From his beloved sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond to his food and culture centered docuseries Somebody Feed Phil, Phil Rosenthal has an undeniable knack for creating entertaining and engaging TV series that resonate with a wide audience.
So what does it take to get your show off of the ground and onto the screen? We’re looking back on our many conversations with the AFF frequenter for his advice on creating and maintaining a successful series.
Here are five tips for writing great television from TV titan Phil Rosenthal:
- BECOME A JACK OF ALL TRADES
If you’re a writer, take an acting class. If you’re an actor, take a directing class. It’s all connected. It’s all branches off the same tree…so the more you know about the different disciplines, the stronger that tree is going to be.
- GROUND YOUR STORIES IN THE REAL WORLD
Our main rule was “Could this happen?” There are so many shows where that rule does not enter into the way of thinking…and once you do that, you are only as good as your last joke. Whereas, if you stay in the real world… you make a bond with the audience and they relate to it more.
- GIVE YOUR CHARACTERS ROOM TO GROW
You are creating the potential for more. That is all you can do. You have to leave room in the series for things to happen. What If someone moves away? What if they get married? You don’t know, but…if you are lucky enough to stay on the air, you get to grow and see.
- WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW
We weren’t writing to hit everybody. We were just writing what we know—stuff that actually happened to us…and, don’t you know that when you do that, then that’s when it might become universal.
- MAKE THE SHOW YOU WANT TO MAKE
The best advice I ever got from anybody was… “do the show you want to do because in the end, they are going to cancel you anyway.” And that is a great philosophy for life, I think. We all get cancelled anyway, so live your life.
Visit onstory.tv for a closer look inside the creative process from today’s leading writers and filmmakers.
Want to hear these tips firsthand? Join us at this year’s Writers Conference (Oct. 22 – 29, 2020) for a weekend of insider tips and writing advice from the leading voices of film and television. For more information on how to attend, click here.