1. BonnieDouglas
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    BonnieDouglas New Member

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    Sitcom advice needed please!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by BonnieDouglas, Dec 15, 2010.

    Hi everyone. :)

    I am writing a sitcom but am having great difficulties in keeping scenes short.

    Most of my scenes are one or two A4 pages long (formatted correctly). One particular scene is currently running at four pages. Is that too long? What is the general rule of thumb for this? I know one page is approximately one minute running time, but I don't really know how long each scene should be.

    Any advice would be much appreciated.

    From a frustrated Bonnie!!

    :confused:
     
  2. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    An occasional long scene is okay, but it needs to be spot-on perfect. If your audience's attention flags then a percentage of them will move on.

    Without seeing the scene and the episode we can't really make that judgment call.

    -Frank
     
  3. BonnieDouglas
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    BonnieDouglas New Member

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    Good point.

    I'll do a bit of fine tuning then post the scene I'm worried about.

    Thanks!
     
  4. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I watched a 25-minute sitcom last night that was a single scene and had everybody in the house laughing all the way through. That's your rule of thumb: keep them laughing.
     
  5. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Good, general writing advice. Basically, you don't want a scene that feels like it's going nowhere. It's more about pacing and keeping the ball rolling, than length. Seinfeld is good example of often having long scenes where not much happens (show about nothing? lol), but they kept re-invigorating the scene. Jerry and Elaine are talking, then Kramer comes bursting in, everyone is talking, then George buzzes and comes up and starts ranting. It was a good show that always kept scenes moving forward, and in the hardest way since it wasn't action/drama based exactly.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    don't worry about the scene length, as long as it doesn't run into commercial break time...

    but you have the ratio wrong... 1 pg= 1min applies only to movie scripts... a sitcom script can run 40-50 pages...

    what's your purpose for writing this?... and are you writing it for the us or uk industry?... if uk, bbc's website used to make sample scripts available, so you should go by their format, as it's the standard for the uk...

    if intended for the us, i'm afraid you'll have no chance to submit it to producers, regardless of whether it's for an existing sitcom, or an original you hope to propose/submit, as anything sent in by new and unknown writers isn't even opened, due to legal dept. rules 'n regs...

    the only way to get into sitcom writing [or for any tv series] in the us is to have a good track record as a screenwriter and a good agent, or to be working at a lower level in the industry and making useful connections from the inside...

    i mentor a lot of aspiring screenwriters for both big and little screen, so if you want any help with this, just drop me a line any time...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  7. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    Mama said: "due to legal dept. rules 'n regs"

    I forgot about the writer's unions. Is this the reason you're thinking of? Even if not, the unions add a new level of "who you know" to the mix.

    If you're willing and able to work at it, YouTube is a possibility to help hone your skills and get attention. Fortunately, it allows you to get something out there fairly easily. Unfortunately, it allows everyone else to get something out there easily.

    I really don't know how YouTube et al will work out for developing writing/directing/acting talent.

    Well, just some thoughts.

    -Frank
     
  8. BonnieDouglas
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    BonnieDouglas New Member

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    Some great advice, thank you.

    I'm writing it for the UK. It's all based on personal experiences of mine. It's something I have wanted to get down on paper for such a long time, but my job had been so stressful that my brain just melted at the end of the day. Now I have a different, far less stressful job and I have time to concentrate on other things.

    It's almost as if the floodgates have opened and my creative juices have flowed! Since moving jobs, I have written a stageplay (will be performed in March), a screenplay (currently with the BBC - fingers crossed!) and the sitcom. I just love writing so if it doesn't come to anything, at least I've enjoyed doing it!
     
  9. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Google the BBCwriters room.
    Best of luck!
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no, it's not connected to union issues... the reason is boilerplate 'cya' protection for the network/producers, so the writer can't claim his/her work was plagiarized, if they happen to come out with something similar later on... that's why when you submit scripts or proposals for new sitcoms/series in acceptable ways [e.g., via an agent], you must sign a release before they'll even look open the script/proposal...
     

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