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Dramedy: Part One: Plot, Setting, and Tone
Dramedy. No, it’s not what you get at the pharmacy—but it can be an effective prescription for the nausea brought on by watching too many humorless dramas or imbecilic comedies.
The blurring of comedy and drama is nothing new; we’ve known about it since Charlie Chaplin was the Little Tramp. However, successfully executing it requires the writer to perform a precarious balancing act, juggling multiple plot and character elements while maintaining a split-focus on laughter and pathos.
This two-part class examines essential storytelling skills for creating an entertaining and compelling dramedy script for film or episodic TV. Part One focuses on plot and setting. How can you effectively structure a plot that will lead to comedic moments in a dramatic setting? And, conversely, how do you plot dramatic moments in a predominantly comedic story?
We’ll also cover how to strike the right tone. Is tone derived from the subject material or determined by the writer? How do you match the right tone with the story you want to tell? Do satire and irony figure into the process? How dark is too dark?
Prerequisite: A sense of humor (available on Amazon and Craigslist; prices may vary).
F.J. Pratt has been a television comedy writer for 25 years, starting on the writing staff for network shows including “Frasier,” which won an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy; “Ellen,” the “coming out” season; and ABC’s “Less Than Perfect.” For three years, he was the executive producer/showrunner of “Sullivan & Son” on TBS. F.J. has developed shows for ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CW, Dreamworks, Imagine Entertainment, and Disney. For the past five years, F.J. has been an adjunct professor at the John Wells Division of Writing for the Screen & Television at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, and has now agreed to lend his talents to become FiLMLaB’s first “showrunner.”