Screenwriting : Television by Trey Wickwire

Trey Wickwire

Television

It seems most folks here are working on features but I'm currently working on a TV series. Also, it seems most resources are geared towards features. The contests for TV scripts are few and far between. I know that Script Pipeline has one and there are a few more but the majority are only for features. So, this thread is to discuss writing for Television. Anyone else working on a TV pilot? Do you have a writers bible yet? What are your favorite resources? Please share your knowledge and questions. My project is an alien invasion story. What makes it different is that I chose to parallel the European colonization of the Americas for the invasion. The story takes place 374 years after first contact when the aliens are in total control of the planet and humans live in reservation like wilderness areas. I choose one of the lesser known Indian Wars, Red Cloud's War, as a template for my story because it is the only war between the US Army and the Native Americans in which the Native's won. So, I've been working on my story for awhile now and have a very extensive bible with character bios and historical research. For me, the research and work that has gone into the bible has been the greatest assets in my writing. So, what are you working on?

Trey Wickwire

@ Sam, aren't the festival contests for material that has already been shot and not just a script?

Holly Rivney

I am discouraged by the television market because I keep hearing - if you're not connected to Hollywood or a staff writer, go whistle. I started a script for a popular show currently running to incorporate a nostalgic ironic twist from a 1993 show. No one is the least bit curious because I"m not a staff writer for the current show (nor the old one). So, I focus on spec features.

Trey Wickwire

Thanks Sam. @ Holly, writing spec scripts for currently running shows is only for practice and samples. You'll never sell one as the show personnel refuse to read any outside scripts for fear of litigation. Only original series pilots stand a chance.

Trey Wickwire

I know there are TV script contests, it just seemed to me that they were the minority. Am I wrong in that thought?

Holly Rivney

I don't want to be a staff writer, I just had one fun idea for one episode for one show. Since I don't want to be a television writer, I have not looked into contests for an answer to the original question. I do understand about the litigation etc. That's why I was on Terry's wavelength that there wouldn't be a lot of contests for teleplays (but apparently there are, after all, since it's for the writing, not the selling). It was a terrifically fun script to write; 22 minutes compared to 120 was a piece of cake. I'll stick with what what works for me, and staff writing on a team is not it. Been there done that kind of thing. Maybe I'll send it in to a contest ... ?

Cherie Grant

I think the reason most people are working on film screenplays is because there's a slightly better chance on being read than TV where there seems to be no in whatsoever for the writer.

Laurie Ashbourne

The competitions that offer TV, have had a tremendous surge in recent years and frankly most of the submissions are better than the features. At times they are hard to judge because most don't ask for a bible or anything other than the pilot, but in general, TV is a much easier sell.

Trey Wickwire

@ Steven, many thanks for taking the time to write out all the great advice. Much of it mirrors my mentor's advice. For everyone else, thanks for the great discussion and lets keep it going. Steven is right that the pilot is one of the hardest things to write and so much research has to be done prior to even starting. One piece of advice is to take a couple of your favorite series and go back and watch the first episode again. If you can get the screenplay as well. Also try and find some examples of writers bibles and read them as well.

Trey Wickwire

Thanks Lisa, looks like a good resource.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Trey: Your show idea has a good premise and I like that you're incorporating historical elements. It's good to have a bible with outlines of requisite episodes for cable or network broadcast. If you're into competing, increasing numbers of script competitions and film festivals are including the TV pilot category. Best way to review the available competitions is using something like Film Freeway.

Trey Wickwire

Thanks Phillip!

J.G Sarantinos

scriptapalooza , Austin and Tracking B have TV writing contests. Check this link for scripts https://sites.google.com/site/tvwriting/

Trey Wickwire

Is anyone else working on a TV series? Can you tell us about it?

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