Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Some confusing things about scripts:

An american hour is forty two minutes.
A Channel 4 half-hour is twenty four minutes.
An american half-hour is twenty one minutes.
A BBC hour is fifty seven minutes, apart from things that are aimed at Americans, which are fifty minutes, and probably include eight minutes of jettisonable material. Or in the case of Torchwood/Robin Hood/any non-Moffat episodes of Who, forty nine minutes of jettisonable material OOH GET ME.

Bearing in mind a Green Wing hour was anywhere between fifty minutes, and one hour and ten minutes (depending on how much stuttering Mark Heap felt like doing that day), all this stuff has come as a bit of a shock.

ALSO:

Using standard script layout, it's supposed to work out at roughly one page = one minute.

SO:

The first draft of my hour long BBC Drama was sixty pages long. It was too short.
My script for Channel 4's comedy lab was twenty four pages long. It is also too short, although this is because I finally caved and took out the guns. I now have a separate very short but really quite exciting film about guns but nothing else left over, which is BRILLIANT frankly, I'd watch it.

ALSO AGAIN:

There is no known way of writing down that 'ooooooooh' noise that people make, when they are mocking you and holding an imaginary handbag*. The only way to write this is to write: "Character X makes that 'ooooooooooh' noise that is impossible to write down and holds up an imaginary handbag", which doesn't look very professional.

Still, it pads out the page a bit.


* m'colleague Richard informs me in the comments below that there is, and it's written 'ooooOOOOooo'. If it were not for the blog I would never have known this. Hurrah for the blog. And for Richard, obv'sly.

20 comments:

Orb said...

Long have I marvelled at the phenomenon of TV time. If you read up on Einstein's theory of relativity but every time it says "velocity" you substitute the phrase "people shouting about coffee and carpets and mobile phones", that's pretty much it.

Did you know that a West Wing hour is usually 43-45 minutes, a Buffy hour is usually 41 minutes and a Sex and the City hour is around 36 minutes? It's all to do with how much advertising they can sell.

Watch stuff on DVD, I reckon. You'll have more life left over for the important stuff.

Lucy Diamond said...

Oooooooh!
[Holds up imaginary handbag. Rolls eyes. Purses lips.]
Like it, centurion.

Richard said...

I think technically it's "oooOOOoo."

james henry said...

There you go, the voice of experience (of writing scripts, not going "oooOOOoo". Cheers Richard.

Dan Owen said...

We need to introduce the term "handbagging" into common usage, then you won't face that particular problem in future ;-)

entropy said...

But "handbagging" just sounds like a euphemism. I don't even want to think what for.

Lucy said...

You just made Pepsi come out my nose. Twice. You'd think I'd have learnt the first time, really.

Anonymous said...

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=handbagging

Richard said...

Lucy said...
"You just made Pepsi come out my nose. Twice. You'd think I'd have learnt the first time, really."

Have you actually been drinking any, or are you some kind of miraculous nasal pop dispenser?

james henry said...

IT'S A MIRACLE!

patroclus said...

>>nasal pop dispenser<<

Like Gordon Gano out of the Violent Femmes.

Spinsterella said...

hahahaahaha

Oh dear - I like the violent femmes - I shouldn't laugh. God, I'm not a very good Serious Indie Kid, am I?

Anyhow, um, oh yeah, howsabout:

"handbag 'ooh'"

?

Billy said...

My friend introduced me to the Violent Femmes. Before I'd listened to the tape, I thought they were a shouty all-girl band, like Bikini Kill or something. How wrong I was.

(I do like them though)

Annie Rhiannon said...

Billy, I thought the same thing about Violent Femmes, which is why I bought the tape. I was expecting L7.

James, you're blonk of the week.

james henry said...

Hurrah, even though that's not quite as sexy as might appear at first glance.

I am greatly honoured however, many thanks.

Christina said...

ILLUSIONS SHATTERED. I thought you were a nerdy type, with glasses and big teeth. It will never be the same ...

Dan Owen said...

I'd just like to go on record and say "handbagging" is NOT a term that was hidden somewhere in my subconscious!

Valerie said...

Hell, I love the early femmes but that was 20 years ago wasn't it?

Note that an American SEASON has 238,934 of those 42-minute episodes, while a British SEASON has 2. Or something like that. So in the long run, you have to write more for the American show. But it has to be crappier; it's in the contract.

Lucy said...

"Have you actually been drinking any, or are you some kind of miraculous nasal pop dispenser?"

Well I have to admit I was quite surprised. I was drinking ribena at the time.

Jen said...

Holy Vimto! You're 'The Human Soda Stream'!