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What is a series? Who hasn’t watched a series? The simplest definition of this moviemaking genre is the following – a TV film made of several episodes. In the present article we will talk in detail about what is a series and puzzle out peculiarities of this genre.
General definition of a series
A series means a serial show. Hence, this genre implies a film series consisting of separate episodes connected by the plot or characters. A series as a genre started in the USA when the first so-called soap operas appeared on the radio in the 1930s. They were radio series in the form of different theatrical programs followed with insight by radio listeners. This is how an idea of transferring the genre to TV screens appeared. It must be confessed that the idea was a huge success and does not become moot to the present day.
Certainly, the main idea of the TV series is to attract the spectators’ attention to TV screens for a considerable time period as well as keeping up their interest. We should note that TV series are usually being divided into two groups – sequential and procedural ones. The latter type is also being referred to as a procedure drama. Their difference is that the first type implies unravelling of the plot, so that each following episode is connected to the previous one by the plot. Even though there are dragging out series where you can guess the plot, this classification implies a particular connection. As for procedural dramas, they consist of multiple episodes not connected to each other. One can say that each episode is a separate movie. This type is more popular thanks to its convenience: a spectator does not have to watch all episodes in a row, they can start on the fifth episode as well as on the twentieth.
How are series being made?
Usually, individual authors bring lots of printings to production centers. Those printings are left unread, producers only assess the concept, the idea of the future plot. Here the specialists exclude too costly options which are not interesting to an average spectator, senseless and other unsuccessful ideas.
The main emphasis is on the cost-profit relation since a series is primarily a commercial project which should generate profits from broadcasting, sales and advertising. If an idea seems worthwhile, the production center offers some studio to develop the plot on the basis of this idea.
A producing studio sends the printed version of a series to the creative department where the script is being written on the basis of the proposed idea. Everything matters: the necessary scenery, the number of actors, the necessity of field shootings and other things. It is certain that a person not having an insight into the movie production process cannot create a script meeting the conditions assigned by a studio.
Who pays? Usually a studio covers expenditures on the preparation and shooting of a series, and the money invested is being returned after the final version of a series goes on the TV air. Big emphasis is being put on the series promotion and presales advertising on which the future success of a project depends a lot.
After all major milestones of a script have been approved, preparation for the shooting process comes into play with cast selection, construction of the scenery, greasepaint trials, rehearsals and other components of the creative production.
Then, several pilots are being shot; these are drafts of the future episodes. Those versions are then being showed to the test panel which is the audience to test the series on. Spectators watch the shot content and share their impressions on was the plot interesting, what emotions they felt, what they thought was good or bad.
All data received by the test panel is being sent to script writers. Then, the necessary corrections are being made and core shootings take place. The test panel can be offered several scenarios of the following season to determine the future storyline. That is why it often happens that the script is being written side by side at the time of shooting.
The TV channel for which the series was shot “rents” the content for demonstration. Normally, the attention of potential spectators is being attracted by all possible advertising avenues.
After the premiere specialists look closely at the audience’s reaction and make decisions on the shooting of the next season or the series ending on the basis of the data gathered.
The author gets primary earnings from showing, i.e. after a particular season went on air. If after the first season there is no interest in the series, there are no future payments to the author.
There are times when the creative department of a studio and TV channel generate the concept themselves or buy the right to shoot their own content on the basis of a plot of the movie which was shot earlier.