Posts tagged ‘Chad Gervich’

September 15, 2011

TV Writer Spotlight: The Genres of One-Hour Drama

Chad Gervich, author of  Small Screen, Big Picture: A Writer’s Guide to the TV Business, recently shared his breakdown of what he sees as the four genres of television dramas. He also discusses how these generes can be mixed. Here’s an excerpt:

Procedurals

Procedurals are shows that derive their stories from a specific procedure, such as NCIS, House, or Criminal Minds. Each episode begins with the introduction of a problem, which our main characters must solve using their unique procedure. CSI uses forensics, The Practice used lawyers and the legal system, etc. Procedurals traditionally tell standalone stories — stories that have a complete beginning, middle, and end in each hour.

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June 20, 2011

Why You Don’t Have to Worry About Protecting Your Script

This article gives some helpful information on protecting your work, what that means, and what that doesn’t mean. It also makes it clear why you really shouldn’t worry about your ideas being stolen:

You can not copyright or protect– in any way– your ideas.

Ideas are not copyright-able.  Only the execution of an idea is copyright-able.

So… let’s say you have an idea for a TV show about a boy who befriends a lost chupacabra.  You do NOT own that idea.  A TV company, a fellow writer, or your best friend could all write their own movies about boys befriending lost chupacabras… and you would (probably) have NO LEGITIMATE CLAIM they stole your idea.

Now, if you’d already written a script or treatment… and you could prove that they stole your plot, characters, lines of dialogue… you might have a case.  But the idea itself—”boy befriends lost chupacabra”—is not yours.  Even if you discussed it with people… you DO NOT OWN THE IDEA.  You own only your execution.

Now… can you protect your “execution,” your script or treatment?  Possibly.

But here’s another thing to understand…

Obtaining a copyright, or a WGA registration, does NOT guarantee protection of intellectual property.

A copyright or WGA registration simply provides a piece of EVIDENCE as to when and where you first held ownership of your material.

So if you registered or copyrighted your script on June 4, 2011, it does not mean that as of June 4, 2011, your script is protected.  It means you have one piece of evidence saying that on June 4, 2011, this particular piece of intellectual property was in your possession.

…And that piece of evidence may or may not be enough to convince a court of law you yourself created this particular intellectual property.

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April 20, 2011

The Pros and Cons of Script Coverage Services

This article by Ray Morton is a response to another writer’s attack on script coverage services. Ray raises a number of valid (and thoroughly explained) points about the value of quality script coverage.

My only word of advice on the topic is this: If you’re going to spend the money on a coverage service, be sure to pick one that is well-reviewed and well-respected. A lot of people claim to be able to help you with your script, but not very many actually can. Take the time to do your research before handing over your script and your cash:

A few weeks back, Chad Gervich created quite a stir when he wrote an article for this website advising aspiring screenwriters not to use script coverage services. As I am a professional script analyst who—in addition to assessing scripts for producers, production companies, and screenplay contests—works for a coverage service (ScriptXpert, which is owned by Final Draft, Inc., the company that also owns this website), I had some strong reactions to Chad’s piece. I posted some of them in the article’s comment section, but wanted to offer a more detailed and thoughtful response here.

For those that don’t know, coverage is the name given to the 3-5 page reviews written by script analysts (also known as readers) of the screenplays submitted to their employers (producers, production companies, studios). These reviews assess a script’s strengths and weaknesses in a number of areas (premise, story, characters, dialogue, writing), as well as its suitability for production (a judgment arrived at by considering the quality of each script along with the needs/interest of the production entity—for example, if the producer wants to make a horror film, then a reader obviously wouldn’t recommend a romcom). Coverage is an internal document used by a production entity’s development staff and principals as a guide when deciding whether or not to proceed with a particular screenplay. It is usually confidential and not distributed to the writers of the script or anyone else outside of the production entity.

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