So you want to be a TV writer? Current TV’s Bar Karma gives you a pitch meeting

Feb 24, 2011
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If you’ve ever dreamed of being a television writer, especially in the science fiction genre, you’ll want to give Current TVs Bar Karma app a look. Bar Karma, Current TV’s newest drama series, which premiered earlier this month, is taking crowd-sourcing to a whole new level, with its producers allowing viewers to submit their own […]

If you’ve ever dreamed of being a television writer, especially in the science fiction genre, you’ll want to give Current TVs Bar Karma app a look. Bar Karma, Current TV’s newest drama series, which premiered earlier this month, is taking crowd-sourcing to a whole new level, with its producers allowing viewers to submit their own storylines from within the Bar Karma app, available universally for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

Current TV tapped Sim City and Sims creator Will Wright to develop the StoryMaker Engine, which is how budding screenwriters will submit their ideas. Although the idea of a crowd-produced television show is revolutionary — every week the community votes on the top producer-vetted storylines and then the final storyboard is turned into a 30-minute episode — for such a complex undertaking the Bar Karma app is severely lacking in terms of instruction and additional writing-related content.

The Bar Karma app offers three main sections: “Watch,” where AT&T users can view some exclusive scenes; “Challenges,” where users can access StoryMaker; and “Blog,” which draws from the Bar Karma website. The technical aspects of the app are explained in the question mark. Swipe left to see the story, scroll up to see alternate scenes, and tap a scene to input your written ideas. You can add your own photos — either pulled from the web, shot live, or taken off your camera roll — to supplement your vision. Publishing the storyboard will submit your plot to Current TV for adjudication. What Bar Karma misses in its app format is content found on its website, such as “Frequently Asked Questions,” the writing guide and the information about what scene pitches are currently being accepted. I also didn’t see a way to vote on storylines through the app itself.

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The Bar Karma project is a fascinating one, and I’m curious to see how the 12-episode series turns out, but if you have a choice between using Bar Karma on an iPhone/Touch or an iPad, choose the iPad. The StoryMaker technology lends itself much more to the iPad’s large-screen, and I found the actual creation of a storyline to be a pain in iPhone’s small space. Actually, in all truthfulness, serious users should skip the apps entirely and head straight to the web-based version of StoryMaker at current.com/studios.

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