How To Write Your TV Procedural Pilot Script

Taught by Chris Hazenbush


On Demand Class - Available for immediate viewing and unlimited access.

Rating   | Read reviews

Start Learning

Please make sure you use the same email address as the one you use to sign in to Stage 32, otherwise you won't have access to your webinar.
apply Your coupon will be applied after you agree to terms below.

- or -

Overlay Icon

Who Should Attend:

Writers and Producers of all levels (advanced, intermediate and beginner) looking to learn crucial elements you need when crafting a procedural series and pilot script, the structure and act breaks needed, how to develop your characters’ season arcs within the format, and more.

Actors looking to learn how write a procedural pilot for themselves or who want to learn how procedurals are crafted to build the characters in a show 

Directors looking to learn how procedurals are designed and written. 

Satisfaction Rate:


Class hosted by: Chris Hazenbush

Independent Producer and Stage 32 Instructor

Chris is an accomplished TV Development Executive, helping to develop and sell pilots to CBS, ABC, and NBC. Most recently he was the Director of Development at AfterPortsmouth Productions (Ken Olin, EP/Director of NBC’s THIS IS US,) where he sourced, packaged, and developed an expanding slate of TV projects in broadcast, cable, and streaming. Their procedural series THE NEVER GAME, starring THIS IS US star Justin Hartley was greenlit for pilot production in Fall 2022 for CBS while their ABC pilot is in active development. Prior to that, he was on the development team for reboots of HAWAII FIVE-0, MAGNUM P.I., and MACGYVER, which reached millions of viewers over their successful series' runs. During this time, Chris worked closely with both studio and network executives developing procedural series through their overall deal with CBS-TVS. Before working in scripted development, he worked in the TV Lit Department at CAA and in the unscripted space at a branded entertainment start-up called Populus Brands. Full Bio »


Learn From An Executive Who Helped Reboot HAWAII FIVE-0, MAGNUM P.I., and MACGYVER

“Case-of-the-week” shows, also known as “procedurals”, are extremely popular with today’s networks. If you’re a fan of the LAW & ORDER, CSI, NCIS, or CHICAGO franchises, or the CW’s DC universe, then you’re a fan of procedurals. Even streamers have gotten in on the action, picking up Fox’s genre procedural LUCIFER after the broadcast network canceled the series. And as the streaming services launch their AVOD platforms procedurals are going to be in higher demand than ever in the coming years.

These shows feature a main central plot line every week that only lasts for that singular episode. While many of these shows have story threads that last the length of the season, the key element of any procedural is for a new viewer to be able to drop in on any episode and watch a story from beginning to end. 

The great thing about procedurals for writers is that they make for stronger writing samples in your portfolio and can work with many different genres to show off your writing chops. In this exclusive on-demand Stage 32 class, you’ll find out exactly how to write a great procedural pilot to either sell or help you get staffed in a writers’ room.

Showing you how great procedurals are done is accomplished TV Development Executive Chris Hazenbush. Chris has helped develop and sell pilots to ABC, CBS, and NBC, and most recently, was the Director of Development at AfterPortsmouth Productions, the company behind THIS IS US. Chris's latest project, THE NEVER GAME starring Justin Hartley, was recently greenlit for series at CBS and will premiere in 2023.

Chris previously worked on the development team for the reboots of HAWAII FIVE-0, MAGNUM P.I., and MACGYVER, which have amassed millions of viewers throughout their series’ runs.

Over four focused sessions, you’ll cover the crucial elements you need when crafting a procedural series and pilot script, the structure and act breaks needed, how to develop your characters’ season arcs within the format, and more.

By the end of this class, you’ll have developed your own procedural show to add to your writing portfolio by learning how these shows get made through the eyes of a top-notch development executive. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to learn from one of the people behind some of CBS and NBC’s biggest procedural series.

What You'll Learn

WEEK 1: Introductions and Top-Level Overview of Procedural Series

This week, we will discuss a top-level overview of the procedural series to give us a contextual foundation for the rest of the class.

