Why ‘Mr. Robot’ is the Most Thought-Provoking TV Series in History

You thought The Good Place was profound?


Emma Fraser knows the Truth. (And so does Mr. Robot. Bwahh!)

(Photo by: Peter Kramer/USA Network)

by Emma Fraser

The world of Mr. Robot isn’t too dissimilar from the current political and social landscape; the one percent of the one percent have an exorbitant amount of power, and this level of control has led to overwhelming wealth disparity. Over four seasons, hacker Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) took on those who “play God without permission” to break the system, which hit a lot of bumps along the way. His original target was E Corp, one of the world’s largest multinational conglomerates (often referenced as Evil Corp). It isn’t a subtle name, but when veering into a dystopian landscape, nuance often gets left at the door.

Debuting in 2015, the main action of the entire series takes place across that particular year, revealing a “darkest timeline” version of a period that was already pretty messy IRL. However, the nightmare landscape shifts in the final season, offering up a semblance of hope about our collective future. In the final episodes, this contrasts with the image of a personal utopia turned hellscape. At the center of the story, an identity constructed out of trauma underscores why authentic personal connections are ultimately more important than imagined ones.

Creator Sam Esmail delivered numerous jaw-dropping twists and turns throughout Mr. Robot‘s run, including the Fight Club-style Season 1 reveal that Elliot’s friend Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) is not real — rather, he is a personality created by Elliot, resembling his deceased father. This is just one layer of Elliot’s disassociative personality disorder; the final twist is that the person we have spent the most time with isn’t the real Elliot, either.

Mr. Robot is a show that doesn’t always spell out what is imagined, so when Elliot wakes up in the seemingly perfect alternate reality at the start of the two-part finale, questions stack up. Whiterose (BD Wong) claimed she could transport someone to a better version of their life; maybe she wasn’t lying after all?

In this other place, Elliot’s parents are both alive, and so is Angela (Portia Doubleday) — she was murdered in the Season 4 opener. Meanwhile, Elliot is not the hoodie-as-armor, anxiety-ridden figure we have spent four years watching….

Read it all at syfy.com

Successful Self Promotion for Screenwriters

Another astonishingly helpful article for new screen (and of course TV) writers from the Stage32.com blog. We don’t expect to hear any complaining about how difficult it is to get started in showbiz after you read these open, honest, and knowledgeable words.

by Daniela McVicker

It’s not uncommon to dream about becoming a screenwriter. You see your words and ideas come to life on TV and movie screens worldwide. That’s fascinating. Have fun with it and never let go! However, Hollywood has changed in the past years, so screenwriters have to know how to promote themselves. If you don’t have an agent or a manager to help you out, then it might be difficult to establish yourself as a successful professional. You’ll have to do everything on your own. Likely, the digitalized world has dozens of opportunities for self-promotion. You just need to develop a strategy and that’s what this guide is all about.

Yes, All Screenwriting Is Marketing

In the old days, all you had to do was to write a good script. Now, all that has changed. You’re your own advocate, marketer, and promoter. Your writing may be authentic, but that’s not how you stand out. You must sell and share to see your work on screen. You’re promoting yourself as a screenwriter, and you’re promoting a script. Put it simply, you need to treat your writing like a business.

One Great Screenplay Doesn’t Guarantee You’ll Make It

Studios, producers, not to mention agencies, receive plenty of scripts. To go through these countless submissions, they hire professional script readers. It’s their job to figure out which writers have potential. Maybe you’ve got a great script. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. It’s no guarantee that you’re going to make it as a screenwriter. What you do after you finish writing matters more.

Having an effective, well-crafted action plan is just as important as writing an original work. Now that you know the importance of self-promotion, get to work. Keep in mind that people are tough to impress and, quite often, screenwriters get ignored. If you want to get attention with upfront value, keep this in mind.

Define Yourself As A Screenwriter. That’s Now Your Self-Image

If you’ve continued to read this, it means that you’ve got an inner fire that needs tending. Or perhaps you just need to hush those voices whispering in your head. Either way, you’re a writer….

Read it all at stage32.com

How Apple TV+ Drama ‘Truth Be Told’ Got from Pitch to Screen

A mighty fine case history if ever there was one. For anybody who dreams of selling a TV series:

by Tambay Obenson

In Apple TV+’s “Truth Be Told,” Octavia Spencer plays Poppy Parnell, a true-crime podcaster who is compelled to reopen the murder case that made her a national sensation and comes face to face with the man she may have mistakenly helped to put behind bars. Relitigating the murder case via her podcast, Parnell contends with nearly 20 years of family secrets, deceit, and the San Francisco Bay Area’s powerful in order to get to the truth.

