V.O. in the Pilot?

I have a question about a script I'm writing. I'm writing a Mafia TV drama, and the pilot takes us from the past to present day. I'm thinking of using a V.O. (Like Goodfellas) for the pilot, but I only want to uses it this one time. Is that ok, or do I need to use it all the time

Boomer Murrhee

Is this a spec script?

Beth Fox Heisinger

You're the writer. It's your script. Ask yourself: Would V.O. be effective?

Kerry Morgan

Ok, so this is going to come out of left field, but Grey's Anatomy used the V.O. in the pilot and has used V.O. in, I believe, every episode. This might not be the best example, seeing as the genres are completely different and it's network TV vs cable, but it is a successful show, so just thought I'd toss that out there for ya.

Silena Fuller

Hi Boomer! No it's an original screenplay.

Silena Fuller

Thanks Kerry

Laura Scheiner

A pilot should have the feel of a typical episode so if you're not using VO in the series, I advise against using it in the pilot.

Beth Fox Heisinger

So it is a spec script -- an original speculative screenplay, which is non-commission or not written on assignment. ;)

Anyhoo, I have to agree with Laura, certainly for the sake of consistency and overall sense of tone. However it's really hard to say without any specific context -- hence my previous post: you're the writer! ;) Best wishes with your project, Silena!

Shawn Speake

Great to see u, Silena!

Silena Fuller

Hey Shawn , gotta catch up with ya

Dan Guardino

I would do whatever you think works best on film.

Gilberto Villahermosa

I agree with Dan. If it works in the pilot - go for it. But if you're using a VO as a means of "Telling" rather than "Showing", you might want to avoid it.

Shawn Speake

That's what's up, Silena.... my new Colo number is 720-808-2401. Holler at your boy :)

Dan MaxXx

Sure, use whatever storytelling tools. It is just a sample spec. Writing sample.
Now if pilot goes into development and TV execs say "this is too much like Goodfellas..." then you got problems.

Silena Fuller

@Dan MaxXx The pilot is taking him from a kid to an an adult. In this episode it shows how he gets started and introduce the rest of the crew and how they become the Ruffnecks. The pilot ends with them coming out of prison and the journey began.

Regina Lee

Must agree with Laura here. Quoting her: "A pilot should have the feel of a typical episode so if you're not using VO in the series, I advise against using it in the pilot."

Silena Fuller

Regina Lee Thanks for the advice! I think my biggest concern was that the foundation of creating the back story of how they come to be takes a few turns. In the by the end of pilot, the main character goes from a child to an adult. I literally put him through hell. I just didn't want to drag out the adolescence story line into the second episode

Dan MaxXx

I don't remember a pilot episode where the lead actor Wasn't in the pilot. A pilot drama is normally less than 50mins. How much TV time are you spending on backstory with child Actors? TV audiences got fast fingers, flip channels.

Silena Fuller

Dan MaxXx The main character has a short intro as the adult- Flash back into how the main and supporting characters come to be - back to present to what follows after they start to build the empire

Jacob Buterbaugh

One of my favorite pilots ever is episode 1 of Burn Notice. First episode. First scene. The protagonist, a badass spy, learns that he has just beed fired. He's in the middle of a job. He's seconds away from death. He needs to escape... Start with a bang. And, if it were me, I would either make the voice over a permanent thing or let it go. Good luck!

Laura Scheiner

Silna, it sounds like your pilot is all backstory. Does the audience need to know all of that upfront? Aren't there present day conflicts and problems that can put your protagonist as a adult through the ringer in the pilot? Can't you reveal how they came to be where they are later on into the series? You seem to be looking at your pilot like it's the set-up in a feature script - it's not.

Dan MaxXx

EMPIRE is another excellent pilot to study. Begins with Lucious picking one of his 3 sons to run his music biz and Cookie gets out of prison before the first commercial break.
The pilot has a flashback around 30mins mark; showed how Lucious and Cookie used drug money to start the music business. makeup and cinematography made the two lead Actors appear younger.

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