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It started with a tweet... The Road to Sonnigsburg, Part 1


It started, as things often do in the 2010s, with a tweet.

Writer, producer Fiona Bulle wanted to make a spooky TV series for Channel 31. I was the first to respond. Overly excited, as I tend to be on Twitter.

And while I was being cautious about taking part, I did have a heap of work on at the time, I knew I wanted to be involved. Somehow. Just do some script editing, I thought. Write an episode, I said.

As a writer, one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to learn was saying no to getting involved in a project. Because soon you can be involved in too many projects; they could all turn out to be great, but any writer working on too many things will see the quality of their contribution diminish.

Then we started to talk logistics. Fiona wanted to create a writers’ room, using the American model. We’d meet as a group to discuss concepts, ideas, characters and plots. And then we’d start breaking down the stories together. Find the big ideas first. The setting. The concept. The lead character.

And away we would go.

But how much would I be involved?

2013. My play "Who Are You Supposed to Be" had just premiered at Edinburgh Fringe and it was opening in London in November of that year. And I already knew it would probably land at Melbourne Fringe in 2014.

I had been approached by a producer to write a feature film script, which I was deep into when Fiona tweeted. I couldn’t put that on the back burner for a six-part TV series, could I? Should I? Would I?

And I was planning a trip to Los Angeles and New York the following year; that would certainly interfere with any plans I had to be involved in a project like Sonnigsburg which was generically called "Horror TV Series" on the Google Group we created to start spitballing ideas.

The more we talked about the concept and our plans for how would we make the series work, the quicker I got drawn in and committed myself to another project.

Because while writers should learn how to say no, sometimes they should say yes.

Sonnigsburg premieres in two weeks’ time, to this very hour, on C31 in Melbourne & Geelong. Over the next two weeks, I’m going to write more about my involvement with the series, how deep I got in – and how the hell we made a 6-part one-hour TV series on a tiny budget.

Follow Fiona on Twitter. Follow Sonnigsburg on Twitter. Follow me on Twitter.

Follow Sonnigsburg on Facebook and Instagram, too.

And keep following my blog about the history and development of Australia's first supernatural TV series, that eventually couldn't have that title.


Comments

Anonymous said…
"but any writer working on too many things will see the quality of their contribution diminish." This is s great observation, and always something worth considering when taking on a project. Despite all the difficulties you had to weave your way around, I am happy you went ahead and said yes! There are sometimes a lot of projects that come a long, and it can be very hard to say no, but it seems you have good judgement in the work ;)
Keith Gow said…
It wasn't that long ago that I couldn't say no and while I don't necessarily think the work suffered, the amount of time to write suffers. Once things go into production or, for me, onto stage, the new writer spends a lot of times doing non-writing things. That's not ideal. At some point, you will have spent so much time doing these other things and not writing.

But there is also learning which projects you will learn from and which projects will actually happen. Young/new writers spend a lot of time working on projects that never get produced. You've got to learn how to choose ones that are more likely to happen. I knew when Fiona said she was going to make a TV series that it would happen.

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