Stage 32 Screenwriting Lab: Write a Drama TV Pilot in 8 Weeks - From Concept to Completed Script

Payment plans available - contact Amanda at edu@stage32.com for details
Taught by Anna Henry, TV Executive

$799

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

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Class hosted by: Anna Henry, TV Executive

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

Anna Henry is a Producer and Development Executive. Anna has set up projects at Sony, 20th Television, EOne, Starz, Amazon, Netflix, Corus, ITV America and more. Anna began her career as a development executive at Nickelodeon, then crossed over to prime-time television working at CBS and ABC in drama development and programming before working in management and establishing herself as an Independent Producer. She was Head of Development at Andrea Simon Entertainment, a boutique literary management and production company representing writers and directors. She has more than 15 years experience working with writers on developing their passion projects and building their careers with client credits including Netflix's "Seven Seconds"; Starz'"Vida"; BET’s “In Contemt”; HBO's "The Deuce", "Big Love", and "Vinyl"; Showtime's "The Chi"; NBC's "This Is Us"; The CW's "Jane the Virgin"; Direct TV's "Kingdom"; AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead”; PBS' "Mercy Street"; and more. Anna has projects currently in development around the world. She is currently developing procedurals, crime thrillers, dark comedies, YA and Millennial-focused projects, character-driven sci-fi, and recent period. She is a member of HRTS Associates and Greenlight Women. Full Bio »

Summary

***Lab spots filled - Join our TV writing lab next week with TV literary manager Spencer Robinson - learn more here***

You’ve heard the phrase “the content gold rush” get bandied about much these days, but as it relates to TV, it’s never been more true. Drama television is at it's peak with such iconic shows like OZARK, KILLING EVE, BETTER CALL SAUL, THIS IS US, THE HANDMAID'S TALE, MR. ROBOT, STRANGER THINGS, BLACK MIRROR, BIG LITTLE LIES and so much more. With the influx of networks and streaming platforms either moving into or expanding their original content libraries, the demand for dramatic TV ideas and pilots has never been greater. Thanks to streamers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max and others, over 600 shows were greenlit last year and some industry experts are predicting we may see as many as 1,000 television shows greenlit per year by 2025. But not only is the quantity increasing, so is the quality, as companies are funneling an unprecedented amount of money, resources, marketing and talent into their shows. And the impact of COVID-19 is even having an impact that could benefit writers all over the world as many shows are planning to implement virtual writer’s rooms. In short, there has never been a better time to write for TV. Now it’s just a matter of breaking in.

The opportunities are plentiful and the prospects have never been more exciting, but if you want to write dramatic television you need to prove that you have the chops, and to do that, you better come armed with a great pilot script sample. Something that shows that you have what it takes; something that shows that you understand the structure and craft that goes into a good teleplay; and something that shows off your own unique voice and sensibility. This is your calling card, your way in, the piece of material that will fire you off the launch pad. The intention of this lab is to help you create that piece of material that stands out, gets you the right meetings, and, ultimately, gets you representation, meetings with decision-makers, and/or a coveted seat in a writer’s room.

Over the course of a 15+ year career, Anna Henry has read thousands of television scripts and worked with hundreds of writers. Anna began her career as a development executive at Nickelodeon, then crossed over to prime-time television working at CBS and ABC in drama development and programming before working in management and establishing herself as an independent producer. Anna was Head of Development at Andrea Simon Entertainment, a boutique literary management and production company representing writers and directors. Anna has set up projects at Sony, 20th Century Television, EOne, Starz, Amazon, Netflix, Corus, ITV America to name just some. Anna’s client credits include Netflix's SEVEN SECONDS; Starz' VIDA; BET’s IN CONTEMPT; HBO's THE DEUCE, BIG LOVE, and VINYL; Showtime's THE CHI; NBC's THIS IS US; The CW's JANE THE VIRGIN; DirecTV's KINGDOM, AMC’s FEAR THE WALKING DEAD; PBS' MERCY STREET; and more.

Anna has taught numerous webinars, classes and writing labs for Stage 32. She remains one of our most popular and in demand educators. In this lab, she will be working directly with you in a class setting and also during one-on-one sessions with the goal of helping you write a fantastic, market-ready pilot. To do so, Anna will guide you through picking a concept, creating engaging characters, perfecting your structure, constructing an outline and, finally, writing your pilot. If you already have a concept or even a completed pilot, Anna will use the same tools to help you hone and sharpen your material.


WHAT TO EXPECT

By the end of this 8-week writing lab, you will have a completed drama television pilot script ready to be shown to reps, development execs and other executives and professionals.

Sessions will vary between 2-hour group settings and personal one-on-one Skype meetings with Anna. You will be held accountable to take the lessons from each week and move your work forward.

Plus, to keep you motivated and inspired, you will have access to a private, dedicated Stage 32 Lounge where you can communicate with your fellow classmates throughout the writing process.

