In 5-Wednesday-evenings, learn the unique structure and tropes of TV writing, while learning how to make your TV project stand out and industry execs take notice.
Week 1 – Television Writing 101
Wednesday, October 18th
- Discussing the key aspects of the primary TV writing formats and the variations on these formats that make up today’s television landscape.
- Comparing and contrasting the key aspects of one-hour procedurals, character dramas, single camera comedies, sitcoms and half hour dramadies.
- Discussing the key differences between episodic and serialized storytelling, and cable and network television.
- Spec’ing existing television shows and writing original material.
- Discussing what it means to be a Television Writer – staff writing; story editing; working in a story room; show creating; show pitching; and show running.
Week 2 – The One-Hour Drama and The Half-Hour Comedy
Wednesday, October 25th
- Breaking down a one-hour drama pilot and a half-hour comedy pilot – the idea, the characters, the storytelling structure, tone, story arcs, and target audience.
- Identifying the difference between network and cable one-hour television, and single camera comedies and sitcoms. How are they the same? How are they different? How is network television storytelling changing (or attempting to change) in response to the success of cable shows? Discussing half-hour storytelling on cable television and the evolution of the dramedy.
Week 3 – Generating and Crafting Your Television Show Ideas
Wednesday, November 1st
- Discussing the key elements of successful television shows and how to generate ideas for TV.
- Shaping ideas into concise loglines.
- Crafting character descriptions.
- Distinguishing a television series’ tone.
- Identifying the series’ “engine”.
- Building elements into your show ideas that make them work for the extended storytelling aspect of television.
Week 4 – Pitching and Developing Your Television Series
Wednesday, November 8th
- Preparing the verbal pitch.
- Crafting the pitch document and how it varies from the series’ Bible.
- Working with production companies.
- Pitching to broadcasters.
- Discussing the development process, shooting the pilot, and writing the series.
Week 5 – Workshop: Pitching and Analysis/Discussion of Outline
Wednesday, November 15th
Discussing TV writer fellowships (NBC’s Writers on the Verge, Fox’s Writers Intensive, Humanitas New Voices Program, ABC Writers Fellowship) — and pilot writing competitions — (Tracking Board’s Launch Pad, AMC/Austin pilot competition, Sundance Episodic Story Lab, etc.)
Present your short verbal pitch of your pilot or workshop a scene or a few pages — whatever you would like to present that you feel best shows your work — for feedback.
Guest Speakers (Week 5): Andrew Sugerman, Jason Piette, and Julia Verdin.
WHO SHOULD TAKE THIS COURSE?
Screenwriters, writers or those wanting to write for television, or create a television comedy or drama, and writers who would like to know about the business of writing for television.
CYNTHIA RIDDLE has written film/TV projects for CBS, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Lifetime, Showtime, MGM, Starz, Netflix, Disney, Nickelodeon, PBS, and MarVista. She has two feature films heading into production in 2017 — Curtains (a WGA Feature Writer Access Project honoree) to be produced by the Academy Award nominated producer of Dallas Buyers Club and filmed in Paris, and true crime drama The Romeo and Juliet Killers.
Cynthia and frequent writing partner Peter Hunziker’s pilot script, Blood Brothers, was a Top 20 Finalist in the 2016 AMC/Austin Film Festival screenwriting competition (out of 9,100 entries), as well as a Finalist in the Sundance Episodic Story Lab, and winner of the WGA’s Drama Queens pilot competition.
Cynthia and Peter penned the award-winning, highly-rated CBS/Hallmark Hall of Fame film Crossroads based on the true story of a man who forgave the teen driver who killed his wife and daughter while drag racing. They also wrote the popular film, Puppy Love, for Hallmark Channel, and celebrity biopic, The Brittany Murphy Story, which aired on Lifetime.
Cynthia has produced award-winning short films that won/were finalists in the Coca Cola Refreshing Filmmakers Award and Project Greenlight. She has an MFA in Screenwriting/Film Production from UCLA, and was a former development executive at MGM, launching her writing career with a writing/producing deal at the studio. Cynthia serves on many Writers Guild committees including a long-term stint as Vice Chair of the Committee of Women Writers. She is on the Board of the LA Femme International Film Festival, and also teaches screenwriting at UCLA.
Andrew Sugerman is a Producer best known for Conviction (2010), Shopgirl (2005), Premonition (2007) and The Whole Ten Yards (2004) as well as the AMC televisionseries The Divide (2014). Originally from New York and a graduate of NYU, he has called Los Angeles home for many years. He is currently CEO of Pantheon Entertainment, which he founded in 2004.
Jason Piette is a producer and film financier with over 50 movies and TV series to his name, including the $25M The Merchant Of Venice starring Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons; Head In The Clouds ($20M) starring Charlize Theron and Penelope Cruz, (both for Sony Pictures Classics); the $33M Napoleon TV series for A & E in the United States; Perfect Creatures ($11M) for Twentieth Century Fox; independent American features such as Mark Pellington’s I Melt With You for Magnolia Pictures and cult classic, part crowdfunded Iron Sky for Entertainment One. Before co-founding Disrupting Influence Jason also worked on the $300 million Movision Film Fund. Jason is a graduate of Cambridge University.
Julia Verdin is a British producer and founder of Rough Diamond Productions, established in 1994. She has established herself as one of Hollywood’s leading producers. She is best known for producing the Sony Classics release The Merchant of Venice, directed by Michael Radford, and starring Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Joseph Fiennes, the Newmarket release Stander, directed by Bronwen Hughes, and starring Tom Jane, Deborah Unger, Dexter Fletcher and David O’Hara, and the Breaking Glass release 2 Jacks, based on Leo Tolstoy short story “Two Hussars,” directed by Bernard Rose, and starring Danny Huston, Jack Huston, Sienna Miller, Jacqueline Bisset and Billy Zane.
Verdin has recently executive produced Lionsgate release Born of War, directed by Vicky Jewson, and starring James Frain and Sophia Black D’Elia. This year she has just directed her first film Lost Girls staring Bar Paly, Marisol Nichols and Jamie Harris, and produced The Unwilling directed by Academy Award nominated director Jonathan Heap, and starring Dina Meyer, Jake Thomas and Lance Henriksen.
Verdin is a top film consultant having provided consulting services on development and production. She also wrote the critically acclaimed book, Success in Film, a detailed guide to funding, making and finishing independent films.
Verdin served on the board of BAFTA LA for 12 years.
ONLINE | VOD ATTENDANCE
Do you want attend the first class in person and online on other weeks? Or, do you want to attend online on some weeks and watch other weeks on VOD? You have the freedom to attend this course in person, online, or by watching it on VOD without making any prior selection.
LIVE ONLINE: Every attendee gets an email invitation for the online classroom 30 minutes before class start times. All you need to do is to click the link provided in that email and watch the class on your computer’s web browser without needing to download any special software. If you are attending on your smart phone or tablet, check out our full Online Courses FAQ.
VOD: Video on Demand is a great option if you want to repeat what you learned in the class or you didn’t have time to attend the class in person or online. Each attendee gets a Vimeo link 24-48 hours after each week’s class.