Late last year, I got asked to work up a little something that would probably open with —
BASED ON A TRUE STORY.
I hadn’t done a based-on-actual-events job before* but I accepted the gig because 1. it paid, and 2. how hard could it be?
The concept was simple enough: a mini-series based on an incident that had happened a decade earlier, was reported world-wide, and it had a gorgeous protagonist to boot. A tweak here and there, and maybe I could work in a car chase, maybe even some gun play. As I researched the heck out of it, a voice in my head screamed over and over, This shit is just writing itself!
It had to be the kind of show that I would consciously tune in to. Which meant there would be no in media res device in the first ep because I’ve had it up to here with —
A wham-bang opening scene, then --
TITLE: One week earlier.
— so much so that when the Lovely Wife and I were trying a new show recently, I said, “If this sequence ends with a title saying, ‘Six hours ear—’ FUUUCK!” that last word making her spill her tea and I had to go and make her a fresh cuppa.
… Where was I? Yes. So. Here I was playing in the biographical drama space and one of my first creative decisions meant I had no wham-bang sequence to lure the audience in with.
What to do?
The development journey was all down hill from there.
* One could argue that Goodbye My Feleni and We Are Many are earlier outings in historical drama but no: they each took an “Inspired by” approach to Samoa and Aotearoa New Zealand history.