Topics that will be covered:

  • Brief history/overview of procedural series
  • Getting started: Outlining the key elements of your show before writing
    • Genre/unique premise
    • Timeliness
    • Types of hero/team structures
    • Deciding on a compelling story engine
    • Setting, tone, themes, and POV
    • Creating compelling and memorable characters

Q&A with Chris

Assignment to discuss in Week 2: Write a short concept paragraph to share with the class

WEEK 2: Pilot Structure

Part 1: World-Building and Character

This week we will continue to drill down into what Networks and Studio execs look for and note most often when developing procedural projects.

Topics that will be covered:

  • Essential procedural pilot format
  • Entryway into your pilot story (aka the “why here/why now?”)
  • World-building and “rules” of the universe
  • Essential Character Elements
  • Use of supporting characters
  • Using devices such as flashbacks, narration, or dream sequences

Part 2: Character Mapping - Analysis of Character

We will explore and implement a method used to draw out the character's tone, mood, motivations, and questions of characters in a story.

Topics that will be covered:

  • Creating a character’s motivations
  • Shaping character’s public identity
  • Tying supporting characters to the main storyline
  • Setting character themes; setting, dialogue, and introductory descriptions

Q&A with Chris

Assignment: Write 1-3 short character bios (1-2 paragraphs each) to share as if you were writing them for a pitch doc or bible

WEEK 3: Pilot Structure Part II - Story Breaking and Character Specifics

Whether you use notecards, dry-erase boards, or your laptop, breaking a story is an important part of the pilot writing process.

Topics that will be covered:

  • Teasers/cold opens
  • A/B/C Storylines
  • Exposition
  • Scene Building
  • Building stakes and creating mystery/suspense through Act Outs
  • Setting a consistent tone through dialogue and other means
  • Incorporating themes and timeliness
  • Writing effective tags/Pilot Outs
  • Repeatable structure for your pilot in series

Q&A with Chris

Assignment to discuss in Week 4: Building on your series concept and character, draft 3-5 episodic cases (a couple sentences each).

WEEK 4: Beyond the Sale

Congratulations! You sold your idea as a pitch in the room or got staffed on a procedural - now what?

Topics that will be covered:

  • Multi-episode/season character arcs
  • Types of cases to be solved each week
  • The Post-sale development process
  • How to Receive and Address Notes
  • Class Wrap-Up 

Q&A with Chris


**Although this class is on demand and assignments are not being checked, we do suggest you follow along and complete each class assignment to gain the most from this opportunity.

About Your Instructor

Chris is an accomplished TV Development Executive, helping to develop and sell pilots to CBS, ABC, and NBC. Most recently he was the Director of Development at AfterPortsmouth Productions (Ken Olin, EP/Director of NBC’s THIS IS US,) where he sourced, packaged, and developed an expanding slate of TV projects in broadcast, cable, and streaming. Their procedural series THE NEVER GAME, starring THIS IS US star Justin Hartley was greenlit for pilot production in Fall 2022 for CBS while their ABC pilot is in active development.

Prior to that, he was on the development team for reboots of HAWAII FIVE-0, MAGNUM P.I., and MACGYVER, which reached millions of viewers over their successful series' runs. During this time, Chris worked closely with both studio and network executives developing procedural series through their overall deal with CBS-TVS. Before working in scripted development, he worked in the TV Lit Department at CAA and in the unscripted space at a branded entertainment start-up called Populus Brands.


Q: What is the format of a class?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Classes are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the class.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live class. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer

Q: What if I cannot attend the live lab class?
A: If you attend a live online class, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the class. If you cannot attend a live class, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A. Plus, your instructor will be available via email throughout the lab.

Q: Will I have access to the lab afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of the lab, you will have on-demand access to the video recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like!


If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.

Reviews Average Rating: 5 out of 5

  • Amazing class. Worth every penny.
  • Brought out info that never occurred to me, i.e. is the reader seeing the movie you think you wrote? That explains a LOT of coverage notes that I have received, I think. Very helpful.

