Megan Ganz Community Coffee Table Book

I will never be as cool as Megan Ganz. Writer. Comedian. Assassin capable of constructing weapons from a single sheet of paper.

Meeting Notes 6/21/11

She is a writer on the NBC sit-com COMMUNITY. One of several talented, mostly insane, writers and producers who have made Dan Harmon’s Community a reality. It is, in my opinion the best sit-com since ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, another show you likely have never heard of. That’s because both shows are single camera sit-coms in a world where single camera sit-coms may be dying.

Meeting Notes: 6/28/11

There are single camera and multi-camera television shows. Lemme break that down for you in the I’mma-simple-dummy-from-Kentucky sort of way. Because, well, that’s what I am.

Meeting notes: 7/7/11

Multi-camera shows are the norm. Here’s why. They are easier. You are basically performing a play on a stage with several cameras shooting different angles at the same time. Not long ago there were live audiences. Great thing about a live audience with a sit-com is the immediate feedback. If a joke falls flat you have a dozen (in the old days, now you got 4) writer/producers rewriting the dead jokes. Of course, live audiences are more work so the norm now is to shoot it on a stage and PIPE in a laugh track. That means the actors perform the joke then later a sound mixer toggles a switch and the viewer HEARS prerecorded laughter. Hii-larious!

Meeting Notes: 7/8/11

Single camera shows, like COMMUNITY are hard. Because it’s like shooting a movie. They don’t have laugh tracks because those don’t tend to work unless you subconsciously KNOW the show is on a stage. If you are driving or on a bridge or in the ocean then a PIPED in laugh track sounds dumb. Thus the show has to be FUNNY on its own. You don’t have the cheat of someone telling you when to laugh.

Meeting notes: 7/13/11

Here’s an example of single camera shows thru the years: 30 Rock, Andy Griffith Show, Arli$$, Beverly Hillbillies, Brady Bunch, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dream On, Drew Carey, Entourage, Freaks and Geeks, Get Smart, Gilligan’s Island, Gomer Pyle, Happy Days, Hogan’s Heroes, I Dream of Jeannie, Larry Sanders, Leave It to Beaver, Lizzie McGuire, M*A*S*H, Munsters, My Name is Earl, The Office, Scrubs, Ugly Betty, Weeds, Wonder Years, etc.

Those are all great shows because the single camera format obviously allows for some wonderful creativity.

Meeting Notes: 8/2/11

Multi-camer examples: Barney Miller, Different Strokes, Archie Bunker, Jeffersons, My Wife and kids, Two and a Half Men, Third Rock from the Sun, Big Bang Theory, Friends.

Those are all great shows too but do you see the difference? Singe cameras tend to move all over the place. Mulit-cams tend to stay in one, two or three locations. Look at Friends. Two apartments and a coffee shop. From a production standpoint much easier, much more time efficient and cheaper.

And I’m NOT suggesting multi-camera shows are easy. No shows are easy. BUT, multi-camera shows do have less challenges.

Meeting Notes: 8/4/11

And certainly the writing of mulit-cam isn’t easier than singel cam. Writing is tough. In some cases, single camera writing may be easier because you don’t have the same location constrictions.

But shooting in three constant locations is way easier than shooting in several locations that come specifically and uniquely out of the writing. And shooting with one camera requires you get both close ups and coverage separate which is time consuming. Multi-camera shows are designed to get both in one shot. See?

Meeting Notes: 8/12/11

Since multi-cam shows are shackled to their locations their creative freedom is also somewhat shackled. Single cam shows are more free because they can travel. Move. Fly. Look back up at the list of both. You can see the journey of the single camera shows.

Meeting Notes: 10/18/11

And on top of it, multi-cam shows tend to be cheaper because shooting in the same three locations is… well… cheaper and faster. Also faster because you have multiple cameras shooting at the same time. Less set ups.

Meeting Notes: 10/20/11

If you needed proof that COMMUNITY was something special then you should, by now have your proof. Just LOOK at Megan’s meeting notes!

Meeting Notes: 10/21/11

There was a time when shows were allowed time. Some just needed time to find an audience. Others needed time to grow. Watch early episodes of Seinfeld and compare them to later seasons. Different show. That’s because the show had to grow to find an audience. In fact, the show opened with very low ratings. Folks just didn’t understand a show about nothing.

Then came the WGA “threat” of strike. The industry changed due to a little show called Survivor. Reality TV took hold with a vengeance. It was Script vs. Reality. Suddenly you had multi-cam and single-cam shows competing against shows with NO WRITERS (or at least no guilded writers). No longer could the Networks give a show time to find its audience nor time to “grow”. If you didn’t have the ratings after a couple episodes, you were gone.

Meeting Notes: 10/26/11

Add to that the influx of cable channels which brought new pros and cons. HBO, TNT, FX. While the networks were busy whooring reality, the cable guys were creating pretty solid scripted television. This meant the ratings pool was suddenly spread out. Rather than NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox owning the airways, they had to share and in some cases, get their asses handed to them.

On the pro list, this meant a show with lower ratings could hang on a bit longer. You’d think that was great but with so many new outlets (competition), it was that much harder to find an audience.

A roller coaster. Ratings that would get you cancelled just five years ago were suddenly considered strong ratings.

Meeting Notes: 10/27/11

NBC pulled COMMUNITY mid-season.

Meeting Notes: 11/9/11

If you haven’t seen it. Grab the first season on DVD.

Meeting Notes: 11/11/11

Because COMMUNITY will be back. And when it returns we need you to be ready. All you gotta do is watch season one and you’ll know.

Meeting Notes: 11/16/11

Community is a smart show. Community is a funny show. And it achieves this without you being told when and where to laugh. Single camera shows think outside the box. I love the box, but what a creatively vast and wonderful world lives beyond it.

As the meeting notes should reveal.

Meeting Notes: 12/6/11

I want a Megan Ganz Meeting Notes Coffee Table Book.

Because that would be…


6 replies on “Megan Ganz Community Coffee Table Book”

So much love for Community. Seriously our favorite show on the air. Looking forward to the rest of the season… whenever they end up showing it.

Glad that I’m not the only one who derives immense entertainment from Ms. Ganz’s meeting notes (and Community episodes).

Confused though. Why can’t there be a multi/single camera mix? For instance, it would speed filming up a lot for Community if they put multi-cam in the study room for just the table sessions, and single-cam it anywhere else where travel/movement is needed.

Love Megan’s notes by the way!

There’s a flow for single cam vs. multi-cam. The show wouldn’t be as interesting and creative if it were on stages, even just for the table sessions. They need the mix of basic shots and more movement to get the point across.

Great doodles! Your description, however, is confusing.
multi-cam/single cam has nothing to do with the question whether there is canned laughter or not.

[…] I’m a huge fan of the show Community.  Over this weekend, Megan Ganz, who writes for the show, did an AMA (or Ask Me Anything) on Reddit (don’t google it…it’ll destroy everything you know and love in the best way possible).  Upon reading it, I came across a link (via Todd Farmer’s blog) to some of the drawings she does during meeting notes and they cracked me up in the sense that, here is a show that is cleverly written and constructed and you have one of the writers doodling during their meetings.  Now, we’re not just talking little silly doodles, we’re talking elaborate, colorful designs.  Take a look for yourself: Megan Ganz’s Community Coffee Table Book […]

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