Jessica Chastain Tree of Life

Filmmaking: Is Voiceover Narration Always a Weakness?

A couple of weeks ago I was in a preliminary meeting for a TV series I am being commissioned to write. One of the associated producers, who has hitherto exclusively made reality-TV fare, suggested the characters break the fourth wall and talk to the camera, in mockumentary style, which works to great effect in both TV and feature-film comedies — note the word “mock” — but not in drama.

As a purist, I was taken aback by the suggestion of deploying this unnecessary device. I reigned in my kneejerk contempt for it by nodding and muttering, “Hmm, interesting idea.”  It just didn’t suit my vision for this particular piece at all, but I’m also coming in later in this project’s process. I’m changing it from a comedy to at most a dramedy, although by the time I’m through it’ll likely be an outright drama with comedic hints now and then; one of the main characters has a personality disorder that is too often the butt of jokes, which isn’t so bad as it is tiresome and inauthentic to how both people with the disorder and their caretakers deal with it in real life.

HBO True Detective

The Golden Age of Television: Whither HBO?

I’ve said it before: The Golden Age of TV, which has spilled over from premium cable into network and streaming services, is responsible for the surge in quality of award-season theatrical releases. And Netflix and company have created an income stream for indie features that ten years ago would have died after a festival run and never been seen. And that stream is critical to bottom-line projections that help close film-financing deals, which in turn get alternative content made in the first place. It’s a seller’s market out there for writers and creators; we no longer have to shovel crap that enables delusional, ditzy execs into thinking they are mitigating risk. So whither HBO,