After what seemed like the longest year in history, the CDC has finally announced that it’s safe for fully vaccinated people to gather, without masks, indoors or outdoors, and in any size group. Instead of sprinting to my nearest, crowded, super-spreader bar, I’m pondering the future of the entertainment industry (like most twenty-three year olds I assume). Will in-person writers’ rooms make their triumphant return? If so,will people continue using WritersRoom Pro? I think they will, not because they have to, but because they want to.
WritersRoom Pro is credited by dozens and dozens of shows and showrunners for saving their writers’ rooms during the pandemic. Many of our clients have noted that WritersRoom Pro was the parachute they needed as their plane was going down. Now that the plane is landing safely (or safe-ish?), clients are asking me if they still need the WritersRoom Pro parachute?
The reality is that WritersRoom Pro was not built as a COVID solution. WritersRoom Pro was first developed in June of 2019 and was conceived to be the inevitable digital replacement for the corkboards and index cards that professional TV and film writers have been using since prehistoric times.
Due to the fact that we are not psychics we had no clue the pandemic was going to hit shortly after releasing WritersRoom Pro in September of 2019; almost six months before COVID left us all to fend for ourselves. We had a modest goal of being used by 5 shows by the end of 2020. Then, in mid-March 2020, our phones wouldn’t stop ringing as in-person rooms were being shut down. By the end of 2020 we were on over 200 shows.
WritersRoom Pro has dozens of timesaving and efficiency features built specifically for professional writers’ rooms. Out of all of them, remote collaboration became THE feature everyone needed. Our remote capabilities were essential and became everyone’s quarantine BFF. Now that rooms are opening again, WritersRoom Pro is still a faithful ally that every room needs whether in-person, fully remote, or a hybrid of both.
Here are seven reasons why WritersRoom Pro represents the evolution of the modern, professional writers’ room and not a short-term COVID bandaid:
- REMOTE ACCESS & COLLABORATION — Why would remote access and collaboration be needed when the rooms are back in person, you may ask? Because writers’ rooms are never static. Showrunners go to location, writers work from home after hours, and then there’s that pesky thing called weekends. Our clients love logging in and working on their boards wherever and whenever they want. You really can’t compare the experience to the old blurry photo of the boards converted to a pdf file and emailed to or shared with everyone at the end of the day. Plus, now you can work collaboratively with your stray writer in Canada (because there is always someone in Canada).
- SHUT DOWN INSURANCE – Unless you are Dr. Fauci himself, who is to say there won’t be some rogue variant that shuts down Hollywood once again? As I write this Los Angeles is considering a new mask mandate due to the Delta Variant. With WritersRoom Pro studios know rooms can continue even if shut down in the face of the unknown or out of an abundance of caution. Look what recently happened to production on Mission: Impossible 7. It won’t take more than one person getting sick in the room to send everyone home, scrambling for a remote solution. That’s just the world we live in, sadly.
- SECURITY – It’s confounding to me that studios are so worried about protecting their IP from cyberthieves and ransomware attacks yet allow an entire season of their most guarded shows to be visible on physical corkboards to everyone who stumbles into the writers’ room. Visitors, the guy who delivers the snacks, disgruntled former staff or crew, pesky studio executives; all your physical index cards are exposed to everyone and anyone with eyes and potentially more troubling, phones in their pockets. Which is everyone… right? WritersRoom Pro has in-room security features that enable the boards to be shifted into privacy mode with a single click so your work is only visible to people who have your permission.
- SAVES MONEY ON OFFICES –Offices can get very pricey, between writing producers, writers, and support staff, you can have a dozen individual offices, not to mention a double conference room for the writers’ room and large communal sitting area, plus a long bullpen area for all of the assistants. And a snack room (obviously). I’m not sure how much studios charge for that much space, but you don’t have to be a finance whiz to realize it isn’t cheap. That’s potentially thousands and thousands of dollars that could be allocated to more locations, extras, stunts, sets, additional shoot days.
- HIRE THE BEST WRITERS FROM ANYWHERE – WritersRoom Pro lets you connect with writers all over the world. One of our clients had writers in Los Angeles, Connecticut, and Ireland. If all the writers needed to be in the same room in the same city, the studio would have to relocate several people, at great expense, for the duration of the writing process. Think of the hotels, the business class flights. The cost of all of that was more than they would have spent on a whole season of WritersRoom Pro. Even more than this, using WritersRoom Pro means studios and showrunners now have their pick of any writer, anywhere. Europe, Asia, possibly Mars (I’ll run it by our programmers). Assuming someone is authorized to work in the US, WritersRoom Pro benefits showrunners and producers by opening up their roster to talent from anywhere. Now writers no longer have to choose between leaving their families for months at a time and taking that job being offered in Los Angeles, New York, or Toronto.
- INEVITABILITY – Cameras, sound recording, editing, call sheets, scheduling; almost every aspect of production has shifted from analog to digital. With all the technology that’s available, can writers’ rooms be far behind? I don’t see throngs of writers giving up their MacBooks so they can go back to IBM Selectric typewriters. With very few exceptions, the move is always from analog to digital. It is inevitable that this will happen in the writers’ room. Be a trendsetter, why not do it now?
- ENVIRONMMENTALLY FRIENDLY – You already put a blue recycling bin in all of your office spaces, but now you can take it one step further, and bring make your whole room greener with WritersRoom Pro. We offer a paperless solution, which saves money, but also saves the earth. A classic win win. We predict Hollywood will keep getting greener, and while you are drinking from your paper straws and taking shorter showers, why not transition to the future and retire the index cards?
If we have learned anything from the past 18 months, we know that things can happen quickly and the only way to survive is to be adaptable and flexible. We aren’t positive that writers’ rooms will return with the same gusto that they had before, and even if they do, it is essential that we are prepared for whatever comes next. So as rooms open up, and as the masks come off, don’t lose track of the surprising benefits that WritersRoom Pro can bring to in-person, fully remote, or hybrid writers’ room. Remember: WritersRoom Pro is not a Covid-solution, but the natural evolution of the creative environment we know and love.