A World of Differences


As Media students, I think most of us tend to get caught up in our creative sides. We love to take an idea and run with it, or take an idea and sit on it and never do anything. In general, we (or at least I) don’t spend much time thinking about the nitty gritty of the media industry. Nevertheless, I thought this article was interesting, and I was pretty pleased that it wasn’t portraying the future of our industry as a barren wasteland in which no one ever makes any money.

The article talks of five shifts in the future of entertainment and media, the first being a move towards a more youthful demographic. Companies are moving away from producing for older markets with higher levels of disposable income, towards youth markets whose levels of spending on E&M is rising. For some years now, youth have been seen to be ‘cheap’ when it comes to E&M – we are unwilling to pay for products when we can get them for free online. This falsity has always annoyed me; we are willing to pay for things, but we don’t want to be ripped off (Australian TV prices (e.g. Foxtel at $80 a month to watch Game of Thrones) vs US prices are a good example). However, we are guilty of downloading things not easily available to us (e.g. US television shows that air months, or years later in Australia). It’s good to see that companies are recognising the youth market as viable consumers.

Shift 2 talks about creative content, and it’s importance in the market. Tying into Shift 4, Geography, Netflix says that locally produced content is its future. I love this. With streaming services like Stan and Presto already using locally produced content as a tool to gain more subscribers, it’s important that international companies do the same thing. This will give Australian consumers access to great US and other international content, as well as supporting the local industry.



Multi-cam comedies: shit because of the format?

Recently there has been a dearth of good multi-cam comedies. Yes this is a subjective statement, but I think that anyone who knows anything about TV and comedy can tell you that The Big Bang Theory and Two Broke Girls are not great. As part of my research for our upcoming critiques, I have been looking into the current state of multi-cam comedies.

There is a divide amongst Tv critics I have read, regarding what has caused multi-cam to go out of style. Some say that the weaknesses of the format are to blame, while others say that the sheer number of failed/bad multi-cam shows are deterring producers and networks from making them.

According to Jaime Weinman, in an article for SlitSider (2011), there are some inherent problems and difficulties that come with shooting multicam shows. Weinman states that multi-cam sitcoms are ‘hard to defend, conceptually, because there are so many limitations: few sets, an audience laughing after every joke, actors shouting to be heard in the back row’. For him, the lack of quality multi-cam sitcoms comes from a hybrid of the two arguments I stated above. The difficulties in filming multi-cam shows mean that producers have been moving away from them. A lack of shows being produced means that, even for the creators willing and looking to make a multi-cam, there is little network interest in them.

Recently, a favourite comedian of mine tried his hand at creating a multi-cam show for a large US network (Fox). John Mulaney, with the help of Lorne Michaels (the guy behind SNL and a lot other very funny thing), created Mulaney, a true throwback to the multi-cam comedies of the past. It featured John and his friends in a New York apartment, as well as clips of John performing stand-up a la Seinfeld. The show was filmed in front of a live studio audience, as viewers are reminded at the start of each episode. The show also featured Martin Short, who is a terrific performer and thrives in front of an audience.

Mulaney was cancelled after 13 episodes. People were turned off by the format. The stand-up segments were too close to Seinfeld, and many saw it as a blatant rip-off. The reminder of the live studio audience at the start of the episode made it too obvious the show was trying to recreate a format that had its heyday long ago. Personally, I liked the show. It was inoffensive, easy to watch and fairly funny at times. I also however, don’t think it ever stood a chance.

Mulaney exemplifies the idea that the shooting format of multi-cam comedies is responsible for shows being bad. Maybe Mulaney would have flourished as a single-cam show (though probably not, given that the multi-cam aspect was its defining appeal). Shows like Two Broke Girls are so obviously following a format that they’re hard to watch. The forced personalities and awfully cliched jokes of The Big Bang Theory could never work. Unfortunately, for fans of multi-cam like myself, the format seems to be dying.