Other education that may be of interest to you:

Stage 32 8-Part Pitching Lab: Build Your TV Series Pitch With A Top Showrunner & Learn How To Sell Your Show

Only 6 Spots Left! Develop, perfect and practice your television series pitch with Emmy-nominated showrunner Todd Slavkin, the showrunner on hit series including SMALLVILLE, SHADOWHUNTERS, MELROSE PLACE 2.0, and most recently THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY! ***Flexible Learning: if you cannot attend any of the sessions live don't worry - you will be sent the links to the recordings of each session within 48 hours of the live session and you will have direct access to Todd on email to ask him any questions about your craft or career so you can keep up at your own pace and schedule.*** Payment plans available - contact for details   Pitching is an art and a business. If you want to successfully pitch and sell your television series, you not only need to create a standout show, but you need to build a world-class pitch and hone your pitching skills in order to seize the day and win the room. Everything from the structure of your pitch and the visuals in your pitch deck to your tone, voice, body language, and demeanor in the room (or on zoom) is crucial in having a successful pitch. In this interactive Stage 32 8-week pitching lab, you will work directly with veteran television/film writer and top showrunner Todd Slavkin to develop every aspect of your pitch and, ultimately, pitch your project to Todd to receive professional-level feedback on your work. Todd will teach you the art and craft of pitching and selling your television project to producers, studios and networks/streamers while you build your market ready pitch so you are armed for success. Todd's experiences showrunning series for Disney, The CW, ABC, and more have provided him with an arsenal of showrunning tools that he will share with you to prepare you and your pitch for the marketplace. Todd has worked in all different kinds of genres and has been involved with many popular television shows, including SMALLVILLE, SHADOWHUNTERS and most recently THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY, for which he was nominated for two Emmys. He has written pilots for ABC, NBC, FOX, FREEFORM and The CW, where he developed and was the showrunner of MELROSE PLACE 2.0. Other television credits include NO ORDINARY FAMILY, ALPHAS, DEFIANCE, DOMINION and GUILT. He began his career in features, penning DARK REFLECTION and CONTROL, starring Ray Liotta, Willem Dafoe and Michelle Rodriguez. Over 8 intensive, information-packed weeks, including a one-on-one consultation with Todd where you will work together on your pitch, you will actually craft the verbal and visual sales tools to successfully sell your project. You will delve into pitch structure, voice control, emotional intonation, the effective pause and even how to use sound effects. You will also build and learn how to best use a visual deck/lookbook. Some sessions will also include guests, mainly writers who have had success selling their pitches to major companies and outlets, as well as agents and managers, all sharing their own stories and tips for success. One-on-one time with an industry expert of this caliber is incredibly rare. You will walk away from this lab having built and practiced your TV series pitch with Todd so you can go out into the market and confidently sell your project! Praise For Todd's Teaching "Todd's experience and expertise shine through. If you've ever wanted to be a showrunner on a TV series then learn all you can from him." -- Rahime B. "I never realized how much fell on the showrunner before working with Todd. He's a fantastic educator!" -- Meg L. "You brought to the zoom screen the qualities I’m sure you excel at as a showrunner – humour, vulnerability, candidness, insight, patience, wisdom, respect, humility, confidence, inclusion. Each of these words have been selected specifically!" -- Jan R. "I just wanted to send a quick note to say THANK YOU for the wonderful showrunner class! The amount of information given in the 4 classes was incredible and you can tell by the stellar guest speakers that Todd you are truly admired for not only your work, but also for being a kind, thoughtful human :)" -- Sage P "Todd is an absolute angel! This was the most wonderful class I’ve ever taken! If we ever does another class, I’d love to join." -- Lauren M. "I loved Todd's class. Todd is so enthusiastic and informative, he has a true love of teaching. I would take future classes with him, no question. I really came away with an understanding of how showrunning works and the responsibilities and career paths." -- Allyson M.

