https://youtu.be/y5Gg9cZcnqY

Should you include chuffa in your script? Your first question is, “What’s chuffa?” Chuffa is an insider term. We use it to describe dialogue that needs to be written, but it’s not important enough to put in the script and it usually plays in the background. So let me give you an example. Let’s say we’re doing a scene. A husband and wife are in the kitchen. They’re talking, “Blah, blah, blah.” Then the TV comes on and the reporter says, “We interrupt your programming for this important announcement. Aliens have been spotted over the coast and are headed towards Capitol City. Residents are encouraged to flee in a pack.” Right? That newscaster has to be hired, we have to hire an actor and they need dialogue to say. That’s important dialogue. So that dialogue goes in the script, right? And afterward we cut back to the husband and wife, and now they’re in a panic. “What do we do?” “Pack the car, wake the kids.” “Should we call your mother?” “Eh, no, don’t call my mom.”

All that goes in the script as well. But while the husband and wife are in a panic, delivering that dialogue, what’s going on with the newscaster? The newscaster, she’s still speaking, right? She’s got a program. She’s got dialogue to fill. She needs to know what to say when we hire her and record her. So we need dialogue for that. We need chuffa. So that dialogue, just to go on to the background, it’s going to be light. We’re not really going to hear it, we’re going to sense it. It doesn’t really matter what she says, but she has to say something. Usually, if my partner and I are running the show, we don’t really want to write chuffa. So we get the writer’s assistant and say, “Hey, you want to write some chuffa for the newscaster?” And they’ll say, “Yeah, for sure,” because it’s fun for them.

Sometimes they even sneak in a joke, which is fine. You’re not really going to hear it, but let them sneak in a joke. So they will write a page or so of just chuffa to give to the actor of the newscaster to read on the day. It doesn’t matter exactly what they say, right? But it needs to be written out because you don’t want to make the newscaster have to think of it. You know, you’re not hiring for that. You’re hiring her to be an actor. So that’s chuffa.

For more tips on what it’s like to be a professional TV writer, you can follow me here. You can also subscribe to all my channels. And if you really want to up your game, you’ll take my screenwriting course. That’s a MichaelJamin.com/course. And the links are all in my bio. No chuffa.

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Michael Jamin, Showrunner, TV Writer, Author

Michael Jamin

For the past 26 years, Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner. His credits include King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Wilfred, Maron, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD and many more.

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