In our project, I am hoping to explore the aspects of multi-cam comedies that are both good and bad. Maybe hybrid shows, such as How I Met Your Mother are the future of multi-cam. I hope to be able to produce something in a similar vein; no live audience, but a laugh track; multiple cameras, but a lot of set changes and flashbacks. We want to experiment with taking parts of one format, and adding it to another (placing a laugh track on a mockumentary, for example). Shows like Mulaney stick to a formula which doesn’t seem to work; we want to figure out why, and then make it work anyway.



Weinman, J. (2011). In Defense of the Multi-Camera Sitcom. Available: http://splitsider.com/2011/03/in-defense-of-the-multi-camera-sitcom/. Last accessed 7th September 2015.

The Chinese Restaurant

Looking first at traditional multi-cam shows, I have read scripts form Seinfeld, Friends and Cheers. I’ve decided to write about the Seinfeld script, for no real reason other than I love this episode of the show.

The Chinese Restaurant, a second season episode of Seinfeld, is based entirely in the foyer of a Chinese restaurant. The episode focuses on the group’s (Jerry, Elaine and George) wait for a table in the busy restaurant. As with most, if not all, Seinfeld episodes, this particular narrative centres on the actions of the characters in an everyday situation.

Reading a Seinfeld script is the best way to see how the popular show really is just about nothing. There are no plot advances, no real climaxes, and no greater messages about the meaning of life. However, I was not reading the script in order to explore the meaning of life, but rather to see how a multi-cam comedy is written.

There is no mention of a live audience in the script, nor a real description of how the set looks. We know, in this script, that there is a podium, a public phone, and some tables, all of which are in one room, or adjoining rooms with no doors. This lack of description gives creative leeway to the producers and directors later on in the filming process.

Furthermore, there was only one camera direction in the entire script. This direction simply stated, pan to them (some restaurant-goers) sitting down. This camera direction was followed by one of the characters commenting on the restaurant-goers. However, it seemed odd to me that it was included, as the script directs the cameras in every other instance without having to be direct. Statements such as we see a man give a cue to angle or pan to that man without stating it directly.

Reading this script and not knowing Seinfeld. It would be impossible to tell in which style the show would be formatted. This could be a mockumentary, a standard single-cam comedy, or a multi-cam show shot in front of a live studio audience with no changes to the script. Therefore, our group can now be confident that a single script will work for all of our scenes, with changes made during the production stages rather than in the writing stages.

Writing a ‘Friends’ Script

Since deciding to work on the different formats comedic television can take, we’ve been watching, reading and exploring the formats we’ve chosen to focus on. I’ve been tasked with learning more about traditional multi-cam comedies. Given that I’ve seen all three shows in full, I looked specifically at Seinfeld, Cheers and Friends as examples of this format. After reading scripts from all three shows (see this post for more on that), I decided the best thing I could do to best understand the format would be to write a short script myself.

Friends, given its straightforward narrative, character tropes and comedic style, was the easiest show to write for. I know the characters well, having seen every episode multiple times. In a previous session with our group, we had decided that we should write scripts based around a simple storyline that could be adapted to suit each genre. I thought a bad dating experiencing would be easy to write, as well as being easy to adapt to our three genres; mutli-cam sitcom, mockumentary, and the stoner circle.

screen1screen2screen3screen4 screenscreen6



While I think that my attempt at ‘jokes’ are awful, I did try my best to make them fit with the style of Friends. While the situation is one that is ‘adult’ – drinking wine, going on a date, being in a large apartment owned by the characters – the jokes are very PG and accessible to a wide demographic.

I found it very easy to write for characters that have already been developed by someone else. The personalities were already there, and therefore it was easier for me to get down to writing a script rather than focusing on developing characters, locations and the basics of a show.

In relation to our final project, in this script I was able to explore how a multi-cam comedy is written. The characters to do not need to move around a lot, but still have the ability to do so if that’s how the director wants to shoot it.

