Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul creator Vince Gilligan yesterday spoke at Series Mania Industry Day and addressed differences between the Writers’ Room in the US compared to Australia.
Gilligan said a small group of writers plotted every episode intensely before a writer subsequently penned the script itself.
“It’s a sequestered jury that never ends. We’re sitting around all day talking ad nauseam, talking about minute detail,” he explained.
“The breaking of the episodes is the hardest part and takes the most elbow grease. It probably takes on average 3 weeks to break each episode. Sometimes we’ve gone as many as 5 or 6 weeks.
“That’s why it’s such a blessing to have more pre-production time.
“We want the show to be visual storytelling, we want it to be cinematic -we want to dispense with dialogue. We love writing dialogue for Saul Goodman or Jimmy McGill.
“But that’s the cherry on top.”
Writers plot on 3×5 cards with a felt pen marker, putting each plot on a large board.
“When we’re done any one of us could write that episode,” he continued.
“The writing is, in a sense the easy part. The breaking of the story is all-hands-on-deck, intense, focus-until-your-eyes-bleed. It’s the least-fun part of the job, but the saving grace is we all like each other.
“We don’t send a writer off to write until we’ve found it in the Writers’ Room because it’s a waste of time otherwise.”
But when moderator Kelly Lefever explained Australian Writers’ Rooms are usually given just 2 days to plot an episode, Gilligan was shocked.
“I’m truly sorry to hear that. Most shows in the States get more time than that. Not a whole lot more, but we are blessed even compared to other shows,” he said.
“Most shows in the States you might get a week to break an episode, maybe less. Not 2 days. That’s crazy -no offence.
“You’ve gotta have time to think it all through. Otherwise you’re running for your life. You’re up your ass with alligators.”