Jeff Cohen, ATX TV Festival 2023 Seven years ago, Javier Grillo-Marxuach got drunk with his fellow writer-producer Jose Molina and made a list of “made a list of all the sociopathic abusers [they'd] worked for, and a list of the good ones. One list was was significantly longer than the other.” While he didn't specify which of his TV jobs he was referring to — though “Lost” comes to mind thanks to recently surfaced accounts about its “toxic” writers room — Grillo-Marxuach spoke on ATX Festival 's Beyond the Page panel about how resources and mentorship for younger writers began dwindling when the industry shifted to a streaming model. One of the major responsibilities a writer has aside writing scripts is to make sure those scripts retain their integrity throughout the production process. For any number of practical reasons, a scene that works on the page doesn't always translate in front of the cameras, and it used to be universally acknowledged that TV writers were there to provide on-the-fly guidance about how to make adjustments that stay true to showrunner's vision. But these days, writers are much more rarely paid to come to set at all. “On streaming shows, you spend six months in a row writing scripts, and then everybody gets tolf to eff off,” Marxuach-Grillo said. “The only person leftover is the showrunner and maybe whoever the least expensive writer was on the staff. Then production begins, and you have to figure out what to actually do.” “I had a job during the lockdown. It was a streaming show, and they wrote their season. Then the writers were told to eff off, and they did, and then [the studio] gave notes. And one of the notes was, “Can you please remove this subplot that is one-fourth to one-third of the season?' The writers had all moved on to other jobs, so they called me like, ‘Can you spend time with the showrunner like fixing this?'” Marxuach-Grillo describes the experience of working while completely divorced from production as “writing in a vacuum,” which both hurts the quality of […]
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