Joss whedon screenwriting advice column

The first in a long and painful education. I learned more about writing than I ever had and probably ever will.

joss whedon writing tips

Which is not to me a necessarily great movie. And I started to play with that a bit, and I began to understand the show, and the High School as metaphor… It occurred to me recently that one of the main differences between movies and television is that movies are an answer, whilst television shows are a question.

This is the essence of what art is.

Joss whedon screenwriting advice column

Monty was an interesting job. JE: Yeah, sitcom rooms tend to be bawdy and competitive, and to work very long hours. I had a lot of trouble with the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because I was so used to just having the comfort zone of television, where you have an exact understanding of the rhythm of the thing, when there is going to be a commercial, when there is going to be a next episode. This is the essence of what art is. They want to explain and then they get the hell out. So when it came time to return to TV with Buffy, what did you want to accomplish? What movies first inspired you: what really captured you and fired your imagination? My very first room, at Dinosaurs, was not like this, which I think was a good thing—it let me know that there were a variety of experiences out there. But she stepped aside from that role before the first episode aired in order to focus more on writing. And I started to play with that a bit, and I began to understand the show, and the High School as metaphor… It occurred to me recently that one of the main differences between movies and television is that movies are an answer, whilst television shows are a question. Writing a scene feels like building a suspension bridge—the placement of every individual word is so crucial.

They opened up every genre and dissected it, and showed you their organs and where they went. These are the unknowns who captivate us on a nightly basis with virtually no thanks at all, save a paycheck and a quick screen credit.

And ultimately that was the beginning of what Buffy the television show was, and the metaphor of High School as hell. So I was in heaven. But then I discovered that no movie ever would, as long as I was writing in Hollywood. An empowering and sweet gimmick, but a gimmick none the less. And to me the idea of blending genre is something we need in our genres, or they become ossified. And when I come up with the metaphor of High School as hell my career changed, and the way I write changed, and everything started to click. No, it did not turn out the way I hoped. Classic examples would be The Searchers, or Rio Grande, which have horror elements in them: they turn into horror movies for periods. Can you elaborate on that? My very first room, at Dinosaurs, was not like this, which I think was a good thing—it let me know that there were a variety of experiences out there.

JE: Yeah, sitcom rooms tend to be bawdy and competitive, and to work very long hours.

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