Writing a Network Pitch and Pilot that Sells

Hosted by Anna Henry, Director of Development

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Saturday, Sep 23RD 11 - 12:30PM PDT
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Anna Henry, Director of Development

Webinar hosted by: Anna Henry, Director of Development

Andrea Simon Entertainment

Anna began her career as a development executive at Nickelodeon, working on the development and production of animated television series, pilots and features, including the cult hit “Invader Zim.” She crossed over to prime-time television working at CBS and ABC in drama development and programming, and freelanced as a creative consultant for a number of production companies. She is currently Director of Development at Andrea Simon Entertainment, a boutique literary management and production company representing writers and directors. Her clients have worked on shows at virtually every broadcast and major cable television network, and have set up projects at Sony, 20th Television, EOne, Starz, Amazon, OddLot Entertainment, Corus, and others. She enjoys having a close collaboration with writers in refining scripts, expanding their range of material, and finding the best home for each project. Anna is a graduate of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Full Bio »

Network TV is dead, right? All good shows are on cable and streaming!

Not so fast! Network TV is alive and well, as demonstrated by the critical success and healthy ratings of new shows such as This is Us, Designated Survivor and Speechless, as well as powerhouse veterans such as Big Bang Theory, Empire, Modern Family, Scandal, and NCIS.

Broadcast networks are increasingly having to compete for top talent and ideas in a crowded marketplace. While landing a series order from ABC or FOX is no easy feat, the networks’ deep coffers mean they can buy and develop a high volume of shows, season after season. Producers of course enjoy the prestige of developing ideas for HBO or Amazon, but they are equally eager to find the next network hit, which can yield huge financial dividends with multiple season orders.

What’s more, agents and managers judge prospective clients based on their original pilot scripts, and the right network pilot can demonstrate to a potential representative that you are ready to staff and ready to sell. As a manager, I always recommend writers have at least two or three finished scripts ready to go, and a mix of cable and network samples increases the number of producers and executives who may be interested in your work.

In this webinar, you will learn about the brands and programming models of broadcast networks, how to know what ideas they will find appealing, what you need to include in your network pitch, and the do’s and don’ts of writing your network spec pilot.


What You'll Learn:

  • Broadcast network audiences – who watches and why
  • Developing with a programming perspective – network identities and needs, competitive development
  • The broadcast network development cycle – from pitch to Upfronts
  • Genres of network shows
  • Network content restrictions
  • Structure of a network pitch – why you why now, logline, world building, characters we want to invite into our living room, a story engine that can sustain 100 episodes, season arcs, themes, tone & style
  • Packaging and IP – attracting showrunners, producers, and talent, and the value of an underlying property
  • Writing your spec pilot –
    • Comedy, drama and dramedy
    • Length and act breaks
    • Setting up characters and multiple plotlines
    • Likable vs. relatable characters
    • Ensemble vs. star
    • From teaser to final act – how to avoid a failure to launch
    • Showing and telling
    • Exposition and narration
    • Rules of the universe
    • Research!
    • Budget considerations
    • Setting and tax incentives
    • Diversity

About Your Instructor:

Anna began her career as a development executive at Nickelodeon, working on the development and production of animated television series, pilots and features, including the cult hit “Invader Zim.” She crossed over to prime-time television working at CBS and ABC in drama development and programming, and freelanced as a creative consultant for a number of production companies. She is currently Director of Development at Andrea Simon Entertainment, a boutique literary management and production company representing writers and directors. Her clients have worked on shows at virtually every broadcast and major cable television network, and have set up projects at Sony, 20th Television, EOne, Starz, Amazon, OddLot Entertainment, Corus, and others. She enjoys having a close collaboration with writers in refining scripts, expanding their range of material, and finding the best home for each project. Anna is a graduate of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.


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.

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Order is crucial to plot construction Learn to stay on track with reverse cause and effect, and not follow false trails Know that your storytelling has to be top notch because well-structured crap is still crap Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I, Sequence 2 in the practice script Session 8: How To Engineer Your Script Before You Start Writing Engineer your screenplay before you write it and save many rewrites Attack the audience Be the master of the tools, not their servant Break down sequences into scenes Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 1 in the practice script Session 9: Work On Practice Script Total work session using Sequence, Proposition, Plot on the practice script Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 2 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 3 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Session 10: Wrap Up Total work session using Sequence, Proposition, Plot on the practice script Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 2, Scene 1 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 2, Scene 2 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Keep going until we drop About The Instructor, Jeff Kitchen: Jeff Kitchen has been one of the top screenwriting teachers in the film industry for twenty years, and is a sought-after script consultant. 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He worked in the financial services industry for four years before transitioning to entertainment, where he worked as a production assistant in television for four years.After that he transitioned to working at Gersh in the production department but he also gained exposure to the literary world, working with writers and story. He then moved over to LD Entertainment for three years, where he was a Creative Executive, working with writers and helping build scripts and acquire ideas for new projects. Here he had the opportunity to work for Tate Taylor on a James Brown biopic entitled, Get On Up, and learned about assembling large studio films. He has since transitioned to the Creative Executive position at Mandalay Pictures. Patrick was born in Alaska and raised in Seattle prior to moving to LA.

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