How To Write A Comedy Pilot Executives Will Want To Read

How To Write A Kick-Ass Comedy Pilot That Will Get Executives’ Attention!
Hosted by Michael Poisson

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Michael Poisson

Webinar hosted by: Michael Poisson

Development Executive & Writer on Netflix's Raising Dion

Michael grew up in Harrisville, Rhode Island during the 1990’s NBC sitcom boom and WB teen dramedy craze, which should explain his obsession with comedic angst. He attended Emerson College in Boston where he majored in Visual and Media Arts with a concentration in Television. There he wrote and executive produced the college’s only multi-camera sitcom, The Daily Grind, which was nominated for three EVVY Awards. He graduated Summa Cum Laude in December of 2007 and moved to Los Angeles where he was met with the Writer’s Guild Strike and a general sense of despair. Michael’s first industry job was at CAA where he broke the glass ceiling for men everywhere and became their first male receptionist ever (before then, CAA had segregated based on sex: guys in the mailroom and girls in reception). From there he worked his way up to assist an agent in TV Packaging, before jumping to Ryan Reynolds' and Allan Loeb’s TV pod, DarkFire TV, for two years. He currently works as the Director of Development at Krysten Ritter’s company, Silent Machine Entertainment, where he works closely with writers to develop their ideas to pitch to studios and networks. On the writing side, Michael co-wrote the comedic-musical stage show: ARMAGEDDON: A Night of Laughs and Pleasant Songs, which enjoyed a sold-out run in the LA Fringe Festival in 2011. He had a spec pilot, Alien Nation, in development at DarkFire TV, and currently has an animated show in development. Michael is also a comic book geek and wrote the graphic novel The Arcs which was published by Fanboy Comics and premiered at the Comikaze Expo in November of 2013. He is re-teaming up with artist Matt Jacobs on a second volume, which they hope to release within the year. Michael’s goal is to keep working in the entertainment industry without becoming jaded. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, your host Michael Poisson will teach you how to write a kick-ass comedy pilot that will get executives’ attention. This webinar is not only about how to properly execute writing a comedy pilot, but also about how to make it your strongest sample so that it can get noticed!

You will leave the webinar knowing:

  • The 3 most important things Producers/Execs look for in a pilot as they relate to concept, structure and voice.
  • How to properly highlight your unique comedic voice and stuff your script with laughs.
  • How to create a crisp 1-2 sentence pitch that will get executives excited about your idea.
  • How to navigate the competitions and fellowships.
  • How to think from a Producer/Manager/Executives POV and understand what they're looking for so you can apply it to your script.

Michael Poisson is a former Director of Development who's worked for Ryan Reynolds TV production company DarkFire TV, Krysten Ritter's company Silent Machine and CAA and is now a writer on Netflix's Raising Dion. This background gives has given Michael a unique perspective for what kind of script stands out among the hordes on everyone’s “Weekend Read” lists and he is here exclusively with Stage 32 to share that knowledge with you.

What You'll Learn

  • Inspiration – Where to pull ideas from.
    • Source Material – books and articles.
    • Life experiences.
    • Twist on old standards.
    • Genre Mashups.
  • Writing – The 3 most important things Producers/Execs look for in a pilot.
    • Concept – how to build an idea that is big, unique, and memorable.
    • Structure – the importance of beats and Act Breaks.
    • Voice – how to harness your comedic voice within the script.
  • Characters – Populating your world with diverse and hilarious characters.
    • How to make their voices stand out.
    • Giving them active and opposing goals.
    • Keeping them busy during scenes.
  • Jokes.
    • How to stuff your script with laughs.
    • The importance of range in the types of jokes.
    • Having a unity of tone within your jokes.
  • Pitching.
    • Working on getting notices doesn’t stop when the script is done.
    • Creating a compelling logline (1 sentence pitch) that will make people want to read your script!
    • Knowing where your series fits on TV.
    • Getting people to read your script.
  • Navigating the competitions and fellowships.
  • Thinking from the Producer/Manager/Executive’s POV.
    • Learning what kind of projects people are looking to buy and represent.
    • Understanding why producers buy and don’t buy scripts.
    • Understanding why managers/agents decide to represent a writer.

About Your Instructor

Michael grew up in Harrisville, Rhode Island during the 1990’s NBC sitcom boom and WB teen dramedy craze, which should explain his obsession with comedic angst. He attended Emerson College in Boston where he majored in Visual and Media Arts with a concentration in Television. There he wrote and executive produced the college’s only multi-camera sitcom, The Daily Grind, which was nominated for three EVVY Awards. He graduated Summa Cum Laude in December of 2007 and moved to Los Angeles where he was met with the Writer’s Guild Strike and a general sense of despair.

Michael’s first industry job was at CAA where he broke the glass ceiling for men everywhere and became their first male receptionist ever (before then, CAA had segregated based on sex: guys in the mailroom and girls in reception). From there he worked his way up to assist an agent in TV Packaging, before jumping to Ryan Reynolds' and Allan Loeb’s TV pod, DarkFire TV, for two years. He currently works as the Director of Development at Krysten Ritter’s company, Silent Machine Entertainment, where he works closely with writers to develop their ideas to pitch to studios and networks.

