It’s The Script, Stupid

Given that HBO walked away with 25 Primetime Emmy Awards, the most of any network for the eighth year in a row, last night, it might be a good time to pause and ask, “Why is HBO so damn good at what they do?”
Vanity Fair spoke to Michael Lombardo, president, HBO programming, to find out what’s in HBO’s secret sauce.

“We start with an unmitigated respect for writers and the written word. You can talk to any film or television writer and hear their experiences both in the big screen and smaller screen universe, and they’ll give repeated examples where they feel like their voice got muzzled, muffled, muddled by input, rather than supported. What we’re looking for is writers who have a distinctive voice, a unique perspective, a strong story-telling sense, to let them do their best work.” That sounds simple, but film and television development is a notoriously tricky task, especially when it entails exhorting those same distinct voices to achieve their best. “Our approach with the writers [and directors and producers] we do business with, is to understand from them what they’re trying to do with their show and keep them on course, and to challenge them when we think they’re getting off course from where they want to be with the show. We’re not a place that develops by consensus or by committee… That’s why we don’t ‘focus group’ our shows. That’s just not the business we’re in…. We’re not looking to be shows that get the biggest number of eyeballs in the world, we’re not selling ad space.”

I can’t help but wonder how much better advertising could be if we consistently brought HBO’s respect for writers–and the work writers do telling brand’s stories–to the fore.
[via Ed Cotton]

About David Burn

Native Nebraskan in the Pacific Northwest. Chief Storyteller at Bonehook, a guide service and bait shop for brands. Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. Contributor to The Content Strategist. Doer of the things written about herein.

  • Chris Maley

    That’s the Pixar practice, too. They know they can make anything “look cool”. But their ethic is to make an amazing script that connects with you “look cool”.
    Why is obvious bullshit like this so hard to get across to the majority of the world nowadays?