Writing for TV: The Crown Pilot
In recent memory, there are arguably more astonishing television series going on than there ever were before. Thus, the over-saturation in the market allows for novice screenwriters a wide range of information and material for them to take a glance at. Of the excellent television series in the 21st century, The Crown is an incredible historical fiction show about Queen Elizabeth II from the 1940s to modern times.
Considering there are several historical fiction shows available, it’s always a monumental moment when one can be as successful as The Crown. Since production companies are interested in pilot scripts more than anything, let’s take a glance at The Crown’s pilot and what makes this script and show stand-out from other shows.
Photo credit: John Sherrod
Given that the show is about Queen Elizabeth II, the ongoing themes of power, privilege, and politics are most often associated with the show. First up, we have power, as we get an inside look at the Queen and how she ascended the throne at 25 after the death of her father King George IV.
Since it’s challenging to comprehend the amount of responsibility and nerves someone would experience while obtaining that level of power, this alone makes the show intriguing. Even though it’s not a literal documentary about the ordeal, it still paints a picture in the audience’s head about something that’s interesting.
Up next on the power, privilege, and politics list, we have privilege. Privilege is generally seen as a negative from people on the outside, as it tends to lead to negative consequences in humanity, causing wealthier individuals to not understand normal class issues everyday citizens might experience.
Still, The Crown understands that the privilege of becoming the Queen is not only enticing and can cause jealousy, but is an intriguing subject for people to analyze. After all, people are addicted to shows about the Kardashian for no reason other than they’re people with a massive amount of wealth and privilege.
Last up on the list of power, privilege, and politics theme is politics. As you can tell by any story regarding a Queen, it’s safe to say that political discussions are an intriguing topic. Plus, since it’s regarding an important time in history as Queen Elisabeth II is still alive today, it’s interesting for people to look back on.
No matter how hateful someone might be at the subject of politics, it’s always an interesting discussion, even if it’s something in a show. Since the politics in The Crown are technically based on real ordeals, it makes it even more addicting for people to consume and watch.
True Stories Need Imagination as Well
If there’s anything novice screenwriters should take away from The Crown, it’s that true stories need imagination as well. Basically, don’t write a historical fiction piece and have it be filled with nothing by historical accuracies and dialogue that’s derived from the people in the story.
Obviously, historical accuracy is important for the most part, but the story and character building in your script is more important. The Crown knows how to walk the fine line between historical accuracy and fiction, so definitely make a note of it while watching the pilot.
Find Something People Don’t Know
If The Crown solely told the story of Queen Elisabeth II without anything interesting that most people don’t know, then it wouldn’t be a great story. Even from the pilot, people see a wide range of information regarding the Queen they more than likely didn’t know.
Thus, it becomes a reference for how people should seek out details in a story that aren’t guessable, even if it’s based on a real figure. However, it’s essential to know if something is worth telling or not, as The Crown does a fantastic job at eliminating any filler.
Generally speaking, novice screenwriters tend to have the biggest difficulty with vocal consistencies. For The Crown, you can tell who is speaking just by reading the dialogue, meaning there’s a solid voice consistency for every character.
Read through the script and see how the main characters speak and how their dialogue remains similar throughout the script. For your own script, realize this is a fairly difficult task to accomplish, but if you’re patient enough, you’ll be able to master it in no time.
What is the Center of a Story?
Many make the odd association of The Crown being like a similar story to the iconic film franchise in The Godfather as it’s a story about a family in power and the survival of that family. Thus, it allows the audience to see what the center of the story is incredibly early on.
Even though The Crown is a historical piece, the script still needs to identify what is at the center of the story and how it can be conveyed through dialogue and the story as a whole. Rather than only be about the Royal Family, it covers what it’s like to have power, how people handle that power, and the survival associated with power.