Writing Lab: Write Your TV Pilot and Learn How to Pitch it in 10 Weeks

Taught by Anna Henry, TV Executive

$999

On Demand Class - For immediate download. Unlimited access for 1 year.

Sorry. This lab is fully sold out.

Stage 32 Next Level Education has a 97% user satisfaction rate.

Class hosted by: Anna Henry, TV Executive

(Worked with CBS, ABC, Amazon, Starz, Sony, 20th Television)

Anna began her 20-year career as a development executive at Nickelodeon, working on the development and production of animated television series, pilots and features, including the cult hit “Invader Zim.” She crossed overto prime-time television working at CBS and ABC in drama development and programming, and freelanced as a creative consultant for a number of production companies. She was most recently Director of Development at Andrea Simon Entertainment, a boutique literary management and production company representing writers and directors. Her clients have worked on shows at virtually every broadcast and major cable television network, and have set up projects at ITV America, Sony, 20th Television, EOne, Starz, Amazon, OddLot Entertainment, Corus, and others. As a script consultant, she enjoys having a close collaboration with writers in refining scripts, expanding their range of material, and finding the best home for each project. Anna is a graduate of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Full Bio »

Summary

***Sorry, the lab is filled!*** 

This lab is designed for beginner and intermediate screenwriters looking to build a pilot from scratch or expand on an existing idea.

With the TV market exploding right now, 30-minute and 60-minute TV drama and dramedy pilots are in demand. Many, if not all, managers and agents are looking for writers that can write in this space, and with more and more production companies heading into TV, knowing how to write a strong TV pilot will give you a competitive advantage and help you find success as a TV writer!

Stage 32 is thrilled to have our Writing Lab: Write Your TV Pilot and Lean How to Pitch it in 10 Weeks taught by Anna Henry who is a veteran TV development executive that's worked with ABC, CBS, Nickelodeon, SONY, 20th Century FOX Television, Amazon, Starz, EOne, OddLot Entertainment, Corus, ITV America and more. This hands-on intensive lab will guide you through picking a concept, creating engaging characters, structuring and outlining your pilot, writing the pilot, polishing and pitching it! You must have a solid understanding of screenwriting to participate. We will not be going over the basics. 

The main objective of this 10-week lab will be to have a solid completed script that is market-ready to start pitching. You will meet online with Anna for 2 hours a week in a class setting, plus have phone or Skype consultations during some of the weeks when you don't have an online class. This will be accompanied by weekly homework assignments to guide you on your way to creating a marketable, unique pilot that will grab the industry's attention.

  • Payment plans are available - please contact edu@stage32.com for more information.
  • This Lab is Limited to 10 People.

 

What You'll Learn

PRE-CLASS PREP – Read your syllabus and plan out your writing ideas. Begin to think about 1 – 3 ideas that might make a good drama pilot. Be prepared to articulate your personal connection to the material and what makes you want to write about the world.

WEEK 1 – Introduction, Genres, Networks, World and Tone

This week we will cover the syllabus, your instructor’s background and experience, your goals for this lab and launch into a discussion of types of drama pilots and what networks are looking for.

We will discuss doing research about the world and characters you will be writing about. We will talk about coming up with a story engine for your show, what makes for compelling characters, and how setting, tone and point-of-view affect your story.

The assignments for this week will be:

  • Narrow down your list of ideas to the one you will be writing about
  • Do the research required to begin writing
  • Watch at least three comparable pilots and/or read the pilot scripts for those shows
  • Write a half-page description of the concept of the pilot you intend to write

WEEK 2 – Creating Characters

We will discuss creating strong characters for your pilot. What makes a character compelling, the difference between likeable vs. relatable characters, and effective antagonists. We will talk about how to introduce characters in the opening of your pilot, how to give backstory exposition, as well as how to convey character through unique voices. We will address the differences between ensembles and star vehicles. We will take time to go over how to build complex relationships and use them to propel a series.

