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Interview with Daniel Bennett

Guest brissyboy

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Sunday Mail (SA)

Edition 1 - StateSUN 17 APR 2005, Page C03

Scripted role

Daniel Bennett, 24, pictured above, started at Home and Away as a work experience student. Four years on, he?s the script producer, responsible for all the drama, intrigue and, at times, tears you see on the screen.

How did you get to be script producer?

I did work experience while studying at uni and when I finished work experience they offered me a job. I started as a script assistant and learned the basics of plotting a series. Meanwhile, I worked on the day to day running of the department and the show, and worked my way up.

So, what exactly do you do?

A scriptwriter?s job is to turn story ideas into dialogue. On Home and Away we have a lot of freelance scriptwriters. They?re given a scene by scene breakdown and told what characters will be used and where the story is going. They must take all that away and turn the story idea into a conversation and bring the storyline to life. As script producer, I come up with those storylines and, with the rest of the team, generate those documents to the freelance scriptwriters, who then turn it into a script. After the writers have finished, the script will come back to me for editing. Then the script is released to the actors. By the time you see it on screen, about five months will have passed since we first started working on it. We?re working on episodes for the first week of September.

What can?t you do on the show?

The 7pm timeslot, when it airs, only recently became PG. So it?s important we stick to subject matter that is appropriate for that timeslot, which means excluding certain adult themed stories and things such as swear words.

Where do you get Story ideas from?

You get them from reading and watching and talking and living, really. It?s a culmination of all the experience in the room at the time. We toss ideas around and will come up with a story, but sometimes that idea will grow and all these side stories will grow out of the original story.

How do you keep track of past stories and character histories?

We have some documents that record what?s happened and a synopsis of every episode. And a lot of our writers have an extensive history with the show. Most of us have grown up watching it and the same goes for the cast, so we remember a lot of it. I?ve watched it since the pilot episode, so I?m very familiar with

the show and that?s

very helpful.

Have you seen every episode?

I think I?ve only missed about five episodes, but that wasn?t through choice. It was usually because my VCR wasn?t working, or something.

Is it like playing God?

It is to a certain extent because we determine what will happen to a character and determine their fate. We often joke that we?ll have Alf abducted by aliens.

What do you watch on TV?

Everything. At the moment I like Desperate Housewives because it?s well constructed. I?m more a fan of certain writers David E. Kelly and J.J.Abrams, for example. I love classic Australian shows such as Police Rescue and A Country Practice. I?m also a fan of old sitcoms such as The Golden Girls and drama series such as LA Law, which was a clever show.

What?s coming up in Summer Bay?

The stalker storyline is coming to a climax. Look for Sally taking a prominent role and there?s a great twist, too. We?ll also introduce some new characters towards the end of the year. In July, we?ll celebrate our 4000th episode and a number of former cast members will join in. There?s a wedding coming up and a major celebration that will be marred by tragedy. You?ll just have to tune in to see what happens!

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