return to articles

Writer's Guide for Highway Patrol
from ZIV Television Programs

                               PERSONAL & CONFIDENTIAL

                   GENERAL INFORMATION FOR WRITERS ON HIGHWAY PATROL



1.  This is basically an action documentary series. We take great
    care not to imitate any of the other well-known police,
    detective, sheriff, or district attorney type shows that are
    on the air.

2.  We show the crime quickly or let it have happened. Our crooks
    are clever or the problem insurmountable and Mathews solves
    it. We do not like to have criminals caught or the crime
    solved because thieves fall out. It must be solved by Mathews
    thinking and using good police work.

3.  The tag must wrap up the crime and all the criminals leaving
    no loose ends. Another very important element in our tag is
    that after Mathews has apparently solved the crime, some other
    last minute thing must happen so that our audience will not
    know the picture is over. An example would be -- two minutes
    before the end, Mathews solves the crime and holds the
    criminals at bay -- but a minute and a half from the end they
    do something which makes it look as though they are going to
    get away and Mathews' quick thinking and courage stops them.
    We like to have a last line to the criminal and final going
    away shot.

    Dan Mathews, played by Broderick Crawford, is the head of the
    Highway Patrol and as such, travels from town to town and
    office to office. There should always be a crisp clean
    introduction of Broderick Crawford as Dan Mathews as though
    the dialog and camera or voice over are saying, "This is Dan
    Mathews, Head of the Highway Patrol." Dan has no personal
    life so we donít talk about wives, children, girl friends nor
    does he, at any time have any personal relationship with any
    of the characters. This does not mean, however, that he
    cannot know his officers and their families. It is very
    important that he is not written tough. He can fight and
    enter gun play. He walks very well and we prefer not to have
    him run unless absolutely necessary. He should never be
    brought into anything that would be out of his jurisdiction,
    such as -- investigating a pick pocket, etc.





4.  The scripts are written in two acts with the end of the first act
    having a menace. We use voice over which opens our act and is
    always in the third person. The opening voice over in act one is
    in two parts:
        The first paragraph is a statement of law enforcement in
        general; the Highway Patrol in particular.

        The second paragraph talks about the crime we are about to see.

    The voice over opening act two is usually one paragraph and
    is generally a statement of the problem of the crime we are watching.

    We like out voice overs to use picture words such as "highly
    charged imagination," etc. The voice over can be, and is used
    as, a bridge throughout the script but we prefer to think, at
    this time, of only two pieces of voice over; one at each act opening.


5.  We do not use any opticals with the exception of a dissolve
    indicating a long time lapse, which necessitates bridge scenes. Do
    not indicate dissolves, fades or other opticals. Because we do not
    use dissolves in our format it is necessary that the writer keep
    this in mind and use cut away scenes to get out people from one
    place to another, but every scene must move the story.


6.  We hold our cast units at ten or less. This means one man working
    two days is two units. Broderick Crawford is not counted in this
    ten unit group.

7.  It is important that your stories are ones that we can do production-
    wise. We like the scripts set up so that they shoot one
    day on location and one day on the stage. We prefer to have two
    days on location rather than a day and a half, which presents
    certain production problems.

    Our scripts should run from 38-41 pages. We work from a premise
    to a step outline to a screen play Our scripts have certain
    policy restrictions:

        a.  No food or drink.  People can eat and can drink but they
            cannot order food by name such as -- a sandwich. Their
            ordering must be general such as -- blue Plate Special.

            Their drink can be something served in a cup, but not
            named -- can presume to be coffee or tea but not milk or
            beer or hard liquor of any kind. A soft drink can be
            ordered, but not named, as in case of children, but this
            presents a problem in bottle recognition.





        b.  Smoking. Our people can smoke but we cannot identify the
            cigarette either by package or length of the cigarette. If
            a cigarette is offered, it bust be taken, A cigarette
            cannot be stamped out as a dramatic piece of business.

        c.  Kidnapping. We cannot do kidnapping stories unless
            the person kidnapped is obviously an adult.

        d. Cursing. This of course is prohibited.

        e. Words like idiot, crazy, etc. Extreme care must be taken in
           the use of these common place words or other words or
           phrases that mean the same, such as "off your rocker".

        f. Juvenile Delinquents are forbidden. Any delinquent must be
           an obvious adult.

8.  In the opening of act one be sure to have an exterior scene that
    allows footage to be shot for title, music, etc. The same applies
    to the closing of act two. The closing can be an interior scene
    if absolutely necessary but we definitely prefer an exterior.

9.  We have theme music in the series but for purposes of story, do
    not plan on using it in the body of the picture.

1O. We prefer one day action stories with each scene progressing the
    story and dialog leading into cutaways.

11. Violence. We want violence and impact but we try to stay away
    from unnecessary violence and wanton killing unless this is a
    story point.

12. While Dan Mathews is the head man and makes the final solution,
    we like our other patrolmen to do something other than be a guy
    that Mathews talks to.

13. Authenticity. We try at all times for complete authenticity. You
    should be cautioned that the technical advisorís word is law,
    Don't count on a dramatic license, which he may not understand.

    In our authenticity we use code numbers when talking over the
    radio between cars and headquarters. When one officer calls
    another he uses his badge number. Dan Mathews is 2150 so his call
    would be 2150 to headquarters or 2150 to 3310 and the answer
    would be headquarters bye, or from 3310 bye.

    At the end of the radio conversation the numbers 10-4 are used
    first as a question meaning,"do you understand?"; and second as an
    answer,"I understand." "I am going to catch the heavy, 10-4."
    The answer coming back would be "10-4."  One often used number is




    10-20, which means "your location." So that a message would be
    "what is your 10-20?"  The answer would be, "My 10-20 is 5th and
    Main."  Another use would be, "I will be at your 10-20 in ten
    minutes."  Various officers are not generally referred to by name
    over the radio.  All Patrol cars have radios, which are used
    between cars and between, headquarters, rather than telephones.
    It is all right for officers in a house to call headquarters by
    telephone and give instructions, but generally speaking they use
    the car radio.  All officers keep headquarters informed at all
    times such as:- an officer that pulls a suspect car to the side
    of the road would tell headquarters that he has stopped a suspect
    car and is now going to investigate.  If headquarters does not
    hear again from the officer they will investigate immediately.

    Another commonly used term is AFB which means - "All Points
    bulletin." AFB's are put out on every suspect and on every new
    piece of information.

    MO means Modus Operandi, or method of operation. This is used in
    reference to a criminal pattern. The voice at headquarters can be
    male or female but bear in mind that the voice becomes a cast
    unit as do radio voices, etc.

    The following is a general police term: --
    DMV - Department of Motor Vehicles. This is used whenever they
    are checking license plates and numbers.

14. In the matter of portraying the patrol, our men are all very smart
    and efficient. We try not to use patrolmen's names nor have the
    patrolmen, when speaking to Dan Mathews, use his name. So dialog
    should be designed in such a way that names are not necessary.
    However; a patrolman introducing a civilian to Mathews would say,
    "Mr. Jones, this is Mr. Mathews."

    They are polite at all times and do not push people around unless
    the situation calls for it.

l5. Technical advisors are Officer Frank Runyon and Sgt. Mark Benson.
    They are available for questions but please call us first so that
    we can either answer your question or tell you which man to call.