The assignments for this week will be:

  • Write a detailed description (around half a page) on each of your series regular characters
  • Write 2 scenes for Act I of your pilot in which your characters are introduced through dialogue and exposition

WEEK 3 – Pilot Outline

This week we will discuss the function of a beat outline. We will break down pilot structure, plot and subplots and discuss some differences between pilots for episodic vs. serialized pilots. We will talk about pacing, building stakes, creating mystery / suspense / anticipation, and act breaks. We will go over page counts and number of characters. We will also address budget and production considerations.

The assignment for this week will be to write a beat outline for your pilot.

WEEK 4 – Pilot Outline (One on One Consultations – No Online Class)

This week will consist of one-on-one consultations regarding pilot structure. Each writer will send in their pilot outline in advance and will have a call to discuss what works and what doesn’t. The assignment for the week is to address any notes given on the outline before proceeding with next week’s class and to continue working on your character descriptions as needed.

WEEK 5 – Acts I and II

This week we will go over all the necessary story beats that exist in Acts 1 and 2 of a drama pilot, including world-building, setting up the “rules of the universe,” establishing character, setting tone, and creating an effective launch point for your pilot. We will address the challenges of exposition and some ways to bring the audience into the world of your pilot. We will also talk about the function of a teaser. We will return to a discussion about nuanced dialogue and the value of subtext.

The assignment this week will be to complete Acts 1 and 2 of your pilot.

WEEK 6 – Acts 3, 4 and 5

Similarly to last week, we will cover the necessary story beats that traditionally exist in acts 3 – 4 or 5 of a drama pilot, including building subplots, increasing layers and complexity, and making sure every character has a place in the puzzle and begins an arc. We will discuss writing dense scenes that move the story forward as well as reveal character. We will address how to create a series launch point at the end of your pilot that clearly establishes the series engine. We will also talk about how to embed larger themes into your story.

The assignment this week will be to complete the first draft of the entire pilot.

WEEK 7–Consultation for Revision (One on One Consultations - No Online Class)

This week will consist of one-on-one consultations. Please turn in your pilot at least 48 hours before your scheduled call, and each writer will have a call to go over notes. Your assignment this week is to address any notes.

WEEK 8 – How to Deal with notes

We'll go over notes you received, and go over questions on how to handle notes - this is a very important part about being a TV writer.

WEEK 9 – One-on-one Feedback and Polish(One on One Consultations - No Online Class)

This week will consist of one-on-one phone calls as well. Please submit your revised pilot at least 48 hours before your scheduled call. Final notes and next steps for your pilot will be given.

Week 10 – Pitching your Pilot

We will discuss the format for writing effective pitch documents and loglines. The assignment for this week will be to write a logline for your show and put together everything from the

About Your Instructor

Anna began her 20-year career as a development executive at Nickelodeon, working on the development and production of animated television series, pilots and features, including the cult hit “Invader Zim.” She crossed overto prime-time television working at CBS and ABC in drama development and programming, and freelanced as a creative consultant for a number of production companies.

She was most recently Director of Development at Andrea Simon Entertainment, a boutique literary management and production company representing writers and directors. Her clients have worked on shows at virtually every broadcast and major cable television network, and have set up projects at ITV America, Sony, 20th Television, EOne, Starz, Amazon, OddLot Entertainment, Corus, and others. As a script consultant, she enjoys having a close collaboration with writers in refining scripts, expanding their range of material, and finding the best home for each project. Anna is a graduate of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.

Schedule

WEEK 1 – Introduction, Genres, Networks, World and Tone - 1/12/19

WEEK 2 – Creating Characters - 1/19/19

WEEK 3 – Pilot Outline - 1/26/19

WEEK 4 – Pilot Outline (One on One Consultations – No Online Class) - 2/2/19

WEEK 5 – Acts I and II - 2/9/19

WEEK 6 – Acts 3, 4 and 5 - 2/16/19

WEEK 7–Consultation for Revision (One on One Consultations - No Online Class) - 2/23/19

WEEK 8 – How to Deal with notes - 3/2/19

WEEK 9 – One-on-one Feedback and Polish (One on One Consultations - No Online Class) - 3/9/18

Week 10 – Pitching your Pilot - 3/16/19

FAQs

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 class?
A: If you attend a live online class, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar. If you cannot attend a live webinar and purchase an On-Demand class, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.

Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand class, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!

Questions?

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.

