Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tyler Gillett on "Books" - from TV pilot to webseries

Some of you might remember Tyler Gillett from my interview with Chad, Matt & Rob.  The team formerly known as CMR has recently become Radio Silence.  Their first project under the new moniker was a segment of the Bloody Disgusting anthology film "V/H/S." The movie, Bloody Disgusting's first, will be screening out of competition next year at Sundance as part of their Midnight Movies program.  The film's already been given some good press, in articles like this one and this one, and I'm hoping to get all of Radio Silence to sit down for an interview in the very near future.

In the meantime, I caught up with Tyler to discuss another recent project of his, Books.  Tyler directed this pilot-turned-webseries produced by Fremantle Media.  With webseries being produced with increasingly higher production values, I thought it would be good to take a look at how Books traveled from script to screen.

Tyler, on how he became attached to the project:

I was approached by Fremantle Media who, when I started collaborating with them, had just started soliciting original scripts from writers. I was busy with some other projects and wasn't able to really dive into the writing process myself but was anxious to develop something with them - when I asked if they had anything they were interested in creating that was already penned, they gave me a copy of Joe's story bible for Books. I loved it. It was tight, full of character, had a dark sense of humor, and was really a departure, at least how I viewed it stylistically, from a lot of the web content that I had worked on in the past. It really read to me like a serialized TV show - a mashup of Californication and Breaking Bad. 

When Joe and I first met up to talk more about what the scripts would feel like, the conventional cinematic/tv style is something we both instantly agreed on. We knew producing the show with this style instead of what is commonly seen on the web might get us in to trouble as far as view count goes but the end game for Joe and I and for Books has always been TV. The model that Fremantle approached us with was "make a show that looks and feels ready for TV." To us, that meant we were being tasked with making some very specific and polished aesthetic choices and high concept character/story choices. 

On repurposing the show into a webseries:

The first edit of the project was actually strung out into one long 33 minute episode - our "pilot" - that was then parsed down into smaller, more digestible web-friendly pieces. Breaking it up was a hard choice to make - it felt like we were betraying the style the show was produced in and I still think that what we created works better as a single piece of media. The cliffhangers that punctuate the end of each of the 6 episodes don't quite resonate with the right tone because, with this type of show, it's hard to get an audience to invest enough in the characters in such a short amount of time for those stakes to really feel significant. The significance of the Frost brothers' predicament lands more squarely when the show is played out in one long episode.

Tomorrow: We hear from the writer of Books, Joe Webb.


  1. Hey Bitter,

    It would really help if there was a logline/synopsis for this webseries. I went to the link which is just a Facebook page and filled with too many comments and not enough basic show info: Concept, characters, etc.

    Also, since you seem to be in touch with the director & writer, please let them know that CC (closed captions) or English SDH (subtitles for Deaf and Hard of Hearing) are very much needed. Broadcast network shows are required by law to provide CC/SDH. In October 2010, President Obama signed the Twenty-First Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act. There is a very large community that is likely to grow due to excessive earbud usage that can damage one's ability to hear. Captions and Subtitles only broaden an audience, which is especially important in the burgeoning universe of the internet. Sound is so important to the details of shows and if the viewer/audience is unable to get those details, that viewer will be lost. YouTube has accommodations for CC. Any webseries would be wise to employ that function.

    I watched this first episode which did not have CC and though I think I got the gist of it, I surely missed most of the dialogue. Why should a writer and actors spend time on dialogue if it gets lost in presentation? The show "Books" might be interesting, but I'm not sure if I will watch more if I cannot have proper access to CC/SDH.

    Anyway, that's my soapbox. Thanks for letting me post.

  2. January - thanks for bringing the CC/SDH issue to our attention. We'll look into in January. As for links to the show with concepts and characters, you can check out our official website ( or our YouTube show page, which has fewer and shorter commercials ( - Joe