The Keys to Writing Procedural Drama TV in Today's Market - With a Case Study and Free Download THE GOOD WIFE Pilot Script

Hosted by Barry Schkolnick

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Barry Schkolnick

Webinar hosted by: Barry Schkolnick

Procedural Drama TV Writer (LAW & ORDER, THE GOOD WIFE, UNFORGETTABLE)

Barry Schkolnick is a long-time writer and producer in Hollywood who has written on over 20 procedural TV dramas including LAW & ORDER, UNFORGETTABLE, THE GUARDIAN, THE DIVISION, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, and IN JUSTICE. Barry also served as co-executive producer on USA Network’s IN PLAIN SIGHT and consulting producer for CBS’s Emmy-nominated and critically acclaimed THE GOOD WIFE. Barry’s work on LAW & ORDER was honored with a nomination for a Writer’s Guild of America award for Best Episode, Dramatic Series and a Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association. In addition, he was a member of the writing staff of LAW & ORDER’s Emmy and Peabody Award winning season. Barry has an incredibly deep experience in the world of procedural drama television and will be sharing what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

Serialized dramas produced in the streaming and premium cable spaces may be garnering more awards recognition and chatter on social media, but their often-ignored cousins – the procedural dramas that present closed-ended stories within each episode – should not be underestimated. Procedurals continue to not only draw huge crowds, but can stay on the air for many more seasons than their streaming counterparts (can you believe GREY’S ANATOMY has had 17 seasons??). Current ratings for shows like CBS’s EQUALIZER, FOX’s 9-1-1 and NBC’s CHICAGO P.D., CHICAGO FIRE and CHICAGO MED demonstrate just how wildly successful procedural dramas continue to be. The fact is writing and producing the successful procedural remains a highly marketable skill that can offer longevity to a writer's career, though it requires both technical knowledge and  an understanding of the current marketplace for these enduring shows.

For something that seemingly sticks closely to a formula, the professional TV procedural script can be deceptively hard to write, and there is little if any published literature addressing this subject. Over the years, many “rules” for writing the procedural or mystery have developed in rooms across Hollywood, and expectations for what such a script must include have grown. But how can up-and-coming writers or writers of other genres learn these rules? What actually constitutes an effective procedural pilot script and how can writers demonstrate this skill in order to find their way into a writers’ room?

Barry Schkolnick is a long-time writer and producer in Hollywood who has written on over 20 procedural TV dramas including LAW & ORDER, UNFORGETTABLE, THE GUARDIAN, THE DIVISION, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, and IN JUSTICE. Barry also served as co-executive producer on USA Network’s IN PLAIN SIGHT and consulting producer for CBS’s Emmy-nominated and critically acclaimed THE GOOD WIFE. Barry’s work on LAW & ORDER was honored with a nomination for a Writer’s Guild of America award for Best Episode, Dramatic Series and a Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association. In addition, he was a member of the writing staff of LAW & ORDER’s Emmy and Peabody Award winning season. Barry has an incredibly deep experience in the world of procedural drama television and will be sharing what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community.

Barry will walk you through procedural drama television, how it fits in to today’s market and to best write in this genre in order to break into the space and create compelling television. After breaking down the actual difference between serialized and procedural dramas, Barry will give an honest appraisal of the market today and the pros and cons of writing procedural television within it. He’ll walk you through the main types of procedural series currently on air and will then lay out some of the main elements any procedural pilot needs. He’ll provide tips and strategies to best write in this space, including choosing the right lead character, how to best outline, and what the Golden Rule of procedurals is.

 

Barry will conclude the webinar with a case study of the pilot script of THE GOOD WIFE, which he served as a consulting producer on. Using the lessons he taught, he’ll explain why this pilot was so successful and how you can use the script as inspiration for your own procedural project.

 

 

Praise for Barry's Stage 32 Webinar

 

 

"Barry presented information that I needed to know whether I was aware of that or not before the webinar. I like that Barry used a script that was available to us ahead of time and knew where he was going to in that script to show us what he wanted us to learn. It was one of the best webinars I have taken."

- Bev I.

 

"Barry gave great examples to distinguish the different types of procedural drama from serialized drama. They were easy to understand especially since Barry focused in on the key elements of the procedural drama. I did like the fact that Barry broke the pilot into "chunks" and talked about each one separately."

- Susan S.

 

"Barry spoke very personally and also gave good examples and applied his experience to today. Also he was very focused on what to do to succeed but he also was honest that you have to love writing. He came across as smart and no nonsense but also very warm and kind, which seems like a great combination for a writer. Maybe that's why he has been so successful!"

- Deborah B.

 

"Barry was very likable, down to earth, forthright. I felt that he really cared about helping writers."

- Elise M.

 

 

What You'll Learn

  • The Real Difference Between the Serialized Drama and the Procedural
    • It’s not what you might think
  • The Market Today: The Pros and Cons of Writing or Creating a Procedural Series
  • A Procedural Isn’t a Documentary
  • The Main Types of Procedural Series
    • The “straight” procedural
    • The “straight” procedural with a twist
    • The super high concept procedural
    • The character procedural
    • The romantic comedy procedural
    • The sci fi procedural
    • The military procedural
    • The limited series procedural
  • The Importance of Choosing the Right Lead Character
  • The Main Elements EVERY Procedural Pilot Needs
  • Do’s and Don’ts of Writing a Procedural
    • The main rules you need to follow to show them you’re a pro
  • The Golden Rule of the Procedural
  • The Importance of Outlining Before Writing
  • Doing the Work
    • Understanding your world
    • How to do appropriate research
    • Leaning into life experience
    • Understanding the intended audience and market for your work
  • Case Study: THE GOOD WIFE pilot
    • Barry will delve into the pilot script for the award-winning CBS drama, using the lessons he’s taught to explain what makes the script so successful.
  • Recorded Q&A with Barry

About Your Instructor

Barry Schkolnick is a long-time writer and producer in Hollywood who has written on over 20 procedural TV dramas including LAW & ORDER, UNFORGETTABLE, THE GUARDIAN, THE DIVISION, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, and IN JUSTICE. Barry also served as co-executive producer on USA Network’s IN PLAIN SIGHT and consulting producer for CBS’s Emmy-nominated and critically acclaimed THE GOOD WIFE. Barry’s work on LAW & ORDER was honored with a nomination for a Writer’s Guild of America award for Best Episode, Dramatic Series and a Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association. In addition, he was a member of the writing staff of LAW & ORDER’s Emmy and Peabody Award winning season. Barry has an incredibly deep experience in the world of procedural drama television and will be sharing what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community.

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