I’m continuing to learn SO much in my Advanced Diploma in Screenwriting: Series Television course at AFTRS. I haven’t yet written much about the course, but one of our subjects was Production Process and the Writer.
There were two assignments or tasks: a written report where we interview a series television scriptwriter (coming soon), and a video assignment where we research a series television show of our choosing, which had a slightly unusual beginning production-wise (ie not just one where an established showrunner says “Hey, I think I’ll do a show about this! Give me the money and I’ll do it!”)
We had to : Explain the process from conception to production, and identify any key events that were unique to the process.
Being, as I am, in love with many British shows – and especially comedies which also have a dramatic side – I settled on My Mad Fat Diary. Those who’ve seen the show will know why; if you haven’t seen it – go see it! For research, I looked at every interview I could find, written or Youtubed, and listened to a podcast or two. I read the media releases about the show, from Channel 4, as well as the production houses involved, Tiger Aspect Productions and Drama Republic. Then I distilled it all down and presented it in a simple format.
Due to my acting and presenting background, I decided to not just narrate the whole thing, but perform the parts of the various players in the production process, including the scriptwriter, the E4 commissioning editor, and the production executive at Tiger Aspect. (Excuse my terrible accents…I am an aussie and haven’t lived in the UK for some years now!)
I kept the tone light, in keeping with the comedy of the show, and even open up the whole thing as a surly teenager who doesn’t want to do her assignment.
Without further ado, here is my take on how the show My Mad Fat Diary came into being:
The Software: WriterDuet
I also wanted to point out my love for the writing software WriterDuet, which in addition to being my favourite software when I am writing fiction scripts, turned out to be a BRILLIANT resource for putting together my video assignment script.
Using the WriterDuet “dual dialogue” function, I could lay out how I was going to use a split-screen, showing exactly what dialogue was taking pace when a still image or video clip was inserted. (How hard is it to do dual dialogue in some other writing programs, eh?)
AND the software enables you to hyperlink the page, image, or video you want to use, embedded in the margins of the script, so you don’t have to go looking in your bookmarks later (that’s what all the little red icons are for). Nifty, eh? You could also use it to insert sound effects you’ll be using. Just a great little function.
OK, so I didn’t use the dual dialogue function in the way intended – but I have on other scripts, and love it! Aaaaaand due to me not knowing VegasPro well enough, I veered away from split screen and instead just inserted the images and video with fade-in/fade-out effects. It’s all a learning process, innit?
What did you think of My Mad Fat Diary? (the show, not my assignment). What writing software do you use, and why? Would love to hear your thoughts.