Screenwriting : Pitch by Izzibella Beau

Izzibella Beau

Pitch

If i were to make a pitch via written work, for a TV series potential, and the agent asked for the script, would that mean they would want an entire season worth of script, the debut script, or an outline of what the complete story is about? I haven't done a pitch yet for this particular, but just want to be ready when I do. Thank you

Zlatan Mustafica

I would send them Everything I possibly had on the project. What ever it takes to create more interest while there is initial interest to review your work. :) Hope it goes well! :) But in this case I Think a pilot script would suffice.

Jody Ellis

I think they would want a pilot script. They don't usually request a series bible unless they have reviewed the pilot (in my limited scope of knowledge.)

Izzibella Beau

Thank you. I really appreciate your help.

Jennifer DiSilvestro

Someone advised me to make sure I had the whole series completed and to be prepared to submit at least 4 episodes but have at least 15 total done incase they wanted them all.

Jody Ellis

Aren't the episodes usually written after the series is purchased, and usually by staff writers? I've never heard that it's necessary to write 15 full episodes, just a pilot script and a bible.

Jennifer DiSilvestro

Jody Ellis, that is what I thought until I read this. Here is what he told me. I copied and pasted from our conversation. So what do you need if you write a TV series. TV pilot is in most cases a Hook-up, you present something to the audience in order for them to come back next week to watch the second episode. 1. TV Pilot (45-60 pages long but it can be longer, 70, 75 pages) TV pilot is similar to a screenplay but it starts with TEASER (4-6 pages) and let's say 3 acts, first act about 15 pages, second act 20-25 and the third about 15. 2. Most TV series have 13 episodes, some like FALLING SKIES or AGENT CARTER have 10, others have 14, 16 but it never goes over 24. If you want to present or pitch a pilot episode or the entire season, you will need to create a TV BIBLE, it's not as complicated as people think. I have dozens of existing TV bibles and all you or I need to do is fill in the blanks, of course, you will have to use your own words to describe the show. 3. Sitcoms like FRIENDS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND....etc are about 35 pages long, other TV series are between 45-50 pages per episode. 4. The moment you complete, let's say you TV Pilot + 12 episodes, you need to purchase a copyright ($ 35.00.) + WGA ($ 20.00) VERY IMPORTANT: It takes about 13 months to receive the copyright certificate. NEVER send your script to anyone until that certificate arrives to your address, your script is not copyrighted until you get that piece of paper. Some people will say: Yes, you can send it, it's pending... and the key word is PENDING. If someone steals your script, you won't be able to win in court.

Jody Ellis

That says you need to create a tv bible, not episodes (unless I am reading it wrong on this tiny phone screen, lol). A bible doesn't have full episodes, it has a 1 (or so) page synopsis of each episode. And usually 8-10 episodes and 3-5 seasons. Edited to add: just think about it. If you wrote 10 full episodes at roughly 50 pages each, that's 500 pages. I cannot imagine a studio executive willing to sit down with 500 pages. That's not how they operate.

Izzibella Beau

Thank you, Jennifer and Jody. Your explanations make it so much clearer. I can handle writing out the one-page synopsis of each single episode for the Bible, but having to write out 40 pages of script for 10+ episodes would seem like overkill at this point. Then again, it's always better to be more than ready than having to tell people they will have to wait. That would be an instant deal breaker there. Thank you once again everyone.

David Levy

If you are planning on pitching through S32 or other sites for a TV pilot you do not need to have mroe than your TV pilot of Show/Series Bible written. If your script is requested, all they would ask for is the pilot script. That's it. If they would like to read more after they have read your script, then the Bible or other material would be asked for. In the Bible, you should map out at least five seasons to show where the series will go. For the FIRST SEASON, like mentioned above, you should talk about future episodes for the first season. Now each episode doesn't have to be a page, a paragraph on each episode should do. So if there are 13 episodes including the pilot for the first season, you only list 12 episodes (paragraphs) because there is no need to list the pilot. There is a S32 Webinar On Demand by Michael Poisson who talks about how to craft a series bible. Only your TV pilot would be requested, no one cares about other episodes written. Managers, agents, producers, etc have little time and so much to read. I met someone who wrote their pilot and 40 additional episodes. FORTY!! Focus on the pilot and bible. I've been working on TV writing for a few years now Plus, if you use Copyright.gov to copyright your script it lasts longer than the WGA, cost $35 and you can get results in as little as 8 weeks.

