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Some Writers Are Oblivious

If you’ve never been on a multicamera series, it’s a lot like being on a play that has a one-night engagement. There’s a lot of set up and rehearsal and honing everything down to the last detail, so you can perform it for a singular audience. You only get one shot at it,1 and thus show night is both terrifying and exhilarating.

Last night was our final show night of the season, which amped everything up to the nth degree. Everyone was simultaneously stressed (“I need it now, now, NOW!“) and elated (sooooo much booze).

The writers, whose work was largely done,2 fell mostly in the latter camp. Which is fine; by the nature of their job, most of their work is done in prep and post. If the writers are busy on show night, that means something has gone terribly wrong.

Our show was, in fact, going so well that, while we still had a few scenes left, several of the writers retired to the writers’ room to start drinking in ernest, away from the audience.3 I’m not really gonna judge them on that. It was a long, hard season, they did a great job, and hell, they’re writers. What do you expect?

No TV and no beer make Homer something something...
From the Autobiography of Stephen King.

But the rest of us still had work to do. The actors were acting, the camera and boom operators were operating, and I was assisting the production. At a certain point, I had to run back to the office and make some more copies of the rundown for the ADs.

The way our office is laid out, the copy room is in the middle of the building, with doors on either side. One door opens out into the production office bullpen; the other opens on a hallway where all the writers’ offices are. The door to the writers’ room is directly across the hall.

So, when I got to the copy room, I could hear loud music,  laughing,  general drunken revelry. And even though I had to work, I didn’t want to ruin their fun with the constant WHRRR CHNK WHRRRRR CHNK of the copy machine.

...and it’s ending one minute at a time.
This is my life…

So naturally, I shut the door. It’s not exactly sound proof, but at least they’d still be able to hear their music. That’s the kind of a nice person I am, right?

But that’s not how the writers saw it…

INT. COPY ROOM – DAY

TAPA stands at the copy machine, waiting patiently, while listening to the writers’ conversation through the door--

FIRST WRITER (O.S.)

Well! I guess she didn’t like the music.

SECOND WRITER (O.S.)

She’s always so serious.

FIRST WRITER (O.S.)

Anti-social.

THIRD WRITER (O.S.)

Should we turn it down? I don’t want to bother her.

FIRST WRITER (O.S.)

No! Why should she make us be quiet, just because she’s a killjoy?

TAPA

What is the matter with you?! I was trying to be nice by shutting the door! For you!

No, I didn’t actually yell at them. But seriously, I’m not anti-social. I’m just pro-getting-work-done. On your goddamn show! I’ll get plastered, throw a lamp shade on my head and dance on the conference table after the shoot, but for now, there’s shit to do.

That’s what bugs me about so many writer/producers. It’s great that they’ve created these characters and this world, but we, the cast and crew, are bringing those thoughts into reality. It takes a lot of hard work, skill, and talent.

You probably don’t understand everything that’s involved in every job, nor do I expect you to. But I do expect you to show a little respect when even the lowliest of your minions (i.e. me) is working to bring your imagination to life.

* * *

Speaking of drinking, don’t forget about the TAPA mixer this Sunday! Also on Sunday, I’ll be launching the Kickstarter campaign for the podcast. Big day. Hope you can come!

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. Usually.
  2. Because, to give the devils their due, they wrote a fantastic episode; I don’t think they had to punch up a single joke on show night.
  3. In fairness, they had the writers’ room TV tuned to the stage, so they could at least keep one eye on the goings-on.
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