How to Make Your TV Script's First Ten Pages Count To an Executive

We've brought in veteran development executive Marla White to give you an ultimate guide on dissecting the first 10 pages of a TV script from her perspective as an executive. In addition, by looking at specific examples from great scripts like “Justified,” “Weeds,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Modern Family” and more, she's going to break it down for you why and how those pilots succeed where others failed and how to apply that to your script. Marla has worked with writers who have sold pitches to Fox, TNT, CBS, NBC and ABC and have been staffed on premium cable dramas.

CLOSED CAPTIONED: Stage 32 + Netflix Present: Television Pitch Workshop

**This video presentation contains English closed captions. To view the webinar without captions, click here.   Stage 32 + Netflix join forces to bring you an exclusive television pitch workshop Learn best practices to make your pitch work and what your pitching document should look like You do NOT want to miss this!     For many, the holy grail of television has become Netflix. It’s a titan in the industry, and with over 200 million subscribers worldwide, no one can put out content quite like them. Just look at the recent hit show BRIDGERTON, which has already been seen by a massive 80 million households (!!) since its release. If you’re a writer or creator, getting your series onto Netflix’s platform can spell success in a big way. But first there’s the matter of getting your series in front of them and pitching it effectively. It should be a comfort to know that you’re not the only one who wants your series on Netflix. Netflix wants that too! Netflix execs are constantly on the lookout for exciting new voices and new series to fill their slate. Yet it takes more than just a good series or a good pilot script to get on Netflix’s radar; you need to be able to communicate it well and pitch it in a way that will get their team excited. This certainly takes some work, but it’s absolutely achievable. If you’re interested in getting your show on Netflix, it’s time to learn directly from the source what it will take to make that happen. In an effort to reach more writers and find more content, Netflix has joined forces with Stage 32 to present a FREE and invaluable workshop on what it is that they’re looking for in new shows and how you can best pitch your series to their executives. In Stage 32's continued effort to help level the playing field for content creators worldwide, we felt it's important that we help you get tools you need to be able to make sure that you can pitch effectively. Kicking off the workshop will be Stage 32 CEO, Richard "RB" Botto (@rbwalksintoabar), and hosting this presentation will be Stage 32's Managing Director Amanda Toney with Netflix’s Director of Creative Talent Investment and Development for International Originals Christopher Mack. Christopher was previously Senior Vice President of Scripted Content for Stage 13, overseeing all of the brand’s original scripted series and development slates across multiple genres, including Emmy nominated Netflix series’ SPECIAL and IT'S BRUNO. Before Stage 13, Chris headed the Warner Bros. Workshop, the writing and directing program for professionals looking to start and/or further their careers in television. Over a period of 10 years in this role, Chris curated a roster of close to 100 writers and 50 directors representing the breakthrough emerging voices working on high-profile television shows today. In addition to these responsibilities, Chris has covered hit shows such as TWO AND A HALF MEN and SMALLVILLE for the Current Programs department. Prior to joining Warner Bros., Chris spent seven years writing on various one-hour dramas including ER, THE PRACTICE and THE NEW TWILIGHT ZONE. After graduating from Loyola Law School, Chris got his start in television at NBC Studios as an associate and he quickly rose to becoming an executive. During his time at the newly created NBC Studios, he oversaw a varied list of shows including: THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR and IN THE HOUSE, among others. In this exclusive Stage 32 workshop, Christopher will delve into what exactly makes a television pitch work at Netflix. He’ll discuss the essentials you’ll need to catch Netflix’s eye and will zero in on how to write an effective pitch document. He’ll pose questions you be able to answer and communicate for your series and give you ideas on how best to communicate your show’s overview, world, tone, and characters. Christopher will then discuss how season summaries should be built and give you ideas on how to think about and present potential episodes. Finally, you will have the invaluable opportunity to ask Christopher your own questions. You will leave this presentation with the understanding of how to structure and present your series, not in theory, but directly from the source.

