Screenwriting : Can You Write 15-Second Episodes for a Series? by Bill Costantini

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Can You Write 15-Second Episodes for a Series?

Instagram has a new series that debuted yesterday. Shield 5 will have 28 installments, and each one is 15 seconds. Creator/director Anthony Wilcox is a long-time industry pro. I predict more and more Social Cinema series like this will be debuting (it wasn't the first one), and in another few years, people will be complaining that 15 seconds will be "too long." Yikes - look out traditional filmmakers. The end is near. Or is it? http://deadline.com/2016/02/scripted-series-shielf-5-to-bow-using-instag...

Scripted Series 'Shield 5' To Bow Using Instagram
Scripted Series 'Shield 5' To Bow Using Instagram
UPDATE with more details: Shield 5, created and directed by Anthony Wilcox ( Hello Carter), debuts today on the photo-sharing platform Instagram with a new way of telling scripted stories: via 28 15-s…
Bill Costantini

JJ - no doubt. But we can't really predict the evolution of entertainment. I'll be shocked if there aren't any feature-length movies 20 years from now, but I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't, or if there are much less of them. But the point is...things are changing. Short entertainments are becoming more common-place, and especially to people of the younger generations. It will be interesting to see how Instagram affects things, and other web platforms that are social media websites and that might start featuring more "Social Cinema" projects like Shield 5. I look at it as a "win-win" for people like me.

Bill Costantini

Peter - I hear you. Recent studies in work environments and teachers' surveys on classroom behaviors have shown that the average attention span is getting shorter and the average retentive capacity is getting smaller. A study by a major advertising agency concluded that the average attention span has been cut in half since the advent of social media. UCLA did a neurological study a couple years ago that shows how the brains of people who use social media frequently are being re-wired. And a recent statistical study conclusively established how Common Core is dumbing down a significant number of American students at every grade level. All of this doesn't mean that everybody is affected, of course - each study has its own conclusion of those affected. But they all point to new realities in their own different ways. Aye-yah. And yes, maybe one day the commercials will be longer than the movies. Aye-yah again. Good luck with your projects.

Bill Costantini

JJ - let's just hope artificial intelligence doesn't replace those who write creatively. AI is already creating content across many fields of business, but it still can't create "meaning", since computers can't really think for themselves. Some computers are learning how to recognize humor, and how to be funny. That's...gulp..."thinking." Narrative Science has taken a lot of jobs away from technical writers with its automated reports and other services. The What-If project, though, is getting the closest to unlocking the creative writing chest, and is the scariest. Ten years from now - maybe even five - and they might crack the codes. Yikes in advance.

Debbie Croysdale

@Bill interesting points about UCLA neurological study. @All On some levels I feel we are all being rewired by media, to be entertained by ...."less than" rather than.... "more than" . I feel this is on a lot of levels, not just film viewing. I don't think features will ever die, but LOL, if they do I'm sure a few dinosaurs will retain bunkers of old movies. I much prefer to be along for the ride, taking part in a gratifying protagonists journey, to a quick momentary visual sensation. It's amazing though the effect some tv adverts have, we were only discussing last night in the bar, etched firmly in our memory banks are ads from some thirty years ago. Also in Scandinavia there are plans for a pub, where we are served by robots, so we are losing human interaction on every level. Like the mini screen viewings, a quick fix bar experience, without getting to know the characters.

Bill Costantini

The times are certainly changing. Computers have been writing news stories for at least a few years that I'm aware of. It's mostly data aggregration type-of stuff that is pretty flat and dry, but the stories make literal sense. But computers have been writing things like medical reports; military reports; reports in every line of government; the bulk of business reports, and all kinds of other reports. Tip of the day: don't argue with your doctor about a diagnosis anymore, he's only the front person for the real brains and decision-makers of the hospital: the computer. Well, the finance people are the real decision-makers, but all their decisions are done by the computers. So who needs finance people anymore? Get rid of them! One scary aspect for creative writers is that computers are indeed not just aggregrating data anymore, they are now actually re-formulating it, too. That was the next logical step, and it's been accompished. Story computers are putting together story lines in the What-If Project that I mentioned earlier. The next logical advancement is getting the computers to think figuratively. They even had a first-phase Novel Writing Project. I even copped a couple of their story lines. Hey...if you can't beat their stuff....then borrow their stuff. That's my motto. But my story line and rising action computers are still better than theirs - at least for now. If I could only get this thing to understand love and irrational behaviors, the I'd really be set. Heh-heh.

Bill Costantini

JJ - Signs, JJ. Signs. And just think if your computers crashed at your profession that you described in a recent post. Boy oh boy.....you'd actually have to do some work for a change. Heh-heh.

Tomasz Mieczkowski

@Jim Jackson - haha, I love your optimistic approach! :D Re: AI - oh man, I have my own theories about that, but I strongly feel that if a fully thinking AI would be possible, the functionality application would be endless as we would be able to create an existence with an infinite knowledge. The things that we learn over years, could be processed (taught) in milliseconds and the answer to any question would be instantaneous and unlike in the Hitchhikers, it wouldn't be "42". And as for topic at hand. Vines have been popular for quite some time. Although it's mainly used for tweet-like updates, many have taken it to the next level. Take Zach King and his creativity for instance, here's his vine channel - let me know what you think: https://vine.co/Zach.King

G.R. Barnett

How do you get in on this action? I'm game!

William Martell

A dozen years ago when I was doing jury duty at the Raindance Film Fest, they had the Nokia Short Fest as a "sidebar" - all of the movies were 15 seconds long (at the time what you should shoot on a phone). The finalists were all awesome.

Tomasz Mieczkowski

That's true - Raindance still does that - I completely forgot about that (sorry Elliot)... :) They call it 14 seconds horror films, although some are about 20 seconds long - haha - I've had this bookmarked since it came out, finally it came in handy: http://www.raindance.org/14-second-horror-film-competition/

William Martell

Something that short is a challenge - but in a couple of days we're going to be getting a bunch of 30 second stories with some silly sporting event in between them. Often those Superbowl adverts have emotionally powerful stories designed to make men cry... and buy whatever product they're selling.

Bill Costantini

Eric - that's funny...I was just thinking about the Greek myth of Pandora and her box earlier today for the first time in years, and was even going to start a Pandora's Box thread. I read your synopsis for Auttawahe, and think it's really good. I could see that as a movie for sure. Good luck, bro!

Bill Costantini

Eric - thanks for the compliments. At the same time, the staffers I've had conversations with know a lot about entertainment. I've never talked to them, but Richard Botto and Joey Tuccio certainly know a lot about the entertainment industry. And the people I've pitched to here....their successful track records speak for themselves....and they've given me a lot of vital feedback.

Tomasz Mieczkowski

Haha, thanks Bill. Indeed, Joey knows everything there is to be known about screenwriting, and I have yet to see RB not responding to any comments on his wall that actually had a question in it. Not one. As for me, I may not know much about screenwriting, but (I guess like everyone) I know a little about everything. ;)

Bill Costantini

Tomasz - yikes. Thanks for enlightening me about this "Wall" feature. I've been on Stage32 for a year and never really looked at it. It looks like I have some question-answering to do as well.

Tomasz Mieczkowski

Haha, I'd never take you for the non-responsive type, Bill. Never. :) Who knows, we might be merging the Wall with the Home stream in the future, but site notifications are in the plans, so that you won't miss a like or a mention again. Cheers.

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