Putting it Together – Vermin
I’ve been involved in a new project that is slowly becoming an actual thing so I think it’s time to start being a bit more public about what we’re doing.
Gordon Smuder, who produced Transylvania Television, came to me last year and asked if I was interested in being head writer on a new project called “Vermin.” I was in the midst of looking to increase my work as a writer so of course I said yes.
Vermin is about a bunch of lab rats. One rat, Ralph, is a bit smarter than the rest so what happens? He has gotten promoted to management.
That’s the basic idea. A bunch of rats in a lab. And one of them is in charge.
Where me and the other writers have gone from that starting point is getting very exciting and very silly. We explore the various experiments the rats are part of, the challenge of being the rat in charge, and there are ninjas. Rat ninjas. Also a whole lot of bagels.
Being a head writer is a different experience for me. I’m not writing the whole thing. I’m just the guy who drives the conversation and sometimes says “hey – maybe we should change this part.”
I don’t know if I’m doing it right. I have to trust the other writers to do their jobs and still be willing to step in to make decisions that keep the whole thing moving the right direction. At least I think that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m kind of making the whole thing up as I go.
All this writing will, eventually, find it’s way to the web and, hopefully, be popular to more than ten or twelve people.
The project involves so many pieces and we are a small part. We are writing it but Gordon has to make the puppets and the puppeteers have to bring the scripts to life and the technicians need to cut it together and, of course, the audience needs to watch it.
What we are doing now probably won’t find it’s way to the web for another three to six months. I’m used to a faster turnaround time.
Patience is an important element of the creative process. Sometimes the feedback is immediate. Sometimes it takes a long time. Sometimes it never comes.
Writing comedy frequently scares the hell out of me. I remember before we performed “The Complete Works of William Shatner Abridged,” I worried if a single joke was going to land. Writing a drama that fails isn’t as painful as a comedy that doesn’t make anyone laugh.
“Vermin” will be a web series and that will make it harder for me to know if it actually makes anyone laugh. At least with a stage show, I know if what I wrote worked on the level that I wanted it to work.
The challenge is exciting and different in so many ways. I’ve never written a web series. I’ve never been a head writer. I’m creating so much more than I’m used to creating.
That’s how you get better at this sort of thing, though. You do things that are different. You do things that make you uncomfortable.
You make web series about rats.