Neal Baer: Collaborating in television

Game developers may feel they’re alone trying to collaborate with writers at great distances, but never fear.  Television productions also manage this problem, and who better to discuss it than Neal Baer, the showrunner for “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit?” 

Neal, who essentially holds the titles of Head Writer, Creative Director, and Producer simultaneously, manages a show produced in New York City, but written in Los Angeles.  Of particular interest, the distance may actually help the process rather than hurt it.  Here are two policies he instituted to positive effect:

1. Relying on a strong go-between in New York.  When the cast and crew get the script, they have a read-through.  At this time, they critique the script, secure in the knowledge that the writer is not actually in the room.  Then the New York producer takes the best feedback on the script and relays it back to Neal.  This allows important notes to reach the writer, without the writer feeling attacked in a slam session. 
Variation:  Anne worked on “The Education of Max Bickford” for CBS, which was also shot in New York and, largely, written in Los Angeles.  Thanks to the wonders of teleconferencing, writers were able to watch the table read from LA.  Ideally, the critiquing could then proceed — off camera.

2.  Bringing together the writers and the actors for a group dinner twice a year.  This allows for the flow of ideas and good feelings between the designers (writers) and the implementers (actors).

Do you think these tips will work for you?  Have you tried others that worked better?

Published in: on April 20, 2007 at 2:12 pm  Comments (3)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] to start with a theme, like “Fire & Ice” and work from there?  When I spoke to Neal Baer of Law & Order: SVU last month, he helped his writers develop story structure first, […]

  2. […] Neal Baer of LAW & ORDER: SVU runs his staff by working on a one-on-one basis with his writers.  He helps them with the plot and structure phase of writing first.  Afterwards, they collaborate to deepen the story by developing characters and their points of view.  Neal’s method provides lots of room for long-distance collaboration. […]

  3. I am really happy to glance at this web site posts which consists of tons of helpful information, thanks for providing these statistics.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: