Veronica Mars
The Second Rob Thomas Interview

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"The Word 'Coma' Bugs The Hell Out Of Me"
CB: That's good. RT: Yeah. And then you turn it in to the studio, and they give you their thoughts, and you turn around the studio draft, which becomes the network draft, and the network gives you their thoughts, and that becomes the production draft, which finally gets scene numbers put on it; if everything's done correctly, that production draft is ready to go on the first day of prep. I was going to say we've never been late with a production draft, but we were on the one we were doing right before the break, because we had one day of prep that landed on the Friday before the holidays, and we needed that two weeks to finish the production draft, because coming off me directing, we were pretty behind. CB: So just to clarify, the person who gets credit for writing the episode is starting out with the act structure and everything in place -- he or she is basically just writing the dialogue. RT: Yeah. And I'm sorry, I even skipped a huge step in there. When we break it in the room, we've got all these dry-erase boards set up, and we have every scene written up on the board and color-coded according to what subplot it's tied to, so you can see the whole episode up on a board. The writer actually initially does an outline that takes a couple of days, and I would say we do remarkably detailed outlines. When I was at Dawson's Creek, our outlines would be roughly eight pages. Here, they're frequently twenty-five. At Dawson's Creek, there would be thirty-five to forty scenes, and here, we typically have sixty. Generally, WB shows, they're just very talky, but with us, there are all these little beats, like Veronica placing a camera in a cubby. That's partly a function of the genre, and partly a pace thing -- I like short scenes. I'm not crazy about three-and-a-half-page talky scenes. So we get the outline approved by the studio and network, and then the writer goes off for two weeks to write the script. As I said, the outline is an incredibly detailed document, and it's really important to me, even though it's my least favorite part of the process in that it's so taxing on my brain. It's easier for me to polish a script than to break a story any day. Any day. That would change if I were doing Freaks And Geeks or Dawson's Creek; detective shows are like great big jigsaw puzzles -- they're tough as opposed to coming-of-age stories, which can be done well or badly, but are consistently easy to break. So then it's the production stage, and you're familiar with the industry -- it's like, now we're on goldenrod pages. There are so many notes that come in. The director will have a series of notes that you'll implement in the script, and then locations won't work out, so you'll have to move scenes to different places and adjust the dialogue accordingly. It's almost a neverending process, and the script doesn't really feel done until you've shot the last day. There are always tweaks coming in.

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Veronica Mars

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