Last week, I had the pleasure of lecturing with the TV Writers Summit in Tel Aviv as well as participating in an affiliated writers room event and an informal panel discussion at Tel Hay college.
To say that reality television is popular in Israel is an understatement. More than 50 percent of their content falls under that banner. As it goes anywhere, more reality content means more chances to get it wrong, but also more chances to get it right. I couldn’t stop talking about Armoza Formats‘ Couch Diaries the whole time I was there.
Talking TV with Avi Armoza of Armoza Formats
Many, if not most, of the attendees at this Summit event were mid-career or prominent creators and producers, which had me worried that my usual four and a half hour lecture chunk would be too basic. Fortunately, we found ourselves talking story and process fairly quickly. The great thing about storytelling is that it’s a universal art form, and whether you’re into Blake Snyder, Syd Field, Robert McKee, Chris Vogler, Todd Klick or anyone else, what ultimately matters is what you’ve chosen to retain and how you approach what it is that you do. What I offered was another wrench for the tool kit, and believe me, I went home with a few new ideas, too. Lecturing is always more rewarding to me when I’m talking with people, not at them.
Listening to pitches at the Writers Room event
The writers room event was a special challenge in that Chad Gervich, Jen Grisanti, Ellen Sandler and I all had different objectives and plans for the day, which consisted of the four of us rotating groups of eight or ten from table to table to work with us on their projects and get the feel of how writers and execs collaborate here in the US. In Israel, writing is typically a more solitary experience, as show creators often write all of the episodes of their content alone. All of us us had a terrific time, and the feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive. During one hour-long session, one of my tables beat out an entire potential season for an animated series. In another, the group struggled with a very specific concept from a creator, but ultimately mapped out a full episode.
The Tel Hay panel was surprising in that many, if not most, of the questions were about reality television. Chad Gervich has some reality experience in addition to his scripted credits, so the two of us had a blast.
Dinner at Night Kitchen, a restaurant so good it’ll make you want to move to Tel Aviv
Thanks to the organizers and producers of the event who showed all of us a wonderful time and such sincere hospitality that it felt like we were simply visiting friends. We’re exhausted, but it was fun!