In the first part of my script, I added in (laugh track) directions. While these are never written in actual scripts, I wanted to explore how my peers reacted to the directions – whether they could see where a joke was intended and where it wasn’t, and whether the cues made the jokes seem funnier. Speaking to my group after they read the scripts, it was clear the laugh cues were unimportant. It was obvious to them where a joke was intended, even if the joke wasn’t funny. The laugh cues also seem to imply that changes to the script at later stages would be hard to pull of. Having laugh track cues may put actors, other writes and producers off from improvising and improving the script, for fear of messing up an entire scene.

I found that this writing exercise was one of the most helpful things I have done during the early stages of this project. It allowed me to see where the script work and where it didn’t. It allowed me to explore writing in an easy format. My next step in this process is to story board this script and figure out the coverage, movement of the actors and camera angles.

The Initial Consult

Today we had our initial group consultation with Jasmine. We came in to the consult with very rough ideas, each very different in theme and focus. While my main interest was cinematography and what constitutes a ‘beautiful’ cinematic shot, other group members ideas were the personification of mental illness, the ‘stoner shot’ from That 70s Show and the comedic genre in general.

As we talked through our ideas with Jasmine, we realised that our ideas could come together in one project. Maybe it would be a comedy, with that iconic 360 degree circle shot, featuring characters who personify mental illness. That would bring our interests; cinematography, the stoner circle shot, comedy and mental illness into one scene.

Though there were only three of us at the consult, we agreed that working on something in this vein would work for all of us. However, as we left the consult, we began talking about how ambitious this idea was. Trying to write a script with strong characters, as well as focusing on the cinematography and format of the shot, all while trying to keep if funny, may just not work. In a group of five people, it seemed that having a more defined focus would work better.

As we discussed our project, we went off track and talked about TV we watched; comedies we love. We then started the discussion on the format of the shows, and thought about how interesting it might be to explore these formats.

So we have decided to shoot a single scene in a variety of different formats. We will use the stoner-circle shot, as well as mockumentary style shooting, multi-cam live studio audience shows, shows with flashbacks, and shorter style sketch shows. We will be able to focus on writing, writing one good scene that will be adapted for multiple formats. We will also be able have a strong focus on shooting and experimenting with editing (adding laugh tracks, etc.).

Thinking back on our discussion now, I think we are on the right track. We are in agreement, which is rare in group projects. However, I also think there is a lot more work to do. We need to actually explore these formats of shooting, because at the moment what we now of them is what we see in finished scenes we watch on television.

Boys becoming men, men becoming wolves

I watch a lot of TV. From the most terrible scripted reality programs to the best-written and acted dramas, TV is my number one interest. But the genre I really love is comedy. Whether it be a classic sitcom filmed in front of a live studio audience or a mostly improvised sketch show, I just really love comedy television.

30 Rock is one of my favourite shows. I think it is fantastically written; the jokes are nuanced and both over-the-top or subtle at the right moments. I have read a few scripts from my favourite comedies, including the following 30 Rock script.I know that I have written things that haven’t initiated a laugh when read, yet I have still insisted they will be funny once they are acted. But one of the things I have found through reading scripts is that if a joke doesn’t work on paper, it generally doesn’t work on screen either.  I have looked at this script and thought about why a joke does or doesn’t work.






The excerpt above shows the original opening for 30 Rock. Liz is Lisa, and she is competing with two mums for space. This is cut from the episode. The way that Lisa takes a ‘running jump’ doesn’t fit with the tone that 30 Rock set in its early episodes. The show begins as a more grounded comedy, with slightly exaggerated, but believable characters. Later in the series this physical gag would work well, as the humour develops into more fantastical and inflated comedy.

