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This is an incomplete recap unfortunately. I wish it was more complete because they really got nuts and bolts at the end of the session.

Albert: Every day is like the Princess Bride. John says I'll most likely fire you but what's your idea?

The first season, they wrote in a tiny cramped airless room, now they have a big open bright airy space. Yay.

Cards are vital.

You can't sell the bromance. Two guys hanging out isn't a show. It's not interesting.

Tongs screams deep cable.

Less chemo, more wedding. -- Leverage doesn't work without the

guy enters with gun > guy exits with gun (for an ACT OUT)

Ledger or Orange Box? It's more important to be interesting than it is to be real. Go with the believable lie.

Hubris or Moxie? Are you over the edge?

Copenhagen! Original name of the race horse, now the writer's room safe word.

Nulla tenaci invia est via - for the tenacious, no road is impassable.

Food is vital to a writer's room.

They start about 8:30 in the morning. They try to write banker's hours.

Mr. Scotchy is a crucial part of the writing staff.

Deconstructing Top Hat

Starts with a blank board with just the act structure. Each act has an objective and a hanging chad that drives you forward. usually a con and a heist. Act 2 is when they find out it won't work. Act 3 is dealing with it. Act 4 is usually real time, one long action sequence. Act 5 is the reveal and resolution. commercial breaks at the end of each act. There should be something at the end of each act to keep you through the commercial breaks.

Where do the ideas come from? Everywhere. Top Hat was Tim's idea. He wanted to do an episode where he was a magician.

The important thing about breaking into television is just keep hitting. The freelancer who pitched what became Top Hat had been trying for 6 or 7 pitches.

The villain came from a company that really did this.

Albert Kim is from a journalism background. He does a lot of research first. Chris was a lawyer. He defended the typical leverage villain. John was a stand up comic.

What hats are the team going to wear in this episode? Where are we going to set this story? How will it all tie together?

Orange cards are the rough structure. Rough beats.

Erik with a K

[Clip of the act out of Act One from Top Hat]

Sandwich guy is the every viewer. He's in the kitchen, making a sandwich. If he comes back to see what happens after the act break, it works.

White cards are the detailed version of the orange cards. Lines and shots show up here.

Make lives as difficult as possible for your heroes. Then you have to figure out how to get them out of it.

This was a 'trojan horse' episode, where they go in under cover. Use the cover to help them achieve their objectives.

John defines bottle show. I'm skipping it.

After white cards, someone goes and write them up into outlines. Albert thinks that this is the hardest part. John agrees.

Apollo explained how they do the box trick. They didn't use it. It was too much work.

And then script and voila

Especially with Hardison, there's a lot of sci fi references. Who is the Who fan and when does that drop into the script?
They all are but John is the most obvious. Amy Berg actually started it in Mile High. Hardison in his head knows which movie they're doing each week, so you can tell by the aliases what he thinks.

How do you get started writing?
Take a look at John's blog. He has some great writing advice on Kung Fu Monkey. Write everyday, read scripts (good ones).
Get any job you can, it doesn't have to be the 'right' jobs. Translating manga, doing Trek novelizations. Anything. Don't suck.
DVD sets are film school in a box. Listen to the commentaries. Pay attention to the act structure.
There are a lot more books available
Jane Espenson's blog is great too.

Beginning writers think that you have to include everyone's favorite idea. You don't. Throw out what doesn't work.

When you watch the episode, do you watch the episode or the people you're watching the episode with?
You see the stuff you miss the places you cheated.
Chris: It depends who you're watching it with.

Once you finish a script how much control do you have?
They prep and shoot simultaneously so they end up having more. it's not like film where you give over your script and the production team does what they will again. Sometimes they have to rewrite for the props or the location.
John: The script is the blueprint. "As the writer, you're the only one who has seen the episode yet."

If you weren't doing leverage, what would you do?
Albert: I'd probably go back to Leverage
Chris: I want to keep doing this until they drag me kicking and screaming out of the room with my PB&J in the room
John: Digital distribution of comics.

What do you do when you have a sponsor like a Hyundai Genesis?
There's a whole language built around that. Actives and passives. It's an entire department of the company. They don't take bad deals.

How many plans do you go into the script with?
Multiple on every level. they develop multiple scripts at once, alternate locations, etc.

John: I write to the sound of weeping children. Warren Ellis gave me an MP3 of weeping children. No, with music. I like writing in public places, starbucks.
Chris writes in his garage, on trains (formerly).
Albert likes to write in the Borders. They have a reference section and coffee.

Have any episodes started from wanting to hear "Let's go steal a ..."
Chris: Yeah, John said 'let's go steal a miracle.'


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December 2011

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