How to Write Your Script for Budget and Schedule so Producers Will Actually Want to Make It

People often say the most important thing when writing is just to write something that's good, but it needs to be more than good; it needs to be producible. Meaning if a producer reads your script and likes it, they also need to feel comfortable that they can help you make your movie for a budget that's smaller than THE AVENGERS. Writers don't always realize that what they write on the page directly translates to how much money it will cost and how long it will take to shoot. Things like locations, genre, number of scenes and number of characters can absolutely make or break whether your movie can get produced and whether you can get the partner you're looking for to sign on. It's important for writers to understand how producers think when reading scripts and how you can adjust your own script without sacrificing your voice or quality to make the project more achievable to actually put together. Multi Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and author Shane Stanley has worked in almost every capacity on and off the set with hit shows like ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT and SEINFELD and producing films like Sony Pictures’ GRIDIRON GANG a #1 box office hit starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. For three years, Shane was Vice President of Sheen/Michaels Entertainment where he produced several motion pictures starring Marlon Brando, Mira Sorvino, Thomas Hayden Church, Donald Sutherland, Marisa Tomei, Sean Penn, John Travolta, and Charlie and Martin Sheen. Shane recently released his book What You Don’t Learn In Film School, which covers filmmaking from concept to delivery and has already landed on required reading lists at several universities across the country. Shane continues to produce and direct independent films of all levels, and just wrapped production on his latest action thriller BREAK EVEN. Over the countless films he has produced, Shane has gotten pre-production down to a science and knows what it takes to prepare a film of any level. Shane will demonstrate to you how to craft your ideal script to overcome the hurdles of budget and schedule and to attract the eye of producers. Shane will discuss how writers, producers, actors, and execs will read your script, the biggest red flags producers will look for when reading a script, and what aspects of a script will cost the most money in production particularly in regards to genre. He will also touch on how to strategically write for locations and how to maximize the space you have to help producers and how to know how long it will take to make your script and provide quality advice on how to adjust it to better fit your schedule. Shane will even offer a valuable case study where he will break down the pages of his own script and demonstrate how he would view it as a producer and where concerns and warning signs might be.   Praise for Shane's Previous Stage 32 Webinar: "Shane was thorough, gave me a realistic view into the market as it is now, yet encouraging. Easy to listen to and follow. I'll be signing up for other classes he teaches in the future." -Karena K. Just straight-forward, real, the kind of producer most of us would kill to work alongside. -Clark R. "Shane was relevant, knew what was happening, and could walk the walk." -Chuck R.

Feature Writers: How to Transition to Writing Television

It makes sense why more creatives than ever before want to make the jump from film to television, ESPECIALLY writers. As a TV writer you can dive into longer form storytelling and explore characters more fully. And with the massive popularity of streamers like Netflix and Hulu, your work can likely reach more people in the TV space. And that’s not to mention the fact that TV writing usually provides a much more stable and long-running form of income. All this to say: the pilgrimage from movie writing to TV writing is no longer uncommon and can be an exciting or lucrative development for any working writer. This a switch that is more than possible to undertake, but you need to know how best to accomplish it first. The path from film writing to TV writing is absolutely doable, but that doesn’t mean the door is wide open. No matter who you are, breaking into television is no easy feat and your background in film can serve as an advantage OR disadvantage, depending on how you approach it. Instead of waiting for HBO or Netflix to roll out the red carpet for you, it’s important you tackle this transition with realistic expectations and an understanding of how best you can fit in. Tripper Clancy is a working writer that has found success in both film and, more recently, television. Earlier in his career, Tripper wrote the screenplay for the Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista action comedy STUBER before deciding to make the switch to television. Since then, Tripper served as staff writer for the Netflix hit I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS and VARSITY BLUES, a modern day reimagining of the original movie. Tripper also created and wrote the action-comedy series DIE HART, starring Kevin Hart and John Travolta. Tripper has found longevity and deeper success for his writing career by making the jump from film to television and will share exclusively with Stage 32 what goes into this transition. Tripper will teach you how you can expand your writing career by making the switch from film to television. He’ll go over his own journey from film to TV and then break down what writing for both features and TV actually looks like, including the advantages and disadvantages of each. He’ll discuss using your reps to make the jump and whether you can do so without a manager or agent and will give you advice on how you can sell your film experience to stand out when pursuing TV opportunities. Tripper will give you a sense of what expectations are realistic when making this shift and where you can expect to start out. He’ll discuss how you can find currency from your film background and what sort of unique challenges film writers might face in television. Expect to leave with a hopeful but realistic idea of what you need to do to find your next opportunity on a TV show.   Praise for Tripper's Stage 32 Webinar: "Tripper Clancy was an awesome presenter who cut to the chase in a clear, understandable webinar." -Mark D. "Tripper's webinar was terrific - he's a great conversationalist and his open, candid, honest, accessible and very knowledgeable presentation & Q&A were very empowering." -Fran B. "Tripper was really engaging. The conversational tone was enjoyable. Sometimes a seminar can feel like a stranger reading me their powerpoint, just slower than I would read it myself. That wasn't the case here." -Nicholas G. "Tripper was phenomenal. Within 1 hour he gave us a whole course in something I knew nothing about before. Another Stage 32 phenomenal webinar." -Ricki L.  

