9.16.2008

coming up for air...

You may have noticed that I haven't posted in a while... okay, in a LONG while... ;-)

I've been doing my best to keep up with everything, and my apologies to those of you who keep checking here only to find the same old information. I don't suppose it will help to say that I'm just now coming back up for air after an intense (and challenging) couple of writing months? Or that my brain has been fried? Or that the dog ate my homework? Okay, okay, ya got me: I don't have a dog.

So here's what happened... at the end of July, we got notes. Notes are a usual thing you get whenever you turn in a draft of anything, be it the overall arc for the season, an episode beat sheet, a script, or the lovely little haiku you composed about global warming (note to self: network execs are way too busy to fully appreciate the glory of first-draft haikus on global warming). In a perfect world, the notes get less significant - and there are less of them - the more drafts of something you do and the farther along you are in the process. So, for example, the first draft of a beat sheet may (and probably will) get you significant notes that cause significant story and/or scene changes... by the time you write the first draft of the script, the notes are typically not story-changing but are focused more on character, story clarity, tone, etc... and then by the time you've done several drafts of a script, the notes are mainly dialogue polishes. Sounds perfectly do-able, right? Aaah, I can almost hear the birds chirping in my happy writing wonderland...

Except that we don't live in a perfect world...

In an imperfect world, all the execs are doing their absolute best to get us notes as quickly as possible - but sometimes things get in the way. Usually, those things are not a huge deal. For example, maybe you turn in a draft of a beat sheet but one of the execs who needs to give notes is on set for another show, or is traveling, or is buried under piles of paper in their office waiting for Search & Rescue to come save them. It would be nifty if you, the writer, could simply kick back with a margarita and your TV remote and just relax in your barcalounger until that executive is able to give his or her notes... but with preproduction deadlines looming and eight scripts to write, you don't have that luxury. So, you forge ahead with all the notes you do have - and then incorporate the new notes from the recently-rescued executive once you get them. See: Not a huge deal.

Except then there are times when the imperfect world is experiencing a full moon and mercury is in retrograde and toilets start flushing the opposite way and the hot water tap delivers cold water and some of the key executives have been - for reasons completely beyond anyone's control - unable to weigh in on any of the documents you've turned in until you're months into the project, with several scripts in progress, and the rest of the beat sheets in development. And then you get their notes... and the notes are significant enough that you have to go back to square one on your scripts... and on your beat sheets... all the way back to the characters' loglines in some cases... with only a month to go before the start of preproduction... and that's when you take a moment with your blankie, and you cry...

So, that was the world I marched into at the end of July. I'll be honest, it's been pretty stressful. No margaritas in my barcalounger... lots of coffee (yes, with vanilla creamer)... and a lot of missed sleep... The good news is that the overall arc of the season didn't change - meaning, where each of the characters starts the season and ends the season is exactly the same - but the paths they take to get there... their individual storylines that make up each episode... much of that was out the window.

But let me also say this: If this situation isn't exactly ideal for the writers, it's definitely not ideal for the executives either. Because when the writers have to go back to the drawing board on the first scripts of the season, the same preproduction deadlines are still looming... and the execs are waiting... and then all of a sudden the writer's fast and furious pace causes the executives (who, as you may remember, were just barely found by Search & Rescue) to be buried under a whole new pile of scripts and beat sheets and first drafts and rewrites... and then we need their notes to be able to continue moving forward... And did I mention this isn't the only show they're working on?

So now you're probably thinking to yourself: Yikes! It sounds horrible! The season must be a mess! Michelle must be in an asylum wearing one of those scary-looking white jackets! The executives must be bald from pulling their hair out! What will happen to Jen? What will happen to Sam? Will Chris and Kris ever stop dressing alike? And Crutch? And Emmy? What will happen to the 5-foot tall beaver mascot at the Beever Cafe? And...???

Never fear, friends... Things are actually in good shape - and getting better every day. Billy and I have been keeping an insane work pace, churning out new scripts and beat sheets at a speed that even makes our heads spin. The network pushed our start date by 2 weeks, which means that preproduction officially started yesterday (instead of two weeks ago), giving us that much more time with the scripts. And the changes we've made to the stories and scripts have been really, really good... For as challenging as the last few months have been, I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to have made all these changes because the season will be all the better for it. Not that what we were doing before July 30 wasn't good. It was. We loved the stories we were working with. But hindsight is 20/20, as they say, and I think being forced to go back over everything with a different eye has really helped us pull everything into focus (wow - a lot of optometric analogies there!).

Anyhow, so that's where we are now... and where I am now. The production offices are up and running. Key crew members are starting their work. Episode 201 is being distributed around the office later this morning. Casting for recurring characters is underway. I'm already starting to wear my EP hat for production questions/concerns. And everyone is excited to get going. Including me.

Of course, there's still A LOT to do on this end before I can relax with that margarita... one more first draft needs to be written, a lot of rewriting needs to happen, and I haven't even thought about packing yet! But it's coming together... and getting a little easier with each passing day... and now that you've read the rough stuff, I'll share with you a very funny story of something that happened to me at my absolute low point in all this. It's very Jen-esque...

But you'll have to wait for the next post for that story... because if I keep typing, I won't have any typing-energy left for episode 208 later this morning... and I have writing to do!

More soon - I promise!