When I first read this script a few years ago, many scenes made me laugh. This was not one of them. Maybe this is because physical comedy is so hard to describe in writing, but in this case I can easily imagine what that jump would look like. I think that the reason this scene doesn’t work is because it is simple and dumb humour. Nipples? A running jump over children? 30 Rock is a clever show, but this scene could work on The Big Bang Theory. I can hear the laugh track now.

When I think about this in relation to my own writing, there are a few take away points. It is important to know what tone your script is going to be, and to base the opening scene around that tone. If I were writing a stupid, easy, very accessible comedy, I would include a scene like this. If I were writing a nuanced, clever and cynical comedy, I would leave it out, much like the producers of 30 Rock did with this one.


one line



Immediately following this first scene is one of my favourite 30 Rock jokes. Here we have Lisa, or Liz, lining up for food, when a man cuts in front of the existing queue. Liz states that ‘there’a a line’, to which the man replies (in the final cut version), ‘now there’s too lines’. These lines are the very first lines of the entire series. Every time I watch the 30 Rock pilot and I am so amused by how clever this is. It surprises me that this was not originally going to be the opening joke, and that the line obviously weren’t first formed to have this double meaning.

This scene works well to set that tone I mentioned earlier. These two lines, despite being very general, unimportant pieces of dialogue, initiate a laugh from their placement in the show. The decision to open a series with such clever writing sets the bar for the comedy that is to follow.

I wish I could analyse this entire script, but I could go on for days about 30 Rock. I think it is important to look to our favourite shows for inspiration, and to critique them as well. Looking at this 30 Rock script has got me to think about my attempts at comedy writing, and to see what works and what doesn’t.



I’m not an editor. If I can, I usually handball that task off to someone else. I’m not terrible at editing, but I am horrendously slow. Hours and hours of work went into my six minute film at the end of last semester’s studio, and I’m still not happy with it.

Already this semester I can see that I am getting better. It helps when everything is organised, and when you take the time to actually watch and label clips. Using a sequence to do that also makes it a ton easier (thanks Paul).

This week we have edited the short pieces we shot to edit. Shooting to edit makes things a whole lot easier. Shooting things in order, and having the clap board helps.

Our script was short; only a few lines of dialogue and three characters. During the shoot process, the dialogue did not change much, probably because we acted it out as we wrote it, and were able to write  dialogue that sounded good when it was delivered.

Before shooting we also took the time to draw a quick storyboard. I can not draw for the life of me, yet storyboarding is always the most helpful plan to have during a shoot. Our storyboard allowed to shoot the shots we envisioned during the writing process quickly and without fuss. The other half of our group did not storyboard and took half an hour longer than us to shoot their scene. The were constantly referring back to the script, and more than once forgot what they had already shot. I was also able to use the storyboard while editing to keep me on track of the original plan.

Since our script was so short, in almost every shot the entirety of the script was delivered in full. This meant that when it came to editing, while the shots were long, it was easy to make sure that everything was covered. The only difficulty in caused in editing was a range of different sound mixed and volumes. This can be easily fixed with a little mixing (which I don’t know how to do but will make an effort to learn).

While this piece was shot to edit, it was not written to edit. Writing to edit would definitely save time later on, but I’m not sure it would be worth it. Wiring to edit would be taking organised planning to a whole new level, and would impact on creative freedom later on. If a piece was written to edit, those working on a shoot may feel that they cannot change the script too much, lest it impact on an organised edit later on. I like to be able to change up how a shoot is going during the process; maybe I have had a better idea, or maybe the location just does not allow for what is in the script.

When it came to this piece, a well-thought out script, along with a good storyboard, was the key to a successful shoot ad a reasonably easy edit.



Brief 4a

27th March, 1986 from Ellen McCutchan on Vimeo.


(The video with rmit credits is in my google drive folder)

My idea for this brief has remained fairly intact since the beginning of the semester. When we first introduced to Building 20, I knew that I would probably involve my dad in this project somehow. How could I look past the fact that it was his first workplace, the place where he started his now 30 year long career?

