What It’s Really Like to Be a TV Writer in Australia

We all love watching TV, so doesn’t it sound like a dream to land a gig as a author on your favorite present?

The movie and tv trade is a giant machine and it requires many working elements to get the job performed. But all of it begins with a script.

Without a script, nobody is aware of which props are wanted, what strains to say or the place the story goes. It sounds enjoyable, proper? Your days are spent determining how a automotive chase will play out or which actors will break up this week. But being a TV author shouldn’t be as simple because it sounds, and it takes a village to pull off the job.

To create a script for tv it takes a variety of writers coming along with completely different abilities and tasks. From screenwriters to producers to notetakers, everybody in the author’s room has a hand in meticulously planning out the story on the web page so it may be introduced to life on the display.

Holly Lyons is an affiliate script producer on Home and Away. She helps to write, edit and put together the script for certainly one of Australia’s most well-known and longest-running cleaning soap operas.

Here’s what being a TV author in Australia seems like from the within.

Work It Out: TV Script Writer

Image: Holly Lyons

All the beneath quotes are from Holly Lyons, Associate Script Producer for Home and Away.

What are one of the best elements of your job?

I like the artistic muscle tissue it flexes – it’s a nice mixture of writing and compromise. For instance, you understand you need to inform a story about painkiller dependancy, or psychological well being, however you solely have 5 half hours per week; plus price range and placement restrictions and possibly the actor you need to give attention to has maternity go away booked. You may need a transient from the producers, for instance, to put our heritage characters in jeopardy – however no price range for stunts like a aircraft crash… So what do you do?

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Recently, our Black Tie occasion managed to obtain simply that, with a chemical assault in the Surf Club. It was a intelligent approach to reply the transient. Plus, it’s a completely superior story. I like the way in which manufacturing restrictions actually problem your artistic powers.

I additionally love the speedy tempo of Home and Away. It’s in contrast to many different reveals I’ve labored on as a result of it strikes so quick. You write it, they shoot it, and in no time you may see the outcomes on the Dropbox from the modifying staff. It is extremely rewarding to have actors carry out your phrases; and it’s actually helpful for the writing staff to see what’s working and what isn’t, so we will reply to that rapidly.

I additionally love how social it’s. Writers often work in isolation, however Home and Away shouldn’t be like that. I like and respect my staff members, and a variety of the writers are pals of mine. It’s a beautiful, supportive atmosphere. I additionally assume the script division is a highly effective instance of robust girls – all of my bosses are girls who I love.

What are the worst elements of your job?

There will at all times be an impediment on the horizon. You could plan and craft a stunning story or episode, after which one thing will come up, a curveball, that you’ve got to adapt to.

It may very well be one thing so simple as an actor being sick, so a scene wants to be rewritten. Once, once I was engaged on Emmerdale in the UK, I used to be required to rewrite a script as a result of three of our up and coming younger actors who had been partying at a Bucks’ night time in Dublin, weren’t allowed to board their flight house (they have been nonetheless drunk). Losing three actors is a lot! It meant many scenes had to be rewritten that morning.

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But it’s a double-edged sword as a result of the curveballs are additionally what I like about working in tv. Anything can occur.

Can you stroll us by means of a day in the lifetime of your job? (Hours, normal duties, challenges and so forth.)

I’m a part of the in-house Script staff, which is made up of 11 writers. Some of the staff are in the story room, accountable for producing 5 episodes of tv a week, and the opposite half of the staff works on the drafts to get them prepared to shoot. We even have about 18 gifted freelance writers, who write the primary drafts.

At the second, my function is to oversee the scripts, I write the third drafts, to get them prepared to ship to the Director’s assembly. I meet with my colleagues as soon as a week to focus on the episodes, and we work on growing character moments, or readability of the plot. Because it’s a long-running serial drama, continuity is so vital. We all have to keep in mind what the very last thing Irene mentioned to Alf was, for instance. It will be a mind-bender.

I typically get up in the night time having dreamt concerning the characters. Recently it was a dream the place Irene mentioned to me, “but John hasn’t told me about that yet, so I can’t say that to Jasmine”. I used to be grateful she was serving to me with my continuity in my sleep!

It will be all-consuming. I write Home and Away through the day, I learn a number of the feedback from the viewers when I’m on social media, then I watch the newest episodes popping out of manufacturing, and I additionally love to watch no matter’s being broadcast that night time… in case you are not cautious the present can take over. But, if it doesn’t take over, it makes it onerous to write. You want to sink your mind into the entire characters.

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What are some feedback or questions on your job that you just hate listening to?

I hate how some individuals will be very snobby about Home and Away. It’s massively profitable and very talked-about, it’s been offered to over forty nations. It’s Australia’s highest ranking drama for a motive – as a result of a devoted, passionate solid and crew put a lot of coronary heart into making it a compelling, must-see collection. Don’t underestimate it.

I additionally hate it when individuals assume it’s a simple job to do. For some motive, they assume anybody can write tv drama. I don’t assume they realise that each author on the staff has had years of coaching. Adapting your writing type to a longtime tone is a problem.

What would you say are a number of the greatest misconceptions connected to your work?

Many instances, individuals appear shocked to meet me. They’ll say, “I’ve never even thought about that as a job”. The author is the final individual they think about.

Years in the past, I randomly hosted a tour of the Bay for some diehard followers, and once I jumped on the bus, grabbed the mic and mentioned “guess what my role on the show is?” – no one guessed author. I hope that after a tour of Palm Beach with me, they may pay extra consideration to the author’s credit score… we do exist!


Holly additionally by some means has time to run a script assessment business and a podcast alongside all that work as a TV author on Home and Away. Check them out for some extra insider information!

If you’re eager to examine different fascinating careers, take a look at our Work It Out items on what it’s like to be a zookeeper and a psychic.