Karolina Rodriguez

Have you asked specifically what they want? A pilot script seems to be enough to provide but Ive heard of synopsis working too. But in any case, you should have an idea of what "season 1" will be, how it begins and ends, and have that ready after giving in your pilot. Best regards!

Frederic Lecamus

I'll agree with Jody and David, with a couple differences. A pilot is never mandatory, since the bible will most probably be the reference. Moreover, you're unfortunately never guaranteed to be part of the writing team. Writing all the episodes of the season is definitely overkill yet a great experience - only if you have the time to spare and the mental fortitude to see it all go to waste if they only buy the concept from you. As for the bible, I'd recommend that it does not take more than 4 to 5 pages. You're selling a concept, and writing highly interesting and teasing content over 5 pages will be difficult enough. From the bibles I had to (co-)write and correct, here is my own process if it ever inspires you. It is by no means what you -should- do, but then again there is no universal rule: - THE PITCH (1 page max) This needs to be very, very well written. It will be the concept and the teaser, and it should match as much as possible the style of your TV Show. 100% of the boring bibles I've read led to boring TV Shows. It takes a lot to nail it, and it requires that you know enough about your first season material (and more) to sum it up here. If it does not draw attention, write it again. And again. - THE CHARACTERS (about 1 page) 2 to 3 lines for each major character(s). Less for the rest. - SEASON 1 That will be a summary of the first season. You can either do a whole page to novelise the content of the season, or do 2 to 3 lines per episode if you have them all defined. You can also add more than one season but remember that it shouldn't be overloaded and, most importantly, you may have a great concept but great content takes time and points of vues. A writer room can come up with fantastic stuffs, so do only describe the best things about your story. Don't worry about details and subplots, for if your show has what it takes they will be easy to find. That's what the season summary should hint at: potential for CONFLICT! The characters presented should be interacting and show that their internal conflict will give way to story and plot. Plenty of it. - FORMAT This is where you talk about: o Your intent, the writing background, ethnology and ambitions, final objective of the medium if there is one, macroscopic or in-depth analysis of the main protagonist(s). Basically everything that is personal about the story and that you couldn't put before since it does not serve the story/plot directly. o The format of the show, its duration, the intended network, the medium, the estimated budget and the potential challenges. o Then you can talk about the targeted audience (if you really know what you're taking about since it's definitely a hit or miss), the writing technique that you had in mind for the episodes (golden fleece, 5 acts sitcom, 5 acts drama, etc., ...), and, very importantly, if it's procedural or serialised. I hope it'll help.

Izzibella Beau

Wow, thank you so much, Frederic for the detailed explanation. That helps tremendously. You all have been so generous in pointing me in the right direction in this dilemma. Now, off to get organized before I send anything out. And if the stars are aligned, I may get a request for someone to see more...maybe...fingers crossed

K.D. Stout

I think a query and the pilot would be enough, and wait for the agent to ask for more episode scripts.

