2016 Silicon Valley Comic-con: Big Bang Theory writers on teamwork
One of the best panels at the first annual Silicon Valley Comiccon was the team of Big Bang Theory head writers (Steven Molaro, Steve Holland, David Goestsch, Maria Ferrari, and Tara Hernandez). Even if you don't watch the show, a great point in the conversation (moderated by Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame) was how the team prepared for a season. Adam assumed that a lot of effort went into planning, outlining, and preserving story continuity from the prior season. To his and the audience’s surprise, the writers laughed and lamented what it would be like to work that way.
In fact, the team create scripts one story at a time starting with an approximate plan and then sweat out the details as they go. Since they have worked together for over 200 shows, they have learned to trust each other and leverage all of their strengths. They talked about having differences of opinion on character development but in a way that is based on passion for the story not pushing a personal agenda.
As a result of their ways of working, they can make big leaps in content, or destroy whole parts of episodes after a table reading or even during dress rehearsal. They “fight” for the best lines, jokes, and audience reactions. When it counts, they come together as a single unit to create the best quality product. This ideology and creativity is not only at the heart of what makes a team great but fun too. The panel went on to say that given the trust they have between each other, management, or the show producers, have less to criticize or interject about their approach.
The best comment they gave about the magic of their process happens during storyboarding. For sections of the story that aren’t quite formed yet - usually pivotal pieces - they will write on the board “some, something happens” and figure it out later. Isn’t that the best way to sum up what teamwork is all about?