Other education that may be of interest to you:

How to Handle Notes on Your Script: Types of Notes and What They Mean

“I have some notes” is perhaps the most dreaded phrase writers hear. “Here it comes… they want to change everything; they want to destroy my masterpiece!” And yet, you the writer, asked for these notes. “They read and they didn’t pass! They want to work with me!” Or, “they read – and yeah, they’re right, I need to rethink this, it will be better if I change it.” Film and television are the ultimate collaborative medium. You write alone (or in a team), but to make the final product, the work of dozens to hundreds of people is required, and they all have some contribution to make. And the work is a product to be sold to buyers and an audience, and they get a say in what they want to purchase and consume. Screenwriting is also the ultimate iterative process. No script is ever perfect on the first draft, and scripts evolve and grow even during production itself. So you will be receiving notes – lots and lots and lots of them. Some you will ask for, perhaps pay for: notes from other writers, professional consultants, managers and agents. Some you will hope for: producers, executives, directors and stars. Some you will agree to: showrunners, studio and network executives. And some will remind you that necessity is the mother of invention: from line producers, casting directors, set dressers, and costume designers. But what should you do with those notes? How to take the sting and how to accept them as a gift? How to think about executing them when you agree, and what to do when you don’t? And most importantly, what do all those terms mean? Some of them sound like some sort of spy code: expo dump, let it breathe, contrived, mining, building, leaning, rules of the universe, on the nose and come in later – say what? In this webinar we will pull back the curtain on the notes process, discuss how to take notes, how to begin to address them, and what notegivers really mean by all those terms.

Writing a Network Pitch and Pilot that Sells

Network TV is dead, right? All good shows are on cable and streaming! Not so fast! Network TV is alive and well, as demonstrated by the critical success and healthy ratings of new shows such as This is Us, Designated Survivor and Speechless, as well as powerhouse veterans such as Big Bang Theory, Empire, Modern Family, Scandal, and NCIS. Broadcast networks are increasingly having to compete for top talent and ideas in a crowded marketplace. While landing a series order from ABC or FOX is no easy feat, the networks’ deep coffers mean they can buy and develop a high volume of shows, season after season. Producers of course enjoy the prestige of developing ideas for HBO or Amazon, but they are equally eager to find the next network hit, which can yield huge financial dividends with multiple season orders. What’s more, agents and managers judge prospective clients based on their original pilot scripts, and the right network pilot can demonstrate to a potential representative that you are ready to staff and ready to sell. As a manager, I always recommend writers have at least two or three finished scripts ready to go, and a mix of cable and network samples increases the number of producers and executives who may be interested in your work. In this webinar, you will learn about the brands and programming models of broadcast networks, how to know what ideas they will find appealing, what you need to include in your network pitch, and the do’s and don’ts of writing your network spec pilot.

TV Series Pitch Document Writing Lab (One on One Mentoring)

The writing lab is full. If you have any questions, contact edu@stage32.com By popular demand, we're bringing in TV executive Anna Henry (who has 100% satisfaction with her webinars!) to teach a one-on-one TV pitch document writing lab! Need help with writing your TV series pitch document? Look no further! Anna's here to help.  "I thought it was a great course and really helped me understand the format. Anna is knowledgeable and quickly cuts through to what can help your story better. Her notes on my script were insightful and really demonstrated her thorough experience." - Lee L. "Anna’s class was by far the most thorough, well put together, and organized screenwriting class I’ve ever taken. I have an MFA in filmmaking and, after graduating, I still felt as if I didn’t fully understand the structure of pilot writing. Anna’s class laid it out step by step and she went through every piece in detail. She was also extremely available to her students. During our one-on-one sessions, I expected to have a quick 15 minute call with her but she ended up speaking extensively with me about my story from outline through script stages. She really, truly cares for her students and is there to answer any questions, which, given her abundant experience in the industry, is a priceless piece of her labs. Thank you, Anna!" - Jacqueline D. "Anna was concise, and detailed. I've been working on log-lines/treatments/synopsis for 2 years for my scripts and never had it nailed like Anna was able to do. She rocks!" - Cheryl Lynn S. This is the golden age of television and the appetite for content has never been greater. What does everyone network and streamer want? Fresh, unique, authentic voices with never-been-told stories. While the door is open to new writers, the competition is fierce. Of course you need a very strong finished script, but before that will be read, you need to be able to communicate what makes your show stand out from the crowd, what will make people want to watch it for years and years, and why you are passionate about writing it. You need a blueprint of what the series will be beyond one episode. That's where a pitch document (aka bible, aka treatment) comes in. Whether you are selling your show verbally, sending the pitch to a potential producer, or applying for a fellowship, this document carries the weight of your imagined world with all its inhabitants and stories. That's a tall order! So where do you begin? How do you organize your ideas? What should be in a pitch? How detailed should you get? Should you start with a summary of the pilot? Should you have ideas for future episodes? What should you say about your characters? In this lab we will delve deep into writing an effective pitch for your scripted television idea - one that will clearly communicate your intentions, excite the reader, and convey your voice and your passion. I have spent my career developing television projects with writers and selling those show ideas as a development executive, manager and producer. What I have found is that most screenwriters have taken classes that helped them learn about story structure, writing scenes, dialogue, etc. but writing a pitch is entirely different. Most writers need help with switching gears and selling their story in addition to telling it - which is the purpose of this lab.   Payment plans are available - contact edu@stage32.com for more details

