Insights for Non Artists:
Greg Weisman Interview, Part 3 - Writing & Story Editing
Shannon Muir - This article originally appeared
years in animation, Greg Weisman's career includes writing, story-editing,
producing, voice directing, and development. Welcome to the conclusion
of my chat with Greg about these aspects of the business. In this
segment: writing and story-editing.
the scripts, but Greg says a story-editor's job is "responsibility
for the script process." A writer may story-edit his or herself,
or a producer may story-edit, but story-editors always have writing
credits on their resume. Multiple writers help shows meet deadlines,
so a story-editor sees their stories are within guidelines, have
a consistent tone, that the scripts are the right length, and
are clearly understood for the actors, artists, and crew to bring
story-editors worked on the second season. All reported to Greg,
who acted as supervising story-editor. They sought consistent
work from their writers, and then Greg supervised them in turn.
for JEM --see http://members.tripod.com/~jemlist/
-- before he moved back to Los Angeles. At Disney, he story-edited
the last five episodes of Ducktakes, uncredited because he was
a development executive (see Part
One). He developed premises, gave notes, and did some
of rewriting is "directly proportional to how in sync the
writer is with the story-editor," says Greg. "I'd also
like to say how talented the writer is, but sometimes that's not
if someone gives me a script that needs a lot of
work, I'm going to be doing a major rewrite. If someone gives
me a script that doesn't need a lot of work
I'll do as little
as I have to in order to get it to be the kind of script I want
it to be." A talented writer may not understand a show, so
being rewritten doesn't necessarily mean lack of ability.
third season, Greg wrote and story-edited - but didn't produce
- the first episode. It "can be a dangerous process but it's
more rewarding than having someone else story-edit," he said.
An advantage is getting "the individual's unadulterated vision
strong but powerful, not always good
pure, and there's something
to be said for that." As to dangers, he admitted, "you
get concerned with little details and lose track of the bigger
"freelance story-editing is tough. One is, financially it's
not as lucrative thus you're forced to do more work in a shorter
time to make an equivalent amount of money. The second reason
you're not on site. You're not engaged in
with the other people working on the show. The only advantage
I can think of is the certain amount of freedom
you to simultaneously do something else."
relations, Greg says: "when people are in sync
whole becomes more than the sum of the parts
if you're self
story-editing, you lose the opportunity to collaborate with another
who might provide additional ideas that make
it better." However, it can become "an effort of mutual
compromise and homogenization, where you're
not in sync with
not challenging each other
wind up with nothing of interest in the story."
a good writing team also challenges its members "to create
something greater than the sum of its parts." Since the same
pay often gets split amongst the members of a team, he states,
"there's no real financial advantage being a team, unless
you get the X and Y name and you've got them working on multiple,
it becomes a brand
the brand can cover
more territory and thus bring more money in. Mr. X is working
on Show A and Ms. Y is working on Show B
it becomes a quantity
thing. A true team, it's not about quantity any more than an individual
is about quantity."
On his early
partnership: "I think we were really challenging each other
to do better work
we went off to do some separate things
not because the partnership was failing
we had these opportunities.
Having done that, I wasn't comfortable going back into the partnership,
and I would say that was a failing on my part. I didn't want to
subsume myself in the way that it was before, even though that
was a challenging partnership I was appreciating the challenge
of my own work."
About a writer's
education, Greg feels that (besides writing) you need to be willing
to self-edit, take others' notes, proofreading, and read extensively
- this is classic as well as modern books, more than industry
trades and newspapers. Also, watch contemporary and classic films
and "look at the history of these mediums." For animation,
he recommends taking classes, reading animation scripts, and studying
series to see "what works for you and what doesn't."
Greg, for taking time to share.
here for Part Four: Freelance Versus Staff.
is known in the animation industry for her work as a production
coordinator for Nickelodeon's Invader Zim. She also served as
a Production Coordinator for Extreme Ghostbusters and a Production
Assistant for Jumanji: The Animated Series. Muir is an accomplished
writer and often participates on panels or as a guest speaker
at conventions like Comic Con International.
to Los Angeles in 1996 from Cheney, WA (population approximately
8,000), knowing she wanted to be part of the animation business.
Since then, she's never strayed far from making that dream reality,
whether it be actively working on a production or writing articles
about the industry.
You can email
Shannon Muir at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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