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TV Writers' Summit: Professional TV Writing Conference

Seminar - Sherman Oaks
Registration ended: 11/13/2015
Class Begins: 11/14/2015   Ends: 11/15/2015
Class Time: 9:30 am - (PDT)
FEE: $395/$390 Registration Expired

The two-day schedule of events:


Day 1


Writing The TV Drama Series with Pam Douglas


Part 1: Overview of TV Drama Series

  • What makes American TV series successful?
  • How does the TV business work?
  • How do shows work, including staffing, and the Writers Room?
  • How does an individual succeed in writing for television?


Part 2: Structure

  • How does episodic TV differ from long-form?
  • Drama-comedy hybrids and the hour/half hour divide.
  • How a classic drama script is structured.


Part 3: Creating Original Series

  • How new shows are created
  • Optimal ways of constructing TV pilots
  • Screening: Clips from the beginnings of several pilots with analysis


Part 4: How to pitch a story for a pilot or episode.


Three Components of Writing A Pilot That Sells with Jen Grisanti


will teach you what she believes are the pillars that will take you from ordinary to extraordinary with the writing of your TV pilot.



Jen will walk you through three key components of selling your pilot - CONCEPT, CHARACTER and STRUCTURE.



Jen says; "These tools are the foundation that have led many of my clients to success. By mastering the set up of your story, you create the possibility of making a sale and staffing."





Jen will take you through how to come up with great concepts for your story. She will go over what is working in TV right now and why it is working.



Jen will help you to dig into your well so that you can draw from your emotional truth. When choosing a strong concept for your pilot, it is also important to choose a concept that reflects your emotional truth and makes you the perfect writer for the project.



Jen will go over three things that she believes lead to writing a pilot that sells:


  • Take us into a world we don't know or that we may know but you show it to us from a new perspective.
  • Show us why we care through creating strong characters and a powerful opening.
  • Create a strong engine for endless story.





Jen will work with you on how to create complex characters who have wounds and flaws and connect with the audience in a universal way.



She will go through shows that have very strong characters and help you to see what contributes to making a character memorable and someone you can't ignore.



There are three contributing factors to creating memorable characters:


  • Strength
  • Understanding of the wound that is causing the flaw
  • Accessibility





Through understanding how to link these three elements, you will learn how to set the foundation in your story, have an active lead and elevate the emotion to a whole new level.



Jen believes that in order to go from a non-working writer to a working writer, you have to write a pilot that hits it out of the ballpark. She will teach you the tools that will elevate your game and increase your opportunities.



TRIGGER - By creating a powerful trigger incident for your series, you will create a strong season arc and this will establish longevity for your concept.



A strong pilot trigger is what carries the first episode. Linking the pilot trigger to the series trigger makes the difference between a good pilot and a great one. You need to clearly set up that the pilot trigger would not have happened unless the series trigger happened.



Jen will go over several pilots that have done this successfully.



DILEMMA - The trigger incident should push your central character into a dilemma. The choice that is made in this dilemma is what will define the external goal.


The dilemma should be strong enough that we understand that there is not an easy choice on either side of the dilemma. This is what will create empathy and a rooting factor for your central character.


Jen will also discuss the set up of the personal dilemma and how to link it to the professional pursuit. This will elevate the emotion in your story.



PURSUIT - The clear set up of the goal is the glue that will hold your story together. By clearly setting up what your central character wants, you can link your obstacle, escalating obstacle, and "all is lost" moment back to the goal. This will help you to write stronger act breaks. It is when the goal is unclear that the story doesn't work.



In every scene, we should have a clear sense of what your central character wants and why they want it. Setting up a clear pursuit will help you to establish this.


Day 2

Your Television Writing Career with Lee Jessup

A television writing career does not happen overnight. It takes hard work, focus, and knowledge of the space. In this session, explore the various paths to penetrating the television space whether as a staff writer or content creator, learn the current trends in the space, and explore the various ways to prepare yourself for representation, fellowships, and - ultimately - a long and prosperous career working in this highly competitive, highly demanding and highly rewarding space.



As part of this session, we will explore:


  • Current television landscape
  • What does it take? - ground rules for building a career in the television space
  • Preparing yourself for the space: Body of work and brand identity
  • Resources for your television writing career:
  • Creating pedigree for yourself and your work
  • The representation game: When are you ready, and what can "they" do for you?
  • Preparing for fellowships
  • Becoming a content creator
  • The TV staffing hierarchy
  • Anatomy of writing partnerships
  • Television writers and social media
  • Things you can do for your TV writing career RIGHT NOW.
Screening and Analysis of an episode of the hit show GRIMM with Richard Hatem

An amazing afternoon starts Richard Hatem, writer and co-executive producer of Grimm (among his many credits) screening and analyzing an episode of the show he wrote.


As Richard says, "Among writers, one thing is agreed: endings are hard. But for most writers, both new and experienced, the corollary is even more true: beginnings are hard. For some, the prospect of beginning a script feels like setting out to walk across the Sahara Desert -- 'you just can't get there from here.' Not true. You can get there. My job is to help each writer break their journey down into single, achievable footsteps, one after the other, that will allow them navigate the shifting dunes of narrative and help them avoid the shimmering mirages of over-stretched metaphors like this one. De-mystifying the process is essential, and I love demonstrating to students that the "magic" isn't out there somewhere in the ethers. It's in your hands and it always has been. All that remains to be seen is: what will you do with it?"


Richard will take you through an episode talking about how stories for TV drama shows are developed and written (and make it on the air), the choices writers have to make, and what it's like to have a career as a successful writer and producer, with an emphasis on identifying the common structural elements of all successful shows, gaining an understanding of "weekly franchise" versus "series mythology" shows, and crafting long-term character arcs.


Grimm is a police procedural fantasy television drama series that has been described as "a cop drama-with a twist... a dark and fantastical project about a world in which characters inspired by Grimms' Fairy Tales exist," although the stories and characters inspiring the show are also drawn from other sources.


Also, there will be a second, screening and analysis of an episode of another hit show

Tags: TV Pilot, Action, Adventure, Animation, Biography, Children, Comedy, Crime, Drama, Family, Fantasy, Historical, Horror, Mystery/Suspense, Romance, Science Fiction, Sports, Thriller, Western, Adaptation