On the writing side, Michael co-wrote the comedic-musical stage show: ARMAGEDDON: A Night of Laughs and Pleasant Songs, which enjoyed a sold-out run in the LA Fringe Festival in 2011. He had a spec pilot, Alien Nation, in development at DarkFire TV, and currently has an animated show in development. Michael is also a comic book geek and wrote the graphic novel The Arcs which was published by Fanboy Comics and premiered at the Comikaze Expo in November of 2013. He is re-teaming up with artist Matt Jacobs on a second volume, which they hope to release within the year.

Michael’s goal is to keep working in the entertainment industry without becoming jaded.

FAQs

Q: What is the format of a webinar? 
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars 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 webinar.

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 webinar. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer 

Q: What if I cannot attend the live webinar?
A: If you attend a live online webinar, 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 webinar, 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 webinar, 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! 

Testimonials

He was amazing -- professional, articulate and knew his subject inside-and-out! – Jan S.

It was very obvious Michael knows [his stuff]. He was very organized and I feel like he answered many questions that I've had for years. Thank you so much. – Betty S.

Michael was sensational; one of the few who can actually DO a webinar and keep an interest. Nice voice inflection and tone; no distracting "um's" and such. Great material; learned a ton! - Geno S.

Very informative and in great detail and explanation, Michael. Time very well spent. – Jean B.

Excellent seminar with relevant information. Great job. – Matthew M.

I really found the examples [he] references on current programs and series very useful. The information was concise and allowed me to visualize my next steps. – Ashanti G.

He was excellent! – Tina F.

Good information, well thought out, organized and easy to follow. Many useful takeaways. Thanks Michael!! – Lesa B.

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: 4.5 out of 5

  • The instruction was clearly given and it both confirmed things I have been taught and also filled in one or two gaps. Overall, useful, thank you.
  • I would like to access my notes from the instructor but cannot.

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In the current, competitive TV landscape of serialized dramas, complex comedies, and sprawling genre epics, series bibles are becoming important selling tools to help writers illustrate their visions. A dynamic and intriguing bible can create interest in your project, and push your pitch or spec script over the edge to a sale. It’s your chance to lay out the larger arc of your story, list examples of future episodes, and explain the broad themes your show will explore. It conveys confidence to producers and executives by saying: “I've thought about this in the long run, and I have a slew of awesome ideas to explore in series.” Because there is no standard industry way to format your bible, they can be extremely confusing to create. Executives receive bibles as small as 4 pages (a mini-bible, really) and as long as 27 pages. Should it include your personal connection to the material? In-depth character bios? Visual motifs? Artist’s renderings of the setting and characters? Although bibles can vary greatly from project to project, there are some general rules and strategies to follow to make sure yours stands out from the pack as professional, polished, and powerful. Michael Poisson's career is one that has been filled with incredible ambitious drive and creative passion. He is a veteran television executive and is currently a writer on the hit Netflix series Raising Dion, as well as Adult Swim's Robot Chicken. But Michael’s story begins with his first industry job at CAA where he broke the glass ceiling for men everywhere and became their first ever male receptionist (before then, CAA had segregated based on sex: guys in the mailroom and girls in reception). From there he worked his way up to Rick Lefitz’s desk at CAA in TV Packaging, before jumping to Ryan Reynolds and Allan Loeb’s TV pod, DarkFire TV, for two years. He moved on to work as the Director of Development at Krysten Ritter’s company, Silent Machine Entertainment, where he worked closely with writers to develop their ideas to pitch to studios and networks. Michael has also had numerous successes as a screenwriter. In what has become an ultra-competitive environment, Michael will teach you the ins and outs of creating a compelling and willing TV bible. Starting with the proper formatting, how to introduce dynamic characters, and moving through how to include active and engaging episode examples, Michael will show you what grabs and keeps an executive's attention. Michael will also discuss artwork, articles and visual aids and whether your bible truly needs them or if they should be left out entirely. He will show you how to create and present carefully crafted, season long arcs that include strong and relatable themes. Always a challenge for writers, producers, and filmmakers putting together a series bible, Michael will teach you how to be clear and concise in explaining your direction for the series. He will spend quality time explaining and teaching the importance of a strong wrap up and closing beat and how to nail both. Michael will even teach you how to identify and decide which network or platform may be best for your show.   "Answered so many of my questions about bible writing. Took away my fears as well! I can't wait to get started." - Mia L.   "Demystification complete." Lorraine R.   "Michael has energy and knowledge to spare. Best investment I've made in years." - Regina K.   "There is so much mixed information on bible writing out there. It's confusing and, honestly, maddening. I appreciated Michael slowly, concisely, and thoroughly explaining what works, what doesn't and how to bring a winning series bible to life. Bravo." Angelo D.  

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