To see the full writing lab schedule, see below under "What You Will Learn".

 

PLEASE NOTE: This exclusive Stage 32 lab is limited to 10 writers and will be booked on a first come, first served basis. The opportunity to work this closely and for this long with an executive and an expert in the field is an incredibly unique and valuable opportunity. If you are interested, please do book quickly. Once the spots are gone, they’re gone for good.

 


 

"My passion is helping writers make their work better. I’m not a screenwriter, so I don’t try to insert my voice into your work. With 20 years of experience as a development executive and literary manager, I consider myself to be your advocate and guide. I know the marketplace and know what will make your project successful. But my goal is to tell YOUR story in your voice. I don’t give vague “reviewer” notes, and I am brutally honest. If you want a cheerleader, I recommend you get notes from your friends. If you want to put in the work to elevate your writing, you’ve come to the right place."

- Anna Henry

 


Praise from Anna's previous Stage 32 writing labs:

 

"Anna exceeded my expectations, both in terms of quality (and quantity) of information and overall value. Anna was personable, knowledgeable, and organized. Anna and Stage 32 delivered the goods."

- John R.

 

"What a thoughtful, thorough and inspiring class. Not only was the content there, but the structure was also superb. Thank you Anna for your genius and your generosity."

- Crispin L.

 

"Anna was so generous with her time, so knowledgeable, so encouraging...very grateful. It feels like there's a stronger wind at my back after that. Thank you!"

- Michael L.

What You'll Learn

PRE-CLASS PREP 

Read your syllabus and plan decide on an idea for the drama or dramedy pilot you want to write. Do appropriate research about the world of your show.

 

WEEK 1 – Introduction, Elements of a TV Series

This week we will cover the syllabus, your goals for this lab and launch into a discussion of what elements you have to create for a successful show.

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, and how setting, tone and point-of-view affect your story. 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 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. Finally, we will talk about finding a “template show” to aid your writing.

The assignments for this week will be:

  • Write a half-page description of the concept of the pilot you intend to write.
  • Find a template for your pilot
  • Write a detailed description (around half a page) on each of your series regular characters

 

WEEK 2 – Pilot Structure and Story Mapping

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 3 – Pilot Outline Consultations (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 phone consultation 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 character descriptions as needed.

 

WEEK 4 – Acts One and Two

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 talk about how to introduce characters, give backstory, and convey character through unique voices. 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.

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

 

WEEK 5– Writing Effective Scenes

We will discuss how to craft dense, efficient scenes that move the plot forward and reveal character and avoid “dead” scenes. We will talk about how to enter and leave scenes and move from scene to scene using character motivations. We will address how to weave together multiple storylines. We will also talk about nuanced dialogue and the value of subtext.

  • The assignment this week will be to continue writing.

 

WEEK 6 – Pilot Acts One and Two Consultations (One on One Consultations – No Online Class)

This week will consist of one-on-one consultations regarding the first half of your pilot. Each writer will send in their draft in advance and will have a phone consultation to discuss what works and what doesn’t.

  • The assignment for the week is to address any notes given.

 

WEEK 7– Acts Three, Four and Five

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 and address some common pilot writing mistakes.

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

 

WEEK 8 – Finished Pilot Consultations (One on One Consultations – No Online Class)

This week will consist of one-on-one consultations on your first draft. Each writer will send in their first draft in advance and will have a phone consultation to go over notes.

 

About Your Instructor

Anna Henry is a Producer and Development Executive. Anna has set up projects at Sony, 20th Television, EOne, Starz, Amazon, Netflix, Corus, ITV America and more. Anna began her career as a development executive at Nickelodeon, then crossed over to prime-time television working at CBS and ABC in drama development and programming before working in management and establishing herself as an Independent Producer.

She was Head of Development at Andrea Simon Entertainment, a boutique literary management and production company representing writers and directors. She has more than 15 years experience working with writers on developing their passion projects and building their careers with client credits including Netflix's "Seven Seconds"; Starz'"Vida"; BET’s “In Contemt”; HBO's "The Deuce", "Big Love", and "Vinyl"; Showtime's "The Chi"; NBC's "This Is Us"; The CW's "Jane the Virgin"; Direct TV's "Kingdom"; AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead”; PBS' "Mercy Street"; and more.

Anna has projects currently in development around the world. She is currently developing procedurals, crime thrillers, dark comedies, YA and Millennial-focused projects, character-driven sci-fi, and recent period. She is a member of HRTS Associates and Greenlight Women.