How to Write a Professional TV Pitch Document/ Treatment

This was by far the best webinar on pitch documents that I have experienced. I've seen others where they give certain advice that she warned not to do! - Tiffany C. This is the age of peak TV and you have an incredible, original idea for a show! You have it all planned out: the setting, the characters, what the show will be about... maybe you've even written the pilot script. Now it's time to pitch! Perhaps you have a meeting with a manager or a producer, or someone is already interested in your idea and has asked you to send some "pages." Or you've signed up for a Stage 32 pitch session with the perfect exec who's looking for a show just like yours. In this webinar you will learn how to write a professional pitch document that can serve as the outline for your in-person pitch to a manager, producer or studio executive, or be sent after your meeting - using the template and requirements the big agencies and studios use. You will also learn how to translate that into a shorter version for Stage 32 pitch sessions, contests, or just to be able to briefly pitch your idea as you're networking. Handouts include: Stranger Things Pitch Document New Girl Pitch Document New Girl Short Pitch Document Example Lookbook Example

The Rewrite Process: What Do I Cut?

To see a video sample of the class, see below! 3 part class taught by Lee Stobby, Manager and Founder of Lee Stobby Management! One of the most challenging parts as a writer is getting your story, ideas and dialogue into a script that is a respectable length. When you're looking at a completed draft that is facing a rewrite, how do you know what to cut? Many times you may think nothing can go without killing the story, but keeping the length is not always a good thing. A development executive's job role varies day to day and with a constant barrage of responsibility, longer scripts usually end up drowning to the bottom of the "to-read" pile. The truth is that executives sometimes even ask how long a script is before committing to read it. As a writer you will lose the battle if turning a page ends up being a struggle for any industry professional. Which brings up the very important question: what can be cut without sacrificing the heart of the script? Stage 32 Happy Writers is excited to bring you the previously-recorded 3 part class: The Rewrite Process – What Do I Cut? taught by Lee Stobby, literary manager and founder of Lee Stobby Entertainment.   Purchasing gives you access to the previously-recorded live class.Although Lee is no longer reviewing the assignments, we still encourage all listeners to participate!

How to Write a Spec That Sells & Lands You Your Next Job

The spec market is alive and well and with new players like Netflix and Amazon as well as other studios, the appetite for content is at an all-time high right now. We’re excited to bring in screenwriter Matt Duffett who has capitalized on these opportunities to teach you what makes a stand out spec. Matt’s scripts have been shortlisted on the BlackList and have been on the Hot List and the Young and Hungry List. As a result he’s now penned a script for Sylvester Stallone to star in and direct, he’s penned a feature script that attached Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters director and he’s now adapting a New York Times’ Book of the Summer. Throughout the journey he’s mastered the art of getting in the room, winning the job and delivering the goods. In this exclusive Stage 32 webinar he’ll go over how you can make your spec stand out and how it can help you land your next job!

register for stage 32 Register / Log In