How To Sell Your Network, Cable or Streaming TV Series

Learn how to sell your TV series from a top literary manager! It’s a dream of many to turn their idea for a television show into reality and actually sell their series to a network or company. And with so many shows constantly being created by more and more companies, this dream is coming true for more people all the time. As networks continue looking for new ideas, new voices, and diverse perspectives to fill up their slate, opportunities have never been greater to get your television show sold. And yet, it’s going to take more than a great idea and a great voice to get your TV series picked up. After the research, the writing, and development, there’s a lot you need to do if you want your series to get noticed and see the light of day. The truth is having a completed pilot is only half the battle. You also need to understand the current TV market and how to get that pilot seen. This can feel like a large or insurmountable task. Where do you even start? Do you call production companies? Hit up a studio? Perhaps reach out to a network? Do you need to attach a showrunner or an actor? How do you approach the next steps of trying to sell your show? These next steps aren’t easy, but there is a lot you can learn to better prepare you for the battle ahead. Antonio D'Intinio is one of the hardest working managers in the industry that represents screenwriters and directors at Circle of Confusion. He began his career at the agency APA before joining Jeremy Platt at Plattform, where you helped manage Plattform's first look deal with Amazon Studios. Antonio’s clients work across film and television, selling shows to Apple, Universal TV, eOne among others and their films have been recognized by numerous organizations and festivals including The Nicholl Fellowship, Cannes, Sundance and SXSW. Antonio has years of experience shopping and selling his clients' shows and knows what it takes for a series to find success.  Antonio will teach you exactly how you can sell your TV series. He will begin by describing the general TV landscape. Then he’ll outline the players in the landscape and how they operate, including showrunners, production companies, studios and networks. He will walk through the three main seasons of broadcast network television—staffing, development, and pilot season. Antonio will share 3 approaches to setting up a TV show, which include format, pitches, original pilot, and intellectual property. Next he will delve into the concept of a TV package and how best to incorporate producers, showrunners, talent, and directors. Then he will outline how individuals get paid once a TV show is set up. He’ll explain the agent packaging fee, the producer fee, royalties, and residuals. Finally Antonio will pull the curtain back on the current marketplace and explain how many shows get bought vs. produced vs. aired vs. ordered to series. The TV landscape is murky, but Antonio will walk you through how it actually works and how you can navigate it to better your chances of getting your own television series sold.   Praise for Antonio's Previous Stage 32 Webinar "Antonio really took us behind the curtain with a no B.S. approach. A straight shooter that tells it like it is. Eyes wide open for me now." - Michael K. My goal was always to be repped. And I got my wish. And it went terrible. We weren't on the same page. I didn't know what to do. After watching Antonio's presentation, my last rep and I parted ways and I was able to secure a new manager. The change has been night and day. We work together for a common goal. Thank you, Antonio! - Steven L.

register for stage 32 Register / Log In