My Favorite Class: CTWR 434, Writing the Half-Hour Comedy Series

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Hello Friends! If you read my last blog, you know that this semester is very screenwriting heavy for me. To recap, I am in one electrical engineering class, a material science class, and I am also taking foundations of comedy, writing the feature screenplay, motion picture script analysis, and writing the half hour comedy series.  I love all of my classes this semester. My electrical engineering class has me making layouts in cadence and understanding VLSI design. It is super industry applicable. My materials science class has a lot of fun labs. I have really missed being able to take classes in the hard sciences that aren’t physics:) And all of my screenwriting classes blend together to make an awesome, educational, and incredibly practical and applicable experience for me this semester. I love all of them. I am writing my own work, analyzing that of others, watching as many as 3 movies a week, and really honing my comedy skills especially.

 

I think if I had to pick one of my classes as my favorite, I would have to go with Writing the Half Hour Comedy Series. My professor, Paul Wolff is fantastic and has many amazing credits to his name (I think the one I am most impressed by is Family Ties. I love that show! My brother and I still talk about Michael J Fox’s character on a regular basis). For this semester, we are all writing our own spec script for Modern Family! For those of you that are unfamiliar with the term “spec script” it refers to a script written for a show by someone who is not a regular writer on the show. It follows the exact format any normal episode would have. Typically, screenwriters will write spec scripts for shows they want to get hired to work on. On a show like Modern Family, which is extremely successful, all the writers happen to be industry heavyweights and there isn’t really anyone on staff to read spec scripts (there is no need). However, if a writer were to produce a spec script of impressive quality for a show like modern family, they could then use that script to secure an agent and perhaps get hired on a lesser renowned show. Other times, a spec script for a show can be submitted directly to a show (there will be a person on staff to read scripts). If the producers and current writers of the show like your stuff, it can actually get made and/or you can get invited to join the staff. Prior to this semester, I had no idea what to do with my work once it was finished. I now know how to go about attempting to sell my work and break into industry. Isn’t great when your classes teach you how to be a grown-up and turn your passions into reality?

 

My Professor,Paul Wolff is the one in the cowboy hat. He has some pretty impressive credits like all my profs do!

My Professor,Paul Wolff, is the one in the cowboy hat. He has some pretty impressive credits like all my profs do!

modernfamilyseason2

Anyway, I digress. Like I mentioned, in my writing the half hour comedy series class, we are all writing episodes of Modern Family. However, what I love about this class is despite the fact that we are all writing a script, everybody’s script will the product of our class’s writers’ room. Basically, all television shows are written in a writers’ room, where a staff of writers all sit around, throw out ideas (in the case of comedy, jokes), figure out structure, and actually write episodes of television. Since every episode of Modern Family has an A, B, and C story, as individuals we are expected to bring into class these storylines. We pitch them, get feedback from our instructor and the rest of our class, and then we start running with the ideas we  select. I am actually the official white board writer for our class! Every student (there are 10 of us) will share what they have worked out, and then as a class we all help mold and shape the episode. Our classroom becomes the writers room, and I record all the ideas and the structure/flow of the episode that we have. After that, we all go home and start writing our pages based on the writers’ room discussion. It is so cool learning this creative process. I am fully confident in  my ability to duplicate it again, and I love the dynamic of our writers’ room. Everyone is so talented, and brings unique perspective and senses of humor to contribute. I am so thrilled with the way my episode is turning out, mostly because of the awesome ideas and input from our room. It will be a piece of my portfolio to be extremely proud of. This class has really made me feel like I am getting to know myself better as a writer, and I think comedy-wise, I am finally hitting my stride and starting to feel confident about my abilities. I can’t wait to see where the semester takes me!

writers room

For any 30 rock fans, this is a writers room. Our class runs basically the same way:) Just without the food because it isn’t allowed in the cinema classrooms. But we sit roundtable!

 

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