Ten Minutes With: “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” Scribe Laura McCreary
BY: Marjorie Galas, Editor
Laura McCreary enjoys pushing boundaries. The writer broke her chops on award winning Disney animated and live action programs including “American Dragon: Jake Long”, “Kim Possible” and “Unfabulous.” Looking to explore a different creative path, McCreary joined Seth MacFarlane’s “American Dad” team, and immersed herself in a far edgier writing style.
“Disney watches their content closely and rightfully so. They are diligent about protecting their brand,” said McCreary. “‘American Dad’ is raunchy. We were encouraged to really push the envelope.”
Looking back on the years spent working with children’s programming, McCreary feels it was the perfect “writer’s boot camp.” Writers are required to break stories quickly in a fairly independent manner. “There’s much less punch up and refinement. The majority of the programs she worked on had small budgets and timelines, and she found what she wrote in a first draft was often animated.
“What you write ends up on screen,” said McCreary. “There’s much less punch up and refinement.”
After stretching her wings on “American Dad” and “Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23” McCreary joined the writer’s room of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” She became part of a collaborative group of ten writers and creators/show runners Daniel J. Goor and Michael Schur who develop stories by dividing into two groups: those breaking story lines, and the other refining scripts. Series star Andy Samberg also frequents the room to pitch ideas and weigh in on storylines.
When a draft of the script is completed, it’s presented to the network for review. It’s then delivered to the set where the cast has a pass, adding jokes and playing with the dialogue. A writer observes the embellishments as well as the crew’s reaction to the script to ensure they haven’t lost hold of the story or humor. Appropriate modifications are then made to the final script.
McCreary has enjoyed building the relationships the officers have both in and outside of the office. The world of police work has provided limitless possibilities, both in creating ongoing stories as well as presenting finite cases and one-off characters used in a single episode. While the world of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” has provided a great deal of freedom for the writers, they do work closely with technical advisors to ensure the series provides an accurate depiction of a detective’s work and behavior, from small points such as when someone is called “Sergeant” and when it’s appropriate to use first and last names to what happens on a stake out.
“They are on set providing story points involving procedure, but I’ve also learned the history of what it is like to be a detective,” said McCreary. “It was great to hear the politics behind their work. Comradely is essential – everyone has to be close to their fellow officers.”
While McCreary was the “fish out of water” who hadn’t worked with any of the other writers on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” previously, she’s enjoyed the collaborations and process of putting together each episode. As she returns to prepare season two of the series, she’s looking forward to the complexities of the storytelling the show provides.
“Some of the cases have had fun set pieces, like the rail yards, but our budget doesn’t allow for this all the time. Some episodes are smaller with greater emphasis on the acting and we get to be focused on really exploring the characters,” said McCreary. “The cases are fun, and filled with serious moments where we find the full humanity of these people. It’s fun, tense storytelling. It’s really unique and I love it.”
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