Writing For Thunderbirds

Did you see Thunderbirds Are Go! over the weekend? Thunderbirds Are WOW, more like. It’s a brilliant blend of live-action model sets and CGI characters, lovingly infused with the tone of the original 1960s series but given a suitable update for modern audiences. It’s extremely fast-paced, visual, funny and exciting, and I’m beside myself with glee that I got to write an episode for the series!

If you’re wondering what it’s like to write an episode of Thunderbirds Are Go, I’ll hand it over to head writer Rob Hoegee to explain (taken from his recent Reddit AMA):

“On my shows, it’s a very collaborative process between the episode writer an myself. It’s a sequential process that starts with a springboard idea. Maybe three sentences. That is turned into a one-page premise.

From there, we do what’s called a story-break. In this meeting, the writer and I (along with the episode director) flesh out the entire story beat for beat, scene to scene, start to finish. At this point, the writer has a beat sheet for a very detailed outline. Those are about 16-18 pages double-spaced. From there, the writer does a first draft script (about 28 pages). Then a second draft, then a polish.

Every step is read by the studio and network, we get notes and feedback and I take a writing pass on every step as well (often I don’t have to). By this process, we catch little problems before they become big problems. We start a script every other week (on average) during the writing period and each script takes about 12 weeks to write (a lot of that time is spent waiting for notes). I have between 6 and 8 episodes going at any given time.”

This is exactly how it went down for me when I wrote my episode. I’m hugely grateful to Rob for his genorosity and wisdom, which made the experience extremely enjoyable indeed. Special thanks also to Estelle Hughes (and Jamila Metran) for their help and encouragement which enabled me to get the gig.

I’m not sure when my episode is on but obviously I’ll let everyone know once I do. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to tell my ten year-old self that one day I’ll get to write for Thunderbirds (although the little git won’t believe me).

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