March closed with a screenwriting workshop, led by Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, who’s now a supervising producer for CSI:NY. I’ve never watched an episode of CSI:NY and I tend to shy away from programs like that (which are called procedurals) because I tend to favor character-driven shows. The real reason why we even went to that two-day workshop was because Aaron Thomas was a staff writer for Friday Night Lights, even writing two episodes during his stint.
It’s been almost a week since we left that workshop and I don’t even have notes or a vague idea for a story. It’s kind of depressing. Watching behind-the-scenes footage and extras on DVDs made me really want to be a part of something so completely collaborative, like television. In particular, the footage from the LOST DVDs that featured the writer’s room and a big binder of notes they kept for six season’s worth of continuity. It seemed like such a great thing to be a part of, especially someone like me, a big fan of television.
Aaron talked about the structure of a procedural—an episodic series divided into twenty-two or so 40-minute, goal-oriented episodes—and we sort of got to write the teaser (the segment at the beginning, before the credits, where the main premise of the episode is revealed) and Act One (the first seven-or-so-minute chunk before a commercial break) collectively.
It was hard to get a general concensus, because everyone had their own ideas that they seemed to fixate on. I kind of just quietly sniggered and sighed, being in the midst of a lot of professional writers and such who already worked for local networks. It seemed unnecessary to speak just so I could complain about ideas instead of being constructive. Anyway, most of what they threw around and played with were not my cup of tea. I already saw the disparity between the shows that are locally produced (telenovelas, the kind of humor they liked, etc.) and the shows that I enjoyed, and it made me sad that it didn’t seem like they intersected at all.
Because a really big part of me wants to work in television, but it doesn’t seem like local television has room for the shows that I want to make.
I am moved by series that center on coming-of-age, especially those that confront issues in a raw and honest way. I love it when shows speak to me through the characters, genuinely and believably. I love the brutality of feelings, the tragicomedy of high school, the overwhelming weight of things that matter now.
To tell you the truth, I have no idea what I used to be really sad about when I had been growing up. But we get hurt as we grow older, and we heal. We forget, or we think we forget.
These shows that I love so much, they’re reminders of the things that had mattered in the moment, and how intensely they felt to us at the time. I think I want to create stories that allows people to look back on—or experience at once!—these growing pains. To take those hurts and feelings of weightlessness, and preserve them in stories people can look back on, alone, together or apart. To remember, and maybe to forget. To detach or reacquaint ourselves with the very things that first taught us how to feel.
I digress, because I sought out to write about the workshop and how different it is where he is from (Los Angeles) and how it works here in Manila. But, I ended up talking about feelings and growing up, and that’s what I would love to write about. That, or something else wholly consuming, a web of stories, characters, and relationships that you grow and fall in love with.
I’m not interested in pushing the drama to ridiculous points to rake in ratings, and maybe that’s where I would falter if I worked here. I’m interested in making stories and using television as a way to share them with people. Sadly, it feels as though there is little room in the Philippines—maybe the world—for this kind of creating and collaboration.
I want to have a voice, but I’m not exactly sure where to start.