The Russell Street Bombing came about as an area of interest after my dad mentioned Angela Taylor (who dies in the bombing) and the memorial run that takes place in her honour.

My work on this project began early in the semester when we were asked to brainstorm ideas for this final brief. I though about interviewing my dad, and having the focus be on the bombing. After asking him if he’d be my subject, and his enthusiastic response (he claims he’s now going to get a talent agent), I knew I’d probably be sticking to my pitch.

As part of brief 3, my real work on this project began. I researched the Russell Street Bombing for hours, and I spoke to my dad about it often. I wrote interview questions, and then edited them as I talked to my dad about what he would like to speak about. I storyboarded the final product, and made a long list of all the shots I wanted to get. I got an idea of the best parts of Building 20 in which to film my piece.

In the week before our shoot day, Cassie, Jess and I collected some exterior shots of Building 20. This helped us get to know the camera and the best angles for shooting outside. The weather on this day was perfect for what I needed, and I meant i didn’t have to go back after the final shoot.

On the shoot day, we set up cameras and lights, and I sat with my dad for just over an hour. We covered everything I wanted to, as well as some other great stuff he remembered as we went. We then walked around the building and collected shots of him walking around his first workplace. He left for lunch, and I spent about another hour collecting shots of the building.

I worked on editing this project over the final two weeks of semester.

For me, being able to interview my dad was the best part of this brief. Building 20, to me, is just an RMIT admin building, but to him, it is a lot more. In the lead up to filming this project I heard countless stories of my 20s spent at the Magistrates’ Court. Some people might be bored by this, but I’m always eager to learn more about my parents’ youth; they don’t give much away.

The most difficult part of this brief was the editing. While I’m confident with photoshop, and somewhat okay with garageband, I’ve never really spent much time in Premiere. I feel that my project has come out fine, but not the quality that I would have liked. Some shots seem shaky, I’m not sure the sound is great and colouring isn’t consistent. However, having to edit this piece entirely on my own (and YouTube) has drastically improved my skills, and by the time I was almost finished I was moving quite quickly through the program.

I also struggled to find the perfect music for my project. As I edited I had a clear idea in my head of the music I would have liked. However, after hours of searching, I settled on two tracks that I feel compliment the tone and mood I am trying to convey.

If I were to complete this brief again I would probably use the less stressful weeks of the semester to work on my editing skills. I would look for music before even shooting. I would have shot more interior shots of the building, as even though I had more than I needed, too much is never enough.

This brief has really helped me to see a connection between place and memory. I have seen the way different people see places in different lights, and experience different emotions connected to a place. I have been able to explore the way a place can have an effect on a persons’ life, and the way a single event can change the perception of a place forever.


I am so sick of my dad’s voice.

I have spent the past week and a bit editing my final piece. I have watched my dad speak for countless hours, and I have listened to the same soundbites dozens of times. At least I’m almost finished.

I wasn’t able to make it the editing masterclass, but I have been using many a youtube tutorial as well as Paul Ritchard’s notes to help me along.

I don’t dislike editing, I just dislike how long it takes. I wish I was faster at editing, but I can’t get to be better and faster without first being slower while I still learn. I enjoy being able to see a piece go from three hours of footage to a five minute video. I enjoy being able to cut thing together to form a new meaning, to change the story. I like being able to tell a story with video.

While cutting together a video may be something I enjoy, even if it takes forever, finding music to go with that video is something I will always hate.

While I’m editing a piece, I have a clear idea in my mind about what sort of music should be playing with the video. I then try and find similar music on a multitude of royalty-free websites, and I never have any luck. I always end up picking something that a) can legally be used for my purposes; and b) sort of fits with the tone, mood and tempo of my piece.

One day I will be a confident editor with a friend who is an awesome musician willing to do things for free. Until then, I have to make do with my intermediate skills and sort of okay music choices.