Creating the Suspense of "The Blacklist" in the Digital Writers' Room

Writing for TV is a highly collaborative process that requires real-time teamwork.

Working on his award-winning television drama with a team located over 1,000 miles away was proving to be a difficult experience for Jon Bokenkamp, creator and executive producer of the crime drama “The Blacklist.” He had recently moved to Nebraska and could feel a difference as he worked to create new “The Blacklist” episodes with the California-based team of “The Blacklist” writers.

“It’s a highly collaborative process that requires being in the room with my team — especially when we’re breaking stories and trying to turn ideas into storylines” Bokencamp said. “There are so many moving parts. We need to be able to sit down, bounce ideas off one another, and chip away until we get to the spine of the story.”

Bokenkamp had hoped video conferencing would be the answer to creating a storyline online, as it would allow him and the other “The Blacklist” writers to see one another and build ideas on the spot. But while the communication was working out, he felt a disconnect from the story his team was working on — after all, they weren’t using a digital workplace, and he couldn’t use the whiteboard they had in front of them.

Then he discovered Bluescape, which proved to be the answer. Its digital workplace made it possible for all of “The Blacklist” writers team to see and work on the same digital whiteboard at once, wherever they were located, while also integrating video conferencing and other tools to boost communication and collaboration. Like a whiteboard, the Bluescape digital workplace allowed “The Blacklist” digital participants to draw directly on the screen for a more traditional experience — but the screen could also hold notecards, text, images, and more, which all came in handy when creating new “The Blacklist” episodes.

“Bluescape is the next best thing to being there in person,” Bokencamp said. “It puts me in the room in a way that lets me see and understand the tone of what’s happening and how ideas are received, and it lets me interact in real time as the story takes shape.”

While Bluescape was brought in to bridge the physical distance and enhance communication and collaboration between the employees, it also carried several other benefits to enhance the process of creating a storyline online. For example, Bluescape’s tools made it easy for the team to keep track of the complicated plotlines developing throughout NBC’s “The Blacklist” episodes. But the biggest change, according to Bokenkamp, is how much faster his team can create while using Bluescape.

“Bluescape is really the next wave of the screenwriting process,” he said.

Check out the full case study for more information on The Blacklist” episodes and on how Bluescape allows the show’s writers to more efficiently create a suspenseful storyline online.