How to Write a Great Sitcom Pilot Script with a Case Study of HBO's BARRY pilot

Hosted by David Shecter

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David Shecter

Webinar hosted by: David Shecter

Writer (2 BROKE GIRLS, IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA)

David Shecter has has been working in the television industry in production, development, and as a writer for over a decade. He has written on many shows, including season 5 of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. His experience and success on that show landed David on the pilot of the CBS smash hit 2 Broke Girls, where he worked his way up as a staff writer on the 6th and final season of the show. Since 2 BROKE GIRLS, David has served on the FOX sitcom OUTMATCHED starring Jason Biggs and Maggie Lawson and was named a WGA TV Writer Access Honoree for his script For Worse. David’s continued work in the sitcom TV world has lent him a keen understanding of what makes these shows successful and how to make the most of your sitcom pilot. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

The television landscape is constantly changing, with new technology, new networks, new trends, and new players. Yet a constant throughout the years has been the popularity of the situational comedy. From I LOVE LUCY all the way to MODERN FAMILY and THE GOOD PLACE, there has always been an appetite for new sitcoms, funny stories and beloved characters to come back to week after week (or binge all at once). As a result, if you have great idea for a sitcom and a great pilot script to go with it, networks are always going to be interested. But first you have to write that pilot. But you can't build a house without a blueprint. That's why it's so important to understand the sitcom pilot script on a fundamental level.

A written TV pilot is not something physically tangible. You're selling the network an idea, an episode, and, really, an entire series without ever shooting a single frame. That alone is an overwhelmingly huge task. This is why people often struggle writing a pilot script. Putting too much into the script, or not enough. Properly setting up the world. Getting your audience attached to your characters. Including enough jokes and still having a prominent story. All of these elements make crafting your sitcom pilot difficult and the overall process intimidating. Yet shining a light on the pilot process can help reduce the fear and better equip you when writing.

David Shecter has has been working in the television industry in production, development, and as a writer for over a decade. He has written on many shows, including season 5 of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. His experience and success on that show landed David on the pilot of the CBS smash hit 2 Broke Girls, where he worked his way up as a staff writer on the 6th and final season of the show. Since 2 BROKE GIRLS, David has served on the FOX sitcom OUTMATCHED starring Jason Biggs and Maggie Lawson and was named a WGA TV Writer Access Honoree for his script For Worse. David’s continued work in the sitcom TV world has lent him a keen understanding of what makes these shows successful and how to make the most of your sitcom pilot.

David will break down how to write a great sitcom pilot that can build your world, show your style, and appeal to both executives and audiences. He’ll give you tips on how to find your sitcom’s tone and decide where it lies on the comedy spectrum between comedy and drama. He’ll discuss the differences between premise-based and character-based sitcoms and teach you how to find the balance between jokes and story. Next David will delve into the proper structure of a sitcom pilot, looking at length, episodic vs. serialized and if commercial breaks are still a thing. He’ll give you tips on how to start writing your sitcom pilot and break down the anatomy of a sitcom scene. He’ll share tips on how to build effective sitcom characters and will finally teach you how to best establish your world through the pilot and how to pack everything neatly into your script.

David will even offer a deep dive of the pilot script for HBO's Emmy-nominated sitcom BARRY, analyzing why this script works. Everyone who signs up will receive a free download of this script.

 

David is excited to show you the proper tools so you can start building the world of your sitcom from the ground up with complete confidence and create a product that can help you find the success you’re looking for.

What You'll Learn

  • Understanding The Elusive Pilot
    • What is a pilot?
    • The history of pilots.
    • Reason for a pilot.
  • What Is the Tone of Your Sitcom?
    • Where does your show lie on the comedy spectrum?
    • Keeping your tone consistent
    • The tightrope balance between comedy and drama
  • Premise Based Vs. Character Based Sitcoms
    • Examples of both.
    • Making your pilot “personal.”
    • Advantages to both
  • Jokes vs. Story
    • Is there such a thing as too many jokes?
    • When to be funny and when not to.
  • Structure Of A Sitcom Pilot
    • Does length matter?
    • Are commercial breaks still a thing?
    • Episodic vs. serialized.
  • Writing Your Sitcom Pilot
    • How best to open
    • Establishing your thesis
    • Using your POV/voice.
  • The Anatomy Of A Scene
    • Beginning, middle, end.
    • Zeroing in on your emotional throughline
    • How to raise your stakes
  • Effective Characters
    • Common pitfalls to avoid falling into when building your characters
    • How to make your characters feel and sound real
  • Establishing Your World
    • Setting up future episodes/the series.
    • What details or scenes can you save for future episodes?
    • How to pack everything neatly into your script.
  • Case Study: BARRY pilot
    • David will dive into the pilot script for HBO's BARRY and analyze why it works
    • All attendees will receive a free download of the BARRY pilot script
  • Q&A with David

About Your Instructor

David Shecter has has been working in the television industry in production, development, and as a writer for over a decade. He has written on many shows, including season 5 of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. His experience and success on that show landed David on the pilot of the CBS smash hit 2 Broke Girls, where he worked his way up as a staff writer on the 6th and final season of the show. Since 2 BROKE GIRLS, David has served on the FOX sitcom OUTMATCHED starring Jason Biggs and Maggie Lawson and was named a WGA TV Writer Access Honoree for his script For Worse. David’s continued work in the sitcom TV world has lent him a keen understanding of what makes these shows successful and how to make the most of your sitcom pilot.

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Reviews Average Rating: 5 out of 5

  • Really enjoyed this seminar. David Schecter does an excellent job of balancing his personal experiences with the realities of an ever-changing industry, and he presents a good balance between the creative process of developing a pilot and the technical aspects of generating a pilot that works for the industry.

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