27 Comments:

Anonymous LJ said...

you're alive! i was sure you had fallen victim to that big paper pile as well. i love reading about the process of writing. so thanks for sharing! can't wait to hear how the rest of it goes!

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great update. Looking forward to the next one. Saw you posted at 4am. As busy and harried as you must be don't forget to stop and smell the roses.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Janice said...

08/16/2008

Michelle, it's great to have you back!!!
Thanks for letting us know you're alive and drinking coffee with the vanilla coffee creamer.

7:37 PM  
Anonymous Rituximab said...

Wow - that sounds exactly like my life!

LOL - do I feel bad now or what? It's great to have you back, and as hard and stressful as this sounds sounds,you can feel in your writing that you are enjoying it.

Way to go, and I'll be patient from now on!

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Janice said...

09/18/08

Wowee!!! I just saw your iShares commercial!! You are so very recognizable-and cute!!! (I hope you don't mind me thinking you're "cute" in the commercial. "Cute" and very effective, by the way).
Congrats.
from Janice the dufus who didn't realize her last post said 08/16/08 instead of 09/16/08. I'm kinda slow sometimes......:-)

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

09/24/08
Dear Michele,
I absolutely fell head over heels in love with your short movie and your first season of Exes and Ohs. I did not know that you wrote everything. That is quite grand. i hope you keep up the good work, I am very excited to see season two of Exes and Ohs. I actually arrived in Seattle WA today from Winsted CT. Is the filming of exes and Ohs filmed in Seattle or just set there? Anyway, keep writing! So far so great, amazing, and talented. I look foward to your next story.
Sincerely,
Cecelia R. Cannavo
cccannavo@sbcglobal.net

3:25 PM  
Blogger Pearl Heart said...

I can't wait for season 2 of Exes & Ohs. So what rules will we be taught this time around?

6:40 PM  
Anonymous RD from Illinois said...

I was just introduced to Exes & Ohs last week. I loved it!! I felt right at home with the characters. And you're a riot! Your demeanor and mannerisms remind me so much of a gal I'm very fond of.

I will be anxiously awaiting Season 2! I hope your character remains true to her wholesome nature. :)

1:40 PM  
Blogger DL said...

hot... damn.

O.o

love the show though, and pleased as punch that things are progressing ... um ... smooth ... no, well, i am pleased that things are progressing!

7:28 PM  
Blogger Keri Renault said...

I'm about 3 months, 2 seasons and more than a buck short, but... I finally had the good fortune to view first-season episodes of your fabulous series. It's my newly adopted fav! Hands down. As a writer/producer, I appreicate your gritty, behind-the scenes perspectives.

You must be the proud owner an unfliching, tenancious, persevering, never-say-never, can do kinda attitude! Kudos and tip of the hat to you, Michelle; writer, exec producer and actor in your own series--simply amazing.

Come back up for air sometime you Renaissance-Girl. All the best.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Smadraji said...

Nice Posting
Gay

3:01 AM  
Blogger Smadraji said...

Nice Posting
Gay

2:44 AM  
Anonymous Janice said...

4/11/2009

Nice to know that folks are still checking things out over here.

Hope everything is going well your way, MP, and we get to see "Exes & Ohs" soon on Logo.

I'm looking forward to Season 2, Season 3, Season 4.. okay, I know, I'm quite greedy! :-)

1:00 PM  
Blogger News Blog said...

Nice Post
Gay

1:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just love this show, and since i live in australia, it is very difficult even to watch it. I had to order the first series dvd over the internet and pay enourmous shipping. But there is so much depth to the show, and you michelle are just amazingly beautiful. And by far my favourite character on the show, just so sweet, and adorable. Well i havent seen even the second series yet and i am looking forward to it.

2:34 AM  
Blogger News Blog said...

Nice Post
Gay

2:49 AM  
Blogger News Blog said...

Nice Post
Gay

3:18 AM  
Blogger News Blog said...

Gay Daily News Blog

4:32 AM  
Blogger News Blog said...

New York Holidays

4:33 AM  
Anonymous Janice said...

10/17/2009

Hoo, boy! How's everyone doing??
MP, I hope you're doing well. It's been a realllllllly long time since your last update. WE MISS YOU!!

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Claude said...

Really i don't understand.. why don't they air season2?? it has been filmed ages ago and it's such a clever show.
Anyway.. i just wanted to tell you that you are really amazing. great sense of humour. loved your works.

3:42 AM  
Anonymous オテモヤン said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:40 AM  
Anonymous Kate said...

03/21/2010
Finally spring!!Yeeee
Any news Michelle?

3:10 AM  
Anonymous Ems said...

04/04/2010
we want Michelle,
we want Michelle,
we want Michelle!

7:41 AM  
Anonymous Janice said...

7/14/2010

Oy, it's been almost 2 years since your last post, Michelle. What's up?? Is everything okay on your end?? Any "new" news on Season 2? Inquiring minds want to know. :-)

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Fada said...

Comecei a ler seu blog agora, usando um tradutor, é claro! Você é muito engracada... To adorando...

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Janice said...

10/16/2010

Michelle, I tried following the link from your main page to Logo's contact page. I filled out the information, asked when/if they were going to air season 2 of Exes & Ohs, hit submit, and then got this:

"Collection is null" which was written in red and all my typed info had just gone "poof."

I hope all is well with you, and will continue to follow you on your facebook page, which seems to be a bit more up-to-date.

8:18 PM  

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