thread remained active from 9:45am that day, until 10:12am December 8th, 2011.  My sincere thanks to all who engaged me there, and especially to my esteemed colleague - filmmaker Jennifer Liao at Believerville Productions - who surprised me with this generous gift of archiving it, so it wouldn’t be lost.  It’s a big document, so I’ll re-publish it here page by page, as it appeared on the Group. Context: I think at this point in the year, we were mid-shooting Episode Six of a total of thirteen.  The Story Room had convened in June.  We’d been shooting since September.

Page One of the Thread (opens at 9:45am)

Karen Walton (KW): bring(ing) you up to speed - 6:30AM - awoken by cats on the couch. it’s not unusual for me to fall asleep working late on the couch.

KW: 7:00-8:00AM - review production schedules, prep schedules, directors’ emails on latest script revisions published Friday.

8:30AM - lunch packed (we have catering, but after a few months and two(unrelated) tooth extractions, I have to get all special on what I’m eating) I also supply the room with assorted vitamins, treats, snacks and sometimes baking which I no longer have the waking hours for. Why? everybody forgets to eat anything healthy after 3PM

KW: 9:00AM - en route from the city of Toronto to the studio in Mississauga. Mandatory stop at yes, Timmy’s. This is not a paid endorsement, oddly. Mid-way thru season, I find each morning requires at least two chocolate dip donuts, or bad things happen. See tooth extractions, now you get it.

KW: 9:50AM - in the ‘treehouse’ - the story department sits above the production offices, and as I have mentioned before the shot-bell is directly under me. The unit is out on location. The writers have a new script to review for the ep that preps after mine. Mine is #9 in shooting order of #13 and it starts shooting on Thursday. So far we’ve published White and Pink revisions. I’ve got a little shopping list started for the Blue Revisions pending. The list is mostly stuff that comes up as we prepare - locations, budget, cast, guest stars scheduling v number of scenes I can put ‘em down for etc

KW: 10:06AM I can hear the writer of the ep currently shooting prepping on-the-day fixes for the currently shooting ep with the ADs (on location) I can hear my ADs downstairs in the office below me shaking out the boards (schedule of which scenes shoot where what days - TBC) as they prep to review locations today w director & producers. Each time I change the script for any given requirement, it affects the boards and everyone working the show, so you try to stay super-on top of all concerns (see above shopping list) as they come up.

KW: 10:10AM ok so instead of a post-wknd catch-up with our gang, I’ve updated you on the day so far. I’m writing from my office, where I’m about to read the next episode and offer notes with the rest of the writers before it gets one more revision pre-submission to the networks, producers. When I write features, I’d just be rolling out of bed about now ;) grab a coffee and again, ask any Q’s you wish - can’t discuss content but happy to answer anything unclear (typing bloody fast)

 End Page One.  Page Two soon…

 

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