It is standard practice for a film consultant to help the main production team on a movie or broadbast TV project. The in-house writers for a project may lack expertise on all the necessary technical details of their script. However, they need the assurance that scripts are believable and dialogue sounds true-to-life. As a result, the team will sometimes bring in an expert authority to consult on the script.
The consultant can have knowledge of a variety of different specialities. Law procedural programs such as Boston Legal may require a few different consultants – a legal expert, a police expert, and perhaps a forensic scientist. Other shows like E.R. may require a medical film consultant. Basically, people with graduate degrees and years of experience in their field are hired to make the plot deevelopments seem realistic.
This process is as old as Hollywood itself. Recently, the hiring of film consultants has increased due to more sophisticated audiences. In the early 1980s, many projects with scripts involving computers had nonsensical and hackneyed dialogue. At that time few people had personal computers. However, everyone now has a laptop, so TV shows can’t get away with lame dialogues any more.
Some examples of areas where the sophistication of scripts has increased are hospital shows and legal shows. These include a few of the longest-running and most well known television shows. For example, the Law & Order franchise is a huge hit for its network. Many medical dramas are highly regarded – a few of them are Grey’s Anatomy and House. In these dramas, medical issues are interwoven with the character elements of the teleplay. In order to make sure that plot developments are realistic, a film consultant is an important part of the creative team. The consultant can also help with dialogue that needs technical jargon.
If the conversations in a teleplay lack believability, a film or television program may be subject to ridicule. Worse yet, it may lose audience acclaim and decrease in the rankings. For this reason, it is beneficial for a production team to hire a film consultant to edit the dialogue. Since viewers are able to determine whether dialogue is realistic, they will be more motivated to keep watching shows that have good production values. Repeat viewers means higher ratings and more advertiser dollars. Only when a movie has a very tight budget should the technical details in the screenplay be left to the writers. Although there is a wealth of information available online for many subjects, it is preferable to have a qualified expert review the script.
Want to find out more about choosing a film consultant, then visit Franklin D. Smithsonian’s site on how to choose the best one.
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