Niksa Maric

Okay--- where should I start. How about with Copyright? David, my friend, here's something about copyright . According to Miss. Jaia Thomas, who happens to be among the top 10 or top 5 entertainment attorneys in Los Angeles. “Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form” but she suggests to copyright your work or screenplay, if you decide to sue someone in near future ( in case your work ever gets stolen) Script Registration Fees: (Online) (Miss. Thomas recommends this method) Filing fee: * Single application (single author) $ 35.00 * Standard application (multiple authors) $ 55.00 Processing time: 8 Months ********************************************* (Mail-In) Filing fee: * Single application (single author) $ 85.00 * Standard application (multiple authors) $ 85.00 Processing time: 13 Months ********************************************* (Expedited registration) or SPECIAL HANDLING This needs to be done when you fill the form and you must provide a compelling reason with your request. Special Handling is only granted in the following specific circumstances: * Customs matters * Pending or prospective litigation * Contract or publishing deadlines that necessitate the expedited issuance of a certificate Filing fee: * Single application (single author) $800.00 + $ 35.00 * Standard application (multiple authors) $800.00 + $ 55.00 Processing time: 5 Business days Quotes & Facts: * Copyright DOES NOT protect the title, it only protects the actual script. * You can register your script “Anonymously”??? I have no idea why would someone do that? * Created work is protected by copyright law during the author’s life plus an additional 70 years after the author’s death. * The law does not require you to attach a copyright symbol to your script but every lawyer will advise you to do it, so YES, place the symbol © (2016 John Doe) on your script. * Your work is not protected until your copyright certificate appear in your mailbox. Let's move to TV Series Bible. Jody has a good point there. You need to complete a TV Pilot first, it all starts there but before we even continue, why not check some TV Bible facts. Take a look at this list and Frederic, these are the Bibles for the first season of each TV series. TV Series Bibles Battlestar Galactica - 53 Pages - Written by Ronald D.Moore Dark Skies - 63 Pages - Written by Bryce Zabel & Brent V. Friedman Dark Skies - Pilot Episode ("The Awakening") Written by (It doesn’t even have “Written by” written on Title Page) Freaks and Geeks - 55 Pages - Written by (It doesn’t say) Masters of the Universe - 53 Pages - Written by Michael Halperin Poltergeist - The Legacy - 29 Pages - Written by (It doesn’t say) Star Trek - Deep Space Nine - 21 Pages - Written by (It doesn’t say) Star Trek - The Next Generation - 53 Pages - Written by Gene Roddenberry Pilot Episode Written by D.C. Fontana and Gene Roddenberry The Crow - Stairway to Heaven - 38 Pages - Written by Bryce Zabel The Starlost - 25 Pages - Written by Harlan Ellison The Wire - 79 Pages - Written by David Simon Star Trek Voyager - 39 Pages - Written by Rick Berman, Michael Piller, Jeri Taylor (It could be any one of them or all 3 did it together) So far, only Gene Roddenberry wrote the Bible and had anything to do with the Pilot episode. Let's see what else is there. What makes the Bible 30-50 pages long? This is just a sample of what I will need to finish, in some cases (depends what you write about) you might need something else. TABLE OF CONTENTS The Basic Idea and Concept of the Show ............... 1 History and Religion ................................. 1 Society and Technology ............................... 1 Storylines Tension .............................................. 1 Structure ............................................ 1 Series Summary ....................................... 1 Season One Story Arcs ........................................... 1 Character Arcs ....................................... 1 Character Biographies ................................ 1 Season One Episode Summaries ......................... 1 You will also need a treatment or Pilot outline, pitch, Character Profile Sheet (1 for each character) usually between 5-10 main characters, Character Relationship Map (Write brief descriptions detailing how each of your characters feels about the others. You only need to list the key characters in your pilot. Consider also listing how the characters feel about themselves) and you will need a Beat Sheet (the one I have is about 13 pages long, so far), a query letter may or may not be required but hey, why not add that as well to the list, followed by finding a manager who will consider reading any of this. Someone's mentioned a producer who don't have time to read... I don't think they read any of this, they have people who do that for them... have I left out any of the paperwork which is required? So, here's my question. Let's say I somehow manage to make someone to read the Pilot and they like it, they even love it and wants to buy it. Every writer's dream. Then they would ask for Episode Summaries, which are in the Bible. Here's an example from Crow TV Series. #2 SOULED OUT (#102) Draven realizes a song he wrote – and only performed once for Shelly only on the night of their murders – has become a hit on the radio. His search to find out how that could be possible leads him to the source of the order for his contract murder. The truth is that both he and Shelly were targeted by a fallen crow, Mace Reyes, now a disciple of the powers of the snake. Mace now seeks to either convert Draven to evil by causing him to kill an innocent person or to destroy him, body and soul, by wiping away his very existence. Albrecht forms an uneasy truce with Draven based on his own observations of unnatural phenomena. Finally, we get a hint that Shelly remains a haunted spirit, waiting for Draven to catch up before she moves on to her ultimate destination in the afterlife. And then what? Please don't tell me some studio staff writer is going to create a 45 minutes out of 5-6 sentences. Whoever this writer is, the only way he's gonna be able to pull this off is by talking to me, or any other writer who came up with the idea for TV series. Are they gonna ask me to write episode 2, maybe a few more, who's gonna pay for all this? They can't remove my name as the author from the script, I won't give anything for free, ever, neither should any one of you. And the worst part, people who come up with the idea for the TV series don't even get credits. Someone else's name is always listed in Written by section. Here's an example Castle - Pilot Episode - Written by Andrew W. Marlowe Castle - S01. Ep.03 - Written by Barry Schindel Castle - S01. Ep.04 - Written by David Grae Castle - S01. Ep.05 - Written by Charles Murray The list of Series goes on and on, all but one. The West Wing. I don't know how many times I've read "TV production, it grows so fast, hires more writers than ever before...etc" Yeah, sure, 1 writer - 1 episode policy is probably the reason for such miracle.

Brenda Young

Hi Izzibella, I'd say a query letter too, and the pilot with an outline of the other episodes. Good luck with it.

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