Tribe 5- Location Report – Write On!

Yes, as you are now aware, Tribe 5 has been officially confirmed and as you read this things are hotting up in preparation for the filming of the latest series of your favourite show!

So what does all this involve?

Well this week we’re taking a special look at the writing of a series and just how it happens.

Is it a case of somebody sitting at their keyboard and typing whatever comes into their minds?

Actually, no!

To get another series of a long running drama such as The Tribe off the ground, the Executive Producer must come up with a plan to show a broadcaster. The broadcaster puts some of the money into the making of the program and has to be happy that the storyline and other aspects involved in the show are as they would like.

An Executive from this broadcaster liaises with the Executive Producer of Cloud 9 and together they work out what direction the program will head in for the new series. Saying that however, the Executive Producer has all the creative input and the last say on whether or not he/she is happy with the overall plan.

Tribe 5

In the event of Tribe 5, it was Raymond Thompson (who also created The Tribe in the first place) who sat down and thought about the direction he wanted his program to go in. He then came up with some bullet points which outlined his thoughts and this served as a discussion document for the Head of Script Development/Script Editor, Harry Duffin and Raymond to go through together. They both discussed the ideas and then Harry wrote some more in-depth material for Raymond to look at.

Whilst all this material was being written, the Executive in Charge of Production, Geoff Husson and Producer, Debra Kelleher Smith were liaising with talent agents to see which cast members would even be available for the shoot. A budget plan had to be drawn up as well and the Director of Financial Affairs, Jeremy Speight had to work on this with Raymond, Geoff and Debra. Studios and locations had to be discussed so that the cost for these could be worked into the overall budget and Geoff and Debra had to decide how long it would take to film the series, how much time off to give over the Christmas holidays, how many crew members would be needed, etc.

What next?

Once the cast had been locked off and studios and locations discussed, Raymond and Harry could get on with the writing. There would have been no point in them writing about RAM for example if the actor who plays him, Tom Hern wasn’t available. Likewise there would be no use in writing scenes set in the Eco Camp if that space wasn’t viable.

So, presuming that everything is okay, Raymond gives the go-ahead for Harry to get together his team of writers, most if whom have written for The Tribe before. This team has a writers meeting where they all discuss the ideas and bullet points that Raymond and Harry have thus far put together.

More ideas are thrown in, other ideas set to one side and a lot of coffee is drunk!

The bullet points have the new ideas incorporated into them and these are sent back to Raymond for approval. Sometimes he is happy with them, other times he might want to write some material himself.

The bullet points are also shown to the broadcaster in case any material or idea is not considered appropriate or age relevant for the time slot that is being considered by that station.

Once the overall storylines are set for the series, Harry decides which writer should write which episodes and the writers then head off to their hideaways and write their little hearts out, all around the skeleton outline that is given to them by Raymond and Harry.

Writing must be easy!

Easy to write an episode? Well it might be if a writer were able to have free reign on their creativity. But unfortunately the television industry is not like that! Certain storylines are considered too offensive or rude or implausible for television or drama targeted at a specific age group or time slot. Certain countries have more stringent guidelines as well and all this has to be taken into consideration when writing for television.

Just some of the other factors involved include making sure that the right amount of interior and exterior shooting is used to fit in with the budget; working around certain actors who might need time off to take exams; that action scenes work in with the budget (too much action means more cameras which means more money); and that each scene takes the right amount of time to fit in with the episode.

Whew! Once each script has been written, this is called a first draft and is sent to Raymond and Harry to check over and give their thoughts on. Changes are often made and once done the scripts are all sent to New Zealand for the Production Team to release to the relevant departments. You can find out more about this next week as it is quite involved!

Some scenes or scripts need to be changed at the last minute due to bad weather, ill health of a cast member or if a cast member decides or needs to leave suddenly. It has been known for Raymond and Harry to be up all night rewriting at the last minute due to something that has happened that is totally out of anyone’s control!

Who’d want to do that for a job?!

So you will see that writing for television is not a simple task and that whilst there are many directions a program can go in and many characters that could be used, sometimes life just ain’t that easy!

Join us next week for another glimpse into pre-production on Tribe 5 and hold on to your seats because there’s a whole heap of information to come!