TV Outside the Box: Trailblazing in the Digital Television Revolution by Neil Landau
by Marla White
There are so many books out there about writing for television that it’s hard to sort through useful knowledge vs. well, let’s be nice and just say less than useful knowledge. So when a book comes across my desk that I think is worth sharing, I’ll let you know and leave it open for you to decide.
The latest one I found absolutely fascinating was Neil Landau’s “TV Outside the Box” etc. etc. etc. Granted, the title is a little long, but the book really does cover every aspect of digital television. From the networks like Hulu, Netflix, SEESO and Vimeo who are changing the way we watch AND make television, to exploring what shows work and what ones don’t in the various outlets, this book covers everything a writer, producer or creator would need to know about how to stake a claim in this new frontier of television. He even talks about digital magazines, music channels, and food documentaries, so seriously whatever you’re interested in you’ll find valuable information between the very bright orange covers of this book.
In my humble opinion, where this book really shines though is the refreshingly candid interviews with various writers like Norman Lear, Jenji Kohan, Beau Willimon and Katja Blichfeld & Ben Sinclair, spanning the worlds of traditional television, cable, digital and web series. These interviews aren’t your usual “love your show” kind of pieces; Neil brings the sharp insights of someone who not only watches EVERYTHING out there, but loves television! He digs deeper into the themes of the show and challenges writers will continue to face. The book also includes links to more interviews not included in the hard copy, although if you’re a tech-phobe like myself it’s a little tricky to find them. (Look under the eResources tab, fyi)
Speaking of technically challenged people, I also love the way Neil breaks down the meaning of commonly used acronyms like SVOD vs. AVOD in a way that’s clear and easy to understand. He even spells out the long debated “how do you pronounce meme” debate by explaining it’s short for Mimicked Theme so take that people who claim it sounds like “mee – mee”.
Per the back of his book, “Neil Landau is a best-selling author, producer and award-winning screenwriter who runs the Writing for Television program in the UCLA Department of Film, Television and Digital Media (his alma mater).” In addition to having a mile long list of credits from features to television to animated projects, I’ve had the pleasure of hearing him speak and he is definitely in the camp of people who have practical, useful knowledge to share. His website has information about other books he’s written as well.
Still looking for a last minute Christmas gift? This book could be your answer! It’s available on Amazon or on the site where you’ll find links to other interviews.