The series, which is created by Nichelle Tramble Spellman (“The Good Wife”) and premieres today, came about after general conversations on the value of true crime between executive producers Jenno Topping, Reese Witherspoon and Lauren Neustadter. Witherspoon recommended that Topping and Neustadter consider Kathleen Barber’s 2017 novel, “Are You Sleeping.”

“We read it and loved it, and especially loved its potential in terms of an adaptation,” Topping said. “Lauren then got involved as well. We had just done ‘Hidden Figures’ with Octavia, and together we found Nichelle and it just became a happy party.”

Besides the novel, Bay Area native Spellman’s attraction to the project started with the opportunity to explore the phenomena of podcasting and revisiting criminal cases. She also relished the idea of setting a series in the city where she was born and raised. The original story was set in Illinois, a state unfamiliar to Spellman.

“I’m a Bay Area girl, and I really wanted to show the diversity that I remembered,” she said. “Much of what I was fond of has kind of disappeared, or been altered after all the money that came in from Silicon Valley spread through San Francisco and then into the East Bay. So the series is a little bit of a love letter to how things used to be.”

The setting was just one of several key changes that were made in adapting the novel. Another was a shift in the main point-of-view; unlike the novel, in which Poppy Parnell is a peripheral character, Spellman envisioned her as the heartbeat of the story.

“Nichelle unlocked the world of the show for us in a tremendous way,” said Neustadter. “I remember when she first presented her ideas to us. She always really felt a strong connection to Poppy, and to the complexity, originality and authenticity of this character. She had such a clear vision of who she was. And all of us immediately pictured Octavia as Poppy.”

Their first meeting with Spencer was a lovefest. The actress, an avid reader of mystery novels and a true crime fanatic, immediately connected with the character and the material, and would soon join the project as both star and executive producer….

Read it all at indiewire.com

2020 Oscar Contending Screenplays and Where to Read Them

Indie Film HUSTLE has done us all a solid with this very, very helpful list of Oscar contending screenplays:

See all that Indie Film HUSTLE has to offer

TVWriter™ recommends Indie Film HUSTLE podcasts


The latest helpful guide to screenplay and teleplay writing from our friends at Script Reader Pro:

by Script Reader Pro

If there’s so much information out there on how to craft the perfect three-act structure, why is it so hard to put it into practice in your own script? Why is it so difficult to know how the hell to fill those 50-60 pages in Act Two?

With close to a million different theories on three-act structure out there, this confusion is easy to understand.

Should you structure your script using Christopher Vogler’s Hero’s Journey or John Truby’s 21 Steps? Or should you go for the Save the Cat Beat Sheet or maybe Syd Field’s classic three-act structure?

In today’s post, we’re going to show you why you should stop fretting over plot points, page numbers and all the different structure theories that are out there. And what to focus on instead.

We’re going to show you the pros and cons of three-act structure and the right way to approach it so it empowers your creativity rather than stifles it.

Here’s what’s coming up:

• What is three-act structure?
• Why three-act structure works
• The problem with this structure
• A better approach
• How to write a story by first forgetting three-act structure
• So, do you really need three-act structure or what?

So let’s dive on in.

First, just what is three-act structure?

As we’ve already mentioned, there are many different screenwriting structure theories out there. However, they all fall into and work in harmony with what’s known as “classic” or “traditional” three-act structure.

Here’s a quick breakdown of classic/traditional three-act structure in a movie screenplay:

A screenplay should be roughly 90-110 pages long.

A single page roughly equals one minute of screen time. So the sweet spot of a 110-page screenplay is about a one-hour-fifty-minute long movie.

Applying a three-act structure divides these pages/minutes up like so:

• Act One: First 25-30 pages/minutes
• Act Two: Second 50-60 pages/minutes
 Act Three: Third 25-30 pages/minutes

Or like this:

• Act One: Beginning/Set-Up
• Act Two: Middle/Confrontation
• Act Three: End/Resolution

Or, as the saying goes:

• Act One: Get your protagonist up a tree
• Act Two: Throw rocks at him or her
• Act Three: Get them down again

More detail on what classic three-act structure entails