Online Masterclass: "Where is the TV Show headed?"
This 90 minute masterclass with scriptwriters and consultants Nicola Lusuardi and Timo Gößle, was organised by the Creative Europe Desk in Hamburg. The session deals with the cornerstones of serial storytelling, series development in Europe, and the importance of the writers' room amongst other aspects.
The full discussion can be viewed on YouTube, below are some key insights taken from Nicola during the discussion:
European TV Series
The rise in demand for TV series has also raised the bar in terms of quality in Europe. Lusuardi comments: "We can now think and write things that were unthinkable in the local market a few years ago. This is a great opportunity." Many people are currently watching the same series worldwide, but Lusuardi does not share the concern about the resulting loss of cultural identity: "I understand the fear, but in fact the opposite is happening. Today, everyone has the opportunity to watch series that are very different come from different countries. Europe has to share more when it comes to telling stories, emotions and feelings of identity. The collective identity of a large community comes from sharing stories. Think glocal! "
Rising to the challenge of diversity
According to Lusuardi, a major challenge for all actors is that they have to convey the diversity of the world to a constantly growing audience, because this is something that makes us culturally very rich. There are now international departments everywhere looking for content, ideas and voices. "Ten years ago, for example, you might have produced for an audience of one billion people - USA plus Canada plus Europe plus a little more. The new digital distribution channels can easily reach five billion people for whom new ideas and content have to fit." This is also why the number of international co-productions, particularly transatlantic ones, has increased significantly.
Four things you should never forget in writing a series
"1. A series is not a film, each chapter has its own identity. The series is based on the principle of variation. 2. Series dramaturgy always has something big in it, something very important, at least from a human perspective. 3. Without doubt or exception, dramaturgy is telling stories through conflict. 4. Everyone is looking for numbers. We have to do our best to get our audience, even if it's a small one."
What makes a series character?
"While the characters in the film tend to arc with a beginning and an end," says Lusuardi, "the series changes to a pattern in which the end is not the most important thing ... on the contrary, the viewer must want it to never end - because then the story would be finished. Every large series character is based on a great insoluble conflict. You don't necessarily have to agree with the series characters, but you have to understand them emotionally, such as Walter White, Dexter or Tony Soprano. Secondary characters are also much more important than in the past, since they are considered the source of numerous conflicts."
Notes from the Writers' Room
"A writers' room works so well because you have a strong head-writer who knows how to take full advantage of the team around him," says Nicola Lusuardi. "The problem is usually the cost - the authors are paid to be there for many months. Ego could be another challenge if the authors did not see themselves as part of the team. However, this means that the older generation of authors have significantly more difficulties than the younger ones. Finding the right composition for the writer's room is like a good casting. You need someone who constantly questions everything. Another has to be really emotional. The third keeps things in order. The next one is obsessed with structure, and so on."
Three questions that everyone should consider when developing quality series
"1. What is really new about the idea of the series? What characteristics make the series special and distinctive? 2. What is the origin of the conflict that drives the series, the narrative and its characters? 3. What is the main theme of the series? What is being told on a large scale?"
29 May 2020