How to Write a TV Series Bible

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Hosted by Michael Poisson

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Michael Poisson

Webinar hosted by: Michael Poisson

Development Executive & Writer

Michael is currently an Associate, Current Programming at NBC Entertainment. 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 Rick Lefitz’s desk 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. 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 in 2013, and currently has an animated show in development with Dark Trick Films. 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. http://www.thearcscomic.com/ 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. Michael’s goal is to keep working in the entertainment industry without becoming jaded. Full Bio »

In the current 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.

In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Michael Poisson will talk about the very exciting, sometimes harrowing, process of creating TV Series Bibles. In this webinar Michael will cover everything you need to know to craft your TV series bible, from format, to arc, to how to introduce characters, all the way to how to create a strong closing beat.


What You'll Learn:

What You Will Learn:

  • How to format your series bible.
  • Introducing dynamic characters.
  • Including active and engaging episode examples.
  • Deciding if your bible should include artwork, articles, or visual aids.
  • Presenting carefully crafted, season-long story arcs.
  • Creating a strong and relatable theme.
  • The importance of tone in the writing of your bible.
  • Organizing the information in the most digestible sequence.
  • Finding useful references for your series and characters.
  • Conveying a clear and concise direction for the series.
  • Deciding which network(s) could be home to your show.
  • The importance of a strong wrap-up and closing beat.
  • Recorded Q&A with Michael!

About Your Instructor:

Michael is currently an Associate, Current Programming at NBC Entertainment. 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 Rick Lefitz’s desk 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.

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 in 2013, and currently has an animated show in development with Dark Trick Films. 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. http://www.thearcscomic.com/

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.

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


Frequently Asked Questions:

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! 

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

  • Well thought-out and pertinent and helpful information. Thanks!
  • Enjoyed it for the most part, some of the audio went in and out. Because I was not able to listen live, was not allowed to ask any questions, would be nice to be able to email a question to the host after the fact and get some answers. That's why I rated it a four instead of a 5.
  • Exactly what I needed to know in order to write my own TV Series Bible. Thank you so much for this thought-provoking, informative webinar!
  • Very informative.
  • I actually forgot to listen, so can't comment. Lost the link to it also.
  • Some really great organizational/ structural ideas for a bible but q & a was too long.
  • In addition to being a playwright, I also work in Marketing. This course helped me think of our clients' campaigns as longer story arcs. Thanks!
  • Good very basic info explained clearly... E crept how to get all that in just a few pages. Expected advanced info that just wasn't there.

Other education that may be of interest to you:

Mentor Series: Write A TV Bible That Sells

Class Space Limited: Maximum 20 Writers August 13, 20, 27 and Sept 10 from 1pm-3pm. Your TV Series Bible is an extremely important, and often overlooked tool for selling your pilot in the industry. It’s a document which explains in detail – who your characters are, what they will be up against, where future conflict will come, and what themes your show will be exploring. It gives studio and network executives confidence that you know what you’re doing, and that the show has the story potential to live on for multiple seasons. The problem is that there isn’t a lot of literature out there detailing how to construct a bible. This Stage 32 Intensive is aimed to give you the information and guidance that you need to write a strong bible that can be used when sending out and selling your pilot script. Each week, your instructor Michael Poisson (Director of Development at Silent Machine Entertainment, Krysten Ritter’s production company that has a first look deal at Universal TV) will be giving a lecture about how to write one section of your series bible, and then you’ll be assigned to write that section for a project of your own. The following week Mike will offer one-on-one skype sessions to discuss your work, give you any notes, and answer any questions that you may have. So, at the end of this Intensive, you will have a strong and well-executed bible that you’ll be able to use as a selling tool for your own TV series. Mike has worked at CAA, two production companies, and as a showrunner’s assistant on a TV series, and at each job he has seen the importance of bibles and how they have been used to get series sold and on the air. As a writer, Mike has also used them in his own writing career, and a well-written bible of helped him to secure his manager, and get multiple production companies interested in his work.

Beyond The Page: The Business Side of Breaking In & Getting Work as a Screenwriter

Learn directly from Michael Poisson, the former Director of Development at Silent Machine Entertainment, Krysten Ritter’s production company that has a first look deal at Universal TV. Michael is also a comedy writer who used his insider knowledge to land a manager, and get two projects in development at TV production companies. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, your host Michael Poisson will guide you through the business side of how to become a working writer in Hollywood. Writing an awesome script is only part of the process for becoming successful in this industry. Having worked on various projects from both the executive side, as well as the writer side of things, Michael has obtained great insight for how to avoid the difficult terrain when meeting and working with producers, studios, and networks. And while the process of finding a manager or agent is daunting, keeping a strong relationship with them so that they’re doing the most for you as their client can be equally difficult. Michael will share with you his insider knowledge to help: keep your writing on track, your meetings fruitful, and your industry contacts strong. If you’ve ever wondered what you should talk about in “general meetings”, how to take notes from friends/producers/execs that you don’t agree with, or how to be a more prolific writer, this webinar is for you!  

How To Write A Comedy Pilot Executives Will Want To Read!

