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Thursday, November 18, 2010

One Last Bit with Mr. Hanson

This'll be one that my fellow TV writers will probably enjoy as he answers some cool questions about what he looks for in a writer that he'd like to hire and some other cool tidbits.

Read on!
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As the laughter subsided the interviewer asked a question that brought a hush over the room.

He turned to Mr. Hanson and asked him how a writer gets hired on a show like BONES.

Mr. Hanson smiled and explained that, at least for him, he likes to see a piece of original work, to show what the writer can do on their own -- but then, and just as important, he needs to see a spec script or a broadcast script to show that you know how to write in someone else's voice. This is incredibly important on a Network show.

He said that really he's looking for two things: 1) that they can write really well in their own voice but also, 2) that they can speak in another's voice as well.

When asked how many spec scripts he gets per year he laughed and shook his head saying that there were 'hundreds' -- and that he doesn't read them all. In fact, often his assistant will read them and then point him to the ones that he should check out.

Good News: Mr. Hanson said that he tries to bring on one new 'baby writer' per season!

When asked if the writing room for BONES was like some other writing rooms (like HOUSE) that used projection screens or computer screens to share information, he laughed and said that they still use lots and lots of white boards. He knows that some rooms even use iPads with special apps on them to share information -- so that everyone has their own version -- but they're old school and just have lots and lots of white boards.

Once the floor was opened up to questions, one of the audience members asked Mr. Hanson about an earlier statement he'd made, specifically, how they actually go about making the show look $800,000 to $1 Million dollars more than it is. He responded by saying that they absolutely have to make sure that they have a shooting script ready for the Director on day one. That way everyone on the team -- from the Director to the Prop department -- has as much time as possible to do the very best job that they can. He said he knew that it sounded like an odd thing, that 'doesn't everyone do that?' but no, apparently not everyone does that.

They also try to make sure they don't change the script too much as they're going along. He said he likes to think that his team are 'very efficient shooters' in that they're always looking for ways to cut down on costs -- exactly how many people NEED to be in this shot? etc. Finally, he also doled out a massive amount of credit to both of his 1st Assistant Directors, who he thought were absolutely amazing.

The last question of the night was actually quite good. A member of the audience had asked 'what makes a valuable writer to you?' -- specifying that you can be a brilliant writer but not necessarily 'useful for him or his team'. Mr. Hanson closed by saying that the mix of people in a writer's room is really quite interesting (for a Sociologist). There are some writers who aren't great 'theme' writers but have fabulous ideas or come up with fantastic clues. While others are very good at structure but not so good at writing scenes... or vice versa. There are some who can write amazing scenes but without a solid structure to follow (an outline), they're lost.

It's about having the right mix of all these types of people there on the team -- they don't expect everyone, especially when you're in the lower levels, to be an accomplished scene writer AND an accomplished story writer.

And, well, that's all she wrote for the interview. Thank you so much for following along, and a big, fantastic thanks to the CFC's TEST PATTERN series -- and Mr. Hanson -- for setting up this brilliant session for us to take part in and learn from. I truly hope that if you're in the Toronto area that you can make it out to the next one because they really are worth your time.

Cheers!
Brandon

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