Schedule

WEEK 1 – Introduction, Elements of a TV Series - 6/20/20

WEEK 2 – Pilot Structure and Story Mapping - 6/27/20

WEEK 3 – Pilot Outline Consultations (One on One Consultations – No Online Class) 

WEEK 4 – Acts One and Two - 7/11/20

WEEK 5– Writing Effective Scenes - 7/18/20

WEEK 6 – Pilot Acts One and Two Consultations (One on One Consultations – No Online Class) 

WEEK 7– Acts Three, Four and Five - 8/1/20

WEEK 8 – Finished Pilot Consultations (One on One Consultations – No Online Class)

 

FAQs

Q: What is the format of a lab?
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!

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.
 

Reviews Average Rating: 5 out of 5

  • Anna's commitment to helping writers is outstanding and sincere. She goes above and beyond to give thoughtful notes and to help a writer gain insight into both their own work and to have an understand of the requirements that are specific to writing a pilot script.

Other education that may be of interest to you:

Extended Webinar: How to Master Story Structure for Your Drama Television Pilot

Over the course of an extended two-and-a-half hour webinar, learn drama pilot story structure from one of Stage 32's most popular and requested instructors Includes case studies, story maps and free script downloads of the pilot episodes of: SUCCESSION LUPIN* THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL THE EXPANSE   It almost sounds cliché at this point, but we’re living in the Golden Age of Television, an era where TV dramas as diverse, ambitious, and creative as BETTER CALL SAUL, BRIDGERTON, THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT, I WILL DESTROY YOU, and MRS. AMERICA are not only put on air, but find an audience and gain serious popularity. This is in turn an era where networks and streamers are actually looking for new voices and new stories. More than ever before, there is a path for your own television drama to be discovered. Yet no matter how great your concept is, how strong your characters are, how diverse, clever or unique your world is, your drama series will not be effective and will not be successful unless you can nail your script’s structure. Nailing your TV drama’s story structure—specifically your pilot—is no easy task. In the span of just 40-60 pages, you have to introduce your world, your characters, your central plot and conflict, and your inciting incident, all while keeping your pacing consistent, finding some resolution for that episode, and allowing your audience to want to watch more. This is a complicated, and delicate game and ultimately comes down to how you structure and map out your script before you start writing. No matter what genre you’re writing in, understanding how to structure your pilot is vital. Gaining a clear grasp on how successful drama pilots are arranged and the rules they all follow is a necessary step if you want to have a show that will get picked up and ultimately connect with an audience. Anna Henry is a Producer and Development Executive who has worked at CBS, ABC, Nickelodeon, and multiple production companies, as well as a manager at Andrea Simon Entertainment. Her clients have worked on shows such as THE DEUCE, POWER, IN CONTEMPT, TOMMY, VIDA, SEVEN SECONDS, HUNG, CHICAGO FIRE, FEAR THE WALKING DEAD, THIS IS US, and THE FLASH, and have set up projects at AMC, Amazon, Starz, HBO, Sony, Fox, EOne, ITV America, OddLot Entertainment, Corus, and others. One of Stage 32’s most popular instructors of all time, Anna has projects currently in development around the world and is incredibly familiar with what goes into a great television pilot. Anna will go in-depth on how to properly structure your drama TV series pilot and will use real past pilot scripts as examples as she breaks down, act by act, the elements necessary to turn your series pilot into stand-out script. Anna will go over the main types of one-hour pilots and will outline the elements for pilot development, including story engine, world, characters, themes and tone. She’ll discuss how to select and map your own template show as well as incorporating multiple plotlines. Anna will then delve into the function and elements of your pilot’s teaser and Acts 1 through 5, as well as your pilot launch, pilot climax, and series launch. She will finally lay out the most common structure problems that you should avoid. Don’t even think about starting to write your own drama pilot until you gain the tools Anna will provide.   Examples will be used from notable past one-hour drama pilots on network, cable, and streaming platforms. PLUS! you will receive pilot scripts and Anna's own story maps for each after the webinar: LUPIN* (Netflix) THE EXPANSE (Syfy) THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL (Amazon) SUCCESSION (HBO) *Pilot script not available for LUPIN   Praise for Anna's Previous Stage 32 Webinar:   This was my first Stage 32 webinar, and it exceeded my expectations, both in terms of quality (and quantity) of information and overall value. Anna was personable, knowledgeable, and organized. The slide deck was helpful, and her overall presentation hit all the key topics. Anna and Stage32 delivered the goods. - John R.   What a thoughtful, thorough and inspiring webinar. It's clear that Anna Henry put an enormous amount of work into this presentation. Not only was the content there, but the structure was also superb. I feel educated and inspired to go back to my own work and do better than what I thought was my best. What could possibly be better than that! Thank you Anna for your genius and your generosity. - Crispin L.   "Comprehensive, insightful. Combined a lot of material I had heard snippets of on character, world dev, etc. but artfully stitched together in one presentation." -James F.   "It was amazing, enlightening - completely. I learned soooo much - especially as a feature writer who's been asked to turn a feature script into a pilot!! Thank you soooooo much." -Kristin G.

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

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

Lab Full!  If you are still interested in joining, 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

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

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