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How Paul Haggis broke in

I meant to post this shortly after posting the David Shore “how I got started in the business” clip from the 2006 Banff TV festival, but got distracted by the 2008 Banff TV festival articles I was posting at the time. In lieu of actually writing something in these prime days of summer, then, I’ll throw it up now.

Paul Haggis was at that year’s festival too (I wrote about it here), and a clip of his session is also available online. I love these stories, the “don’t do it this way” stories about dumb luck or should-have-been-unwise decisions, because they’re the unpredictable, human part of the equation. There are lots of places to go for advice on how to actually break into Hollywood, but what happens besides “write spec scripts, find an agent” is so much more interesting as a fan.

Anyway, the moral of Paul Haggis’ breaking-in story: “You need an edge. My edge is that I wasn’t good, I had to be free. Not cheap, free.” He has the ratty chair and the Oscar-winning career to prove it.

Doug Ellin of Entourage

My last “official” Banff TV festival post is up now, based on the Master Class of Entourage creator Doug Ellin:

  • Entourage Finds Success Out Of Failure
    “Proud of the draft he turned in, Ellin was shocked to learn that HBO wasn’t so thrilled. ‘What don’t they like about it?’ he asked Levinson. The answer? ‘They don’t like anything about it.’ ‘They had no notes, they hated it so much,’ Ellin continued. He decided to revise the script on his own time, ‘even though they begged me not to.'”Read more.

All my Blogcritics Banff posts are collected here except Anatomy of a House Episode: Airborne, which I put under the House feature column instead. Why? And why only that one and not the David Hoselton interview too? Shush. It seemed logical at the time.

Writer Jason Katims on Friday Night Lights

My second-last Banff TV festival post is up on Blogcritics:

  • The Unusual Life of Friday Night Lights
    “‘It really hit me when you see the shots of all the stores and restaurants closing on game day, and everybody in town making their way to this place on Friday night — which is Shabbas, of course. That is really what it was to me. Football is this spiritual thing, this coming together of a community, which is what makes it so powerful and makes it such a great backdrop to the show. The show is ultimately about the people in this town, people trying to do better and make their lives better.'” Read more.

Swingtown producer sees double … standards, that is

Another of my Banff TV festival posts is up on Blogcritics, based on the Master Class session with Swingtown executive producer and director Alan Poul (whose credits include Six Feet Under, My So-Called Life, and Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City):

  • Swingtown Producer Sees Double Standards In Network Standards
    “They’re kind of akin to a third world theocracy, the level of sexual puritanism,” Poul said of the FCC. “On Desperate Housewives or CSI, there is a level of lascivious content, but the person involved usually gets punished or, preferably, killed. We love our characters. We don’t judge them. There are no negative repercussions for the behaviour they’re engaging in. They find that terrifying.” Read more.

Hart Hanson at Banff

You know, I’m not so fond of punny titles and yet I seem to use them frequently as a default when I can’t think of anything else … as in this post I wrote for Blogcritics about Hart Hanson’s Master Class at the Banff World Television Festival:

  • Creator Hart Hanson Digs Up Bones Stories
    “’I don’t think David (Boreanaz) would mind me telling this story. I’ll have to ask him some day,’ the hilariously tangential and irreverent Hanson said at one point before relating a not-in-the-key-messages anecdote about his leading man.” Read more.

The Craft of TV writing according to Banff

Here’s my mammoth Craft post from the Banff World Television Festival, which became two related posts:

  • From Idea to Screen: The Craft of TV Writing
    “Comedy writer Jeff Greenstein, currently on Desperate Housewives and formerly with Will and Grace and Friends, talked about the craft largely from the big-picture perspective of the showrunner or creator, while drama writer David Hoselton of House delved into the nuts and bolts of writing an episode from one-line idea to shooting script.” Read more.