Learn directly from Michael Poisson, Director of Development at Silent Machine Entertainment, Krysten Ritter’s production company that has a first look deal at Universal TV! Previously he was at Ryan Reynolds' TV pod, DarkFire TV. Michael is also a comedy writer who used his insider knowledge to land a manager, and get two projects in development at production companies! 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 currently the Director of Development at Silent Machine Entertainment, Krysten Ritter’s production company that has a first look deal at Universal TV, where he works closely with writers to develop their ideas to pitch to studios and networks. Working on the inside of the system, first as a talent agency assistant, then a production company assistant, and currently a director of development has given Michael Poisson 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.

8 Week Intensive TV Drama Pilot Writing Lab

Learn directly from Morgan Long, TV Literary Department for a “Big Six” Agency This lab is designed for beginner and intermediate screenwriters looking to build a pilot from scratch or expand on an existing idea. With the TV market exploding right now, one of the most in demand formats is the 1-hour TV drama pilot. Many, if not all, managers and agents are looking for writers that can write in this space, and with more and more production companies heading into TV, knowing how to write a strong 1-hour TV drama pilot will give you a competitive advantage and help you find success as a TV writer! Due to popular demand, Stage 32 is thrilled to bring back our 8 Week Intensive TV Drama Pilot Writing Lab taught by Morgan Long, a TV development coordinator at a “Big Six” Agency! This hands-on intensive lab will guide you through picking a concept, creating engaging characters, structuring and outlining your pilot and writing the first draft! The main objective of this 8-week lab will be to have a first draft of your script. You will meet online with Morgan for 2 hours a week in a class setting, plus have phone consultations during some of the weeks when you don't have an online class. This will be accompanied by weekly homework assignments to guide you on your way to creating a marketable, unique pilot that will grab the industry's attention. Payment plans are available - please contact julie@stage32.com for more information.  This Lab is Limited to 20 People. Please Note: Participating in this lab does not mean you are writing for or pitching to Morgan or her company.  PRE-CLASS PREP - Read your syllabus and plan out your writing ideas. Begin to think about 1-2 ideas that might be a good idea for your drama pilot. Start to prepare for your pilot pitch.

Film Development Process: Defining The Producer-Writer Relationship

Learn directly from Gotham Award-winning Producer Shaun O’Banion who's worked with Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Joe Wright and Judd Apatow. Shaun’s first feature was one of an early group of independent films picked up for Netflix, and remained in the Top 100 for 5 years before airing on such networks as Showtime, The Movie Channel, ComCast On Demand, Time Warner Cable On Demand and Hulu. Navigating the maze of getting a screenplay read by people who can make it a reality is one thing, but moving into the realm of getting material financed and produced by those people is another game altogether. In this Next Level Class, you will learn from an award-winning producer's perspective what producers look for, how doing your research matters, and how collaboration with your new partner is the key to it all. Plus, learn the differences between setting up a short and setting up a feature. Some of the common questions asked during the development process are: where do producers look for material? How do you get someone to read your material? What are the differences between the indie film landscape and higher budget film production? Should you shoot a proof-of-concept short for your film? How can you build a collaborative relationship that will allow the best version of the script to end up on film? Should you shoot for the moon and write a $100 million dollar blockbuster or a down and dirty indie that, in a pinch, you could pull off with friends? In this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level Class, award-winning producer Shaun O’Banion will take you through all of this and more! Over the course of 2 online sessions you will learn about the process of getting material produced from the producer's perspective. You will also learn about the development process from the mind of an established indie producer who will give you a new set of tools to get your material in top form!

How To Pitch Your TV Pilot To Cable Networks

Learn directly from Jordan Barel, TV Dept. at Abominable Pictures (Burning Love and Children’s Hospital on Adult Swim)! Once you’ve written the script and you’re ready to get your show idea in front of production companies and executives, it’s important to know how to pitch your TV pilot correctly. A good pitch is often the deciding factor of a show getting picked up or passed on. Aside from knowing how to pitch in the most effective way, an important aspect of pitching your TV pilot that often gets overlooked is knowing how to tailor your pitch to the network you are pitching to. Cable networks all have their niche. For example, AMC has really honed in on intense dramas, such as The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men; USA focuses on character driven mystery dramas such as CSI, House, and NCIS; TBS centers around comedy sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory, Ground Floor, and Cougar Town; ABC Family focuses more on sitcoms relating to family, such as Melissa and Joey, Baby Daddy and The Fosters. Knowing how to tailor your pitch to a specific cable network opens up immense opportunity for your TV pilot. Every cable network can be a real home for your work - it’s just a matter of the how, when, and why. Knowing how to appeal to multiple networks gives your pilot a better chance of getting picked up! In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, host Jordan Barel will teach you both how to pitch your pilot and how to tailor your pitch to the right cable network. In addition, he’ll go over what kind of shows live on each network currently, and what may be the right fit for you. You will walk away with a clear understanding of how to pitch effectively (information you can take with you over to the Happy Writers Pitch Sessions!) as well as a clear understanding of how to make your pilot what each network is looking for. Your host Jordan Barel currently works for Paul Scheer through his producing deal at FOX, working on development with his projects as well as bringing in new writers for him. Jordan also works at Abominable Pictures in their comedy and TV department. Previously, he worked as the Television Coordinator for Verve Literary Agency, producing the company's staffing video which lead to a 200% increase in the company's staffed writers. While there he also vetted all new TV and film clients. Jordan knows what will make your pitch stand out and is here exclusively for Stage 32 to help guide our writers toward success!

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